Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

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

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 more than 60 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:

Take a neon sign tour

The 30-ft-tall neon public art piece, by local artist Dirk J. Arnold, shows people traveling northbound on Oracle the history of the roadway, and if they are traveling southbound it welcomes them to Tucson.

If there’s one thing you *have* to do at night, it’s this.

Explore Tucson’s historic neon signs, from the iconic Tucson Inn sign (which is currently under restoration and not lit at last check, but is still standing in all its glory) to the sign at the tasty Pat’s Chili Dogs. You can find retro signs in many areas, though a handful of them along Drachman Street aren't in the best shape at the moment. Check out the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation for a map!

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. 27, 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: Open until 9 p.m. Saturdays through Aug. 27

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

Cost: $24.95 for adults, $13.95 for kids ages 3-12

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: 5:30-8:30 p.m. every Saturday through Aug. 13

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, aviation talks and $8 tram tours during the bimonthly June and July events.

When: 5-8:30 p.m. Saturdays, July 9, July 23.

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

Cost: $10 for ages 12 and up, free for ages 11 and under

Visit the event page for more information.

Wander the gardens of Tohono Chul

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

Every Friday and Saturday night through Sept. 3, head to Tohono Chul for its first-ever 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: 5-8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Sept. 3

Where: Tohono Chul, 7366 N. Paseo del Norte

Cost: Free to attend

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. Catch a movie outdoors this summer at the Oro Valley Aquatic Center, Reid Park and on the patio of Nightjar. Here's a list of upcoming free movies happening around town.

And keep an eye out on the Oro Valley Parks & Recreation Facebook page, in addition to The Loft Cinema's Solar Cinema, as they've both held outdoor screenings this summer too.

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 done and the sun goes down, look up at the twinkling stars in the sky.

Alternatively, over at Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium on the University of Arizona Campus, volunteer astronomers will guide visitors this summer through points in the night sky with a 16-inch telescope. The activity is free! The schedule may change due to weather, but currently these events are set for most Saturdays in July, and Saturday, Aug. 6.

Music to your ears

Sophia Rankin & The Sound perform at 2nd Saturdays Downtown Tucson on April 9, 2022.

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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