Unique attractions and activities to enjoy while visiting Arizona

Inside: Millers Surplus in Tucson is part military surplus store/part museum. Chat with owner Don Sloane (a very active World War II veteran 😱) while you shop for fun stuff!

Shopping for military surplus or specialty camping gear can be hit-and-miss. After scouring tons of small shops and big box stores that carried what seemed like everything BUT what we were looking for, we were resigned that we’d have to shop online. Until we found a store that was in a class by itself.

Part surplus store, part museum, this place not only had what my husband wanted, the store came with its very own goodwill ambassador . . .

. . . and this guy totally made our day.

96-year old Don Sloane, owner of Millers Surplus in Tucson
Don Sloane, the owner and “good will ambassador” of Millers Surplus in Tucson

What is Millers Surplus in Tucson?

Established in 1951, Miller’s Surplus is not just a military surplus store; it’s a mini military museum and an integral part of Tucson’s history. Owned by Don Sloane, the business has been thriving for over seven decades, displaying the dedication and passion of its (cheerful) proprietor.

What started as a post-WW II shop selling military surplus has now transformed into an unmatched collection of military paraphernalia and all sorts of camping equipment.

Located in the Tucson’s Warehouse Arts District, Millers Surplus of Tucson is big, with an incredible selection. But that’s not all the store has.

What really sets it apart is its owner, Don Sloane. He’s a World War II veteran-and one of the happiest guys we’ve had the pleasure to meet. Just chatting with him brings a smile to your face 😊.

It’s like Millers Surplus has a secret weapon: it’s the military surplus store with a heart of gold 🤩.

History of Millers Surplus

To explore the history of Millers Surplus of Tucson, you need to consider the history of Don Sloane; the two are inextricably linked. So we need to go back a little . . .

Specifically, to 1945. World War II is in its waning days, but it’s not over yet. Spry young whippersnapper Don Sloane−all of 18 years old−joins the Army.

After training Don gets sent to Europe and spends 3 years there as an M.P., dealing with post-war issues. Even though the war was “officially” over, Don got shot . . . twice! 😱. (Proving that just because the treaties have been signed, life isn’t immediately hunky-dory.)

In 1948, with his military service completed, Don returns home to America. Don’s originally from Brooklyn, NY, so he attends New York University (NYU) on the G.I. Bill and studies business.

Collection of vintage military uniforms at Millers Surplus
Part of Don Sloane’s personal collection of military memorabilia.

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But, you may be asking, what does all of this have to do with Tucson?

The answer: asthma. (Not for Don himself, but for a family member.) The family moved out to Tucson for the warm, dry, and relatively pollen-free air.

So it’s 1951. Don Sloane, World War II Vet and NYU alum finds himself in Tucson, Arizona at the ripe old age of 24. What’s a guy to do?

Don looks around for a business to buy and settles on Miller’s Surplus. He understands business, and he KNOWS the military, so it’s a natural fit.

Military tactical gear and clothing at Millers Surplus in Tucson
Plenty of military surplus clothing tactical gear (vintage uniforms on display on wall).

Originally known as Miller’s Army Surplus Exchange, the business was located on Congress St. in downtown Tucson. In the early 50s the Army had a whole lotta surplus stuff. Fortunately, Don understood it all, so he was happy to meet his customers’ needs with military gear.

The company moved to it’s current location on 6th Ave. in 1966. (Fun fact: the building is a former car dealership that sold every GM brand except Chevrolet.)

And 70+ years later Don Sloane−and Millers Surplus−is still making customers happy.

What makes this Military Surplus Store unique?

In a word: Don Sloane. (well, okay, that’s 2 words.) But there are 3 reasons Don makes this store unique.

1. A Mini Military Museum

First, Don doesn’t only sell military clothing and gear, he collects it. And he has it on display in the store.

Walking around Miller’s Surplus is like being in a mini-museum. Vintage uniforms and military artifacts line the walls and shelves above the modern-day goods for sale.

Vintage motorcycle on display at Millers Surplus-Military Surplus store in Tucson
Be sure to look for the vintage motorcycle on display at Millers Surplus in Tucson

As you browse the store, be sure to look up (and in all the nooks and crannies). You’ll find a whole range of military relics, ranging from antique military patches, pins, and medals, to unique, vintage items like gas masks, military bags, and helmets. There’s even a vintage military motorcycle! 🏍️

2. A Vast−and Varied−Selection of Military Gear & Clothing (and more!)

A walk down the store’s aisles will reveal the store’s specialization in military items, stockpiling everything from authentic uniforms of the past and present to finely crafted insignia and hard-to-find military gear.

SeaBees shirts on display at Millers Surplus Tucson
Navy “SeaBees” shirt on display amid contemporary bucket hats and vintage flags

Don respects all branches of service, and carries supplies and goods related to some of the more unique military functions, such as the Navy’s Construction Battalion, familiarly known as the “SeaBees.” 🐝

My husband was looking for a US Coast Guard t-shirt, to honor his dad, who had been a veteran “Coastie.” Sure enough, Don had a collection of Coast Guard shirts available in all sizes.

Keeping pace with current trends, Don also stocks a wide variety of camping gear and accessories (including an awesome selection of enameled coffee pots that look like they’d be right at home on a Grand Canyon campout.)

3. Don Sloane, Proprietor & Good-Will Ambassador 😊

Don Sloane or Millers Surplus, working in the store

All of the above make a trip to Millers Surplus worthwhile, especially if you’re looking for military or camping gear.

But the most interesting−and happiest−reason to visit Miller’s Surplus in Tucson is for Don Sloane himself.

Where else will you have a chance to chat with a World War II veteran? (Not to mention one who still works every day!)

You’ll find Don walking around the store, chatting with customers, making sure they’re finding what they’re looking for.

And he’s always smiling 😊.

When we asked him about his happy disposition, he told us, “my mother told me, ‘every time you smile, you extend your life by the tiniest little bit.’ So I smile as often as I can. It keeps me active.”

It must be working . . . Don is 96-years . . . young.


The Military Surplus Store worth a Special Trip

Whether you’re an ardent military enthusiast, lover of antiques, or simply a curious visitor, a visit to Miller’s Surplus promises a journey back in time, an essence of the past encapsulated in the present.

It’s one of the truly unique things to do in Tucson.

And, after meeting Don Sloane, I dare you not to smile yourself. 😊

Posing with Don Sloane, owner of Millers Surplus military surplus store
C’mon, doesn’t this guy make you smile?!

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INSIDE: Inspired by Arizona’s majestic scenery, but at a loss for words? Me too! So I created this handy list of quotes about Arizona & Arizona captions, too!

“Arizona evokes a sense of timelessness, its landscapes whispering tales of centuries past.” – Barbara Kingsolver.

THIS!!! 👆👆👆 This is how I feel when I’m traveling through Arizona (only I’m not as good at clever with words as Barbara Kingsolver 🤷‍♀️).

It seems that no matter where I travel in the Grand Canyon State, I encounter views that are majestic, dramatic, or just darned pretty. (It doesn’t hurt that there’s almost always a clear blue sky!)

Yet those wide open spaces often leave me at a loss for words.

That’s why I’ve put together this post of quotes about Arizona. Now I’ve got a handy reference list of beautiful sayings and Arizona captions. They can express the mood of the moment when I just can’t manage to string together the words to do it justice.

You might even decide to use them as Arizona Instagram captions (Feel free! Just remember to credit the beautiful Arizona sunsets, or mountains, or canyons for your inspiration 🤩.)

We’ve even thrown in some funny sayings about Arizona and some Arizona puns for those who like their inspiration served with a side of humor.

So journey with us, as we explore Arizona through the eyes of some pretty impressive people-Amelia Earhart, Stephen King, Ansel Adams-who’ve succumbed to its mesmerizing charm.

You’re about to fall in love with Arizona, one quote at a time. 😍🌵

Quotes about Arizona that Evoke the State’s Spirit

Sometimes it’s that elusive quality, that je ne sais quoi (yep, I’m showing off with a fancy French term 👩‍🎨 🙃) that exemplifies a feeling about a place. That’s where my “me-not-poetry-good-with” comes into play. I just not-have-words . . .

So I’ve let these famous people take care of it for me.

Their quotes about Arizona might not describe anything specific, but they do make you feel like “I want to go to there 🤩.”

“The spirit of Arizona is not easily captured or tamed.” – Gary Johnson

“There’s something about Arizona that makes me stand up and cheer.” – Jack Kerouac

“Arizona is a state of extraordinary contrasts, where every turn of the road brings into view something grand, mysterious, or lovely.” – Zane Grey

Writer Zane Grey has plenty of quotes about Arizona (Getty Images)

“The Arizona desert takes hold of a man’s mind and shakes it.” – David Foster Wallace

“There’s a reason they call it the ‘Valley of the Sun.’ Arizona provides a sun-soaked sanctuary like no other.” – Helen George.

“Arizona is a combination of the wild, wild west meeting modern luxury. There’s something for everyone here.” – Bella Ross.

“The saguaro cactus: A prickly symbol of Arizona’s enduring spirit.” – Mark Twain.

“Arizona’s lure is not just in its deserts; it’s also in its mountains, rivers, and fascinating history.” – Amelia Earhart.

“Arizona is a testament to the resilience of nature, standing firm under the radiant sun.” – John Muir.

“The wildcats of Arizona embody the state’s fierce determination and free spirit.” – Jane Goodall. (Given that this Arizona quote comes from a famous naturalist, I’m assuming she means the animal in the desert 🐆, not the University of Arizona mascot ⛹️‍♀️!)

“Experience the intoxicating mix of heat and history that is Arizona.” – Debra White Smith.

“In Arizona, there’s no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good.” – Dan Shilling

“Arizona, with its dry desert climate, is a paradise for many.” – Anonymous

“The Grand Canyon State – Arizona is not just a place, it’s a state of mind.” – Timothy Egan.

“Life in Arizona is as much about the journey as it is about the destination.” – Robert Louis Stevenson.

“Phoenix, Arizona: Like no place else on Earth.” – Kendare Blake

“The heat of Arizona is not a barrier; it’s a challenge that demands respect.” – D.H. Lawrence.

Image of arizona mountains in pink sunset with text overlay of quote by amelia earhart
One of the more poignant quotes about Arizona (Getty Images)

“Arizona is the place where the wild west meets the comfort of modern living. It’s the best of both worlds.” – Paul Theroux.

“Arizona is the desert’s rose, sprawling amid the sand and stones.” – Anonymous

“The open expanses of Arizona offer not just a sense of freedom, but also a sense of connection with the land.” – Henry David Thoreau.

“The wonders of the Grand Canyon cannot be adequately represented in words or symbols; it must be seen to be appreciated.” – John Wesley Powell


Arizona Quotes about the Sun 🌞

The sun is A. BIG. DEAL. in Arizona. Much of the state enjoys 300 days of sunshine per year. And the city of Yuma has been documented as the sunniest city in the US!

As a result, there are lots and lots (and lots) of sunrises and sunsets to see . . . and to write inspiring words about. The following quotes about Arizona mention the sun in one way or another. It’s a major character in our state’s ongoing play. 😎

Image of red & gold arizona sunset with silhouette of saguaro cactus and text overlay of quote by mark twain.
Easy to find inspirational quotes about Arizona when looking at a sunset. (Getty Images)

“There’s a sunrise and a sunset every day in Arizona, and you should see as many of them as you can.” – Jo Walton

“If you’ve never seen an Arizona sunrise, then you’ve never seen a sunrise.” – Anonymous

“Arizona: Where every day holds the promise of a spectacular sunset.” – Anonymous

“In Arizona, the sky takes on shades of orange during sunrise and sunset – the color that gives you hope that the sun will set only to rise again.” – Ram Charan

“Arizona is indeed the sunshine state with clear skies and bright stars at night.” – Bar Refaeli

“Arizona is a land of contradictions where desert blooms, snow falls on cacti, and the sunsets paint the sky in unabashed colors.” – Barbara Kingsolver.

“Few sights can compare to the sunrise over Arizona’s desert, where the hues of dawn bring the sand to life.” – John Muir.

“There’s something about an Arizona sunset that ignites the soul.” – Rupert Brooke.

“If you want to see the sunshine, you have to weather the storm. In Arizona, we get both in a single day.” – Frank Lane

“A sunset in Arizona is a moment painted in a palette of colors only nature could create.” – Mark Twain.

“Arizona’s sunsets are a fiery farewell to each day, a spectacle that never ceases to amaze.” – Bill Bryson.

“Arizona’s sunsets are but a daily reminder of nature’s ability to amaze and inspire.” – Carl Sagan.

