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Tucson Family Resort

Family-Friendly Travel

The rich beauty of Arizona comes to life in this natural playground. Plan a memorable family vacation to Tucson and stay at Starr Pass Golf Suites for a kid-friendly home base. Tucson offers something for everyone from the nature enthusiast to those looking for more adventure.

Family-Friendly Amenities:

Arcade  
Activities Staff On-site  
Babysitting services on-site  
Babysitting services nearby X
Children's Wading Pool  
Continental Breakfast  
Pack N' Play Cribs X
DVD Player X
Full Kitchen available* X
Kitchenette* X
Microwave X
On-site Movie Rentals X
Playground  
Restaurant On-site X
VCR Player X
In Room Washer/Dryer* X
*In select rooms  

 

15 Things to Do During Your Arizona Family Vacation

  • View a whale of a whale skeleton
  • Kiss a cactus; meet a Saguaro up close and personal
  • Visit an indoor ocean
  • Relive the shoot out at the OK Corral
  • Experience the thunder at a NASCAR race
  • Play golf on an Arnold Palmer Signature Golf Course
  • Shop for sombreros for the whole family
  • Visit a famous barrio district
  • View frescos and the area’s “Sistine Chapel”
  • Eat carne seca with the locals
  • Deep sea dive in the Sea of Cortez 
  • See a rare North American F-107 and haunt an aircraft “bone yard.”   
  • See a rattlesnake and Gila Monster
  • Stand on the edge of the Grand Canyon 
  • See a Cactus League Spring pre-season game

Activities in Tucson, Arizona

Fun family vacations mean go, go, go. Here are a few great ideas and activities to please every member of the family:

