Visiting Bisbee, Arizona? Here are 5 things to do!

Long ago, Bisbee, Arizona, was the town where copper and silver mines were in full swing. Today, Bisbee celebrates its rich historical heritage while also being a magnet for tourists. This quirky mining town is an enclave for artists with its eccentric charm and picturesque mountainside perch. Located about 90 miles southeast of Tucson, and not far from the Mexican border, Bisbee is a town perfectly positioned to further  explore other areas of Cochise County. From wineries to legendary gun-fights in Tombstone, the region is full of cowboy tales and Wild West lore.

Bisbee, Arizona by MikesRoadTrip.com

Depending on what you want to do and see while visiting Bisbee, here are a few suggestions:

How about a history lesson?

If you already forgot everything you learned in grade school about the eras of mining history and how just about everyone begged their ma and pa to go out west, you’ll enjoy a cliff notes version at the Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum. As an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, the Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum chronicles the history, showcases artifacts, and adds in a dose of humor as well.

Bisbee Mining Museum by MikesRoadTrip.com

Want to see an actual mine?

If you’re a history buff (or just a curious traveler) who wants to see what an old copper mine looked like, explore Copper Queen Mine. Expect to wear the whole get-up when you venture in. You’ll be outfitted in a reflective sleeveless jacket and you’ll be expected to don a miner helmet. If you’re afraid of the dark, don’t worry—Copper Queen Mine guides, many of whom are retired miners themselves, will fork over a portable headlamp for you to light your way.

Bisbee Copper mine

Need a drink?

Arizona is hot, so when thirst sets in, you’ll want to quench it—and fast. Get thee to Old Bisbee Brewing Company, a micro brewery in the heart of Old Bisbee that has something for everyone’s taste. Enjoy your microbrew out on the patio and savor that dry Arizona air…good for anything that “ales” ya!

Bisbee Brewery by MikesRoadTrip.com

Ready to see something crazy?

Traveling all the way to Arizona, you will want to go home with stories to tell. How about a ginormous hole in the ground that has purple water at the bottom? The Lavender Pit in Bisbee is located about ¼ mile after AZ 80 intersects with AZ 92. You’ll pull of the highway onto a gravel pit and you’ll be able to see the hole that took about 23 years to dig. The pit is humongous. Between 1951 and 1974, miners, men, and machines dug out 375 million tons of material. When you gaze down, you’ll see it’s 1,000 feet deep. In its lifetime, the Lavender Pit yielded some 94 million tons of copper. The waste, otherwise known as “tailings” from the miner’s work, has turned the water purple.

Savor the whimsical art.

Bisbee is a mecca for whimsical artists, so as you wander through town, make sure you find your way to artist studios and art shops, which are scattered throughout. There are also a number of colorful murals. If you’re looking for a one-stop-shop for art, the Belleza Fine Art Gallery in Bisbee features a couple dozen artists from around the world. They’re also famous for their cookies, which they’ve been serving for the past 15 years.

bisbee art by MikesRoadTrip.com

Interesting Facts about Bisbee

  • Bisbee is known as the “Queen of the Copper Mines” because during its mining heyday, it produced nearly 25 percent of the world’s copper.
  • Due to the demand of copper, Bisbee was once the largest city in the Southwest between Saint Louis and San Francisco.
  • Everyone knows of Denver, Colorado as the “Mile High City.” Well, Bisbee is the Nation’s southernmost mile-high city, which makes the climate quite pleasant.

Recommended Places to Eat in Bisbee

  • Cafe Roka – This fine-dining establishment would give any big city restaurant a run for its money. Absolutely sensation choice if you’re looking for a gastro experience.
  • Santiagos – This is a wonderful Mexican restaurant.
  • Bisbee Breakfast Club – Great place for a tasty breakfast or lunch.

Dish at Cafe Roka in Bisbee

Lodging in Bisbee

  • I wish I could recommend lodging in Bisbee, but I have only been once and was less than impressed with the Copper Queen, the main hotel in town. It’s really a shame too as the Copper Queen has so much potential. It’s a beautiful building, but it has not been upgraded in decades (at least when I was there in 2014 it hadn’t).  During my stay I was asked by the front desk lady how my stay was going. When I told her about some of my issues, she didn’t say a word…didn’t even apologize or try and make things right. I thought to myself, “Why bother asking how my stay was?”
     
