Getting Kids Out Into Nature

Spring Break 2017 – Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

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Looking Out Over the Paths and Trails in the Museum

Our first full day in Tucson during our Spring Break trip brought us to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. This was one of my top favorite spots on our journey. We got there fairly early, though I couldn’t convince everyone to get there at 7:30 am for a guided bird walk. (It’ll be just one more thing for me to put onto my to-do list for my next trip!) I did get to see several cool birds at the museum, including cactus wrens and various hummingbirds. We were there for what seemed like the peak flower show, too.

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Ocotillo Blossoms

The museum has many different sections. Some are indoors and are typical zoo specimens, such as desert snakes, other reptiles, and insects.

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Coachwhip Snake

They even have a small aquarium where you can pay a little bit extra to pet a sting ray. There are lots of outdoor trails, too, which provide looks at plants and animals in more natural settings.

We spent some time looking at the critters in cages in the Reptile, Amphibian and Invertebrate Area.

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Learning About Tarantulas

A keeper was out with a tarantula to educate and answer questions. We also talked to a docent about the saguaro cacti, which grow within the park.

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Saguaro Cactus Pieces

We then meandered counter-clockwise through the paths. We jumped into a tour for a little bit, and learned about some of the plants we were seeing. We took a trip through a fake cave system – it was very well made, but stay out if you are claustrophobic!

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Mineral Specimens Inside the Caves
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Fake Bats in the Fake Caves

There was an area to dig in the gravel for small pretty rocks, and a place to learn about fossils and pretend to dig for them. I think younger children would enjoy these hands-on activities.

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Searching for Treasures
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Desert Fossil Activity Area
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Soil Creatures

There is a neat section in the center of the museum where there are all sorts of cacti planted, along with other colorful desert plants.

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Crinkly Cacti
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Yellow Prickly Pear Blossoms

It seemed like everything was blooming at once! I guess we hit the jackpot there. So many gorgeous shapes and colors.

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Organ Pipe Cacti
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Giant, Delicate Blossoms
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Cute Little Lumps Ready to Bloom

By the time we were wandering through this part of the park, the rest of our family were waiting up above for us to finish, so we hurried through the rest of the exhibits.

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Prairie Dogs
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Interesting Cacti

I would have liked to have spent more time in the aviary, as well as the hummingbird area. We didn’t even get to the Desert Loop Trail, or visit the art exhibits. We could have spent the whole day here.

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Palo Verde Tree, the stems can photosynthesize!

If You Go:

If you are going in any season, go early if you expect warm weather. The museum opens at 7:30 am from March through September. If you are in Tucson in the summer, consider attending on one of the evenings they are open late. The museum is mostly outside, so dress for sun and bring plenty of water and sunscreen. We appreciated that there are water bottle filling stations all over; the docents were good about reminding us to drink lots of water. There are restaurants on site if you need to eat. We got discounted admissions for this museum and other attractions by purchasing special tourist passports for the Tucson area.

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