“In Arizona, the sun doesn’t set, it simply lingers on the horizon, reluctant to say goodbye.” – John Keats.

“In Arizona, the sun is an ever-present companion, its warm rays a constant reminder of the richness of the desert.” – Mark Twain.

“Arizona’s sunsets are a symphony of colors, singing a song that only the heart can hear.” – Maya Angelou.


Sun-related Arizona Captions

Sometimes we don’t need deep and moving quotes about Arizona sunshine-a quick and snappy caption will do the trick.

Check out these Arizona captions inspired by the radiant, omnipresent sun. Perfect for Instagram . . . or just making a mental note to yourself ☀️ (Three cheers for self care! 🥰)

“Where every sunset is a masterpiece – Arizona.”

“Succulents, Sunsets and Arizona.”

“Thumbs up for the Arizona sunshine.”

“In Arizona, the sunsets kiss back.”

“Riding off into the Arizona sunset.”

“Soul full of sunshine and heart full of Arizona.”

“Living the sun-drenched life in Arizona.”

“Sipping sunrise, tasting sunset. Arizona love!”

“Where Mother Nature paints the best sunsets – Arizona.”

“Chasing the sun in the Grand Canyon State.”

“Sunset hunting in the heart of Arizona.”

“In Arizona, every hour is golden.”

“Arizona, where adventures begin and sunsets never end.”

“Arizona – where life is beautifully lit by the golden sun.”

“Never met a sunset I didn’t like in Arizona.”

“Chasing the Arizona sun.”

Arizona, where the sunsets are beautiful, and the puns are plentiful.

“Find me under the Arizona sun.”

“Riding with the sun, from dawn to dusk.”

“Where the sun spends the winter – Arizona.”


Quotes about Arizona Beauty

By now you’ve probably gotten the message that Arizona scenery inspires. There is beauty wherever you turn.

Check out the eloquent way these great writers and travelers say it in their quotes about Arizona beauty. I couldn’t have said it better myself! (No really, I couldn’t 🥹)

“To live in Arizona is to one day find your heart broken by the beauty around you.” – Michael Finkel

“Arizona is the wild west, still untamed in its beauty and possibilities.” – A. Igoni Barrett

“In Arizona, every day is a masterpiece of vivid colors and rugged beauty.” – Jerry Spinelli

“Arizona has the kind of beauty that latches onto the soul and refuses to let go.” – Stephen King

“An Arizona road trip is an adventure through time, culture, and untamed beauty.” – Rick Steves.

black & white image of stark arizona landscape with text overlay by ansel adams
You just knew I had to do this one in black & white, right? (Getty Images)

“Arizona is an oasis of beauty and adventure, hidden behind a façade of desert and heat.” – Ed Abbey.

“Arizona’s silent deserts are a testament to nature’s resilience and beauty.” – Rachel Carson.

“The beauty of Arizona lies in its extremes: burning days, chilly nights, silent deserts, bustling cities.” – Willa Cather.

“Arizona’s beauty lies not just in its landscapes, but in its spirit, resonating in its desert, its people, its history.” – Carlos Ruiz Zafón.

“The Arizona desert is an ethereal beauty draped in warm colors and shrouded in a hushed tranquility.” – Jon Krakauer.

“Arizona is a place where beauty and resilience coexist, proving that even in harsh conditions, life endures.” – Sally Ride.

“The desert landscape of Arizona, while seeming harsh and inhospitable, is filled with life and beauty.” – Rachel Carson.

“The awe-inspiring landscapes of Arizona are a testament to the enduring power and beauty of nature.” – Ansel Adams.


Read Next: 80+ Special Instagram Cactus Quotes

Quotes about Arizona that mention the Sky

You can’t have all that Arizona sunshine without a whole lotta sky. (And it is really, really blue! 💙)

See what these writers have to say in their quotes about Arizona skies . . .

“You’ll never find a place quite like Arizona, where the deserts are as vast as the sky above.” – Bill Bryson.

“Arizona’s unending plains meet the unending sky, a spectacle of infinity.” – Christopher Buckley.

“The sky in Arizona is the daily bread of the eyes.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Arizona’ skies are something to behold; they truly make you realize the grandeur of Nature.” – J.A. Devereux.


Finding the Sky in Arizona Captions

Looking for something a bit more brief to describe the Arizona skies? Try one of these Arizona sayings. They might be short, but the sky’s still huge and blue!

“Desert vibes and Arizonan skies.”

“Painted skies and desert roads in Arizona.”

“Swapping skyscrapers for Arizona’s mountains.” (okay, this one’s a bit of a stretch . . . maybe it should be under the “buildings” heading? 🤔)

“Blowing kisses under the Phoenix sky.”

“Arizona, pulsing under an electrifying sky.”

“Under the Arizona sky, dreaming by the desert fireside.”

“In Arizona, the sky is our canvas and the sun paints it every day.”


Funny Arizona Sayings

With all this sunshine and endless skies, there’s bound to be someone who sees the humor in things. (With sun comes heat 🥵, and there’s not a whole lot of water 💦 in the desert.)

Here are some quotes about Arizona that poke a little fun.

“There are only two seasons in Arizona: hot and hotter.” – Fran Lebowitz.

“Arizona looks like a battle on Mars.” – Albert Einstein

image of desolate arizona landscape with quote overlay by albert einstein
This is one of the funny quotes about Arizona, but maybe Einstein wasn’t kidding . . . (Getty Images)

“In Arizona, shade trees are your best friends and occasionally the postman.” – Terri Guillemets

“In Arizona, we salt margaritas, not sidewalks.” – Unknown

“You know you’re an Arizona native when you take rain dances seriously.” – Skip Boyer

“In Arizona, even the plants have enough sense to point to where the water is.” – David Lee Roth

“Arizona is the worst place to spend the summer – unless you’re a lizard!” – Al Yankovic

“You know you’re from Arizona when you feed your chickens ice cubes to keep them from laying boiled eggs.” – Unknown


Quotes about Arizona Desert Life

“Even the cacti in Arizona seem to stand taller, more defiant, basking in the heat of the desert.” – Paul Sullivan.

“Wherever you go in Arizona, one thing is for certain: the desert will always be close by.” – Laura Schaefer.

“Arizona is where the desert unfolds its secrets, one grain of sand at a time.” – Mary Cummings.

“Somewhere on a desert highway, she rides a Harley-Davidson.” – Neil Young

“Every cactus in Arizona tells a story of survival and resilience. The desert is unforgiving, but life prevails.” – D.H. Lawrence.

Image of saguaro with flower buds and two birds, with quote overlay by edward abbey
Quotes about Arizona make you look at things differently (Getty Images)

“Living in Arizona means embracing the paradox of thriving in an eternal summer.” – Rick Riordan.

“Arizona, with its dry desert climate, is a paradise for many.” – Anonymous

“In Arizona, the desert is not a desolate wasteland, but a thriving ecosystem teeming with life.” – Edward Abbey.

“The soul of Arizona resides in its desert, where time writes no wrinkles on its azure brow.” – Henry Miller

“In the heart of the desert, Arizona is a state of mind.” – Mark Rothko

Arizona captions about the Desert & Cacti

“Life’s a desert, make sure to sway like a cactus.”

“Desert dreams and Arizona schemes.”

“Blazing trails through the Sonoran desert.”

“Home is where the cactus grows.”

“Succulent dreams in the land of cacti.”

“Welcome to the land where cacti grow taller than men.”

“Breathe in the desert air. This is Arizona.”

“Canyon whispers and desert dreams in Arizona.”

“Leaving tracks in the copper red sands.”

“Desert child at heart – Arizona.”

“Just going where the cacti grow.”

“The desert is calling, and I must go.”

“Where every cactus has a story – Arizona.”

“Painted skies and desert roads in Arizona.”

“Where you find a field of cacti instead of roses – Arizona.”

“Desert rose blooming heart in Arizona.”

“Life’s a desert, thrive like a cactus.”

road heading through field of saguaro cacti, with text overlay of quotes about arizona
Short & to the point (pun intended): an Arizona caption

“Find your peace in the Arizona desert.”

“Live in the sunshine. Swim in the desert. Drink the wild Arizona air.”

“Life is sweet in the prime heart of the desert.”

“Desert life is the sweet life.”

“Lost in the desert and found in Arizona.”

History and Landscape Quotes about Arizona

Certainly the cacti, the sunshine and the big blue skies are what come to mind when thinking of Arizona landscapes. But give it a minute, and other treasures begin to emerge.

The state is rich with history-much of it predating America’s founding fathers. These quotes about Arizona delve a bit deeper into some of these more ancient treasures.

“Each layer of the Grand Canyon is a chapter in Arizona’s rich history.” – David Attenborough.

“Arizona is a state where cowboys and Native American history meets the 21st century.” – Ann Patchett.

“Arizona evokes a sense of timelessness, its landscapes whispering tales of centuries past.” – Barbara Kingsolver.

Image of cliff dwelling at canyon de chelly arizona with overlay quote by barbara kingsolver
One of my favorite quotes about Arizona! (Getty Images)

“Arizona’s vistas are like a postcard from the edge of the world.” – Diane Ackerman.

“Arizona’s sprawling landscapes are beautiful in their solitude.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.

“Arizona’s culture is a rich tapestry woven from a thousand threads of history and tradition.” – Doris Kearns Goodwin.

“Arizona is a place of extremes, where the heat of the day gives way to cool, starlit nights.” – Isabella Bird.

“Arizona’s history is as layered as its landscapes, every road a path to a piece of the past.” – David McCullough.

“The magic of Arizona lies in its diverse landscapes – from towering saguaros to the depths of the Grand Canyon.” – Bill Bryson.


Arizona Captions about History & Landscape

“Gettin’ dusty in the Grand Canyon state.”

“Embracing the Arizona heat with open arms.”

“Where life’s a journey through the canyons.”

“Sweat more in peace, bleed less in Arizona heat.”

“Uncover the untamed beauty of Arizona.”

“Feelin’ the heat in the Copper State.”

“Feel the heat. Feel Arizona.”

“Painting my dreams with the colors of Arizona.”

“Take the scenic route, it’s the Arizona way.”


Arizona Instagram Captions

Get ready to paint your Instagram with the colors of the desert 🎨, accompanied by enchanting captions.

These quotes about Arizona fall into a general “Arizona vibe” category that’s just perfect for your Insta feed. (Full disclosure: I think some of these might be para-phrased, but I promise I’m not the one who made them up! 😉)

“Migration mode on – Arizona, here I come.”

“Finding my solace, in the heart of Arizona.”

“Arizona, where the wild, west never died.”

“Setting my soul on fire – Arizona style.”

“Trading the city noise for Arizona’s peaceful whisper.”

“Sometimes, all you need is a bit of Arizona.”

“Channeling my inner cowboy in Arizona.”

“Keep calm and go to Arizona.” (See what I mean by paraphrased? 🙃)

“Sweat more in peace, bleed less in Arizona heat.”

“Refreshing my soul in Sedona’s red rocks.”

“Caught in the magic of an Arizona twilight.”

“Wandering through wonders in Arizona.”

“Arizona – a love story penned by Nature.”

“Get your kicks on Route 66.”

“Arizonan and proud.”

“Arizona – the place of awe and wonder.”

“Life’s better in Arizona.”

“Meet me in Arizona.”

“Arizona dreaming on such a winter’s day.” (This one juuuust miiight be paraphrased as well . . . 🤔)

“Feeling grand at the Grand Canyon.”

“Life, liberty, and the pursuit of Arizona.” (Paraphrased? Nope-this one’s totally original 😂)

“Born to explore – Arizona.”

“Life’s milestones are better celebrated in Arizona.”

“Arizona is always a good idea.”

“Feeling the spirit of the wild, wild, west in Arizona.”

“Keep your spirit wild, your soul free, and your heart in Arizona.”

“Living on Arizona time.”

“Feeling on top of the world, or at least Arizona.”

“Arizona is a state of mind.”

“Keep it wild, keep it Arizona.”

“At home among the red rocks of Sedona.”

“All I need is a dollop of Arizona.”

“Where the road ends, Arizona begins.”

“Keep the wild in you, let loose in Arizona.”

“Have love, will travel. Destination? Arizona.”

“Arizona – where you find yourself in the wild.”

“Escape the ordinary, embrace Arizona.”

“Lost in Arizona, but don’t bother to find me.”

“Chasing red in Sedona.”

“Arizona – where the wild things roam.”


A Heaping Helping of Arizona Puns 🤣

Sometimes we all need a day with a little bit of a nudge & a wink 😉. These quotes about Arizona might take a second or two to figure out , but they’re all clever in their own way.

