Future pilots, astronauts, scientists and spelunkers can explore a variety of destinations around Tucson.
One can imagine the histories of the aircraft at Pima Air & Space Museum, and future pilots may find inspiration from the museum's Arizona Aviation Hall of Fame. Space enthusiasts can explore the Space Gallery before heading to Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter for a night of stargazing or to Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium to sit in on a trip through the galaxy.
Underground adventures highlight Tucson’s geological masterpieces and mining history. View impressive stalagmite and stalactite formations inside a “living” cave at Kartchner Caverns and see a “dry” cave at Colossal Cave Mountain Park, or navigate your way through old and profitable mines in Tombstone and Bisbee.
Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter
Atop Tucson’s highest mountain, Mount Lemmon, the SkyCenter's five-hour SkyNights stargazing shows include a light meal, the use of binoculars and sky charts, and guided explanations and instructions. Visitors view galaxies and planets through Arizona’s largest public telescope; lucky stargazers may glimpse a meteorite or satellite.
Kitt Peak National Observatory
Small groups attend nightly viewing sessions to peer through three optical telescopes at this observatory. Arrive 60-75 minutes before sunset and—following the orientation—observe spectacular star clusters, galaxies and planets while interacting with knowledgeable guides.
Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium
The recently updated FullDome Planetarium Theater features 360-degree, high-definition screens and a top-of-the-line sound system for a cosmic journey through the solar system. The schedule is updated regularly and includes shows like “Asteroid: Mission Extreme,” “Tucson Sky and Beyond,” and “Mysteries of the Unseen World.”
Pima Air & Space Museum
Five hangars and more than 80 acres of land host more than 300 aircraft and 125,000 artifacts at this aviation museum, one of the largest non-governmental-funded museums of its kind in the country. Wander the 390th Memorial Museum, dedicated to the history of the 390th Bomb Group and the B-17 during World War II, and check out the Space Gallery for exhibits of space exploration, including a replica of the Apollo capsule. Reserve a ticket for the guided charter-bus tour through the adjacent Airplane “Boneyard” on the grounds of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, where more than 4,000 aircraft reside in a storage, maintenance and reclamation facility supporting all branches of the U.S. military.
Discovered by two intrepid spelunkers, Kartchner Caverns—one of the most massive cave systems in the country—was initially kept a secret. Twenty-five years later, in 1999, it opened to the public with all the protections and perks of a state park. Visitors embark on guided tours to get a glimpse of the skinny stalactites and columnar stalagmites inside this “living” cave. The Big Room tour is conducted mid-October through mid-April, but the 90-minute Rotunda/Throne Tour takes visitors along part of the original trail year-round.
Colossal Cave Mountain Park
Stalagmites and stalactites may not grow in this “dry” cave anymore, but the formations remain an impressive sight. Colossal Cave was first used by American Indian tribes long ago and was rediscovered by Western settlers in the late 1800s. General 50-minute tours are held throughout the day year-round, and longer-lasting ladder, advanced and candlelight tours are available by reservation.
Good Enough Mine
Discovered in 1878, the Good Enough Mine was among several silver mines contributing to Tombstone’s heyday. Tours began in 2007 and include daily 45-minute excursions. The alternative Toughnut Mine Tour Adventure includes occasional crawling and ladder climbs, and the Girard System Extreme Tour takes guests 550 feet below ground through tight and challenging spaces.
Queen Mine Tour
Strap on a yellow jacket and mining helmet, board the open-sided mini train and enter into this Phelps Dodge copper mine to learn about the systems, equipment and workers that helped extract enormous amounts of high-grade ore between 1880 and 1975 during Bisbee’s Queen Mine Tour.