We loved visiting the Arizona-Sonora Desert museum and there was so much for families to explore at this Tucson, AZ attraction.
I can’t believe it has been almost a year since we visited Tucson, Arizona. One of my favorite places to visit was the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. It is so much more than your typical museum.
The museum is part zoo, part botanical gardens, part art gallery, natural history museum, and aquarium. Had I known this before our visit, I would have planned a full day for us to enjoy everything about it.
We only had a few hours to explore the museum and even though it was not a long visit, we found a few favorites that we recommend you check out during your visit.
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Overview
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Location
The Arizona-Sonora desert museum is located at 2021 North Kinney Road Tucson, AZ 85743.
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum Cost
- Adults (13-64): $21.95
- Senior (65+): $19.95
- Youth (3-12): $9.95
- Children (under 3): Free
Arizona-Sonora Desert Hours
- March-September: 7:30am-5:00pm
- October-February: 8:30am-5:00pm
6 Things to See at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum for Families
1 Live Animal Presentations at the Arizona Desert Museum
I am the first to admit I am totally squeamish around animals, especially snakes. Of course the first live animal exhibit we encounter is a snake encounter. I put on a brave face for my kids but I was so nervous.
The amazing thing was even though I was pretty scared the handler working the exhibit helped me feel at ease and I actually learned a lot about the behavior of these animals.
2 Hummingbird Aviary
The Hummingbird Aviary was a unique place to visit and unlike anything I have ever seen. As you enter many hummingbirds are whizzing passed you throughout the aviary. It was a bit overwhelming and you had to watch where you were going.
They moved very fast and it was a bit frantic. Some kids may not love this but it is very easy to exit if your child doesn’t enjoy it.
3 Mountain Woodland Exhibit
The mountain woodland exhibit shows guests what mountain lions, black bears, and Mexican Gray wolves natural habitat look like and give guests an up close view at these animals.
I really liked how all the exhibits naturally flowed along the loop of the museum.
4 Cat Canyon
Cat Canyon is an area of the desert museum that lets families see bobcats, ocelots, and gray foxes. This area was very cool and I share a bit in the video below.
5 Riparian Corridor
Riparian Corridor is home to river otters, beavers, bighorn sheep, and more animals. This area is intertwined in the middle of the museum and it helps to follow signs, and check you map to explore. I really liked how everything was made with families in mind and the area was very accessible for kids.
6 Botanical Gardens
My absolute favorite area of the museum was exploring the botanical gardens. The landscape is so different than what we experience in the Northeast and I loved seeing the different cacti and plant life.
There are so many areas to visit and explore through the botanical gardens and I highly suggest you take your time and learn more about the area.
The packrat playhouse is an indoor and air conditioned play area for kids. When we visited it wasn’t open and we missed it. It is located close to the start of the loop and we didn’t have time in our schedule to back track to check it out.
Other Attractions at the Arizona Desert Museum
The Arizona-Sonora desert museum also has an on-site art gallery and natural history museum that time did not allow us to visit. We did stop into the aquarium which is at the entrance/exit of the museum. This is a small aquarium that will not take longer than 15-20 minutes to explore.
I was very disappointed that we missed touring the natural history museum which has a geology and earth science exhibit that sounds amazing.
Check out Our Vlog of Our Visit to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
Things to Know When Visiting the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
- Parking is free and located on the museum grounds.
- The walking trails open as early as 7:30am but all exhibits do not open. The Packrat Playhouse didn’t open until 10:00am during our visit.
- Be prepared to walk. There is a lot of walking during your visit to the museum.
- It can be very hot. Be prepared with hats, suncreen, sunglasses, and water.
- The museum is stoller friendly.
- Outside food and drink is not permitted but you may bring a reusable water bottle for your visit.
- There are two cafes that offer lunch options during your visit as well as a coffee and ice cream shop. Learn more here.
The Arizona-Sonora desert museum deserves a full day to explore with your kids. There is so much to see and do making it a great Tucson attraction for families.
Leah has been traveling with her family of 5 since 2012 and sharing her expertise on planning family vacations and visiting theme parks since 2016. Leah has been featured in Visit Rochester, Undercover Tourist, and Home Publications. She has worked with brands like Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, Hersheypark, Toyota, and various Tourism boards and destinations. Leah creates family travel itineraries based on real trip experiences with her family. Her guides and tips help others plan great family vacations. Learn more about Leah and Five for the Road.