Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Casas Adobes, AZ

  • Published 2023/06/25

Casas Adobes is a small suburban area in the northern part of metropolitan Tucson, Arizona.

Situated in Pima County, Casas Adobes translates to “adobe houses” or houses made of sun-dried clay, a staple in Arizona.

Despite being an excellent place for families to settle down, it is also conveniently located near several tourist attractions in Tucson, Arizona.

Despite its size, this community can provide you with the serene or adventurous getaway you’ve been looking for.

Here are the best things to do in Casas Adobes, Arizona.

Immerse Yourself in the Gardens of Tohono Chul

Pretty flowers at Tohono Chul

Florence-Joseph McGinn /

Another attraction just four minutes from the city center is Tohono Chul, named one of the world’s ten best botanical gardens by Travel + Leisure Magazine.

Despite its renown, Tucson locals still consider it one of their best-kept secrets, with lush grounds spanning 49 acres.

Tohono Chul is a spot perfect for nature lovers.

You’ll walk through paths of native saguaros and themed gardens and even encounter the rare hummingbird if you’re lucky enough.

Ten garden layouts are available for viewing, and the variety of such structures also shows how different native desert plants adapt to varying seasonal spells.

Flora at Tohono Chul

Nelson Sirlin /

Tohono Chul’s Sonoran Seasons Garden is the best way to learn about the five-season Sonoran Desert.

A smaller, play-friendly area is also available for children, with xylophone windchimes and unique birdhouses to keep them entertained.

For those less inclined toward nature, the Tohono Chul experience also includes opportunities to view local artists’ artwork collections in its Exhibit Galleries.

Finally, if you ever start craving a snack while exploring, try out their local Garden Bistro.

It has spectacular views of the Santa Catalina mountains to accompany a hefty meal after a long day of exploring!

Lizard at Tohono Chul

Lori Bonati /

Grab a Beer at Putney’s Pitstop Sports Bar

Putney’s Pitstop Sports Bar is just four minutes from the city center.

Putney’s has been leading the Tucson bar scene since 1981.

After a six-month makeover in 2016, Putney’s fresh new look has only attracted more patrons since its reopening.

Putney’s isn’t the only sports bar in metropolitan Tucson.

Still, it is the most prominent, with outstanding food and drink offerings and an ever-lively atmosphere that balances everything.

Over 30 television screens line the bar, flashing the latest sports, from basketball to boxing, to keep their diners entertained.

The bar area and the patio can seat 250 people combined.

No matter who you are, you’re almost guaranteed a spot in Putney’s!

The sports paraphernalia decorating Putney’s walls — including a framed article signed by baseball legend Pete Rose — wouldn’t be complete without the owner’s small shrine dedicated to his daughter, a standup paddle surfer.

With great food, drinks, and vibes, Putney’s Pitstop Sports Bar is a spot you can’t miss!

Spend a Night Out with Friends at Craft Republic Bar and Grill

One of the most popular pubs in Casas Adobes is Craft Republic Bar and Grill.

Just two minutes from the nearest bus stop, this joint is perfect for tourists flying solo and visiting friends in the area.

With scenic table offerings ranging from the formal dining space, the bar, or the outdoor covered patio, it’s a great place to get together with friends after a long day of sightseeing.

It also offers recreational activities such as pool tables, dart boards, giant Jenga, shuffleboards, and other board games, to keep the fun going throughout the night!

What are you waiting for?

Craft Republic Bar and Grill is the perfect place to kick back and catch up with your best friends!

Admire the Native Cacti at Saguaro National Park West

Landscape of Saguaro National Park West

Anna Krivitskaya /

With a sprawling 91,000 acres, Saguaro National Park was named after the nation’s largest cacti, the giant saguaro native to Tucson, Arizona.

Divided into two districts, its west district is only 8.8 miles away from Casas Adobes.

It is a perfect place to witness the giant saguaros set against a glorious desert sunset.

Some cacti are as tall as 50 feet and 200 years old.

Saguaro National Park also features several coniferous trees, making it one of the most biodiverse deserts in North America.

Cactus at Saguaro National Park West

Andreas Stroh /

Entering from the west district, patrons must try a joyride along the Bajada Loop Drive, with scenic views spanning the whole five-mile gravel roads.

If you’re hiking on foot, a great place to rest and relax would be the Signal Hill Picnic Area, a lookout point with hundreds of historical petroglyphs.

The history doesn’t stop there, as the area comprising the park is the ancestral home of the indigenous Tohono O’odham people.

For those who seek great views of desert flora and fauna, look no further than Saguaro National Park!

A girl hiking at Saguaro National Park West

Nate Hovee /

Stop by Bar 77

Though it seems humble, tucked into the Whole Foods Market Oracle, Bar 77 is one of the few Tucson gastropubs with the most outstanding selection of drinks.