ADVENTURE

  • Biosphere 2, about 30 miles north of Tucson, was initially designed as an airtight replica of the Earth's environment (Biosphere 1). Early designers and managers were interested in space travel and the possibility of colonizing the Moon or Mars. By building Biosphere 1 and sealing people inside, they hoped to learn what problems would arise from living in a closed system over an extended period of time. From north Tucson, travel north on N. Oracle Rd./HWY 77 (toward Oro Valley/Superior/Phoenix) for approximately 36 miles, through Oro Valley and past Catalina State Park. HWY 77 forks at Oracle Junction, stay right and begin to look for signs directing you to Biosphere 2 Road and campus. (Mile 96.5; ample free parking.) At a size comparable to two and a half football fields, it was the largest closed system ever created. Inside were a rainforest, an 850 sq. meter ocean/coral reef, mangrove wetlands, savannah grasslands, a fog desert, an agricultural area/system, and human living quarters. 1n 1993, 8 scientists, chosen for their select skill and from 7 different countries, emerged from Biosphere 1 having lived in “human-terrarium-like conditions” for two years. Within six months, a crew of seven made another ill-fated attempt. The project was shelved and despite ridicule has morphed into a very interesting tourist attraction. By 2006, the structure was no longer maintained in an airtight state. In June 2007, the property was sold to a residential home developer who, so far, has kept the Biosphere itself open for tours and scientific experimentation in a partnership with the University of Arizona. Visitor tours of the 3.15-acre technological wonder begin at the facility’s new $10 million dollar conference and visitor center. There’s an informative movie about the project; then browse three unique gift shops. It’s a treat to dine at the site’s Canada Del Oro Restaurant for breakfast, lunch or—better yet—a “sunset” dinner. The guided walking tour focuses primarily on the under-the-glass biome and begins in the famous “human habitat.” Regrettably this tour is not recommended for anyone with walking challenges. Not to worry, the outside is very cool too and you can explore it on your own, at your leisure. The Biosphere campus is located in a pristine area of Sonoran desert, archaeologically rich with an extensive Native American history. Open every day, 9am-4pm (except Thanksgiving/Christmas). (As of 7/1/07: Adults/$20, kids/$13, under 5/FREE. Last tour: 3:30pm). 32540 S Biosphere Rd., Tucson, AZ. (520) 838-6200.
  • Visit Kartchner Caverns and double your pleasure by visiting one of the world's best living “wet” caves and Arizona’s unique San Pedro Valley all in one family outing. Kartchner Caverns State Park, just south of Benson, Arizona, offers picnicking, hiking, walking and, of course, a chance to comfortably visit remarkable still-living caverns. (From downtown Tucson travel I-10 East toward El Paso and Sierra Vista about 40 miles. Exit 302 for AZ-90S toward Ft. Huachuca/Sierra Vista. Turn right at AZ-90, travel almost another 9 miles and then turn right, following signs to Kartchner Caverns State Park.) Discovered by explorers Randy Tufts and Gary Tenen, the cave was kept a secret for 14 years to protect it from vandalism and exploitation— and to ensure the survival of its delicate ecosystem. A movie in the visitor center recaps this amazing tale of secrecy and trusted partnerships that led to the cave’s “coming out” event in 1999. Two tours of the Cave are now offered: one of the Rotunda and Throne Rooms (daily) and one of the Big Room (open Oct-April only to accommodate the giant myotis bat “maternity ward” that “opens” every summer.) Continuance of the bat/cave relationship is considered essential to maintaining the cave’s ecosystem. On the highly orchestrated walking tour, visitors experience the tiniest, most delicate formations found in the cave as well as the largest column in Arizona! The cavern's temperature is meticulously maintained at 68 degrees Fahrenheit/99 percent humidity year around; it’s damp in there! The Discovery Center has a shaded outdoor dining area, so bring a picnic (there’s no restaurant on site, but a good selection of vending machines) and enjoy the beautiful Valley setting and the Park’s Hummingbird Garden, replete with indigenous vegetation. There is also a small gift shop on site. Open daily (except Christmas); tours are 75 minutes long on barrier free trails that are mostly flat but wet. No strollers or walkers are permitted inside. Guests are ferried to the cave entrance on trams; the last one leaves at 4pm.)
  • In these parts The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum needs no introduction; the venerable institution of conservation, interpretation, rescue and research is a world-renowned zoo, natural history museum and botanical garden, all in one place! Take half a day to see this unique gem; check out the programs currently on tap during your visit. For example you can see a daily presentation of venomous SW reptiles. You’ve always wanted to see a rattlesnake up close and personal, haven’t you? On Thursdays, book a walking tour (“Walk with a Keeper”) for a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to maintain a zoo of this variety. (It’s accessible to wheelchairs and strollers—as is the whole museum! Advance reservations recommended.) Here the interpretive displays are alive and the animals live in their natural desert setting. There are almost 2 miles of trails in 21 acres of exquisite Sonoran Desert. The view alone is worth the price of admission. Sunsets can be magnificent! The interpretive displays are alive and the animals live in their natural desert setting. There are almost 2 miles of trails in 21 acres of exquisite Sonoran Desert. The view alone is worth the price of admission. For a thrill visit the Hummingbird Aviary, a world-famous exhibit where you walk freely among beautiful native hummingbirds. Visit a mountain lion in the cat’s den at Cat Canyon. Visitors literally become “peeping toms” into nocturnal worlds, aviaries and the cliff-side dwellings of big horn sheep. There’s an impressive collection of Sonoran Desert region gem, mineral, and fossils on display at the Earth Sciences Center too. (Soak in National Geographic’s expose of bi-national Sonoran attractions via their geotourism program: This is primarily an outdoor experience, so dress accordingly. Wear a hat, sunscreen and comfortable shoes; indoor exhibits are cooled for your comfort. Scooter type wheel chairs are available for $10 day; wheelchairs and scooters are free, first come, first served. There’s a self-serve grill and fine dining café available on site (RESV-520-883-5705). Also, enjoy two world-class gift stores featuring authentic native crafts and Arizona mementos. (520) 883-2702. No pets allowed; open every day and Saturday evenings in the summer. Seasonal hours and seasonal admission fees that represent exceptional value—so expect crowds except for summer months.

