15 Free Things to Do in Tucson, AZ

Tucson is a city in Pima County, Arizona.

It was founded in August 1776, while the people celebrated an annual event, La Fiesta de San Agustin.

The city is among the oldest continually inhabited areas in North America.

From 1860 to 1880, the city entered the “Old West” era, becoming a battleground for dueling settlers, miners, and cattle ranchers.

In 1854, the United States bought Arizona legally from Mexico through the Gadsden Purchase.

Tucson was officially announced as part of the United States of America.

This second-largest city in the region is bordered by protected areas such as Catalina State Park, Saguaro National Parks, and Coronado National Forest.

Outdoor opportunities are endless in Tucson, which you can enjoy without burning a hole in your pocket.

While visiting the area, here are some of the free things to do in Tucson, Arizona:

Table of Contents

Have a Fun Day at Gene C. Reid Park

Free things to do in tucson at night
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Known initially as Randolph Park, Reid Park was named after the city’s first Park and Recreation Director, Gene C. Reid, in 1978.

This urban park is one of the city’s essential sites spanning 131 acres that offers covered ramadas, baseball fields, and picnic areas.

You can also go on the bike trail if you are feeling sporty or visit their rose garden and duck pond for some peace.

Free things to do in tucson at night
Florence-Joseph McGinn / Shutterstock.com

The DeMeester Outdoor Performance Center is a known event venue inside the park.

You can also find other attractions such as Reid Park Zoo, Randolph Tennis Center, and Hi Corbett Field.

Pets are also welcome to Reid Park.

Free things to do in tucson at night
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Take a Stroll around Barrio Viejo

Free things to do in tucson at night
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Also known as Barrio Historico or Barrio Libre, Barrio Viejo is an integral part of Tucson’s community.

It has a rich history, which dramatically reflects the many experiences of living in Arizona.

Dating back to the 19th century, the place is still filled with homes and commercial buildings despite urban redevelopment during the 1960s and 1970s.

Located south of the Convention Center in Downtown Tucson, this place can give you good photos of vintage architectural styles which families have preserved.

Free things to do in tucson at night
Albert_Cooper / Shutterstock.com

In 1971, Kelley and Sally Rollings invested in restoring and rebuilding the adobe homes, commonly called Pueblo-style homes, popularizing them.

Enjoy this Barrio Viejo’s mix of art studios, restaurants, and residences.

Free things to do in tucson at night
Nagel Photography / Shutterstock.com

Walk the Turquoise Trail

Situated in Downtown Tucson, Turquoise Trail is a two-and-a-half-mile loop where you can see historic sites and structures.

Its name came from the turquoise stripe that marks the sidewalk of this trail, created by the Presidio Museum’s former board members.

Explore the area to see murals and parks such as Downtown Public Art, the Mainly Murals, and Armory Park.

The Presidio Museum, founded in 1775, is your starting point should you want to see all of the attractions this place offers.

It is just at the corner northeast of the first Presidio San Agustin del Tucson.

Brochures detailing the area are available at popular locations such as the Visit Tucson Visitors Center, Hotel Congress, and AC Marriott Hotel.

Get to learn about some of Tucson’s history at the Turquoise Trail!

Light a Candle at El Tiradito Wishing Shrine

Free things to do in tucson at night
PICTOR PICTURES / Shutterstock.com

The legend of El Tiradito goes back to the early years of Barrio Viejo when a manual laborer named Juan Oliveras became the lover of his wife’s mother.

Upon getting caught in the act, Oliveras’s sad demise inspired the shrine, which honors his memory.

This grotto is probably the first, if not the only, Catholic shrine in the United States dedicated to a sinner’s memory instead of a saint’s.

For almost 100 years, El Tiradito has evolved into a wishing shrine where visitors leave offerings, letters, photos, and light candles.

Legend says your wish will be granted if your candle burns through the night.

You can find El Tiradito in the neighborhood of Barrio Viejo near a city mural.

Visit the Historical Southern Arizona Transportation Museum

Free things to do in tucson at night
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The origin of the Southern Arizona Transportation Museum goes back to 1907 as part of the American Settlement of the West.

This museum was originally a train depot located on Toole Avenue for the Southern Pacific Railroad Depot.

The city later purchased it, restored the building to its 1940s style, and turned it into a museum in 1998.

Free things to do in tucson at night
PICTOR PICTURES / Shutterstock.com

The museum houses several historical locomotives and trolleys, including its pride and joy, an original Southern Pacific steam locomotive, 2-6-0 Mogul #1673, and trolleys from Old Pueblo Trolley, Inc.

Have fun while learning about locomotive history at the Southern Arizona Transportation Museum.

