Tucson, Arizona Travel Guide & Trip Planner

View of Tucson from the Mount Lemmon Scenic BywayView of Tucson from the Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway

Tucson is located in the southern part of Arizona, and the county seas of Pima County. It is the second largest city in Arizona, after Phoenix, 108 miles (174km) to the north. Tucson is situated 60 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Over 3.5 million visitors annually due to Tucson's numerous resorts, hotels, and attractions.

Tucson is situated on an alluvial plain in the Sonoran desert, surrounded by five ranges of mountains: the Santa Catalina Mountains and the Tortolita Mountains to the north, the Santa Rita Mountains to the south, the Rincon Mountains to the east, and the Tucson Mountains to the west.

The high point of the Santa Catalina Mountains is 9,157 ft (2,791 m) Mount Lemmon, the southernmost ski destination in the continental U.S., while the Tucson Mountains include 4,687 ft (1,429 m) Wasson Peak. The highest point in the area is Mount Wrightson, found in the Santa Rita Mountains at 9,453 ft (2,881 m) above sea level.

Interstate 10 runs northwest through the city, connecting Tucson to Phoenix in the northwest and to Las Cruces, New Mexico and El Paso, Texas in the southeast. Interstate Highway I-19 runs south f rom Tucson to Nogales.

 

The city is home to the University of Arizona, Saguaro National Park, and Davis-Monthan AFB. Tourism is a major industry in Tucson, bringing in $2 billion annually to the local economy. Attractions such as the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and the Catalina Highway attract visitors to the area year round.

Tucson is also the site of the annual Nova Home Loans Arizona Bowl.

One of the most popular destinations in Tucson ... Saguaro National Park
One of the most popular destinations in Tucson ... Saguaro National Park

 

How to Get to Tucson

Tucson is located on Interstate Highways I-10 and I-19 in southern Arizona (see interactive Tucson map below on this page).

Seven airlines fly nonstop to 20 locations from Tucson International Airport (TUS). Currently Alaska Airlines, American, Delta, Southwest, Sun Country, United and Via Air service the Tucson area.

 

Tucson Travel Information from TripAdvisor

Hotels in Tucson

Vacation Rentals in Tucson

Restaurants and dining options in Tucson

Things to Do in Tucson

Tucson Travel Guide

Click to review hotels and restaurants, read reviews and make reservations at TripAdvisor

Embassy Suites in the Paloma Village Center, Tucson, ArizonaThe Embassy Suites at Paloma Village Center is one of our favorite hotels in Tucson ... we have stayed here multiple times, and always have had a great lodging experience!
Embassy Suites Paloma Village

 

What to See and Do in Tucson

Tucson has attractions and things to do for all ages, and interests, indoor and outdoor, year-round. Some of the popular attractions include the following:

 

Sabino Canyon

A "must see" stop for visitors to Tucson ... Sabino Canyon ... a natural desert oasis located in Tucson’s Coronado National Forest and is home to spectacular desert landscapes and abundant wildlife.

A "must see" stop for visitors to Tucson ... Sabino Canyon

 

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is located on 97 acres of which 47 are developed and curated; there are two miles of walking paths, 16 individual gardens, 1,200 native plant species and 56,000 individual plants. The animal collection currently includes 230 native mammals, reptiles, amphibians, insects, and birds including a multi-species hummingbird aviary.

Many animals can be seen, such as bighorn sheep, bear, fox porcupine, beavers, coyote, turkeys, many species of birds and much more!

It also features the Warden Aquarium, the Earth Sciences Center, bookstore, gift shop and two restaurants.

It is located just west of Tucson, at 2021 N. Kinney Rd., Tucson AZ 85743. Phone 520.883.2702.

Highly recommended!

Entrance area to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
Entrance area to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
Delicate, colorful cactus blooming at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
Delicate, colorful cactus blooming at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
Bighorn Sheep at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
Bighorn Sheep at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
Experience hummingbirds up close and personal at the Hummingbird Aviary
Experience hummingbirds up close and personal at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

 

Saguaro National Park in Tucson

Saguaro National Park protects some of the most impressive forests of these sub-tropical giants, on the edge of the modern City of Tucson.

The park is located in two different sections: Tucson Mountain District (west), and the Rincon Mountain District (east).

The park was established as Saguaro National Monument on March 1, 1933, and changed to a national park on October 14, 1994.

Shown below is a sampling of the photos we shot during our last visit to the park.

