The new visitors center inside the Historic Pima County Courthouse has us playing tourist in our hometown. 

The Southern Arizona Heritage and Visitor Center, 115 N. Church Ave., opened on Friday, Jan. 18, and we stopped by recently. 

Diana Schwartz, volunteer, walks through Pima County's new visitors center, Southern Arizona Heritage and Visitor Center, inside the Historic Pima County Courthouse, 115 N. Church Ave., in Tucson, Ariz. on January 22, 2020. 

The 7,500-square-foot, renovated space is inside the Spanish Colonial Revival-style courthouse, iconic with its (now subdued) pinkish hue and mosaic dome. The courthouse was built in 1929, according to the visitors center website

The visitors center features a mini theater and exhibits that include information about Pima County's culture, arts, food, water, nature, recreation, innovation and more. Even if the information is familiar to you, it's fun to see our region's culture and history reflected back in colorful displays and fancy touch screens. And there's a gift shop. Obviously. 

"We wanted it to be a starting place for residents and visitors to say, 'Oh, I didn't know that was in Southern Arizona,'" says Diane Frisch, the director of attractions and tourism for Pima County. 

Arick Griesmer, employee for Pima County facilities management, checks out displays at Pima County's new visitors center, Southern Arizona Heritage and Visitor Center, inside the Historic Pima County Courthouse, 115 N. Church Ave., in Tucson, Ariz. on January 22, 2020. 

There's also a good portion of the center dedicated to an artifact-laced timeline of Tucson's history, including sections showcasing the Tohono O'odham and Pascua Yaqui cultures. Plus a portion of the adobe blocks from the Presidio wall. 

Terry Friedrich, visiting from Kansas City, looks at a display of artifacts from tribes in Southern Arizona at Pima County's new visitors center, Southern Arizona Heritage and Visitor Center, inside the Historic Pima County Courthouse, 115 N. Church Ave., in Tucson, Ariz. on January 22, 2020. 

A piece of adobe block from Tucson's Presidio Wall is enclosed in the center of Pima County's new visitors center, Southern Arizona Heritage and Visitor Center, inside the Historic Pima County Courthouse, 115 N. Church Ave., in Tucson, Ariz. on January 22, 2020. 

Our favorite part was the desert ecosystem diorama that takes up an entire wall. The lighting changes from day to night to monsoon, and you can move the critters around.

Jeff Gicklhorn, right, program coordinator for Pima County, talks with Rena Craine, volunteer, about the interactive Sonoran Desert Diorama at Pima County's new visitors center, Southern Arizona Heritage and Visitor Center, inside the Historic Pima County Courthouse, 115 N. Church Ave., in Tucson, Ariz. on January 22, 2020. Gicklhorn was one of a team of people from Pima County's office of sustainability and conservation who oversaw the content of the center. 

We also loved the giant, table-top topography map with buttons that let you illuminate different features on the map, including border lines, rivers, cities and interstates. 

Olivia Toy, visiting with her husband from California, checks out an interactive topography map of Southern Arizona at Pima County's new visitors center, Southern Arizona Heritage and Visitor Center, inside the Historic Pima County Courthouse, 115 N. Church Ave., in Tucson, Ariz. on January 22, 2020. The topography map has six buttons which light up certain areas of Southern Arizona such as mountains, cities and towns, highways, borders, rivers and tribal lands. 

The visitors center isn't the only attraction destined for the courthouse. Other attractions expected to be open in the beginning of 2021 include the University of Arizona's Alfie Norville Gem and Mineral Museum, a John Dillinger exhibit inside the courtroom where he was arraigned and a memorial to honor the victims of the Jan. 8, 2011 shooting, according to press materials. 

For now, it's just the visitors center that's open. Visiting is free, so we suggest stopping by if you're downtown.

The Southern Arizona Heritage and Visitor Center is open seven days a week, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Go here for more information.