We went back and forth on visiting the Sonoran Desert Museum in Tucson, AZ. We had heard great things about it, but was it just another zoo? Would we really find it that interesting? Turns out that traveling the country makes you a bit of a snob when it comes to activities you’ll pay for. You start thinking things like, “Is this going to be better than ‘X’? We just did ‘Y ‘so maybe we don’t need to do this one too.” Happily, the Sonoran Desert was everything we had heard and the kids and I had a fantastic time. And there was cactus. You should know by now how much I love cactus.
When We Visited: March, 13, 2015
Ages of Kids: 9, 7, 4
Tips: Although the park has done a great job of providing shade Ramadas & drinking fountains, its still Tucson, and will be very HOT in the summer. Plan accordingly.
The Sonoran Desert Museum boast over 98 acres, and “is a fusion experience zoo, botanical garden, art gallery, natural history museum, and aquarium.” The museum is also 85% outdoors which can get pretty warm during the Arizona summers.
We started off the morning by wandering down to the bird show. It was pretty fascinating, and the birds really do fly just right above the crowd. The animal trainers are on either side of the standing crowd and the birds crisscross back and forth. Although we were standing, my kids were able to get a spot right on the fence so they could see pretty easily.
After that, we walked the desert loop trail that included javelina & the coyote. Left to right below are the Red fox, javelina, coyote, and coati. I’ve wanted to see a javelina since we got to the Sonoran Desert, and although I never saw one in the wild, I was pretty excited we spotted 3 here at the museum.
Luckily for us, there was an ice cream vendor near the Cactus Garden. The ice cream made the kids happy, and the garden was for me. A ENTIRE garden FULL of very interesting and unique cactus. My kids thought I was crazy, but this was probably my favorite part. Serious obsession, here people.
After lunch we wandered over to the Warden Oasis Theater (indoors) and watched the Live & (sort of) On the Loose venemous reptile presentation. I thought it was funny the animal handlers thought everyone was there to see the rattlesnake. No way. Gila Monsters are definitely more interesting!
Overall we had a great day! A highlight for the kids was also the underground cave tunnels in the Earth Sciences center. They really did look like caves. Pretty sweet. And the exhibit popped us out for a great view of this mountain lion who was just pacing back and forth in front of the window:
Was our visit worth the price of admission? From our experience, to the crowds and the museum’s rating on Trip Advisor, I’m going to go with yes. Everything about the museum is dedicated to this amazing desert and I feel like we got a great overview of the plants, animals, and geology of this amazing place!