Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Bella Sanders, 8, pets a stingray inside the stingray exhibit at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, 2021 N. Kinney Road, on March 30, 2022.

Editor's note: This story was originally published in 2022 and updated in 2023.

When summer arrives in Tucson, it’s time to become nocturnal.

Even though nighttime temperatures are still warm, they’re better than exploring the city in the beating sun and its triple-digit temperatures. Thankfully, Tucson organizations know this.

Below are nine things to do in Tucson — after the sun sets.

Shop under the stars

The MSA Annex Night Market will feature vendors selling everything from purses to photo prints.

Tucson is filled with local artists. Markets are a good way to help support them.

Here are some upcoming night markets to check out:

With flashlight in hand, explore the Desert Museum

Guests enjoy a stroll through the Desert Gardens by the light of the trees during Cool Summer Nights at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in 2015.

Every Saturday through Aug. 26, you can enjoy the sights of the Desert Museum at night — and in cooler temperatures! Bring a flashlight to walk around and possibly spot a nocturnal animal, plus touch a stingray and check out themed activities.

When: 6-9 p.m. Saturdays through Aug. 26

Where: Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, 2021 N. Kinney Road

Cost: $29.95 for adults, $19.95 for kids ages 3-12, $24.95 for Arizona residents

Visit the event page for more information.

See Penzi at sunset

This photo shows 10-month-old Penzi with big sister Nandi and mama Semba.

See zoo animals at sunset, all while enjoying cooler temperatures, at Reid Park Zoo's after-hours event, Summer Safari Nights. Each event will have different themed activities, including keeper chats, animal encounters and live music. 

When: 6-8 p.m. Saturdays through Aug. 12

Where: Reid Park Zoo, 3400 E. Zoo Court

Cost: $10.50 for adults, $6.50 for kids ages 2-14

Visit the event page for more information.

Planes after dark

As night falls, aircraft enthusiasts check out jet fighters under the lights during Night Wings at the Pima Air and Space Museum, 6000 E. Valencia Road.

Watch as the sun sets over historical planes during the Pima Air & Space Museum's summer Night Wings events. There will be kids' activities, community booths and scavenger hunts.

When: 5-8 p.m. Saturdays, June 24, July 8, July 29

Where: Pima Air & Space Museum, 6000 E. Valencia Road

Cost: $10 for ages 13 and up, free for ages 12 and under

Visit the event page for more information.

Wander the gardens of Tohono Chul

Docent Janel Feierabend talks about the night-blooming cereus to onlookers during the 2019 Bloom Night at Tohono Chul.

Every Friday and Saturday night through Sept. 3, head to Tohono Chul for its summer series, slated to feature music, spirits and bites. And on Saturday nights, Tohono Chul partners with Children's Museum Oro Valley to provide family-friendly nature play.

When: 5-9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Sept. 2

Where: Tohono Chul, 7366 N. Paseo del Norte

Cost: Free to attend

Visit the event page for more information.

A Saturday night at the Presidio

The Presidio San Agustín del Tucson was awarded the Museum Association of Arizona’s 2023 Institutional Award of Excellence.

This summer, the Presidio Museum is joining the list of local attractions opening their doors after hours. Enjoy cocktails, tapas and charcuterie in the new on-site Dandelion Cafe, plus listen to live guitar music on the patio. The museum will also host two lantern tours throughout the night.

When: 6-9 p.m. Saturday, June 24

Where: Presidio San Agustín del Tucson Museum, 196 N. Court Ave.

Cost: Free admission to the museum with a purchase at The Dandelion Cafe.

Visit the event page for more information.

Catch a movie outdoors

The berm at the DeMeester Outdoor Performance Theater got crowded at the start of the film “Wonder Woman” at the Cox Movies In The Park at Reid Park, on July 6, 2018.

As the sun goes down, the projection screen goes up.

Here's a list of upcoming free and cheap movies happening around town. Some are indoors, but most happen on the lawns of local parks.

Gaze at the night sky

Several sight seers take a minute to watch the sunset from Windy Point following a storm that dumped rain on the valley and left several inches of snow in the upper reaches of the Santa Catalinas, Wednesday, December 26, 2018, Tucson, Ariz.

Head up to Mount Lemmon, where it's typically about 20 degrees cooler than Tucson. Explore the shops, dine at a restaurant, maybe take the ski lift to get a bird's-eye view.

When that's all said and done and the sun goes down, look up at the twinkling stars in the sky.

Music to your ears

Catch Sophia Rankin & The Sound on March 24 at 191 Toole.

Maybe your idea of a perfect summer night is sitting on the patio of your favorite restaurant, eating delicious food and listening to the sounds of live music.

If that's the case, here are some spots that frequently have live music.

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