Stay-Cation at the UA

The UA campus offers numerous attractions for those staying close to home during their summer vacations.
July 11, 2008
Extra Info: 

Did You Know?

  • The memorial fountain just west of Old Main was dedicated in 1920 to students who died in World War I. Old Main has just been renovated, restoring some of its original architectural design.
  • Main Gate is formed from low black lava rock. The rough volcanic stones came from the Tucson Mountains and define the original 40-acre campus.
  • The Arizona State Museum was constructed during the early 1920s and was used at the campus library for 50 years.
  • Several trees on campus have been designated Great Trees of Arizona or are listed on the National Register of Big Trees. Among them are the Crescentia alata, located on the southeast side of the main library and the Adansonia za, located between the administration building and the Student Union Memorial Center.
The exterior of the Biosphere 2 facility in Oracle, Ariz.
The exterior of the Biosphere 2 facility in Oracle, Ariz.
The three-acre cactus garden at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum features cacti and other succulents from all over the Western Hemisphere.
The three-acre cactus garden at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum features cacti and other succulents from all over the Western Hemisphere.
The 24-inch telescope was installed in the newly remodeled dome at the Mt Lemmon. SkyCenter in April 2008.
The 24-inch telescope was installed in the newly remodeled dome at the Mt Lemmon. SkyCenter in April 2008.

There is a place where can you view art and photography from prominent photographers and artists, see and learn about the Great Trees of Arizona and attend a locally made production of a Broadway musical.

It’s called The University of Arizona, and for southern Arizona residents and travelers, it is all within your reach.

This summer, as gas prices continue to rise along with the cost of air travel, many would-be travelers are staying close to home.

That could be a good thing because the UA – known around the world for its research, education and outreach program – is home to a bevy of local tourist attractions.

Consider this three-day schedule:

Day One: Take the family or a group of friends and head to the UA’s Boyce Thompson Arboretum, one of the state’s oldest and largest botanical gardens, featuring trails, a three-acre cactus garden, an herb garden, a human-made reservoir and rotating exhibits. The arboretum is about a one-hour drive due east of Phoenix, which makes it an excellent option for a day trip.

Day Two: Wake up early and head to campus for a self-walking tour – and some light exercise – while the temperatures are still moderate. Take a plant walk or look at some of the Great Trees of Arizona and the Heritage Trees in various parts of campus. Many of them are the largest and most unique trees in the Southwest.

After the tour, cool off at the Center for Creative Photography or UA Museum of Art, both of which have rotating and permanent exhibits. While at the Center for Creative Photography, be sure to ask to look at the collection of works by renowned American photographer Ansel Adams.

Day Three: Toward the late afternoon, visit the UA Poetry Center, home to one of the largest collections of contemporary poetry in the country – with more than 60,000 items, including books, journals, photographs and recordings. Then wrap up your mini-vacation by taking the family to the Tucson Children’s Museum where Phoenix Mars Mission staff will host one-hour, hands-on activities at every Monday at 5 p.m. through Aug. 4.

If that schedule doesn’t quite fit what you’re looking for, here is a list of other options:

ATTRACTIONS

Biosphere 2: The iconic facility in Oracle, Ariz. is now managed by the UA. B2 Science Saturday summer events begin at 10 a.m. in the Biosphere 2 Visitor Center. These special summer events are designed to give visitors a hands-on experience in science.

Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter: The newly-introduced SkyCenter is located on Mount Lemmon and leads groups and individuals through evening observing programs. The SkyCenter will also offer new astronomy and science camps for adults, youth, educators and students, as well as workshops on topics ranging from how to use a telescope to tree-ring science.

Arizona State Museum: The Smithsonian Institution-affiliate is the oldest and largest anthropology museum in the Southwest.

UA Museum of Art: Five summer exhibitions will be held, running through September, and will feature 19th and 20th century sculpture highlights from the museum’s permanent collections, abstract works, works by members of the American Photorealist movement, The Portrait in America series and landscapes.

Phoenix Mission Science Operations Center: Members of the public are invited to make reservations for one-hour visits to the mission control facility for the Phoenix Mars Mission. Individuals and groups are welcome. Tours are held on Wednesdays throughout the day and include interactive exhibits, activities and an update about the mission.

The International Collection of Children's and Adolescent Literature: Housed in the Education building, the collection is one of the world’s largest of its kind.

UA Poetry Center: The UA Poetry Center features one of the largest collections of contemporary poetry in the country, with more than 60,000 items, including books, journals, photographs and recordings.

Campus Arboretum: The UA is home to scores of unique plants from arid and semi-arid climates around the world and many trees on campus are the largest specimens in Arizona.

Center for Creative Photography: The center has an ongoing exhibit featuring the work of Ansel Adams. The exhibit draws from the center’s extensive archive of Adams’ work and periodically rotate prints that are in and out of that exhibit.

EVENTS

  • July 26: The Boyce Thompson Arboretum is having a Butterfly Walk from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. The walk will be held again Aug. 3, Aug. 23, Sept. 27 and Oct. 25. Attendees will learn about the butterfly’s life cycle and how to identify common species of butterflies.
  • July 26: Maite Guardiola, a UA doctoral degree student, will speak at 1 p.m. at the Biosphere 2 about water as a tracer in the environment and ways that water isotopes can be used to understand the pathways that water follows in nature. Participants will be involved in an experiment.
  • Aug. 2: The Boyce Thompson Arboretum will have a Dragonfly Walk at Queen Creek and Ayer Lake. The 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. walk will repeat Sept. 6. Bring binoculars.
  • August 16: Is the start of “Accommodating Nature: The Photographs of Frank Gohlke” will be on display through October 26 at the Center for Creative Photography.

ONGOING EVENTS

  • Through Aug. 3: Lee Friedlander: American Monuments is on display at the Center for Creative Photography
  • Through Aug. 4: Beginning July 7, Phoenix Mars Mission staff will host a one-hour, hands-on activity with children at the Tucson Children’s Museum from 5 to 8 p.m. The event will be repeated on Monday nights through August 4.
  • Through Aug. 10: Legendary space artist Robert McCall captures the thrill of exploration in "Imagination Unbound," an exhibition of paintings drawings and prints. The exhibit will be available for viewing at the UA Museum of Art through August 10.
  • Through Sept. 12: Mars, A Fictional Perspective is on display at the Science-Engineering Library. The exhibit highlights Mars as it has been presented in fiction and popular culture. The exhibit features novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Ray Bradbury and other novelists.
  • The UA Ambassadors offer numerous guided 90-minute walks of the campus Monday through Saturday. For more information, or to sign up, visit https://admissions.arizona.edu/visit.
  • The Controlled Environment Agriculture Center will provide tours and demonstrations of its greenhouses and technology to interested parties. Tours are usually held on Thursdays at noon for groups no larger than 15. To learn more, contact Ed Maxwell at e.maxwell@cox.net.