Best Early Entertainment in Tucson

10 Best Early Entertainment Destinations in Tucson

Tucson may not be Las Vegas or L.A. in terms of nightlife, but the city offers plenty to enjoy after sundown, including early entertainment options for folks who want to get home in time for a good night's sleep.

For a night of unabashed Wild West fun, head to The Gaslight Theatre, which puts on Western-themed musical revues six nights a week. On the weekends, the theatre offers early shows for folks looking to head home early. 

Arizona's oldest stand-up comedy club, Laffs Comedy Caffe in Tucson, has hosted comedy luminaries like Tim Allen and George Lopez. On the weekends, the club features nationally touring comedians with two shows on Saturday nights, including an early evening performance. 

Movie-lovers and film buffs have plenty to love about Tucson, including special event nights and cult movie screenings at The Loft Cinema in midtown Tucson. This iconic local art house cinema offers gourmet pizza, craft beer, and wine, and guests are welcome to enjoy a beer while watching the latest indie flick. 

If you're looking for a stylish place to enjoy an early nightcap, head to Skybox Restaurant and Sports Bar in the city's foothills neighborhood. Happy hour specials go on all evening long. But the real draw are the excellent views of the downtown skyline visible from the outdoor patio.  


This venue, located in the heart of downtown, had a fascinating past as a vaudeville theater. Now the refurbished facility is a great place to catch a touring band. Many styles of music, from blues to salsa to alternative, are represented, and big names often perform. Located across the street from the Hotel Congress, the Rialto Theatre is a hub of activity on any given night. Bar concessions are available during most shows. Recently, the management at the Rialto have started to paint temporary murals on the side of the venue to advertise upcoming shows. The venue has stand-up general admission for most shows, although chairs are set up for some performances.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: The Rialto Theatre in downtown Tucson plays host to top nationally touring artists. Most shows end by 11 pm.

Patricia's expert tip: Tickets sell out fast for headlining acts at this medium-sized venue.

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Tap & Bottle is a beer-lover's paradise. The intimate tap room at this beloved Tucson bar is home to one of the city's best-curated selections of craft brews. Tap & Bottle celebrates home-grown Southern Arizona beer, as well as many of the best regional and international brews currently being made. The brew pub atmosphere is lively and friendly, making this a great place to rub elbows with locals and fellow beer connoisseurs. Tap & Bottle even hosts its own monthly curated "Beer Club" dedicated to pleasing the palate of even the most ardent beer snob. There's no food menu at the bar, but the city's best food trucks regularly feed the hungry masses at Tap & Bottle.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: Tap & Bottle is a great spot for enjoying Tucson-crafted brews and sampling the city's food truck scene. Evening tastings are hosted regularly.

Patricia's expert tip: Come to Tap & Bottle for the craft brews, stay for the delicious food truck offerings. Swing by on Tuesday nights for special tastings.

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Roadhouse Cinemas offers Tucson's only state-of-the-art, full-service movie and dining experience. The locally-owned theatre offers a full menu of gourmet treats, a full bar, and possibly best of all, some of the most comfortable recliners west of the Mississippi. Simply push the button on your chair to place a food or drink order and a team member will deliver the goods right to your seat before and during the show. The food menu includes specialty sandwiches, gourmet flatbreads, and other yummy snacks. The cinema shows first-run movies, along with special screenings of movie classics and cult films. There are also family nights with special kids-friendly programming.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: Elevate movie night with a visit to Roadhouse Cinemas, a full-service cinema featuring gourmet eats, wine and beer, and ultra-comfy recliners.

Patricia's expert tip: Check out the happy hour specials at the cinema's in-house bar and grill, The 'Stache. Guests receive half-off many food and drink items from 3 pm to 6 pm.

Read more about Roadhouse Cinemas →


Located at Trail Dust Town, a western-themed attraction on Tucson's eastside, the Pinnacle Peak Pistoleros Wild West Stunt Show offers audiences a fun night of high-impact stunts, explosion effects, gunfights, cowboy-style fist fights and comedy. The Pistoleros Stunt Show goes on every night at 7:00 and 8:00 PM (except Thanksgiving and Christmas day). Guests can also visit the Museum of the Horse Soldier, ride on the CP Hunnington rail road, antique carousel and Ferris-wheel, and browse the Western-themed shops. Admission to the outdoor show is $4. Be aware that the show contains several loud explosions that may scare young children.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: Get your fill of Wild West excitment at the Pinnacle Peak Pistoleros Wild West Stunt Show, which puts on early shows nightly.

Patricia's expert tip: Brace yourself for loud explosions!

