Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Oracle, AZ

  • Published 2022/09/27

How can you describe a community as quirky as Oracle, Arizona?

Perhaps you might say it is “where the mountains meet the desert.”

From its humble roots as a stagecoach stopover in the 1800s, it has become a sprawling town you should visit!

Oracle offers plenty of things to do, nestled among oaks, boulders, and grasslands in the Catalina Mountains.

You might want to rest samong the town’s rolling hills and cool oak forests.

Whatever it is you’re looking for, here are the best things to do in Oracle, Arizona:

Satisfy Your Curiosity in the “Living Laboratory”

Biosphere 2 during twilight

Kyle Benne /

Biosphere 2 is a world-famous institution known for environmental research.

The University of Arizona owns the laboratory on the west side of Oracle.

Its label as the “world’s largest earth science experiment” is a testament to its size.

Spanning 3.14 acres, this laboratory simulates various habitats from ocean to desert environments.

Unique architecture of Biosphere 2

Joseph Sohm /

Are you visiting as a group?

You don’t need to make a reservation to visit the research lab if you’re not visiting with 20 or more people.

Engage with the experts or objects that’ll pique your interest, but be mindful of your surroundings.

Aerial view of Biosphere 2

Joseph Sohm /

While you’re there, join an introductory tour during its operating hours.

The tour familiarizes you with Biosphere 2, or the “Living Laboratory.”

Go Shopping around West American Avenue

Hidden gems lie around the town of Oracle.

Most shops along West American Avenue have them.

If you’re looking to smoke some CBD, Oracle has a specialty shop in CheetoVibez.

You’ll find the Imagination Plaza nearby.

This “metaphysical supply store” is an infusion of an arts and crafts store with a wellness center.

You can buy artwork from local artists after a Reiki and Oracle reading.

If you wish to see how antique items breathe life into a space, go back to Sue and Jerry’s Trading Post.

Look for a shop named “Zany’s Upcycle” to see upcycled antiques you can buy.

Inside Sue and Jerry’s, you might catch a glimpse of an accomplished sculptor known for his unusual metal artwork.

Jerry Parra creates “larger than life” sculptures and garden art from recycled metal parts of cars and motorcycles.

Parra also keeps the mining culture of Oracle alive by using scrap metal with tools purchased from the now-closed copper mine in town.

Roam the Arizona Scenic Trail

Spanning the length of Mexico and Utah, part of the 800-mile Arizona National Scenic Trail crosses Oracle, Arizona.

This national landmark connects different landscapes—arid deserts, snowy mountains, lush forests, and meandering canyons—to cityscapes and humble communities.

Trail hikers typically stop by Oracle to restock and refresh in town.

You can go the extra mile by starting your trek from the town.

Visitors generally hike short portions of the trail.

You can choose between two trailheads to reach the national landmark: Manzanita Trail or the Wildlife Corridor Trail.

Admire the shifting landscapes along the Arizona Scenic Trail.

Soar above the Desert with Arizona Zipline Adventures

Sonoran Desert during sunset

Brent Coulter /

The state of Arizona is known for its deserts.

From the community of Oracle, you can access the massive Sonoran Desert.

Adventure-seekers would be glad to learn that they can get another look at the desert landscape.

Flora at Sonoran Desert


Check out Arizona Zipline Adventures in Oracle for a zipline tour over the Sonoran Desert.

Try their Zipline EcoTour to expand your horizons.

This affordable zipline experience accommodates up to 5 ziplines.

Sonoran Desert during snow

Jeremy David Photography /

Professionals guide you through each dynamic adventure to protect your safety.

Get an eagle’s eye view of the Sonoran Desert with Arizona Zipline Adventures!

Admire the Food and View at Peppersauce Station Kitchen

The award-winning Peppersauce Station Kitchen has earned renown for its burgers.

While taking a bite, enjoy looking at the Sonoran desert landscape.

The establishment allows customers to customize a burger with their “Build Your Own Burger” menu.

Mix ingredients like grilled onions, bacon, Hatch green chile, and more, and unleash your creativity.

If you’re a more adventurous eater, check out their Adventure Burger.

