Tucson is Arizona’s second largest city, close to the United States-Mexico border and heavily influenced by the desert region. Visiting Tucson and staying in one of the area’s vacation rentals puts you in close proximity to gorgeous architecture, unique landscapes and traditional activities. Here are several things to do and Tucson places to visit while you’re in the area.

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Taking up nearly 100 acres, which include a zoo, aquarium, botanical gardens, art gallery and natural history museum, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum educated visitors about the flora and fauna of the area. There are more than 1,000 different plants here to see, as well as 200 desert animal species.

Biosphere 2

Take a tour of the place some call one of the 50 wonders of the world. The Under the Glass tour takes about an hour in which you’ll walk through several different atmospheres from desert to ocean to rainforest and you’ll also see the technology that makes this sealed environment work.

Botanical Garden

The Tucson Botanical Garden is actually made up of 16 gardens, which are located across five acres. The city can be hectic sometimes, and these gardens are a welcome respite if you need a few moments of quiet. The gardens have themes, like the butterfly garden and the Zen garden; there’s also a garden specifically for children.

Colossal Cave Mountain Park

This complex of caves was discovered in the 19th century. There are more than five kilometers of passages inside, and the bravest visitors can experience those trails. This is where the Apache Indians used to roam. If you’d prefer to stay out of the caves, there’s still a lot to see here, including statues and museums. Or, you can picnic, go horseback riding or camp.

Old Studios

Movie lovers will want to visit the Old Studios, especially if you have a special place in your heart for Westerns. The studios were built for movies you’ve likely heard of, like “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral” and “Little House on the Prairie.” Today, the studios have been turned into a theme park, and you can tour it to hear about its history. There are also live action performances with stunts and gunfights.

Sabino Canyon

If your favorite Tucson places are the ones where you can work up a sweat, you won’t want to miss hiking in Sabino Canyon. Located in the Santa Catalina Mountains, part of the Coronado National Forest, the canyon has gorgeous views, hiking trails and even waterfalls. If you want to explore the area but skip the hike, there’s a tram that makes several stops as it travels through the canyon.

San Xavier del Bac

Located in Downtown, this Spanish Catholic Mission, which is located on an Indian reservation, is the perfect place to connect with your spirituality. It’s also a prime location to see Spanish colonial architecture from the 18th century.

With so much to do and see in the area, it’s a good thing there are plenty of vacation rentals around. For a trip of a lifetime, with a way of life, Tucson places and landscapes you may have never experienced before, consider heading to the desert for a week.