Named after Highway 77, or Oracle Road, where the bar is located, it houses 24 beers on tap, excluding its bottled and canned drinks.

Despite being set against a humble background, its offerings of food and drinks pack a flavorful punch.

Only in Casas Adobes would one find a full-service gastropub in the middle of a grocery store.

If 24 taps and several other bottles and cans intimidate you, let their friendly staff ease your worries.

The bar staff encourages patrons to sample beers before committing, helping many find the one that hits the spot.

What’s more, its pub eats aren’t just delicious but also vegan-friendly, with its vegan cauliflower entrees being praised nonstop by reviewers!

If you’re looking for one of the best-kept secrets of Casas Adobes, then you may have just found it in Whole Foods: Bar 77!

Feed the Animals at the Tucson Petting Zoo and Funny Foot Farm

For a fun time in Tucson, head to the Tucson Petting Zoo and Funny Foot Farm!

Though filled with a flurry of farm animals for your little ones to encounter, such as donkeys, goats, and chickens, this petting zoo is unlike any other.

Unlike other petting zoos, the Tucson Petting Zoo and Funny Foot Farmhouse have more exotic creatures, such as capybaras and kangaroos!

With knowledgeable tour guides and amicable living conditions for the animals, kids and adults will surely enjoy their time here.

However, visitors are not allowed to pet exotic animals to the same degree as their more domesticated creatures.

This helps the exotic animals avoid stress and any other risky situation.

For one of a kind zoo experience, drop by Tucson Petting Zoo and Funny Foot Farm!

Go on an Adventure of a Lifetime with Tucson Balloon Ride

Hot air balloon at Tucson

Charles T. Peden /

One of the most magical activities in Tucson near Casas Adobes is the Tucson Hot Air Balloon Ride.

What makes this hot air balloon adventure unique is its rare Sonoran Sunrise flight.

The experience starts 45 minutes before the sun is projected to rise.

Though the flight is only an hour long, the experience lasts four hours.

View of a Balloon flying high in Tuscan

Charles T. Peden /

The trip includes free pick-ups and drop-offs at your accommodation, mountain, and desert panoramic views, a post-flight continental champagne brunch, and a photo op of your flight by their dedicated staff!

The flight path itself spans the Sonoran Desert, Tucson Mountains, Saguaro National Park West, and Avra Valley, with essential landmarks pointed out throughout the tour.

Even those afraid of heights are surprised to find the tour peaceful and surprisingly safe, provided all passengers adhere to the safety rules.

Take the adventure of a lifetime by riding one of the Tucson Hot Air Balloons today!

Indulge Yourself at La Encantada

One of six shopping malls in Tucson is La Encantada, which is also one of the few that carries luxury brands.

With an elegant, two-level outdoor floor plan, La Encantada offers a premier shopping experience in the heart of Tucson, complete with upscale stores and restaurants.

However, this doesn’t mean it’s exclusive.

La Encantada is still an essential part of the Casas Adobes community.

Its exquisite courtyard is regularly used for charity fundraisers and events organized by the locals.

Despite being a luxury mall, its open concept allows more kids to enjoy it than other malls, as the same courtyard provides space for little ones to run under trees.

As the first and only luxury shopping mall in Tucson, La Encantada truly lives up to its name — “the enchanted.”

Step Back in Time at the Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures

One of the more eccentric offerings near Casas Adobes is the Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures.

The small collection of a husband and wife quickly transformed into a museum after they became recognized members of important organizations such as NAME (National Association of Miniature Enthusiasts) and IGMA (International Guild of Miniature Artisans).

Today, The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures is an interactive space providing a rich sensory experience through stunning displays.

The museum is curated according to different eras, arranged by their narratives and history.

Such histories are told by over 300 miniature houses and room boxes, with the museum’s permanent collection housing dollhouses dating back to 1742.

Despite the size of the exhibits, there’s no shortage of magic, with over 15,000 square feet of space covered by meticulously kept shows.

Though tours are self-guided for the most part, their website also displays special programming, events, and exhibits you surely wouldn’t want to miss!

Admire St. Augustine Cathedral

Facade of the St. Augustine Cathedral

Mariusz S. Jurgielewicz /

Located in Downtown Tucson, St. Augustine Cathedral is perfect for history and architecture buffs.

Built in a Mexican baroque style, the cathedral is filled with ornate details in its interior and exterior.

With its large stone front lined with native plants, its facade also features the coat of arms of Pope Pius XI, whose papacy covered the cathedral’s construction.

Interior view of the St. Augustine Cathedral

Bill Perry /

Inside, a 600-year-old crucifix is suspended above the main altar, facing the rest of the church.

It can accommodate more than a thousand faithful patrons during a celebration of the Eucharist.

As the second most photographed building in the Southwest, the St. Augustine Cathedral is exceptionally breathtaking in the soft glow of the sunset.