Free things to do in tucson at night
Michael Barera, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Learn History at W. Anne Gibson-Esmond Station Library

The W. Anne Gibson-Esmond Station Library is in the Esmond Station Regional Park.

The place spans 8,000-9,000 square feet and has a meeting room that can be opened to the outdoors.

It also has movable furniture and shelving that provides a more flexible space according to the needs of its visitors.

The library got its name in honof the area’s historical importance.

Anne Gibson initiated bringing the library to the greater area of Vail.

You can also find the work of Troy Neiman, a local metal artist, who created a 45-foot-long steel plate that features a timeline of local culture, history, and desert animals and plants in Vail.

Enjoy books by Frank De La Cruz on the United States and Mexico Borderland history, traditions, and culture.

Otherwise, you can find other exciting reading materials at the W. Anne Gibson-Esmond Station Library.

Walk Down Memory Lane at Trail Dust Town

Free things to do in tucson at night
InSapphoWeTrust from Los Angeles, California, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Built in 1961, Trail Dust Town has become a favorite place for the people of Tucson to repast memories.

Pinnacle Peak Steakhouse has stayed the town’s core since opening in 1962, providing various ranchhands and cowboys with great steak and beer.

After the steakhouse was rebuilt following a fire, it became more popular.

Soon enough, the town changed from having restaurants and shops to becoming an entertainment destination during the mid-1990s.

Amusements rides were added to the place, such as the Polly Anna Park, an antique carousel, a Ferris wheel, and the C.P. Huntington Railroad, built near the town.

Take a trip down the old era of Trail Dust Town, located at Tanque Verde Road.

Hike Tumamoc Hill

Free things to do in tucson at night
Charles T. Peden / Shutterstock.com

If you want a more challenging route, take a hike at Tumamoc Hill.

This five-kilometer paved trail sits on an 860-acre ecological reservation.

The University of Arizona College of Science and Pima Country manages the reservation as a desert laboratory.

The O’odham nations called this hill Cemamagi Du’ag or ‘horned lizard mountain’ due to its resemblance to the reptile.

Free things to do in tucson at night
Jennifer G. Lang / Shutterstock.com

It holds great significance to the O’odham nation’s culture and ancestry, having been a research station since 1906, preserving at least two millennia of history.

The university welcomes visitors on the paved trail to hike to the top, which can take at least an hour and a half to complete.

So if you are up for a challenge, explore Tumamoc Hill, located west of downtown Tucson.

Free things to do in tucson at night
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Enjoy the Chuck Huckelberry Loop

The 131-mile paved paths of the Chuck Huckelberry Loop (The Loop) took the number one recreational trail spot in USA Today’s 10 Best Readers’ Choice list of 2022.

The Loop began as a flood control project after a disastrous flood in 1983.

In 2018, they expanded the Loop into one continuous stretch creating a great network of paths.

The path is open for the public to do activities such as running, cycling, walking, skating, and even horseback riding if you have your horse with you!

Connected to parks, trailheads, and farmer’s markets, this trail located north of Tucson gives you reasonable access to the city.

Enjoy an active day at the Chuck Huckelberry Loop.

Learn the History of Photography at the Center for Creative Photography

Free things to do in tucson at night
Michael Barera, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This place is one of the world’s finest study centers and academic art museums focusing on photography’s history.

The Center for Creative Photography opened in 1975 on the grounds of the University of Arizona.

The museum began with the archives of five master photographers: Ansel Adams, Harry Callahan, Frederick Sommer, Aaron Siskind, and Wynn Bullock.

Since then, it has steadily grown its collection to more than 110,000 by over 2,200 photographers.

Free things to do in tucson at night
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Some pieces from famous North American photographers such as Lola Alvarez Bravo, Garry Winogrand, and W. Eugene Smith are also in the museum.

Altogether, over eight million collections of archival objects are in the center, including work prints, negatives, albums, writings, and memorabilia.

Deepen your understanding of photography’s impact on society through the Center for Creative Photography.

Free things to do in tucson at night
Ken Wolter / Shutterstock.com

Catch Stage Performances on 2nd Saturdays

If you find yourself in Downtown Tucson on the second Saturday of the month, enjoy good music and performances on 2nd Saturdays.

This community-oriented series of events features musicians, street performers, food trucks, and local vendors, making it a music festival for all ages.

Read more  18 Fun Free Things to Do in Tucson with Kids

Local bands’ performances and activities fill Congress Street, stretching Toole Avenue to Church Avenue.

The inaugural monthly urban street festival occurred in May 2010 on Congress and Scott Avenue Streets.

Past performances have featured local bands such as Asphalt Astronaut, Imogen Rose, and Toros.

