Top Things To Do In Tucson AZ

Tucson Offers So Many Options!

There is never a shortage of things to do, places to go and events to explore around Tucson, which is part of the reason it's become such a popular destination for both visitors and people looking for a new place to live. DC Roofing of Arizona is here to help our friends and neighbors, new and old, with whatever roofing solutions you might need. 

Saguaro National Park

Tucson, AZ, also known as the Old Pueblo, is well-known for its plethora of giant saguaros, a type of cactus that can grow to be over 40 feet tall. These majestic plants, found only in a small portion of the United States, are protected by Saguaro National Park on both the east and west sides of the city. You can drive, hike, bike, or horseback ride through either park.

University of Arizona Art Museum

Art lovers need look no further than the University of Arizona Art Museum to satisfy their art cravings in Tucson. Operated by the University of Arizona, the site also includes a museum and has permanent exhibitions that include over 6,000 exhibits from all corners of the art world such as sculptures, textiles, prints, and hand drawings. The art on show here is diverse and focuses on both European art as well as American art.

The Tucson Desert Art Museum

The Tucson Desert Art Museum is one of the best things to do in Tucson AZ for art lovers. The collection of paintings includes some of the biggest names of the Southwest: Peter Nisbet, Thomas Moran, Maynard Dixon, and Ed Mell. The Museum is a rare and enticing establishment where one can learn about the history of the region through its peoples art.

The Arizona Inn

A popular historic Tucson hotel is the Arizona Inn. This charming boutique hotel spans over 14 acres of gardens, fountains, flowers and lawns. Centrally located, it's a great place to stay if you plan on traveling to all parts of town.

Old Town Artisans

One of the main tourist attractions is the Old Town Artisans , a restored 1850s marketplace. It includes an entire city block of galleries and stores all set in unique buildings. The stores offer selections of art, jewelry, crafts, home decor, and other items by artists from Tucson and around the state. Other items you can find here include pottery, paintings, metalwork, photography, Native American wool rugs, and carvings.

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum offers an intimate look at the desert landscape around Tucson. This museum is a wonderful family outing with a zoo, natural history museum, and botanical garden all in one. Displays showcase living animals and plants native to the Sonoran Desert, including some endangered species such as the Mexican wolf, thick-billed parrot, ocelot, margay, jaguarundi, desert pupfish, Sonora chub, bonytail chub, razorback sucker, and Gila topminnow.


