Photo courtesy Act One. The Heard Museum is one of 21 arts and culture institutions offering free admission for two guests through Act One’s Culture Pass program.
Photo courtesy Act One.

Culture Passes offer free admission to the Phoenix Art Museum, Reid Park Zoo, and over a dozen other arts and culture institutions throughout the state.

There is no shortage of museums, theatres, and botanical gardens in Arizona—many of which offer free passes to locals.

The Culture Pass program was created by Act One, a Phoenix-based nonprofit that works to make the arts accessible to students and families—particularly those who cannot afford the cost of tickets or transportation. 

Whether the weather is cooling down or about to heat up, there’s a culture pass for every season. Here’s The Copper Courier’s guide to making the most of these delightfully free, family-friendly offerings.

How to Get a Culture Pass

It’s been over a decade since Mr. Ratburn’s class declared that “having fun isn’t hard, when you’ve got a library card!” That sentiment has never been more true than it is today. In addition to free books, movies, and reading clubs available at public libraries, Arizonans can find Culture Passes at 23 different library branches throughout the state.

The catch? Only residents with a library card can check out a Culture Pass. The good news is library cards are free and easy to obtain. All that’s needed is proof of identification and proof of residence. Maricopa County Libraries even offer a video conference option so residents can sign up for a library card from home.

Once a library card is obtained, residents of Maricopa County, Pima County, and participating regions of Northern Arizona can check the online catalog of available passes to see what’s available, then head to the nearest library and pick up their passes. Unless otherwise stated, each pass includes free admission for two guests.

Amerind Museum

Amerind Museum

Photo courtesy Act One

Location: 2100 N. Amerind Rd., Dragoon, AZ 85609 in Cochise County. It’s roughly one hour east of Tucson, between Benson and Willcox. 

COVID Precautions: Masks are required while inside the museum, and guests are asked to maintain social distancing between themselves and other visitors. 

Cost for Additional Tickets:
Adults: $12

Seniors (62 and older): $10

College students with ID: $10

Youth (ages 10-17): $10

Children (under age 10): Free

The Amerind Museum is home to more than 38,000 ancient and contemporary cultural artifacts relating to Indigenous culture, history, and current events. Curations focus mainly on Indigenous communities of northern Mexico and the southwest US. The museum, in addition to art installations, offers a 22,000-volume research library.

Arcosanti

Arcosanti
Photo courtesy Act One

Location: 13555 S. Cross L Rd., Mayer, AZ 86333 in Yavapai County, about one hour southeast of Prescott

COVID Precautions: Masks are required while on the tour, and only cashless transactions are currently accepted. 

Cost for Additional Tickets:

General admission: $20

Students with ID: $12

Children age 12 and under: Free

Initially started as an experimental living community in the 1970s, Arcosanti is now studied by architecture students as an early example of a live-work community that embraces the nature around it and focuses on providing residents with a way to balance the modern world with the environment around them. 

Arizona Arts Live

Photo courtesy Act One

Location: Location varies, with performances scheduled for Hotel Congress, the Stevie Eller Dance Theatre, and other theatrical venues in Tucson.

COVID Precautions: Arizona Arts Live performances adhere to the University of Arizona’s COVID-19 safety protocols.

Cost for Additional Tickets: Prices vary; visit Arizona Arts Live’s event page for ticket prices for upcoming performances.

Arizona Arts Live is an initiative of the University of Arizona to bring Tucson’s artistic offerings to the global stage and make the city an arts destination. Performances include offerings from musical artists, professional dancers, and traveling theater companies.

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Arizona Sonora Desert Museum
Photo courtesy Act One

Location: 2021 N. Kinney Rd, Tucson, AZ 85743 on the west side of Tucson

COVID Precautions: Masks are required for all guests over the age of 2.

Cost for Additional Tickets:

General admission (ages 13-64): $24.95

Seniors (age 65 and older): $22.95

Youth (ages 3-12): $13.95

Children (under age 3): Free

The 98-acre Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is almost entirely outdoors and features over 200 animal species, more than 1,000 plants, 2 miles of walking paths, and a comprehensive collection of regional minerals. The museum heralds itself as being a fusion of zoo, botanical garden, art gallery, natural history museum, and aquarium.

