Travel Destination – Campus Bound

I’ve long been an advocate of university and college campuses as rich resources for travelers. Some of the best art, historic and earth science collections are held by higher education institutes. The University of Arizona in Tucson perfectly illustrates my hypothesis.

University of Arizona Campus Highlights

  • arizona-t-shirt-logoUA Visitor Center– Campus information center, weekly guided tours, ticket sales for UApresents, parking. Open Monday – Friday 9am-5pm.
  • Arizona State Museum – Oldest and largest anthropology museum in the Southwest, Smithsonian Institution affiliate, world’s largest collection of Southwest Indian pottery, permanent and temporary exhibits, gift shop. The Paths of Life permanent exhibition showcases the origins, history and culture of American Indians of the Southwest with artifacts, historic items, artwork, videos and dioramas. Open Monday – Saturday 10am-5pm, Sunday noon-5pm. Closed state and national holidays. Suggested donation $3.
  • Center for Creative Photography – Museum, research center and photo archives, rotating exhibits. Established by Ansel Adams and UA, holds more archives and individual works by 20-th century North American photographers than in any other museum in the US. Gallery Store offers a large selection of photography related titles. Open Monday – Friday 9am-5pm, Saturday & Sunday 1-4pm, closed major holidays. Free admission, suggested donation.
  • Flandrau: The UA Science Center– Hands-on exhibits, planetarium and observatory for public viewing of night skies. Check website for hours and programs, admission fee, night telescope viewing free.
  • The Jim Click Hall of Champions – The heritage and traditions of athletics at the university showcasing student athletes and coaches. Hours vary, free admission.
  • The University of Arizona Museum of Art – Wide-ranging collections of European and American fine art from the Renaissance to contemporary. Changing exhibits and highlights from the permanent collections. Open Tuesday – Friday 9am-5pm, Saturday & Sunday 1-4pm, closed university holidays. Adult admission $5.

 UA Unique

  • SOML – Stewart Observatory Mirror Lab – Tours give a behind the scenes look at cutting-edge optical technology and spin-casting processes used in making giant telescope mirrors. Tours on Tuesday and Friday, reservations required, cost $15/person.

More on UA Campus

  • Campus Arboretum – Pick up a map and enjoy a campus walk among the unique collection of trees, shrubs and plants from arid and semi-arid climates. Free.
  • Performing Arts – Theatre, dance and music performances and film screenings staged throughout the year. Admission fees required.
  • Sonett Visitor Center– Self-guided tour at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory – HiRISE Mars camera, the Phoenix Mars Lander and the Cassini mission to Saturn. Free, 520-626-7432.
  • UA Bookstore– I once heard someone espouse if you want your child to go to a particular university, as a pre-teen take them to the campus and buy them a sweatshirt. All sorts of insignia apparel and gifts are available at the official bookstore in the Student Union Memorial Center. 
  • UA Library Special Collections – Collections of rare books and archival materials in many subject areas including Arizona and the Southwest, changing exhibits.
  • UA Mineral Museum– Fabulous collection of minerals, gemstones and meteorites from around the world – over 2,000 on display. Located on the lower level of Flandrau: The UA Science Center. Check website for fees and hours.
  • UApresents – Professional performing arts – classical, jazz, blues and world music events plus dance performances. Admission fees.

UA off Campus

  • Biosphere 2– Management of the living laboratory of global scientific issues is now under management of the University of Arizona. Tours at the complex 20 minutes north of Tucson. Fee.

  • Boyce Thompson Arboretum – Plants from the earth’s varied deserts alongside unspoiled examples of Sonoran Desert vegetation. The Southwest’s oldest arboretum and botanical garden is located near Superior, 90 minutes from Tucson. Fee.

  • UA SkyCenter– Observatories atop Mt. Lemmon, SkyNights, DiscoveryDays and SkyCamps open to the public by reservation. Located 90 minutes north of Tucson. Fee.

Adjacent to Campus

  •  Arizona History Museum– Focus on southern Arizona history – Spanish colonial through territorial eras. Mining and transportation featured exhibits. Not part of the University but worth visiting while in the campus neighborhood. Check website for current hours and fees.

This list doesn’t begin to include all the possibilities, pick up a University of Arizona Visitor Guide and follow your interest from cutting-edge science to sport competitions. Be campus bound in Tucson.

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