FREE Tucson Date Ideas (You've Never Heard Of!)
Looking for a romantic date to keep your sweetheart swooning without breaking the bank? That's where the Event Oracle comes in! In a vibrant city full of unique events to do, we've lined up the best date ideas here for you that won't have you reaching for your wallet (although a few might have you look for spare change!) Enjoy a fun and unique date night out in Tucson.
140 N Main Ave, Tucson
140 N Main Ave
Tucson, AZ 85701
Impress your date with some highbrow art scene contemplation. Visit the Tucson Museum of Art the first Thursday of each month for free from 5pm to 8pm. And as an extra bonus, Arizona and Sonora Mexico residents can visit for free on the second Sundays of each month. Although not as big and busty as some bigger museums, the Tucson Museum of Art hosts a wonderful mix of styles, regions and time periods, so there really is something for everyone to like. And for another fun, free event, visit their artisan holiday market that happens once a year in November. You'll be able to buy that special date. . . well. . .something special.
311 Congress St, Tucson
311 Congress St
Tucson, AZ 85701
The Hotel Congress is a quintessential piece of Tucson history, dating back just over 100 years now. It's famous as the site of John Dillinger's capture, which coincided with a big fire in the building. If you're on a ghost hunt, this is another must-see location. The hotel is known for hosting several different ghostly patrons. Don't worry though, you don't have to stay here to soak in the history; the lobby is designed to make you reminisce about the good old days you weren't even born for, with gorgeous murals that will make you stop and stare. You can take a peek in one of the rooms, all of which are designed to capture the spirit of the past, swapping tvs for vintage radios and iron beds. Visit one of the several bars based here, each with its own theme and history or stop over at the Cup Café to snap a pic of a floor made entirely from pennies. You might decide to make this a first stop on a pub crawl, in which case visit the Oracle's suggestions for more great underground bars in Tucson.
414 N Toole Ave, Tucson
414 N Toole Ave
Tucson, AZ 85701
If you and your date are less into chasing ghosts and more into exploring history through museums, add the Southern Arizona Transport Museum to your list. It's housed in the old Tucson Station building, a cool piece of architecture in itself. Once inside this totally free museum, you can learn a ton about Tucson's history and the history of railroads in the West. Time your visit right and you might stumble upon Dillinger Days, an annual exhibit about that famed outlaw, people wandering around in period dress, or perhaps a fascinating lecture series. Think about all the new stuff you'll have to talk with your date about over dinner!
1950 W San Xavier Rd, Tucson
1950 W San Xavier Rd
Tucson, AZ 85746
Detour down South of Tucson a few miles to visit the San Xavier Mission for a unique and very picturesque date. There's a reason it's called the "White Dove of the Desert." Rock up to this singularly gorgeous old mission and impress your beloved with your worldliness and knowledge about things slightly outside of the Tucson city limits. There are free tours on the hour where you can learn more about the mission's history, architecture, and art. If you've got a couple of spare dollars handy, you can pick up some authentic fry bread to share as you explore the grounds. Not required, but definitely delicious.
920 N 1st Ave, Tucson
920 N 1st Ave
Tucson, AZ 85719
How well do you know your postal history? Bring your date to the Postal History Foundation's museum to learn all about Tucson's philatelic history. It's got a collection of permanent exhibitions, which include a replica of an 1859 postal office and a selection of paintings depicting the difficulties of delivering mail in early Arizona History. Nothing is sexier than learning about new things together and you'll have some great obscure trivia filed away for your next trivia night.
