History, Space, Art & More
Day 1 You'll See:
Day 2 You'll See:
- Pima Air and Space Museum
- Mission San Xavier del Bac
- Richard F Caris Mirror Lab
- University of Arizona
Day 3 You'll See:
See it all in Tucson, from gorgeous natural settings to the most scientific spots in all of Arizona!
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum - A zoo, an aquarium, a botanical garden, an art gallery, and a natural history museum all in one?! This is educational travel destination paradise! Located on Kinney Road in Tucson, Arizona, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is the massively impressive desert region museum that provides it all for its guests, literally! There is a total of 98 natural history filled acres here, the entire establishment doing well to combine live animal exhibits with native geography and history demonstrations. It should be known that about 85% of this museum is actually located outdoors, so you and your group will need to plan for the desert heat accordingly. Explore the Walk-In Aviary, Cactus Gardens, Cat Canyon, the desert Loop Trail, Pollination Garden, or the Riparian Corridor. There are complimentary docent-led tours given here, not to mention over two miles of trails filled with native Sonoran desert habitat, 16 different desert botanical gardens, and even a Cave Learning Center.
Old Tucson Studios - One of the most entertaining, educational, and extremely authentic spots in all of Tucson can be found here, at the iconic spot known as the Old Tucson Studios. This desert hotspot is a movie studio and theme park all in one, not to mention an excellent spot to honor the history and culture of this desert region.This is the only spot in Arizona ‘where the Old West comes alive’, the spot in which over 300 different movies and shows were filmed, mostly older yet highly recognizable Westerns. Coming to this old set is like time traveling back to the 1850’s, a built-in history lesson without even thinking about it. See the spots where films such as Winchester ‘73 and Rio Bravo were shot, the rich film history here officially considered to be ‘Arizona’s premiere location for a Western experience’. There are also more rides, games, tours, and historic reenactments onsite here than you can count, trust us, we’ve tried!
Pima Air and Space Museum - The Pima Air and Space Museum, located in Tucson, Arizona, is the massive (in both stature and popularity) museum that is considered to be one of the world’s largest non-government funded aerospace museums, holding over 300 different aircraft in over 80 acres of land. Pima was founded in 1976, providing guests with views of military and historic aircraft they may have never gotten the chance to see before. Guests of this museum may take docent-led tours of the hangars, walking tours of the museum interior, or even Tram Tours of the entire campus if you really want to see it all. There are also exclusive bus tours that take you to a 2,600 acre ‘Aircraft Boneyard’, a spot with over 45 military and government aircraft being stored (The Dow's Monthan Air Force Base). Besides what has already been mentioned, you will see the Main Hangars, Space Gallery, 390th Memorial Museum, WWII Hangar, and several outdoor planes!
Mission San Xavier del Bac - Welcome to the oldest intact European structure in all of Arizona, the national historic landmark is known as Mission San Xavier del Bac. This historic Spanish Catholic mission is located just about 10 miles south of downtown Tucson, right on the Tohono O’odham San Xavier Indian Reservation. The history here on the site is absolutely amazing, construction starting for the structure you see today in 1783, completed in 1797. During a visit, you will learn that the church still runs today, busily and happily ‘serving the needs of the local community’ daily. Inside the ornately designed church, you will find several original statuary installments as well as painted murals, the space ringing true and authentic to typical 18th-century religious spots. Head to the museum to learn the history of the people, culture, and local region through several different artifacts and films!
Richard F Caris Mirror Lab - Welcome to the Richard F Caris Mirror Lab, the astonishing, inventive, and out-of-this-world impressive series of mirrors breaking scientific barriers at the University of Arizona. The honeycomb structure of Ohara E6 type borosilicate glass you’ll see here is just as rigid and stable as any other, though this is also larger and lighter than any other. The Giant Magellan Telescope is the largest and most advanced earth-based telescope in the world, it’s current measurement at 8.4 meters (of segmented mirrors casted).Tours here take 90 minutes total and teach guests how innovative engineering and ‘optical technology meld with manufacturing techniques to produce the largest and most advanced giant telescope mirrors in the world on the University of Arizona campus’. See how these inventions are taking us into deep space and beyond, the cutting edge research allowing our scientist's new discoveries and promises of more to come daily.
University of Arizona - What do Greg Kinnear, Jerry Bruckheimer, Kristen Wiig, and Rob Gronkowski all have in common? They are all notable alumni belonging to the University of Arizona, the next stop on your whirlwind Tucson desert adventure. This public research university was founded in 1885, the first public educational facility of its kind to be founded in an Arizona territory. This school, most noted for its outstanding science and sports programs, typically has about 40,000 students enrolled at one time, a massively popular school featuring Wilbur and Wilma the Wildcat mascots. The University of Arizona’s campus is a literal hub of community activity for Tucson, the spot hosting several regular concerts, plays, lectures, museum visits, public readings, athletic events, and so much more. Did we mention this campus holds most of the town’s biggest attractions, such as the Biosphere, Campus Arboretum, Center for Creative Photography, Flandrau Science Center, Gallagher Theater, Skycenter, and even Mineral and Art Museums?
Biosphere 2 - Welcome to Biosphere 2, the ‘world under glass’ owned by the University of Arizona, located in Oracle, Arizona. This amazing scientific wonderland contains a living rainforest, an ocean biome, and even a fog desert biome within the 3.14-acre laboratory. This entire establishment is an Earth System Scientific Research Facility, considered to be one of Time Life’s ‘50 Must-See Wonders of the World’. Groups can typically spend up to 3 hours exploring the several different, wildly authentic biomes here, the entire facility holding over 6,500 windows to peer through in amazement! Over 3 million guests have made the journey to this iconic glass and plant-filled spot, 500,000 of them K-12 students on field trips! Tours of Biosphere 2 will take you inside this massive engineering marvel, filling you in on the history, local impact, and residents (flora and fauna) inside the dome!
Mt. Lemmon - Welcome to Mt. Lemmon, the wintery beacon atop a desert mountain that is actually considered to be the official highest point in the Santa Catalina Mountains. Within the Coronado National Forest, just North of Tucson, you will find this gorgeous snow-capped mountain with a summit elevation of an astoundingly high 9,159 feet. Learn the history of this mountain when you get here, the spot holding tales of lost mines, military bases, astronomy camps, and even Olympic skiers beginnings. If you choose to take the scenic byway you will see the upper reaches of the mountain range, unique rockscapes, forests, canyons, and deserts.You can head up to the Mount Lemmon Station Observatory, or former USAF Radar Base, and see the telescope-filled dome embedded with so much history, or you can head up to Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley, a ski resort spot that started out with a humble group of skiers during the WWII days!
SkyCenter - The University of Arizona’s astronomically sized addition to Mount Lemmon is one of our all-time favorite spots to visit while in Tucson, the incredibly peaceful, amazing, and picturesque SkyCenter. This spot serves as an exceptional science learning facility at Steward Observatory’s ‘Sky Island’, located just north of Tucson within the Santa Catalina Mountain Range. This spot provides guests with a colder, quieter look at the beauty that is Tucson, as well as seemingly endless information on local and military history, astronomy and science, and local geography and culture! This is one of those spots students love to go to because they learn without being told that they are going to learn, the lessons all fun and beautiful and easy to catch during your intriguing visit. Take part in Sky Nights, an evening filled with star charts, binoculars, and telescopes, or Astronomer Nights, a more official overnight stay here that is so scientifically accurate, even astronauts are signing up (really)!