If you are planning a trip to Tucson, and researching places to visit, you’ll see that the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is high on the list, and rightfully so. The Desert Museum is extremely unique – it’s designed for wildlife to remain in their natural environment, as well as provide a showcase of the desert landscape. Like the Reid Park Zoo, the Desert Museum does a great job of constantly adding new exhibits and is also extremely kid friendly. It’s also very educational, not only for adults but also for children. The docents are always more than happy to tell us more about what we are seeing, as well as making sure we are aware of some of the demonstrations and the times of the demonstrations.
For the Desert Museum, I don’t recommend “winging it.” I’d definitely recommend looking at the website beforehand, and making note of the exhibits and special events that you and your family want to experience. Some of the demonstrations are at specific times, and if you don’t time your visit right, you could end up missing the first demonstration, and if you have young children with you that get tired, you may end up not making to the second demonstration. For example, a friend of mine told me that the Desert Museum recently added an aquarium and a touch tank. I knew that my son would really enjoy the touch tank, so I made sure to call a few days before our visit to find out the times that the touch tank would be available because the times are not advertised on their website. And I’m glad I did, because my son really enjoyed it and would not have had the opportunity to experience the touch tank otherwise.
We started our day at the Museum at – you guessed it, the aquarium 🙂
There were quite a few tanks in the aquarium exhibit. The tank with the seahorse was pretty cool.
And we were very surprised to see the sand eels in another tank. I’ve seen eels before, but these were different – they looked like plants initially, but then they started moving, they would emerge and submerge in the sand at will.
After we took a look at the different tanks, we moved on to the touch tank, where my son was able to touch a sand star and a sea urchin, and hold a hermit crab. The docent gave us a little bit of background regarding the different sea creatures.
After the touch tank, we headed back outdoors, to the desert landscape. Some of the animals were very active, while others like the bear, and the mountain lion were (wisely) resting under shade.
Can you spot the mountain lion?? I had to take out the zoom lens for this one.
It’s hard to see hummingbird in the picture below, but it’s there – they move fast!! The hummingbird aviary, and butterfly area are just a few of my son’s favorites.
This visit was also the first time we explored the Loop Trail, described as a caving experience.
And finally, back to sunlight 🙂
The Desert Museum is so vast, that we have yet to see everything despite our best efforts! By the time we get through 2/3 of the way, our son starts to lose steam and we always decide to end our visit at the Ironwood Terrace with a late lunch. At the Ironwood Terrace, there is a restaurant as well as a self service food court. We always choose the self service food court for obvious reasons 😉 My son enjoys the kids meal which comes with animal crackers and fruit rollups 🙂 You would never know that 10 minutes before this picture was taken, my son threw himself on the floor, in protest that he had to wait two minutes to get food, lol.
My husband and I always talk about becoming members of the Museum, but we don’t visit often enough for it to make financial sense. The Desert Museum does have a kids program called Coati Kids Club, but unfortunately for us, it’s only offered during the weekdays. If it were offered during the weekend, I would not hesitate to sign my son up for some of the activities. Another thing to note is that while many families take their strollers with them, there are certain areas of the Museum that are not stroller friendly due to the terrain. I do see some families with carriers, and that seems to be a better option to navigate some of the areas.
The Desert Museum does not disappoint. It gives you a great sense of the Sonoran desert, and it’s reputation is well deserved.