Stop by San Xavier Del Bac Mission

Free things to do in tucson at night
Kellie L. Folkerts / Shutterstock.com

Located just nine miles away from the south of Downtown Tucson at Interstate 19, the San Xavier Del Bac Mission is a National Historic Landmark.

Founded in 1692 by Father Eusebio Kino as a Catholic mission, the church is one of the oldest European structures in the state.

The church’s construction kicked off in 1783 and was completed in New Spain fourteen years later.

Free things to do in tucson at night
Nagel Photography / Shutterstock.com

Even now, the ambiance from that period remains, thanks to its original statues and mural paintings inside the church.

The architecture of the current church is unlike other historic Spanish missions; O’odham laborers built it according to the European style.

San Xavier del Bac Mission’s stunning Spanish colonial features are worth seeing.

Free things to do in tucson at night
Nagel Photography / Shutterstock.com

Look through the Glass at Philabaum Glass Gallery

As Southern Arizona’s only gallery of glassworks, Philabaum Glass Gallery is represented by over 50 artists that are recognized nationally.

As one of Tucson’s hidden gems, it features beautiful contemporary sculptures, stemware, artful jewelry, glass vases, and platters.

Philabaum Glass Gallery is the only glassworks gallery in Southern Downtown Tucson, a fixture since 1982.

Then, Tom Philabaum, father of the American Studio Glass Art Movement, took charge.

For their 40th anniversary in 2022, they have honored five classic Arizona glass artists by displaying their work.

See the pieces from Tom Philabaum, Carole Perry, Dan Enwright, Louis Via, and Michael Joplin.

Admire glass art at the hidden treasure of the Sonora Desert.

Enjoy the View from Tucson Mountain Park

Free things to do in tucson at night
Leland Jackson, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Tucson Mountain Park spans approximately 20,000 acres.

It is one of the largest natural resource areas managed and owned by a local government in the United States.

The park was established in April of 1929 under the management of the Pima County Parks Commission and the chairman, C.B. Brown.

Hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders frequent this place due to its 62-mile trail, which also provides a good range of outdoor activities and experiences.

Within the park is the Gate Pass, which gives you the experience of viewing historic structures and interpretive displays.

You can also picnic and view wildlife throughout Tucson Mountain Park.

Explore Cactus and Succulents at B&B Cactus Farm

B&B Cactus Farm is a succulent cacti nursery located on Speedway Boulevard.

They offer a wide variety of desert plants, perfect for anyone looking to add some life to their home décor.

Bob and Beverly White started their farm in 1981, growing native plants and selling them from their home.

Today, the farm has expanded to include greenhouses, pottery, garden art, and fully landscaped gardens open to visitors.

People are fascinated by the different types of cacti and succulents from all over the world, so they visit this nursery that has been in business for 30 years.

Their knowledgeable staff can answer any queries about taking care of these plants.

Come and have a look at this wonderful farm!

Visitors are free to roam and see how succulents are grown.

Final Thoughts

Tucson is rich with the cultural heritage of the Spaniards, Mexicans, and Western Americans.

You will have many memorable experiences visiting the state, even without spending a dime.

Explore the mostly outdoor museums, and see the many species that have lived in the city’s deserts.

Spend a wonderful budget-friendly vacation with these free things to do in Tucson, Arizona.

— Update: 30-12-2022 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article 10 things to do in Tucson when the sun goes down from the website thisistucson.com for the keyword free things to do in tucson at night.

If checking the weather forecast makes you want to change all your summer plans to: stay and inside and cry. We understand. 

But, you can still have fun even when it’s seemingly 1,000 degrees outside, you just have to wait until the sun goes down. 

Our desert creatures figured out a long time ago that Tucson summers are best enjoyed at night when its a few degrees cooler and slightly less miserable. And many Tucson places have also adapted to embrace nighttime events. 

If becoming nocturnal is on your summer survival list, check out these ideas to fill those warm summer nights. 

Go on a neon sign tour

You don’t have to leave the comforts of your car’s AC to enjoy a night-time adventure cruising through Tucson to check out vintage and historic neon signs. The Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation has been documenting and restoring these glowing mid-century signs from businesses — of yesteryear and those still operating — and created a handy guide with illuminating information about these signs and a map you can use to plan your route which can be found here. 

See the Queen of the Night 

Tohono Chul’s annual Bloom Night event, where its dozen or so night-blooming cereus cacti reveal their palm-sized white blossoms for one-night only, is one of Tucson’s most highly anticipated summer events. But, this year’s event is for members only, so if you’re planning to see the Queen of the Night in action, you’ll want to get a jump on becoming a member.

“We decided to make it a members only Bloom Night as a thank you to our membership for their continued support during this difficult time,” Michelle Armstrong, the director of marketing for Tohono Chul said via email. “It will also help with crowd control as we sometimes receive an upwards of 1,500 in the six-hour timeframe.”

