Bisbee AZ is cute, historic and an easy drive from Phoenix. Here's why it's worth visiting (2024)

It’s always fun to read travel lists for the new year.

Put out by travel publications, these lists include a tempting array of exotic destinations scattered all across the planet. And almost invariably — tucked away amid all the international getaways from Peru to Japan to Slovenia — you’ll usually spot a familiar name, something with an Arizona flavor. Some years it’s Tucson. Or Flagstaff.

This year it’s Bisbee, Arizona.

When Travel Lemming issued its 50 Best Places to Travel in 2024 list, it included the small town of Bisbee in the southeastern corner of the state. An excellent choice. Here is how you can have an amazing weekend in Bisbee.

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Why is Bisbee Arizona famous?

Located in Cochise County, Bisbee straddled one of the richest mineral deposits in the world. And copper was king. Mines produced more than 8 billion pounds of copper, plus nearly 3 million ounces of gold, silver, lead and zinc. By the early 1900s, Bisbee’s population exceeded 25,000, making it a bona fide Western metropolis.

The inevitable bust followed the boom times in the mid-1970s, when the last mine closed. As working folks exited, those with an artistic temperament moved in. Shops and galleries opened; houses and shacks were refurbished, often set ablaze with color. Murals splashed across walls and sculptures sprang up. Bisbee is now best known as a free-spirited artist community.

Is Bisbee Arizona worth visiting?

Blessed with a spectacular setting and Old World architectural flourishes, Bisbee has emerged as a desirable and multifaceted destination. Quaint Victorian homes line the narrow hilly streets. A rich past and a thriving present create an intriguing blend. Historic and artsy, creaky and classy, Bisbee has evolved into one of Arizona’s coolest towns.

For more information, check the Bisbee Visitor Center at 478 N. Dart Road. 520-590-0432, discoverbisbee.com.

How close is Bisbee to the Mexican border?

Bisbee is 11 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border. Sitting so far south one might expect Bisbee to be just another desert town. Instead, Bisbee nestles in the Mule Mountains with an elevation above 5,300 feet.

It is the southernmost mile-high city in America. That combination of high altitude and southern location creates an idyllic year-round climate. Expect four mild seasons of Bisbee weather.

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Things to do in Bisbee AZ

When it comes to things to do in Bisbee, you’ll have plenty of options. Downtown is brimming with galleries and shops, eateries and saloons. Wear comfortable shoes because there are lots of hills and stairs.

Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum

Don’t miss the Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum, the first museum in the Southwest to be designated a Smithsonian affiliate. One interactive exhibit is called "Digging In." It takes visitors through tunnels, crystal caves and into open pits rich with minerals, while never leaving the second floor.

The museum also offers a Step Back in Time historic walking tour starting from the front steps every Saturday at 2 p.m. Delve into Bisbee’s rowdy past on this hourlong guided adventure through downtown. Cost is $10, $5 for kids. The walking tour does not include museum admission.

Details: 5 Copper Queen Plaza, Bisbee. $10; free for age 9 and younger. 520-432-7071, ext. 1; www.bisbeemuseum.org.

Lavender Jeep Tours

Wondering what the views are like from above the town? Take a Lavender Jeep Tour and rest your tired feet. The company offers a range of narrated tours to choose from. Ramble up hidden back roads, discover mansions in lofty cloud-scraping neighborhoods or catch a sunset over the San Pedro Valley. There's even a J.A. Jance Tour highlighting the hometown author’s settings for her many Joanna Brady novels. Prices vary.

Details: Inside the Copper Queen Hotel, 11 Howell Ave., Bisbee. 520-432-5369, lavenderjeeptours.com.

Copper Queen Mine Tour

The granddaddy of Bisbee tours remains the Copper Queen Mine Tour. Outfitted in hard hats and slickers, visitors ride 1,500 feet deep into the tunnels for an up-close look at mining techniques, conditions and dangers. You’ll emerge with a whole new appreciation of your job.

Details: 478 Dart Road, Bisbee. $14; $6.50 for ages 6-12. Age 5 and younger are not allowed underground. 520-432-2071, copperqueenmine.com.

Room 4 Bar

Squeeze into the Room 4 Bar for a co*cktail. Then you can say you drank in Arizona’s smallest bar. Located in the Silver King Hotel, the wee saloon contains just four stools but also has a patio and live music.

