Cool Summer Nights May 26 - September 1, 2018 Saturday: Open 'til 10:00 p.m.

Regular Admission Rates Apply

Familes enjoying the treehouse at dusk
Photo credit: Arizona Daily Star

Guests under floodlit canopy in the Desert Garden
Photo credit: Rhonda Spencer

Children using black lights to search for scorpions in rock wall
Photo credit: Rhonda Spencer

Beat the Arizona heat and enjoy a family-friendly outing during our popular Cool Summer Nights. So what makes these Saturday evenings so enchanting? The stunning sunsets, skies speckled with stars, night-blooming plants, and animals reappearing from their daytime naps.

The desert comes alive at night as nocturnal animals awake. Bats perform aerial acrobatics in pursuit of dinner, beavers splash around in their pond, and scorpions glow green under black light. Bring your flashlight and explore, experience a live animal encounter, or participate in special nightly activities. See the schedule below for weekly themes and activities.

Dining options

Skip the Line Packrat Playhouse

Packrat Playhouse has been popular on Cool Summer Nights! Sign up in advance for a guaranteed 30-minute play time ($5/person) or come to the Playhouse during the evening to get your name on the list (subject to availability)!

Pro tip? Arrive early for the best parking!

Mother and child in pushchair, walking the grounds
Photo credit: Arizona Daily Star

Weekly Themes & Activity Schedule

Activity schedules subject to change — check back often for the latest updates!

(See previous Saturday schedules)

June 30 — Dino Night

5:00 - 9:00 p.m. Fine Art Exhibits for All!
“Becoming Animal” explores the artificial breach between humans and the natural world. Through the use of black and white photography, Schafer reminds viewers that humanity’s deepest fear is not that we are separate from nature, but rather that we are a part of it. This exhibit provides a space for reflection and allows guests an engagement opportunity to form deeper relationships with the non-human animals of the planet.
6:00 - 7:30 p.m. Flute Players
Relax, cool off and sample the soothing sounds of Native-American inspired flute music.
8:00 p.m. Sonorasaurus, Arizona's new official state Dinosaur!
State Senator Steve Farley: Introduction
Science and Civic Engagement: the importance of our new state dinosaur
Jax Weldon: Proponent of SB 1517 to make Sonorasaurus Arizona's State Dinosaur.
Jax has been studying dinosaurs for 10 years. He was 2 years old when he started!
Richard Thompson, PhD: Sonorasaurus and What's New in Dinosaur Science?
Learn about Sonorasaurus thompsonii (Arizona’s state dinosaur) and the environment it lived in from its discoverer, Rich Thompson. Rich will also talk about some of the coolest dinosaur science and discoveries of the last few years. View original Sonorasaurus specimens.
Throughout the Night
Look for Museum Docents around the grounds interpreting live animals, celestial desert skies, fluorescent minerals, bats, kissing bugs, scorpions, rattlesnakes, and more!
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Stingray Touch Exhibit
Admission: $2 Members / $3 Non-Members
Visitors are able to create their own moments with these captivating creatures at the Stingray Touch experience. The pool features cow nose stingrays that guests can interact with. Be touched by a ray!
Skip the Line
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Packrat Playhouse
This indoor (air-conditioned) play space allows children to discover the desert through the eyes of a packrat. Kids can slide down a Gila monster's tail, climb through prickly pear cactus pads, slither through an oversized rattlesnake, explore secret tunnels, scramble in giant rope netting, and much more!
Skip the line - reserve your time in the Packrat Playhouse!

July 7 — Creatures of the Night

The desert is the place to be for lively nightlife! Bats, owls, and kangaroo rats are just a few of the animals that awaken as the sun sets. Explore their world and learn a little more about life after dark.

