Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson

4.8
#1 of 133 in Museums in Arizona
A combination zoo, botanic garden, and natural history museum, Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum features over 3 km (2 mi) of walking paths crisscrossing nearly 9 hectares (21 acres) of desert landscapes. Home to more than 230 animal species and 1,200 varieties of plants, the museum focuses on the interpretation and presentation of the natural history and diverse plant and animal life of the Sonoran Desert. Often called "the lushest desert on earth," this region shelters a range of habitats benefiting from the desert's bi-seasonal rainfall. The museum gardens display the varied ecosystems of cacti, agaves, grasslands, and yucca, while the zoo area features wildlife ranging from coyotes, bears, and mountain lions to hummingbirds and rattlesnakes. Make Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum part of your personalized Tucson itinerary using our Tucson holiday planner.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
6,815 reviews
Google
4.8
TripAdvisor
  • August 14, 2017
    Have been members for years, even when we haven't lived in the state. Love supporting this natural desert habitat. The variety of animals is great. It can be a bummer if you don't get to see animals, ...  more »
  • August 14, 2017
    Something far away located very informative Zoo/Botanical Garden is beautifully landscaped. Employees/volunteers explain native species of plants, animals and minerals. In the summer heat of course a bit exhausting, because most outdoor is, but for me much better than the Phoenix Zoo or botanical gardens in Phoenix, for example. Who is in this area, should visit these places be sure before anything else. At least a half-day schedule.
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  • August 14, 2017
    I had read about this Desert Museum and when seeing the photos and reviews online I knew it must be amazing and I had to see it! And indeed it was! So beautifully done and maintained, lots to see from...  more »
Google
  • July 4, 2017
    This place is awesome and it should be on everyone's to see list when visiting Tuscon. Come here prepared with sunscreen, a hat, and water bottle. Still, there is plenty of shady areas to get you out of the sun while walking here. My favorite exhibits were the hummingbirds, the wild cats, the stingrays, this one adorable otter. Knowledgeable and friendly staff.
  • April 30, 2017
    The Desert Museum is great for toddlers through elderly. It's a tourist attraction with plenty of water stations with COLD water, sunscreen in restrooms to reapply, shaded structures, paved and dirt paths, wheelchair accessible, and a wide array of animal life (birds, sting ray and marine life, wild cats and more) in addition to the beautiful desert life! Plan for 2-3 hours of walking around. Don't worry though, there are vending machines, snack bars, rest stations, and restaurants throughout the trail. Will definitely visit again every season to see various plants in bloom!
  • June 2, 2017
    Sadly we picked a very hot day to visit and were not able to visit all the exhibits. We did see the aviary and some of the plants, which was our primary purpose for being there. Staff were nice and helpful. Sadly the trails are in the sun. There was practically no one there because of the heat, so we almost had the place to ourselves. We will return in the winter to see the other exhibits.
  • July 7, 2017
    You have to see it and experince it for yourself to understand that the Desert Museum is a one-of-a-kind museum/zoo hybrid. Much like the San Diego Zoo that uses natural barricades made from rock and cement, the Desert Museum has few fences made of steel or even wood. For instance, the mountain lion exhibit allows the lion to go inside to its lair or outside to climb rocks, hide from visitors, or just relax in a low-desert environment. Some animal exhibits allow you to look through a two-way mirror into the animal's underground burrows from stealthy inside passage ways that pass behind the enclosure's inner side. The natural history lessons embedded along your walking path add significant understanding of the Sonoran Desert flora and fauna and the indoor exhibits go a bit further and provide more science and educational material. Children of all ages will find some special value within the museum grounds regardless of how short or long their visit. It's a dynamic place for just hanging out in a fabulous piece of the Arizona desert though I bet that you'll come away astonished by some new knowledge.
  • June 19, 2017
    This is one of the most amazing places in Tucson. If you want to see desert life at it's best you must visit here. Just the drive to the museum takes you through Saguaro National Park west and Gates Pass which is breathtaking in itself.

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Where to stay in Tucson

To discover the tranquility of the Sonoran Desert, book your stay at an inn just a short drive from Tucson. Staying on the outskirts of the city allows you quick and easy access to some of Arizona's wildest areas, though it does require a car if you wish to enjoy Tucson's shops and restaurants. For the ultimate in indulgence, consider one of the city's award-winning luxury resorts, which feature full-service spa and fitness centers, championship golf courses, lighted tennis courts, and indoor swimming pools.
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