    Here are some of the issues I encountered:
     
    -Front Desk staff was not very friendly.
    -Rolls in the carpeting. Someone could trip, not to mention it looks awful.
    -Old, or really cheap bed and low quality linens.
    -There was a queen size pillow case on a king sized pillow…this was not sanitary and incomprehensible.
    -There was a pair of dirty panties under the sink. No lie!
    -There was no extra roll of toilet paper…thankfully we had just enough.
    -Bathtub looked old and dirty.
    -No bottled water in the room.
    -Cheap materials and poor craftsmanship on the last renovation.
    -20+ year old T.V.
    -Why upgrade the window AC/Heat units and not go ductless? Yes, they are a bit more expensive, but the quality and efficiency is much better…not to mention the increased comfort level for guests (noise and air comfort).
    -No hair dryer in the room.
    -Complementary breakfast was processed crap. They are better off working out a deal with one of the local restaurants.

Copper Queen Hotel in Bisbee by MikesRoadTrip.com

If I were to visit Bisbee again, I would look to Airbnb, I have to think there must be some really cool places to stay. Bisbee is a wonderful southern Arizona town to visit, with many nooks and crannies to explore.

If you’ve ever been to Bisbee, Arizona, please leave a comment below and share your favorite things to do.

Top-5 Things to do in Bisbee, Arizona by MikesRoadTrip.com

Mike Shubic

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Mike Shubic is a seasoned road trip travel video blogger, traversing the byways of the world looking for those hidden gems of the road. From unique destinations, unexpected discoveries, creative cuisine, intriguing inns to exciting attractions…the road is his page. The experiences are his ink. And every 300 miles, a new chapter begins. Whether you live vicariously or by example, Mike will do the exploring so you can have an adventure.

44 Comments

  1. Check out the Eldorado Suites. It was beautiful and that is where I will stay when I go back to Bisbee. My heart belongs to Bisbee.

    1. Hi Kris, thank you so much for the suggestion, I check it out the next time I go to Bisbee, which I hope will be soon. I actually stayed at a B&B in Eureka Springs, Arkansas a few years ago and still keep in touch with the innkeeper, she recently sold her place and moved to Bisbee, so I hope to visit her one of these days. I appreciate you stopping by. Cheers, Mike

      1. Hi Mike: Sandra here (your friendly former innkeeper from Eureka Springs AR!) We were thrilled when we found out you were going to be passing thru Bisbee and that we were able to put you up in our latest adventure since selling the B&B in Eureka Springs….our “Adorable Casita Chiquita In Heart of Old Bisbee”! We’re on Airbnb and so far, in our second year here, we’ve had a lot of guests booking our guesthouse but you are still our MOST FAVORITE! It was such fun hearing all your exciting stories about all the neat travelling you are doing! Gosh, I want to hide in your back pocket and tag along! Our Casita is always open for you if you pass through Old Bisbee again! Hugs, sandra

    1. Haha…so many people say that Georgia. 😉 Little do they know how much/hard I work. I’m not complaining, I have an amazing job and able to travel the world, but it takes a long time to create all of this content. Hope to make it to Bisbee again one day soon, love your restaurant! 😉 Cheers, Mike

  2. Come check out the Royale next time you’re in Old B, as well… Such a beautiful, venerated old building (a converted church) on Tombstone Canyon, across from Castle Rock… It’s an appropriately eclectic Dinner Theater and local hangout, run by the crew at the local radio station in town, KBRP 96.1 fm, Bisbee Radio for the People.

  3. Please book a stay at the Shady Dell. The accommodations consist of multiple vintage trailes, such as Airstreams and even a Chris Craft boat! There’s also a vintage dinner within walking distance of this awesome little resort. A simple “Google” search of “The Shady Dell” will get you to their website. Nothing else like it!

    1. I second this. And the diner is AMAZING. We stayed there for a couple of days in Bisbee and it was perfect.

  4. Thanks for the info. I’m heading back to Bisbee in a couple of weeks. I’ve already enjoyed much of what you recommended. Looking for something new this trip. We stayed at the Copper Queen last trip and I concur with your comments. Trying the San Ramon this time.

    1. Hi Gerry, so glad you enjoyed Bisbee and my recommendations. It really is a wonderful place to visit. I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks that about the Copper Queen. It’s really too bad because it is could be a great property. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experience. Cheers, Mike

  5. There were 7 of us that went last weekend and we stayed at The Copper Queen House. It’s on VRBO, great location, wonderful owners. It used to be the nurses residence back during the mining heyday.

  6. Airbnb is garbage!!! ruins small towns. In these small towns, stay in local privately owned and operated hotels or b&b… Houses are not hotels people! These places are often not maintained or owned locally, they are paying residential taxes and utilities on a commercial business, and the people “investors” in these homes have a right to vote locally because they own property there, and they are not actually part of the community. Airbnb and vacation rentals are making it almost impossible to afford real estate and rentals for people who actually want to live in places and be part of the community! Please support local, otherwise these cool places that we all like to visit or hope to visit, will lose their charm.

