State and National Parks and Historic Landmarks

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Kartchner Caverns State Park

Boasting the world’s longest stalactite formation, Kartchner Caverns introduces visitors to the mysterious world of caves. Explore the bowels of a living cave and marvel at Arizona’s tallest natural column formation. Located in Southern Arizona, it’s just a short hop from Green Valley in nearby Benson.

Tumacacori National Historical Park

Tumacácori National Historical Park protects three Spanish colonial mission ruins in southern Arizona: Tumacácori, Guevavi, and Calabazas. The adobe structures are on three sites, with a visitor center at Tumacácori. These missions are among more than twenty established in the Pimería Alta by Father Kino and other Jesuits, and later expanded upon by Franciscan missionaries.

Patagonia Lake State Park

Southern Arizona has a treasure in the desert: Patagonia Lake State Park. Located approximately twelve miles north of Nogales, this two hundred sixty five-acre man-made lake is one of the prettiest of Arizona's desert lakes.  The drive to the park takes you through semi-desert grasslands and rolling hills studded with ocotillo, yucca and scrub oak. The park elevation, in the Upper Sonoran life zone, ranges between three thousand eight hundred and four thousand two hundred feet above sea level. Sonoita Creek flows for two-and-one-half miles along the edge of the park, providing some of the richest riparian habitat in the area.                                  

Catalina State Park

  Catalina State Park sits at the base of the majestic Santa Catalina Mountains. The park is a haven for desert plants and wildlife and nearly 5,000 saguaros. The 5,500 acres of foothills, canyons and streams invites camping, picnicking and bird watching — more than 150 species of birds call the park home. The park provides miles of equestrian, birding, hiking, and biking trails which wind through the park and into the Coronado National Forest at elevations near 3,000 feet. The park is located within minutes of the Tucson metropolitan area. This scenic desert park also offers equestrian trails and an equestrian center provides a staging area for trail riders with plenty of trailer parking. Bring along your curiosity and your sense of adventure as you take in the beautiful mountain backdrop, desert wildflowers, cacti and wildlife.  

Saguaro National Park

Two scenic regions on  either side of Tucson containing particularly dense and flourishing forests of the saguaro cactus, plus many other Sonoran Desert plants. The west section is quite developed, with many short trails and petroglyphs, while the east is more remote but includes an eight mile paved one-way loop drive, and includes an extensive back country wilderness. The park was upgraded in status from a national monument in 1994, and besides the ever-present saguaro, also preserves a large variety of other cacti and desert plants and mostly nocturnal wildlife.

Tubac Presidio State Historic Park

Tubac Presidio State Historic Park, located in Tubac, Arizona, USA, preserves the ruins of the Presidio San Ignacio de Tubac and various other buildings, thereby presenting a timeline of human settlement in this Southern Arizona town. The park contains a museum, a number of historic sites, an underground archeology exhibit displaying the excavated foundations of the Tubac Presidio, and a picnic area. Various cultural events are held on-site throughout the year, including Anza Days (October), Los Tubaqueños living history presentations (Sundays from October through March), archeological tours, and nature walks. 

Nature

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Madera Canyon

 Madera Canyon is a north-facing valley in the Santa Rita Mountains with riparian woodland along an intermittent stream, bordered by mesquite, juniper-oak woodlands, and pine forests. One of the most famous birding areas in the United States, is a north-facing valley in the Santa Rita Mountains with riparian woodland along an intermittent stream, bordered by mesquite, juniper-oak woodlands, and pine forests. Madera Canyon is home to over 250 species of birds, including 15 hummingbird species.  

Sabino Canyon

Sabino Canyon, located on the northeastern edge of Tucson as part of Coronado National Forest, is one of the city’s most popular hiking destinations. This comes as no surprise given the canyon’s diverse hiking opportunities, convenient location, and gorgeous scenery, not to mention the spectacular views of Tucson’s sunsets. It is a must see for both Tucson tourists and locals! Shuttles leave on the hour during slow season and half-hour during busy season. With both shuttles, you can hop on and off at any of the nine stops along the route. 

Mount Lemmon

A summer retreat, Mount Lemmon is approximately 30 degrees cooler than nearby Tucson, which is only about one hour away. Located in the Santa Catalina Range, Mount Lemmon is surrounded by the Coronado National Forest and home to a town befitting of the name, Summerhaven. Explore various trails, eat homemade fudge, and even rent a cabin for a weekend away in the pines. On your way to the Mount Lemmon's Peak, you'll drive along the 27-mile sky islands scenic byway, which is more than just a way to get to the top. During the summer, hike the trails, camp under the dark skies (there’s an observatory on the mountain because of the particularly dark skies), fish, bird, or even rock climb. Definitely get there early, as this is a popular retreat from the heat.