418 S Main Ave, Tucson
418 S Main Ave
Tucson, AZ 85701
A visit to the wishing shrine won't take up your whole date, but it makes a great stop before hitting one of our other downtown hot spots or maybe a nearby southside Mexican taco stand like Tacos Apson or El Guero Canelo. The El Tiradito Wishing Shrine is nestled on Main Avenue between Cushing and Simpson Street. Bring a candle with you to make a wish and, if it burns through the night, your happily ever after (because what else would you wish for on a date?) is practically guaranteed. Legend says that the shrine marks the grave of an unlucky man who fell in love with his mother-in-law and was murdered by her jealous husband. Because of his sin he was left to rot where he lay. You might be thinking, maybe not the best place to bring a date, Oracle, but fear not. It adds that afterwards his lover was so overcome with remorse that she buried him in front of her home and built this shrine. Now his ghost grants wishes and he's especially sympathetic to lovers. There's some happiness in that ending!
Georges DeMeester Performance Center, Reid Park, Tucson
Pack a picnic, grab a blanket or some folding chairs and head on down to Reid Park on select Sunday evenings for the Tucson Pops Orchestra. It's free and has been since 1955. This professional orchestra led by Maestro László Veres will have you smiling and maybe even doing some "air" conducting. Each performance starts at 7pm and lasts several hours. Now thats some bang for your buck. With guest conductors and wonderful programming that includes classics, broadway hits, traditional American hits and more, you won't be left thinking this is just for stuffy old folks. There are two series each year in the spring and fall. The Oracle's dating tip is go blanket over chairs!
2900 N Craycroft Rd, Tucson
2900 N Craycroft Rd
Tucson, AZ 85712
If ghosts don't really scare you – and why should they, you're the one with skin, right? – then bring your date on over to Fort Lowell, whose ruins are said to be haunted by ghosts of the victims of the Apache Wars. In fact, the whole neighborhood is prone to spectral visits. Nowadays you can explore the museum, which includes ruins and recreations of the fort, along with a ton of interesting information. And admission is free! The museum is located within a reconstructed officer's house which is filled with period style furnishings. The ruins of the hospital are nearby, plus an ongoing Hohokam archeological dig. It's the perfect place for a date that's equal parts spooky and educational!
The University of Arizona, Tucson
The University of Arizona
Tucson, AZ 85721
You don't have to spend a billion dollars to attend university in order to enjoy the beautiful campus grounds at the University of Arizona. The 380 acres of campus is home to some really wonderful flora, fauna and history. Attend a free tour of which there are several to choose from throughout the school year. For instance there's a tour of the Sonoran Native Plants, or how about Trees Around the World. Although many of the tours center around campus horticulture, there are a few that focus on the history of the campus as well. Be sure to register for the tour by going online, then it is just a matter of grabbing a water bottle, a hat and a comfy pair of shoes. . .oh, and your date.
400 N Toole Ave A, Tucson
400 N Toole Ave A
Tucson, AZ 85701
We love this one! Not only is it free, but it is a great way to stay in shape and also see parts of the city that you might otherwise not visit. Every Monday evening rain or shine, people meet at Maynard's Market downtown, register to walk (or run) and then take a 2, 3 or 4 mile stroll around downtown Tucson. Choose to go the entire route or check the provided route map for a few short-cut options for those that aren't ready to tackle the whole thing. There are various restaurants along the way offering discounts to participants. If you stop in for a bite at one of the participating restaurants you can put your receipt in a drawing for prizes. Registration opens at 5:15pm and closing ceremonies (including live music, prize give-aways and a beer garden) start at 6:45 pm. This is a sure fire date night option that is bound to help you get to know each other better as you chat along the route.
Gates Pass Arizona
Finish your date by watching the sunset in Tucson's most romantic viewing place. It's a short ride West of Tucson and super accessible, with parking located near the main viewpoint. On the other hand, if you want to impress your date with your endurance, you can hit the hiking trails. The higher you get, the more rewarding the views will be and the fewer people will be around to share your intimate moment with. Just make sure you can get back down to your car after the sun has set and don't tackle any trails outside of your skill level.