Details: 43 Brewery Ave., Bisbee. 520-432-3723, facebook.com/room4bar.

Old Bisbee Ghost Tour

After dark, experience the thrills and chills of an Old Bisbee Ghost Tour. Guides dress in period garb and spin sinister tales of spirits trapped between worlds. A variety of tours are offered, including guided walks, ghost hunting and haunted pub crawls. Prices vary.

Details: 520-432-3308, oldbisbeeghosttour.com.

Where to eat in Bisbee

Jimmy’s Hot Dog Company

What started as a simple hot dog stand a decade ago has grown into one of Bisbee’s most beloved eateries. And while the menu choices have expanded, the philosophy that made Jimmy’s such a success hasn’t changed. It all starts with premium ingredients and careful preparation. Choose from a wide selection of reasonably priced dogs, burgers, sandwiches and specialty items.

Details: 938 W. State Route 92, Bisbee. 520-432-5911, jimmysbisbee.com.

High Desert Market and Café

The scones at High Desert Market and Café could cause Europeans to weep with homesickness. The market also offers gourmet sandwiches, salads and handcrafted pizzas. All breads and pastries are baked fresh daily.

Details: 203 Tombstone Canyon, Bisbee. 520-432-6775, highdesertmarket.biz.

Café Roka

You can even find fine dining among Bisbee restaurants. At Café Roka, Chef Rod Kass turns each dish into a mosaic of layered textures and lurking, lingering flavors. The menu changes regularly but every meal arrives as a four course feast designed to herd your taste buds toward a specific destination. Pair your meal with an Arizona wine. Dinner is served Thursdays through Saturdays. Reservations are advisable.

Details: 35 Main St., Bisbee. 520-432-5153, caferoka.com.

Screaming Banshee Pizza

This beautifully repurposed old gas station now turns out wood-fired pies with an exotic array of toppings. They also know their way around pastas, calzones, salads and more.

Details: 200 Tombstone Canyon Road, Bisbee. 520-432-1300.

Poco Restaurant and Market

Tucked down Peddlers Alley in the heart of historic Bisbee, Poco serves Mexican-inspired vegetarian food. In reality, the menu is pure vegan but they keep that on the down-low so as not to scare anyone away. But even hard-core carnivores will enjoy the zesty flavors and creative combinations.

Details: 15 Main St., Bisbee. 520-314-5929, facebook.com/pocobzb.

Bisbee hotels

Bisbee has a variety of newer and historic hotels and other lodgings to choose from. Here are three favorites.

Copper Queen Hotel

The Copper Queen is the grand dame of Bisbee hotels. Open since 1902, it offers 47 rooms filled with antique furniture combining Victorian-era style with more modern amenities. It’s also wildly popular with ghost hunters. Room 315 is haunted by Julia Lowell, who took her life after being rejected by the man she loved. But there are plenty of other ghosts to go around. Downstairs features a saloon and restaurant. Rooms start at $89 on weekdays, $98 on weekends.

Details: 11 Howell Ave., Bisbee. 520-432-2216, copperqueen.com.

Shady Dell

This remarkable place is the closest thing to a time machine you’ll find in Arizona. The vintage trailer park offers eight beautifully restored aluminum trailers for overnight accommodations, as well as a tiki bus and a Chris-Craft yacht. Every knickknack and furnishing is era-appropriate. Each unit includes a patch of Astroturf, lawn furniture and pink flamingos. Closed during January. Units start at $105.

Details: 1 Douglas Road, Bisbee. 520-432-3567, theshadydell.com.

Copper City Inn

The inn offers three sumptuous rooms of varying décor, each with a balcony overlooking Main Street. Attention to detail is impeccable, from extra reading lights to slippers in the closet to a library of DVDs. Spacious bathrooms are stocked better than yours at home. Guests are provided with organic coffee and a voucher for a continental breakfast at a nearby gourmet market. Rooms start at $135.

Details: 99 Main St., Bisbee. 520-432-1418, coppercityinn.com.

Find the reporter atwww.rogernaylor.com. Or follow him on Facebook atwww.facebook.com/RogerNaylorinAZ or Twitter @AZRogerNaylor

Meet Roger Naylor in Wickenburg

Arizona Republic contributor and author Roger Naylor will appear at the Cultural Crossroads Learning Center of the Desert Caballeros Western Museum at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 17.

