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“Desert Adventure for all ages”

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
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Tucson Day Tour
Ranked #1 of 280 things to do in Tucson
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: This renowned combination zoo, natural history museum, botanical garden and art gallery reflects the diverse flora and fauna of the Sonoran Desert, featuring wildlife such as coyotes, bears and mountain lions in their natural settings and two aviaries; one for hummingbirds and the other for varied desert birds.
Useful Information: Wheelchair access, Food available for purchase, Activities for older children, Activities for young children, Bathroom facilities
Scottsdale, Arizona
Level Contributor
36 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 36 helpful votes
“Desert Adventure for all ages”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 28, 2012

I can't imagine anyone who wouldn't be awe-stuck by this remarkable wild and alive museum. The drive itself from Tucson offers gorgeous vistas of the Sahuaro National Monument with a narrow two lane highway that winds down from Gates Pass. The desert museum itself offers views of all kinds of desert creatures: scorpions, snakes, amphibians, spiders, lizards as well as examine the many minerals that exist in the desert up-close-and-personal under a microscope. You think that is just a dull old rock? Take a closer look, and you can see spectacular bursts of shape and color that are not visible to the naked eye.

Walk thru an ancient cave and see stalagtites and stalagmites and an underground pond. Try to spot the salamander that lives there. Check out the petrified sloth dung that is thousands of years old. And all of this is before you get to the best part - the animals.

Most of the animals are in open enclosures - they are not behind bars, but in a large open area surrounded by a deep pit. There are the beautiful desert cats, coatimundi, desert big-horn sheep, beaver, otters, desert tortise, javelina, coyote and much more.

The walk-thru bird enclosures are really cool. There are two. In the first has a wide variety of birds in a screened in habitat that you stroll thru and just look to see how many of the large variety of birds you can see.

The second is just for hummingbirds. Again, you walk in and these tiny magical birds are buzzing all around you.

There is a separate area for hawks, eagles, buzzards and the owls and the more tropical birds of the southern desert.

The whole place is connected by a wide gravel path with easy to follow signs. Indigenious desert flora lines the pathways and you are provided with expansive views of the Sonoran Desert.

Even the grumpiest grump will be charmed by the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum. Children and nature lovers will be completely enchanted. I have visited this unique museum more times than I can count, and I know I will go again.

This is a must see.

Visited December 2011
Thank QueenBUScottsdale
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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6,548 reviews from our community

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Cleveland, Ohio
Level Contributor
44 reviews
23 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“awesome desert museum”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 28, 2012

our last visit here was 30+ yrs ago ~ this is a "must see" destination. we toured all the trails and ended the visit with a meal. the restaurant was excellent !

Visited November 2012
Thank vincent f
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lewisberry, Pennsylvania
Level Contributor
136 reviews
64 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 49 helpful votes
“A pleasant surprise and loved for different reasons for each of us.”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 27, 2012

We were fortunate enough to have someone we met along the way on our trip to Tucson give us complimentary free tickets to this museum. We went and loved our time there. My husband had a very close and personal experience at the Raptor show. It was very informative and entertaining. My favorite exhibit was the hummingbirds. I had the privilege of having one of the hummingbirds fly very close to my ear (very loud when they are that close) for a period of time and eventually ended up on my hair and then in my hair. One of the docents told us that it probably wanted some of my hair for it's nest. They are fantastic to watch and I could have spent a lot of the day there. I also got to see an active hummingbird nest, although they are protected so couldn't get high enough or close enough to see inside. I wouldn't go here in the heat of the day - particularly in the summer. We had temps in the 80's and went first thing in the morning so we were able to see most of the animals active.

Visited November 2012
Thank msfigment
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Tucson, Arizona
Level Contributor
116 reviews
29 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 62 helpful votes
“Standout Attraction in Sonoran Desert”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 26, 2012

This is the most unique attraction I have ever visited. It is a combination of botanical, zoological, art and geological exhibits. There are wonderful animal exhibits--my favorites are the otters viewed underwater. Also seminars on rattlesnakes and other reptiles with live examples. An absolute must are the raptor demonstrations featuring hawks and owls who fly so close to you their wings almost touch! To top it off there are two great restaurants-a "coffee shop" one and an upscale one "The Ocatillo Room" both of which serve excellent food--the coffee shop in particular is a great value--and membership gets you a 10% discount!

Visited December 2011
Thank 40LVE
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lamar, Mississippi
Level Contributor
175 reviews
18 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
“unique zoo....”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 26, 2012

It is an outside zoo so walking is a necessity and can be invigorating...especially in the summer, I really enjoyed the outside aspect of it. i would be careful if going in the heat of summer

Visited July 2012
Thank ss309556
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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