    1. You’re certainly entitled to your own opinions. As a world traveler, I find Airbnb extraordinary. I’m staying in one right now in Bucharest. I do appreciate your argument though, it has had an impact on communities as so many go in to buy properties as investments. Change unfortunately is inevitable and there is always positive and negative sides. In the near future driving a car will be illegal as autonomous vehicles will be much safer. Lots of change happening in society right now.

    2. I too appreciate your argument as it pertains to investors purchasing homes and doing little for the community, which does suck, but your brash introduction could use some help. However, Airbnb brings people into places that they might not previously had gone which in my mind would be a small town’s objective. I believe it provides an updated and affordable experience which in turn enables my wife and I to do things like bring our dog, cook in a kitchen, and share rooms in a house with friends.
      If your argument is for communities’ sake then perhaps you should look at your communities’ conditions. Maybe your neighbors are struggling in that small town and renting their home out for a few weeks allows them to hold onto it. I get the argument about Airbnb in communities that have housing crises like SF or London but when you live in a tourist economy you kind of have to roll with it.
      I’m not a poster boy for Airbnb- if it went away that would be fine because something would immediately replace it. I’m just defending a source that has had a positive impact on my life.

  7. I loved the Lavender Mines Jeep Tour which departed from the Copper Queen Hotel. Our tour guide was born in Bisbee and had been the editor of the local newspaper.

  8. Hi Mike,
    I enjoyed your article. I live in BZB and agree completely with your comments wrt Copper Queen.
    A few notes from a local:
    The diner mentioned in a couple of comments closed a while back.
    Also, in my opinion, Santiagos is mediocre generic Americanized Mexican fair. Sad because we are on the border with many high quality Mexican cooks. near-by Bensen to the north has much better mex restaurants. Even our recently closed golf course in Naco had excellent Mexican food far better than Santiagos. I wish Santiagos would hire the cook from the closed golf course.

    1. Hey Jeffrey, thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your perspective. Bisbee is indeed a fantastic place and I’m sure one of these days a more authentic Mexican restaurant will open. 😉 Cheers, Mike

  9. I have a friend on Facebook that lives in Bisbee. He told me how great it was . And I’m starting to believe him. Wanting to visit.

        1. I have only visited, so I can’t really speak to living there. If you like small town living in a tight knit community, I’m sure it would be a great place to live. Only one way to find out…maybe rent an Airbnb for a couple weeks and see how ya like it. Best of luck!

  10. Hi Mike! I live near Bisbee and love visiting whenever I can, so I have to tell you that you fell for one of the myths surrounding Bisbee, that at one point it was that city with the largest population between St. Louis and San Francisco, which has been debunked several times, as you can read in this article from AZ Highways https://www.arizonahighways.com/blog/debunking-bisbee-urban-legend, but it seems to persist. Also, I would add that eating at Poco is a must: they’re only open friday, Saturday and Sunday at lunch, but they’re worth it. Also to respond to a comment above,yest there’s a new comedy club called Chucklehead, also in the Gulch, across from St. Elmo Bar.

    1. Hi Moky, thanks for stopping by and sharing this information and suggestions, much appreciated. Love Bisbee too! And, AZ Highways is both a great publication and T.V. show. Cheers, Mike

  11. Hi Mike: I replied to your comment awhile back about staying at my B&B in Eureka Springs which I sold 2 years ago and moved here to Old Bisbee. I was delighted when you said you were passing through and especially since we were able to put you up in our latest adventure, “Adorable Casita Chiquita in Heart of Old Bisbee.” Responding to some comments about Airbnb…..we are listed with them and we have had nothing but positive experiences and wonderful guests. We bought an historic home on Quality Hill built in 1916 and behind in our large garden is our Casita Chiquita. Yes, there might be a few investors who buy up houses and use Airbnb and don’t live here, but all of the owner folks I’ve met are very much involved in Bisbee. Personally, I am on the Bisbee Arts Commission, a member of Friends of our library, am in the Bisbee Community Chorus, and both me and my husband are rehearsing for the third play we’ll be in here next month. Yes, we’re involved and we love Bisbee and Airbnb which offers very pleasant lodging options for our many visitors. Out of all the guests we’ve had, you, Mike, are still our very favorite! We loved hearing all your exciting travel stories and adventures and we hope you’ll pass thru Old Bisbee again — our Casita Chiquita’s door is always open to you! Hugs, sandra

    1. Thanks for the information Sandra. Whoa, that’s cool about the Arts Commission and you two being in a local play. I love how involved you both get in the community. Bisbee is very lucky to have you both. Talk soon, Mike

  12. We are coming to visit Hofmann Winery on High Lonesome Rd. We’ve heard the wines are wonderful and the german couple who own it, is delightful. Can’t wait to explore the area!

    1. Hey Sandi, thanks for stopping by. You will love the Bisbee area. I have not had any Arizona wines, but keep hearing that they continue to get better and better. Hope you have a wonderful time. Cheers, Mike

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