HISTORIC & CULTURAL

  • Tucson Children's Museum, located 3 blocks south of downtown Tucson’s Ronstadt Transit Center, is a popular institution that will introduce and engage your little girls and boys to a variety of topics—and in an unusual and fun way. There’s Dinosaur World and the T Rex Museum, an art studio, a bakery and farmers market. Kids can dress up like a train engineer or a firefighter and role-play. And budding conservationists are introduced to “green thinking” with the “Electri-City” exhibit. (520) 792-9985. 200 S 6th Ave, Tucson, AZ. Open Tues-Sat, 10am-5pm, Sun, noon-5pm. Children must be accompanied and supervised by an adult.
  • Pima Air Museum — In 1966, a group of military and civilian enthusiasts presented to Pima County their concept of an air museum for Tucson and by July 18, the Tucson Air Museum Foundation of Pima County was formed, with primary responsibility for the operation of the Pima Air Museum of Tucson. It took another 10 years to open to the public; by then the Foundation had assembled 75 aircraft. Today there are more than 275 aircraft and spacecraft; many are rare and some can only be viewed at this museum. The whole family will love this place, and it’s very accessible. Wheelchairs, wagons and strollers are available, first-come, first served. (Hanger 1) Kids like Hanger 1 featuring Space Exploration exhibits; you can get around to all the hangers easily on a tour bus or tram. The majority of the exhibits are outside, so dress accordingly. A new 42,000 square foot Spirit of Freedom Hangar opened June 6, 2007 and now houses the museum’s most important aircraft including the Lockheed SR-71 “Blackbird,” the only remaining Martin PBM-5A “Mariner,” and the very rare North American F-107. The Hanger also houses the AZ Aviation Hall of Fame and a Museum Store. Enjoy a thrilling experience riding the museums simulator ($5) on adventures varying from Time Machine to Desert Storm. Also, The Museum is the official tour operator of the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG— known as the "Bone yard"—which is located adjacent Davis-Month an Air Force Base. Dual discounted admission can be obtained for both museums. (520) 574-0462. 6000 E. Valencia Rd., Tucson, AZ 85706. The Museum is open seven days a week, all year, from 9-5:00pm (except Thanksgiving and Christmas.) Last admission at 4:00pm. Pet-friendly; parking is free.
  • Mission San Xavier del Bac is a Catholic church founded by a Jesuit priest, Father Eusebio Francisco Kino, a European spreading the word of God in a new land in 1692. While traveling to what is now known as California, Kino discovered a Pima Indian village near a streambed in the Sonoran Desert. He stopped and preached to the people who received his teachings. While Father Kino did not stay in this location, he visited it often during his travels, and is still highly revered on the reservation. From 1692 through 1782 various priests took charge of ministry. In the late 1760’s Charles III of Spain banned Jesuits from Spanish lands; from that point forward San Xavier was led by Franciscans. Today’s lovely church was built in 1783 but fell into considerable disrepair from 1828-1858. A large number of folks on their way to the California gold rush visited the church, commemorating the visit by writing on the walls. In 1859 the Gadsden Purchase added Arizona to the Sante Fe Diocese and priest scouts rediscovered the church. With a full time priest assigned, a viable school and church became possibilities. Several schools were started but not until 1895 was a school in operation. The school on the site now was built in 1947. Dubbed the “White Dove of the Desert” this 200 year old mission, featuring Spanish, baroque, and Moorish architectural styles, was painstakingly restored in the late 1990’s revealing the spectacular colors of the church’s many painted statues, carvings, and frescoes. So beautiful is the original art that the Italian restoration master, Paul Schwartzbaum, dubbed it the “Sistine Chapel of the U.S.” Today San Xavier offers more than a church to visit. A modest yet incredible museum includes many artifacts of the historic church (old gowns, books, dishes, tools, etc.) There are also several displays including old maps of the surrounding area and amazing historic photographs coupled with explanations of the traditions of San Xavier. There’s a gift shop on site with proceeds benefiting the ongoing operation of the Mission. Be sure to visit the tiny side chapel of Don Pedro built in 1915 to serve the Barriada del Rillito, a small Mexican community. 1950 W. San Xavier Rd, Tucson AZ. (520) 294-2624. Open 8-5pm daily. Self-guided tours; videotape of Mission runs continuously. San Xavier Mission is just seven miles south of Tucson on the Tohono O’dham Indian Reservation. You can see it from the road, as you look west. Take I-0 to I-19 South and exit at the sign directing you to Mission San Xavier del Bac. Catholic services are still held at San Xavier. Check web site for seasonal schedule; services are often crowded. No air conditioning.
