Tucson with Kids: A Perfect Family Day
Having lived in Tucson for many years now, my husband and I have managed to plan the weekends around what we'll be doing with our kids. Weekend outings usually revolve around how hot it will be outside and whether or not we want to be trekking around in the hot sun. On particularly hot days, we like to keep it short and simple, otherwise the kids are crying about how hot and tired they are. For quick trips, we like to eat breakfast and head out to the Reid Park Zoo. For nicer, cooler days, The Desert Museum is perfect. Then after visiting the Desert Museum, we like to head back to Old Tucson to finish our day. Whether you live here or are on family vacation, here's a list of things to do in Tucson with kids that will keep everyone in the family entertained and happy.
Begin your day early with a big, delicious breakfast at Bobo's Restaurant near Decorator Square. Bobo's can get pretty packed, so be prepared to wait – especially on weekend mornings. Their food is absolutely wonderful, though, and their pancakes are huge. My husband and I love their country fried steak, which I personally believe is the best anywhere in town. If you are an early riser, getting a table from 6 to 7 in the morning is no problem.
2938 E Grant Road
Tucson, AZ 85716
During warm weather months, visiting The Reid Park Zoo is a good ingredient for a perfect family day in Tucson. Just three miles south of Bobo's via Country Club Road, the zoo is heavily planted with trees, which offer plenty of shade as you walk throughout the zoo. Children love cooling off in the splash habitat, so bring a bathing suit for your children just in case. There are a host of animals here including animals brought from Asia and Africa to live right here in sunny Tucson. The kids also enjoy the educational center, where you may occasionally get the chance to pet a live snake or see a hedgehog. Don't leave without feeding the giraffes a leafy green or biscuit (for $2/child at 10AM and 2PM) which always make the kids squeal - they love the sensation of the giraffe's sticky tongue! If feeding the animals is a family favorite, check out the koi and duck pond and grab a handful of food from the feeding dispenser for $.25. The zookeepers get upset if you try to feed the ducks with your own food, so please don't do it. The zoo opens at 9AM (earlier if you're a member), and closes at 4PM. Tickets are free for children under 2, $3 for 3-14 and $7 for ages 15 to adult.
The Reid Park Zoo
1100 S. Randolph Way
Tucson, AZ 85716
If you are in Tucson for family vacation, kids in tow, during cooler months (between October and February), The Desert Museum is the place to go, as it is completely outdoors. There are plenty of little rest stops and refreshment areas throughout the desert trails, if anyone needs a break. Kids of all ages will love spotting the various desert animals throughout the museum and sometimes even see a wild skunk or javelina running across one of the many nature trails! If creepy crawly is what you're looking for, be sure and explore the center housing the snakes, bugs and scorpions. The gem and mineral center is home to many fascinating rocks and even has a small cave enclosure that you can climb through. Especially if you're visiting Tucson with kids, don't leave this center without picking out your very own treasure rock as a souvenir - but parents, please remember that it's only one rock per child. Be prepared to spend up to two hours here, and wearing comfortable shoes are a must. Prices can vary depending on the time of year, so be sure to call ahead to confirm rates. Tickets range between $9.50 to $13 for adults, $2.25 to $4.25 for children 6-12, and children under 5 are free. There's plenty of parking, but it can fill up quickly. It's best to arrive early (around 8 in the morning) so you don't have to walk far.
The Desert Museum
2021 N. Kinney Road
Tucson, AZ 85743
After leaving the Desert Museum, head over to Old Tucson Studios and take a walk back in time. It's one of the best things to do in Tucson with kids. Located not far from the Desert Museum, Old Tucson is a historic aspect of town, and many movies and shows were filmed in this part of Tucson. The kids love it because they get to see "cowboys" walking the streets. There are various gunfight shows, but if you have children under three, they may not like the loud "bangs" and explosions of the gunfights. The museum here showcases costumes and other memorabilia from many television shows, including the long-running series Little House on the Prairie. Kids of all ages will love riding the trains and panning for gold, which is $2 per person. The kids never go home without a bit of treasure – a great memory of their family vacation in sunny Tucson! Tickets are available on site or online and are $16.95 for adults, $10.95 for kids 4-11, and children 3 and under are free.
201 S. Kinney Road
Tucson, AZ 85735
If you're planning a day packed full of awesome things to do in Tucson with kids, plan to take it easy once the sun goes down. Downtown Tucson offers tons of dining and shopping options, especially along Fourth Avenue and in the Main Gate Square shopping and entertainment district. A cool, inexpensive place to wind down the day is the Brooklyn Pizza Company, a snug, lively joint on Fourth Avenue that makes tremendous NYC-style pies. The deep dish Sicilian is always a show-stopper, but you can't go wrong with a basic cheese topped with pepperoni and sausage (about $17 for a 16-incher). Regulars are also big fans of their biscotti gelato and cappuccino Italian ices – sweet rewards for planning the perfect family day in Tucson! They're open until 11PM most nights and even offer last night slices until 2:30AM on Fridays and Saturdays.
Brooklyn Pizza Company
534 N. 4th Avenue
Tucson Arizona 85705
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