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“so many types of cacti.”

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
Ranked #2 of 320 things to do in Tucson
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: This renowned combination zoo, natural history museum, botanical garden and art gallery reflects the diverse flora and fauna of the Sonoran Desert, featuring wildlife such as coyotes, bears and mountain lions in their natural settings and two aviaries; one for hummingbirds and the other for varied desert birds.
Useful Information: Activities for older children, Wheelchair access, Activities for young children, Bathroom facilities, Food available for purchase
Reviewed 6 April 2018

I like the history of knowing about the cacti. I didn't know there were that many varieties. I like to learn about all the plants and the cacti are starting to bloom.

Thank joyceg946
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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"desert museum"
in 787 reviews
"hummingbird aviary"
in 353 reviews
"the raptor free flight"
in 157 reviews
"raptor demonstration"
in 78 reviews
"birds of prey"
in 147 reviews
"prairie dogs"
in 155 reviews
"mountain lion"
in 199 reviews
"live animals"
in 73 reviews
"flora and fauna"
in 271 reviews
"their natural habitat"
in 91 reviews
"animal exhibits"
in 77 reviews
"all ages"
in 327 reviews
"cactus garden"
in 75 reviews
"tucson area"
in 194 reviews
"gift shop"
in 238 reviews
"great place to visit"
in 121 reviews
"botanical gardens"
in 85 reviews
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244 - 248 of 7,700 reviews

Reviewed 6 April 2018

It's called a "museum," and technically it meets that definition, but this is really a combination museum, arboretum, botanical garden and zoo. Don't let that description deter you from visiting, because you'll have a great day! The Sonoran desert is huge and unique, encompassing large swaths of Mexico, California and Arizona, so this venue incorporates the most fascinating plants, animals and sea creatures of the Sonora. It's a beautiful, natural setting, deep in the desert Saguaro National Park south of Tucson. Definitely plan your day to arrive at the visitors center early... not just because it's the coolest part of the day, but also because the animals are out-and-about, easily visible, in the cooler morning. Plan to visit the (relatively smaller) indoor sections of the facility during the warmer parts of the day.
We visited in April, and probably the highlight of our visit was a spectacular "Raptor Free Flight" demonstration, in which the desert's fastest, most powerful flying predators strut their stuff while expert professional and volunteer trainers and narrators explain their behavior. "Raptor Free Flight" is a free, "up-close" experience; the birds fly repeatedly just inches above your heads, and circle just overhead showing their powerful talons and beaks, and their dramatic plumage. The raptor program is not conducted during the hottest months of summer, so plan your visit (if possible) during the cooler months.
There's also a "touch-the-sting-rays" program, which we chose not to view (there's an extra charge for the sting-rays).
For me, another must-see part of the Sonora Desert Museum was the Cactus Garden, where beautiful photo opportunities abound at every turn, and where some of the most exotic succulent plants in the world are gathered in a single, artistic space. Similarly, the Agave Garden highlights an impressive variety of these unusual plants.
A third must-see feature of the museum is the cleverly arranged hummingbird exhibition, in which visitors stroll literally face-to-face among dozens of these hyper-active and picturesque tiny birds as they extract nutrients from colorful flowers, build their nests, and nurture their raisin-sized eggs. Because of the way the hummingbird exhibit is arranged, superb photo opportunities abound, for both long-lens experts and cellphone camera users.
Of course, there is an extensive, natural-setting zoo featuring the animals, reptiles and other fauna of the desert including coyote, javelina, prairie dog, mule deer, bear, otter, and even honey bees.
Admission is around $20 for adults (small discounts available for seniors and students), but the experience is well worth it. Facilities are excellent and well maintained. There are many easy walking paths, both paved and unpaved, and only one trail requiring just a little more uphill effort (but no "climbing"). Plentiful cool water fountains are available on all the paths, and a pleasant sit-down restaurant on the site offers a chance for an air-conditioned midday break from the sun. A cafe-style grill offers faster food service, and of course there's a gift shop. An interior art exhibition is adjacent to the restaurant. Electric scooters are available for rent (additional charge of $25), making almost everything accessible.
If you devote a full day to this excursion, you can arrive early, see the "best" at the museum, and then make a brief stop on your way home at the Saguaro National Park visitors center, and perhaps even take the short, scenic gravel-road loop drive leading to the site of some ancient Indian petroglyphs on "Signal Hill" in the park.

Thank Projournalist
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 April 2018

We visited on a hot day, so I would suggest going as early in the day as possible if you are there during hot weather. Much of the museum is outdoors, showcasing desert flora and fauna. during the day, there are docents who will introduce you to different animals, birds, etc. There are also good, interesting indoor exhibits. Make sure you bring water with you, although there are drinking fountains in the main buildings. It takes at least two hours to explore the entire area.

Thank flowerbuyer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 April 2018

This was FABULOUS. It is so very interesting and huge. Plan to stay the entire day, go early, and stay, stay, stay and read, look, learn. It is one amazing place. We didn't get to see half of it..... and prepare to pay a sizable entry fee per person. But it was so worth it, we just wish we would have had more time.

Thank Lynda H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 5 April 2018 via mobile

This museum is a gem! There’s something for everyone. We saw a great bird show, got to pet sting rays, and had an up-close meeting with a barn owl. The docents were super-friendly and knowledgeable. Plan on spending a whole day there!

Thank Exploration706120
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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