There’s a reason why the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is listed on TripAdvisor as the number one thing to do in Tucson, Arizona. Multidimensional Traveling Mom Kristi Mehes calls the Southwest her home. She says that one of the best things to do with kids in Tucson is to spend a day at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.
About once a year, my family and I spend a day at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. The Desert Museum is extremely unique. It’s designed for desert wildlife to remain in their natural environment, as well as provide a showcase of the desert landscape.
Like the Phoenix Zoo, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum does a great job of constantly adding new exhibits. This museum is also extremely kid-friendly and educational, not only for adults but also for children. Families can easily spend a day at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. The Desert Museum is so vast, that we have yet to see everything despite our best efforts!
Join our NEW Facebook Community: Making Travel Easier. We promise to always tell you what we would tell our best friend -- what works for kids, what doesn’t and what you need to know before you go to have the Best. Family. Vacation. Ever. Our group of travel experts are ready to answer your travel questions!
The Warden Aquarium at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
There’s more to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum than just its desert wildlife. During our more recent visit to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, we started our day at the Warden Aquarium. My son loves aquariums and there are quite a few tanks in the aquarium exhibit. The tanks have a variety of sea life, from seahorses to sand eels. I’ve seen eels before, but these are different. These particular eels look like plants initially, but then they start moving, emerging and submerging in the sand at will.
Multiple interactive opportunities for kids include a touch tank, to my son’s delight. He touched a sand star and sea urchin and held a hermit crab.
The Earth Sciences Center at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
The Desert Museum has an area focused primarily on earth sciences. This interactive exhibit includes an underground tunnel and viewing minerals to gain a new perspective on the age of Earth. My son also enjoyed the artificial cave located in this area.
The Desert Loop Trail at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
When the weather is nice, we walked the desert loop trail, viewing desert animals like coyotes and javelinas, not to mention the desert landscape. The trail can be rocky and prickly due to nearby cacti, though, so if you have a child that likes to wander, plan on keeping him/her close by.
Traveling Mom Tip: While many families take their strollers with them, certain areas of the Desert Museum are not stroller friendly due to the terrain, such as the Desert Loop Trail. I do see some families with carriers, and that seems to be a better option to navigate some of the areas.
Cat Canyon at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
In the Southwest, it’s not uncommon to see bobcats. The Desert Museum is no exception. Whenever we visit for the day, we almost always spot a bobcat hanging out in Cat Canyon. Bobcats love to climb the different levels of the canyon, and visitors can either venture to a lower level, or to a higher level to see a bobcat.
Mountain Woodland and Desert Grassland at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
The Mountain Woodland and Desert Grassland are two exhibits in the Desert Museum home to different animals. We usually spy a mountain lion whenever we visit the Mountain Woodland, and my son is a fan of the Desert Grassland, mostly because of the prairie dogs.
Desert Garden at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
This is the Southwest after all with several different plants in the Garden, all desert themed. The adults may like this area more than the kids, though. And just like Desert Loop Trail, it’s best to keep children close by to make sure they don’t get too close to plants that may be prickly to touch.
Know Before You Go to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
I don’t recommend winging it when planning a trip to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. I definitely recommend looking at the website beforehand. Make note of the exhibits and special events that you and your family want to experience. Some of the demonstrations are at specific times, and if you don’t time your visit right, you could end up missing the first demonstration. If you have young children with you that get tired, you may end up not making the second demonstration.