From its jaw-dropping desert landscapes to its intensely beautiful forests, prairies, and other settings, Arizona is one of the best places to visit (or live) in the United States. It’s chock-full of unique restaurants, amazingly informative museums and exhibits, to-die-for natural wonders, and lots of must-see small towns, too. Arizona is smack-dab in the middle of the stunningly beautiful Sonoran Desert (as well as some bits of the Mohave), and it’s something of an ambassador for the other southwestern states in terms of jam-packed delights.
When deciding to explore Arizona, a lot of the same places and things will come up. Yes, the Copper State is home to the amazing Grand Canyon, but there’s so much more to it than that. There are more small towns to visit other than the most popularly cited ones like Sedona. One such small town is the little town of Bisbee, a delightfully strange but totally artsy small town in Arizona nestled within the Mule Mountains in the southernmost region of the state. It’s been named the best town in Arizona by a few sources, and we might just be inclined to agree. Northern Arizona better watch its back: southern Arizona is an awesome up-and-comer for amazing vacation destinations in the United States. It is for this reason that we’ve selected Bisbee as part of our awesome series about Small Town Getaways in the US. Come out and see what little Bisbee is all about!
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Is Bisbee Worth Visiting? It most certainly is! Bisbee
was originally founded back in 1880 as a mining town; the primary materials being mined included silver, gold, and copper. During the early 1900s, the town’s population exploded as a result of the Copper Queen Mine, which remains one of the town’s centerpieces today. Of course, these weren’t the only minerals being mined here – other minerals found in and near Bisbee include aragonite, cuprite, wulfenite, malachite, azurite, and even the occasional galena.
The town is nestled in the Mule Mountains and by 1910, its population was an impressive 9,019. By 1920, it was 9,205. But this boom was, as they all are, not meant to last. By 1950, the town’s population had dwindled to 3,801. Finally, in 1975, copper mining operations in Bisbee were stopped. The town’s then-mayor decided to create a tour of the mine as well as a “historic interpretation” of the mine at its most productive. This effort to spare and repurpose the mine would, eventually, give the town new life.
Today, it’s an artists’ haven, a little strange (in the best possible way), and quite possibly a lot haunted (depending on who you ask).
It’s this wonderful quirkiness combined with a fascinating history that makes Bisbee one of the
best small towns in Arizona
to visit, especially for a weekend (or longer). Come explore this strange and beautiful little place with us on an amazing small-town escape from the real world – and prepare for awesomeness.
How To Get To Bisbee Bisbee is exactly 100 miles from the city of Tucson, the largest southernmost city in the state.
From Tucson, take the I-10 to Benson and take Exit 303 for AZ-80. Take the AZ-80 south through
(which is also worth checking out!) From there, the highway will lead you to Bisbee – just follow the signs carefully! The drive is beautiful and unlike any other in the state.
Getting Around Bisbee Bisbee is a very walkable little town, though much like San Francisco it involves a lot of at-times steep hills.
There is ample parking all over downtown, so park somewhere you know you can get back to easily – the steep incline is not for everyone. There is also the Bisbee Bus, which runs Monday through Saturday with service in Old Bisbee, San Jose, Naco, Saginaw, and Warren. Each of these
historic towns in Arizona
is fascinating for its own reasons, one of which is sheer walkability.
Explore the drive into Bisbee (and out again) from the driver's seat in 4K:
Best Time To Visit Bisbee Honestly, every time of year is a good time to visit Bisbee – just decide upon your ideal weather conditions and then show up. Summer
and winter are the most popular times of year to visit. During the summer, it’s typically hot – June and July are the hottest months, with temperatures sometimes reaching triple digits (but, on average, it’s about 90-100 degrees). Autumn is lovely, especially because not only are temperatures cooling down but the foliage in town is ablaze with color (and there are festivals abound). Winter can get cold, with temperatures dipping just below freezing at the coldest. Spring is gorgeous, with not-too-cold, not-too-warm temperatures and trees, flowers, and other flora bursting back to life. There are so many amazingly fun, community-oriented things going on at any given time that it’s easy to simply state that every time is a good time to
Where To Stay In Bisbee Bisbee is a delightful little town with a remarkable number of notable places to stay. Truly, you can’t go wrong with any of them – there isn’t a bad apple in the bunch.
