Our journey to Tucson took us from snow to sun. Due to time constraints, we had to do the 7 hour drive from Page to Tucson in one day. Rather unprepared for the weather, we stopped off in Flagstaff for lunch, where Jetlag & Mayhem experienced snow for the very first time! 5 hours later we were back in the land of sunshine and cacti.
Tucson has a large metropolitan area and I was unsure of where to stay. In the end, we based ourselves in the East, at a lovely 2 bed apartment located on one of the city’s many golf courses. We spent three nights in Tucson, there’s quite a lot to offer the family traveller. My only disappointment is that we weren’t there over a weekend, as Old Tucson is not open midweek during October.
What did we see in Tucson?
- I’m quite obsessed by all things miniature, having whet my appetite at a similar museum in Taipei. The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures was just as captivating. My kids particularly enjoyed the ‘Enchanted Realm’ and were given worksheets to try and find the fairies that were hidden amongst the exhibits.
- We must have spent about 3 hours at the Pima Air & Space Museum. The museum features a display of nearly 300 aircraft spread out over 80 acres on a campus occupying 127 acres. Make sure you bring your hat, sunglasses and water if you want to stroll around the outside comfortably! We are a family of plane nerds so we loved spotting the different aircraft, including an old Air Force One. The Space Museum, whilst slightly outdated is also fascinating. Also interesting are the aircraft boneyards that surround the area. If we had been without the kids, we would have booked onto a tour of the vicinity.
- Biosphere 2’s original mission was a two-year closure experiment with a crew of eight people.I had seen an interesting documentary about the experiment and its failures including low food and oxygen and politics between the crew living inside the dome and interaction outside. Needless to say I was gripped and couldn’t believe I’d get to see the place where it all happened! Nowadays Biosphere 2 is a research facility, owned by the University of Arizona. Its mission is to serve as a center for research, outreach, teaching, and learning about Earth, its living systems, and its place in the universe.
Call in advance to check what tours are running. We took the ‘Under The Glass Tour’, which shows you around the facility, from the rainforest and ‘ocean’ to the old crew living quarters. The tour lasts around 2 hours, which was just enough for Jetlag & Mayhem.
- If a city has a Children’s Museum, I usually add that to our itinerary. Even though Miss Jetlag at nearing 10, may be getting a bit old for them, we still love the interactive exhibits. The Children’s Museum of Tucson is pretty good with several different hands-on zones. We all loved pretending to drive the ambulance and fire truck.
- Drive around the historic Barrio and El Presidio neighbourhoods to admire the attractive coloured adobe houses.
Where did we eat?
- Delicious American food at The Hub on Congress (about 5 mins walk from the Children’s Museum)
- Ice cream from the Hub’s sister ice-creamery opposite, try the banana pudding
- Coffee from Caffe Luce, next door to the Hub Ice-cream Factory.
- For a snickerdoodle pancake, check out the Baja Cafe of Tucson. There are several locations throughout Tucson and the food is fresh, delicious and possibly calorie laden!
- Flavourful home-cooked Italian at Piazza Gavi, which was very close to our airbnb.
- RA Sushi at the La Encantada Mall. Follow up with phenomenal mint gelato from Frost, which is opposite.
For more on Tucson with kids