  • Tombstone, famous for its 1881 O.K. Corral shootout, is only an hour's drive from Tucson, near Kartchner Caverns. So, if you’re already headed southeast of Tucson, do this in tandem. Tombstone was perhaps the most renowned of Arizona's old mining camps, named in 1877 after a claim by Ed Schieffelin, who left his party of soldiers in nearby Camp Huachuca to go prospect. Over the course of seven years the mines produced millions of dollars in silver and gold before rising underground waters forced suspension of operations. Lawlessness and violence accompanied the miners and prospectors; eventually martial law was declared and military troops were sent in to restore order. The infamous Earp-Clanton battle, fought near the rear entrance of the O.K. Corral on October 26, 1881, was a climactic bi-product of these restless times. Ed Schieffelin wished to be buried in Tombstone. You can find his gravesite monument on a hill about a mile from town under a marker in the shape of a cross. Truly a Historical American Landmark, Tombstone is America's best example of U.S. 1880’s western heritage. It is well preserved with original 1880's buildings and lots of interesting artifacts are shown in the town’s numerous museums. Fueled by mineral wealth, Tombstone was ultimately home to about 15,000 residents and featured uncommon services like refrigeration (with ice cream and later even ice skating), running water, telegraph and limited telephone service. Older children may find in boring, but history buffs will enjoy a saunter into the Crystal Palace Saloon—one of the most luxurious saloons in the West. Or visit the Tombstone Epitaph building. Here the oldest continuously published paper in Arizona is still being printed and interesting printing exhibits are free to the public. How about lunch at the Crazy Horse Restaurant and a Wild West historical reenactment? Or take an interesting and eerie stroll through Boot Hill—perhaps the most famous graveyard of the Old West. Another claim to fame for Tombstone: according to Guinness, the world's largest rosebush was planted in Tombstone in 1885 and still flourishes, covering 8,000 sq. ft. of a local inn’s roof. It has a trunk with a 12-foot circumference! No kidding. From Interstate 10, take Exit 303 in Benson, and follow it through Benson to Highway 80. Travel 23 miles to Tombstone.
  • Tucson’s Barrio, once known as the "Barrio Libre," because of the “loose nature in which law was enforced in the area,” displays Sonoran heritage “like no other” with its rows of adobe houses and community plazas (La Plaza Militar, the Plazas De Las Armas, De Las Mesilla, Plazuela, and the Spanish Presidio)—now reclaimed and enlivened. Today's Barrio is actually only the southern portion of the earlier Barrio that was much larger; a mix of Mexican and Indian inhabitants featuring adobe houses open to spacious courtyards. Today it is a safe place for a daytime visit. Ideally you should discover this area on foot, free to stumble on one of the new galleries or shops popping up in the area every day. Watch for plaques noting historical sites of local significance. See who can be first in the family to discover one of the area’s colorful murals. The greater Downtown Tucson district has a collection of historic homes and churches that span 150+ years and chronicle a colorful history of various inhabitants. Highlights of the area include:
    o    The St. Augustine's Cathedral—built in 1890, features stunning stained glass windows and, exemplifies. On Sundays at 8:00 am visitors are invited to attend a Mariachi Mass.
    o    El Minuto—just south and west of the Cathedral you’ll find this landmark restaurant. And what a find it is—a must-stop for an affordable and traditional Mexican meal and margarita.
    o    El Tiradito—take time to visit the El Tiradito, a long revered “Wishing Shrine” built in the 1870s and relocated to its current site in 1928. (It's on the west side of the 300 block of South Main Street; walk from El Minuto.) Bring a candle, make a wish, and commemorate Juan Oliveras, the man killed in a fight over a woman and then buried in unconsecrated soil, thus causing the locals to frequent the site in prayer for his soul. The shrine maintains its position as a major element in local Mexican and Indian culture and ethnic identity. Locals believed, and still do, that their wishes would come true if their candles burned through the night.

