The town of Bisbee was once one of the state's most bustling mining towns. In fact, by the early 1900s Bisbee was the biggest city between St. Louis and San Francisco, boasting a population of 20,000 in its hilly homes.
Today, Bisbee remains an experience. With its collection of artists and characters, the town has become a sort of pilgrimage for Tucsonans who visit for its beloved events, cool weather and funky vibes.
For those seeking a little adventure in the form of historic bars, unexpected conversations and lots of antique shopping, it's the perfect place for a day trip or weekend away from the fast lane.
In the hub of the action is "Old Bisbee," the stretch of businesses down and around Main Street that epitomize the town. It's here that you'll find the real treats of Bisbee, like the Bisbee Mining Museum. The museum is a Smithsonian affiliate and offers a small but mighty look at Bisbee's long history of mining, the now famous Bisbee deportation and well-known figures during its Wild West days.
If you're a history buff, the town also features a number of walking tours, or you can strap on a hardhat and travel down into the Queen Mine Tour.
There are a number of local shops where you can find a one-of-a-kind gift. The Miners & Merchants Antique Center offers multiple floors of antiques to browse, while shops like Redbone Vintage sell a small selection of curated vintage clothes and colorful boots.
If cooking is your hobby, stop by Bisbee Olive Oil, where you can find (and sample) over 40 unique flavors of olive oil and balsamic vinegars.
The quirky town delivers on dining options as well, with a mix of casual eats and fancier fare.
The Bisbee Breakfast Club, just outside Old Bisbee, is a must try, becoming so legendary in these parts they opened locations throughout Tucson.
Café Roka consistently wins "Best of" bragging rights each year, although it is currently open for take-out only.
But if you want to eat like a local, the tiny but delicious Thuy's Noodle Shop serves delicious Vietnamese food but now has limited seating, so take it to go.
Before you explore Bisbee's nightlife, check out the Copper Queen Library, which is the state's longest continuously-operated public library.
No trip to Bisbee is complete without a round of drinks in Brewery Gulch. This pocket of entertainment in Old Bisbee is home to the majority of the drinking establishments in town.
The Old Bisbee Brewing Company has the most mass appeal and the best view of the action from their patio. They brew a small selection of beers, ranging from a stout to an IPA. The most interesting of their brews is Salut, a light and flowery drink made with champagne yeast.
Across the gulch is local dive St. Elmo Bar. Home to the best jukebox in town and the loudest, rowdiest characters of Bisbee, they're known to make a strong drink and an experience you won't forget.
There is no shortage of lodging available in Bisbee, but if you come during Bisbee Pride or New Year's Eve, reserve your rooms early. The town fills up fast on holidays and events.
The Copper Queen Hotel is one of the most well-known places in town and puts you in the heart of the action. You might even see a ghost in this longstanding hotel. The Bisbee Grand Hotel, The Inn at Castle Rock and Hotel San Ramon are other good historical options.
You can even book a stay in the OK Street Jailhouse, which was built in 1904 as the local branch of the county jail and is now a comfy hotel.
Tombstone, the town too tough to die, and the vineyards of Elgin/Sonoita are just a short drive away if you need more fun in Cochise County.
The trip to Bisbee from Tucson is under two hours and you can get there via I-10 East and AZ-80 East.
Be sure to call ahead to businesses to learn about pandemic restrictions.