TUCSON | THE DETAILS

STAYS

We purposefully pick properties that are meant to be enjoyed so that you can still have a vacation, even if bringing kids along means taking it at a slower pace.

🌞  ALL RECOMMENDED TUCSON PROPERTIES HAVE A POOL

PRICE RANGE: $98 - $116/night

AVAILABILITY: Seems to be available for fairly last minute bookings but we recommend at least a week ahead.

VIBE: Artsy, diverse, social

NEIGHBORHOOD/SAFETY: industrial neighborhood, feels safe, hotel is contained with a courtyard structure, not within walking distance of anything good but just a short drive from 4th street and other Tucson attractions.

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This hotel has budget prices, but delivers a rich experience! It’s got the feel and decor of a roadside motel, with a modern edge and a high energy social setting. The simple, retro rooms are sparkling clean and super cute. The common areas have games galore to keep the kids entertained along with potential socializing for all ages. You can grab a locally brewed beverage from the bar and hang poolside where you’ll meet a diverse array of fellow travelers. If you hit the right night you’ll have the delight of a guest DJ kicking it up a notch, and the some poolside dancing.

PRICE RANGE: $179 - $300/night (sometimes they have special prices as low as $134)
 
AVAILABILITY: Often available last minute, but we recommend booking at least a week in advance to ensure the room you prefer.
 
VIBE: Cozy, quiet, neighborhood feel, southwestern charm but clean and modern.
 
NEIGHBORHOOD/SAFETY: The neighborhood is beautiful and safe to walk and explore. Right up the street is Himmel Park for picnicking, playing and lounging and the inn is also within walking distance of eateries and grocery stores. The location is also great if you’re interested in checking out the University for a future college student in the family.
                       
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This cute, neighborhood BnB has more of a homestyle feel with a guest accessible kitchen and fireplaces in most of the rooms. It’s classic adobe architecture and southwestern feel is reminiscent of Tucson style and the historic Sam Hughes neighborhood that it’s located in. If you’re looking for more of a walking exploration of a beautiful neighborhood, this is your spot! Right up the street is Himmel Park for picnicking, playing and lounging and the inn is also within walking distance of eateries and grocery stores. The location is also great if you’re interested in checking out the University for a future college student in the family.

PRICE RANGE: $199 - $500/night
 
AVAILABILITY: This property is pretty popular, so we recommend booking at least 3-4 weeks out.
 
VIBE: Designer villa, luxe, quiet, connected to nature
 
NEIGHBORHOOD/SAFETY: Quiet and rural, nature surroundings, hiking trails from property 
Assets: designer amenities, pool, fire pit, movie room, shared bar and kitchen, hot spring, rooftop decks, incredible views of Saguaro National Park.

 

If you’re keen on a more quiet, rural stay where you can find just as much delight on/around property as off - the JTH Posada is the perfect property for you. Set right on the edge of the Saguaro National Park, this historic, five-suite inn was renovated by current owners and designer couple Rich and Sara Combs. Their eye for aesthetic is what has led to their highly popular IG page, and you will find no shortage of photo opportunities here.

Awareness worthy: 

  • Unless you’re only traveling with a toddler or kids old enough to sleep in a separate room, there is really only one suite here that easily accommodates a family. The Ocotillo Suite has two separate sleeping quarters, one with a king bed, and one with a queen.

  • We also don’t recommend this property if you have a child with a sleep walking disorder, or disabilities that are not stair friendly. There are no elevators at this property and the tile stairs can are steep in some areas.

  • No on-premise food or drinks provided except for coffee and handmade breakfast granola. 

  • The main kitchen is shared but suites do have in-room kitchenette appliances.

  • The only nearby grocery option is a Dollar General, so we recommend buying groceries and drinks in Tucson (or city coming from) before heading to the property.

  • At this time, the management of this property enforces a fairly strict “mask in the common areas” policy unless you’re eating or drinking, or there with your group only.

  • You will be driving on a dirt road to get to the property, keep that in mind when choosing a vehicle

TO DO

Our activity list is limited because we find that doing too much when traveling with kids usually makes for a more stressful trip for all. Our recommendation is to only try to fit one major activity into each day.

Price Range: Adults $23
Military and student discounts available
Features:
  • See coyotes and javelinas in their natural habitat
  • Plenty of open space and trails to burn off energy and get some exercise. 
  • Every kind of desert wildlife you can imagine and then some. 
  • Yes, snakes.
  • A good variety of indoor and outdoor settings to explore, depending on the heat of the day you will appreciate the indoor areas.
  • A butterfly garden, and aquarium to name a few extraordinary desert sights.
  • Wheel chair accessible in much of the museum
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It’s dubbed on their website as a “world-renowned zoo, natural history museum and botanical garden, all in one place. The thing we love about it is that it is actually very spread out, with many of the animals roaming in their natural habitat. There is a lot to see, and you can end up walking a couple miles here to see everything. A lot of it is outdoors, so you will definitely need water and sunscreen.

Price: $16 - $22/pp
Military and Pima County resident discounts available 
Features:
  • A lot of space and not very crowded - since not much here is fragile it’s ok to let your kids explore a little more freely
  • The big plane yard is a great place to let your kids run off their energy while you still get to take in the magnitude of a past era of planes
  • There is a cafe and kids area if you’re not ready to leave yet, but need to feed or entertain kids.
  • Most of the exhibition guides have their own history in the war and with the planes they’re showing you which makes it extra surreal.
  • It’s a very relaxed feel with a lot of exhibition space outdoors or in large plane hangers - we appreciated this with COVID precautions and kids in tow.
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Regardless of your views on military or war, this historic exhibition is fascinating. It’s one of the largest non-government funded aviation and space museums in the world and has a wide array of displays and exhibitions to wander through, including an open yard full of vintage military aircraft. 