First and foremost, you might want to check out the single most popular getaway in Bisbee: the
Eldorado Suites Hotel
. Once upon a time, this property was an apartment building dating back to 1914; now, it’s a cozy boutique hotel. If you prefer your hotel stay with a side of ghosts and spooks, a night or two at
The Copper Queen Hotel
is in order. Built in 1902, this stunning old building is home to an array of ghost stories and historical occurrences. Stay the night if you dare!
Finally, check out the famed Inn at Castle Rock, a hotel built right along the cliffside, and enjoy close access to main street and the downtown galleries.
55 Ok St, Bisbee, AZ 85603, USA
11 Howell Ave, Bisbee, AZ 85603, USA
112 Tombstone Canyon, Bisbee, AZ 85603, USA
Bisbee's a cute town, and honestly, all the places to stay are an accurate reflection of this quirkiness.
Day One, Morning We’ll do breakfast at one of Bisbee’s most popular restaurants.
14 Main St, Bisbee, AZ 85603, USA
This adorable little hole-in-the-wall known as
is easily one of Bisbee’s best restaurants, often with a line out the door – and for good reason! The meals are fresh, the helpings are heaping, and everything is made in-house. It’s the best home cooking you’ve ever had away from home. Its name is appropriate, too – the meals here really ARE a cornucopia of deliciousness.
Once we’re full, let’s explore the shops and galleries downtown.
There are so many shops and galleries in Bisbee that it’s impossible to mention them all in a short paragraph, but there are a few that are 100% worthy of mentioning thanks to their standing out among the rest.
Some are foodie havens. Some are artsy boutiques. Some are high-end galleries.
...the diversity is part of what makes this small town in Arizona so very unique. For example, there are numerous clothing boutiques that are definitely worth checking out (so take your time), but one of the favorites is Classic Rock Couture, a thrift store that specializes in vintage clothing from the 1960s and ‘70s. Update your wardrobe with old-school. It’s all the rage!
Ever want to dress like it's 1973? Now you can! It's not just fun, it's authentic - and it's totally worth the trip all on its own!
38 Main St, Bisbee, AZ 85603, USA
23 Main St, Bisbee, AZ 85603, USA
33 Subway St, Bisbee, AZ 85603, USA
...and one cannot speak of Bisbee without also speaking of its many award-winning galleries. Notable galleries in Bisbee include the Belleza Fine Art Gallery, the Sam Poe Gallery, and the various pop-up murals, graffiti, and street art you’ll find on every corner. Bisbee is famous for its absolutely solid artist community, and it’s an amazing place to let out your own inner creative.
Once you’ve browsed all there is to browse, pay a visit to the Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum.
Travel back in time to the days in which Arizona truly was the wild, wild west and mining was a way of life. This award-winning museum has the distinct honor of being an affiliate of the Smithsonian, and it’s a treat through and through. Learn the intriguing story of Bisbee and its rise to mining glory (as well as its tumble into near ghost town status). The
Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum
is open every day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and general admission is just $10. Children nine and under are free.
Day One, Afternoon How about lunch at an all-American fave?
938 AZ-92, Bisbee, AZ 85603, USA
Jimmy’s Hot Dog Company
is nothing short of a total delight. There’s just something about hot dogs that muster up a sense of nostalgia; the hot dogs served up at Jimmy’s are all that and more. Here you’ll find authentic Chicago dogs, Italian beef, Polish (and Italian) sausages, burgers, and even some delicious seafood. You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, so enjoy.
Full? Good. Now it’s time to go do a tour of the old Copper Queen Mine.
Once upon a time, the
Copper Queen Mine
was easily one of the richest copper mines in
. It opened in 1877 and, thanks to its existence and the jobs it brought, the town of Bisbee sprung up around it. It eventually closed in 1985, but not for good – nowadays, you can tour the place, and it’s truly a fun experience (and informative, too).
