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From culture to cactus and cowboys, Tucson has a lot to see

See a gunfight re-enacted at Old Tucson Studio
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As the main city between Phoenix and the Mexican border, Tucson has a great deal to offer visitors and is well worth a few days of anyone's time. Many of its attractions are outdoors, as it is blessed with sunny weather for much of the year - over 300 days of sunshine each year.


One of the major sights which mustn't be missed is the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, on a large site west of the city surrounded by beautiful desert landscapes. It is partly a wildlife park, partly a zoo, and partly a museum, displaying animals, birds, and plants that are native to the deserts of Southern Arizona. However, the creatures are all ones which, for some reason, would not survive in the wild, and here you will see coyotes, javelina, wolves, mountain lions, bears, jaguars, snakes, and many other creatures. Don't miss the twice-daily raptor freeflight show, or the humming-bird enclosure.


On the way out to the Desert Museum you drive past another major attraction, especially for families: Old Tucson Studios. It is still a working movie studio as well as being a western theme park where you can pan for gold or watch re-enactments of gunfights. It was here the popular TV series The High Chapparal was filmed, as well as classic westerns including Tombstone, Hombre, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Rio Bravo and 3:10 to Yuma.


Also close to the Desert Museum and Old Tucson Studios is the Saguaro National Park West. There is also a Saguaro National Park East, and you should visit one if not both of these while in Tucson. Each has an informative Visitor Center as well as hiking trails so that you can get out into the desert landscape for yourself. Other impressive outdoor attractions within the city are the Tucson Botanical Gardens, and the Tohono Chul Park, while south of the city is the beautiful San Xavier del Bac Mission, known as the White Dove of the Desert.


The Pima Air and Space is a collection of about 300 planes spread over a huge area and is one of the world's largest private aerospace museums. If you're at all interested in airplanes, allow most of the day to get around the museum.


The Children’s Museum Tucson will also keep families occupied for several hours, especially if you plan your visit for when an activity is going on, like how to make a rodeo bandana or how to make a walrus! Exhibits include a rain forest, how to create electricity, how to be a pet's vet, and learning to drive a train. For adults the Tucson Museum of Art and the Downtown Historic District should also be seen.


If planning a visit to Tucson, spring is a good time to come. It's in the months of February and March that three of the city's annual highlights take place: the Tucson Gem Show, the Rodeo, and the Tucson Festival of Books. The Festival of Books is fairly new, yet is already one of the biggest in the United States, while the Gem Show is long-established as one of the biggest gem shows in the world, at venues all over the city.


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