Saguaro National Park in Tucson
Saguaro National Park in Tucson
A mature Saguaro Cactus, with pups
Giant Saguaro Cactus in Tucson at the national park
Beautiful blooms in the desert, at the Saguaro National Park in Tucson
Beautiful blooms in the desert, at the Saguaro National Park in Tucson
The intricacies of native cactus, in the Saguaro National Park in Tucson
Saguaro National Park cacus

 

Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway

Climbing up the Mount Lemmon Scenic BywayClimbing up the Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway

Though most people call this road the Catalina Highway or the Mount Lemmon Highway, it is officially designated the General Hitchcock Highway. The road is drivable year-round, but winter weather may cause restrictions. To reach the byway, take Tanque Verde Road east from Tucson to the Catalina Highway, which becomes Hitchcock Highway at the Forest Service boundary. From there, the highway leads to the top of Mount Lemmon.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, the Catalina Highway is traveled over by more than one million visitors every year.

Ascending from the desert floor in Tucson to near the summit of Mount Lemmon, the short highway gains over 6,000 ft. Mount Lemmon is the highest point in the Santa Catalina Mountains, with a peak elevation of 9,152 feet (2,792 m). The summit of the mountain is approximately twenty degrees cooler than the base. Therefore, large amounts of snow falls during the winter months, making it a cool escape and popular tourist attraction for Tucson and Phoenix inhabitants.

 

The paved 27 mile road transitions from the Sonoran Desert with its cacti, Joshua trees, and mesquite plants up to cool forests of oak, fir, pine, and aspen found in Canadian ecological zones hundreds of miles to the north. The road has ample pull-outs, scenic overlooks and opportunities for photographing the amazing vistas in the distance. There are also several campgrounds, picnic areas, and hiking trails offering access to the mountain’s backcountry canyons and ridges. The Village of Summerhaven is at the end of the road, with its small population of residents and various shops and eateries. A ski resort is also located at the top of the mountain.

Near the Hoodoo Vista Point on the Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway
Near the Hoodoo Vista Point on the Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway
View of the greater Tucson area from the top of Mount Lemmon
View of the greater Tucson area from the top of Mount Lemmon

Pima Air and Space Museum

The Pima Air & Space Museum, located at 6000 E. Valencia Road in Tucson across from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, is one of the largest in the world. Opened in 1976 with 35 aircraft, it has evolved into the largest non-government-funded air museum in the United States.

Pima Air and Space Museum in TucsonEntrance area to the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson

Its collection includes a vast collection of more than 300 historic planes and spacecraft, housed in both interior hangars and exterior spaces, and spread over 80 acres.

Exhibits include fighters, bombers, cargo planes, helicopters, commercial aircraft, VIP planes, trainers, MIGs, and much more.

We've toured the galleries on multiple visits, and highly recommend it to all with an interest in aviation, the Air Force, and aircraft history.

It is open every day of the year except Thanksgiving and Christmas. Phone 520.574.0462 for detailed opening hours. Purchase admission tickets just inside the main entrance. Parking is free. You can tour the indoor and outdoor galleries yourself, on your own pace. Or you can join docent-led tours, either on walking tours or tram tours. The staff, docents, and volunteers are exceptional, and conversations with these experienced aviators can be as educational as seeing the planes themselves. During our last visit, we had a fascinating conversation with a veteran of the European Theater; he offered detailed, first-hand accounts of his bomber experiences ... we could have listened for hours to his commentary!

Bus Tours of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base AMARG

The Museum is the official tour operator of the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG), and also known as the "Boneyard," at adjacent Davis-Monthan AFB.

Guided motorcoach tours of AMARG are available Monday thru Friday, excluding Federal holidays.

Advanced reservations are now required for this tour. As of November 1, 2017 all guests interested in taking this tour must have made a reservation and received a security clearance in advance. The security clearance will be given by Davis-Monthan Air Force Base from information collected at the time of reservation. Reservations must be made 10 business days in advance of the desired tour date, and can be made up to 90 days in advance.

Bus tours depart from the Pima Museum entrance. Due to security requirements on Davis-Monthan, there are baggage checks before boarding the bus, and limitations on what you can carry on the tours.


Check with the Museum regarding tour departure dates/times, ticket prices, reservations, security clearances, and seasonal schedules.

at the official website of the
Pima Air and Space Museum
or phone the Museum at 520.618.4805


Many things to see and do at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson
Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson
B-29 Superfortress "Sentimental Journey" on display at the Pima Air and Space Museum
B-29 Superfortress "Sentimental Journey" on display at the Pima Air and Space Museum

 

 

One of the many outdoor aircraft on display at the Pima Air and Space Museum
Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson


Other Attractions Around Tucson

Mission San Xavier del Brac, 1950 W. San Xavier Road, Tucson
Mission San Xavier del Brac, 1950 W. San Xavier Road, Tucson
The Gaslight Theatre, 7010 E. Broadway Boulevard in Tucson
The Gaslight Theatre, 7010 E. Broadway Boulevard in Tucson
Tohono Chul, Tucson, Arizona
Tohono Chul, Tucson, Arizona

 

Interactive Map of the Tucson Area

For More Information about Tucson

Visit Tucson website

Saguaro National Park official website at NPS

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Pima Air and Space Museum