15 Fun Things to Do in Tucson with Kids

Heading to Southern Arizona and looking for fun things to do in Tucson with kids? We have you covered here with our top 10 epic things to do in this adorable town.

Surrounded by 4 mountain ranges, bookended by a national park and situated on the banks of a river is one of Arizona’s most welcoming towns. Tucson, Arizona is well known for being a fun loving college town and a haven for star watchers looking to study the skies. It’s newest claim to fame as a UNESCO City of Gastronomy is quickly making a name for the town with the foodies.

Even with all the accolades, families often overlook Tucson, instead focusing their holidays on the big names of the state like the Grand Canyon and Route 66. And that is a shame. After 10 days in Tucson, we found it to be the perfect destination for a family vacation, especially for families who love the outdoors.

Additionally, Tucson provides a great deal of activities combining history, culture and science, making it a dream for homeschoolers or any family who likes to add fun, engaging educational experiences into their travels. Read on, for our top 15 things to do in Tucson with kids.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

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My Solo Momcation: A Sedona Getaway

Thank you Expedia for sponsoring this post. Visit Expedia.com or download the app to book your solo trip today!

Coming back from an epic 9 months around the world solo adventure with my 8 year old, it was high time for my own solo getaway. In almost 9 years of being a parent, I’ve never taken a solo trip that wasn’t to a conference or on an organized press trip.

There were so many thoughts running through my head as I packed up by carry on and headed out the door with no car seat in sight. I was worried how my husband would manage the camp drop offs and pick ups and if he could keep alive the 42 monarch caterpillars my son and I were raising.

However once on the familiar road to LAX, I let go of my anxieties and enjoyed listening to the news on NPR in solitude, excited for my adventure to begin.

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6 Amazing Stops on Route 66 Los Angeles to Grand Canyon That You MUST Visit

Are you heading out on the iconic Route 66 Los Angeles to Grand Canyon route? Traveling on the notorious Route 66 is a dream for many. While it takes a lot of time and planning to drive the entire length of the road (all 2,451 miles of it!), it is possible to drive sections of the road without much of an effort. We haven’t fulfilled our quest to drive the entire length of the road, but we were able to get a good taste by driving Route 66 from Los Angeles to the Grand Canyon. It was just enough to know that we will be back for more. (Update: We did it again going all the way to Oklahoma!)

Starting the drive on Route 66 from Los Angeles to the Grand Canyon, we happened across some awesome sites that are worth the detour and longer drive times.  The most difficult part of this drive is continually rerouting the GPS to stay off of Interstate 40!

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6 Things Not to Miss at the Grand Canyon

Visiting the Grand Canyon is often high on travelers’ bucket lists. Part of the Grand Canyon makes up one of the most famous of all the US’s national parks, while other sections are located on lands still owned by Native Americans. Both sections of this massive UNESCO-listed site offers dramatic scenery, varied flora and fauna, cultural encounters, amazing vistas and an abundance of activities. Stretching for more than 270 miles and reaching up to 18 miles wide, not to mention the wealth of awesome sites found en route, knowing the best places to visit in the Grand Canyon is essential.

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Horseback Riding in Tucson

Horseback Riding in TucsonI have been a fan of horseback riding since I was a kid growing up in Texas. It’s something I try to do wherever I am, as it provides a good opportunity to see landscapes not otherwise accessible, as well as time to chat with a local about their home. As you can imagine, I was super excited this past summer when my son was finally old enough to go on his first trail ride outside of a stable or ‘amusement park’. He was hooked and now also looks for any opportunity he can to ride. It has become our perfect family friendly outing that everyone enjoys.

That said, it’s not surprising that my son kept noticing all of the horse crossing signs throughout Tucson during our visit. If you have horse riding fans like my little one, you will be hard pressed to get out of this beautiful town without getting on a horse.

One of the best things to do in Tucson is to stay at a ranch where you can ride horses every day. Since this isn’t a possibility for all families, I thought I would also give a few options for where you can ride without a being a guest at a ranch. In our 10 day stay, we had the opportunity to ride at several different places and were recommended a few as well. Regardless of what you end up doing, don’t miss your chance to go for a trail ride in the desert landscapes of Tucson.

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Where to Eat in Tucson with Kids

Where to eat in Tucson with kidsIf you follow us regularly, you will know that finding options for meals while traveling is one of my least favorite things to do. It’s the one part of traveling that I don’t enjoy. Being in a new city, surrounded by an excess of options that I’m not familiar with, sends me over the edge! It’s true. But I have to say that on our trip to Tucson I found it very manageable in terms of eating. Perhaps it’s because Tucson is a classified UNESCO city of gastronomy and loaded with delectable options? Or maybe it was the abundance of Mexican food scattered throughout town? Apparently, there is a wonderful 23 mile stretch of amazing Mexican food there. I did not know this in advance, so will have to return to investigate this further!

Either way, food options were plentiful and even random places we happened upon were really good (and cheap!). I must admit I am not a foodie. I am pretty simple when it comes to food. I like comforting authentic food in a fun, welcoming atmosphere that is conducive to eating with children. If that is you too, then read on! These were some of our favorites in Tucson, including some must try local’s favorites. 

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Exploring Saguaro National Park in One Day

Saguaro National Park in One DayOne of our main reasons for our recent visit to Tucson was to explore Saguaro National Park. And to get a other junior ranger badge of course! Reading the name saguaro, you might not know exactly what it is (or even how to say it!), but once you see the iconic cactus often associated with Arizona and specifically the Sonoran Desert it will click. Considering how iconic this cactus is, you might be surprised to learn that this is the only part of the world that these famous catctus grow. The national park itself houses over 2 million saguaros, making it the most dense population of saguaro anywhere.

Researching the park was a bit confusing because the park bookends the city of Tucson with an east and west section. It is the only national park in the US that is not connected fully. Driving between the two districts takes a little more than an hour, so it’s important to know which area you want to visit if you have limited time. While reading about the park in advance of our trip, we couldn’t figure out which section was best, so we decided to explore it all and share the results with you here.

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Our Epic Utah and Arizona Grand Canyon Road Trip

Road tripping is the quintessential American summer vacation. We joined the masses this year with a 10 day road trip through Arizona and Utah.  Our epic journey took us to 4 national parks as well as some classic American gems –Route 66, the wonders of the Grand Canyon, rafting down the Colorado River and hiking through a … Read more