Best In-Town Walk: At the Tucson Botanical Gardens, stroll through the varied gardens that are cool and quiet, yet right in the heart of town.
Best Historical Site: San Xavier del Bac, called the “white dove of the desert,” is considered by many to be the foremost example of mission architecture remaining in the United States.
Best Museum: See the art and artifacts left behind by the many cultures who have called this desert home at the Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block.
Best Time Spent for Free: The University of Arizona Museum of Art has an excellent collection and it’s all for free.
Best Artist-Built Gallery: Even if you aren’t a fan of famous artist Ted DeGrazia’s impressionistic work, you must visit the DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun to see the romantic home he built in the desert.
Best Place to See Water in the Desert: At Sabino Canyon Recreation Area, a famous riparian area will change your idea about aridity.
Best Place to Learn About the Desert: The world-famous Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is both a museum and zoo, where you can learn about the general struc- ture and the minute details of the surrounding desert and see live native animals in a tame environment.
Best Place to See the Desert: At Saguaro National Park West you can really get to know the saguaro and its desert compatriots; also check out the eastern section of the park.
Best Adventure With Kids: At Colossal Cave Mountain Park you can tour an old cave (once a hideout for Old West bandits), ride horses, say hello to ancient tortoises, and much more.
Best Place to Outrun the Heat: On the Sky Island Scenic Byway, an hour-long scenic drive takes you from the desert to an ecosystem akin to Canada’s.
Best Reminder of the Cold War: Learn about Tucson’s past as a nuclear missile hot spot at the Titan Missile Museum.