Cool Summer Nights
Open till 9:00 p.m. on Saturdays
June 8 - August 24, 2024

The Desert Museum is lovely during the day, but it’s even cooler after dark! Join us every Saturday night throughout the summer to beat the heat while learning something neat! 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, grab a local beer and wander, experience a live animal encounter, scamper in Packrat Playhouse, feel the touch of a stingray, or participate in special nightly activities. See the schedule below for weekly themes.

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Exhibit Closing Times

Some exhibits close early for safety reasons or so that the animals can get some shut eye! The gardens will close at 6:45 p.m., and the aviaries and the Desert Loop Trail will close at 7:00 p.m.

Shopping and Dining Closing Times

The Mountain House Gift Shop (near the entrance) is open until 9:00 p.m.
The Ironwood Gift Shop (near the restaurant complex) is open until 9:00 p.m.

The Ocotillo Café is open from 5:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m.
The Ironwood Terraces Restaurant is open throughout the day until 8:00 p.m.
Phoebé’s Coffee Bar is open throughout the day until 9:00 p.m.

A few menu items from the Ocotillo Café

Photo of Birra Photo of Burger Photo of Dawg Photo of Sopes
(gf) Birria — Slow cooked beef on corn tortillas with pepperjack cheese, served with cilantro, onion, radish and consume for dipping Southwest Bbq Burger — prime rib steak burger, pineapple braised pork, pepperjack cheese, red onion, and house made chipotle Dr. Pepper barbeque sauce, served on grilled bun with roasted jalapeno Chef’s Sonoran Dawg — All beef frank wrapped with applewood smoked bacon, topped with pinto beans, blended cheese, fresh salsa fresca, mustard, and charred jalapeno aioli on a fresh house baked bolillo roll (gf) Sopes — Lightly fried masa shells, with refried beans, shredded chicken, cotija cheese, cilantro, radish, and topped with salsa verde
Couple walking the grounds
Coiled Rattlesnake

PRO TIP

Please remember: rattlesnakes are more active as it gets dark. They are important members of our natural environment but if you spot one, please alert any volunteer or staff member and maintain your distance. Make sure to be alert of where you place your hands & feet. Thank you!

Weekly Themes

Activity schedules subject to additions and changes — check back often for the latest updates!

(See previous Saturday schedules)

June 29 — Astronomy Night (extra late 10:00 p.m. end time)

Tucson is arguably the best city for stargazing in the United States. View the wonders of the night skies at one of our telescope stations and enjoy space-themed activities! Bring your flashlight and explore, grab a local beer and wander, experience a live animal encounter, scamper in Packrat Playhouse, feel the touch of a stingray, and learn more about star maps from our Docents.

Signature Drink — Lost in Space Martini
Throughout the Night
Look for Museum Docents around the grounds interpreting special dinosuar kits, live animals, celestial desert skies, fluorescent minerals, bats, kissing bugs, scorpions, rattlesnakes, and more!
6:00 - 8:45 p.m. Stingray Touch Exhibit
Summertime isn’t complete without a trip to the pool! Dip your hands in the water and experience the touch of a stingray. $3.00/person, $2.00/Museum members.
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Packrat Playhouse
This indoor play space allows children to discover the desert through the eyes of a packrat! Packrat Playhouse may reach capacity. 30-minute reserved play times are available at the Packrat Playhouse entrance.
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Art Exhibits
Make sure to check out 'Seeds, Saguaros & Skeletons' in the Ironwood Gallery!

July 6 — Creatures of the Night

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, grab a local beer and wander, experience a live animal encounter, scamper in Packrat Playhouse, feel the touch of a stingray, or participate in special nightly activities.

Signature Drink — Snake in the Grass Cocktail
7:00 - 7:30 p.m. Live Animal Presentation
Enjoy an educational presentation by the staff of the Interpretive Animal Collection in the air-conditioned Warden Oasis Theater.
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 - 8:45 p.m. Stingray Touch Exhibit
Summertime isn’t complete without a trip to the pool! Dip your hands in the water and experience the touch of a stingray. $3.00/person, $2.00/Museum members.
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Packrat Playhouse
This indoor play space allows children to discover the desert through the eyes of a packrat! Packrat Playhouse may reach capacity. 30-minute reserved play times are available at the Packrat Playhouse entrance.
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Art Exhibits
Make sure to check out 'Seeds, Saguaros & Skeletons' in the Ironwood Gallery!

July 13 — Caturday Night Live

Signature Drink — Black Cat Cocktail
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 - 8:45 p.m. Stingray Touch Exhibit
Summertime isn’t complete without a trip to the pool! Dip your hands in the water and experience the touch of a stingray. $3.00/person, $2.00/Museum members.
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Packrat Playhouse
This indoor play space allows children to discover the desert through the eyes of a packrat! Packrat Playhouse may reach capacity. 30-minute reserved play times are available at the Packrat Playhouse entrance.
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Art Exhibits
Make sure to check out 'Seeds, Saguaros & Skeletons' in the Ironwood Gallery!

July 20 — Radical Reptiles

All things reptilian are in the spotlight tonight! Learn about the Tortoise Adoption Program and meet some of the tortoises available for adoption. There will also be a mini Plant Sale featuring several desert-adapted plants. Bring your flashlight and explore, grab a local beer and wander, experience a live animal encounter, scamper in Packrat Playhouse, and feel the touch of a stingray.

