Bisbee: an Under-visited Arizonan Attraction

When most individuals plan a trip to southern Arizona, Tombstone and Tucson top the list. However, when temperatures in summer can easily surpass 100 degrees on any given day, these two towns can prove overwhelming for more northerly visitors. For those skeptical of having fun in the sun while being slightly singed, Bisbee can be the perfect solution. Its high altitude often ensures that the area is relatively cool, even when it is scorching an hour away in Tombstone.

Found on Highway 80, two hours south of Tucson and one from Tombstone, Bisbee keeps its old west style charm without the heat and bustle found in the other two locations. This road is best navigated during the day as many visitors may be unnerved by the curving, unlit highway that leads into the canyon where Bisbee is located at night. Parking can also be a challenge, however the parking lot of the local YMCA is both centrally located and open to out-of-town visitors. Fortunately, once the car is left behind almost everything in Bisbee can be reached on foot, so it is only a one-off trial for driving glory.

For families, Bisbee has a number of options to entertain both the young and the old. The downtown is essentially one long shopping center, perfect for antiquing or finding unique jewelry. There are a number of bars and restaurants that can fulfill a variety of culinary tastes, for those looking for more local cuisine El Cobre Restaurant & Lounge is a good bet and for those who have had enough adventure there is Pizzarama. Both are located on nearby Naco Highway. Cafe Roca in the Historic District is a local treasure, being the only local eatery that has received a three-diamond designation from AAA.

The Historic District also has a number of museums that cater to a wide number of interests. The Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum is perhaps the best known of these, and provides a comprehensive history of the region and the town. For history buffs this place is a delight. However, if one’s tastes swing more towards the unusual there is also the Bisbee Mini Museum of the Bizarre, which displays a number of odd artifacts collected by locals over the course of the last century. This is next to the perhaps haunted Copper Queen Hotel and is also the place where one can by tickets for a number of ghost tours.

For travelers wanting a more hands-on experience, the Queen Mine Tour is a good way to experience the local history. Formerly an active mine, guides will now take visitors hundreds of feet underground to explore the tunnels. Be advised however to bring a sweater, as the mine can be rather cold (the average temperature hovering around 50 degrees).

If the museums, shopping, and restaurants have left one feeling restless, travelers can burn off their excess energy with the Bisbee 1000 – The Great Stair Climb, held every year in October. There are also three national parks nearby, the first being the Murray Springs National Historic Landmark that is around 30 minutes from Bisbee proper. This park is known for the number of Clovis Era sites found within it. The second is the Chiricahua National Monument, an hour from Bisbee, that has breathtaking views of local rock formations that will blow the mind of the geologically inclined. Families with children may want to swing up north to the Colossal Cave National Park, where one can explore one of the largest cave systems in the region that also happened to be a shooting location of an episode of Sesame Street.

But perhaps one of the biggest draws of Bisbee is its connection to the paranormal. A number of local hotels, such as the Copper Queen, the Gadsden Hotel, and the Oliver House, claim to give their guests a chance of bunking with a spirit during their stay. There are also a number of walking tours, pub-crawls, and driving tours provided by Old Bisbee Ghost Tours. Bisbee also holds a very popular (so book early) Halloween Paranormal Weekend every October 31st.

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