Cool Off With a UA Day Trip
If you're looking for ways to escape the heat with your family this summer, you might want to think about a day trip to one of The University of Arizona's "cool" off-campus attractions.
Lower temperatures and fun family activities are just a short drive away at the following spots, perfect for a weekend retreat. You may even be able to snag a UA employee discount.
Cool factor: 5-10 degrees cooler than Tucson
The Biosphere 2 research facility, located north of Tucson in Oracle, features a guided Under the Glass Tour that takes guests inside the 3.14-acre glass-enclosed biosphere facility, where Biospherians resided in the early 1990s in a as part of a study on survivability in a sealed environment. Visitors can check out an apartment, kitchen and the farm area where study participants grew their crops. The tour also takes guests through the biosphere's engineered wilderness areas, including a tropical savanna, a 1 million-gallon tropical ocean, a desert, a tropical rain forest with more than 150 different species of plants, and more. For more information on hours and special programming, visit the Biosphere 2 Web site.Â
Admission: Tour is $20 for adults; $18 for AAA members, military and seniors age 62 and up; $13 for children ages 6-12; free for children under 5; $10 for UA employees with a CatCard.
Drive time: About an hour
More information: 520-838-6200, email@example.com, http://www.b2science.org
Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter
Cool factor: 20-30 degrees cooler than Tucson
The UA's science learning facility atop Mt. Lemmon offers a variety of public programming and workshops, including SkyNights, an evening program that lets visitors explore the skies with binoculars, a telescope and the help of a professional astronomer, and DiscoveryDays, a weekend summer program that involves participants in hand-on activities related to scientific study in the Catalina mountain region and surrounding desert on topics such as tree rings, insects, monsoons and more. Reservations are required. For hours, reservations and programming details, visit the SkyCenter Web site.
Admission: SkyNights are $48 per person, which includes a light dinner; DiscoveryDays are $24 for adults and $18 for children and students.
Drive time: About 90 minutes
More information: 626-8122, SkyCenter@as.arizona.edu, http://skycenter.arizona.edu/index.html
Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park
Cool factor: About 5 degrees cooler than Tucson, with lots of shade
Situated on 323 acres, the Boyce Thompson Arboretum is Arizona's oldest and largest botanical garden. Trees, cacti, flowers and other plants from throughout the world create a shady oasis, complete with a lake, canyon and plenty of wildlife. Visitors can stroll on walking trails at their own pace or participate in the park's special summer events, including musical performances, classes and guided walking tours. Regular summer hours at the park are 6 a.m.-3 p.m. The park's "Surfin' Summer Solstice" monthly evening music series kicks off this Saturday with live music from 6 p.m. until dusk. Details are available on the Boyce Thompson Arboretum Web site.
Admission: $7.50 adults; $3 children ages 5-12; children under 5 free; CatCard holders get $1 off admission.
Drive time: About two hours
More information: Recorded event information line 520-689-2811 (must dial 1 + area code), Business office 520-689-2723 (must dial 1 + area code), BTAinfo@ag.arizona.edu, http://arboretum.ag.arizona.edu.
Kitt Peak National Observatory Visitor Center and Museum
Cool factor: 15-20 degrees cooler than Tucson
Guided tours and evening stargazing programs are available at Kitt Peak, home to the world's largest collection of optical telescopes. Located on the Tohono O'odham reservation, at an elevation of 6,875 feet, the observatory has 24 optical and two radio telescopes. Hour-long tours explore history and interesting facts about each telescope. The Nightly Observing Program, available through reservation only, allows guests to stargaze like the pros for about three hours after sunset. More information is available on the Kitt Peak Web site.
Admission: Visitor Center and self-guided walking tours are free. Guided tours are $4 for adults, $2.50 for children ages 6-12. All-day tour passes are $7 for adults, $4.50 for children ages 6-12. Children under 6 are free. The public Nightly Observing Program is $46 for adults, $41 for students and seniors over 62. UA employees get a 15 percent discount.
Drive time: About 90 minutes
More information: 520-318-8726, firstname.lastname@example.org, http://www.noao.edu/outreach/kpvc