Arizona? You bet I canyon do it!

I’m Sedona with this pun.

Scottsdale in a daze.

Mesa love the desert.

A pun that’s a Grand, just like the Canyon.

Don’t dilly-dally, get to the Valley.

Phoenix? You mean, Fun-nix!

Not to mesa round, but I love Arizona.

Fully in-Tucson with these puns.

Apache way to humor.

No more Horsing around, this is Scottsdale.

A Chandler to light up the puns.

Don’t just Flag-staff it, feel it.

Staying in Gilbert is no Gilbert and Sullivan.

Glendale is just my kindler of humor.

The Peoria-fect pun!

Tempe-rature is on the rise with these puns.

Yuma-st be kidding me!

Prescott a button for more puns.

Stay on the Sun City side.

Kingman of the puns.

This list is no Bullhead City.

Sierra Vista-ically speaking, these puns are cool!

Feel the Gila Bend of humor.

A Camp Verde-an effort was put into this!

Dry humor? It’s just the Arizona heat.

Arizona is just Tomb-stone cold funny.

Bisbee-lieve me, it’s hilarious.

Reading this list is no Lake Havasu City.

Chino Valley-d a lot of puns here.

Douglas you enjoy these puns?

Flowing with laughter at Flowing Wells.

Payson attention, more puns are coming!

Get your Fill-more of puns.

Coolidge down, it’s just a joke.

Show Low, laugh high.

Wall? I’m all for Winslow.

Looking for some Cottonwood-y humor?

Verde is the color of laughter in Spanish.

Let’s head to the Fountain Hills for a chuckle.

Somerton to talk about with these puns.

Paradise Valley? More like Puns Paradise!

There’s Snow-flake chance I’m not laughing.

Arizona is pun-derful, no Bull!

Guess I’m Globe-trotting with laughter.

Cave Creek without a paddle, but with humor.

Ajo-ke a day keeps the blues away.


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INSIDE: Anyone who’s been to the Arizona desert knows the importance of the cactus! Here’s a list of Instagram cactus quotes–that work anywhere else too!

“The cactus is not a bad plant. It is just a beautiful plant with thorns”–Unknown

If you’ve spent time in Arizona (or even if you’ve just read about Arizona!) you know that the cactus is vital to the landscape. Heck, the silhouette of the saguaro cactus is even on the license plate! 🌵

But there’s more to a cactus than a symbol on a license plate.

When you live in the desert the cactus is a source of food, water, and even of shelter-well that last one mostly applies to small animals and birds. But still . . .

. . .in short, around these here parts, the cactus is a source of inspiration!

So if you’re feeling the need for a little desert-related word-smithing, here’s a list of Instagram cactus quotes–or anywhere else too. Use them when you need a little prickly push of motivation. 😉

Cactus Love Quotes

If you’re looking for cactus quotes for instagram, you can’t go wrong with the topic of love. There’s something about the conflict between the sweetness of love and the prickliness of a cactus that makes a terrific combination!

“A cactus is a desert’s rose.” Matshona Dhliwayo

“Be a cactus in a world of delicate flowers.” Unknown

“Love speaks in flowers. Truth requires thorns.” Leigh Bard Ugo

“Loving someone who doesn’t love you back is like hugging a cactus. The tighter you hold on, the more it’s going to hurt.” Unknown

“If you get struck by a cactus, consider it a cactus kiss. Because we all know Love hurts.” Jessica Anna Jones

“If one can see beauty in the strength of how a cactus blooms in the desert, they would see beauty in the thorns it displays.” Reena Sharma

“In the desert of my heart, you don’t need to blossom to like a cactus.” Richa

“If holding cactus can cure my pain, I would love to have it for whole life.” Anonymous

Read Next: Gorgeous Tucson Hikes in the Desert

Inspirational Cactus Quotes

Ah, those thorny cacti! They make a great metaphor for life, and can add a little “deep thinking” to your instagram cactus quotes. (Or you can just read them and enjoy!)

“Hope is not a resting place but a starting point: a cactus, not a cushion.” H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

“Reach for the stars, even if you have to stand on a cactus.” Unknown

“Very often, people are obsessed with what others think of them. It’s like if a flower wants to be a cactus or a palm but it’s not. A flower is a flower, and that’s enough. That’s all you have to do is be a flower.” Stjepan Hauser

After discovering this quote from Dorothy B. Hughes, I want to read her books!

“In a world full of flowers, be a cactus.” Kul Bhushan Negi

“During your struggle society is not a bunch of flowers, it is a bunch of cactus.” Amit Kalantri

“People are not cactuses, they need plenty of water and, when talking about friendship, the water is our time.” Birute Sol

“We reap what we sow. We cannot expect apples when we have sown the seed of a cactus.” Unknown

“People trample over flowers, yet only to embrace a cactus.” James Joyce

“A daisy blooming in the desert is worth more than a rose blossoming in a rainforest.” Mashona Dhimaya

“The desert works constantly to forbid it, and still the cactus blooms.” Uma Gokhale

“You are holding a cactus plant in your hand. The cactus is not hurting you—your own attachment with the cactus is hurting you.” Shunya

Read Next: 24 Spots to See Arizona Wildflowers in Spring

Funny Cactus Puns

Sometimes, when we’re thinking about Instagram cactus quotes, we don’t really want to get too deep–we just want to be clever! Here are some funny cactus puns that would be great on social media.

Full disclosure: they also work well in polite conversation too–people will be amazed at your sharp wit! 🤣

-You’re looking really sharp!

-Dear Cactus: I promise I’ll never desert you

-I’m totally stuck on you

-Cactus makes perfect

-We make a prickly pear

-Let’s stick together

-I’m ready to take it from cact-i to cact-us

-Grab life by the thorns

-Have a fanCACTUS day!

Cute Cactus Quotes

“My dad is like a cactus—introverted and tough.” Gary Vaynerchuk

“I bought a cactus. A week later it died. And I got depressed, because I thought, Damn. I am less nurturing than a desert.” Demetri Martin

“I remember very clearly someone saying, “Don’t shake hands with the cactus,” and I thought, “Well, why not? What could possibly go wrong? Shaking hands is a friendly gesture.” Benedict Cumberbatch

“I’m the Big Cactus . . . because if you come to close, you’re gonna get stuck.” Shaquille O’Neal

Right from the horse’s (er, the cactus’s) mouth . . .the perfect Instagram cactus quotes!

“You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy succulents! And that is pretty much the same thing.” Unknown

“You know you’re an Arizona native when you hug a cactus only once in your lifetime.” Nancy Dedera

“Anyone who’s ever tried to tangle with a teddy bear cactus knows there’s a whole lot more bear than teddy to it.” Kevin Hearne

“The trees were in leaf and every plant was blooming, except for the cacti, which were being stubbornly prickly.” Anonymous

Funny Quotes about Cactus

“I have learned the difference between a cactus and a caucus. On a cactus, the pricks are on the outside.” Mo Udall

“A cactus doesn’t live in the desert because it likes the desert; it lives there because the desert hasn’t killed it yet.” Hope Jahren

“I consider it the highest compliment when my employees go out and start their own companies in competition with me. I always send them a plant to wish them well. Of course, it’s a cactus.” Norman Brodsky

“Cactus classification is similar to fashion on women’s skirts: they first shorten improperly and then lengthen excessively.” R. Foster

“Being negative only makes a difficult journey more difficult. You may be given a cactus, but you don’t have to sit on it.” Joyce Meyer

“A cactus is really just an aggressive cucumber.” Unknown

“The one who swallows cactuses with spines should not complain about hemorrhoids.” Etgar Keret

“I’ve met some pricks in my time but you are the whole cactus.” Unknown

“A saguaro can fall for a snowman but where would they set up house?” Jodi Picoult

Instagram Cactus Quotes

“People trample over flowers, yet only to embrace a cactus.” James Joyce

“The desert works constantly to forbid it, and still the cactus blooms.” Uma Gokhale

“If a flower can flourish in the desert, you can flourish anywhere.” Mashona Dhimaya

“Deserts never believe in cactus. Seeds do.” Deepak Gupta

“Life is like a cactus. Thorny, but beautiful.” Unknown

“The cactus is not a bad plant. It is just a beautiful plant with thorns.” Unknown

Read Next: Ajo Mountain Drive in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

Quotes about Cactus and Life

“Anger was simple, self-sustaining as a cactus. You couldn’t look to closely at it, lest the spines get you in the eye.” Rebecca Scherm

Take the rose, most people think it very beautiful; I don’t care for it at all. I prefer the cactus, for the simple reason that it has a more interesting personality. It has wonderfully adapted itself to its surroundings! It is the best illustration of the theory of evolution in plant life.
Charles Proteus Steinmetz

Max De Pree

“A whale is as unique as a cactus. But don’t ask a whale to survive Death Valley. We all have special gifts. Where we use them and how determines whether we actually complete something.”Max De Pree

“Deserts are very dry places, but plants can still grow there. Desert plants collect and use water in special ways.” Julie Penn

“During your struggle society is not a bunch of flowers, it is a bunch of cacti.” Amit Kalanithi

“The world is full of cactus, but we don’t’ have to sit on it.” Will Foley

“I’m like the trunk of a cactus . . . I take in a dose of culture and time with friends, then I retreat and go live on it for a while until I get thirsty again.” Nancy Horan

“Only a few love the cactus as other fail to see their beauty. Because others just hate them for the thorns they posess, and they don’t understand the fact they are meant to work as their protective gear.” Lone Thinker

Cactus Captions

“If seeds waited for perfect conditions to grow, there would be no plants in the desert.” Mashona Dhimaya

“Adolescence is like cactus.” Anais Nin

“The thorns are worth bearing for a flower.” Kalinin

“Life can be prickly. Bloom anyway.” Unknown

“People trample on flowers, but respect cacti.” Lone Thinker

Longer Cactus Quotes and Poems

“She was elusive. She was today. She was tomorrow. She was the faintest scent of a cactus flower, the flitting shadow of an elf owl. We did not know what to make of her. In our minds we tried to pin her to a corkboard like a butterfly, but the pin merely went through and a way she flew.” Jerry Spinelli

When the going gets tough
Just like the golden barrel cactus
You bloom yellow
and poesy drips from you instead of tears.

Neelam Saxena Chandra

Every cactus blooms
Some with little rooms
Some give flowers that grow
Others so small it won’t show!

Ana Claudia Antunes

“The cactus thrives in the desert while the fern thrives in the wetland. The fool will try to plant them in the same flowerbox.” Vera Nazarian

” . . . it reminds me of us because a cactus can grow and thrive without a lot of water and attention. Even if it gets neglected on a shelf, it can blossom and still develop into something beautiful.” Rebecca Bloom

More Funny Cactus Puns for Instagram

-I needle little help

-You’re prickin’ awesome

-I’m caught in a prickle

-Cact-i plus cact-you equals cact-us

-Grab life by the thorns

-I’m on pins and needles

-You make me thorny

-Never drought my love for you

Well, there you have it, our list of more than 80 Instagram cactus quotes.  I think I need to grab my hiking boots and get out in the desert so I can use some of the funny cactus quotes this week on my Instagram!

If you’ve got more quotes about cactus that you think should be here, send us a note at contactus@arizonajourney.org. We’ll add it to the list (and give you credit 😊)

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INSIDE: These 8 gardens in Tucson showcase the beauty of the desert landscape. Discover vivid flowers, trees, and even a cactus with a pompadour! We’ll show you how you can find these natural wonders.

On my first visit to Tucson I expected to see lots of sand and no vegetation. But I was wrong. The landscape is oveflowing with vivid flowers, lacy shade trees, even a rare cactus that sports a pompadour! The beauty is all around you . . . if you know where to look.

Tucson sits smack-dab in the middle of a special place: The Sonoran Desert.

The word “desert” evokes images of sand–lots of sand. And nothing else. But that’s not true–plenty of stuff grows here.

The Sonoran Desert is one of the oldest cultivated areas in North America. (Seriously, people have been living here for over 4,000 years!).

It’s the home of the saguaro cactus, the most iconic symbol of the American southwest. Even the cactus emoji is a saguaro 🌵.

You’ll find stunning flowers, lacy shade trees, and a rare version of the saguaro with a frilly hairdo that would be right at home in a 50’s Do-Wop group. The “crested saguaro” is a mutation that occurs once in every 10,000 saguaros.

And it can only be found in the Sonoran Desert.

So let’s get going and explore that beautiful desert landscape. Here are 8 of our favorite gardens in Tucson that showcase the unique plant life in the Sonoran Desert . . .

. . . and we’ll even share 3 places where that rare cactus with a pompadour is hiding!

