Tucson Series: Affordable and Active Fun

In our final post of the Tucson series, we’re talking about affordable and active fun ideas waiting for your family to enjoy. The average US traveler spends 10% of their vacation budget on recreation/amusement. This expense easily adds up to $500+ for large families. The great thing about Tucson is that the area’s natural beauty and unique culture offer very wallet-friendly options to keep everyone busy for days.

Tucson’s Natural Attractions

Despite being a quick weekend getaway, our stay near the Catalina Mountains gave easy access to beautiful scenic adventures. We managed to sneak in two trail walks before and after wedding festivities. Saturday morning included a 2 hour hike up Finger Rock Canyon. We arrived to the trail early enough so much of the path wasn’t crowded with fellow hikers. The path was pretty uneven with narrow passage ways and steep drop offs. Parents with toddlers…prepare to enjoy much of the trek with the little one on your back.

Sabino Canyon was just as awe-inspiring. This is a very popular destination with a visitor’s center and trolley that will take you up the mountain a ways. The road up Sabino Canyon was once open to the general public, but the National Parks Service put this to an end in order to protect the natural landscape. So you can walk the entire way up or take the trolley shortcut for a fee. The trail is a little less rocky than our Finger Rock walk making it more kid-friendly, but watch the signs closely as the paths aren’t frequently marked.

Pima Air & Space Museum

The new bride and groom had the awesome idea of hosting their reception at the Pima Air & Space Museum. For someone who played Flight Simulator and learned everything about Chuck Yeager as a kid, this was heaven! We toured acres of military, commercial and former presidential aircraft from throughout the ages. The warehouse included many other classic and obscure planes I’ve never seen before. Shown above is the Bumble Bee built by Robert Starr. It’s first flight was on January 28, 1984 earning it a Guinness Book of World Record as the smallest aircraft ever flown. The entire experience was amazing for us adults so we are definitely putting this spot onto the family visit list for the future.

Loads of Fun at Low Impact to the Wallet

The great thing for large families on a budget is that Tucson offers a host of natural and cultural wonders that cost little to nothing. Our Finger Rock hike only cost the price of gas for a 15 minute drive from our resort. Sabino Canyon is managed by the National Parks Service requiring a $5 per vehicle parking fee. From there, you can walk for free to various trail heads or take a trolley up 3 miles for $10 per adult and $5 per child 3-12 years old. Depending upon the age of your children, the total cost can average between $40-$80 for the whole family. That’s way less than a day at Disney or most other popular theme parks.

The same goes for many of the museums which charge up to $20 per adult. Depending on how you schedule things, you can easily get by spending $100 or less per day on fun things to do in Tucson. Check out these solid lists of Top Things to do in Tucson for more affordable and active fun ideas!

For a look back at our other Tucson Series posts:

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