When snow is on the ground, head up to the 8,000-foot elevation for skiing, snowboarding, sledding, and snowshoeing.

Patagonia - Sonoita Creek Preserve

Sonoita Creek State Natural Area (SCSNA) is located in Santa Cruz County downstream from Patagonia Lake State Park along lower Sonoita Creek, a perennial tributary of the Santa Cruz River. Twenty miles of trails are available for hiking and eight miles of trails are shared with equestrians. A 1.5 mile hike of moderate difficulty called the “Overlook Trail” is close to Patagonia Lake State Park and is a great way to see 360 degrees of spectacular scenery. Most of the trails are more remote and the shortest round trip hike to the creek is three miles on the Sonoita Creek Trail. Sonoita Creek State Natural Area and Patagonia Lake State Park are designated as an Important Bird Area by the Audubon Society. If you are a bird watcher you may hit the jackpot here. During spring migration, late January through early April, a guided bird walk of a few hours could bring over 60 species to your attention. The complete bird list is over 300 species.

Attractions

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Desert Museum

Focused on the preservation of the Sonoran Desert, The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum will turn your idea of a museum inside out. Guests will experience a quintessential Sonoran Desert experience which includes: an unforgettable fusion zoo, botanical garden, natural history museum, aquarium and art gallery. Explore 21 acres with two miles of walking trails. Highlights include the hummingbird aviary, Warden Aquarium and Earth Sciences Center where guests descend into a replica limestone cave. Enjoy live animal presentations that showcase a variety of desert animals and be sure not to miss Raptor Free Flight (seasonal) where native birds of prey fly so close you can feel the brush of feathers! Open daily, year-round. 

San Xavier del Bac

The Mission San Xavier del Bac is a church, school, and frequently visited tourist attraction in Tucson on the Tohono O’Odham San Xavier Indian Reservation.

The mission was named in 1692 by Padre Eusebio Kino for a pioneering Christian missionary and co-founder of the Society of Jesus (Jesuit Order), Francis Xavier.

Completed in 1797, the church has Mexican, Spanish, and Tohono O’odham influences.

Dubbed the “white dove in the desert,” visitors come from near and far to see the ornate and detailed artwork, to learn about the history, and to admire the careful preservation.

Old Tucson Studios

 Old Tucson is southern Arizona’s one-of-a-kind Wild West attraction, featuring live action stunt shows, musicals and comedy entertainment, as well as vintage rides for the kids and special events throughout the season. Built in 1939 for the movie, Arizona, Old Tucson is home to more than 400 film, television and commercial productions, and remains the region’s premier film location.

Tucson Botanical Garden

Located on the site of the historic Porter property, Reader’s Digest named Tucson Botanical Gardens as the BEST Secret Garden in America. Among mature trees and expertly cultivated foliage, specialty gardens such as the Cactus & Succulent Garden, Barrio Garden and Herb Garden highlight the diversity of native plants while offering a lush oasis in the heart of Tucson. Tropical butterflies from around the world are featured in the Cox Butterfly & Orchid Pavilion Oct.–May. Experience year-round tours, community events, classes, and art exhibits, as well as the creative, seasonal menu of Café Botanica. Now celebrating 40 years of living beauty, The Tucson Botanical Gardens is a unique gem not to be missed.

Reid Park Zoo

Reid Park Zoo is one of Tucson’s most beloved and recognized attractions. Boasting 500,000 visitors each year, the Reid Park Zoo is a clean, well-kept, and moderately sized zoo. Located in mid-town Tucson and bordered by Gene C. Reid Park and two Tucson City Golf courses, the 24-acre zoo was founded in 1965 and is home to hundreds of animals. In addition to animal exhibits, the zoo also offers a carousel, a miniature train, a giraffe experience, a camel ride, an air-conditioned cafe, and a number of educational programs. Reid Park Zoo is also the host of many interesting and well-done adult events throughout the calendar year – including ZOOcson, Brew at the Zoo, and Wine Gone Wild.