It uses the chef’s choice of toppings, but let them know if you have any food allergies or diet restrictions.

Besides burgers, try to catch a whiff before sinking your teeth into one of their tacos.

Judges chose it as the #1 taco during the Salsa, Tequila & Taco Challenge 2019!

Peppersauce Station Kitchen offers lunch on weekdays, but you can order from their breakfast and brunch menu on weekends.

Likewise, the Peppersauce Station Kitchen has a BYOB (bring your bottle) policy.

Bring your beverages if the sarsaparilla and soda wouldn’t hit the spot.

Try Diverse Flavors at Nonna Maria’s Ristorante & Pizzeria

Oracle abounds with restaurants with its specialties and unique flavors.

Check out these three restaurants during your stay in town.

Are you up for some Italian food while getting the vibe of the Mediterranean?

Check out Nonna Maria’s Ristorante & Pizzeria on North Rockliffe Boulevard.

Whether it’s pizza or a hearty pasta you’re looking for, get them all at Nonna Maria’s!

If Mexican food is your cup of tea, try the huevos rancheros of Casa Rivera on American Avenue.

There’s a reason people chose the dish as among Arizona’s top ten foods.

Check out the nearby Oracle Patio Cafe from Casa Rivera if you’d like gourmet cuisine.

You can also meet the friendly folks of Oracle and join their special dinner events!

As a bonus, check out 3C Ranch Bar & Clubhouse on South Mt. Lemmon Road.

Previously an old horse barn, its owners turned the barn into a unique bar with a spectacular view of the Galiuro Mountains.

Go Shopping at Sue & Jerry’s Trading Post

Have fun and enjoy the local characters of Oracle who gather at Sue & Jerry’s Trading Post.

Drive towards West American Avenue and reach this seasonal open-air market.

You’ll see tasty goodies, meet persuasive vendors, and hear excellent musicians!

The market offers specialty foods, freshly baked goods, produce, jellies, jams, handicrafts, and local garden plants and herbs.

Follow their social media page to catch the schedules of performers and vendors in the area.

Do you want to buy trinkets to remember your trip to Oracle?

Check out Sue & Jerry’s Trading Post!

Explore the Meandering Peppersauce Canyon

River flowing at Aravaipa Canyon

mdstory /

Thanks to its geography, the town of Oracle is home to many canyons.

First, there’s the Aravaipa Canyon.

This 12-mile stretch of wilderness is good for trekking.

Walk across rivers, over sandbanks, and explore their many side canyons.

However, secure a permit if you want to hike or camp overnight in this wilderness.

A beautiful bird resting on the branches at Peppersauce Canyon

Melinda Fawver /

Then, there’s the Peppersauce Canyon (not related to Peppersauce Station Kitchen) at the foot of Mount Lemmon.

The spot is known for its campgrounds.

Find the campsites in the canyon tucked away in a shallow canyon cut by Peppersauce Creek.

This creek sits amid enormous Arizona sycamores and near a creekside oasis, a spot perfect for shade from the sun.

Check out Peppersauce Canyon if you’re up for a unique outdoor experience.

Walk the Magic Path of Triangle L Ranch

People also refer to this spot Art Ranch’s “Sculpture Park.”

Look at how the area features site-specific contemporary art installations to blend with Oracle’s native flora.

The artworks provide a unique aesthetic between the natural and the artificial.

This location is also part of the Pollinator Project’s Monarch Waystation.

Bring your camera when visiting the area.

Moreover, you might want to time your visit in the early spring, when Monarch butterflies begin their migration.

Check out the ranch’s gift shop as well.

You can find the shop in the original Triangle L Ranch Workshop / Carriage House.

Look at handcrafted art and goods.

Examine eclectic pieces of ceramics, jewelry, iron garden art, and many other unique items.

Then, commemorate your visit to the area by purchasing a Triangle L Ranch mug as a souvenir.

Ranches are essential to Oracle’s identity; the Triangle L Ranch safeguards the town’s history.

Go Back in Time at Acadia Ranch Museum

Entrance to Oracle’s Acadia Ranch Museum

Ammodramus, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Acadia Ranch Museum is a historic building on the National Register of Historic Places.

