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“All desert”

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
Ranked #1 of 309 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: Bathroom facilities, Activities for young children, Food available for purchase, Wheelchair access, Activities for older children
Reviewed June 30, 2013

My son and I were visiting Arizona for the first time. We visited the museum to learn more about the desert. It was a wonderful introduction to the climate and the animals. My favorite was the underground cave, and his was seeing the beavers. I wish it had not been so hot, as we could not tolerate the 110 degree heat for long. We did manage to make it around most of the exhibits in about 2 hours, and had an interesting conversation about bats with the cave guide. I would definitely return, on a cooler day. The surrounding desert view is beautiful. A must see for anyone not familiar with desert life.

Thank L Y
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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5,513 - 5,517 of 7,254 reviews

Reviewed June 30, 2013

This was the best attraction we visited in Tucson. We followed a tour guide through about an hour's worth of the exterior displays and he made the desert environment come alive for us- well, that and that it was over 100 F by noon... :) Seriously, this was a great stop and has to make every Tucson visitor's "must see" list.

Thank Bob J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 29, 2013

The only disappointing thing about my visit was that I didn't have more time. I would say you need a minimum of 1/2 a day here and probably all day if you have kids. The displays were excellent and I liked the way they created the different desert environments. The animal displays were also well done with a really wide variety. The Aviary and Hummingbird were highlights for me being walk-through enclosures but most of the other animals were well presented and allowed for good viewing too. If I get back to Tuscon some time I'll definitely go back here for another look.

1  Thank Nebulous77
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 29, 2013

I had read the reviews and thought we'd have a good time, but found this place to be even better than I'd expected. We went during 100+ degree days, yet we still enjoyed ourselves nonetheless.

Like any outdoor or zoo-type setting, it is always recommended to go early...especially if it is going to be hot outside. We lathered up the sunscreen and drank water regularly. They do have sunscreen dispensers in the restrooms, but apply before-hand just in case. They also have water fountains with COOL water stationed strategically through-out as well as shaded areas to take a break along the desert path portion. (They have really thought this place out well!)

Staff was very pleasant and informative, including letting us know as we arrived they have a military discount there. (We did not see this info anywhere on their website so thought I would share.) I believe they said that is the only discount they have- double check with them.

We went during a Friday of Memorial Day weekend. I would guess the weekends get pretty busy, so as usual, if you can go during the mid-week is probably best. Also another tip, go to the opposite end of the museum (outside desert portion) to see the larger animals first. We got so side-tracked by all of the other exhibits that we ignored this tip (the docents even told us to do this), and we regretted it because all of the animals were snoozing by the time we got around to seeing them.

Speaking of looking for animals, if you don't see the javelina right away, be sure to check under the bridges where it seems they like to nap. :-)

Okay, the best tip I can give for any scrapbookers is to bring some blank card-stock, preferably in primary or solid colors, maybe the lighter the better. Or make you own mini book of cardstock ahead of time. The reason I mention this is because there are large, nice stamps along the route of different footprints and the like of the varying animals. I realized what a great background it would make in a scrapbook or photo book! I am so doing this next time. (Its original intent is for the kids to stamp a 'passport' type of book as they go throughout the museum.)

One of my favorite aspects of this place is how close you can get to some of the animals, within safe reason, of course. I have never seen a porcupine or at otter up that close! I also LOVED the hummingbird exhibit. (Please be sure to turn your flash off your camera when taking up-close pictures.) I loved how there were staff everywhere giving details about the varying animals and answering any questions our children had.

There are also two large gift shops with unique, area- specific gifts items. Also, they have one of the best geological displays I've ever come across. I'm amazed how beautiful "rocks" can be!

I look forward to returning to this lovely place one day. I see they have later summer hours so I suggest either getting up early or coming back later in the evening when you go. I imagine the fall would be a perfect time to go as well.

Thank jcfromnc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 27, 2013

I lived in Tucson most of my younger years. My family and I used to go to the Desert Museum at least once a year. It has grown and is a fabulous place to take your children so that they can see all the animals and plants etc., that are indigenous to the area. I recommend this wonderful place to everyone whether you are traveling through or live in the area. In the heat of the summer you must go very early so that you can see the animals, once it gets hot they go inside. Winter is a good time to go.

1  Thank Ursula675
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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