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Cool Summer Nights - Open till 10:00 p.m. Saturday
May 18 - August 31, 2019

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

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 additions and changes — check back often for the latest updates!

May 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.

6:30 & 8:00 p.m. Desert Survivors
(two 30-minute presentations)
Desert animals don’t just survive — they thrive! Active and interested, our furry, scaled, and winged friends beat the heat by coming out after dark. Join our educators and meet some nocturnal creatures in Desert Survivors.
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!
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!

May 25 — 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.

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. (Activity contingent on weather conditions.)
8:00 p.m. I Thought I Knew That: 20 (Very!) Common Astronomy Fallacies
Everyone knows why we have the seasons, or why the moon has phases, or what the name of the brightest star is… right? In this talk, University of Arizona Astronomer Dr. Kevin Hainline will explore how we create scientific understanding in our heads by confronting 20 common astronomy misconceptions. Come and learn about asteroids, shooting stars, black holes, floating astronauts and solar eclipses.
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!
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!

June 1 — Dino 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!
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!

June 8 — World Oceans Night

Join the Desert Museum in honoring and celebrating the world's oceans. Enjoy free sustainable seafood tastings by Fini’s Landing, Primo, Cup Café, Hotel Congress and the Desert Museum’s own Craft Culinary Concepts restaurants. The night also includes special splashy presentations in the Warden Oasis Theater and interactive ocean activities for all ages.

6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Free Sustainable Seafood Tastings
Local restaurants demonstrate how delicious conservation can be with sustainably harvested seafood tastings.
6:45 - 7:15 Desert Animals, Ocean Animals… Not So Different After All!
A family fun, live animal presentation comparing how ocean animals and our Sonoran Desert animals are not as different as they may seem.
7:30 - 8:15 p.m. The Shark Guy — Our Amazing Oceans
Celebrate with this fun and informative presentation which focuses on animal diversity in our oceans.
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!
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!

June 15 — Pollinator Party!

Help us celebrate National Pollinator Week by honoring the precious pollinators that help our desert ecosystem thrive! The week (June 17-23) celebrates bees, birds, butterflies, bats, beetles, and more.

Throughout the Night: Where the Wild Pollinators Are!
Docents will help you see and hear night blooming plants and night pollinators, such as bats and moths, that do their important work in the dark of night. Look for docent stations around the grounds.
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!
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!

June 22 — 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.

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. (Activity contingent on weather conditions.)
8:00 p.m. I Thought I Knew That: 20 (Very!) Common Astronomy Fallacies
Everyone knows why we have the seasons, or why the moon has phases, or what the name of the brightest star is… right? In this talk, University of Arizona Astronomer Dr. Kevin Hainline will explore how we create scientific understanding in our heads by confronting 20 common astronomy misconceptions. Come and learn about asteroids, shooting stars, black holes, floating astronauts and solar eclipses.
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!
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!

June 29 — 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.

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!
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!

July 6 — 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.


July 13 — 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.


July 20 — Explore Outdoors!

Summer nights are always a great time to discover desert wonders. View a lightning show (safely in the theater!), listen to toads, insects and bats, watch moths at night-blooming flowers, and visit with the Museum’s non-human residents as they come out to enjoy the cooler night.


July 27 — 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.


August 3 — Harry Potter Night


August 10 — 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.


August 17 — Gastronomy Night / Teacher Appreciation Night

We know that teachers go above and beyond every day to ensure the best future for our children and our environment. We are fortunate to have dedicated teachers, like you, in our community. Please join us at Teacher Appreciation Night, and help us celebrate you!

The Desert Museum is a wonderful place to bone up on biology, rock out with geology, and take off with astronomy! Spend time with our animated animals and enjoy conversations with other educators underneath a stunning sunset.

Teachers will receive free admission and 10% off in our gift shops with a teacher ID*. Desert Museum staff and other community education programs will showcase 2019-19 offerings. Plus, books and posters from the Desert Museum's backlist will be available free to teachers! No pre-registration is necessary.

*If your school does not issue ID badges, please bring a letter on school letterhead from your principal or other administrator stating that you are a teacher.


August 24 — 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.


August 31 — Bat Night

Come celebrate the only flying mammals- bats! The night will be filled with fun, educational activities, talks, and crafts designed to help you better appreciate these winged wonders.

Couple observing the sunset
Photo credit: Arizona Daily Star

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