Cave Creek Museum

Photo courtesy Act One

Location: 6140 E. Skyline Dr., Cave Creek, AZ 85331

Cost for Additional Tickets:

​​Adults: $7

Seniors: $5

Students age 12 and older: $5

The Cave Creek Historical Society opened the Cave Creek Museum in 1970 with the intent to preserve the region’s history, both modern and prehistoric. The museum hosts a variety of exhibits chronicling the history of the Tonto Apache and Yavapai Indians that inhabited the region before US troops took the region by force in the late 19th century. Visitors can also learn about Cave Creek’s gold rush and cattle ranching era, and even see a scale model of the Cave of Cave Creek—the actual cave is located on private property and is not accessible to the general public.

Desert Botanical Garden

Photo courtesy Act One

Location: 1201 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix, AZ 85008

COVID Precautions: Face masks are required for all indoor spaces and outdoors when social distancing is not possible.

Cost for Additional Tickets:

General admission: $24.95-$39.95

Youth (ages 3-17): $14.95-$18.95

Children (under age 3): Free 

Spanning over 140 acres, the Desert Botanical Garden is home to 50,000 plant displays and five walking trails that showcase the different plant species that have found a way to thrive in the dry heat of the Sonoran Desert.

Desert Caballeros Western Museum

Photo courtesy Act One

Location: 21 N. Frontier St., Wickenburg, AZ 85390, about one hour northwest of Phoenix

Cost for Additional Tickets:

Adults: $12

Seniors and AAA members: $10

Children age 17 and under: Free

The Desert Caballeros Western Museum is a Smithsonian Affiliate, nationally recognized as a center for Western art, history, and culture. Exhibits include curations focused on Apache art and culture, the development of Wickenburg and the Old West, and historical and modern portrayals of cowboys and ranchers.

Heard Museum

Heard Museum
Photo courtesy Act One

Location: 2301 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85004

COVID Precautions: Masks are strongly encouraged for all visitors, regardless of vaccination status.

Cost for Additional Tickets:

Adults: $20

Seniors (age 65 and older): $17

Students with ID: $9

Children ages 6-17: $9

Children age 5 and under: Free

Indigenous people with tribal ID: Free

There are roughly 44,000 objects on display across 12 exhibit galleries within the Heard Museum. The museum’s focus is largely on the advancement of Indigenous art and features collaborations with Indigenous artists and tribes to provide visitors with a unique perspective on the art of the Native people of the American Southwest.

Irish Cultural Center

Irish Cultural Center
Photo courtesy Act One

Location: 1106 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85004

COVID Precautions: Masks are required for all guests, regardless of age or vaccination status.

Cost for Additional Tickets:

The center is currently only open for scheduled tours, with a maximum of eight guests per tour. Tickets can be purchased through Eventbrite and come with an additional purchasing fee.

Adults: $10

Seniors (age 65 and older): $7

Students: $7

Children ages 12-17: $5

Children age 11 and younger: Free

As part of a partnership with the City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department, the Irish Cultural Center was founded in 1999 and aims to preserve Irish heritage in Arizona and educate visitors about the people of Ireland and Celtic culture. Guests can take part in “programs, classes, festivals, and special events including history, music, art, dance, literature, drama, crafts, language, travel, sports, and traditional activities.”

Museum of Northern Arizona

Museum of Northern Arizona
Photo courtesy Act One

Location: 3101 N. Ft. Valley Rd., Flagstaff, AZ 86001

COVID Precautions: Visitors who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 are required to wear masks while at the museum.

Cost for Additional Tickets:

General admission: $15

Children ages 10-17: $10

Children age 9 and under: Free 

NAU students with ID: Free

The Museum of Northern Arizona offers nine exhibits featuring Southwestern jewelry, artifacts of Indigenous peoples who inhabited the Colorado Plateau, a collection of art by women artists from the early 20th century, and several archeological and geological curations. The museum has also put together a Family Guide to ensure visitors of all ages have an enriching experience.