Tohono Chul staff monitor the night-blooming cereus plants and provide updates through its Bloom Watch newsletter and the museum usually announces the Bloom Night date a couple days in advance. 

Tohono Chul memberships start at $35 for an individual membership or $65 for a family or dual membership and can be purchased online or at the door during Bloom Night. 

Summer Safari Nights at Reid Park Zoo

Enjoy a sunset stroll through the Reid Park Zoo which is open extended hours on Saturday nights through Aug. 14. At the zoo’s Summer Safari Nights events, you can hear live music, play games and do family-friendly activities with Tucson Parks and Recreation’s, Ready, Set, Rec program, go on carousel rides, and food and drink specials including craft beer and prickly pear margaritas. There’s also a different theme every Saturday. 

When: Saturdays through Aug. 14, 5:30-8:30 p.m.

Where: Reid Park Zoo, 3400 E. Zoo Court 

Cost: $10.40 adults; $8.50 seniors; $6.50 children ages 2-15

Find more information and reserve tickets at reidparkzoo.org. 

Saturday Nights at the Desert Museum 

The sprawling Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum always tops the must-visit list for visitors and residents alike and when the day-time temperatures are too warm to fully enjoy your visit while the sun is beating down on you, you can check out the museum by night Saturdays in June. You’ll get to see nocturnal animals do their thing, enjoy a spectacular sunset and you can even add on a 30-minute beer tasting with six 4 oz. pours from local vendors. 

When: The museum is open until 9 p.m. Saturday, June 19 and June 26. 

Where: Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, 2021 N. Kinney Road. 

Cost: $23.95 general admission; $19.95 for Arizona/Sonora residents; discounts available for children, seniors, military. Beer tastings are an additional $20. 

Find more information and reserve tickets onine on the Desert Museum’s website. 

Shop under the stars

The summer heat doesn’t slow down Tucson’s artisans, makers, small businesses and food vendors, like everything else in the desert, they simply adapt. Night markets are popping up all over town where you can shop under the stars. 

Here are a few to check out:

  • Summer Night Market at MSA Annex, 267 S. Avenida del Convento. This market features more than 40 vendors and MSA Annex retailers will be open with extended hours. The market happens June 25, July 30, Aug. 27, Sept. 24 from 6-10 p.m. 
  • Summer Night Mercadito del Barrio at Galeria Mitotera, 1802 S. Fourth Ave. Shop a variety of Latinx and Indigenous artists, makers, small businesses and food vendors at this monthly outdoor pop-up market. The next market happens Saturday, June 19 from 6-9 p.m. 
  • Coven Night Market at Woolly Fern, 4401 E. Speedway. This monthly market organized by When+Where Co. brings together several oddities vendors. Markets happen from 5-8 p.m. June 19, July 17 and August 21. 
  • Community Block Party Pop-Up at Boss Women Unite, 1130 E. Pennsylvania Street. Shop women-owned vendors, listen to music and enjoy delicious eats. 

See a movie al fresco

You can throw down a blanket or pop the trunk to enjoy a movie al fresco in the warm summer air at different venues in and around Tucson. 

Check out our round up of places to watch free and cheap movies this summer, which includes a few indoor options for those times when AC is non-negotiable. 

Vax After Dark

If you still need a COVID-19 vaccine, the Pima County Health Department has been hosting Vax after Dark events offering people the chance to get their vaccine during evening hours, if that’s more convenient for your schedule. The health department updates its COVID-19 vaccine website daily, so be sure to check there frequently for new dates and locations. Here are a few of the upcoming COVID-19 vaccine clinics happening during the evening. 

  • Thursday, June 17 and June 24, 6-9 p.m. at Antigone Books, 411 N. Fourth Ave. 
  • Saturday, June 19, 5:30-8:30 p.m. at Reid Park Zoo, 3400 E. Zoo Court

Make and play at the Children’s Museum Tucson

Two monthly events happening at the Children’s Museum Tucson allow families to explore the museum or participate in kid-friendly activities during extended hours this summer. 

Discovery Nights happen on Thursday, June 17, July 15 and August 19 from 5-7 p.m. with half-price admission for $4.50 per person and bilingual programming.

The museum’s Make It! workshops happen on Saturday, June 26, July 24 and Aug. 28 from 5:30-7 p.m. in the museum’s courtyard. Each workshop has a different theme where kids can make a guided project or use their imagination to create something entirely unique. Tickets are $15 and are buy one get one free. 

Explore Tucson’s Night Sky

When the monsoon or soul-crushing “nonsoon” clouds don’t get in the way, Tucson’s cooler summer nights are the perfect opportunity to explore the night sky at stargazing events and star parties hosted by local groups. 