SAGUARO NTL. PARK | MOUNT LEMMON

HIKING

Price: FREE

The cactus, birds, lizards and plant varieties of the Sonoran desert, combined with it’s sunsets and starry skies are one-of-a-kind to experience.

That said, hiking in the desert is all good in theory, but with kids in tow, unless you can get it in early in the morning with the kids in a pack or old enough to watch out for themselves.. it comes with its list of cautions. You have to be mindful of prickly cactus, snakes and scorpions, and don’t forget about the heat. 

Unless you’re already a family of hardcore hikers we recommend a shorter hike to see the beautiful variety of desert cacti and prickly pear fruit and wildflowers if they’re in bloom. If you stay at the JTH Posada, there is a labyrinth on the property, as well as some short hikes you can take right from your villa.

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HIMMEL PARK

Price: FREE

This park is right down the street from one of our STAY picks - Adobe Rose Inn. It's a beautiful walk to the park through classic Tucson architecture and beautiful desert foliage. This park is perfect for morning exercise or picnics on cooler days.

Don't forget to take into account the dry desert heat and bring along plenty of water and sunscreen!

The park is located in the historic Sam Hughes neighborhood, named after a Welch immigrant who moved to Tucson to improve his chances of surviving tuberculosis. He recovered, married a local and opened a butcher shop and bank which evolved into the beginnings of a neighborhood in 1921. 

MINI TIME MACHINE
Price Range: $8 - $11.50

If someone in your family loves miniature things, you not be able to get them out of this fascinating "little" museum. 

OTHER
ACTIV
ITIES

TOHONO CHUL GARDENS
Price Range: Adults $15/pp  Kids $6/pp
Military and Student discounts available

If someone in your family loves miniature things, you not be able to get them out of this fascinating "little" museum.
BIOSPHERE 2
Price Range:
Adults - $25 
Kids 5-17 - $15
Kids 5 and under FREE
Military and Student discounts available

If your family enjoys science in action - don’t miss this stop on the way out of Tucson. You can easily fit it in before heading to Aravaipa Farms for your next stay. 
EL PRESIDIO 
SHOPPING AT OLD TOWN ARTISANS

The best souvenir is one that's actually made by a local! If you like to shop on vacation, head over to the oldest neighborhood in Tucson for some local artisan delights and end the evening at El Charro - the oldest family run restaurant in the city.

EATS

We chose all eateries for their authenticity and/or ease of eating on the go with children. Some we recommend for takeout, while others are a great dining experience even with kids in tow!

BREAK
FAST

ALL OF OUR RECOMMENDED STAYS INCLUDE BREAKFAST!

FOR BEST BREAKFAST: Adobe Rose Inn - Delicious breakfast served fresh at the dining table.
DELIVERED TO YOUR ROOM: Hotel McCoy - Note: their breakfast only includes oatmeal choices)
HANDMADE GRANOLA AND LOCAL COFFEE: JTH Posada - Note: that's literally all that they provide on-property for breakfast.

🥯 If none of these included breakfast options do it for you, here is our breakfast list,
CARTEL COFFEE
FIVE POINTS MARKET & RESTAURANT
BARRIO BREAD
ANITA STREET MARKET

Or you can prepare your own by shopping at one of our recommended grocers, listed here.

LUNCH

SMOKEY MO - If you like BBQ, 

EL CHARRO CAFE - Amazing, authentic mexican fare in a cafe that happens to be the longest standing family-run restaurant in the city of Tucson!

BOCA TACOS Y TEQUILA - A unique taco and beverage experience that is owned and run by local chef and character Maria Mazon. She brings the energy and the taste to this laid back eatery, located on the famous Fourth Street. We love it for family dine-in because of the casual atmosphere and large outdoor, contained patio.

EEGEES - this is the local fast food joint of choice. Although it's fast food, it's sub sandwiches with fries and a slushie-milkshake hybrid that just can't be explained unless you try it!

ANITA STREET MARKET - One of the most delicious and authentic burrito stops in town, we recommend Anitas for breakfast or lunch! It's a small street-art adorned building down a little neighborhood street. If you feel like you're lost... you're probably almost there. ;)

Or you can prepare your own by shopping at one of our recommended grocers, listed here.

DINNER

EL CHARRO CAFE - Amazing, authentic mexican fare in a cafe that happens to be the longest standing family-run restaurant in the city of Tucson! We recommend it for either lunch or dinner, depending on when you're feeling it. Located in the El Presidio/Old Town neighborhood, so it's a great spot to hit on your shopping day.

SEIS KITCHEN - This local chain has three locations for your convenience, but we've mapped the closest one to our recommended stay locations. The best description we've heard of this menu is gourmet, Mexican street food. Great for takeout or outdoor dining.

THE PARISH - this is the local fast food joint of choice. Although it's fast food, it's sub sandwiches with fries and a slushie-milkshake hybrid that just can't be explained unless you try it!

TUMERICO - This latin style vegan/vegetarian fare is mouthwatering even if you're not full-time meatless! Dubbed on their website as "scratch made local food", they use fresh ingredients in everything they make. Great for takeout, and located in the Sam Hughes neighborhood near the Adobe Rose Inn.
 
Or you can prepare your own by shopping at one of our recommended grocers, listed here.

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