Signature Drink — Howlin’ Green Iguana Cocktail
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Tortoise Adoption Program
Join staff of the Herpetology, Ichthyology, and Invertebrate Zoology department at Taylor Plaza to meet tortoises (and other reptiles).
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Plant Sale
"Hot" from the Botany department, browse a selection of chiles and other plants for sale:
Aji Limon, Pequin x, Scotch Bonnet , Uba Tuba, Aji Cajamarca, 4 Milipas, Anaheim NuMex, Puya, Sinahuisa, Guajillo, Patagonia, Negro de valle, Chimayo , Tabasco, Fresno, Poblano, Chile de Arbol , Serrano, Jalapeño , Habanero, Pasilla, and possibly even more.
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 - 8:45 p.m. Stingray Touch Exhibit
Summertime isn’t complete without a trip to the pool! Dip your hands in the water and experience the touch of a stingray. $3.00/person, $2.00/Museum members.
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Packrat Playhouse
This indoor play space allows children to discover the desert through the eyes of a packrat! Packrat Playhouse may reach capacity. 30-minute reserved play times are available at the Packrat Playhouse entrance.
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Art Exhibits
Make sure to check out 'Seeds, Saguaros & Skeletons' in the Ironwood Gallery!

July 27 — The Magic of Monsoons

Incredible lightning storms and the intoxicating aroma of creosote after the first rain are two of our favorite things about monsoon season! Bring your flashlight and explore, grab a local beer and wander, experience a live animal encounter, scamper in Packrat Playhouse, and feel the touch of a stingray.

Signature Drink — Electric Lemonade Cocktail
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 - 8:45 p.m. Stingray Touch Exhibit
Summertime isn’t complete without a trip to the pool! Dip your hands in the water and experience the touch of a stingray. $3.00/person, $2.00/Museum members.
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Packrat Playhouse
This indoor play space allows children to discover the desert through the eyes of a packrat! Packrat Playhouse may reach capacity. 30-minute reserved play times are available at the Packrat Playhouse entrance.
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Art Exhibits
Make sure to check out 'Seeds, Saguaros & Skeletons' in the Ironwood Gallery!

August 3 — Singing with Saguaros

Howl and boogie with the Desert Museum Family Band! Join education specialists Michelle Miner and Kyleigh Sacco — plus special guests like Mr. Nature, Syndenn Sweet, and Eli Beren — in a desert style Singalong at the Warden Oasis Theater. Get your paws on our nature inspired music album! Bring your flashlight and explore, scamper in Packrat Playhouse, and feel the touch of a stingray.

Signature Drink — Cactus Cosmo
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 - 8:45 p.m. Stingray Touch Exhibit
Summertime isn’t complete without a trip to the pool! Dip your hands in the water and experience the touch of a stingray. $3.00/person, $2.00/Museum members.
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Packrat Playhouse
This indoor play space allows children to discover the desert through the eyes of a packrat! Packrat Playhouse may reach capacity. 30-minute reserved play times are available at the Packrat Playhouse entrance.
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Art Exhibits
Make sure to check out 'Seeds, Saguaros & Skeletons' in the Ironwood Gallery!

August 10 — Insectopia

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. Get a bugs-eye view of many of the million species of arthropods that make the Sonoran Desert their home. Bring your flashlight and explore, grab a local beer and wander, experience a live animal encounter, scamper in Packrat Playhouse, and feel the touch of a stingray.

Signature Drink — June bug Punch
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 - 8:45 p.m. Stingray Touch Exhibit
Summertime isn’t complete without a trip to the pool! Dip your hands in the water and experience the touch of a stingray. $3.00/person, $2.00/Museum members.
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Packrat Playhouse
This indoor play space allows children to discover the desert through the eyes of a packrat! Packrat Playhouse may reach capacity. 30-minute reserved play times are available at the Packrat Playhouse entrance.
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Art Exhibits
Make sure to check out 'Seeds, Saguaros & Skeletons' in the Ironwood Gallery!

August 17 — Bat Night

Are you feeling batty? Come celebrate the only flying mammals — bats! The evening will be filled with fun, educational activities, talks, and crafts designed to help you better appreciate these amazing aerial acrobats! Bring your flashlight and explore, grab a local beer and wander, experience a live animal encounter, scamper in Packrat Playhouse, and feel the touch of a stingray.

Signature Drink — Bat Bite
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 - 8:45 p.m. Stingray Touch Exhibit
Summertime isn’t complete without a trip to the pool! Dip your hands in the water and experience the touch of a stingray. $3.00/person, $2.00/Museum members.
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Packrat Playhouse
This indoor play space allows children to discover the desert through the eyes of a packrat! Packrat Playhouse may reach capacity. 30-minute reserved play times are available at the Packrat Playhouse entrance.
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Art Exhibits
Make sure to check out our new exhibit in the Ironwood Gallery and 'Forces of Nature' in the Baldwin Education Building!

August 24 — Teacher Appreciation Night

Help us close out the final Cool Summer Nights with celebrating Teachers and Support Staff. Teachers and Support Staff, enjoy free admission (including Stingray Touch), swag bags, freebies, raffle, and more. We appreciate all the hard work that it takes to inspire and educate our children. Bring your flashlight and explore, grab a local beer and wander, experience a live animal encounter, scamper in Packrat Playhouse, and feel the touch of a stingray.

Signature Drink — Sour Patch Kids Margarita
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 - 8:45 p.m. Stingray Touch Exhibit
Summertime isn’t complete without a trip to the pool! Dip your hands in the water and experience the touch of a stingray. $3.00/person, $2.00/Museum members, free for teachers and support staff.
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Packrat Playhouse
This indoor play space allows children to discover the desert through the eyes of a packrat! Packrat Playhouse may reach capacity. 30-minute reserved play times are available at the Packrat Playhouse entrance.
6:00 - 9:00 p.m. Art Exhibits
Make sure to check out our new exhibit in the Ironwood Gallery and 'Forces of Nature' in the Baldwin Education Building!

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