The Mount Lemmon SkyCenter hosts SkyNights most Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through the end of August. The five-hour program includes a short astronomy talk, light dinner and the chance to use the high-powered 24-inch Phillips telescope or 32-inch Schulman telescope to observe the cosmos with guidance from the SkyCenter’s expert staff. Tickets are $85 for adults and $70 for youth ages 7-17. 

Read more  This Year's Top Baby Names for Girls

Spencer’s Observatory on the grounds of Cat Mountain Lodge on Tucson’s west side offers personalized guided star tours for groups of up to ten people. The privately-owned observatory has three different telescopes to use for stargazing and star tours can be reserved for $125 for two hours or $175 for three hours and up to five people. Each additional person is $15.

Let someone else do the cooking

If firing up the oven or stove to cook a hot dinner isn’t on your list of fun things to do in Tucson this summer, we feel you. Luckily, with so many delicious food trucks serving up dishes from every cuisine imaginable, you can leave the meal prep to the experts. A visit to one of Tucson’s night-time food truck rallies is your best bet to enjoy a meal, desserts and beverages from a variety of vendors and you can usually enjoy music while you wait. 

The Women Food Truck Owners of Southern Arizona’s Ladies Night rallies happen at different locations around town and feature a rotating lineup of trucks owned by women and DJ music. 

The bi-weekly Picture Rocks Food Festival happens on the first and third Fridays of the month and bills itself as the “biggest event in west Tucson” with several food vendors, live music and sunset views for days. 

— Update: 30-12-2022 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article 18 Fun Free Things to Do in Tucson with Kids from the website shebuystravel.com for the keyword free things to do in tucson at night.

Free things to do in tucson at night
The famed saguaro cacti found in Tucson. Photo credit: Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

The southwestern Arizona city of Tucson has plenty of free outdoor activities to entice families. And Covid-19 cautious travelers who prefer the fresh air. But the summer heat will drive you to air conditioned places. Luckily, Tucson is filled with free indoor family friendly fun things to do as well. So grab a reusable water bottle for everyone and check out the sights.

You can also make a day trip to Phoenix and Scottsdale, less than two hours away by car.

Note: Some attractions are currently closed due to Covid-19 restrictions.

1. Desert Time

Free things to do in tucson at night
You can see the protected Saguaro cacti free in Tucson. Photo credit: NPS/ Ryan Summers

Head to the Sonoran Desert to see the famed Saguaro cactus, only found here. You can just take a scenic drive, or do something more active. If you want to hike, go early, especially in summer. Bring plenty of water, sunscreen and a brimmed hat for everyone.

2. On a Mission

The Mission San Xavier del bac, a National Historic Landmark was founded in 1692. The restored Spanish Colonial church, built in 1797, is the oldest intact European structure in Arizona. The interior is filled with original statues and murals. San Xavier Mission is still an operating Catholic mission.  During Covid-19, the museum remains closed, but the church and mausoleum are open.

3. Southern Arizona Transportation Museum

Free things to do in tucson at night
Check out the steam locomotive at the Southern Arizona Transportation Museum. Photo credit: Southern Arizona Transportation Museum

The Southern Arizona Transportation Museum has indoor and outdoor exhibits on railroads in southwestern Arizona. You can see the steam locomotive from the 1955 movie “Oklahoma,” along with model trains and interactive exhibits. You can learn how the railroad helped develop agriculture, mining, industry and tourism in Tucson. The museum is in the historic former Southern Pacific Railroad Depot in downtown Tucson.

4. Outdoor Art

The Sculpture Garden at the Tucson JCC includes a landscaped garden, over 40 sculptures by local, national, and international sculptors and views of the mountains.

5. Historic Fourth Avenue

Stroll the historic Fourth Avenue Business District, northeast of and adjacent to downtown Tucson. The area dates to 1916 and includes over 140 locally owned boutiques, bars and cafes; all in historic buildings. There is a 3 day Winter Street Fair every December, along with a 3 day Spring Street Fair. Both family friendly (but not dog friendly) events feature live music by local artists. The 2022 Fourth Avenue Spring Street Fair is scheduled for April 1, 2 and 3, 2022.

6. Live Music Downtown

On the second Saturday of every month, downtown Tucson rocks out with live entertainment. The family friendly 2nd Saturdays are on pause during the pandemic, but when they restart, expect lots of free fun and food vendors, along with restaurants staying open late.

7. Brandi Fenton Memorial Park

The Brandi Fenton Memorial Park has two shaded playgrounds, walking path and a Splash Pad open from the third Saturday in April through October 31. This is the place to let the kids run around and cool off in the large splash park.

