Southern Arizona in 6 Quick Day Trips From Phoenix

Visit the world's largest earth science laboratory, a cave, a Western town and more.

While there is so much to explore in the Valley, there are also a lot of fun adventures in Southern Arizona that can be visited if you are prepared to make a full day of it. Visit the site of the famous gun battle between Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, Virgil and Morgan Earp, and the McLaurys and Clantons; tour the world’s largest earth science laboratory; explore a cave in near-pristine conditions; sip and savor food and drink from a City of Gastronomy; visit an aircraft boneyard and view historical aircraft and exhibits; and watch as popular dinnerware is made. 

Pima Air & Space Museum

Pima Air & Space Museum

Those who are interested in aviation and space should take a trip to this museum, the largest non-government-funded one of its kind in the world. View more than 350 historical aircrafts and exhibits that explore space, WWII and more. Exhibits include presidential and VIP aircraft, NASA aircraft, commercial and civil aircraft, and US. Air Force and Navy Fighters. Tours are offered daily, though to visit the 2,600-acre “Aircraft Boneyard”/U.S. military and government aircraft storage facility, a 10-business-day advance reservation is required. 6000 E. Valencia Road, Tucson, 520.574.0462

Biosphere 2

Named one of the “50 Must-See Wonders of the World” by “Time Life Books,” Biosphere 2, located north of Tucson at the base of the Santa Catalina Mountains, is the world’s largest earth science laboratory. Tours of the three-acre, glass-enclosed replica of earth are offered daily, allowing guests to explore the scientist-simulated ecosystems and learn about experiments regarding the future of life on our planet. The facility was constructed in the late 1980s and is “dedicated to the research and understanding of global scientific issues.” 32540 S. Biosphere Road, Oracle, 520.838.6200

Kartchner Caverns

Kartchner Caverns

Discovered in 1974, but not public knowledge until 1988, Kartchner Caverns is a cave in near-pristine condition, offering one of the world’s longest soda straw stalactites, the tallest and most massive column in Arizona and many other natural wonders and unusual formations. Various tours are available—the Rotunda/Throne Tour, the Big Room Tour and the Helmet & Headlamp Tour. All are under two hours. View the speleothems (cave formations), which are estimated to have been growing for tens of thousands of years. 2980 Arizona 90, Benson, 877.MY.PARKS

Tombstone and O.K. Corral

O.K. Corral

Visit the site where Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, Virgil and Morgan Earp fought the McLaurys and Clantons on the streets of Tombstone. Watch reenactments daily, and stand on the spots where the famous figures stood during the gun battle. Also at the O.K. Corral—visit the museum of “The Tombstone Epitaph,” Arizona’s oldest newspaper; visit Tombstone’s Historama; walk through the O.K. Corral stables as they appeared in the 1880s; pan for gemstones; visit the boarding house and Doc Holliday’s room; and visit the blacksmith. 326 E. Allen St., Tombstone, 520.457.3456

Old Tucson

Old Tucson

Experience Western fun and entertainment at this movie studio and theme park. Learn about Old Tucson’s 75 years of film history (many classics were filmed here, including three John Wayne Westerns), watch Old West gunfight reenactments and live action stunt shows, can-can musicals, drive an antique car, take a train ride through the park and the Sonoran Desert for a narrated ride, tour the Iron Door Mine, pan for gold, take a trail ride on horseback, and other adventures. A variety of restaurants and throwback shops are also on-site. 201 S. Kinney Road, Tucson, 520.883.0100.

Tour A Factory

On Tuesday mornings at 10 am, tour the HF Coors factory and see a 200-foot-long tunnel kiln, watch artisans hand painting dinnerware and craftspeople carving master and production molds (making 25,000 pieces of ceramic every week!). There are also 1st Saturdays at the Potter’s Yard, where shoppers save 75 to 90 percent on overruns, functional seconds and discontinued mix-and-match items. HF Coors has been making American-made dinnerware since 1925, and is known for its commercial-quality, restaurant-grade, highly chip-resistant ceramic dinnerware that is non-porous, lead- and cadmium-free. Find place sets, trays, platters, baking dishes and more. Reservations are required for tours. 1600 S. Cherrybell Stravenue, Tucson, 800.782.6677

 

Michelle Glicksman
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