478 N Dart Rd, Bisbee, AZ 85603, USA
The guides are retired miners themselves with ties to the mine, so you KNOW they know the deal. Call ahead for tour times at (520) 432-2071. Children under six years of age are not permitted underground. Otherwise, the cost is $14.00 for adults and $6.50 for children ages six to 12.
For dinner, let’s indulge in some truly delectable, authentic Mexican delights.
202 Tombstone Canyon Rd, Bisbee, AZ 85603, USA
is an excellent example of just how good authentic Mexican food really is. On the weekends and evenings, it can be a popular place, so plan ahead of time.
There’s nothing on the menu that isn’t good, so don’t worry – whatever you order will be amazing. For an appetizer, we recommend the cheese crisp with ground beef added to it. It’s pure perfection that’s sure to prime you for whatever you choose for dinner. The mole is to die for and so are the fajitas.
Tonight, we sleep at the Hotel LaMore.
is located at the old Bisbee Inn, and it’s a wonderful place to stay. The interior is both antiquated and yet somehow excellent for a modern hangout. There’s a kitchen complete with all the tools and instruments you’ll need to cook a fresh meal should you not want to eat out during your stay.
Originally built in 1904, the first building burned to the ground for who-knows-what reason.
The building standing there now was finished in 1916, and to this day it’s got plenty of ghost stories to go around. So, be prepared: you might just meet a ghost or two during your stay. Fun fact: every night at 8 p.m. exactly, various residents of Bisbee go outside and howl. You read that right: there’s a howl at 8 p.m. in Bisbee. Ask the front desk about it; they’ll be more than happy to explain (and then be sure to go do it, because when in Rome...).
It’s also worth noting, however, that the parking for the Hotel LaMore is further down the mountain slope than the hotel.
45 Ok St, Bisbee, AZ 85603, USA
To access the hotel, one must use a set of stairs that goes very sharply up or utilize a gradual ramp-style road (which is quite narrow, so large vehicles cannot access it). Folks unable to climb stairs might want to be dropped off at the front entrance before the vehicle is parked. And be mindful: other establishments don’t appreciate unauthorized parking, so please be respectful and use the correct places!
But don’t go to bed yet: now we explore the eerie side of town on a legendary Bisbee Ghost Tour.
Bisbee by night is a cool place. The whole town is lit up with a combination of old street lamps and string lights, many of which are quite colorful. Of course, it’s also by night that the
Bisbee Ghost Tours
Learn about the morbid histories of many of Bisbee’s buildings, as well as many of its resident spirits (including ones allegedly lurking at the very hotel you’re staying at).
Bisbee is well-known as one of the
most haunted towns in Arizona
with a long, occasionally quite dark history. This Ghost Tour takes the bravest of folks and places them right where the action is. Buyer beware: this one’s got scares.
Day Two, Morning First and foremost, let’s do breakfast at the ol’ Bisbee Breakfast Club.
75 Erie St, Bisbee, AZ 85603, USA
Bisbee Breakfast Club
might be a relatively new establishment, having opened in 2005, but it was an instant classic and remains as such to this day. Bring your appetite, because the servings are hearty n’ huge. Quite possibly best of all, the diner is located on old Erie Street, which is actually the remains of an old ghost town named Lowell that’s been incorporated into Bisbee. It’s a really cool area to walk around in as well as grab a bite.
Ready for the rest of the morning? Take it on by doing the Bisbee 1000 Trail.
Also known as the Great Stair Climb, the
Bisbee 1000 Trail
is actually a series of amazing stairs and steps all over town. It takes about two hours to complete, and measures up at just under five miles long.
Climb stairs (feel the burn), see some awesome views (Bisbee IS located within a mountain range, after all), and feel accomplished on this awesome urban trail.
Do keep in mind that this trail is rated as moderately challenging, though folks who are unable to or have difficulty with climbing stairs may have a tougher time than others. This one gets your cardio in for sure.
Day Two, Afternoon After conquering that trail, it’s time to fuel up again: we’ll do lunch at the High Desert Café.