8. Free Guided Tours

The University of Arizona has docent led guided tours of the Bryant Bannister Tree-Ring Lab. This is the lab that started dendrochronology, the  scientific study of tree-rings, in 1937. Check the calendar to find an open tour. The hour long tours start most days at 10 am.

9. Sports Fans

Free things to do in tucson at night
The Jim Click Hall of Champions sports museum. at the University of Arizona. Photo credit: University of Arizona

The Jim Click Hall of Champions at the University of Arizona celebrates over 100 years of student-athletes, performances and traditions. The athletic heritage museum is currently closed due to Covid-19 restrictions, but it is an otherwise free attraction.

10. Gallery In The Sun Museum

A 10-acre National Historic District, the DeGrazia Gallery In The Sun Museum was built by local artist Ettore “Ted” DeGrazia. It includes the adobe Mission in the Sun, a National Historic landmark, and 6 permanent collections of southwestern art. You can take a self guided tour through DeGrazia’s home, the galleries and the cactus corral.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Since the space is vast, wear good walking shoes.

11. Hike to a Waterfall

Although the Sonoran Desert dominates the landscape, you can actually hike to Tanque Verde Falls. A 1.9 mile out and back hiking trail allows leashed dogs and is easy enough that kids can hike. Don’t expect a major waterfall in a drought stricken region, but it is still a unique waterfall.

12. Second Sundays

Enjoy Second Sunday contemporary art events every month  at the Tucson JCC. See revolving exhibits in the Fine Art Gallery with artist talks and live music.

13. Saguaro National Park

Free things to do in tucson at night
Not just cacti: see an Ironwood tree in bloom in Tucson. Photo credit: Saguaro National Park

Saguaro National Park has over 165 miles of hiking trails. This is a great way to see the iconic Saguaro cacti. This very tall and protected cacti, the symbol of Arizona, are best appreciated at a distance. Don’t touch them! Another unique activity at Saguaro National Park is to se the prehistoric Native American petroglyphs at Signal Hill. National parks charge an admission fee, but every year, the National Parks Service has several fee free days. These include Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, National Park Service Birthday and Veterans Day.

14. Coronado National Forest

Coronado National Forest is another park that charges a daily fee, except on the special National Parks Service free days. The park includes the Santa Catalina Mountains and Sabino Canyon recreation area, so expect great hiking trails. There is also a narrated tram tour from the visitors center to the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains if you don’t want to hike. Don’t worry – you can also take the tram back.

15. Turquoise Trail

Take a self guided walking tour through downtown Tucson; historic sites are marked with a turquoise stripe on the sidewalk. You can pick up a trail map at the Tucson Visitor Center. The visitors center, aka Southern Arizona Heritage & Visitor Center, is in the Historic Pima County Courthouse and is worth a visit just to see the building. The visitors center is near the Tucson Museum of Art.

16. Rillito Park Farmers Market

Free things to do in tucson at night
Farmers market with a view. Photo credit: Heirloom Farmers Markets

The year round Sunday Rillito Park Farmers Market, near The Loop bike trail, has local farmers, ranchers and artisan food. There are chef demos, live music and pavilions that shade the food stalls – and the strollers. There are picnic areas if you want an al fresco lunch. The market is also dog friendly.

17. Barrio Viejo

Explore the historic old neighborhood with 19th century adobe homes. Look for El Tiradito, aka the Wishing Shrine, at 420 South Main Avenue.

Through at least December 31, 2021, fares are suspended on the Sun Link Tucson Streetcar. This is a great way to explore attractions around Tucson, with no worry about parking fees.

Paid Attractions to Consider

  • Although you have to pay, if you bring your dog to Tucson, dogs are allowed in the Tucson Botanical Gardens, June-September. You can buy a Dog Membership for unlimited visits during this time. There are dog bowls and clean-up stations throughout the gardens. How many dogs are members of botanic gardens?
  • The University of Arizona Museum of Art charges for adult admission, but children are admitted free. The museum specializes in art from Europe and the United States, from the Renaissance through Contemporary. The University of Arizona also offers paid tours of the Mirror Lab, showing off its giant optical telescopes (these tours are paused during the pandemic). 
  • The Reid Park Zoo features giraffes, elephants and bears. There is also a carousel and a miniature train ride.
  • The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum includes an aquarium with stingray touch tank, Sonoran Desert gardens, a raptor free flight show and hiking trails.
  • The dog friendly Pima Air & Space Museum has indoor and outdoor exhibits. You can see over 400 aircraft here, including historic airplanes, helicopters and missiles.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Buying tickets to several attractions can get pricey, but you can save money by buying a Tucson Discount Pass.

Did we miss any great free things to do in Tucson? Share with us in the comment section below.