I'm Coyote Peterson, and today we're going behind the scenes at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. - This morning we made the beautiful drive across the Sonoran Desert to arrive in Tucson Mountain Park, which is home to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, established in 1952, by William Carr and Arthur Pack. Their vision was to create a living museum, where visitors could come see animals living in completely natural looking environments. Since childhood I have been visiting this location, enthralled by all of its animal species, and inspired to live a life of adventure and animals. Today I'm lucky enough to walk the grounds with Will Bruner, the museum's curator of animal experiences, a job that as a child, I could've only dreamed of. The first stop would be the mountain lion exhibit. This elusive desert cat has been an ambassador for the museum since 1952. Wow, look how beautiful that cat is. - His mother was killed. He was found as about a four month old cub in California. Obviously, too young to survive on his own in the wild, so that's how he came to us here. - So, this cat weighs about 100 pounds now, and will grow to be about 200 pounds. - Yeah, almost 200 pounds. - So, almost double in size. It's amazing even from this distance you can see how big this cat really is. - [Will] The great thing about this exhibit is that one of our goals is not only to create naturalistic, but also to create interesting environments for the animals. We vary sometimes feeds, we'll vary placement of food. So, this gives him a lot of choices, and choices are a really important thing to an animal in its environment. - [Coyote] Is that kind of why you hide food throughout the enclosure, so it forces him to almost have to hunt, and search out what it is he wants? - Exactly, we want him using all of those natural abilities. The ability to track his prey by scent or visual. He can actually work those muscles as if he were taking down prey, basically stimulating their environment. Even putting scents in here might cause him to actually go and scent mark, which is another behavior he would do in the wild. - [Coyote] So, what's he snacking on there? - [Will] A little bit of everything. We feed a variety of diets, but sometimes the favorite treats like whole animals, a ground meat product that's specifically made for wild cats in captivity. Believe it or not, one of his absolute favorite treats is cream cheese. - [Coyote] On bagels, or on ground squirrels? - A little bit of both. - [Coyote] Yeah. You guys, he's going up into his little den area there. He says, "I've had my snack, "now it's time to take a nap." Okay, so Will, I feel like I'm standing right in the middle of the Sonoran Desert right now, but we're really just in part of the museum at this point, and it's amazing. I mean, you guys have designed this place to feel like you're actually in the environment. - [Will] That's one of the missions of the museum. We want you to really appreciate this area because the Sonoran Desert is like nowhere else in the world. It's a little bit of a microcosm of all the Sonoran Desert habitat here at the museum in a small space. So, you can do the whole Sonoran Desert, which would take you months to walk it, if you did it, but here at the museum you can do it in a couple of hours. We're a natural history museum, as well as a zoo, and a botanical garden. All of those roles play a really important part in the museum's mission to educate people about the Sonoran Desert. - Wow, cool. Alright, well let's go find some more animals. - Great. - So, right now we're working our way down. I can see them over there by the side of the fence, Javelinas, this is like one of my favorite animals that lives out here in the Sonoran Desert. What I know of javelinas, Will, is that they are these little power houses of muscle, and ferocity, and I mean, I can clearly see them, I mean, this guy's no bigger than a golden retriever, but he looks like he's built like a tank. - [Will] They are, and actually they're incredibly powerful little animals for their body size. Literally, just the muscles on the head, and the neck, and the shoulders support that, you know, the large jaws. They work together as a family to defend themselves, and defend their territory as well. - Now, I just saw two of them. They were kind of like rubbing each other's butts on each other's head's. What were they doing there? - They actually, that's a social behavior. They have a musk gland, or a gland on the top of their back they'll rub as a way of sort of coating everybody in the same scent, and that's the way they identify themselves, so it's like a social grooming, and a bonding behavior. - So, what are javelinas typically feeding on out here in the desert environment, and then do you guys provide them with any sort of food, or they just eat what's naturally here in their habitat? - No, we do actually provide them with food, and the desert food is often seasonal. So, the prickly pear fruit, which you'll see, which they do really like is only around this time of year. - [Coyote] They have real tough skin on their noses, and spouts right, so those little spines, it doesn't bother them at all. Look at those tusks. Now, do they use those tusks for anything defensive, or for eating? - Yeah, they're defensive. They're basically used in any social altercations, and also for defense. Those tusks are actually amazing. The way they line up in the javelinas mouth is that as they move back and forth, even with the open and closing your mouth, they're constantly sharpening those tusks. - [Coyote] Wow. We're gonna take a short cut, one of the perks of being behind the scenes at the Desert Museum, on our way to go see the Bighorn Sheep. Now, this is a very important part of the conservation work that you guys are doing here. Tell us all about these sheep. - [Will] Well, these are Desert Bighorn, and they are native to the area, but we're also part of a captive breeding program with this species. We've just recently received a female from the Los Angeles zoo. She had a lamb about six months ago, which continues our breeding program, but also both her and her mother are unrelated to our male, which means they can continue that captive breeding program here at the Museum. - [Coyote] This is the lamb right here, right? - [Will] Yep, this is the youngster, and she's done amazingly well. - When I think Bighorn's, I always think of that famous opening scene from Marty Stouffer's Wild America, where you have the two males, just boom, crushing heads with eachother. - [Will] In the wild, they would break into male and female groups outside the breeding season. Within the male groups they would start jousting, and basically establishing who was gonna be the dominant animal to breed. - [Coyote] So, what then is the ultimate goal of this species survival plan? - [Will] It's to maintain a genetically diverse population within a captive setting, but not only for exhibitory, and zoological institutions, but also in the event of a population crash in a wild population. - [Coyote] There is so much to experience at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, and more animal and plant species than we could ever pack into a single episode of breaking trail. From rescuing animals to species survival plans, Arthur Pack and Willaim Carr's original vision of a living museum has truly grown into one of the world's most renowned natural history, and zoological establishments. Will, I can't thank you enough for taking the crew and I out here today. Truly a once in a lifetime experience to get behind the scenes, and see all the amazing conservation, and education work you guys are doing here. I had a fantastic time. I'm Coyote Peterson. Be brave, stay wild. We'll see you on the next adventure. If you thought that was one wild adventure, check out these other animal encounters, and don't forget subscribe to follow me and the crew on this season of Breaking Trail. This episode of Breaking Trail was brought to you by the BuyPower card from Capital One. Every purchase brings you closer to a new Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, or Cadillac vehicle.

While you're in the area of the Desert Museum, you should know that nearby is also the world famous Old Tucson Studios.  

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