Tohono Chul Park

   Embrace the authentic beauty of the Sonoran Desert year-round at Tohono Chul, Tucson’s charming crossroads of nature, art and culture. Deemed “One of the World’s Ten Best Botanical Gardens” by Travel + Leisure Magazine, Tohono Chul has been celebrated by Tucson as one of its “best kept secrets” for over a quarter of a century. Set on 49 acres of lush desert, the vibrant offerings at Tohono Chul awaken your senses. Locals and visitors alike delight in the experience of having nature at their fingertips. Stroll along winding paths past soaring Saguaros, through themed botanical gardens and marvel at a chance encounter with a resident hummingbird. Enjoy quiet retreat in the artfully designed relaxation spots sprinkled throughout the lush grounds. Various art and garden exhibits reveal the unique qualities of the Sonoran region and renew a deep appreciation for the treasures of the desert.

Historic Hacienda de la Canoa

 Historic Hacienda de la Canoa is classified as an historic landmark. Tours of the ranch are offered on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Join a walking tour of the Canoa Ranch headquarters to gain insights into the fascinating stories of the people that lived and worked on the ranch. Visit the historic ranch buildings and corrals and enjoy scenic views of the Santa Cruz River Valley. Reservations required. We also offer addition environmental education programs such as bird walks and star gazing. Come visit Historic Hacienda de la Canoa. 

Museums

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Titan Missile Museum

At the Titan Missile Museum visitors journey through time to stand on the front line of the Cold War. This preserved Titan II missile site, officially known as complex 571-7, is all that remains of the 54 Titan II missile sites that were on alert across the United States from 1963 to 1987, This one of a kind museum gives visitors a rare look at the technology used by the United States to deter nuclear war. What was once one of America’s most top secret places is now a National Historic Landmark, fulfilling its new mission of bringing Cold War history to life for millions of visitors from around the world. 

Asarco Mineral Discovery Center

 Visit the ASARCO Mineral Discovery Center where you can make your own discoveries about copper and the mining industry. Discover the award-winning exhibit center, video theater, cactus garden, and picnic area. Public tours of a working open-pit copper mine are available without prior reservations. See how copper ore is mined in the open-pit and at the center you will see how it is processed in the mill to extract the copper minerals. You can shop at the Company Store Gift Shop for southwestern arts and crafts by local and Native American artisans.

Pima Air and Space Museum - Boneyard

 360+ aircraft, 80 acres, 6 indoor air-cooled hangars... just plane awesome!  One of the world's largest aircraft collections including 3 hangars of WWII planes, the SR-71, the world's smallest biplane, and many other unique private, military, and commercial air & spacecraft documenting the evolution of flight. There’s something for the everyone from a “flight simulator” Boeing 720 cockpit, the Women in Flight Gallery, and an all around mecca for the aviation aficionado. We give the only tour of the "Boneyard"/AMARG (M-F, no holidays, 16-day advanced reservations required) plus a tram tour of the museum's 80 acres and one-of-a-kind planes. You can actually touch aviation history like "Freedom One" (that flew American hostages home after 444 days in Iran), presidential crafts, planes that launched astronauts, others with wingspans the length of a football field... ogle helicopters, MiGs, an Oscar, a rare German buzz bomb, a moon rock, and much more! 

Amerind Museum

  Today, Amerind Museum exhibitions tell the story of America's first peoples from Alaska to South America and from the last Ice Age to the present. Amerind's  Fulton-Hayden Memorial Art Gallery features works on western themes by such artists as Carl Oscar Borg, William Leigh, Frederic Remington, and Andy Tsihnahjinnie, and one room in the Art Gallery is reserved for the presentation of contemporary Native American art. A museum store offers southwestern arts, crafts, and books on prehistory, history, and Native American cultures. The Amerind experience is more than art and artifacts. At times, Amerind visitors will find Indian artists demonstrating their skills in the museum's main gallery. Museum visitors can learn   about Southwestern indigenous culture from the eyes of the Native People themselves.   

Arizona Historical Society

The Arizona History Museum, housed in a historic Josias Joesler-designed building, is located near the center of the Tucson Metro area. The museum houses the stories and artifacts of Arizona personalities such as Geronimo and Wyatt Earp, as well as Emperor and Empress Maximilian and Carlota of Mexico. Family-oriented exhibits include a mining tunnel and a hands-on re-creation of 1870s’ Tucson. The museum hosts special lectures and annual events. Home to the Arizona Historical Society library, archives, and artifact collections, it is a destination for researchers of Arizona History.

festivals and Fairs

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Fourth Avenue Street Fair

The Fourth Avenue Street Fair, recognized as one of the premier community celebrations in the Southwest, is held biannually in the gorgeous Sonoran Desert community of Tucson, Arizona.

