If you live in Tucson and have never been to Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, it's high time that you did!
The museum is currently rated #1 on TripAdvisor for Tucson "things to do"...for good reason!
Part zoo, part botanical gardens, and part museum, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is truly a marvel. You'll witness the spectacular beauty of desert plants and animals, while getting some exercise and enjoying the glorious year-round sunshine that draws tourists from all over the world.
The Desert Museum is tucked away on the far west side of Tucson - adjacent to Old Tucson (which closed indefinitely in 2020), Saguaro National Park West, and Gates Pass.
The address is: 2021 North Kinney Road, Tucson.
The desert museum is open 365 days a year.
October - February 8:30am to 5:00pm
March - June 7:30am to 5:00pm
July - September 7:30am to 2:00pm
Good walking shoes (preferably closed-toe), sunglasses, a hat, and lightweight/breathable clothing. Bring along a sweatshirt if you're visiting in the winter.
Approximately 90% of the museum is outdoors - but there are a few air-conditioned spaces including caves, a reptile & amphibian building, Warden Aquarium, Packrat Playhouse, art galleries, and on-site restaurants.
Water bottles, sunglasses, snacks, and a camera are recommended.
Bathrooms are located conveniently throughout the property and are well-maintained. As an added bonus, sunscreen pumps are available free-of-charge.
October thru April are ideal because the temperatures tend to be more moderate than in the summer months. That said, summer visits can also be fun if you watch the weather and spend time at the museum in the early morning or after sunset.
Sunrise and sunset offer the advantage of being “quieter” and make it more likely that you’ll capture great moments on-camera. That said, ANY time of day is a good time to be outdoors in Tucson's moderate climate. The only time you may want to avoid is midday in the heat of the summer.
Yes! The museum is home to 230 animal species - mountain lions, black bears, wolves, rattlesnakes, parrots, tarantulas, butterflies, hummingbirds, prairie dogs, and much more!
Yes. Feel free to pack a lunch or snacks. There is a small picnic area near the Museum entrance.
You will find two restaurants, a coffee bar, and a snack shop on-site at the desert museum.
Ironwood Terraces features burgers, sandwiches, pizza, wraps, salad, and special Sonoran Dishes (tamales, tostadas, marinated chicken with prickly pear plum sauce, etc). Entrees range in price between $4.25 and $9.95.
Ocotillo Cafe prides itself on the fact that their chefs "utilize the freshest ingredients available to create regional cuisine." Before your meal comes out, you'll enjoy fresh-baked focaccia bread served with cilantro pesto. Entrees range between $17-$25. Wine, beer, and prickly pear iced tea are also on the menu.
Not many! Your best bet is to eat on-property. The restaurants offer great indoor + outdoor seating options with magnificent views.
If you want to dine elsewhere, you're looking at an 8-15 mile drive.
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum has strollers available for rent ($7/day for members; $5/day for non-members). All exhibits may be reached with a stroller. Note that some paths are unpaved and there are some hilly areas.
Yes. There is a dedicated area for nursing mothers in the Packrat Playhouse.
Packrat Playhouse is a 4,000-square-foot, air-conditioned play space for children. Designed for ages 0-12, the desert-inspired, Tucson-themed playhouse is open daily between 10am and 4pm and is included with paid admission (free for members!).
Kids can slide down a gila monster’s tail, climb through prickly pear cactus pads, slither through an oversized rattlesnake, explore secret tunnels, discover hidden objects, and scramble in giant rope netting.
Hungry after all that playing? Food & drinks are available for purchase and there are tables inside the playhouse so you can enjoy your snacks in an air-conditioned environment.
The Packrat Playhouse can also be rented out for birthday parties.
Yes - in all of the restrooms.
Yes. Ironwood Terraces has a "Kid Kuisine" menu. For $5.75, your child will receive a choice of entree (hamburger, cheeseburger, chicken tenders, hot dog, corn dog, or cheese pizza), fruit wrap, animal crackers, and a 16 oz drink.
Ocotillo Cafe also has a Kid's Menu. The choices are the same as at Ironwood Terraces, but the price is $7.00 and only one side is included (fruit cup or french fries).
Yes. The Museum offers a variety of ceremony and reception venues for large and small weddings, including a shaded desert oasis, picturesque patios, scenic courtyards, intimate dining rooms, and banquet spaces with breathtaking panoramic views.
The combined facility fee for a ceremony plus reception starts at $2,800. Stand-alone ceremonies are at the discretion of the Museum and the fee is $1,500.
Craft Culinary Concepts is the exclusive caterer at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, encompassing all food and beverages. Catering prices range from $40-70 per person.
Wedding Cakes may be brought in from an external, licensed bakery.
Rates for multi-purpose areas for private events range from $500-1,500 depending upon the venue, the size of the group, and the length of the event.
You can also sign up to receive the Museum's bi-monthly enewsletter, filled with news about upcoming events and current happenings.
That just about covers it. Have a great time!
Check out the complete list of Tucson Museums.