Phoenix Art Museum

Phoenix Art Museum
Photo courtesy Act One

Location: 1625 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85004

COVID Precautions: Visitors are strongly encouraged to wear face masks and adhere to social distancing guidelines. Masks are required for all visitors and staff inside Whitman Hall and Singer Hall events.

Cost for Additional Tickets:

Tickets purchased onsite incur a $2 surcharge.

Adults: $23

Seniors (age 65 and older): $20

College students with ID: $18

Children ages 6-17: $14

Children age 5 and under: Free 

The Phoenix Art Museum is the largest art museum in the Southwest and holds a collection of more than 20,000 works of art, fashion, and design from around the world. Visitors can also enjoy a robust selection of film, live performances, and education programs for all ages.

Pueblo Grande Museum Archeological Park

Pueblo Grande Museum
Photo courtesy Act One

Location: 4619 E. Washington St., Phoenix, AZ 85034

COVID Precautions: Masks are required for all visitors, regardless of vaccination status.

Cost for Additional Tickets:

Adults (ages 18-54): $6

Seniors (age 55 and older): $5

Children ages 6-17: $3

Children age 5 and younger: Free

The Pueblo Grande Museum Archeological Park is home to three galleries: the Main Gallery, the Children’s Gallery, and the Changing Gallery. Visitors can expect to learn about the Hohokam people and the archeological tools used to unearth their history. 

Reid Park Zoo

Photo courtesy Act One

Location: 3400 Zoo Ct., Tucson, AZ 85716

COVID Precautions: Reid Park Zoo adheres to the city of Tucson’s COVID-19 regulations, which include the requirement that all visitors over the age of 2 wear a mask when indoors.

Cost for Additional Tickets:

Adults: $10.50

Seniors (age 62 and older): $8.50

Children ages 2-14: $6.50

Children age 1 and younger: Free

Home to everything from African spotted-neck otters to squirrel monkeys, Reid Park Zoo in Tucson is a 24-acre city-owned zoo that focuses on education and conservation. Attendees are also invited to attend a number of events, including a guided bird walkthrough hosted by the Tucson Audubon Society, and the Junior Zookeeper program, where kids can take part in an interactive experience that includes a firsthand look at what it takes to be a zookeeper.

Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art

Photo courtesy Act One

Location: 7374 E. Second St., Scottsdale, AZ 85251

COVID Precautions: Guests over the age of 3 are required to wear a mask while at the museum, and visitors are encouraged to practice social distancing guidelines. 

Cost for Additional Tickets:

Adults: $10 

Students: $7 

Guests age 18 and younger: Free 

The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA) has several exhibits dedicated to contemporary art, architecture, and design. The museum also highlights a group of local artists in the exhibit “Forever Becoming: Young Phoenix Artists” who use art to “expose the complexities of becoming within the rapidly evolving ethos of today” and cover issues such as social justice, environmental degradation, exploration of sexuality, and marginalized communities.

Sedona Heritage Museum

Sedona Heritage Museum
Photo courtesy Act One

Location: 735 Jordan Rd., Sedona, AZ 86336

COVID Precautions: Masks are required while inside the museum, and guests are asked to maintain social distancing between themselves and other visitors. 

Cost for Additional Tickets:

Adults: $7

Location: 735 Jordan Rd., Sedona, AZ 86336

COVID Precautions: Masks are required while inside the museum, and guests are asked to maintain social distancing between themselves and other visitors. 

Cost for Additional Tickets:

Adults: $7

Children age 12 and under: Free

Become an expert on everything Sedona by visiting the Sedona Heritage Museum. The museum has historical exhibits looking at the ranchers, cowboys, and orchard industry titans who developed the region, along with exhibits showcasing movies that have been filmed in Sedona.

Superstition Mountain Museum

Superstition Mountain Museum
Photo courtesy Act One

Location: Tonto National Forest at 4087 E. Apache Trail, Apache Junction, AZ 85119, just south of Lost Dutchman State Park on Highway 88

Cost for Additional Tickets:

Adults: $7

Seniors (age 65 and older): $6

Students ages 11-17: $4

Children 10 and under: Free admission with paid adult

There’s enough history in Tonto National Forest to fill a museum—and in the case of the Superstition Mountain Museum, enough to fill nearly 20 different exhibits and attractions. The museum chronicles both the geological wonders of the mountains as well as the lives of the original inhabitants—the Salado, the Hohokam, and the Apache—and their violent expulsion from their homeland by Spanish explorers, Mexican gold miners, and the US Cavalry.