— Update: 30-12-2022 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article 8 Fun Free and Cheap Things to do in Tucson from the website plaidshirtyogapants.com for the keyword free things to do in tucson at night.

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Tucson is Arizona’s second-largest city and is a great way to spend a weekend trip! Even though there are tons of fun, tourist attractions in Tucson, this list will just graze some of the best fun cheap things to do in Tucson, Az.

Tucson is large both geographically and with over 500,000 residents, but it still gives off a small town feel. Most of the time you will not use the Interstate to get around. Instead, most of the time you will take regular surface street roads to get from one side of town to the next.

This post contains affiliate links, advertisements, and links to Amazon Service LLC Associates Program. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. To learn more, go to my Disclosure page.

This city is north of the United States- the Mexican board had has lots of influence from our friends down south. The town is filled with desert wild and plant life, Mexican food and beverages, and plenty of fun things to do.

Read more  25 Best Hotels Near Redwood National Park

You can easily take a day trip from Phoneix by bus or take a road trip from  Tucson to El Paso Road Trip.

Free things to do in tucson at night

Where to stay in Tucson

Tucson is a vast, sprawling town that is easy to get around by car. We ended up booking a hotel at the Hotels in Sheraton Tucson Hotel & Suites.

We ended up staying at this hotel because we had points on our Chase Sapphire Reserve Card, we were able to reserve a suite with a king bed and a sofa bed, and there was complimentary breakfast.

Free things to do in tucson at night

The suite was the perfect size for three adults. There was enough space for the three of us to comfortably place suitcases, sleep, and get ready in the morning.

Another thing we loved about Hotels in Sheraton Tucson Hotel & Suites was the breakfast buffet. We enjoyed eating at the breakfast buffet. There were several items available on the buffet that are not typically found in your typical hotel breakfasts.

My favorite thing to eat from the buffet? The potatoes. They were the best thing to eat on the entire menu.

8 Fun Cheap Things to do in Tucson

1. Try a James Beard Foundation Award Winning Restaurant – El Charro Cafe

The James Beard Foundation nominated El Charro Cafe as one of the most Outstanding Restaurants for 2019. This restaurant was chosen to win an award as one of the most outstanding restaurants in the United States – and it is in Tucson!

El Charro Cafe was one of the first restaurants I dined in a while in Tucson, and they raise the bar when it comes to tacos and margaritas. With four locations, one is even in the airport, there is an El Charro Cafe not too far from where you are hanging out.

Free things to do in tucson at night

El Charro Cafe is known for their famous Carne Seca Platter – marinated, shredded Angus beef dried on the roof in the Sonoran Dessert Sun. We got a small sample of the Carne Seca, but what we really wanted was tacos.

Another famous dish El Charro Cafe is known for is their Original “Charro Style” Beef Tacos. In 1922 this was the only way to make a taco, create a ground beef patty, fold it in a tortilla and pan fry it. Served with a garnish of peas, radishes, and Mexican cheeses.

Top that off with a super cute, super yummy Prickley Pear-Rita or Horny Cucumber Margarita, and you have a fabulous, authentic Mexican meal.

2. Eat a Sonoran Dog

El Guero Canelo won the 2019 James Beard Foundation America’s Classics award for their Sonoran Dog.

Wait what-what is a Sonoran Style dog?

Well, it is bacon-wrapped frank, beans, grilled onion, fresh onion, tomato, mayo, mustard, and jalapeno sauce. This hot dog is more than a hot dog, and it is hard to find outside of Mexico and Arizona.

Even if you don’t make it to El Guero Canelo – there are well over 200 different vendors in Tucson that sell Sonoran Hot Dogs. Since these Hot Dogs are not expensive at all they had to make my list for fun cheap things to do in Tucson!

Free things to do in tucson at night

3. Eating Fry Bread

I first discovered Indian Fry bread while road tripping across the United States, so of course when I found Mexican Fry Bread I just had to buy one and eat it!

The best way to describe Fry Bread is that it is a blend between a Funnel Cake and a Beignet. If you haven’t had either one of those just know that it is heaven!

Traditional Mexican fry bread is fried dough with powdered sugar and honey. There are several outlets to get Mexican fry bread, but we stumbled upon a whole bunch of vendors outside of Mission San Xavier del Bac, and it was a fantastic experience!

If you want to try a bunch of different variants of fry bread – they have sweet and savory – or different vendors make sure to get to the Mission Early, and snack on the fry bread before and after your tour!

Free things to do in tucson at night

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Free things to do in tucson at night

4. Visit San Xavier del Bac

San Xavier del Bac, a Spanish Catholic Mission, is one of the oldest, intact European structure in Arizona, dating back to the late 1700s. It is located nine miles south of downtown Tucson is the Tohono O’odham San Xavier Indian Reservation.