We invite you to participate in this 50-year-old tradition which, attracts more than 600,000 guests each year. In addition to over 300 international artisans, we host entertainment stages, children’s activities and tantalizing treats from 40+ food concessionaires. Admission to the festival is free and open to the entire community.

Tubac Festivals

Festivals have been a tradition in Tubac since 1959. Southern Arizona’s longest running art festival, the Tubac Festival of the Arts has a 60 year tradition that draws tens of thousands of visitors each season. The juried event showcases the work of visiting artists from around the country and as far away as Canada. Each year, approximately 200 visiting artists exhibit their works along the village streets, mixed in with the more than 100 shops, fine art galleries and working artist studios.

Following the success of the annual Festival of the Arts, in 2014, the Tubac Chamber of Commerce added an annual Fall Arts & Crafts Festival, held the first weekend in November just in time for holiday shopping.

Patagonia Fall Festival

31 years ago, the Town of Patagonia held its first fall festival to showcase extraordinary talent and artistry against the beautiful backdrop of their community, nestled at over 4000 feet in the mountains of Southeast Arizona. Now in its 31st year, the festival attracts more than 15,000 visitors to Patagonia’s lovely tree-shaded park in the center of town over a festive weekend, presented by the Southern Arizona Arts & Cultural Alliance in partnership with the Sky Island Tourism Association.

Wings Over Willcox Festival

The Wings Over Willcox festival is the perfect opportunity to see all the winter migrants that visit the area and to see the other wildlife and natural wonders of Southeastern Arizona. The festival provides opportunities to explore nature in Southeastern Arizona through tours on photography, geology, history, botany, agriculture and the wonderful Sandhill Cranes and other birds of our area. We invite you to take advantage of these opportunities by signing up for tours and seminars. We hope you can join us!

Day Trips

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Bisbee

Bisbee's extraordinarily well-preserved early-twentieth-century downtown draws visitors from around the world, who appreciate its historic architecture, it's welcoming, creative spirit and its cool climate. Bisbee also serves as an ideal overnight home-base for visitors – birders, hikers, wine-tasters, music-appreciators, and others who wish to explore our geologically, biologically and culturally rich "Sky Islands" region. 

Patagonia

The Town of Patagonia is appropriately proud of our history and distinctive character. The community is quirky and we like it that way. Visitors tell us that Patagonia’s unique spirit is easily perceived and is their reason to stay or to return. Situated at over 4,000 feet elevation between the Santa Rita Mountains and the Patagonia Mountains in the riparian corridor of Sonoita Creek, Patagonia is spectacularly rich in both natural and human assets. The distinguishing vision of our community is to protect and build sustainably upon these assets and our town character.

Sonoita

Visit the most beautiful and spectacular part of southern Arizona! Located in the heart of Arizona’s Wine Country at a cool elevation of 5,000’ and surrounded by breathtaking 9,000’ mountain peaks, Sonoita is inspiring. Enjoy the rolling hills, Arizona ash and oak trees, picturesque vineyards, historic ranches, delightful wildlife and colorful wildflowers.

Tubac

Tubac offers an astonishing array of premium galleries, unique shopping, fine art, and dining. Here, one can find world-renowned birding, hiking (or strolling), biking, holistic health and spa treatments, wine tastings, and art classes. Tubac is also home to 27 gorgeous holes of golf at the Tubac Golf Resort, a prestigious AAA Four-Diamond rated property. Adding to Tubac’s appeal are the historic Presidio State Park and the nearby Tumacacori National Historical Park, which offer doorways into Arizona’s rich history and culture.

Tombstone

Today Tombstone offers a glimpse into the past with historic attractions such as museums, history tours on foot, by stagecoach or trolley, underground mine experiences, paranormal adventures, shopping, dining, and of course gunfight reenactments! Stand where the legendary stories of the past actually occurred and encapsulate yourself in our authentic Wild West History!

Arivaca

Rolling panoramic mountain views of the valley and some of Arizona's best birding and wildlife make Arivaca a unique destination.  Artists, makers, and growers make the community truly special.  You'll find Arivaca about 60 miles south of Tucson.  From I-19 at Amado, you'll enjoy a beautiful drive down Arivaca Road with native grasses, flowers, and ocotillo.  Once you reach the village of Arivaca, you can spend the perfect day hiking in the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge then relaxing with a cold brew at La Gitana CantinaCantina & Cafe or fresh roasted coffee at Gadsen Caffee Aribac.  Don't forget to get the gear at the Arivaca Mercantile and check out the Artists' Co-op too for unique art pieces by the local artisans of Arivaca.