Visitors can also learn more about Jacob Waltz—a 19th-century German prospector believed to have hidden fortunes untold within the Superstition Mountains whose story circulated among locals as the Legend of the Lost Dutchman.

Tohono Chul Park

Photo courtesy Act One

Location: 7366 Paseo del Norte, Tucson, AZ 85704, off Highway 77, just northwest of the Catalina Foothills

COVID Precautions: Masks are required while on garden premises, and guests are asked to maintain social distancing between themselves and other visitors. 

Cost for Additional Tickets:

Adult: $15

Senior (age 62 and older): $13

Students with ID: $13

Children ages 5-12: $6

Children age 4 and younger: Free 

Visitors to Tohono Chul Park will find 49 acres of gardens, walking paths, and themed botanical wonders, all resting within view of the majestic Santa Catalina Mountains. While the sheer amount of galleries and gardens may feel overwhelming to the first-time visitor, never fear—guided tours are available daily to help attendees get the lay of the land. Tohono Chul also has special experiences for younger guests so family members of all ages can get the most out of their visit.

Tucson Botanical Gardens

Tucson Botanical Gardens
Photo courtesy Act One

Location: 2150 N. Alvernon Way, Tucson, AZ 85712

COVID Precautions: Masks are optional for guests vaccinated against COVID-19; otherwise, masks are required indoors at all times and outdoors when social distancing is not possible.

Cost for Additional Tickets:

Adults: $15

Seniors (age 62 and older): $13

Students with ID: $13

Children ages 4-17: $8

Children age 4 and younger: Free 

The Tucson Botanical Gardens is home to over a dozen different outdoor garden experiences, including the Herb Garden, the Xeriscape Garden, and the Plants of the Tohono O’odham Path. Visitors can also explore the Butterfly Magic exhibit and enjoy several works of art on display throughout the grounds.

Tucson Jewish Museum and Holocaust Center

Tucson Jewish Museum & Holocaust Center
Photo courtesy Act One

Location: 564 S. Stone Ave., Tucson, AZ 85701

COVID Precautions: Masks are required for all visitors, regardless of vaccination status. Guests must also present proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours prior to visiting.

Cost for Additional Tickets:

General admission: $7

The Tucson Jewish Museum and Holocaust Center offers visitors an opportunity to learn about the history of Jewish experiences in Southern Arizona, as well as the Holocaust and other genocides that have occurred throughout history. Guests will be able to see the first synagogue built in Arizona, which predates Arizona statehood. Museum staff have also released a free virtual tour of the Holocaust Center.

Tucson Museum of Art

Photo courtesy Act One

Location: 140 N. Main Ave., Tucson, AZ 85701

COVID Precautions: Masks are required for all guests over the age of 5, and visitors are required to maintain social distancing of at least six feet.

Cost for Additional Tickets:

Adults: $12

Seniors (age 65 and older): $10

Students with ID: $7

Children ages 13-17: $7

Children age 12 and younger: Free

The wonders on display at the Tucson Museum of Art cannot be confined to a single building, which is why visitors are encouraged to enjoy exhibits all throughout the Historic Block in the Presidio District of downtown Tucson. Guests will find over a dozen exhibits focused on “Latin America, Art of the American West, Modern and Contemporary Art, and Asian Art.” Art on display includes photography, paintings, pottery, and a variety of other mediums.

The University of Arizona Museum of Art

Photo courtesy Act One

COVID Precautions: The University of Arizona Museum of Art adheres to University of Arizona’s COVID-19 safety protocols.

Cost for Additional Tickets:

General admission: $8

Seniors (age 65 and older): $6

Students and visitors age 18 and younger: Free

In addition to advancing the academic and research mission of the University of Arizona, the University of Arizona Museum of Art is home to a number of traveling exhibits, virtual experiences, and art collections spanning several centuries and providing visitors with original artwork from around the world.