This Mission attracts over 200,000 visitors yearly and is still run by the Franciscan community. SanXavier del Bac is free of charge to the public. However, donations are appreciated. In situations like this, I typically donate $10 per hour for my entire family.

Free things to do in tucson at night

Visitors are welcome from 7 am – 5 pm daily. If you are interested in attending mass there is a 530 pm Saturday Vigil, 7 am, 10 am, and 1130 am Sunday Mass, and 630 am daily mass in the Juan Diego chapel.

One of my favorite things about San Xavier del Bac was to see all of the pilgrims, tourists, and locals praying to St Francis. There is a wooden statue of St Francis in a tomb where all parishioners can walk up to the saint, touch him, and pray.

Free things to do in tucson at night

There is also a small museum, gift shop and the ability to purchase candles to leave an intention or prayer behind. One of the most beautiful spots in this Mission was all of the areas where people were able to leave their candles and special intentions.

Free things to do in tucson at night

5. Visit Saguaro National Park

Saguaro National Park isn’t the largest national park, but it is divided into two separate and distinct parts. Saguaro East and Saguaro West. The entrance fee is $20 to enter Saguaro National Park, and that is good for seven days, or you can invest in a National Parks Pass and visiting the park is free.

Of course, this had to make the list for the best fun, free things to do in Tucson – even if you do have to spend the $20 for a 7-day pass.

I highly suggest splitting Saguaro National Park up into two days, but if you can’t, you need to decide if you want to do more hiking or driving.

No matter how long you are visiting, make sure you bring plenty of water and snacks because of the desert heat.

Free things to do in tucson at night

Saguaro East

On the east side of town is Saguaro East, in the Rincon Mountain District. This side of the park contains the Cactus Forest Loop Drive.

This paved, one-way road loop allows guests to see 8 miles of the rugged desert. There is a handicapable path called the Desert Ecology Trail. We use this walker while traveling.

Free things to do in tucson at night

Other than hopping out of the car, taking photos with the largest Saguaro you can find, and taking a few walks through the cactus forest, you can catch one of the most stunning sunsets high up in the Rincon Mountains.

Saguaro West

The age-old debate is should one go to the East or the West. The west has a larger number of Saguaro concentrated in that side of the park while

Baja, a Loop Drive, is the best way to see Saguaro National Park. Most of the loop is two way, but there is one section that goes one way. Beware because between the Valley View Overlook Trail and Apache Peak, many people drive the wrong way.

One of the best places to have a quiet picnic in Saguaro National Park is at Ez-Kim-in-Zin Picnic area. This area is situated at one of the highest parts of the park where you can easily drive to.

There are a few picnic table, including some with shelters, where you can enjoy a peaceful lunch while looking over the cactus forest.

Free things to do in tucson at night

Even though Signal Hill is steep and is not handicapable at all, it is an excellent place to pull off and see the ancient Petroglyphs in the park. These petroglyphs were formed by the people of this region over 800 years ago.

They were created by etching and scrapping designs into the surface of the sandstone. Many of the petroglyphs look like squiggly lines and spirals, but a few look like people and animals.

Free things to do in tucson at night

6. Murals

There are so many bright and beautiful murals in Tucson that you could spend a half of a day just driving around and finding them all! For us, we had finished up our day pretty early, and took a drive downtown and stumbled upon the Tucson Bike Mural.

This mural is 130 feet wide and 30 feet tall, which makes it easy to spot from the street. It is located on the back of Epic Rides facing the sixth street.

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7. Greetings from Tucson

Greetings tour is one of my favorite traveling families ever, and this mural is special to me because I found out about them while I was in Tucson, and they were painting a mural in New Orleans!

The Greetings tour family is traveling in their RV and bringing joy to each of the different cities with their amazing Greetings From postcard style murals.

The Greetings From Tucson mural is located behind Miller’s Surplus on 406 N 6th Ave. Beware – the mural is in an alley where many people park, and when we visited, it was very close to a dumpster and porta-potties.

Free things to do in tucson at night

8. 30 Foot Cactus Sign

Did you know that Tucson has a 30 Foot Neon Cactus Sign? It was put up in 2010 on the median of N. Oracle Rd and intersects with W. Adams Street.

On the southbound side, the cactus reads Tucson while the Northbound side reads Miracle Mile. This attraction is better viewed at night, but fair warning it is tough to take a photo of it!

Free things to do in tucson at night

Visiting Tucson

I hope you find this guide helpful in figuring out fun cheap things to do in Tucson. If you have visited (or plan to visit) Tucson let me know your favorite Tucson Attractions

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About the Author: Tung Chi