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46th DPS Meeting Local Activities
Last updated: Tuesday

While you're visiting Tucson for the meeting, and especially if you have an extra day or two before or after, make sure to take advantage of the many attractions in town and throughout southern Arizona. Two good general sources of information are:

Starr Pass Resort: Local Attractions

Tucson Convention & Visitors Bureau

Restaurants and Nightlife

There are many bars, clubs, and restaurants in the Downtown area and along 4th and University Aves.  Info about restaurants and other attractions in those areas can be found at the following sites:


4th Avenue

University Avenue

The Tucson Streetcar runs through all three of these areas.  Day passes are $4 and can be purchased at any of the Sreetcar stations.  More information about the route and hours of operaton is available at the Tucson Streetcar Website.

If you're around Tucson before the conference, the monthly Second Saturdays event will be held downtown on November 8th.


The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is located not far from the conference location and is a must-see if you're visiting Tucson.  The banquet will be held there and you'll have some time to explore the museum beforehand, but you may want to head back for a longer visit. 

Kitt Peak is located about 50 miles west of Tucson and hosts one of the largest assemblages of telescopes in the world.  Tours are available for several of them.  The University of Arizona Mirror Lab on the University of Arizona campus is a one-of-a-kind facility for casting and polishing telescope mirrors as large as 8 meters in diameter.  Tours are available, but you will probably need to book a spot in advance.  Biosphere 2, located about 35 miles north of Tucson, is also run by the University of Arizona and offers tours throughout the day.

Karchner Caverns is located about 50 miles southeast of Tucson and is a very well-preserved wet cave that was co-discovered in 1974 by Randy Tufts (who later did his graduate work in planetary science at the University of Arizona).  Reservations should be made in advance. Colossal Cave is somewhat closer, located on the southeastern edge of Tucson.

Outdoor Activities

Tucson and southern Arizona offer a wide range of activities, and while the weather in much of the country will be keeping people indoors, the weather in Tucson will be perfect for enjoying the outdoors. Starr Pass Resort provides some information on activities in the area, and offers guided hikes and mountain biking.

The resort is adjacent to Tucson Mountain Park and close to the western half of Saguaro National Park, both of which offer excellent hiking opportunities, and their low elevation relative to other mountain ranges in the area makes them ideal for fall and winter hiking.  Sabino Canyon in northeastern Tucson has a tram route through the canyon as well as numerous hiking opportunities, such as Seven Falls and Blackett's Ridge. Good general hiking info for the Tucson area can be found here and here.

Keep in mind that even though it will be November, it can still be fairly warm during the day, and with exertion and a dry climate, you can easily get dehydrated.  Remember to bring plenty of water and snacks, wear sunscreen, have map of the area that you're hiking in, and if possible avoid hiking alone, unless you're on a fairly well-traveled route.  While Arizona is known for its poisonous rattlesnakes, and you may potentially see one while hiking, they are not aggressive animals and actual bites are extremely rare (most victims are young drunk males).  Some good info about hiking safety in the desert can be found here.

The Mt. Lemmon Scenic Byway is a paved road to the upper parts of the Catalina Mountains north of Tucson, with numerous overlooks along the way.  Because of the significant elevation change, it takes you through numerous ecological zones from low Sonoran Desert at the base to pine forest at the top.

Southern Arizona is a major migration corridor and offers world-class birding opportunities.  More information is available from the Tucson Audubon Society and the Southeastern AZ Bird Observatory.

For those interested in Golfing, Tucson offers many options with both private and city-run courses.  Finally, if you've ever had the urge to jump out of an airplane, there is a Skydiving facility about 50 miles north of Tucson.


The Pima Air and Space Museum has one of the largest collections in the world, and also offers tours of the 'boneyard', where a large number of decommissioned military aircraft are stored.  South of Tucson is the Titan Missile Museum, which is a decommissioned Titan nuclear missile silo that was preserved as a National Historic Landmark. 

Attractions on the University of Arizona Campus

There are numerous attractions on the University of Arizona campus.  Their visitor information page has  a full listing, but some highlights are the Arizona State Museum, the Center for Creative Photography, which was co-founded by Ansel Adams, the Flandrau Planetarium and UA Mineral Museum, and the University of Arizona Mirror Lab.

Old West and AZ History

If you're an old west movie fan, you'll want to visit Old Tucson Studios, located not far from the conference location, and maybe head a bit further afield to Gammons GulchTombstone (the site of the shootout at the OK Corral) is about 70 miles southeast of Tucson.  The towns of Bisbee and Tubac are both rich in history, and both have thriving arts and crafts scenes.  The San Xavier Mission is one of the oldest buildings in southern Arizona, and is located just south of Tucson.


The border city of Nogales is about 70 miles south of Tucson, and another popular attraction is Puerto Penasco (also known as Rocky Point), which lies on the Sea of Cortez about 200 miles from Tucson.  Those interested in traveling to Mexico should be aware of the requirements and travel warnings issued by the US State Department or the consulate of your home country.


Bratfest is an annual Oktoberfest party run by the LPL graduate students, and this year Bratfest 36 will be held the Saturday after DPS (November 15th). More information, including location, costs, and t-shirt ordering, can be found at the link below.

Bratfest 36