5:00 - 9:00 p.m. Fine Art Exhibits for All!
“Becoming Animal” explores the artificial breach between humans and the natural world. Through the use of black and white photography, Schafer reminds viewers that humanity’s deepest fear is not that we are separate from nature, but rather that we are a part of it. This exhibit provides a space for reflection and allows guests an engagement opportunity to form deeper relationships with the non-human animals of the planet.
6:30 & 8:00 p.m. Live and (sort of) on the Loose
(two 45-minute presentations)
Join staff members from the Herpetology Department for a live animal presentation featuring venomous reptiles of the Sonoran Desert Region.
Throughout the Night
Look for Museum Docents around the grounds interpreting live animals, celestial desert skies, fluorescent minerals, bats, kissing bugs, scorpions, rattlesnakes, and more!
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Stingray Touch Exhibit
Admission: $2 Members / $3 Non-Members
Visitors are able to create their own moments with these captivating creatures at the Stingray Touch experience. The pool features cow nose stingrays that guests can interact with. Be touched by a ray!
Skip the Line
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Packrat Playhouse
This indoor (air-conditioned) play space allows children to discover the desert through the eyes of a packrat. Kids can slide down a Gila monster's tail, climb through prickly pear cactus pads, slither through an oversized rattlesnake, explore secret tunnels, scramble in giant rope netting, and much more!
Skip the line - reserve your time in the Packrat Playhouse!

July 14 — Astronomy Night

Join the experts from the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO), Tucson Amateur Astronomers, and Desert Museum docents for a star-studded evening adventure — complete with star gazing and lots of solar system hands-on activities.

5:00 - 9:00 p.m. Fine Art Exhibits for All!
“Becoming Animal” explores the artificial breach between humans and the natural world. Through the use of black and white photography, Schafer reminds viewers that humanity’s deepest fear is not that we are separate from nature, but rather that we are a part of it. This exhibit provides a space for reflection and allows guests an engagement opportunity to form deeper relationships with the non-human animals of the planet.
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. NOAO Kitt Peak Activities
Enjoy interactive and educational solar system activities from National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) Kitt Peak. Great for families!
7:00 - 9:30 p.m. Telescope Stations
Stargaze through high-powered telescopes and marvel at the wonders of the night sky.
6:00 - 7:30 p.m. Flute Players
Relax, cool off and sample the soothing sounds of Native-American inspired flute music.
8:00 p.m. Astronomy Presentation - Kevin Hainline
Throughout the Night
Look for Museum Docents around the grounds interpreting live animals, celestial desert skies, fluorescent minerals, bats, kissing bugs, scorpions, rattlesnakes, and more!
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Stingray Touch Exhibit
Admission: $2 Members / $3 Non-Members
Visitors are able to create their own moments with these captivating creatures at the Stingray Touch experience. The pool features cow nose stingrays that guests can interact with. Be touched by a ray!
Skip the Line
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Packrat Playhouse
This indoor (air-conditioned) play space allows children to discover the desert through the eyes of a packrat. Kids can slide down a Gila monster's tail, climb through prickly pear cactus pads, slither through an oversized rattlesnake, explore secret tunnels, scramble in giant rope netting, and much more!
Skip the line - reserve your time in the Packrat Playhouse!

July 21 — Insect Insanity

Let’s celebrate Incredible Insects and Amazing Arthropods! The Sonoran Desert is a hot spot of insect diversity and this is your chance to meet them. Tonight, get a bugs-eye view of many of the million species of arthropods that make the Sonoran Desert their home.

5:00 - 9:00 p.m. Fine Art Exhibits for All!
“Becoming Animal” explores the artificial breach between humans and the natural world. Through the use of black and white photography, Schafer reminds viewers that humanity’s deepest fear is not that we are separate from nature, but rather that we are a part of it. This exhibit provides a space for reflection and allows guests an engagement opportunity to form deeper relationships with the non-human animals of the planet.
6:00 - 7:30 p.m. Flute Players
Relax, cool off and sample the soothing sounds of Native-American inspired flute music.
8:00 p.m. Insect Presentation
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Arthropods, Pollinators, Arts, and Crafts
Throughout the Night
Look for Museum Docents around the grounds interpreting live animals, celestial desert skies, fluorescent minerals, bats, kissing bugs, scorpions, rattlesnakes, and more!
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Stingray Touch Exhibit
Admission: $2 Members / $3 Non-Members
Visitors are able to create their own moments with these captivating creatures at the Stingray Touch experience. The pool features cow nose stingrays that guests can interact with. Be touched by a ray!
Skip the Line
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Packrat Playhouse
This indoor (air-conditioned) play space allows children to discover the desert through the eyes of a packrat. Kids can slide down a Gila monster's tail, climb through prickly pear cactus pads, slither through an oversized rattlesnake, explore secret tunnels, scramble in giant rope netting, and much more!
Skip the line - reserve your time in the Packrat Playhouse!