203 Tombstone Canyon, Bisbee, AZ 85603, USA
High Desert Market
is a wonderful little place to grab breakfast OR lunch (and maybe even dinner), so next time you come back be sure to return for another meal. Here, you’ll find gourmet food, wine, beer, and more. It’s great for more than just lunch! There’s even a gift shop in the event that you feel so inclined. The café has indoor and outdoor seating, vegan options, salads, sandwiches, soups, quiches, and more. Oh, and we can’t go without mentioning that there are plenty of gluten-friendly options, including in the dessert department.
By the way, if you’re hankering for dessert, you might want to check out Pussycat Gelato.
13 Main St, Bisbee, AZ 85603, USA
is a very successful Arizona business serving up some of the finest gelato in the world. Any given day will bring with it numerous flavor options, including Belgian chocolate, cookies and cream, various fruit sorbets, and more. Already had dessert at High Desert? No judgment here if you need dessert part two.
Next, embark upon a short, scenic drive to see the incredible Lavender Pit just outside of town.
Lavender Pit, Bisbee, AZ 85603, USA
The Lavender Pit is a former open-pit copper mine that’s truly a spectacle to behold. This used to be the site of the old Sacramento-Hill Mine, but in 1950, this pit was opened up. It produced about 600,000 tons of copper in its day, and today, it’s quite a site. Fear of heights? Maybe skip this one – the pit is 900 feet deep! Check out this short video of the stunning, short drive from Bisbee to the Lavender Pit:
VIDEO Finally, let’s spend the rest of the afternoon at the Bisbee Restoration Museum.
Bisbee Restoration Museum
is a volunteer-run gallery and museum showcasing the history of Bisbee. You’ll come across numerous artifacts and objects from various bits and pieces of the town’s lengthy mining history, its current days as an artist’s haven, and more.
It’s got three amazing floors of historic items to explore filled with everything from interesting oddities to clothing and all sorts of other assorted things.
The Bisbee Restoration Museum, 37 Main St, Bisbee, AZ 85603, USA
Do keep in mind that the museum is open on Fridays and Saturdays only, so plan accordingly. On these days, it’s open from 10:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. The museum does request a minimum donation of $2.00 during your visit to keep everything up and running.
Truly Bisbee, Arizona is a town worth visiting and staying a while. Given its interesting mining history, countless unique shops, one-of-a-kind galleries, potential hauntings, historic hotels, and more, it’s a miracle that this little town isn’t busier at any given time.
If peace and quiet combined with plenty to do is what you’re after, you can’t beat a trip out to Bisbee. This little Arizona mining town might be significantly smaller than it was at its peak, but it’s still going strong – thanks in part to the amazing visitors it sees each year (that means YOU!).
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More to Explore
Things To Do in Bisbee Arizona
What is Bisbee, Arizona most known for?
Bisbee, Arizona is a small mountain town known for its lengthy mining history. Interestingly, it was once one of the richest mineral sites
in the world, producing around three million ounces of gold, eight billion pounds of copper, and plenty of zinc, silver, and lead. Soon enough, the town was booming and it had become the largest city in the entire territory. It remained an active mining community until the 1970s when the mines ceased operations for good. As mining families departed, artists began arriving - and today, the town might be small, but it's mighty. It's home to countless artists, artisans, and foodies, and it's often called the best small town in Arizona .
How do I spend a day in Bisbee, Arizona?
Spending a day in Bisbee, Arizona is quite easy, especially if you know what to do and where to go. Some of the must-do things to do in Bisbee AZ include:
Copper Queen Mine - This is THE mine that made Bisbee, and though it closed it's not closed; you can tour the mine to this day, and the adventure is truly fun and rewarding. Visit the
Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum - History buffs will love this one. Supplement the knowledge you acquired from the mine tours with the knowledge you'll acquire here, or start your adventure here! Either way, it's an interesting trip back in time. Check out Main and Erie Streets - Main Street is the place to be, with shops, galleries, and eateries galore. It's an absolute must - after all, it's the soul of Bisbee. Erie Street is fascinating because it's what's left of a ghost town called Lowell, which has now been incorporated into Bisbee.
Check out the
Lavender Pit - This 900+ foot deep open pit mine once yielded some of the finest copper in the world. Now, it just looks really cool.
Bisbee is one of the
best places to visit in Arizona, for so many reasons. You won't regret a trip out - and you might even want to stay longer.