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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.