Tucson, Arizona is one of our favorite places to visit as a family because of all of the fun family friendly outdoor activities and all the learning opportunities! Tucson is great especially now when finding things to do outdoors is important to us. So if you’re looking for fun family friendly things to do in Tucson during COVID, this list is for you!
Family Friendly Hikes
We have done a lot of hiking in Tucson, and while there have been a few duds we have also found a lot of really amazing hikes that are perfect to do with kids (and dogs too!). The most important thing to remember in the desert is to always have more water than you think you need, be wary of natural desert dwellers (hello rattlesnakes), and don’t underestimate the heat! The best months to hike are November-April, but if you are visiting in a hotter month, you might be able to get in an hour or two if you start very early. Read about all the family friendly hikes we have found in Tucson here.
arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
Visiting the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum has become an annual tradition for us. Even if you aren’t vacationing in Tucson, it’s an easy day trip from Phoenix. It’s almost entirely outdoors and a great place to learn about all of the native plants and animals of the Sonoran Desert. One of my favorite things is the “invisible” fencing that surrounds some of the animal exhibits, making it feel like you are just witnessing animals like coyotes and javelina out in the wild.
Kids love the underground cave full of gems and minerals, and the chance to mine for their own special rock at the cave’s exit. The hummingbird aviary is another favorite, tiny little hummingbirds zoom right by your head as you stroll through! And although it’s been closed during the pandemic, there is a super fun indoor play space called the Packrat Playhouse, where kids can discover the desert through the eyes of a packrat!
If you’re looking to learn more about the Sonoran Desert with your kids, check out these resources before or after your visit!
Reid Park Zoo
We’ve been to quite a few zoos in our travels, but Reid Park remains one of our favorites. It’s not very big, but that’s one of it’s unique charms. The exhibits allow you to get so much closer to the animals than you can in most zoos. Reid Park has an amazing elephant exhibit, giraffe feeding, and even a fun water play area for kids.
There are lots of places to rest and find shade. Outside food is allowed (just no straws!) but they do have restaurants inside the zoo. Right outside the zoo there is also a ride-on train that takes kids on a ride around the adjacent park.
Tucson Botanical Garden
Botanical Gardens might not be the first thing you think of when you are looking for fun family friendly outdoor activities in Tucson, but these gardens are unique and great for kids to explore. And recently, Reader’s Digest named Tucson Botanical Gardens as the BEST Secret Garden in America, so how can you go wrong?
Kids love the butterfly pavilion, the Children’s Discovery Garden, and the Garden Railway with a working model train! Be sure to pick up a map of the Gardens made just for kids and families when you visit. The map highlights some of the best areas for kids and includes prompts to encourage more careful observation in each garden.
Younger kids will love this downloadable story and coloring book called My New Backyard Garden — be sure to grab it before or after your visit!
Funny Foot Farm and Petting Zoo
Looking for a truly unique outdoor activity Tucson? Then you have to check out the Funny Foot Farm and Petting Zoo. This isn’t just your average petting zoo — yes they have goats and chickens but they also have porcupines, capybara, agouti, Patagonian Mara, and kangaroos! And yes, you can feed and pet almost all of them! We highly recommend this fun and totally unique Tucson family activity!
gOLF n’ STUFF
We love playing mini golf and riding the go-carts at Golf N’ Stuff in Tucson. Yes, it’s not quite as exciting and jam-packed with activities like Funtastiks, but that’s part of it’s charm. Plus, it’s less expensive, less crowded, and we always seem to be able to find coupons that get us two-for-one deals on golf.
Tohono Chul is one of those hidden gems in Tucson that you could easily drive by and never notice. Drive by too quickly and you’ll easily miss the entrance. Once inside, you’ll be amazed at this beautiful natural preserve that’s fun for the whole family.
Tohono Chul consists of several different gardens dedicated to the plant and animal life of the Sonoran Desert. One of these gardens is a Children’s Garden, where kids can float wooden “fish boats” down a tiled stream, play xylophone wind chimes, or if you’re lucky, listen to a story as part of their “Stories in the Garden” program.
Be sure to check out these fun desert-themed activity sheets for the kids before or after your visit!
Let’s Roam Scavenger Hunt
Ok so this isn’t something you can do only in Tucson, but Let’s Roam does have a Tucson-specific scavenger hunt that is really fun! The “Desert Oasis” scavenger hunt starts downtown at the Tucson Art Museum and winds its way through historical and cultural landmarks in the downtown area. The scavenger hunt will take you about 1.5 hours and you’ll walk about 2 miles. But don’t worry, you can pause the hunt at any time and take a break.
This scavenger hunt is fun for the whole family and is a great way to discover a bit about the history of Tucson and see some really cool architecture and cultural heritage sites. The best part is all the learning! It’s like an interactive history lesson for everyone! Visit Let’s Roam to buy your tickets and discover all of their available scavenger hunts!
I hope this guide helps you find some fun, family friendly outdoor adventures in Tucson! Enjoy your visit and let me know in the comments below if there is something I missed!