Fun and Free Things to Do in Tucson
Make your Tucson adventure budget-friendly with our guide to fun and free things to do in the Old Pueblo.
8 Places • ago
Free
Cienega Bridge
@thedieselapartment
Originally part of U.S. Route 80, a highway that once spanned Arizona’s length before the construction of Interstate 10, Ciénega train bridge is an open-spandrel train crossing erected in 1921. The oldest surviving bridge of its kind in Arizona, today it’s tucked behind I-10 on Marsh Station Road just east of Tucson. This area features views of the nearby Rincón Mountains and, of course, trains!
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San Xavier del Bac Mission
@thedieselapartment
Look west out the window when traveling down I-19 in Tucson, and you’re likely to see the “white dove of the desert,” historic Spanish Mission San Xavier del Bac. Situated on the Tohono O’odham Nation San Xavier Indian Reservation, the mission is an active Roman Catholic Parish. The oldest intact European structure in Arizona, the building on the site today was built between 1783 and 1797. San Xavier del Bac is a stunner with its towering ceilings, colorful frescoes, and amazing carved statues. As soon as I walked through the carved mesquite wood doors of the entrance, I felt I had been transported to a cathedral in Europe rather than being in the desert in the United States. Although standing out with its beauty, the mission fits right in its environment. It’s amazingly cool inside despite it not being air-conditioned. Outside, many desert creatures, from lizards to birds to ground squirrels call it home.
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EL TIRADITO WISHING SHRINE
@thedieselapartment
Tucked in an alcove behind El Minuto Cafe in Tucson’s oldest neighborhood, El Tiradito wishing shrine is everything you could want: creepy, cool, touching, and steeped in history and lore. El Tiradito, “the little castaway,” is the only shrine in the United States dedicated to a sinner. There are many versions of the legend behind El Tiradito, and they all go something like this: In the 1870s, a young ranch hand fell in love with his mother-in-law, was murdered by his father-in-law, and was buried where he fell due to not being able to be buried (as an adulterer) in consecrated ground. Over the years, a shrine appeared at the supposed site of the ranch hand’s demise. Some believe that if you light a candle at the shrine and make a wish, it will be granted if the candle burns through the night. Others think there’s some kind of curse associated with the shrine.
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Agua Caliente Regional Park
@thedieselapartment
Tucked in a corner on Tucson’s northeast side, there’s a 100-acre, hidden desert oasis where you can see mountains, snow, water, palm trees, and much more. Agua Caliente Park has a rich history of human activity dating back over 5,000 years. It has been many things throughout its lifetime, from an Army camp to a ranch, a resort, and finally, a park. The palm tree-circled main pond is a perennial warm spring that attracts turtles, owls, bobcats, waterfowl, songbirds, and many other types of wildlife.
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Sweetwater Wetlands Park
@thedieselapartment
Just off interstate 10 and tucked back into a collection of various commercial buildings, there’s an unexpected goldmine for photographers, birders, and nature enthusiasts. Originally built as a facility to process water from a reclamation plant, Sweetwater Wetlands Park now serves as an urban oasis for wildlife, an outdoor classroom for students, and a living laboratory for scientists. Offering over 2 miles of walking paths, restrooms, and several wildlife viewing areas, Sweetwater is a fun way to spend a few hours in any season of the year.
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Sentinel Peak Park (“A” Mountain)
@thedieselapartment
Is this the best view of Tucson? Take a drive, hike, or bike up to Sentinel Peak Park and decide for yourself! Also known as "A" Mountain, the large A on the side of the peak is an iconic symbol of the University of Arizona and a beloved landmark in Tucson. This park offers panoramic views of the city and surrounding landscape, and is easily accessible by car.
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Gates Pass
@thedieselapartment
Fun winding road through a mountain pass with expansive views of the desert and some seriously impressive saguaro cacti
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Mount Lemmon
@thedieselapartment
Catalina Highway is a 28-mile scenic drive that begins at the base of the Santa Catalina Mountains on Tucson’s north side. The road starts at around 3,000 feet in elevation and ends at the top of Mt. Lemmon at around 9200 feet. You’ll start the journey in the desert among towering saguaro cacti, snake your way through mountain passes with grasslands and waterfalls, and finally end up in an alpine and aspen forest where it’s about 30 degrees cooler and often covered in snow in the winter months.
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* * *
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👋🏼 Hi! We’re Levi & Nicole in Tucson, Arizona. 🚍 We live in a motorhome and go on camping adventures in a teardrop trailer. 🌵 We create content that helps you find the best places to camp and explore in the southwest USA.
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Fun and Free Things to Do in Tucson
Make your Tucson adventure budget-friendly with our guide to fun and free things to do in the Old Pueblo.
