Local Events & Attractions
With year-round sunshine, there is always something going on in Tucson – and the scenery is spectacular, so don’t forget your camera! The exotic desert canyons, iconic saguaro cacti and pine-topped mountains make the Tucson area a haven for birding, hiking and sightseeing, and the city brims with fascinating events and attractions.
Tucson, whose name comes from the Tohono O’odham word Cuk Son, meaning “at the base of the black hill,” has deep roots in Native American, Spanish, Mexican and old Western culture. The historic Presidio and architecture, eclectic shops and restaurants and authentic Mexican food reflect the city’s rich, multicultural background. Colorful events and fascinating excursions offer endless opportunities to savor the unique character of Arizona’s second-largest city.
Take a look at some of The Old Pueblo’s main events, listed below. For more details visit the Metropolitan Tucson Convention & Visitors Bureau.
The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum – At this world-renowned zoo, natural history museum and botanical garden, you’ll see mountain lions, prairie dogs, Gila monsters, humming birds and more. Located on 21 acres of beautiful desert, it features more than 300 regional animal species and 1,200 varieties of plants.
Biosphere – The University of Arizona’s Biosphere 2 has been named “one of the 50 must-see wonders of the world” by Time-Life Books. Tour guides explain the history, research and groundbreaking science taking place inside this engineering marvel, which is open daily. New programs and events are offered monthly.
Kartchner Caverns State Park – Discovered in 1974, stunning Kartchner Caverns contain a wide variety of unique minerals and colorful formations. Enjoy a 1½-hour guided tour, and explore the State Park, which includes campgrounds, hiking trails, shaded picnic areas and a hummingbird garden.
Kitt Peak National Observatory – Located on the Tohono O’odham Reservation, the observatory houses the world’s largest collection of telescopes, including 24 optical and two radio telescopes, representing dozens of research institutions. Take a guided or self-guided tour and discover how astronomers unlock the mysteries of the Universe.
Old Tucson – Site for more than 300 film and television projects since 1939, this world-famous Western movie studio and theme park features daily live shows, dramatic gunfights, stunts and saloon musicals, as well as food, shopping, games, rides and attractions.
Pima Air & Space Museum – See 300 aircraft on 80 acres of land as you explore more than 100 years of aerospace history – from the Wright Brothers’ flight to the alien surface of Mars and the far reaches of space.
Reid Park Zoo – Located on 17 lush acres, the Reid Park Zoo houses more than 500 animals in habitats ranging from South America to the African savannah and the Asian rainforest. It’s the perfect place to enjoy time outside while discovering the wonders of wildlife. Special opportunities include animal encounters and giraffe feedings.
Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase of Tucson – The “world’s largest event of its kind” has museum-quality exhibits and vendors of gems, minerals, fossils, meteorites, beads, art, jewelry, and supplies at nearly 40 locations.
La Fiesta de los Vaqueros (Tucson Rodeo) – The Tucson Rodeo Grounds hosts the first major outdoor event on the PRCA circuit, with more than 650 cowboys and cowgirls competing for $420,000 in prize money.
Tucson Festival of Books – One of the country’s largest book festivals attracts an estimated 100,000 people, including about 450 authors and performers, 240 exhibitors, and thousands of readers to the University of Arizona Mall.
Tucson International Mariachi Conference – Tucson’s award-winning music festival features student workshops and public performances by renowned mariachi musicians and baile folklorico dancers.
Tucson Folk Festival – One of the largest free festivals in United States, with more than 400 local, regional, and national musicians performing over 20 hours of family-friendly music and dance for more than 10,000 fans.
Tucson Meet Yourself – This regional folk arts celebration draws more than 100,000 participants with musicians, dancers, artists, and ethnic cuisine from about 50 cultural groups, indigenous and imported.
El Tour de Tucson – On the Saturday before Thanksgiving, “El Tour” attracts more than 9,000 bicyclists of all ages and abilities for an event that has been called “one of the premier organized rides in the United States.”
4th Avenue Winter/Spring Street Fair – More than 400 arts and crafts booths and 40 food vendors, staged entertainment, kid’s activities, and more draw up to 300,000 visitors.