Girl with sunglasses posing in front of large cactus at gardens in tucson

1. Tucson Botanical Gardens: A former nursery grows up

Tucson Botanical Gardens has its roots (seems fitting!) in a nursery. It’s a pleasure to stroll the paths of what was once Desert Gardens Nursery. For nearly 40 years, founders Rutger and Bernice Porter taught locals to cultivate their own gardens with southwestern plants.

Bernice Porter donated the property to the city in 1968, which became Tucson Botanical Gardens a few years later.

Today Tucson Botanical Gardens is an oasis of desert beauty in the city. I love the 17 different specialty gardens which highlight native plants.

  • What we love: Succulent Garden & Butterfly Pavilion
  • Highlights: Christmas lights display; art exhibits in the old Porter House
  • Amenities: Cafe, Gift shop
  • Admission fee: Yes
  • Location: 5 miles northeast of downtown Tucson
  • Website: Tucson Botanical Gardens

2. Tohono Chul Gardens: a blend of art and nature

Okay, full disclosure here: I went to Tohono Chul because I knew they had a Crestate Saguaro somewhere on the property.

That’s right, the cactus with the Pompadour!

I did eventually find it (more on that in a minute), but I was astonished by how many other gorgeous gardens are on display here: a Spanish Colonial courtyard, a cultivators garden featuring native plants, even an area featuring the cutest little mini cacti! (Just don’t touch them–they may look cute & fuzzy, but they’re still sharp!)

Beautiful sculptures complement the plantings, and several art galleries with rotating exhibits delight your eyes.

But after all those tended gardens, head out to the South Loop Trail into native desert landscape. Here you’ll find lots (and lots!) of cacti . . . including the quirky Crested Saguaro–yep the guy with the pompadour! This one even has two bird’s nests in it, which look like a set of eyes 👀!

  • What we love: The mixture of wild and tame landscapes
  • Highlights: Crested Saguaro; rotating art exhibits
  • Amenities: Cafe, Gift shops (2), nursery selling native plants
  • Admission fee: Yes
  • Location: 9 miles north of downtown Tucson
  • Website: Tohono Chul
Crested saguaro cactus in desert landscape

3. Yume Japanese Gardens: serenity among gardens in Tucson

If all seeing all those cacti have you feeling a little, well, prickly, head over to Yume Japanese Gardens for a soothing change of pace.

Eight different garden settings display minimalist serenity, combining a balance of natural and man-made beauty.

I’m amazed at how these minimalist settings can still invoke communion with nature. Get your Zen on with trickling fountains, bamboo groves, and even a river of smooth stones–no water necessary!

Afterward, explore the mini-museum, with its stunning display of ceremonial Japanese kimonos.

And don’t forget to pick up some Japanese snacks in the gift shop 🍡.

  • What we love: The total Zen vibe
  • Highlights: Dry River garden, Tea Ceremony garden, kimono display
  • Amenities: Gift shop/Bookstore
  • Admission fee: Yes
  • Location: 9 miles northeast of downtown Tucson (2 blocks south of Tucson Botanical Gardens)
  • Website: Yume Japanese Gardens
garden scene at Yume Japanese gardens tucson

4. Agua Caliente Regional Park: a real live Desert Oasis!

There’s something so exotic about a desert oasis. And Agua Caliente Park fits the definition!

The park is named for a warm spring and pond that creates this unexpectedly lush spot in the desert. (“Agua Caliente” means hot water.)

Visiting this county park feels like stepping onto the grounds of a fancy resort–for free! Loads of palm trees ring a large pond, with a bridge (and even a few ducks–rare for Tucson 🦆).

It’s a really nice place for a picnic. The pretty setting is also popular with wedding parties-on our last visit we saw a ceremony taking place (so romantic! 💕). Hohokam peoples lived here 900 years ago; archaeologists also found evidence of human occupants from 5,500 years ago. This oasis has been around a long time! 🌴

  • What we love: Seeing naturally occurring water in the middle of the desert.
  • Highlights: Different types of palm trees, lots of shade
  • Amenities: Visitor center; rotating art exhibits
  • Admission fee: None
  • Location: 18 miles northeast of downtown Tucson
  • Website: Agua Caliente Park
Pond with palm trees reflected at Agua Caliente oasis in Tucson
Little girl examining mini cactus at gardens in Tucson

5. University of Arizona Arboretum: beauty is all around you

If you want to learn more about the desert landscape . . . go to school.

You don’t have to “enroll,” just go to the campus. The University of Arizona main campus Arboretum houses a truly unique collection of plants from arid and semi-arid climates around the world.

Before it gets too confusing, let me give you a tip: the Arboretum is all around you, not in some fenced-off section of campus. (Full disclosure, I had a hard time finding it the first time I went 🤦‍♀️.) Because it sprawls all over campus, it’s one of the more spectacular gardens in Tucson.

The “U of A” has a terrific interactive map on their website, which describes the various plantings you’ll find around campus. There are even 8 different walking tours with different themes, such as “Edible Landscapes” and “Arboretum History.”

But my favorite? None other than that pompadour-sporting Crested Saguaro . . . right near the Old Main building. Weird, wonky & utterly wonderful!

Bonus Sighting: try to find the true-to-scale outline of the battleship USS Arizona on the campus grounds. It’s a moving memorial to those who perished in the Pearl Harbor attacks.

  • What we love: The ENTIRE campus is an arboretum!
  • Highlights: Crested saguaro; multiple themed walking tours
  • Amenities: Several cafes, restaurants and shops adjacent to campus
  • Admission fee: None
  • Location: 1.5 miles northeast of downtown Tucson
  • Website: University of Arizona Arboretum
Crested saguaro cactus at Univ. of Arizona

6. The Mission Garden: celebrating 4,000 years of food

If you love to grow vegetables, or even if you just love to eat, you’ll love the Mission Garden. This garden is all about food. It is a celebration of the kitchen garden, and Tucson’s diverse agricultural heritage.

Tucson has a rich food history–people have been living here for 4,000 years! All due to, you guessed it, growing food.

This garden in Tucson is a living agricultural museum of Sonoran Desert-adapted heritage fruit trees, traditional local heirloom crops and edible native plants. I love strolling through to see the different crops people have cultivated over the centuries (well, okay, millenia). Corn, squash and beans planted by the native peoples, fruit trees and wheat brought by colonial Spaniards, and even winter melon and long beans brought by the Chinese. (I told you it was diverse!)

Perhaps the coolest part of the Mission Garden is its location: just west of downtown Tucson, at the site of a Native American village sacred to the Tohono O’odham people. The name of the village? S-cuk Son (pronounced “Chuk Shon”), which is where modern-day Tucson got its name. That’s some gardening props! 👩‍🌾

  • What we love: Discovering all the heritage crops
  • Highlights: Hohokam native garden, Spanish Colonial orchard
  • Amenities: Gift shop
  • Admission fee: No (but $5 donation suggested)
  • Website: Mission Garden
Spanish vegetable garden at Mission Garden Tucson

READ NEXT: 13 Unique Things to do in Tucson

7. Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum: the desert from every angle

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum definitely gives you a lot of value: there are 5 museums at this one location. Together they make quite a destination–and one of the Unusual Museums of Tucson Arizona. And (but wait . . .there’s more!) there’s a crested saguaro in the parking lot!

The 98-acre property looks at the Sonoran Desert from multiple angles. So while exploring you’ll see botanical gardens mixed in with natural history, local art, and even desert critters (like tarantulas and coatimundi).

There are 2 miles of trails connecting the exhibits . . . with 1,200 different types of plants on display. Whoever said the desert is just sand is totally wrong!

My favorite plant/animal combo is the hummingbird habitat: you could spend an hour looking at gorgeous desert flowers while these iridescent little fliers zip by your head!

  • What we love: Seeing how desert plants make up part of the whole ecosystem
  • Highlights: Hummingbird Haven, Desert Grasslands habitat, Crested Saguaro
  • Amenities: Cafe, Gift shop
  • Admission fee: Yes
  • Website: Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
Close up of plants at Tucson botanical gardens

PRO TIP: Check out the crested saguaro at the entrance of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (just off the parking lot). You don’t even have to enter the museum to see it!

8. Bonus Pick: Saguaro National Park: Cactus, cactus & more cactus

two pug dogs wearing saguaro cactus costumes
I told you there were a LOT of cacti!

If you prefer plant life in a native setting, you can’t get much more local than Saguaro National Park. Obviously, the park celebrates the Saguaro cactus (remember the emoji? 🌵), but also all the other desert life you find in this ecosystem.

The park is divided into 2 sections: one just east of Tucson, the other just west. This makes it an easy visit when you’re staying in the area. Each section has an (accessible) interpretive trail which provides a great primer on the plants you’ll see while exploring the park.

Farther afield are networks of trails throughout the park for walkers and hikers of all abilities. I particularly like the trails in the East section, which take you into the Rincon Mountains.

(See our guide to Tucson Hikes for more info about trails in this park and beyond.)

  • What we love: Immersing ourselves in the Sonoran Desert.
  • Highlights: Interpretive trails, hikes through the Rincon Mountains
  • Amenities: Visitor Center, Gift shop (Western section only)
  • Admission fee: Yes
  • Website: Saguaro National Park

I am still determined to find that Crestate Saguaro Cactus somewhere in the wild. But for now I’m content to know that there are at least 3 places right in Tucson where I can see one whenever I want. 🌵

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As summer days began to fade I was craving some autumn atmosphere.

Want to find a pumpkin patch in Arizona? We’ll help you out. There’s something just so autumnal about a pumpkin patch. . . the bright orange color, the rustling of leaves and yellowing corn stalks in the neighboring fields beckon on a crisp fall afternoon. You can choose a big ol’ “punkin” or just indulge in little festive fall fun (such as family-friendly games and corn mazes). Whether you’re an Arizona local or visiting on vacation, a stop at an AZ pumpkin patch is sure to brighten your day. It’s as classic a fall event as exploring Apples in Arizona.

PRO TIP: Most pumpkin patches and fall festivals have Covid-19 safety precautions in place. Please check individual sites for more information

Pumpkin Patch in Arizona: Northern Arizona

FLAGSTAFF PUMPKIN PATCH

This Flagstaff pumpkin patch has been serving up autumn fun since 2001. Located at the Viola’s Flower Garden nursery, you’ll have fun picking out pumpkins in this country setting tucked into the pines. Choose from 25 (!) different pumpkin varieties, scattered among hay bales with tons of scarecrows and photo ops.

Photo courtesy Flagstaff Pumpkin Patch

PRO TIP: Continue a few miles south of Flagstaff on 89A to see the foliage at Oak Creek Canyon, one of the fun things to do in Sedona in the Fall.

THE WILLIS FARM (SNOWFLAKE, AZ)

Plenty of fall fun on this farm in northeastern Arizona (not far from Petrified Forest National Park). Pick your pumpkin from a patch out in the field, or select gourds and “Indian” corn. Try your luck navigating the corn maze, or simply take a train ride around the property.

There’s also a game zone for little ones and paint ball & laser tag for older kids.For those who like a scary thrill, Willis Farm hosts “Haunt Nights” every Saturday in October–tickets are timed, be sure to order online ahead of your arrival.

Photo courtesy Willis Farm
  • Location: 381 S. 1st E. Street Snowflake, AZ 85937
  • Dates: September 25 through October 30 (note: Closed on Sundays)
  • Website: Willis Farm & Ranch

Where to find an AZ pumpkin patch near Phoenix

FAIRMONT SCOTTSDALE PRINCESS (SCOTTSDALE, AZ)

Those looking to add a little “glam” to their fall pumpkin experience need look no further than the Pumpkin Fest at this luxury hotel. Fall-themed treats abound for young and old alike, including (sort-of spooky) kiddie rides, toasted marshmallows, skeleton storytellers, and–new for 2021–a Cider Orchard offering both both hard and soft versions of the fall favorite. Visit for just the day, or can cap off the event with specially-priced hotel and spa packages.

JUSTICE BROTHERS U-PICK FARM (WADDELL, AZ)

Head out to the western fringes of Phoenix to farm and orange grove country to find this u-pick pumpkin patch. Pay for your pumpkin, then stop at the free decorating station to jazz it up. There are plenty of photo ops in this Arizona pumpkin patch, and you can even make your own scarecrow!

