Tucson is a destination for people who love sunshine, the outdoors, and gorgeous scenery. If you’re planning a visit, though, don’t overlook the unique museums that are scattered around the city. Whether you’re interested in art, science, nature, or history, the Tucson area has fascinating educational offerings for you.

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Image via Flickr by Arizona Shona

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is by far the most popular and well-loved museum in the Tucson area. Explore the desert habitat and wildlife in this open-air space just outside the city. Live exhibits like the Hummingbird House and Birds of Prey shows introduce common animals of the Sonoran Desert in interactive displays. Part zoo and part botanical garden, this fascinating museum uses natural and manmade habitats to showcase the flora and fauna that populate the desert.

Pima Air and Space Museum

If you’re interested in military planes, this is the place for you. The aircraft are displayed both outdoors and in hangars, so bring water if you’re visiting on a hot day. The collection is massive, and it takes at least three to four hours to tour the entire museum. Friendly staff members are on hand to explain what you’re looking at or answer questions. The exhibits cover aircraft related to military, commercial and space exploration.

Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block

If art museums are more your style, or if you’re ready to head indoors to escape the Arizona heat, you’ll love this small but delightful art museum. The collection features an expansive collection of Western and Southwestern art as well as a Hispanic collection, ever-changing special exhibit galleries, and even some historic homes in the surrounding El Presidio Historic Neighborhood. This is such a nice part of town that you might want to look for a hotel in this part of Tucson.

The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures

If you love miniatures, history, or quirky, off-beat museums, set aside a few hours to explore The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures. Explore history through more than 100 dollhouses and scenes featuring incredibly detailed period settings. Children and adults alike will find themselves staring in wonder at tiny creations in the History Gallery, Exploring the World Gallery, and in the Enchanted Realm.

Museum of the Horse Soldier

Military history buffs and horse lovers alike will be enchanted by this little gem of a museum. The military history of horses is presented with artifacts and stories from the beginning of American history to the present. Docents are happy to lead guided tours at no extra charge and can tell fascinating stories about all the artifacts in the museum. Domesticated horses have been an important part of the military since the birth the nation, and this Tuscon museum honors them beautifully.

Tucson is a fascinating travel destination and a place to remember as you explore the desert and the American West. Each one of these museums can help you understand the region more deeply through its connection to wildlife, history, art, and science.