15 Awesome Day trips from Tucson – Within Two Hours Drive
Tucson Day Trips: Are you looking for ideas for a day trip from Tucson? This list of the best day trips from Tucson has something for everyone. I’ve covered all the highlights within a few hours drive of Tucson.
These make for perfect weekend trips from Tucson. And I’ve also included places that are close to Tucson so if you are planning a day trip to Tucson you can stop off at these places as well.
15 Best Day Trips from Tucson, Arizona – Best Road Trips from Tucson
Saguaro National Park
When visiting Tucson, should not miss out on visiting the Saguaro National Park. The Saguaro National Park is an ode to the saguaro cactus and the immense beauty of the Sonoran Desert.
As it is famous for its cacti, there are many attractions in Saguaro that many people can do here. There are many trails that even hike enthusiasts would be thrilled to experience.
The Valley View Overlook Trail, which is located in the Tucson Mountain District, is a must-see for anybody visiting Saguaro National Park. It is a short hike that can be accomplished by anybody with or without any experience.
For a 30 minute hike, this trail has one of the most beautiful sceneries out there. Another way to spend time in Saguaro National Park is having a picnic on Signal Hill. While having that picnic, you can enjoy the interesting rock art at the Signal Hill Petroglyph Site.
Saguaro National Park is a place where you shouldn’t skip out on. Read my post on Things to do in Saguaro National Park
Experience the adventure and authentic Wild West vibe at the Colossal Cave. Named after exploring the cave, the Colossal Cave is a desert refuge that has sheltered people for over a thousand years.
Today, this park showcases the crystal-filled cave and historic La Posta Quemada Ranch. This 40-minute hike is a half-mile long which is perfect for the family to experience and explore.
Learn about the Colossal Cave’s history like the train robbers and ghosts and the unique geology and structure of the Colossal Cave.
After visiting the cave, get a chance to visit the Civilian Conservation Corps Museum. In that museum, you get to see the history of the Civilian Conservation Corps activities in the park. Learn more and see more in the Colossal Cave.
Check out my post on the Coolest Caves in Arizona
Picacho Peak State Park
If you are driving out on the Sonoran Desert, you can see Picacho Peak State Park as you drive along Interstate 10 between Phoenix and Tucson.
The Picacho Peak State Park is famed for its wildflowers that appear mid-February to early April following good winter rain. The park and its surrounding area are known for their unique geological significance and outstanding varied desert growth.
The unique shape of the peak making its peculiar geological significance has been used as a landmark by travelers since prehistoric times. Aside from the dazzling view at the summit, there are many hiking trails, a playground, and some historical markers.
The best thing to do here at Picacho Peak State Park is camping. The park offers day and overnight camping in the group-use areas. Marvel at the beauty of the peak at Picacho Peak State Park.
Nestled between the Tumacacori and Santa Rita mountain ranges, Tubac is a small community known as the place where art and history meet.
There are over 100-plus shops that occupy the village plaza, where old abodes, Spanish courtyards, and ocotillo fences blend seamlessly with a handful of newer buildings.
Visit the remains of the old Spanish presidio are preserved, the Tubac Presidio State Park. The park features a regional museum, an underground archeology display, and other historical buildings.
Tubac is also home to a very active art school, many gourmet restaurants, and a golf resort nestled along a verdant valley with one of the oldest stands of cottonwoods in the state.
Come to Tubac for its rich history and love for the arts, it truly is worthy of the title “where the art and history meet”.
Tubac is a charming small town in Arizona you can visit.
Chiricahua National Monument
When visiting Tucson, Chiricahua National Monument is the best to visit something peculiar. 27 million years ago, the volcanic eruption of the nearby Turkey Creek caldera produced a deposit of ash 2000 feet thick.
This once ash has now colled and fused into a gray rock called rhyolitic tuff, thereby forming the Chiricahua Mountains. These gravity-defying rock formations are a sight behold and because of that, Chiricahua Mountain is known as the Wonderland of Rocks.
In the Chiricahua National Monument, there are many hikes for every type of explorer. Take the eight-mile scenic drive to see the beauty of the Chiricahua National Monument or hop out of the car and into the scene and explore the 17 miles of trails by hike.