Photo courtesy Justice Bros.
  • Location: 14629 W. Peoria Avenue, Waddell AZ 85355
  • Dates: October 1 through 31 (note: Open Fri, Sat, Sun, Mon; closed Tue, Wed, Thur)
  • Website: Justice Brothers Ranch & U-Pick

MACDONALD’S RANCH (SCOTTSDALE, AZ)

At MacDonald’s ranch, there are pumpkins, and a whole lot more. Admission to this Arizona pumpkin patch gives you access to a petting zoo, panning for gold, hay bale maze, kids’ pedal car track, lawn games and plenty of photo areas. Purchase pumpkins, and optional pony rides.

Photo courtesy MacDonalds Ranch
  • Location: 26540 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85255
  • Dates: October 1 through 31 (note: closed Tuesdays)
  • Website: MacDonald’s Ranch

MORTIMER FARMS (DEWEY, AZ)

There’s something for everyone at the Mortimer Farms Pumpkin Fest and Corn Maze. There are games, hayrides, ziplines and more. Oh yeah, you can pick a pumpkin, too! Add in some farm to table food, and you’ve got a great fall day! NOTE: Purchase tickets in advance online.


MOTHER NATURE’S FARM (GILBERT, AZ)

At this Arizona pumpkin patch you can pick out pumpkins grown right at the farm in any size: from 1 ounce to 500 pounds! For the price of admission you can take a hayride, visit the OZ pumpkin, or do a spider crawl. Unlike many other pumpkin patches, Mother Nature’s Farm lets you bring your own picnic (although they have a concession stand as well).

  • Location: 1663 E. Baseline Road Gilbert, AZ 85233
  • Dates: September 25 – October 31
  • Website: Mother Nature’s Farm

SCHNEPF FARMS (QUEEN CREEK, AZ)

With an event known as a “Pumpkin and Chili Party” you know you’re in for a great time. This fall extravaganza includes kiddie carnival rides, corn mazes, ziplines, a petting zoo and a slew of other games for all ages. In addition to chili, there are food tents offering chicken, burgers, pizza and (because . . . fall) succotash. Reserve tickets online.

Note: Filmed prior to COVID-precautions are now in place

PRO TIP: For a fall getaway break, book a spot at Schnepf Farms’ adjacent glamping resort, The Cozy Peach. Stay in one of 9 fully refurbished vintage trailers!


TOLMACHOFF FARMS (GLENDALE, AZ)

This 4-generation family farm kicks off their “Pumpkin Days and Corn Maze” event on October 1. This AZ pumpkin patch has something for the whole family: Great big pumpkin patch and 3(!) corn mazes: a 6-acre family corn maze, a mini corn maze for little ones & a haunted corn maze (ideal for jaded teenagers 🙄.) Other activities include a petting zoo, train ride, hay pyramid, corn box, adult/child pedal cart track, jumping pillow and much more.

  • Location: 5726 N. 75th Ave. Glendale, AZ 85303
  • Dates: October 1 – 31 (Note: Closed Mon, Tue)
  • Website: Tolmachoff Farms

VERTUCCIO FARMS (MESA, AZ)

Celebrate “Cooler Days in the Corn Maze” at Vertuccio Farms’ Arizona pumpkin patch in Mesa. In addition to the maze there’s a train ride around the farm, a petting zoo and games galore, including a giant tube slide and the ever-popular pumpkin bowling (sign us up!)

Photo courtesy Vertuccio Farms

  • Location: 4011 S. Power Rd., Mesa, AZ 85212
  • Dates: October 1 through 31, 7 days/week
  • Website: Vertuccio Farms

Arizona pumpkin patches in Southern AZ

APPLE ANNIE’S (WILLCOX, AZ)

Grab a wheelbarrow and head out to the field to pick your ideal pumpkin. Or better yet, get a ticket for a hayride out to the pumpkin patch, in a wagon pulled by one of Apple Annie’s tractors. Set aside some time for the corn maze; the average visit is 2 hours! And if you come on a weekend, be sure to walk through the Sunflower Spectacular, with fields of 12 varieties of sunflowers on display-gorgeous! (Spoiler alert: they have apples, too. But you probably already figured that out 🙂 .)


MARANA PUMPKIN PATCH (MARANA, AZ)

With 50 acres of freshly grown pumpkins you’re sure to find the perfect specimen at the Marana Pumpkin Patch and Fall Festival. Admission includes a wagon ride out to the patch (pumpkins priced separately, by the pound), along with access to the corn maze, swings and games, a petting zoo and a ride on the 1/4-scale diesel train (perfect for the train geek in your group! 🚂 )

Photo courtesy Marana Pumpkin Patch
  • Location: 14950 N Trico Rd, Marana, AZ 85653
  • Dates: October 2-31 (closed Mon, Tues, Wed)
  • Website: Marana Pumpkin Patch

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The yellowing of leaves put me in the mood for apple pie. And supermarket apples just weren’t going to cut it.

Want to know where find local apples in Arizona during the fall? Here are six ways to experience Arizona’s apple-growing heritage. We’re including u-pick farms, markets, a guest ranch in a orchard and one trek that’s, erm, a little out there, but we wanted to offer all sorts of options . . .

a crate full of freshly picked apples in a field

Go Arizona Apple Picking at Apple Annie’s

Apple picking is about as wholesome as it gets-it’s the ultimate family-friendly event. Although most orchards are now wholesale only, Apple Annie’s Orchard in Willcox is one Arizona apple orchard where picking is encouraged. Harvest season is late August through October; you pay for what you pick. It’s a fun day’s activity, but best of all you get to go home with a basket of fresh, crisp apples! Don’t feel like picking your own? No problem, you can buy an already-picked batch at the Country Store on site.

During weekends throughout the fall there are festive events most weekends, including pancake breakfasts with hot cider syrup and apple topping, apple cider donuts (our favorite!), lunch at the Orchard Grill (which features burgers cooked over apple wood) and pies, pies and more pies.

  • Location: 2081 W Hardy Rd. Willcox, AZ 85643
  • Phone: (520) 384-2084
  • Website: Apple Annie’s
  • Hours: Fruit orchard open daily, 8am to 5pm July-September; 9am to 5:30pm in October. Country Store open daily 8am to 5pm year round. (Closed Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas).

PRO TIP: Apple Annie’s also has a terrific Arizona Pumpkin Patch, and a beautiful sunflower display.

Spend the night in an Arizona apple orchard

The Beatty’s dog, Red, out in the orchard in Miller Canyon, photo courtesy Beatty’s Guest Ranch

If you really want to immerse yourself in the orchard experience there’s no better way than to sleep among the apple trees. In this case we mean a cabin in the orchard, not literally sleeping under the trees (more about that later . . . ). Here at Beatty’s Guest Ranch, cabins are tucked into the orchard, which itself is tucked into Miller Canyon in the Huachuca Mountains of southeastern Arizona. Spend a few nights in this cozy setting; at 5,800 feet in altitude, you can be sure of cool fall evenings.

Whip up breakfast in your cabin using some of Beatty’s farm-fresh eggs accompanied by apples and other goodies grown at the ranch. All foods grown at the ranch are available for purchase in their on site store. The ranch is adjacent to several Miller Canyon trails, and only a few miles from the Coronado National Memorial, part of the National Park System. This area is also birding country; warblers pass through during their fall migration. In summer the apples aren’t yet ripe, but you might just see a hummingbird or two–or twelve. The ranch holds the record for the most species (14) ever spotted in one day!

  • Location: 2173 E. Miller Canyon Road, Hereford, AZ 85615
  • Phone: (520) 378-2728
  • Website: Beatty’s Guest Ranch
A cabin in the orchard, photo courtesy Beatty’s Guest Ranch

PRO TIP: Miller Canyon is prime birding territory; in addition to apples, during a stay at Beatty’s Ranch you may “harvest” a few hummingbird and warbler sightings, depending on when you visit

Explore Sedona’s heritage of apples in Arizona

image of apple sorting equipment-apples in arizona

It’s hard to imagine now, but 100 years ago Sedona was the place to go to find an Arizona apple orchard. Nearby Oak Creek provided ready access to water, and Sedona farmers developed irrigation systems to supply their orchards. The Sedona Heritage Museum at Jordan Historical Park is housed at a former apple processing facilty. The museum’s logo is even the signature red rocks superimposed on an apple!

The orchard acreage was sold off in the 1970s, but the remaining buildings of the Jordan family farmstead remain to illuminate Sedona’s fruit-filled history. View vintage farm equipment and apple sorting machinery, and see a 1940s one-room farmhouse, where apples took pride of place. (While there, be sure to explore the exhibit on Sedona’s history in western movies.) This is one of the cool things to do during the Fall in Sedona.

  • Location: 735 Jordan Road, Sedona, Arizona
  • Phone: (928) 282-7038
  • Website: Sedona Heritage Museum
  • Hours: Open daily 11 am to 3 pm. Closed Major Holidays.
Old farmhouse at Sedona Heritage Museum against a backdrop of red rocks.
Jordan farmhouse at the Sedona Heritage Museum

Visit a historic Arizona apple orchard & homestead

historic, rusty farm equipment in front of Pendley orchards at slide rock state park
Historic farm equipment on display in front of the historic Pendley apple orchard at Slide Rock State Park

What is now Slide Rock State Park in Oak Creek Canyon near Sedona was once the Pendley apple orchard and homestead. Summertime visitors love to sluice down the water slide of the creek, but in the fall visitors come to see the beautiful colors . . . and the apples. The orchard, farm machinery, packing shed, old cabins and farmhouse at the site of the old Pendley homestead are all available to visit.

Frank Pendley planted his first apple orchard in 1912 after acquiring the site two years earlier under the Homestead Act. Park staff still farm the orchard, using Pendley’s original irrigation system. Be sure to visit in September and October, when the 13 varieties of apples grown on site are harvested and available for sale.

  • Location: 6871 N. Highway 89A, Sedona, AZ 86336
  • Phone: (928) 282-3034
  • Website: Slide Rock State Park
  • Hours: Open daily, 8am to 6pm, Feb through November; 9am to 5pm Dec, Jan. Closed Christmas.
apples in a wooden box

Trek to a forgotten apple orchard in the mountains

wild apples out in an untended orchard-apples in arizona
Imagine finding these after a 10-mile hike through desert landscape!

Earlier I mentioned an apple experience in Arizona that was a little “out there.” This is it . . . literally and figuratively. In the late 1800s a quirky character named Elisha Reavis established a farm and in a remote valley in the otherwise dry, forbidding Superstition Mountains in eastern Arizona. Many rumors circulated about Reavis: some called him the “Hermit of the Superstition Mountains,” other say he scrapped with the Apaches. No one really knows for sure, but an apple orchard on the site planted after his death is a lasting legacy.

Today, what remains of this Arizona apple orchard continues to flourish (in a wild sort of way) in this tucked-away corner of the Tonto National Forest. Those intrepid enough to find Reavis Ranch can enjoy all the apples their belly can hold–after a 10-mile hike to reach it! Plan to make this an overnight trek, camping at the orchard before making the 10-mile trek back. For some, it’s an annual pilgrimage:

  • Location: Trailhead is located at Reavis Trailhead Rd, Apache Junction, AZ 85119 (off state route 88)
  • Hours: Open all year; apple trees bloom in the spring, and are likely bearing fruit in September and October.

Pick up fresh Arizona apples at a Farmer’s Market

apples lined up in wooden bins at a farmers market apples in arizona

There are places in Arizona that produce apples, but are not open to the public. Most, however make their products available at local farmers’ markets throughout the state. So if you find yourself craving the the delicious fruit from an Arizona apple orchard, but aren’t in the mood to pick your own (or go on a 20-mile hike), download this Arizona Farmers Markets Directory to find one near you.

CLICK ON THE IMAGE AT RIGHT TO DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE COPY OF A GUIDE TO ARIZONA’S FARMERS’ MARKETS!

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I wanted to love our weekend in Sedona. But I had no idea where to begin.

Fall in Sedona is a magical time: the heat of summer has begun to fade, and the foliage turns shades of crimson, orange and yellow, complimenting those famous red rocks. The cooler weather makes enjoying the outdoors–and Sedona’s spectacular scenery–especially pleasant. Here are some of our favorite ways to enjoy Sedona in the fall.

Ogle the Foliage at Oak Creek Canyon

One of the great joys of fall in Sedona is the magnificent display of colorful foliage. The best place to see this is via a drive through Oak Creek Canyon. A series of switchbacks along Arizona Highway 89A just north of Sedona will have you winding through spectacular scenery that is especially resplendent in autumn.

Creek with fall foliage in background fall in sedona

Be sure to stop at Oak Creek Vista, near the canyon’s northern end. As the title implies, it will give you a tremendous view-and a perfect photo op. There are also Native American craftsmen who display there wares here, if you’d like to do a little shopping.

PRO TIP: Just north of Oak Creek Canyon, near Flagstaff, stop in at an Arizona Pumpkin Patch for some additional Fall Fun!

