Vacations are something that don’t seem to happen often enough in this household for many reasons. We’ve had a couple of crazy hectic years, what with adding two new babies to the family, and a family vacation wasn’t really an option for the longest time. It’s just been chaos, really. Now that the toddler is potty trained and the baby is walking, and both can tolerate longer car rides and do alright with overnight trips out of the house, a vacation might be doable in the near future.
My older kids have been helping me brainstorm different destinations we’d like to visit, and ideas vary from California (where our extended family lives), to Japan (my son’s idea), or Paris (my daughter loves the Eiffel Tower). I’d like to try somewhere we’ve never been, but that’s within the continental US (because the idea of a long, international flight with a baby and toddler still seems daunting to me, and I hate to fly). We finally settled on the Southwest- it’s relatively “close” to us, still being on the west coast, and it’s a huge difference from where we live right now (a cold, wet, wooded landscape compared to a hot, dry, desert). This place seemed like the perfect spot!
I’ve been to Arizona a couple of times when I was a kid and I’ve always wanted to go back. I do have some family that lives there, and my memory of visiting Arizona was mostly to soak up as much family time as we could with our loved ones (since we’d often go years in between visits). We didn’t focus much on exploring the area itself. I’d love to take my husband and kids to Tucson because it has so much to offer for family entertainment and exploration. Here’s just a few of the things I’d love to put on our family-friendly vacation itinerary:
Children’s Museum Tucson. This is an interactive museum for kids of all ages and provides fun, play-based, hands-on learning experiences for children and families. It features over a dozen exhibits like a butterfly garden, an imaginarium art studio, a pet vet, an investigation station, techtopia, and more. The museum is open six days a week and admission is very affordable for the entire family, and you can check their calendar for discounted days and special classes they offer, so planning your trip is easy and so fun.
Colossal Cave Mountain Park. Caves have always fascinated me and I know my kids would love this one, plus it’s a great way to beat the heat in Arizona (since the cave is always a cool 70 degrees). This 2400 acre park features crystal-filled Colossal Cave and the historic La Posta Quemada Ranch and offers fun stuff like guided cave tours, trail rides, camping, and picnicking. The guided cave tour itself is only a half mile long and takes about 40-50 minutes, so very doable for groups with kids. I know my kids would love to walk around and explore all of the stalactites and stalagmites in the caverns.
Reid Park Zoo. My kids are huge animal lovers, so they would absolutely love visiting the Reid Park Zoo. Visitors can explore naturalistic habitats housing exotic animals from around the world, including up-close views of tigers, lions, grizzly bears, anteater, & more. When planning your trip, make sure to check out their calendar for special events, feeding schedules, and special activities for kids. They even do birthday parties and special events, so if you’re traveling a celebrating something wouldn’t this be a fun treat?
Funtasticks Family Fun Park. My kids would absolutely love to go to this one-stop adventure destination! It’s got Tucson’s largest indoor laser tag arena (my older two recently played for the first time and are dying to go again), miniature golf, go-karts, bumper boats, Kiddie Land, arcade, and batting cages. This would be a fun “break” from some of the tourist-y stuff you might be doing on your Tucson visit and a way for the kids to burn off some energy.
The Best 23 Miles of Mexican Food. While researching things to do in Tucson, I knew one of my favorite things to experience would be the food. I absolutely love Mexican food and I had a pretty good idea that Tucson would have some great places to eat. But then I heard about this:
What is The Best 23 Miles of Mexican Food? It’s an adventure of incredible food and a wide array of dining options, from fine to funky. It’s a line drawn in the sand of the Sonoran desert: you won’t find better Mexican food anywhere north of the border. We’re happy to try out the competitors, but we stand by the claim. If you love Mexican food and you haven’t eaten in Tucson, you haven’t tasted the whole story.
Apparently Tucson is the best place to get authentic Mexican food north of the border! I can’t wait to try a fresh, handmade corn tortilla, tacos, pico de gallo, carne esada, guacamole, and basically everything on the menu at every restaurant in Tucson. I’m going to stuff myself as much as I can when I visit.
Visiting Tucson is definitely on my family’s vacation bucket list. If you’ve ever been before I’d love some inside tips on what to see, where to go, and most importantly what to eat! I’d even love to try to sneak away on a little date with the husband, so let me know if you’re up for babysitting 😉