Explore and be in awe of these interesting rock formations made in the Chiricahua National Monument. For more info read my article on Arizona National Monuments.
Kartchner Caverns State Park
Enter a cave with the world’s longest stalactite formation, the Kartchner Caverns in the Kartchner Caverns State Park. These caverns introduce visitors old and new to the mysterious world of caves.
Wiki Commons Mike Lewis
This limestone cave has 2.4 miles of passages making the cave feel astonishing and lively. Join on the tour as you learn about the history of how the caverns were discovered and their preservation throughout the years.
As you enter the caverns, you get to see a large colony of myotis velifer bats as well as countless microorganisms and macro-invertebrates.
Though the caverns are great tourist spots, the Kartchner Caverns State Park is known for its extensive research and conservation of the delicate cave ecosystems. After the caves, there are miles of trails above the cave that takes you to the foothills of the Whetstone Mountains.
Kartchner Caverns State Park truly is one of “Arizona’s Best Attractions”.
If you visit Tucson, you are already preparing to hike anywhere Tucson provides and the Sabino Canyon is one of those attractions.
Located on the northeastern edge of Tucson as part of the Coronado National Forest, Sabino Canyon is one of the city’s most popular hiking attractions.
Sabino Canyon has a variety of diverse hiking trails, gorgeous scenery, and a spectacular view of Tucson’s sunsets.
One of the trails in the Sabino Canyon is the Upper Sabino Canyon Road. This trail is good for hiking with small children and it’s good for jogging and cycling.
Another trail is the Beer Canyon Trail, a 9-mile trail that is the most heavily trafficked trail in Tucson. This out-and-back trail features breathtaking views and a series of seven waterfalls.
With beautiful scenery and the immense variety of adventures to choose from, there is no question Sabino Canyon is one the most popular hiking attraction.
Visit the town famous for the O.K. Corral Gunfight, Tombstone, Arizona. Walk where Wyatt Earp walked and look where the infamous gunfight occurred.
Come learn the experience and history that is unique to this ghost town. Walk the streets that these and other legendary men and women of the West walked throughout the years.
Tombstone is not just a title of a movie, this ghost town has its rich history and many fun activities to do.
Visit Boothill Graveyard. the final resting place for all of the town’s hanging, lynching, and shootout victims. The number of graves is estimated at 276, many of them unmarked.
Visit the Bird Cage Theater A theater, dance hall, saloon, and brothel, the Bird Cage is said to have 140 bullet holes in the wall and ceiling.
Planning to stay the night? There are many Tombstone hotels that many people can go sightseeing at. Tombstone is a great place to learn and have fun around the history of this ghost town.
Sound Interesting? Read my article on the Best Things to do in Tombstone.
When people think of Tucson, cactus, desert, and diamondback snakes more readily come to mind.
Approximately an hour’s drive from Tucson’s city center, Mount Lemmon is a wonderful day trip for camping and a beautiful night trip under the stars.it is in the Catalina mountain range, surrounded by Coronado National Forest.
This mountain is usually 20-30 degrees cooler than Tucson, so you can find cooler temperatures in the summer and beautiful snow in the winter.
You can’t just admire the view of the mountain forever, there are many things to do here in Mount Lemmon. Mount Lemmon Ski Valley is the southernmost ski resort in the continental United States. In there, you get to ski in the winter and enjoy a sky ride in the summer.
Aside from the view, Mount Lemmon is home to a handful of restaurants including the Mt. Lemmon Cookie Cabin known for its ice cream and cookies, Sawmill Run Restaurant its menu of burgers, sandwiches, and tacos, and the Iron Door which serves mountain specials such as green chile quiche and a bratwurst plate.
There are many exciting things to see and experience here on Mount Lemmon.
If you are looking for a quick history lesson while driving to Tucson, then the Tumacacori is the place for you.
Tumacacori sits at a cultural crossroad in the Santa Cruz River Valley, these are ruins that have seen their fair share of conflict and cooperation that both shaped the history of this unique area.