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Skybox Restaurant and Bar in Tucson has it all. It's situated in an attractive north Tucson location, the beer and wine selection is above par, and the food is nothing to scoff at, either. Did we mention the restaurant and bar also regularly hosts live music, and there's enough large screen TVs so that you don't have to fight for elbow room at the bar to catch the big game? Indeed, if you're looking for a casual yet slightly upscale sports bar destination in Tucson, you won't go wrong with Skybox Restaurant and Bar. Oh, did we mention there's also karaoke?

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: Skybox Restaurant and Bar hosts live music throughout the week, and offers stunning views of the Tucson skyline.

Patricia's expert tip: Skybox offers live entertainment every Friday and Saturday.

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Carnival of Illusion is a unique "parlour show" that celebrates the wonder, fun and mesmerizing spirit of magic and illusion. The show offers an evening of "Old World" magic that blends the whimsy of a vaudeville roadshow with the sophistication of an international cabaret night. The stars of the show, Roland Sarlot and Susan Eyed, were inspired by the magic of the late 1800s, which is widely regarded as the golden era of magic. The hip theatrical magic show has been a local favorite in Tucson, Phoenix, and Mesa for more than six seasons and counting, with the show picking up return fans over the year. Carnival of Illusion has become a popular attraction for birthday outings, date nights, anniversary celebrations, or any other special occasion.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: The Carnival of Illusion is a fun, old-fashioned magic show for adults, with most performances scheduled in early evening.

Patricia's expert tip: Guests under 13 are not allowed for evening shows.

Read more about Carnival of Illusion - An Evening of Up-Close Magical Wonders →

"Cafe by day, solar powered astronomy bar by night." That's the Sky Bar, in a nutshell. This unique Tucson cafe and bar is 100 percent solar-powered and is outfitted with powerful telescopes so you can observe the cosmos after dark. The bar regularly hosts open mic nights and live music. Plus, there are even DSLR photography nights where you can bring a camera and snap amazing pictures of the night skies. At midnight, there is a special 15-minute happy hour where you can order $1 well drinks seven nights a week. Every Wednesday there is a popular open mic night, where local and traveling musicians come together for music under the stars.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: Tucson's astronomy-themed bar features many early evening events, including live music, team trivia nights and open mic nights.

Patricia's expert tip: Stay until midnight, when the 15-minute happy hour happens.

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Southern Arizona's premier destination for stand-up comedy is Laffs Comedy Caffe. The midtown Tucson comedy venue is not only the lone stand-up club in Tucson, it also happens to be the oldest continually-operating comedy venue in Arizona. Going strong since 1988, Laffs has seen its share of comedy geniuses over the years, including appearances by George Lopez, Tim Allen and Robin Williams. The club hosts nationally touring comedians every Friday and Saturday, with two shows a night on most Saturdays. Laffs also hosts a popular weekly Open Mic Night, where local comedians get to polish their sets in front of an eager audience.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: Laffs Comedy Caffe hosts nationally touring comics on the weekends, and features early shows on most Saturdays.

Patricia's expert tip: Open Mic night is every Thursday night. Performers must be present by 7 pm to grab a spot on the roster.

Read more about Laffs Comedy Caffe →

North Tucson

Looking for a place to hang besides a simple bar or club? OK, The Loft Cinema is kind of a bar. You can sip wine and beer on its patio. But it's also a movie theater. Main events range from showings of cult classics like Rosemary's Baby to almost any other thing you'd expect from an independent theater, including indie, foreign, alternative and classic narrative films and documentaries. And here's where the Loft's bar part really merges with its movie theater part: You can bring your booze into the theater and drink while you watch the film. The Loft is also an event venue. It hosts two free film series: the Tucson International Children's Film Festival in July, and Essential Cinema, a series of classic art films on the big screen in new 35mm prints.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: The Loft is Tucson's source for independent cinema and a film buff's paradise. The movie theater regularly hosts special movie events and screenings.

Patricia's expert tip: The Loft carries a wide selection of gourmet snacks and drinks, including alcohol.

Read more about The Loft Cinema →

Musical theatre has always been a great way to escape your cares and throw yourself into an alternate universe of song and dance - if only for a couple of hours. The hard-working actors, singers, and stage crew behind the Gaslight Theatre in midtown Tucson know how to put on a great show. The theatre, tucked away in a shopping center on busy Broadway Road, features an old timey, Western saloon-themed show that is great for visitors looking for a Western-tinged theatre experience. But the theatre also draws a steady stream of locals, who come for the kitschy song and dance numbers, and all-around good times.

Recommended for Early Entertainment because: The Gaslight Theatre offers a night of song, dance, food and drink six nights a week, with early shows available on the weekends.

Patricia's expert tip: Admission discounts available for seniors, students and military.

Read more about The Gaslight Theatre →


Meet Patricia Escarcega

Patricia Escarcega works as a writer and editor in Phoenix.