It preserves the regional history of the Oracle community.

Likewise, the ranch is home to the Oracle Historical Society.

Take a glimpse of Oracle’s rich history through its exhibits, photographs, artifacts, documents, and other historical treasures.

Exterior of Oracle’s Acadia Ranch Museum

Ammodramus, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

These treasures include prehistoric artifacts from archaeologist Alice Carpenter.

Likewise, you can see memorabilia from several of the town’s noteworthy authors, like Eulalia “Sister” Bourne.

Check out cowboy artifacts and 250 negatives from the early 1900s, a testament to Oracle’s rich ethnic diversity and history.

Spend the day at the Acadia Ranch Museum!

Take a Photo at Life under the Oaks Lavender Farm

Engage your whimsical fantasy in a land of lavender fields and the artwork those flowers inspire.

This farm exemplifies lavender by offering special lavender-focused events throughout the year.

Check out their gallery to see children bringing out their inner artistry.

The farm has offered art and nature experiences for many years, with the lavender farm as a recent addition.

Moreover, they sell lavender products.

Purchasing lavender oil will remind you of the place once you sniff it.

Bring your family to Life under the Oaks Lavender Farm!

Mee the Local Artists on the Oracle Artist Studio Tour

Do you want to know what inspires the minds of creatives in Oracle?

The Oracle Artist Studio Tour is a unique event that features original pieces of art from over 38 artists in the town of Oracle.

This in-person tour is an intimate experience that’ll allow you to talk, meet, and purchase directly from local artists.

Expect some artists from Rancho Linda Vista, an artist community.

Professors from the University of Arizona started the collective back in the 1960s.

Outside the Oracle Artist Studio Tour, the artists nurture local talent by sponsoring artists-in-residence programs.

They also regularly exhibit their artwork in public galleries.

Relax with Music at the Oracle Piano Society

The high desert community of Oracle also nurtures its musicians.

The Oracle Center for the Arts has earned renown for its talented pianists, which it nurtures through the Oracle Piano Society.

The Oracle Piano Society cultivates appreciation and enthusiasm for music through its various dynamic educational events.

They also teach the music-inclined youths of the community.

Regarding performances, expect seasoned veterans and rising talents to sway you with their music.

You can also join classes in different music genres.

See Wildlife at Oracle State Park

Landscape of Oracle State Park

Forest Argersinger /

This 4,000-acre wildlife refuge also serves as an environmental learning center.

Choose from 15 miles of trails, but look out for the wildlife.

These trails are open to hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders.

The main attraction is a beautiful, Mediterranean-style ranch house: the Kannally Ranch House.

Follow the footsteps of early 1900s ranchers and artisans, fitting for a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.

Residence in Oracle State Park

Vince Schmidt /

You can plan a self-guided tour of this historic location and get a glimpse of 20th-century life in the southern Arizona high desert.

Besides housing a part of Arizona’s history, the Oracle State Park is also an official International Dark Sky Park.

Gaze at the Night Sky at the Oracle Dark Sky Cultural Festival

Desert landscapes are a great place to enjoy the stars.


First, you’re away from the pollution of city lights.

Second, clear skies float over the Arizona desert towards the end of each year.

If you go to Oracle, Arizona, you can join two stargazing events.

The first event is the Oracle Dark Sky Cultural Festival.

Meanwhile, the second is the David H. Levy Arizona Dark Sky Party, which occurs in Biosphere 2.

However, these events aren’t just a simple stargazing opportunity.

Musicians, artists, speakers, and skilled chefs also join these events.

They help visitors enjoy themselves under the splendor of the glittering stars.

Astronomers might even meet the legendary comet discoverer David H. Levy.

He attends these events and gives lectures about celestial bodies and the universe.

Look up at the night sky at the Oracle Dark Sky Cultural Festival!

Final Thoughts

Don’t let Oracle’s arid desert landscape fool you.

Like a mirage, the town of Oracle, Arizona, hides its true exciting colors.

Plan your trip today and discover the best things to do in Oracle, Arizona!

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