SHOPPING & DINING

While Phoenix is generally recognized at the Southwest’s world-class shopping capital there are a couple of outlet malls in and around the Tucson area that are fun to scout:

  • FootHills Mall (northwest side of Tucson) at West Ina and North La Cholla is a popular enclosed regional shopping mall where bargain hunters cruise over 90 stores and outlets offering discount prices on brand name merchandise. OFF 5TH - Saks Fifth Avenue Outlet, Linens'N Things, E & J's Designer Shoe Outlet, Kitchen Collection, Nike Factory Store, Old Navy—to name a few.) You can plan to eat while shopping with seven of Tucson's most popular restaurants on site. Or grab a quick meal in the Mall’s international food court. Kids can take advantage of a variety of entertainment venues including an AMC 15-screen movie theater, GameWorks Studio, and more. (520) 219-0650. 7401 N. La Cholla Blvd., Tucson, AZ. Take Ina Blvd. exit off I-10.
  • The Outlets at Casa Grande is a fairly small strip mall of outlet stores in Casa Grande, Arizona (most notably Liz Claiborne, Big Dog, Gap & Guess Factory Outlets, Bass and Reebok). It also features an excellent Arizona Tourist Information Center. 60 miles north of Tucson, just off I-10/Exit 198, north of the junction with I-8.
  • Gavi Italian Restaurants, with three locations in the Tucson Metro area, offer a splendid selection of dining options at reasonable prices, at least that’s what a Tucson mother of 3 told us. Spaghettini Pescatore, lasagna, Mostaccioli Serenta are just a few of the mouth watering selections on the menu. There are meals for kids, too, including beef or cheese ravioli marina and other foods kids love. Find one in northern Tucson at the Foothills Mall, 7401 N. La Cholla, (520) 219-9200.
  • Metropolitan Grill, on McGee and Oracle, is another favorite and has been voted the best place in Tucson to take the family on several occasions. The exhibition kitchen serves up delicious prime rib, port chops and rotisserie chicken. Kids love the wood-fired brick oven pizzas plus there’s a Kids Grill menu featuring several selections that all include a chocolate sundae. Be warned, however. Metropolitan Grill is one of northwest Tucson’s busiest hot spots, so there’s a lively, noisy happy hour almost every night. Serving lunch and dinner. (520) 531-1212. 7892 N. Oracle Road. Reservations recommended.
  • El Charro is a century-old mission-style home now expanded into a multi-room restaurant, bar, and gift shop. Locals inevitably take their friends and family to the downtown El Charro for an evening of traditional Mexican foods, drinks and music. El Charro’s carne seca is legendary; the thin slices of tenderloin are even cured high above the patio in the back of the restaurant. There’s an entire range of Mexican food favorites, of course, plus special features like enchilado Sonorese and chalupas—corn meal “boats” filled with chili, meats and whole beans. Mariachi music fills the air; the patios bustle with groups having margaritas, salsa picante and Tecate beer with limes. El Charro’s gift shop, La Tiendita, is a prize visit in and of itself with a great collection of Mexican art, crafts and jewelry. You might want to buy one of El Charro’s famous calendars or cook books here as a memento of your visit? (520) 622-1922. 311 N Court Avenue, Tucson, AZ.
  • Buddy’s is a Tucson mainstay—a favorite that is clean, reasonably priced, and friendly. From burgers to Fajitas, from filet mignon, to an array of delicious salads and homemade dressings, this restaurant is perpetually good. If you want a real treat, try the ice cream éclair for dessert. (520) 795-2226. 4821 E Grant Road, Tucson, AZ. Reservations accepted.
  • And if you’re up for a partial day-trip that includes shopping, dining and sightseeing you must visit Tubac, Arizona, 45 miles south of Tucson and 20 miles north of Nogales. This historic place is rich with art, history, and cultural sites and unique shopping and dining establishments. You can easily find clothing and Native American jewelry boutiques plus varied Mexican import shops brimming with pottery, crafts, blankets, glassware and copper. The town is contained enough that, during good weather, you can just park the car and saunter the streets and fine art galleries looking for treasures. For example, La Paloma de Tubac showcases over 10,000 pieces of Latin American folk art in an 1860 adobe home (1 Presidio Drive in old town Tubac). Old Presidio Traders carries a huge selection of American Indian items including pottery, pawn, Hopi and Navajo sand paintings, Katchinas and, of course, t shirts and other memorabilia. Or visit Santa Cruz Chili & Spice Inc. (1868 E Frontage Road, Tumacacori)—a 60-year-old spice factory featuring an array of specialized chili products for you to taste and buy. And, not to worry, you won’t go hungry in Tubac. There are so many restaurants and delis in town that you’ll be able to snack and dine to your hearts’ content. So Mom wants to shop and others don’t? No problem. The rest of the gang can explore some of Arizona’s most amazing historic sites in two historic parks nearby. Besides being able to see portions of the original military fort built in 1752 by the Spanish in Tubac Presidio State Historic Park visitors tour an underground display showing remains of walls, the plaza, and the floor of the Presidio de San Ignacio de Tubac. There’s a Visitor Center with interpretive displays and an 1885 schoolhouse in the Park as well. Also there’s fascinating Tumacácori National Historical Park, encompassing 45 acres, and features abandoned ruins of three ancient Spanish colonial missions, two of which are the oldest in Arizona, having been build in 1691. San José de Tumacácori is open to the public for exploration. Los Santos Ángeles de Guevavi and San Cayetano de Calabasas visitation, however, is available by reservation only during monthly tours guided by the Park staff. 