July 28 — Creatures of the Night

The desert is the place to be for lively nightlife! Bats, owls, and kangaroo rats are just a few of the animals that awaken as the sun sets. Explore their world and learn a little more about life after dark.

5:00 - 9:00 p.m. Fine Art Exhibits for All!
“Becoming Animal” explores the artificial breach between humans and the natural world. Through the use of black and white photography, Schafer reminds viewers that humanity’s deepest fear is not that we are separate from nature, but rather that we are a part of it. This exhibit provides a space for reflection and allows guests an engagement opportunity to form deeper relationships with the non-human animals of the planet.
6:00 – 9:00 p.m. Free Family Art Activities
Families come and go as they please. Multiple Sonoran Desert inspired creation stations change weekly! Dress for art making, children must be accompanied by an adult.
6:30 & 8:00 p.m. Fur, Feathers & Fangs
(two 30-minute presentations)
Join our keepers as they introduce you to a few of our desert dwellers, and share stories about what it’s like to work with these amazing animals. Learn about their habitats and behaviors, including adaptations for surviving and thriving in this unique environment.
8:00 – 8:45 p.m. Take Great Photos with any Camera, presented by Jay Pierstorff
Camera phone, point and shoot or advanced cameras? Something for everyone in this 45-minute class.
Throughout the Night
Look for Museum Docents around the grounds interpreting live animals, celestial desert skies, fluorescent minerals, bats, kissing bugs, scorpions, rattlesnakes, and more!
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Stingray Touch Exhibit
Admission: $2 Members / $3 Non-Members
Visitors are able to create their own moments with these captivating creatures at the Stingray Touch experience. The pool features cow nose stingrays that guests can interact with. Be touched by a ray!
Skip the Line
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Packrat Playhouse
This indoor (air-conditioned) play space allows children to discover the desert through the eyes of a packrat. Kids can slide down a Gila monster's tail, climb through prickly pear cactus pads, slither through an oversized rattlesnake, explore secret tunnels, scramble in giant rope netting, and much more!
Skip the line - reserve your time in the Packrat Playhouse!

August 4 — Creatures of the Night

The desert is the place to be for lively nightlife! Bats, owls, and kangaroo rats are just a few of the animals that awaken as the sun sets. Explore their world and learn a little more about life after dark.

5:00 - 9:00 p.m. Fine Art Exhibits for All!
“Becoming Animal” explores the artificial breach between humans and the natural world. Through the use of black and white photography, Schafer reminds viewers that humanity’s deepest fear is not that we are separate from nature, but rather that we are a part of it. This exhibit provides a space for reflection and allows guests an engagement opportunity to form deeper relationships with the non-human animals of the planet.
6:00 – 9:00 p.m. Free Family Art Activities
Families come and go as they please. Multiple Sonoran Desert inspired creation stations change weekly! Dress for art making, children must be accompanied by an adult.
6:30 & 8:00 p.m. Live and (sort of) on the Loose
(two 45-minute presentations)
Join staff members from the Herpetology Department for a live animal presentation featuring venomous reptiles of the Sonoran Desert Region.
8:00 – 8:45 p.m. A Buyer’s Guide to Mirrorless Cameras, presented by Jay Pierstorff
Thinking of buying a mirrorless camera? Your questions answered – what you will need to know!
Throughout the Night
Look for Museum Docents around the grounds interpreting live animals, celestial desert skies, fluorescent minerals, bats, kissing bugs, scorpions, rattlesnakes, and more!
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Stingray Touch Exhibit
Admission: $2 Members / $3 Non-Members
Visitors are able to create their own moments with these captivating creatures at the Stingray Touch experience. The pool features cow nose stingrays that guests can interact with. Be touched by a ray!
Skip the Line
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Packrat Playhouse
This indoor (air-conditioned) play space allows children to discover the desert through the eyes of a packrat. Kids can slide down a Gila monster's tail, climb through prickly pear cactus pads, slither through an oversized rattlesnake, explore secret tunnels, scramble in giant rope netting, and much more!
Skip the line - reserve your time in the Packrat Playhouse!

