Rather than succumbing to the boom and bust cycle typical of mining towns, a dedicated community stayed put to enjoy the solitude and natural beauty of Superior, Arizona in the Sonoran Desert. Much of the historic charm remains intact, and is now being revitalized into restaurants, boutique shops, art galleries, and wineries. Whether you’re looking for a day trip to escape the urban sprawl of Phoenix or wanting to add a stop on a Southwestern road trip, take a day (or three) to see what’s new in this historic town.
This story was created in partnership with Superior, Arizona.
Downtown Mural and Art Walk
It’s not hard to see the budding art scene here; in fact, it would be impossible to miss it. Spread throughout downtown there are a total of 27 outdoor murals, many of them completed in the past few years. Taking a stroll downtown searching for murals is also a great way to explore the town and take in the historic architecture. While you’re walking around downtown, be sure to visit some of the fine art galleries, such as the Kay Gallery and the La Paloma Art Gallery. Stop by the Superior Chamber of Commerce to pick up a map of the murals, which also includes descriptions of each mural.
Boyce Thompson Arboretum
Founded in 1924 as a desert plant research facility, Boyce Thompson Arboretum is not only Arizona’s oldest botanical garden, it’s also its largest. Five miles of walking trails stretch out across the 340-acre garden, housing native plants as well as rare and exotic cacti and succulents. You could easily spend a day on your own exploring this “living museum,” but if you’re looking to dig deeper, look into one of the many ongoing workshops and walks. Whether it’s learning about birds or edible and medicinal plants, you’ll come away with a new appreciation for the desert surrounding you.
Ditch the Pavement
Surrounded by miles of rugged dirt roads and scenic desert vistas, Superior is an off-road driver’s paradise. Jeep tours aren’t only a great way to experience the desert, but also to see historic sites and ghost towns that are difficult to access. Some of the destinations include the ruins of Pinal City and the Silver King Mine site, which were abandoned in the late 1800s. You’ll also be able to find wagon wheel ruts dating back to the mining days, as well as the gravesite of Mattie Earp, the first wife of the frontier lawman Wyatt Earp. If your ride isn’t ready to handle rugged desert backroads or you’re unsure about your off-road driving skills, leave the driving to Superior Tour Company.
Farm-fresh Desert Fare
One of the best reasons to live in the Southwest: a year-round growing season. Throughout the year, you can find farm-fresh produce, locally sourced foods and other wares at the Farm-to-Fantastic Farmer’s Market. Whether you need some local honey to alleviate your seasonal allergies or want to take home some Sonoran succulents, there’s much more to the market than salad fixings (though you can find that too as well). The market runs every Saturday, from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. during the winter and from 9 a.m. until noon during the summer.