The Arizona national park preserves the ruins of three Spanish mission communities. Tour the church and grounds at the Mission San Jose de Tumacacori.
In there a guide will tell you the rich history regarding the church and its preservation. there is also the Tumacacori Museum that helps you uncover information on the mission, history, and many people throughout the years.
Since the area is small, Tumacacori is a great day trip for anyone interested in its fascinating history and architecture. Tumacacori is a quick trip of history and culture and it should not be ignored.
Read my post on Ghost Towns in Arizona
Sonoita Wine Trail
When visiting Tucson, hiking and insane views are the few things to do, but tasting the wine here in Sonoita Wine Trail is a great place to relax and enjoy.
Sonoita Wine Trail is home to ten tasting rooms that have the most consistency in both qualities of wines and the friendliness of tasting room attendants.
The area is a paradise for wine lovers, hikers, bikers, and those seeking to enjoy equestrian and a wide variety of other outdoor activities.
As you go down the trail, there are many wineries Sonoita offers and the Dos Cabezas is one of them. Unlike other tasting rooms, Dos Cabezas is located in a somewhat rundown mall, but as you enter the winery, you can see the space decorated with upscale features including an exposed stone, a copper bar, and a colorful collage of prints displayed on the back wall.
The Sonoita Wine Trail has many more wineries to explore and enjoy, there will never be a dull moment tasting wine and living life to the fullest.
Check out my post on Arizona Wineries
Take a break from all the hikes under the heat and visit one of southern Arizona’s hidden treasures, Patagonia Lake.
Located approximately twelve miles north of Nogales, this 265-acre man-made lake is one of the prettiest of Arizona’s desert lakes. Not only is the lake scenic and beautiful, but it also offers a variety of recreational activities.
Visitors can enjoy water skiing and fishing on the two-and-a-half-mile-long lake. In the lake, you can catch crappie, bass, bluegill, catfish, and many more. The lake offers camping facilities for anyone who wishes to stay overnight and appreciate the night sky.
Other than the activities near the lake, birding is a favorite activity in the park. With over three hundred different bird species have been identified, these birds are a great sight to see and should not be missed.
Patagonia Lake is a change of pace from every hike you will ever experience.
Check out my post on Lakes in Arizona
Kitt Peak National Observatory
If you are looking for a place to gaze at the stars as close as possible, visit the Kitt Peak National Observatory.
Wiki Commons Packbj
Located southwest of Tucson, Arizona, the Kitt Peak National Observatory is an astronomical observatory that is home to moreover a dozen of the largest telescopes and two of those telescopes are open to the public.
It is the crown jewel of observatories in the Southern United States sitting atop the highest peak in the Quinlan Mountains.
The mission is to inspire a sense of wonder and awe about the universe through exhibits, daytime tours, and nighttime public programs. There are astronomers that have made many notable discoveries at the observatory in the past 60 years like Dark Matter, Examining 1a supernovas and faraway galaxies.
Kitt Peak National Observatory is proud to be called one of the most heavily equipped observatories to date.
Arizona Biosphere 2
Known for two missions conducted in the early 1990s to study survivability, the Biosphere 2 is now a tourist attraction located in Oracle, Arizona.
I first visited the Biosphere in 1992 when it was inhabited and a live experiment.
This attraction is a good place to understand and learn the dedication and motivation of the scientist of that time. This facility was mainly used to conduct survivability in outer space by recreating the same atmosphere in space.
Now the facility is inhabited with wildlife aim to preserve many plants and test out the survivability of these plants in space.
Overall, Biosphere 2 is a great place to wander and marvel at mankind’s achievements.
Visit the place with history deserving of the National Landmark status here at Bisbee. Bisbee was once of the most prosperous city between St. Louis and San Francisco due to their abundance of copper.
Now Bisbee has a museum that captures and reflects the history of Bisbee with much accuracy that it feels like you return to those times.
The people at the Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum tell the story of a copper-mining town that plays the role in the industrialization of America, a time of your grandparents.
The museum features its exhibit on the in-depth history of how miners and settlers went to carve a community and a living out of rock. Bisbee is a must-see place that lets you experience its past for the future.
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