August 11 — Bat Night

Throughout the Night
Look for Museum Docents around the grounds interpreting live animals, celestial desert skies, fluorescent minerals, bats, kissing bugs, scorpions, rattlesnakes, and more!
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Stingray Touch Exhibit
Admission: $2 Members / $3 Non-Members
Visitors are able to create their own moments with these captivating creatures at the Stingray Touch experience. The pool features cow nose stingrays that guests can interact with. Be touched by a ray!
Skip the Line
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Packrat Playhouse
This indoor (air-conditioned) play space allows children to discover the desert through the eyes of a packrat. Kids can slide down a Gila monster's tail, climb through prickly pear cactus pads, slither through an oversized rattlesnake, explore secret tunnels, scramble in giant rope netting, and much more!
Skip the line - reserve your time in the Packrat Playhouse!

August 18 — Creatures of the Night

The desert is the place to be for lively nightlife! Bats, owls, and kangaroo rats are just a few of the animals that awaken as the sun sets. Explore their world and learn a little more about life after dark.

5:00 - 9:00 p.m. Fine Art Exhibits for All!
“Becoming Animal” explores the artificial breach between humans and the natural world. Through the use of black and white photography, Schafer reminds viewers that humanity’s deepest fear is not that we are separate from nature, but rather that we are a part of it. This exhibit provides a space for reflection and allows guests an engagement opportunity to form deeper relationships with the non-human animals of the planet.
6:00 – 9:00 p.m. Free Family Art Activities
Families come and go as they please. Multiple Sonoran Desert inspired creation stations change weekly! Dress for art making, children must be accompanied by an adult.
6:30 & 8:00 p.m. Live and (sort of) on the Loose
(two 45-minute presentations)
Join staff members from the Herpetology Department for a live animal presentation featuring venomous reptiles of the Sonoran Desert Region.
8:00 – 8:45 p.m. Photography: Flash for Pro Results, presented by Jay Pierstorff
Often confusing and mostly misunderstood, using flash in the right way can make your photos better, slicker, and more professional.
Throughout the Night
Look for Museum Docents around the grounds interpreting live animals, celestial desert skies, fluorescent minerals, bats, kissing bugs, scorpions, rattlesnakes, and more!
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Stingray Touch Exhibit
Admission: $2 Members / $3 Non-Members
Visitors are able to create their own moments with these captivating creatures at the Stingray Touch experience. The pool features cow nose stingrays that guests can interact with. Be touched by a ray!
Skip the Line
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Packrat Playhouse
This indoor (air-conditioned) play space allows children to discover the desert through the eyes of a packrat. Kids can slide down a Gila monster's tail, climb through prickly pear cactus pads, slither through an oversized rattlesnake, explore secret tunnels, scramble in giant rope netting, and much more!
Skip the line - reserve your time in the Packrat Playhouse!

August 25 — Creatures of the Night / Teacher Appreciation Night

Throughout the Night
Look for Museum Docents around the grounds interpreting live animals, celestial desert skies, fluorescent minerals, bats, kissing bugs, scorpions, rattlesnakes, and more!
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Stingray Touch Exhibit
Admission: $2 Members / $3 Non-Members
Visitors are able to create their own moments with these captivating creatures at the Stingray Touch experience. The pool features cow nose stingrays that guests can interact with. Be touched by a ray!
Skip the Line
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Packrat Playhouse
This indoor (air-conditioned) play space allows children to discover the desert through the eyes of a packrat. Kids can slide down a Gila monster's tail, climb through prickly pear cactus pads, slither through an oversized rattlesnake, explore secret tunnels, scramble in giant rope netting, and much more!
Skip the line - reserve your time in the Packrat Playhouse!

September 1 — ASDM Birthday

Throughout the Night
Look for Museum Docents around the grounds interpreting live animals, celestial desert skies, fluorescent minerals, bats, kissing bugs, scorpions, rattlesnakes, and more!
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Stingray Touch Exhibit
Admission: $2 Members / $3 Non-Members
Visitors are able to create their own moments with these captivating creatures at the Stingray Touch experience. The pool features cow nose stingrays that guests can interact with. Be touched by a ray!
Skip the Line
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Packrat Playhouse
This indoor (air-conditioned) play space allows children to discover the desert through the eyes of a packrat. Kids can slide down a Gila monster's tail, climb through prickly pear cactus pads, slither through an oversized rattlesnake, explore secret tunnels, scramble in giant rope netting, and much more!
Skip the line - reserve your time in the Packrat Playhouse!

Couple observing the sunset
Photo credit: Arizona Daily Star