PLAY OUTSIDE

There are some amazing canyons to hike in the Tucson area, and they’re so close and convenient you don’t have to spend a day in the car finding a place to “disconnect” and commune with nature.

  • Catalina State Park has some truly bodacious trails, from easy to strenuous. The Romero Ruin interpretive trail is only 3/4 of a mile long and takes you through ruins of a prehistoric Hohokam village site. How cool is that? The Romero Canyon Trail on the other hand (7+ miles in length) is more strenuous and leads you through beautiful riparian canyons and wonderful desert terrain. Along the way you’ll also find natural pools that will feel very refreshing on a hot day. Birders enjoy a trail that presents excellent opportunities to see the MANY different species of birds found in the area, in three distinctively diverse habitats.
  • Sabino Canyon Recreation Area has been a local “let’s go hiking” retreat for years. Nestled on the south side of the Santa Catalina Mountains, just northeast of the Tucson metro, this area has something for everyone. Convenient facilities make it easier for families to visit—like picnic areas, restrooms and vending machines at the Canyon’s Visitor Center. You can even rent a large ramada for group outings. There are many trails to consider, given the amount of time you have and your fitness level. For those unable or unwilling to hike, there’s a nifty shuttle bus that takes you in and out of the canyon to various trailheads. Hearty hikers will enjoy Seven Falls Trail—a 7+ mile, moderate hike that is mostly flat and winds along the canyon bottom. (The falls may not be running all year, however, so check it out in advance at the Visitor Center.) Sabino Canyon Trail is also considered moderate with just a 600-ft. elevation change. On this trail you’ll see awesome Canyon views and pass all sorts of varied plant life including Arizona’ s signature Saguaro cactus. It’s just over 4 miles long, and ends at Hutch’s Pool. Why not take a shuttle to Bear Canyon or Sabino Canyon trailheads and then walk back to the car? The shuttle service makes it easy for you to plan a route for everyone in the family! Sabino Canyon Visitor Center: (520) 749-8700. From Tanque Verde Road in Tucson take Sabino Canyon Road. Turn right into the parking lot. From this point private vehicles are not allowed to enter the Canyon. Day pass: $5
  • If your schedule doesn’t allow time to leave the area and hike, try a visit to Tohono Chul Park, a lovely 37-acre sanctuary in town that is like a mini geologic recreation of the Santa Catalina Mountains. There are several individual and themed gardens that focus on a variety of interests: the Hummingbird Garden, the Ethnobotanical Garden (highlighting crops grown by indigenous peoples and those introduced by the New World explorers) and the very popular Children’s Garden with its whimsical features that engage the kids in plants and wild life. The Tea Room and the Garden Café, located in the West House, are perfect for enjoying a relaxing snack break or meal, and the courtyard setting is positively idyllic. Crafts and art and jewelry created by local artists are on sale at both of the Park’s distinctive gift shops. There’s also a green house where you can purchase some interesting desert plants. Time your visit accordingly; the Park’s small but impressive gallery coordinates changing exhibits of local interest and special events throughout the year. From I-10: Take the Ina Road exit and drive east, 5 mi. From the left hand lane (after the La Canada stoplight), turn at left Paseo del Norte and proceed to the first driveway on your right, which is the entrance to the Park and the Tea Room.
  • Thanks to Herbert Hoover, the extraordinary giant Saguaro cactus has been protected within Saguaro National Park since 1933. A giant Saguaro forest is a sight to behold; there are over 1.5 million of them growing in close proximity to one another in this remarkable, unusual and sometimes eerie landscape. The Saguaro is commonly seen as the icon of the American Southwest; the Sonoran Desert is the only place in the world it grows naturally. The Saguaro blossom is the state flower of Arizona and the Tohono O’odham people still come to Saguaro National Park annually to harvest the cactus’ bountiful fruit. Your family can’t help but enjoy looking at all the different shapes of this huge cactus; see who can find the ones with the most arms? There is an interesting orientation program offering a Native American perspective on the Saguaro cactus (shown daily) at the Red Hills Visitor Center. Saguaro National Park’s two districts offer more than 165 miles (264 km) of hiking trails too. It is a hot, dry area, however, so prepare and dress accordingly, especially in the summer months. Carry sunscreen, water and wear a hat and cover-up when hiking.