Whether you’re Catholic or not, this Cathedral is undoubtedly something you wouldn’t want to miss!

Crucifix at St. Augustine Cathedral

Bill Perry /

Get Homer Donuts at Donut Bar

Nothing says family more than the Donut Bar.

Located in downtown Tucson, Donut Bar has quickly become a regular part of the community.

It offers more than 75 items to choose from on its menu.

With selections ranging from cake donuts, yeast donuts, and even grilled cheese donuts, you’ll never get tired of their offerings, especially since nearly half of them rotate weekly.

Their giant donuts, elaborately decorated with things ranging from fruit to fondant unicorn faces, attract regulars and new patrons alike, as everyone wants a piece of the sugary goodness.

The shop interiors reflect the sweetness of their donuts, with bright pink walls, disco lights, and a winged donut.

This establishment also sells wine and local craft beer with freshly baked grilled cheese donuts.

A unique establishment through and through, Donut Bar is a place you don’t see daily!

Sit under the Stars at Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium

Exterior of the Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium

Noah Sauve /

The University of Arizona is an educational establishment even for infrequent visitors with the Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium.

Flandrau combines Southern Arizona’s only planetarium theatre with a full-dome digital projection system, with several interactive science exhibits built for the whole family’s enjoyment.

Because of the combination, the educational exhibits combine information regarding things found on Earth and beyond.

Among other amenities, a small space is dedicated to minerals and earth science, math puzzles, and gemstones.

Exhibits at Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium

Daderot, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Only a few steps away are hands-on exhibits regarding astronomy and other space, complete with the observatory’s 16-inch telescope.

Beyond the shows, observatory, and planetarium dome theatre, Flandrau also offers Lazer Light Music Nights.

Ticket holders can access the exhibit at night with special music and lighting effects.

There’s genuinely something quite magical about learning and feeling like you’re among the stars.

Visit the Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium today!

Sundial at Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium

Daderot, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Discover the History of Cars in the Franklin Auto Museum

Another eccentric museum near Casas Adobes is the Franklin Auto Museum, maintained by the H. H. Franklin Foundation.

For a bit of background, the Franklin motor car had been comparable to a Cadillac back in the day.

Still, after the company’s struggles during the Great Depression, its cars slowly faded into obscurity.

The museum founder, Thomas Hubbard, ensured that it could give knowledge to those with the same interests as himself.

Because of his efforts, the Franklin Auto Museum has become the center of Franklin’s history.

Its collection expanded to include additional representations of Franklin automobiles.

Located in a historic subdivision in the center of Tucson, right by Casas Adobes, the museum features more than 25 classic and antique Franklin automobiles.

Its tour guides are impressively passionate regarding their knowledge of the car’s history.

Despite being located in Kleindale, the museum’s entrance is on Vine.

Step into an Artist’s Home at DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun

View of the DeGrazia Gallery

Uploaded on July 14, 2008 by kretyen, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Entering the DeGrazia Gallery allows you to fully immerse yourself in the world of Arizonian artists from back then.

Included on the National Register of Historic Places, this establishment features the acclaimed art by Arizona artist Ted DeGrazia.

He also built the house and lived in it.

With permanent and rotating exhibitions, the artist’s home has become a landmark of Southwestern art and architecture.

Even the cactus courtyard is beautiful.

DeGrazia’s work is recognized mainly by his passionate depiction of the Native Americans’ culture and religion.

Many of his works have started a conversation due to DeGrazia’s unconventional depiction of Christianity.

About 15,000 of his original artworks are housed at the gallery.

Patrons can visit the consignment room displaying DeGrazia originals available for purchase or even the gift shop, which offers reproductions of his works.

Even a picture of the beautiful mosaic just outside of the gallery is a souvenir worth getting at the DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun.

Thrill Your Inner Child at the Gadsden-Pacific Division Toy Train Operating Museum

The last eccentric museum in Tucson is the Gadsden-Pacific Division Toy Train Operating Museum, founded and managed by a group of volunteer toy train enthusiasts.

As one of the kookiest exhibits in Tucson, this museum is entertaining even for those who don’t share the same enthusiasm for toy train layouts.

With layouts inside and outside, a trip to this museum wouldn’t be complete without taking the ride-on train circling the property for a spin.

The Gadsden-Pacific Division Toy Train Operating Museum grows and changes yearly as volunteers change and new ones contribute new miniatures.

There’s something to be said about the engineering of each layout and the effort it takes to make each look good.

Because of the effort it takes to maintain the museum, note that it closes for maintenance, curation, and a new season set up during the summer months of June, July, and August.

This affordable museum is worth visiting during your time in Casas Adobes.

Final Thoughts

Casas Adobes harbors many activities, even for the most niche interests.

Its location within Tucson also allows you to explore the neighboring cities.

Explore the best things to do in Casas Adobes, Arizona.

© All rights reserved.