FX Excursions

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Family Fun in Tucson

by Susan Barnes

Dec 30, 2017

© Benkrut | Dreamstime

Destinations / North America

Tucked into southern Arizona, just about 70 miles from the Mexican border, is Tucson, a city officially founded in August 1776, but whose history goes back much further. In fact, Tucson is one of the oldest continually inhabited areas in North America. With an area of 227 miles and five seasons — spring, foresummer drought, summer monsoon, fall and winter — not to mention a national park, an expansive desert and miles of hiking and biking trails, there’s plenty of family fun to be had in the area.


A terrific introduction to Tucson and the surrounding Sonoran Desert is the award-winning Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Here, your family can learn about the wildlife that make their homes in the desert, including cute little prairie dogs, majestic bighorn sheep and elusive mountain lions. Plant life, such as iconic giant saguaro cactus and native agave, are explained —it’s quite impressive to learn a saguaro doesn’t sprout its first arm until it’s at least 95–100 years old. In fact, the Sonoran Desert is the only place in the world where the giant saguaro cactus grows!

Saguaros at saguaro national park

Photo: Hakoar | Dreamstime


Now, it’s time to get out and explore Tucson and southern Arizona. Take a look at all you learned in the museum in the “real world” with a visit to Saguaro National Park, where you can drive, hike, bike and even camp in the arid landscape of the Sonoran Desert. For a different perspective, drive 90 minutes along the Catalina Highway from Tucson and climb to 9,000 feet above sea level where you’ll find yourself surrounded by pine trees. It’s remarkable how quickly the environment changes.


Speaking of environment, when the Arizona heat rises, opt inside at any number of family-friendly attractions. Go small with big-time fun at the Mini-Time Machine Museum of Miniatures. Cities, towns and more are presented in miniature, and a fun reminder good things come in small packages.


You’ll feel small yourselves when you and your family go underground at Colossal Cave Mountain Park, where you’ll experience life under the earth’s surface. Miles of passageways showcase the area’s geological history in a fun way that squeezes in a bit of learning, too.

Aircraft At Pima Air and space Museum

© Lizziemaher | Dreamstime

Speaking of learning, Biosphere 2 opens up the skies and visitors’ minds to what life might be like on another planet one day. Watch and maybe even participate in science experiments for some hands-on action. Over at The Pima Air & Space Museum, docents oftentimes work and tinker on planes from throughout history for more learning-without-realizing, which may just be the best way to learn.


Tucson’s resorts welcome guests of all ages with myriad kids’ programs and amenities, not to mention family-friendly rates. The lazy river at JW Marriott Starr Pass is a terrific away to cool off on an Arizona afternoon, while the on-property hiking trails at Loews Ventana Canyon, mountain bikes at the Westward Look Wyndham Grand Resort and Spa and on-property stables at Hilton El Conquistador in Oro Valley encourage more area exploration.


For a truly western experience, your family can channel their inner cowboys and cowgirls when you choose to stay at one of the area’s dude ranches, like White Stallion Ranch. Days are filled with horseback riding, hiking, lassoing, rock climbing and more, and nights can easily be spent around campfires and gazing at the seemingly millions of stars overhead. Head back to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum to gaze skywards through powerful telescopes to look even further into outer space.


With all there is to see and do in Tucson, you and your family are sure to create memories that will last for years to come.


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