Arizona May 04, 2017
Believe It Or Not, This Tiny Town In Arizona Is One Of The Best In The Country
Arizona has some pretty cool little towns dotted around the state, each with their own culture and personality. We’ve highlighted
quite a few of these places in the past and each one represents a unique aspect of Arizona: history, nature, economy, and a hope for the future. One town we’re going to look at today sits in the southern portion of the state, less than an hour from the U.S.-Mexico border. Let’s check it out!
Ajo sits in the middle of the Sonoran Desert, right along the lonely State Route 85 and was recently named the
Best Southwestern Small Town by USA Today.
The newspaper called Ajo a "picturesque getaway in the Sonoran Desert," full of history and beautiful architecture. We have to say that we agree!
The town's start came about in the same way as many other Arizona towns: through mining.
Minerals have been extracted from the area for centuries but it wasn't until the late 1800s when more permanent mines were established, including the massive New Cornelia Mine that sits on the borders of the town.
The mine, however, shut in 1983 and Ajo's residents struggled to prevent itself from becoming another boom and bust town in Arizona history.
Over the years, Ajo has rebuilt itself into a destination for retirees and artists.
So, what is there to do around town? Well, for starters, you can visit the Plaza, Ajo's beautiful town square where you can find shops and restaurants.
See a bit of history at the Ajo Historical Society Museum or the old train depot that dates to 1915.
One of the ways Ajo is getting back in its feet is through the arts. The town has become a hub for artists and artisans.
Evidence of this town identity shift can be found all around town, where colorful murals line buildings, sculptures are on display, and a growing number of galleries allow you to see even more art.
Ajo is also known for its wealth of Spanish colonial style buildings and historic homes lining the streets.
And the food you’ll find here? Delicious! You’ll be leaving the table with nary a morsel on your plate.
When you visit, be sure to pay a trip to the nearby Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument to really absorb the beauty of the Sonoran Desert.
Also nearby is the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, a rugged haven for bighorn sheep and long-nose bats.
And, you can round out your day with a view of a gorgeous desert sunset!
Can you think of a better way to end a day?
If you’ve visited (or lived in) Ajo, what was your experience like? What was your favorite thing about this little desert town?