Steep canyon hills and colorful houses and murals give the town of Bisbee, Arizona a bright and unique personality. At 5,538 feet elevation, this gem hidden in the Mule Mountains has a certain magic about it, especially at night when Main Street is lit up by colorful lights and homes illuminate the surrounding hillsides. Bisbee is only 30 minutes from the Mexico border and it’s clear to see some influences from its southern neighbor in the food, artwork, and general vibe. Whether you’re planning a trip to Arizona or passing through on a southwest road trip, be sure to include a day or weekend in Bisbee.
This story was created in partnership with Discover Bisbee.
Bisbee offers year-round activities, but don’t let the fact that it’s so far south fool you. With its higher elevation and mountainous surroundings, Bisbee can experience colder temperatures and even snow in the winter months! Bring sunblock and remember to drink water (we are in Arizona after all!) and include some warmer layers for cool nights, even in the summertime.
Day 1: Stepping Back in Time and UndergroundPhoto by Kirk Rasmussen
Start your Bisbee adventure by heading south of town to Lowell, just on the other side of the Lavender Mine, to the Old Bisbee downtown. Take a short walk down main street to see old cars and window advertisements frozen in time. To round out this stop in the past, have brunch at the Bisbee Breakfast Club, with all of your classic diner favorites in a 1950’s themed atmosphere.
When you return to Bisbee, stop into the Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum, full of interactive and informative exhibits about the history of mining in Bisbee. There is also a collection of gems and stones that have been found in the mines, some have even been featured in the Smithsonian!
Photos by Kirk Rasmussen
The next stop on your trip through the local history is to experience the mines for yourself! Head over to the Copper Queen Mine where you will get the chance to ride under the mountain and into the mine. Equipped with hard hats, personal flashlights and neon vests, this family friendly tour takes you to different sections of the mine where an actual former miner shares the evolution of mining and the different tools and methods, as well as the real life experience of being a miner. Getting exposure to this hidden world can really put things into perspective!
Day 2: Adventuring into Nature
An earlier start will be helpful for this leg of the trip as you will be heading out of town and into the beautiful landscape. The rock gardens of the Chiricahua National Monument are worth the hour and a half drive to reach them. You can easily grab some food to go at the High Desert Market on your way out of town.
Photos by Kirk Rasmussen
There are several different stops you can make as you make your way through the National Monument, but the recommended route is to start by heading to Massai Point at the top and work your way down. The Massai nature trail will give you a panorama of the epic rock forests. Stop at the various trail heads throughout the park for a variety of views and changing ecosystems, where you may even catch a glimpse of the local wildlife. This area is renowned for birding, so bring a pair of binoculars if you have them!
When you’ve arrived back in Bisbee, after a long day of exploring, treat yourself to a margarita and a sizzling fajita skillet at Contessa’s Cantina. If you’re feeling particularly famished, try the Queso Fundido (also known as Mexican fondue), you won’t be disappointed!
Day 3: Hitting the Streets and Stairs
Spend your last day in Bisbee getting your steps, literally! Because of this steep canyon landscape, Bisbee has a labyrinth of stairs and alleys, like a life-size Chutes and Ladders board. They also host an annual stair marathon known as the Bisbee 1000. You can find the official race route online if you want to give it a shot, or try a section of it.Photo by Kirk Rasmussen
As you climb the different staircases around town, you will find many hidden murals, from the Peace Wall on the main street to a secret alley of canvases hung like an art gallery. Weave and wind your way through the different streets and stop into shops along the way! To complement the unique artwork and murals around town, there are quirky antique shops with trinkets and treasures overflowing from the shelves. During your explorations, be sure to refuel at one (or more) of the different bars and restaurants. We enjoyed a signature pizza at Screaming Banshee Pizza and a flight from the Old Bisbee Brewing Company later in the evening. Whether you’re here for history, art or nature (or all three) we’re sure you’ll want to stop through Bisbee again!