Mt Lemmon Arizona
If your sweetheart is the outdoorsy type, you can't go wrong with a visit to Mt. Lemmon. The scenic road out along the Catalina Highway will reward you with some gorgeous views of desert and mountains and includes some spots to pullover and snap some pictures. Once you get there, no matter what season you go in, there's some free activity waiting for you, whether it's hiking, camping, or playing in the snow. This is the perfect Oracle retreat from city life. If you've got the cash for it, a night in the Mt. Lemmon Skycenter makes a memorable addition to your date. Either way you're in for some incredibly starry nights mixed with beautiful alpine days. It's one of our favorite places in Arizona!
Tumamoc Hill Rd, Tucson
Tumamoc Hill Rd
Tucson, AZ 85745
If you and your partner are into early mornings and hiking, head to Tumamoc Hill for a romantic (and possibly sweaty) walk up to catch the first rays of sun coming up over the Tucson Basin. You'll also get some gorgeous views of Tucson proper and can snuggle together for warmth while you wait for the show. The hike itself is only 3.1 miles round trip, but you'll have to navigate some steep switchbacks that'll probably leave you and your date feeling a little breathless before you've even kissed. Don't worry though, there are conveniently placed benches and signs for you to pause at along the way to take a breather. Play it casual and your date won't even realize you're winded. Prefer sunsets to sunrise? Here is the Oracle's suggestion for the best sunset spot in Tucson, complete with amazing photo ops.
330 S Toole Ave #400, Tucson
330 S Toole Ave #400
Tucson, AZ 85701
Okay okay. This one isn't technically free, but it makes for a memorable date anyway and you should know about it. Rocks & Ropes is a climbing gym in town downtown where you and your date can try a new activity together. The gym has a starter pack that includes admission and equipment that's pretty affordable and they'll give you a crash course on how to climb safely. After that, you and your date are free to use the gym and enjoy this unique date.
Sentinel Peak, Tucson
Tucson, AZ 85745
"A" Mountain, or Sentinel Peak to call it by its original name, is another great Tucson viewpoint. The mountain is known for the giant A that decorates the top – courtesy of some University of Arizona students from 1910. Once a year they light it up in a tradition that dates back over a hundred years. If you're looking to take your date on a hike that ends with some stunning views of the city, this is a great option and it's accessible and not too tough. You certainly won't get any alone time, since the trail is well-trafficked, but you can still enjoy the walk and your partner's company.
265 S Church Ave, Tucson
265 S Church Ave
Tucson, AZ 85701
As with most museums, there's one day a month you can go for free, and Tucson's MOCA is no different. Head downtown on the third Thursday of the month and you will not only get in free, but you will find a different theme each time, along with food trucks, performances, music and hand's on activities. Of course you'll be able to enjoy the latest contemporary exhibit as well. And be sure to stop into their delightful gift shop for some really fun and unique items, often relating to the exhibits themselves. If your date goes in for that artsy/fartsy kind of stuff, then this might be the perfect date-night spot, even if you have to patiently wait for it to come around.
2700 N Kinney Rd, Tucson
2700 N Kinney Rd
Tucson, AZ 85743
Entering Saguaro National Park isn't free, but the ranger station is! You can take in some sexy views of the nearby mountains and the massive cacti that the national park is named for. Cue a tumbleweed and you'll feel like you've been transported back in time to the wild west. There's tons of information about the Sonoran Desert and its flora and fauna that you can learn and a great video called "Voices of the Desert" that shows on a loop so you can't miss it. If you're stopping by on your way into the park, there's lots of petroglyphs nearby. Ask a Ranger for directions or head out on one of the many Ranger-guided tours.
4500 E Speedway Blvd #39, Tucson
4500 E Speedway Blvd #39
Tucson, AZ 85712
We all need a good laugh every now an again, and this improv comedy theatre group can help. Their weekend shows are full of laugh out loud moments and surprises. And to sweeten the deal, they have a free show every other Friday night starting at 9pm! Free Form Fridays are both free to get in and free form in nature, meaning that the improv teams that participate can choose any form of improv they want. Parents be forewarned that although they have family friendly shows at other times, the Free Form Fridays can and do contain adult language and material at times. Even if you can't make it on a Friday, be sure to check out their other offerings as they are not expensive, the dedicated theatre space is comfortable and all the seats in the house are great seats.