Visit a Historic Apple Farm

No fruit says “fall” more than apples! The Pendley Homestead is a 43-acre historic apple farm located in Oak Creek Canyon. The farm was established by Frank L. Pendley, who acquired the land in 1910 as part of the Homestead Act, and began his apple orchard in 1912. The state of Arizona acquired the homestead in 1985 and opened it as Slide Rock State Park in 1987.

Apple tree with box of red arizona apples on the ground, tractor in background; fall in sedona
Enjoy some fresh-picked Arizona apples from Sedona in the fall

There are still 300 fruit-producing trees in the orchard, along with the historic homestead buildings and farm equipment on display. When visiting Sedona in the fall, be sure to stop by the park to pick up some fresh Pendley Homestead apples!

READ NEXT: Where to find Apples in Arizona during the fall

Chill Out at the Sedona Stupa

Stupa in Sedona in the fall, with banners coming from peak

Sedona is a must-visit place for spiritual seekers the world over. The Sedona Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park offers a rare opportunity for solace at a form of sacred architecture that is typically found in Asia. Stupas date back over 2,500 years, to the time of Buddha. The structure represents the Mind of Enlightenment, and is considered to be living presence of the Buddha.

This sacred place is a soothing spot to visit during the fall in Sedona. It’s tucked into a clearing among pinion and juniper pines, under the watchful eye of Cathedral Rock. Take a short trek up winding trails for prayer, meditation, healing, and peace. The Amitabha Stupa (and the smaller Tara Stupa) is open every day from dawn until dusk. Like all places of worship, it is free to visit, but donations are accepted.

Hike the Red Rocks near Sedona in the Fall

Fall in Sedona is the perfect time to explore the area on foot. There are a myriad of trails for all abilities winding through the red rocks, valleys and Canyons. Southwest of Sedona, Red Rock State Park offers a collection of relatively short hikes (0.2-0.5 miles each) that can be combined to create longer treks. There is a small admission fee to the park.

For a broader range of hikes throughout the region, be sure to stop into the Red Rock Ranger District Visitor Center of the Coconino National Forest, located on AZ Route 179 just north of Interstate 17. There you’ll find an excellent selection of trail maps, with knowledgeable park rangers who can make suggestions based on your interests.

PRO TIP: Hiking is free in the Coconino National Forest, but parking areas at most of the trailheads require a fee. Pick up a Red Rock Pass at the Visitor Center, or purchase online ahead of your visit.

Taste Wines in the Verde Valley while spending Fall in Sedona

Yellowing Grape vines in Verde Valley in the fall with a "syrah" sign

The fertile lands along the Verde River have been an agricultural hub for Arizona inhabitants for centuries, and is now home to the Verde Valley Wine Region. Wine tasting is a perfect activity to do in Sedona in the fall! The vines are ready to yield the season’s bounty and the the new vintages are making their way through the fermentation process.

Over 20 wineries and tasting rooms are clustered around the town of Cottonwood, just a few miles east of Sedona. For those that like to turn tasting into a quest, download a passport to the Verde Valley Wine Trail, and check ’em off as you go! (If you’d like to have a designated driver, consider this wine tour with transportation.)

Hunt for ghosts in nearby Jerome

Front entrance Jerome Grand Hotel at night

Perched on the side of a mountain about 30 miles west of Sedona, the former mining town of Jerome is reputed to have its fair share of ghosts. Front and center is the Jerome Grand Hotel, which was repurposed from a former hospital. Some say the hotel is “the most haunted place in Arizona.” When visiting Sedona in the fall, all that vortex energy, coupled with Halloween, has got to raise a spirit or two. Right?

Oh, and did I mention the hotel restaurant is called “The Asylum”? That’s not TOO spooky!

Browse the shops and galleries of Tlaquepaque

Many destinations have shopping areas and galleries, but it takes a place as special as Sedona to have Tlaquepaque Arts and Craft Village. Far more than a simple “shopping center,” Tlaquepaque was actually built to resemble a traditional village of the same name in Mexico. Although it was constructed in the early 1970s, it has a feeling of being around for centuries–the buildings themselves feel like a work of art.

Outdoor fountain filled with pumpkins and other fall decorations, with southwestern shops in Sedona in background
The shops at Tlaquepaque decorate beautifully for fall in Sedona

Originally conceived as an artist community, Tlaquepaque today has over 50 specialty shops and art galleries, many of which contain artists working on-site. As you stroll around trickling fountains under the shade of a giant sycamore, you’re bound to be tempted by ceramics, architectural decor pieces and contemporary jewelry along with fine art paintings and more.

Attend an Arts Festival

Artist standing with completed work outdoors at Sedona art festival; red rocks in background
Outdoor judging at a Sedona Art Festival

Browse unique works of art while helping to support future artists and artisans. Established in 1989, the Sedona Arts Festival is the oldest and largest arts festival in the community. Every fall in Sedona this festival exhibits the work of more than 125 artists in a variety of artistic mediums. Explore creations in ceramics, photography, sculpture, drawing, fiber art and more during the two-day festival, which is held outdoors with the magnificent red rocks as a backdrop.

Attend knowing you’ll be supporting art programs at schools, parks, camps and more. The festival has funded nearly $300,000 of programs during its history. And if all that browsing has worked up an appetite, be sure to check out the Gourmet Gallery for tasty locally-sourced treats.

Observe (or participate in) Art en Plein Air

Artist painting outdoors (in shadow) in foreground, with historic building and Sedona red rocks in background. Fall in Sedona Arizona
An artist captures the beauty of fall in Sedona “en plein air”

The dry sunny climate of Sedona in the fall is perfect for creating art outdoors, or “en plein air,” as the French dubbed it. Each year the Sedona Arts Center holds a week-long festival to celebrate this unique artistic experience. The Sedona Plein Air Festival consists of master artists painting, along with workshops, lectures and free events, all amid the magical scenery of Sedona.

The Sedona Arts Center originated over 60 years ago, when the region was just becoming known as an “art colony.” Sign up for one of the workshops and maybe you, too, will one day be one of the master artists!

Go back in time at the Sedona Heritage Museum

Nothing says “autumn” like shiny red apples, and in the early-mid 20th century, apples were big business in and around Sedona. So it seems only fitting that a museum celebrating Sedona’s past should be located on a former apple farmstead. To learn more about this history a visit to Sedona in the fall should include a stop at the Sedona Heritage Museum, located at Jordan Historical Park in Upper Sedona.

Old farmhouse at Sedona Heritage Museum against a backdrop of red rocks.
Historic Jordan Farmhouse at the Sedona Heritage Museum (note the apple tree out front!)

The farmstead buildings have been preserved and repurposed into exhibit halls, where visitors can learn about various periods in the region’s history, including Early Settlers, Ranching & Cowboys, the Orchard Industry, movies made in Sedona. There’s even a display about Sedona Schnebly, the woman for whom the town was named.

Ride the leaf-peeping Rails

Fall foliage in Arizona is at its most resplendent near rivers and streams, when the summer greenery changes to vivid reds and yellows. Along the Verde River northwest of Sedona much of this magnificent foliage is unavailable to view–unless you go by rail. A ride on the historic Verde Canyon Railroad will take you through canyons you’d otherwise be unable to see–and it’s especially beautiful during fall in Sedona.

Aerial shot of Verde Canyon Railroad going through canyon along a river with trees displaying fall foliage-near Sedona in fall
The Verde Canyon railroad snakes through gorgeous fall foliage. Photo by Tom Johnson via Flickr

The 40-mile, 4-hour ride takes you on a lazy ride through the canyons along the Verde River. Plenty of windows–and outdoor viewing platforms–give you plenty of terrific photo ops. The train departs from Clarkdale, about 25 miles west of Sedona. Refreshments can be purchased on board, and there are also special event rides, such as the Grape Train Escape Wine Tasting train ride (now there’s a way to multi-task!).

Take a Yoga Hike

In a destination where inner peace and hiking are both so important, a yoga hike is a natural combination. For those who like multi-tasking, yet really need to relax, this is a perfect solution. Spend 3 hours communing with nature as you reach within yourself. All out in the splendid scenery of Sedona in the fall.

There are so many ways to enjoy Sedona in the fall . . . which ones will you choose?

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INSIDE: The Arizona Plane Graveyard (Tucson Boneyard) no longer offers on-base tours. How to see the planes using nearby roads – NEW for 2024!

A few years ago we took a tour of the Arizona airplane graveyard–also known as the Tucson “Boneyard.” It was an awesome way to see the place where over 3,000 surplus military aircraft are stored. Then in early 2020 COVID hit and tours were stopped. We waited, and waited, and waited for tours to resume . . . but 4 years later it looks like it’s not gonna happen. 🙁

Fortunately there are still ways to see the planes without going onto the military base where they’re located.

You just have to know where to look . . .

. . . And you’ve come to the right place. We’ll tell you all about it.

The Arizona plane graveyard is a must-visit site for anyone who loves aircraft (that’s us! ✋). Learn about this amazing place, and how you can see “the Boneyard,” as it’s unofficially known−even if you can’t get on base. Visiting the Boneyard is one of the truly unique things to do in Tucson-there’s nothing else like it. Anywhere.

View of the arizona plane graveyard from Escalante Road (no fence)

What, exactly, IS the Arizona Plane Graveyard?

“The Boneyard” is officially known as the 309th AMARG Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (military-speak for a really cool airplane junkyard Tucson Az).

It’s located at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, on the southeastern edge of Tucson, where it is the final resting place of more than 3,000 aircraft.

AMARG is the world’s largest salvage yard (minus the snarling dogs). And, since those planes−and their respective parts−still have some use, don’t call it an “airplane JUNKyard Tucson AZ.” ‘Cause that would be just plain disrespectful to those retired sunbathing beauties.

The aircraft are lined up in rows set up with military precision, stacked so closely together that from above their wings look like they are holding hands with each other, a sharp contrast to their former roles.

It’s a starkly beautiful setting as, throughout the day, the silver fuselages reflect changing colors of the Rincon Mountains to the east.

Aerial view of hundreds of planes lines up at the Tucson airplane graveyard, aka the tucson boneyard
Tucson Arizona aircraft graveyard: isn’t it a beautiful sight?

Why is there a Plane Graveyard Arizona in Tucson?

The military has a problem. It has thousands of aircraft that are no longer being used, but they don’t want to just send them to the scrapyard like a used ’92 Chevy. So what to do?

It would be impractical to build giant hangars for 3,000+ aircraft, especially when many of them are no longer operational. How about sending them into semi-permanent outdoor storage?

The Sonoran Desert of Arizona provides the perfect location, where the arid climate prevents rust. So now theres a Tucson Arizona aircraft graveyard.

Out-of-service military aircraft at the Boneyard, with Tucson’s Rincon Mountains in the background

Despite its moniker, the “Boneyard” is not a place merely to stockpile airplanes in eternal rest. Some have been mothballed for spare parts and potential future activation.

In 2015 a B-52 bomber old enough to qualify for AARP membership was restored and returned to flying condition (those things are solid! 💪).

Though the Cold War may have ended, the men and women deployed at the Arizona plane graveyard are on constant alert for any future chills in relations between the superpowers.

Can you tour the Tucson Airplane Graveyard?

Arizona plane graveyard in tucson-air force warning sign
Tours of the Boneyard are no longer offered due to security measures

Unfortunately, NO. Due to their placement on an active military base, tours are not offered of the airplane Boneyard Arizona. (They once were, it’s true, but those days are past, and we civilians have to accept that. 🫤)

BUT . . . it’s kind of difficult to tuck 3,000+ aircraft out of sight, so you CAN see them. You just have to know where to look.

The amount of hardware on display is striking. Some of the planes look ready to take off while others are partially salvaged, as if turkey vultures soaring overhead have been picking them clean.

Where is the Airplane Boneyard Arizona?

View of the Tucson airplane graveyard through the fence on Escalante Road

Fear not, we’ll give you a rundown below. But first, we’ll start with a general overview map:

High-level map of airplane boneyard arizona, in context with the city of Tucson
Overview map of the airplane boneyard Arizona, in context with Tucson

In the map above shows the Arizona plane graveyard at a high-level view. This gives you some context of where the Boneyard is with respect to downtown Tucson (which is to the northwest).

Also note Tucson International Airport to the southwest. You can see that commercial airport is less than half the size of the aviation graveyard Arizona! (You need a LOT of space to store over 3,000 planes! ✈️✈️✈️)

Best Places for Planespotting at the Airplane Boneyard Arizona

The best place to see planes is on the northern perimeter of the Tucson airplane graveyard. Additionally, there are a few other places you can spot the aircraft, however they may be little more than fleeting glimpses.