8 Places • ago
Free
Cienega Bridge
@thedieselapartment
Originally part of U.S. Route 80, a highway that once spanned Arizona’s length before the construction of Interstate 10, Ciénega train bridge is an open-spandrel train crossing erected in 1921. The oldest surviving bridge of its kind in Arizona, today it’s tucked behind I-10 on Marsh Station Road just east of Tucson. This area features views of the nearby Rincón Mountains and, of course, trains!
Add to
Details
San Xavier del Bac Mission
@thedieselapartment
Look west out the window when traveling down I-19 in Tucson, and you’re likely to see the “white dove of the desert,” historic Spanish Mission San Xavier del Bac. Situated on the Tohono O’odham Nation San Xavier Indian Reservation, the mission is an active Roman Catholic Parish. The oldest intact European structure in Arizona, the building on the site today was built between 1783 and 1797. San Xavier del Bac is a stunner with its towering ceilings, colorful frescoes, and amazing carved statues. As soon as I walked through the carved mesquite wood doors of the entrance, I felt I had been transported to a cathedral in Europe rather than being in the desert in the United States. Although standing out with its beauty, the mission fits right in its environment. It’s amazingly cool inside despite it not being air-conditioned. Outside, many desert creatures, from lizards to birds to ground squirrels call it home.
Add to
Details
EL TIRADITO WISHING SHRINE
@thedieselapartment
Tucked in an alcove behind El Minuto Cafe in Tucson’s oldest neighborhood, El Tiradito wishing shrine is everything you could want: creepy, cool, touching, and steeped in history and lore. El Tiradito, “the little castaway,” is the only shrine in the United States dedicated to a sinner. There are many versions of the legend behind El Tiradito, and they all go something like this: In the 1870s, a young ranch hand fell in love with his mother-in-law, was murdered by his father-in-law, and was buried where he fell due to not being able to be buried (as an adulterer) in consecrated ground. Over the years, a shrine appeared at the supposed site of the ranch hand’s demise. Some believe that if you light a candle at the shrine and make a wish, it will be granted if the candle burns through the night. Others think there’s some kind of curse associated with the shrine.
Add to
Details
Agua Caliente Regional Park
@thedieselapartment
Tucked in a corner on Tucson’s northeast side, there’s a 100-acre, hidden desert oasis where you can see mountains, snow, water, palm trees, and much more. Agua Caliente Park has a rich history of human activity dating back over 5,000 years. It has been many things throughout its lifetime, from an Army camp to a ranch, a resort, and finally, a park. The palm tree-circled main pond is a perennial warm spring that attracts turtles, owls, bobcats, waterfowl, songbirds, and many other types of wildlife.
Add to
Details
Sweetwater Wetlands Park
@thedieselapartment
Just off interstate 10 and tucked back into a collection of various commercial buildings, there’s an unexpected goldmine for photographers, birders, and nature enthusiasts. Originally built as a facility to process water from a reclamation plant, Sweetwater Wetlands Park now serves as an urban oasis for wildlife, an outdoor classroom for students, and a living laboratory for scientists. Offering over 2 miles of walking paths, restrooms, and several wildlife viewing areas, Sweetwater is a fun way to spend a few hours in any season of the year.
Add to
Details

Sentinel Peak Park (“A” Mountain)
@thedieselapartment
Is this the best view of Tucson? Take a drive, hike, or bike up to Sentinel Peak Park and decide for yourself! Also known as "A" Mountain, the large A on the side of the peak is an iconic symbol of the University of Arizona and a beloved landmark in Tucson. This park offers panoramic views of the city and surrounding landscape, and is easily accessible by car.
Add to
Details
Gates Pass
@thedieselapartment
Fun winding road through a mountain pass with expansive views of the desert and some seriously impressive saguaro cacti
Add to
Details
Mount Lemmon
@thedieselapartment
Catalina Highway is a 28-mile scenic drive that begins at the base of the Santa Catalina Mountains on Tucson’s north side. The road starts at around 3,000 feet in elevation and ends at the top of Mt. Lemmon at around 9200 feet. You’ll start the journey in the desert among towering saguaro cacti, snake your way through mountain passes with grasslands and waterfalls, and finally end up in an alpine and aspen forest where it’s about 30 degrees cooler and often covered in snow in the winter months.
Add to
Details
* * *
CURATED BY
👋🏼 Hi! We’re Levi & Nicole in Tucson, Arizona. 🚍 We live in a motorhome and go on camping adventures in a teardrop trailer. 🌵 We create content that helps you find the best places to camp and explore in the southwest USA.
Send A Tip
Support The Diesel Apartment’s work.
Select your tip amount
$5
$10
$20
$50
Or type in other amount
Powered by Thatch
The home for unique & authentic travel
Powered by Thatch: Where great trips are made.
© The Diesel Apartment Privacy Terms