444 E University Blvd, Tucson
444 E University Blvd
Tucson, AZ 85705
Honestly, this is where the Oracle gets some of the most-delectable, high-quality, affordable, and unpretentious GOURMET food in Tucson. The chefs know what to do and they're right-on! The Oracle especially loves their pizza (house-made mozzarella, no need to say more) the daily special entrees & slices, and the Greek salad with lemon herb vinaigrette, ooh la la!) Ideally located in the quaint historic West University neighborhood... (next to a pretentiously-cold-austere-who-mistakenly-okayed that-modern-monstrosity-of-a-building?) Time Market, is truly an old-world landmark with a coffeehouse/bar, and a wonderful little marketplace with daily baked goods, decent wine selection, local, organic, and international goodies. Take a walk and peruse the aisles and beautiful veggies in this Tucson treasure, and rub elbows with neighborhood peeps from students to old farts and mannerly pups on the dog-friendly patio. C'EST MAGNIFIQUE! When you're done, hop on the trolley outside, or walk to the UA tree-laden campus or down funky 4th Ave.
12325 E Roger Rd, Tucson
12325 E Roger Rd
Tucson, AZ 85749
You don't need cash to enjoy this gorgeous desert oasis disguised as a park. With its ponds and palms, if you're sick of that desert heat, you can't beat an afternoon at Agua Caliente Park. Take a walk or pack a lunch and enjoy a break from the summer sun for a couple of hours. This park is an Oracle favorite. Plus, Agua Caliente has a little something for everyone. Is your date into birds? This is a birding hot spot. Turtles? Right here. Frisbee? There's plenty of space to throw the disc. Picnics? It has a surplus of picnic tables where you can dazzle your date with that meal you thoughtfully prepared.
1030 N Olive Rd, Tucson
1030 N Olive Rd
Tucson, AZ 85719
This exhibition space and study center focuses solely on photography. It is home to 270 photographic archives including works by many master North American photographers such as Ansel Adams, Wynn Bullock, Harry Callahan, and Aaron Siskind. The exhibitions are always free to visit, and you and your date might be surprised at what moves you and what doesn't. There is also a library of books, journals and exhibition and auction catalogs. The center is closed on Sunday and Mondays, and is located on the University of Arizona campus.
501 N 4th Ave, Tucson
501 N 4th Ave
Tucson, AZ 85705
While not exactly free, it's pretty darn close! The Oracle prefers to support local Mom & Pop shops... BUT I make a guilty-pleasure exception for the lowbrow DQ. Yes, it's "FanFood" and I'm a FAN. Even their plain chocolate cone puts just about any designer dessert (or fine wine) to shame... creamy, dreamy, velvety with a delightful after-note of malt. Mmmmm. The drive-thru at this busy location gets dangerous traffic jams. Avoid the whiplash and waddle yourself into the place and remember to tip your servers. FYI- the Oracle's favorite Blizzard is the "Mud Pie" (heavenly vanilla blended with fudge, coffee and REAL(!) Oreos. Enjoy your short-lived nirvana and DON'T look at the nutritional content... go big or stay home!
Scottish Rite, 160 S Scott Ave, Tucson, AZ 85701
160 S Scott Ave
Tucson, AZ 85701
This is one of our FAVORITE date spots though and if you haven't heard of it, you're in for an Evening of Magic that will leave you and your date looking at each other in awe. The Carnival of Illusion is a vaudevillestyle magic show that will keep you on the edge of your seat – and maybe holding your date's hand – for the duration. You may not spend much time talking to each other during the show, but afterwards you and your date can marvel, gush, and speculate over what you've seen. Check out the Magic, Mystery, and Oooh la la!
There are plenty of exciting things going on in and around Tucson that won't cost you anything and make for an unforgettable date night. It's a city full of ghosts, history, and beautiful natural landscapes that will surprise you, even if you're a longtime local. Trust us, the Oracle knows.