Visitors walk past blooming flowers inside the Cactus Garden at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, 2021 N. Kinney Road, in Tucson, Ariz. on March 30, 2022.

Editor's note: This story was originally published in 2022 and updated on March 28, 2024.

Before we start dreading the arrival of summer and the 100-degree days that accompany it, let's focus on the cooler days ahead of us.

Here are 10 things to do outside — before it gets too hot. (But most of the places mentioned are open year-round and some even open their doors on summer nights for folks to enjoy the cooler temperatures after sunset.)

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

1. Bask in the desert beauty at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

2021 N. Kinney Road

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum may not be a hidden gem, but it's a gem no less.

Check out 1,200 kinds of plants, experience the touch of a stingray, walk through a reptile and amphibian hall and see all kinds of desert animals — bobcats, a mountain lion, javelinas, prairie dogs, skunks, hummingbirds and more.

If you visit in springtime, you may even spot colorful cactus blooms in the museum's cactus garden. 

Reid Park Zoo's new Andean Bear Joaquin stares at the camera while walking around his new habitat at Reid Park Zoo, 3400 E. Zoo Ct., in Tucson, Ariz. on Oct. 19th, 2021.

2. Say hello to the animals at Reid Park Zoo

3400 E. Zoo Court

Head to Reid Park Zoo where jaguar Bella, bear Joaquin and more than 200 other animals await your arrival. You might even spot two zoo babies: giraffe calf Moyo and the yet-to-be-named elephant calf. 

You can also feed the giraffes, crawl around the new World of Play playground, ride a carousel and have a bite to eat at the zoo's own cafe. 

Each letter on this Tucson Together mural painted by Jessica Gonzales represents a local business: (from left to right) Old Tucson Studios, The Fox Theatre, Hotel Congress, Eegee's, the Gateway Saguaro sign, Hub Restaurant and Ice Creamery, Ben's Bells and the Rialto Theatre. 

3. Take a walking tour of the city

196. N Court Ave.

Tucson has a lot to see and a lot to love. The Presidio San Agustín del Tucson Museum knows that.

Each month, the museum hosts a series of walking tours around the downtown area.

Some of the guided walking tours include the Turquoise Trail, where you'll see historic buildings and learn a slice of Tucson history; the Mainly Murals Walking Tour, which shows off some of downtown's murals and discusses the artist behind the piece; the Public Art and Murals Walking Tour, which explores public art pieces and murals; and the Barrio Viejo Walking Tour, which takes you through the historic Barrio Viejo neighborhood.

Alternatively, check out our mural gallery to put together a self-guided mural tour of your own! 

The biannual Made In Tucson market takes place March 19.

4. Get your shopping on (or attend a festival)

Tucson is home to a number of markets featuring everything from handcrafted items made by local artists to fairs showing off the best collectible and vintage finds.

Here are a handful of markets happening this spring:

If markets aren't your thing, there are TONS of other events happening this spring, from the Pima County Fair to the dog-centric Woofstock to an Earth Day Festival for kids. Check out our full list of spring festivals and markets here.

Cumulus clouds are the backdrop to saguaros near the Sendero Esperanza trailhead in Saguaro National Park West.

5. Put on your hiking shoes and head to your nearest trail

What would this list be if we didn't include hiking?

Hiking trails are all over — short trails leading up to the top of "A" Mountain, the steep walk up Tumamoc Hill, plus there's Enchanted Hills Trails ParkSabino Canyon, Catalina State Park, Saguaro National Park and so many more nearby hiking areas.

While hiking in March and April is typically significantly cooler than hiking in June, it's still important to hydrate and protect yourself from the sun! Heading out during the cooler morning hours might be best.

Hoyt Phillips, far right, and his husband Neil David “ND” Seibel, center, listen to Jimmy Bultman, owner of Tucson Bike Tours, talk about a mural on the University of Arizona’s Michael J. Drake Building during a mural tour throughout downtown Tucson, Fourth Avenue and surrounding areas of the city on Dec. 15, 2021.

6. Hop on a bike 

The Loop is home to more than 130 miles of paved pathways, perfect for bicycling, roller-skating, jogging and horseback riding.

Dust off your bike and head to your closest entrance along The Loop — or explore a section of The Loop you may not be as familiar with. Along the way, check out the dozens of art pieces on the pathways.

If you'd rather hop on a guided bike tour, that's an option, too.

There's FUGA, which hosts monthly bike rides on the south and west sides of Tucson. There's also Tucson Bike Tours, which hosts three different tours centered on history, murals and tacos. Breweries like Button Brew House often host bike rides, too! Check out our full guide to cycling here.

Need a bike? Check out Tugo Bike Share!

Volunteers help yank out the nonnative, invasive buffelgrass at Saguaro National Park East.

7. Get outside and volunteer with a community organization

If you're hoping to soak up the sun all while making a difference, volunteering with a local organization is an option to consider.

Tucson is home to an incredible number of programs that work hard to make our community a better place. Below are some outdoorsy volunteering opportunities, but remember: volunteers are likely needed every season of the year!

  • Mission Garden — You can be a volunteer gardener and prepare soil, plant seeds, harvest produce and more. (Volunteering aside, Mission Garden is also a fun place to explore!)
  • Pima Animal Care Center — Get the pups out of their kennels and take them for a walk!
  • Therapeutic Ranch for Animals and Kids — Tasks include filling waters, feeding animals, mucking horse stalls and raking the grounds
  • Buffelgrass pulls — Help remove the invasive buffelgrass at a number of pulling events throughout Tucson. Check out the Desert Museum's website for locations!

The outdoor dining area for JoJo's Restaurant, formerly known as LaCo.

8. Enjoy your favorite food — on a patio or have a picnic

Tucson is home to countless restaurants with beautiful patios, from the spacious courtyard decorated with twinkling lights at JoJo's to the oasis that is Locale.

Whatever restaurant patio is your go-to, enjoy patio season while it lasts. Check out our full patio list here.

Alternatively, pick up food — takeout goodies or picnic ingredients — from a place like Super Carniceria y Pescaderia El RanchitoRoma Imports or LeBuzz. Have a picnic of your own at a nearby park!

The Tucson Botanical Gardens located at 2150 N. Alvernon Way is the perfect location to take a romantic stroll.

9. Experience spring with all the flora you could ask for

To get the real spring experience, now's the time to bask in the plants of local gardens.

Tucson Botanical Gardens, 2150 N. Alvernon Way, is home to more than five acres of space, including an area dedicated to butterflies. Until May, you can step into Butterfly Magic and watch as 200 butterflies flutter by.

Also a space for plant lovers is Tohono Chul, 7366 N. Paseo del Norte, which is home to themed gardens and, of course, the desert's best friend — the saguaro. 

Both also have onsite food options!

Customers line up at The Curry Pot Sri Lankan Fusion food trailer at Casa Video and Film Bar, 2905 E. Speedway, on July 20, 2023. 

10. Catch an outdoor screening of your favorite movie

Year-round, Casa Video and Film Bar, 2905 E. Speedway, projects movies onto its outdoor patio, where you can catch everything from "Ratatouille" to "Five Nights at Freddy's," all alongside bites from local food trucks.

The Loft Cinema also screens outdoor movies, often in collaboration with local organizations. There are currently three outdoor showings, each at different locations, on the roster for April: "Smoke Signals," "Dolores" and "Barbie."

North of Tucson, Oro Valley Parks and Recreation is hosting two outdoor movies in April: "Back to the Future Part II" and "The Super Mario Bros. Movie."

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