Here’s a more detailed map showing the best viewing spots:

Map of best planespotting locations at the Arizona Plane Graveyard Tucson
Map of planespotting locations at the aviation graveyard Arizona

1. Escalante Road (northern perimeter): Viewing rating-10/10; Photo rating 10/10

View of the arizona plane graveyard from Escalante Road (no fence)
Arizona plane graveyard from Escalante Road

There are a few reasons the viewing the aviation graveyard Arizona from Escalante Road is so good:

  • You’re as close to the aircraft as you might be driving on base (which I remember from my on-base tour years back)
  • There’s plenty of room to park, so you can take your time and ogle to your heart’s content. (Yeah, so I totally did that.)
  • You are level with the planes, with no obstructions to viewing
  • Lots of time to take all the photos you want

NOTE: You do need to be strategic with your camera lens, so you don’t see chain link fencing in your shot−unless you want to get “artsy.” 🤔

In the photo above, I put my camera lens (from my iPhone) in juuuuuust the right spot, up against the fence. So it looks like I’m standing smack-dab on base of the airplane boneyard Arizona.

Then, I opted for the artsy bit, with the chain-link fencing in the foreground. This demostrates just how close you can actually get to the planes! Plus I think it’s kind of cool the way the fencing creates its own frame.

Arizona plane graveyard, with chain link fencing in the foreground
Here’s the Arizona plane graveyard, framed by the fencing

As I mentioned above, there’s plenty of parking along the fence here, so you’ll be able to take all the time you like ogling the aircraft. Here’s a panoramic view of what the road/parking area/boneyard looks like:

panoramic shot of escalante road and tucson airplane graveyard
Panoramic shot of the airplane boneyard Arizona alongside Escalante Rd.

2. E. Irvington Road (northern perimeter): Viewing rating: 8/10; Photo rating: 9/10

Views of arizona plane graveyard from East Irvington Road in Tucson
Partially obstructed view of USAF cargo jets through the fence from E. Irvington Road

Slightly farther east, and a little to the south, you’ll find the northern perimeter of the aviation graveyard Arizona along East Irvington Road. Viewing is very good here, although not quite as good as Escalante Rd (above).

A few points to consider when viewing planes along E. Irvington Rd:

  • The aircraft are fairly close
  • There is an ample parking area
  • You can take as much time as you like looking at (and photographing) the aircraft
  • There is a small berm, partially obstructing the aircraft

This last point is why I only give the viewing here an 8/10 instead of 10/10. There is one area where there’s a break in the berm, however this also coincides with a wash. So if it has rained recently (such was the case when I last visited) you’ll be trudging through a big ol’ mud puddle at this spot.

All of that being said, there are still some darned good views along this area, including this one (below), where there’s a slight rise above the berm: 👇👇👇

Tailfins at Arizona plane graveyard, including coast guard plane
Tailfins against the backdrop of the Santa Rita Mountains to the south

I love this view of the tail fins all lined up, with the Santa Rita Mountains in the background. It’s hard to imagine these beauties are part of any type of aviation graveyard Arizona! (And isn’t that lone plane in U.S. Coast Guard red livery just stunning?!)

Here’s a view along the E. Irvington Rd. fence line, to give you an idea of the terrain. You can see the berm (through the fence) as well as the slight incline on the left of the photo. This is where you can get a better view of those gorgeous tailfins 😊.

view of aviation graveyard arizona along e. irvington road
View of the Tucson airplane graveyard along E. Irvington Rd.

3. East Valencia Road (southern perimeter): Viewing: 3/10; Photos 3/10

The aircraft of the Arizona plane graveyard are not stored as near to the southern perimeter as they are on the northern side. A few things to keep in mind when driving along the southern side of the boneyard:

  • The planes are a farther distance from the perimeter than the northern side
  • Much of the roadway has creosote bushes and other vegetation obstructing your view
  • There is nowhere to park

This last issue is perhaps the most critical. Unless you have someone else driving, it will be difficult to crane your neck to see the planes. (And probably unsafe as well.) It will also be impossible to photograph anything.

However, if you DO have someone else driving, here’s a map showing where you can see the planes:

map showing viewing spots of airplane boneyard arizona along e. valencia rd.
Plane viewing spots along E. Valencia Road

Since my husband was doing the driving, I was, fortunately able to get a photo from E. Valencia Road. I’ll let you be the judge of whether it’s worth heading over to the southern perimeter. If you’re a completist, you may want to do it anyway. (Which I totally get 🤩.)

Arizona plane graveyard as seen from S. Valencia Road
Views from the distance along S. Valencia Roadnot so hot

4. Kolb Road (N/S through the center): Viewing 7/10 & 0/10 (zero) ; Photos 4/10 & 0/10

Kolb Road runs north-south and slices right through the center of the Arizona plane graveyard–it essentially bisects it. So you may be thinking, “awesome! We can drive right between all the planes.” And you can . . . sort of.

There are some spots were viewing is pretty good, other areas where it is totally nonexistent. Some things to consider when driving along the Kolb Road portion of the Arizona airplane graveyard:

  • Kolb Rd. is a busy road with a lot of cars
  • There is nowhere to pull over along the road
  • The road is below grade through much of the boneyard; you can’t see any planes.

There is a massive overpass crossing Kolb Road for the Air Force to transport aircraft from one section of the boneyard to the other. Therefore road is actually recessed for much of the distance through the boneyard.

As a result, visibility of planes is ZERO through this portion of Kolb Road. Take a look at this photo to see what I mean:

approach to the large overpass on kolb road at the tucson airplane graveyard
Approaching the aircraft overpass on Kolb Road

The above photo is us driving north through the boneyard. You can see the aircraft overpass in the distance. You can also see the how the road is recessed, with no planes visible here. And how there’s not much room on the shoulders to pull over.

And although you can’t see it in this photo, there are “No Parking” signs all along this portion of the road. So you can’t exactly stop for a quick scramble up the slope for a photo-op.

But the viewing does get better as you progress north of the overpass.

The road begins to gradually slope upward, until you are once again level with the planes, near the northern perimeter (where we began our planespotting journey.) The best area for viewing is the western side of Kolb Rd., between E. Irvington Road and Escalante Road.

PRO TIP: There is no stopping on Kolb Rd, so be sure to have someone else take photos (or have someone else drive and take photos yourself).

Viewing is best while driving north: even though they will be on the opposite side of the planes, you will be driving toward them, instead of away from them.

Here are 2 quick videos I took (while my husband was driving!) heading north on Kolb Road:

And this one is in Slo-Mo, so you can see a bit more:

Driving toward aircraft at the arizona aviation graveyard in tucson arizona
Photo taken driving north on Kolb Rd. at the aviation graveyard Arizona

Also, this is the only place you’ll be to see the front of any of the aircraft. From all other viewpoints you’ll be looking at the back or sides of the planes.

From this viewpoint you can see how the aircraft windshields have been prepped for their long stay in the desert. And how the propellers have been stabilized. They kind of look blindfolded . . . or like they’re wearing masks. 😷

NOTE: Remember, there is nowhere to stop along Kolb Rd. to take photos. And it’s a fairly busy road with a speed limit of 40mph, so no slowing down for a quick “snap.” Be sure to have a “designated photographer” in the car with you (or let someone else do the driving!)

aviation graveyard arizona-closeup of planes along kolb road
Closeup of planes along Kolb Road at the aviation graveyard Arizona

The Stealth Fighter at the Aviation Graveyard Arizona???

Maybe not, but then again, maybe . . . ???

I couldn’t finish this post without sharing a cute anecdote from our experience back in the days when tours were still offered.

As the tour bus drove through the rows of aircraft the driver stopped outside one special spot.

A lone ladder waiting for a pilot to climb into the cockpit angled ten feet into the air, hovering over a set of landing gear and . . . nothing else. A sign in front of it says that this is an F-117 Stealth Fighter.

It made the grizzled tour guide’s day when a few young kids exclamed, “Wow! You really can’t see it!”

Just a little Air Force humor there . . . 😉

AMARG’s sense of humor is evident at this display of the F-117 Nighthawk “Stealth Fighter.”

It’s disappointing that tours of the Tucson airplane graveyard are no longer offered. However with a little careful planning (and a designated driver while you photograph), you can still see much of this incredible sight.

Even if it has to be through the fence.

Viewing the Arizona Plane Graveyard from the Air

This is one you’ll have to do through the magic of YouTube 😊. Below are two of the best videos I’ve found from years gone by:

Like Aircraft? More in the Tucson Area:

Afterwards, the Pima Air & Space Museum offers a fine collection of more than 350 aircraft including a B-24 Liberator, Sikorsky Skycrane helicopter, Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the unique Aero Spacelines 377-SG “Super Guppy” cargo plane that is cobbled together from parts of a retired U.S. Air Force C-97 Stratofreighter and a former Pan American Boeing 377 Stratocruiser.

Fast facts about the Tucson Airplane Graveyard, aka “The Boneyard”

Can anyone visit the Tucson Boneyard?

Tailfins at Arizona plane graveyard, including coast guard plane

NO. Tours were stopped in 2020 with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Pima Air & Space Museum (who organized the tours) “the bus tours to Davis-Monthan AFB of the 309th AMARG (AKA “The Boneyard”) have permanently ended. This tour is no longer offered and will not be coming back due to changes in U.S. Air Force security considerations.” 

How many planes are in the Tucson Boneyard?

arizona plane graveyard-jets

According to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, “AMARG is responsible for the storage of nearly 3,200 aircraft and more than 6,300 engines from the five Department of Defense services.”

Where is the best place to see the Boneyard in Tucson?

Map of best planespotting locations at the Arizona Plane Graveyard Tucson

There are multiple viewing spots along the northern perimeter of the Boneyard, on Escalante and East Irvington Road, where you can park and take photos. These areas have places to park. Other roads nearby offer views, but you cannot stop, so views are “fleeting.”

For another Cold War relic head nearby to the Titan Missile Museum, home of the last of the 54 Titan II missile sites that were on alert from 1963 through 1987.

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Sure, we’re planning to go to Saguaro National Park. But what else is there to do in Tucson?

One of the reasons we love Tucson is because there are quirky attractions here that you won’t find anywhere else. Whether it’s the best Mexican food in America or the world’s largest collection of military aircraft, here are our top 12 unique things to do in Tucson Az.

Tucson Warehouse and Transfer Company mural

1. Munch through the Best 23 Miles of Mexican Food in America

El Charro Cafe Tucson

It’s no secret that Tucson offers up the best Mexican food in America. We’re not talking chain restaurants in mall parking lots, this is the real deal. Tuscon is part of the Sonoran Desert, which extends down to the state of Sonora Mexico to the south. The region has been sharing culinary treasures since long before there was a border wall. They’re so proud of this culinary achievement that there’s even a Best 23 Miles of Mexican Food in America route you can take, a tasty journey, and one of the unique things to do in Tucson Az.

2. Plane-spot at The Boneyard

Aerial view of hundreds of military aircraft lined up at the Boneyard-one of many unique things to do in Tucson Az

The Boneyard at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson is the largest military aircraft repository in the world and the final resting place of more than 3,000 (yes, three thousand ) aircraft. Officially known in military-speak as the “309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center” (AMARG), you can catch glimpses of the aircraft liked up in neat rows as you drive around southeast Tucson, particularly on S. Kolb Road. But to really see them up close the best thing to do is take a guided bus tour on the grounds of this Tucson airplane graveyard. This is definitely one of the things to do in Tucson AZ that you cannot do. Anywhere. Else.

3. Reach for the stars at Kitt Peak National Observatory

onal Observatory view from above

If you’re looking for things to do in Tucson AZ, but want a different perspective, you can always look up at the stars. Located one hour southwest of downtown Tucson, the Kitt Peak National Observatory hosts the widest range of research telescopes on the world. Three of the nearly two-dozen telescopes are set aside for public viewing events. After winding their way up the curvy road, stargazers take part in nighttime observing programs peering into the farthest reaches of the universe. If you’re not a night owl, there are also daytime activities.

4. Chow down on some Sonoran Hot Dogs

Orange tray with 4 sonoran hot dogs

Okay, so maybe this is not one of the things to DO in Tucson AZ, but more one of the things to EAT. The Sonoran hot dog is so popular that it ranges from southern Arizona across the border to Mexico where they originated. But what is a Sonoran hot dog? In a nutshell, take a top-split bolillo roll then stuff it with a bacon-wrapped hot dog, pinto beans, chopped fresh tomatoes & onions (or pico de gallo), jalapenos, mustard AND mayonnaise. They are found all over town from humble street carts to the James-Beard-award-winning El Guero Canelo.