STAY INSIDE

  • You are surrounded by spectacular beauty and attractions; in fact, Starr Pass Golf Suites is rather a historic attraction in her own right. In 1880 an entrepreneur named Richard Starr ran a stagecoach trail through Starr Pass in the rugged Tucson Mountains, giving tourists and visitors an opportunity to experience the wilds of western Tucson. That historic pass is now the 15th hole of the Starr Pass Arnold Palmer Signature Golf Course. So cozy-in and discover amazing relaxation at your home away from home.
  • Fore!! Golfers delight in an early morning round of golf accompanied, perhaps, by deer, coyotes, roadrunners, javelina, bobcats, rabbits, and quail plus a few friends. Or head for the pool or back to your room where you can take a hard-earned nap, watch a movie with the kids, read or relax. In the evening, head out for a walk; Tucson Mountain Park, adjacent to the resort, is the perfect evening escape for a beautiful desert stroll and encounter with nature. Check out the stars in the clear Tucson sky; lights around the resort are purposefully kept at low light to honor the work of “nearby” Kitt Peak Observatory.
  • Splish, splash. What’s a visit to Tucson without some serious pool time? Fix a hearty breakfast in your guest suite and then suit-up the youngsters for a day at the pool playing in the sun and relaxing in the shade. In the afternoon, visit the Resort’s Concierge to see what fun activities are on tap for the kids. Return to your casita and enjoy a relaxing nap on a Tempur-Pedic bed before dressing for dinner on site at the elegant Catalina Steakhouse (open Tues-Sat, from 6-9:00pm) known for its sumptuous inch-thick pork “porterhouse steaks,” beef entrees and seafood. Make a reservation in advance and request a table facing the restaurant’s huge “wall of windows” so you can view the gorgeous sights as seen from the 9th hole.
  • You want action, Jackson? Indulge in some challenging nearby mountain biking and hiking in Tucson Mountain Park, adjacent to the Resort. Rated as intermediate riding, most reviews still say the paths are strenuous and challenging. The ride through one the most magnificent Saguaro forests makes it all worth the work, however. Rent bikes on site and take off—and don’t forget a camera, a helmet and water. There are several trailheads from which to access the bike trails in the park and one of the most popular is in Starr Pass Resort. Not feeling quite as adventurous? Why not play an early game or two of tennis at the on-site courts followed by a relaxing lunch? They serve gigantic hamburgers at the Catalina Steakhouse, or try the Clubhouse at Starr Pass. Maybe you’d rather go back to the room, fix a favorite lunch for the hungry exercisers and then chill out and watch a great movie that you’ve rented from the front desk? On some evenings there are scheduled and guided sunset walks for the family to enjoy, so watch for that and plan around it.

Day Trips in Tucson, Arizona

  • Arizona - The Grand Canyon State
  • Canyonlands – Cowboys, Cattle, Copper, Canyons and Critters
  • Rocky Point, Mexico