Temperatures are soaring in Tucson and it’s often difficult to know how to pass the summer days with children and teens. Although it is possible to find relief from the heat at splash parks and swimming pools throughout the city, there comes a time when air conditioning can’t be beat!
Here’s a rundown of the Indoor Recreation Spots in Tucson – places where your kids can run around and have a good time without breaking (too much of) a sweat.
AZ AIR TIME and GET AIR TUCSON
Get their wiggles out at one of two indoor trampoline parks in Tucson – AZ Air Time at 3931 W. Costco Drive in Marana or Get Air Tucson at 330 S. Toole Avenue in Downtown Tucson. Both parks opened in 2013 and have lots of trampoline jumping space, plus designated areas for dodgeball, basketball, and tots. Price is $6-$13/hour, depending on the ages of your children and the day of your visit.
For a bit of bookish quiet time, head to one of the three Tucson Bookmans locations – Speedway (6230 E. Speedway Blvd), Ina (3733 W. Ina Rd), or Grant (1930 E. Grant Rd). The used bookstore sells books, movies, music, video games, and musical instruments at great prices. You can also sell/trade your own gently used items in those categories in exchange for store credit. Bookmans also offers terrific programming for small children – storytimes, music hours, and more. Check the TucsonTopia calendar for a full schedule.
CHILDREN’S MUSEUM TUCSON
Located in Downtown Tucson at 200 S. 6th Avenue, the Children’s Museum is a clean, colorful, and creative space for young children. With 17,000 square feet to explore, the Museum is an especially good pick for children 10 and under. The preschool set (ages 1-6) will be especially enamored by the exhibits – a mini grocery store, a hands-on train table, a vet clinic, an art studio, and more. $8 for all ages (1-99); babies 12months and younger are free. Note that the museum offers a $3 admission day on the 30th of each month.
INJOY THRIFT STORE
Browse the racks at this clean and spacious secondhand store in East Tucson (Broadway & Pantano). Children’s clothes generally range in price between $1 and 4 – and there is also a selection of books, toys, and furniture. Little ones often get to choose a free miniature stuffed animal at check-out too!
INTERNATIONAL WILDLIFE MUSEUM
Located in a gray castle-like building at 4800 W. Gates Pass Rd on the west side of Tucson, the International Wildlife Museum is home to over 400 species of insects, mammals, and birds from around the globe. Lest you worry about encountering lions, bears, rattlesnakes, and hissing cockroaches, it’s important to note that all of the animals inside the museum are stuffed or preserved. Admission for adults is $9; $4 for ages 4-12; free for littles ones 3 and under.
KIDS BOWL FREE
Register your children at KidsBowlFree.com and they’ll receive 2 FREE games of bowling daily – all summer long! Specials on shoe rentals and lunch will be mailed to you weekly. Five different locations to choose from: Cactus Bowl, Fiesta Lanes, Lucky Strike, Tucson Bowl, and Golden Pin Lanes.
LITTLE ANTHONY’S DINER
While not a “destination” per se, Little Anthony’s Diner is a fun 50’s-themed restaurant that is often a favorite among kids due to the upbeat music, costumed waiters, and colorful decor. Stop in for milkshakes or a full meal – your choice. Be sure to bring your camera as there are plenty of photo opp spots.
MINI TIME MACHINE MUSEUM OF MINIATURES
Got little ones with BIG imaginations? Head to this miniature museum at 4455 E. Camp Lowell Drive in North-Central Tucson. You’ll enter through a giant front door of fairy tale proportions – ironic since the museum is home to 275+ miniature houses and roomboxes. Arranged into three galleries, you’ll view a number of scenes from familiar books. Admission is $6 for children (ages 4-17); $9 for adults; free for children 3 and under. Because the museum lacks hands-on components, it probably is best suited for ages 5 and up – but wee ones are welcome too! Closed on Mondays.
PUMP IT UP OF TUCSON
Pump It Up gives children free reign of numerous massive inflatables in a climate-controlled environment. Located at 3248 N. Freeway Industrial Loop along I-10, the location is a somewhat “central” meeting point if your friends are scattered throughout the city. Check the schedule for open jump times – $10 per child (accompanying adults are free). There are also Toddler Jump Times for ages 5 and under – $7/toddler; free for infants under age 1.
If you have children or teens who are over the age of six, RoadHouse Cinemas is the place to watch any new release movies. The unique movie theatre in central Tucson offers reserved seating (choose your seat in advance!), spacious auditoriums, large recliners, state of the art projection, and a full menu. For the best prices, visit on a Tuesday – all movies are $6 all day!
ROCKS & ROPES and THE BLOC
Build your upper arm strength + have a blast with the kids at one of two indoor rock-climbing facilities in Tucson. Rocks & Ropes is at 330 S. Toole Avenue in Downtown Tucson. The BLOC is at 8975 E. Tanque Verde Road in NE Tucson. $13 for admission; $9 for ages 12 and under. Special fees apply for first-timers and for equipment rental. Super fun option for tweens and teens!
SPORTING CHANCE CENTER
The Sporting Chance Center is the “largest indoor sports facility in Southern Arizona” at 36,000 square feet. The westside non-profit, at 2100 W. Curtis Rd, boasts five basketball courts, eight volleyball courts, and an on-site cafe. Sign up for one of the numerous camps and clinics, or opt to join Open Play. Daily fees for Open Play are $1 for ages 18 and under; $2 for ages 18 and up.
SPRINGS GYMNASTICS AND OLD PUEBLO GYMNASTICS
Springs Gymnastics at 9684 E. Rita Commerce Loop in SE Tucson and Old Pueblo Gymnastics at 7670 E. Wrightstown Road both offer Open Gym time, in addition to numerous summer camps and classes. There are separate open gym times and clinics for different age groups. Prices typically range between $5-$10 per hour per child.
TUCSON MUSEUM OF ART
Another Downtown option – this time for older kids! Walk the 72,000 square foot Tucson Museum of Art property to view historic homes and plentiful exhibits by local + international artists. Bring a sketchbook along to draw your favorite piece! Stay afterward for a treat at Cafe a la C’Art. Admission is FREE for children 12 and under, $7 for youth (ages 13-17), and $12 for ages 18 and up. First Sunday of the month is half price for everyone. The First Thursday of the month is free from 5:00pm – 8:00pm.
YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY
Where can you get new-release DVDs, suspenseful audio books, colorful picture books, and CDs of all your favorite bands? Where can you go to participate in crafts, book clubs, educational presentations, puppet shows, and tech workshops? Your local library! Best of all, it’s FREE – all ages, all the time. What are you waiting for? Get a library card and head to your neighborhood branch. There are currently 27 branches throughout a Tucson (+ a bookmobile that travels to select rural locations).
Where do YOU go to find relief from the summertime heat?