Here’s our rundown of Sonoran hot dogs in Tucson, based on eating way too many of these yummy treats. (Actually, there’s no such thing as too many!)

5. Soak up the Mid-Century Vibe

Tucson Arizona Sun Land Motel neon sign

In some ways Tucson feels like the land that time forgot. I mean that in a good way. Where many cities have plowed over their history for new development, Tucson enjoys a wealth of surviving Mid-Century architecture and cool neon signs that make you feel like you’ve snuck onto the set of Mad Men. There’s even an annual Tucson Modernism Week that celebrates the city’s Mid-Century architecture and design.

One of the really fun things to do in Tucson Az is to drive around town to see the neon signs in their original locations. Make sure to cruise the Miracle Mile Historic District north of downtown, then check out the many preserved signs at the Ignite Sign Art Museum, one of several unusual museums in Tucson.

6. Tickle your tastebuds in America’s First UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy

Taqueria Pico de Gallo Tucson Arizona

In 2015 UNESCO designated Tucson a Creative City of Gastronomy, joining such foodie destinations as Parma, Italy and Chengdu, China. This selection is based on Tucson’s status as one of the oldest settlements in North America. With 4,000 years of agricultural history, its blend of Indigenous ingredients and Old World traditions form a unique and contemporary Southwestern cuisine.

All this foodie heritage is supported by a wealth of farmers markets, community gardens and food festivals that promote eating local, providing endless good eats on your quest for things to do in Tucson AZ. For a visitor this means you’ll eat very well here; the plethora of locally owned restaurants offer plenty of unique dining experiences.

7. Hunt for Truly Nolen Cars on Tucson’s Corners

1939 Ford Deluxe Truly Nolen classic car

One of our favorite things to do in Tucson Az is go on a sort of classic car “scavenger hunt.” Tucson is the world’s largest open-air classic car museum due to the efforts of a man truly named Truly Nolen. In the 1950s Nolen started setting up the antique cars to advertise his exterminating company. The fleet has grown to 50 Truly Nolen cars parked around town. It’s difficult to miss them parked in strategic locations with TRULY NOLEN emblazoned on the side. During your visit you might run into a 1923 Dodge Roadster, a 1934 Hudson, or a 1939 Ford Deluxe like the one above. You can see more classic cars park outside their offices at 3636 E. Speedway Boulevard, Tucson, AZ 85716.

8. Pedal the Chuck Huckleberry Loop

Photo credit: Nicci Radhe

How many cities offer more than 136 miles of interconnecting paths almost completely without street crossings? The Chuck Huckleberry Loop (known locally as simply “The Loop”) is a system of mostly paved paths that connects parks throughout the city. A system of over-and under-passes make it a terrific way to get around town. In January 2018 the County completed a connection on the north side of town that turned created an actual “loop”, with a complete circuit of 53.9 miles.

There’s a reason why so many professional cyclists train in Tucson during the winter. Although amateurs like us, along with joggers, walkers, wheelchairs, and parents pushing strollers use the Chuck Huckleberry Loop too. And since this is Tucson after all, you might even see a horse along the way, along with Farmer’s Markets and outdoor public art along the route. The Loop is one of the truly unique things to do in Tucson AZ.

PRO TIP: If walking/hiking is more your thing, you can stride along on the Rillito River Path, which is a segment of the Huckleberry Loop. It’s one of many great Tucson Hikes.

9. Drive up to Mount Lemmon

Mount Lemmon is a unique Sky Island that rises 7,000 feet over Tucson, providing a cooling respite during the summer heat wave. There’s even a community called Summerhaven, along with ski activities in the winter, plus hiking, rock climbing and generally enjoying nature year-round. On a relatively balmy winter day it’s pretty cool to wake up to 65 degree weather in Tucson and see snow from a storm dusting the peak of Mount Lemmon.

What makes a drive up to Mount Lemmon one of the really unique things to do in Tucson Az is the climate changes you’ll experience. During the hour-long 28-mile drive along the Catalina Highway scenic byway to its peak, you’ll pass through four separate ecological zones. You start in the desert surrounded by saguaro cacti and end up in an area lush with conifer trees that feels like the Rockies. It’s the climate equivalent of driving from the border with Mexico to the border with Canada, and all in one hour! Think of all the fuel you saved. The views from the top at Windy Vista Point (shown above) are incredible . . . and perfect at sunset.

The University of Arizona’s Steward Observatory atop Mount Lemmon provides SkyNights StarGazing programs using their Schulman 32-inch and Phillips 24-inch telescopes, two of the largest telescopes available for public viewing in the Southwest. If you’re not a night owl–or if perhaps driving down a steep, curvy mountain road in pitch black darkness isn’t your thing–there are also daytime programs.

10. Rock out at the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show

Tucson Gem and Mineral Show turquoise
Photo credit Pete Gregoire

For many people this tops the list of things to do in Tucson Az. According to the Tucson Gem & Mineral Society, the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show is “the largest, oldest and most prestigious gem and mineral show in the world.” We used to think that was just hyperbole, but we have been in town for the annual winter extravaganza and can attest that it truly is a one-of-kind event. Thousands of hobbyists and professionals descend on Tucson to shop, mingle and scratch their lapidary urges. If bling is your thing, you won’t be disappointed.

11. Chat with a WWII Vet while you Shop for Military Surplus & Camping Gear

96-year old Don Sloane, owner of Millers Surplus in Tucson

There’s a lot to love about Miller’s Surplus in Tucson. Sure, it’s a massive military surplus store that also carries tons of camping gear as well.

It’s also a mini museum of military artifacts (including a cool old motorcycle 🏍️!), which are the collection of store owner Don Sloane.

But more than anything, be sure to stop in to chat with owner Don Sloane himself. He’s been running the place for 71 years, is a World War II veteran, and is always smiling, which he says is the secret to a long and healthy life.

He must be right . . . he’s (an active) 96 years old 🤩.

12. Reflect on space at the Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab

Mirror Mirror on the Wall

Tucked below the University of Arizona football stadium, the Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab produces the largest and most advanced giant telescope mirrors in the world. A 90-minute tour reveals the leading edge technology producing the next generation of telescopes to explore deep outer space. Personally, I would think a location right underneath the stomping feet of thousands of fired-up football fans would upset such a delicate manufacturing process, but what do I know?

13. Catch a flick at Cactus Carpool Cinema

Tucson’s dry climate provides the perfect setting for a long lost art that the Covid shutdowns have revived: drive-in movies. The folks at Cactus Drive-In have capitalized on this by acquiring a site at 6201 S. Wilmot Road in southeast Tucson, hard by the runway for Davis Monthan Air Force Base and the Pima Air & Space Museum. So perhaps you’ll be watching Top Gun on the 40′ inflatable screen while an actual fighter plane goes roaring overhead. Or maybe it’ll be an old western while you sit nestled among the cacti and ocotillos. Overall it’s one of the truly unique things to do in Tucson Az.


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Wouldn’t it be nice to find a spot to take the family that went beyond the traditional zoo or children’s museum?

We love exploring these unusual museums in Tucson, Arizona. Many of the city’s unique museums reflect Tucson culture and showcase exhibits and artifacts that cannot be found anywhere else. From a funky spot to view old signs to a Cold-War colossus, to a rodeo tribute, check out our 8 favorite museums in Tucson.

Ignite Sign Art Museum

A collection of neon signs at one of our favorite museums in Tucson: the Ignite Sign Museum

It’s lit at the Ignite Sign Art Museum in a Tucson museum that celebrates the city’s long legacy of clever neon signage. While many of the signs are still in place at their original locations around town, the museum preserves and displays signs that are no longer used. Since this is a working sign restoration studio, on Wednesdays and Saturdays there are demonstrations of the neon bending that creates these wonderful designs.

PRO TIP: Visit the Ignite Sign Art Museum in Tucson on Wednesdays & Saturdays to see sign restoration in progress.

Tucson Rodeo Parade Museum

A collection of western saddles from the Tucson Rodeo Parade museum

Claiming to be the largest non-motorized parade in the country, the Tucson Rodeo Parade Museum dates back to 1925 when this really was a cowtown. This is one of the more historic museums in Tucson. The museum celebrates the parade’s long legacy with a collection of more than 100 horse-drawn vehicles. (Some of them were used in the movie Oklahoma which, despite the title, was filmed in southern Arizona.)

The Tucson Rodeo Parade Museum is located inside four buildings, one of which is the old Tucson Municipal Flying Field airplane hangar. In addition to all the vehicles and saddles, there’s also a model railroad inside one of the buildings. The Tucson Rodeo takes place in February but the museum is open January, February and March.

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Walking path at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson.

Okay, I have to admit that at first I was skeptical about the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Even though this is one of the more popular museums in Tucson, my thought was “When you’re in Tucson there’s pretty much desert all around you, so why would I need to go a museum about it?” Well, when I hike in the desert there aren’t placards and informative guides explaining to me all the flora and fauna I encounter.

I found that a visit to the museum makes me appreciate the actual desert even more. There’s also a zoo, botanical garden, natural history museum and aquarium to round out the experience. And it’s an absolute delight to hang out in the hummingbird house! The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is adjacent to Saguaro National Park, one of 31 Arizona National Parks and Monuments in the state, a great place to test your newfound knowledge of the landscape.

PRO TIP: Visit adjacent Saguaro National Park (where you can take one of many great Tucson hikes!) after you explore the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum to test your newfound knowledge of the landscape.

Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures

I was going to write a short story about this museum but I figured that was too obvious. The museum features more than 500 antique and contemporary miniature dollhouses and models. But it is more than just a museum of dollhouses. There are miniatures here of practically anything you can think of . . . like a set of animal carvings inside a walnut shell.

And lest ye think the Enchanted Tree shown above is not miniature at all, it’s hiding–at kid height–a series of miniature rooms in the nooks and crannies of its magical trunk. This is one of the museums in Tucson that’s lots of fun for miniature people as well!

History of Pharmacy Museum

Okay, a museum devoted to medicine may not be everyone’s cup of tea but there’s no doubting that it’s different. The world-class History of Pharmacy Museum is tucked into Drachman Hall on the University of Arizona campus. It’s definitely one of the more esoteric museums in Tucson.

Hundreds of thousands of items (full disclosure here: we did not count them but take their word for it) ranging from old-timey bottles of elixir to anti-venom kits for snake poison are displayed in antique shelves. A full-scale replica of an old-fashioned drugstore that looks like it was lifted from Main Street USA helps put all these unusual items into context. Reading the ingredients on the labels on some of the old jars it’s amazing what got approved when product safety was not as emphasized.

Titan Missile Museum

Titan II missile in silo at Titan Missile Museum in Arizona

During the Cold War in the mid-20th century there were 54 Titan II missile sites on active alert across America. It’s quite surprising to realize that the picturesque Sonoran Desert surrounding Tucson was the home of 18 of these underground silos, one of which survives as part of the Titan Missile Museum in Green Valley, Arizona, just a 25-minute drive due south of downtown Tucson. It’s the only place in the country where you can see one of these missiles in its original home. But don’t worry, that’s not a real nuclear warhead on top, (or so the guide told me.)

Gadsden Pacific Toy Train Museum

Just one of the many layouts at the Gadsden Pacific Toy Train Museum. Photo courtesy of the museum.

Formally known as the Gadsden Pacific Toy Train Operating Museum, this museum features nine indoor operating layouts. There’s also one set out in the garden, along with a train you can ride around the property. If that’s not enough, hop into the full-sized actual caboose for a browse around and photo op. This Tucson museum is a train lover’s delight.

Franklin Automobile Museum

Franklin antique cars lined up inside the Franklin Automobile museum
A row of Franklin cars lined up at the Franklin Automobile Museum

Lovers of classic cars will admire the collection of Franklin cars–and their unique setting at the Franklin Automobile Museum in northern Tucson. Set within in a quirky neighborhood that still has the original sandy roads from the 1940s with a 15mph speed limit, you get into the “early 20th century mood” before you even set your eyes on the cars themselves. Franklins, with their leading-edge air-cooled engines, were all the rage 100 years ago, but now are quite rare. This is the only independent museum in the country dedicated to the marque.


The magnificent weather around Tucson invites you to spend the majority of time outdoors, enjoying the splendid Arizona sunshine. But when you’re craving a little bit of shade (and air conditioning!) these unusual museums in Tucson are a great option. And if all this exploring has you feeling a bit “peckish,” satisfy your hunger with a Sonoran Hot Dog in Tucson: it’s a James Beard Award-winning classic!


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