The Arizona Mountains Have Been Hiding This Small Town Gem
You can travel 1,500 feet underground, meet a ghost, and eat great Vietnamese food in Bisbee, Arizona.
With a downtown that looks straight out of a storybook, Bisbee is one of those wonderfully walkable cities that makes you happy to leave the car — and parking stress — at home. The tiny town of just under 5,000 people is nestled in the Mule Mountains of southeast Arizona. The southern location provides Bisbee with a warm climate year round, while the surrounding mountains offer the chance to get up high and stay cool.
In addition to being wildly picturesque, Bisbee is a copper-mining-town-turned-arts-community that takes pride in its well-preserved historical architecture and thriving arts scene. Galleries line the historic town center, live music is almost always on tap, and its rich mining history remains at the forefront of the town’s identity. Old miners’ cabins still stand in Tombstone Canyon, and the Queen Mine offers tours of its expansive underground chambers.
Here’s everything you need to plan a visit — or potentially a move — to the great, little city of Bisbee, Arizona.
Things to Do in Bisbee, Arizona
Bisbee’s biggest must-do is the Queen Mine Tour, which provides a glimpse into the lives of historic copper miners. Outfitted in a hardhat and miner’s headlamp, visitors descend 1,500 feet into the earth on a mine railway. The journey into the cool darkness can be both thrilling and a relief on a hot summer day, while tour guides share the day-to-day realities, dangers, and drama the miners dealt with.
In keeping with the mining theme, you’ll want to swing by the Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum. The museum may be small, but it packs a punch — its exhibits have won national awards and the museum itself is an affiliate of the Smithsonian.
When you’ve had enough history, check out the gallery-studded historic district, known as Old Bisbee, making time for stops at the Sam Poe Gallery and Belleza Fine Art Gallery. As you meander through the historic town center, make your way to the Broadway Stairs off Brewery Gulch to see an outdoor pop-up gallery showcasing funky finds.
When night falls, revel in the town’s haunted history with an Old Bisbee Ghost Tour or a visit to The Bisbee Seance Room, which promises a true experience in “the most haunted town in America.”
Where to Stay in Bisbee, Arizona
The Shady Dell is a wonderfully vintage trailer park with 15 retro rigs decked out in period-appropriate decor. There’s a 1955 Airstream and a 1947 yacht, but the property's standout accommodation is the baby-blue 1947 Airporter bus that has been transformed into a tropical-themed palace with a private, hand-carved outrigger bar.
For a more traditional stay, book one of the two-bedroom suites at Eldorado Suites Hotel, a historic property that offers guests suite-style living with kitchens and expansive verandas — the perfect place to watch the sunset. And if you have ghosts on your mind — Bisbee is a historic mining town, after all — make your way to the Copper Queen Hotel, which dates back to 1902. The Edwardian-era decor, antiques, Tiffany chandeliers, and grand pianos make it easy to imagine ghosts wandering the halls.
Where to Eat and Drink in Bisbee, Arizona
Thuy’s Noodle Shop is something of a legend in Arizona, with foodies making the trip to Bisbee just for a bowl of their pho. Apparently, it really is that good. Meanwhile, Cafe Roka serves up high-quality New American cuisine paired with live jazz and exceptional service. There is always a rotating dinner special — often based on local, in-season ingredients — but a few menu stalwarts include a boneless short rib and an artichoke and mushroom lasagna made with Roka’s handmade red sauce.
For a sweet treat, make your way to Pussycat Gelato, which boasts handmade, naturally flavored gelato along with a handful of vegan and gluten-free sorbet options.
And when night falls and you’re craving a stiff drink, head to St. Elmo Bar, one of the oldest continuously run bars in the country with roots that date back to 1902. The dive bar is a favorite among locals, who have made peace with the establishment’s resident ghosts (they swear they’re the friendly variety!).
How to Get There
The town of Bisbee is less than two hours from Tucson and just over three hours from Phoenix by car. The closest international airport is in Tucson (TUS), while Phoenix (PHX) remains the largest nearby flight hub.
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