He will give a presentation on his book, "Awesome Arizona: 200 Amazing Facts About the Grand Canyon State." The talk includes a slide show, Q& A and books for sale. Cultural Crossroads Learning Center is at 10 N. Tegner St. in downtown Wickenburg. The talk is included with the museum admission fee of $15, $12 for seniors.

Details: 928-684-2272, www.westernmuseum.org.

Bisbee AZ is cute, historic and an easy drive from Phoenix. Here's why it's worth visiting (2024)

FAQs

What is special about Bisbee Arizona? ›

The Bisbee of today is a well-known artist's community whose architectural and historic heritage has been preserved. Located at the center of the natural and historic beauty of Cochise County, the city has transformed itself into the ideal spot for tourism.

Is Bisbee worth going to? ›

Is Bisbee Arizona worth visiting? Blessed with a spectacular setting and Old World architectural flourishes, Bisbee has emerged as a desirable and multifaceted destination. Quaint Victorian homes line the narrow hilly streets. A rich past and a thriving present create an intriguing blend.

What happened in Bisbee, Arizona? ›

Perhaps the most infamous event in Arizona labor history is the Bisbee Deportation of 1917, an illegal vigilante action taken against striking copper workers and Bisbee, Arizona residents. The outbreak of the World War I drove copper prices up and turned the Bisbee mine into a 24/7 operation.

What is the history of the Bisbee mine? ›

Bisbee's Queen Mine was one of the richest copper mines in history. The mine opened in 1877 and eventually closed when Phelps Dodge discontinued mining operations in Bisbee in the mid-1970's. The Queen Mine opened once again as a tour for visitors in 1976, nearly 100 years after the mine originally opened.

When should I visit Bisbee? ›

The best time to visit Bisbee is from March to May or September to November when the temperatures are mild, and the crowds are smaller.

How long to spend in Bisbee, AZ? ›

I'd certainly recommend spending several days in Bisbee to really enjoy all this historic town has to offer, but at only an hour and a half drive south of Tucson, it can certainly make for a great day trip as well. To navigate the map with touch gestures double-tap and hold your finger on the map, then drag the map.

How safe is Bisbee AZ? ›

Bisbee has a crime rate of 20 crimes per 1,000 residents, making it higher than the national average. With this, residents have a 1 in 50 chance of being victims of either violent or property crime.

Is Bisbee walkable? ›

Bisbee, Arizona

In fact, it is likely that there are more individual stair-steps in the city than residents. Bisbee is a stair climbers dream come true because nearly every part of this amazing city oozes with outdoor stairways. Situated within a narrow canyon, much of Bisbee is built along steep hillsides.

Is Bisbee Arizona expensive? ›

Cost of Living in Bisbee, Arizona

Bisbee, Arizona's cost of living is 9% lower than the national average.

How far is Bisbee from the Mexican border? ›

Bisbee is a city in and the county seat of Cochise County in southeastern Arizona, United States. It is 92 miles (148 km) southeast of Tucson and 11 miles (18 km) north of the Mexican border.

What comedian lives in Bisbee Arizona? ›

Around 2005 Stanhope met his current partner Amy "Bingo" Bingaman, who he has referred to as his girlfriend and wife, and they reside in Bisbee, Arizona.

Can you drink tap water in Bisbee AZ? ›

For the latest quarter assessed by the U.S. EPA (January 2021 - March 2021), tap water provided by this water utility was in compliance with federal health-based drinking water standards.

Why go to Bisbee? ›

A haven for creatives, this historic mining town has maintained its authentic Western quirk to the delight of visitors. Bisbee has transformed from a booming mining town to a hippie haven to an arts and culture community — over only the past century or so.

What is the big hole in Bisbee? ›

What is the big hole in Bisbee? Bisbee's big hole consists of three open pit mines: Sacramento, Lavender and Holbrook. A relic of the town's mining past, the result of man-made environmental destruction has become one of Bisbee's most popular attractions.

How many miners died in Bisbee? ›

Research has revealed that at least 388 men were killed in mining accidents from the beginning of mining until 1975...... Several different lists of mining company employees, including leasers and mercantile and hospital. Compiled from various sources.

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