In the news
Bisbee in films
In the news
Bisbee in films
In the news
Bisbee in films
In the news
Bisbee in films
Hotels & Motels
Bed & Breakfasts
Hotels & Motels
Bed & Breakfasts
Hotels & Motels
Bed & Breakfasts
In the news
Bisbee in films
City of Bisbee
Things to Do
Dining & Nightlife
Sign up for Newsletter
Bisbee Community Calendar
Explore Cochise County
Where to Stay
In the news
Bisbee in films
In the news
Mystic Blues: Keith Allen Dennis commemorates the transitional nature of Southern Arizona on new album
Tucson Weekly By Jeff Gardner | Bisbee is located roughly 10 miles from the Mexican border, but a stroll through its colorful architecture and storied downtown proves the city is influenced by much more than governmental transitions. On his latest album “Liminal,” musician Keith Allen Dennis traces the transitional nature of Bisbee’s history, culture, spirituality—and yes, geography—in a musical style he calls “mystic blues.”
Glamping, Airstreams, yurts and a caboose: How to reserve the coolest lodgings in Arizona
Roger NaylorSpecial for The Republic | After a year of being cooped up, make this the summer you lay your head someplace new and different. Make this the summer you sleep weird.
There’s nothing wrong with traditional vacations, but life is too short to always stay in square hotel rooms. If your tastes run beyond the ordinary, you have plenty of quirky options to choose from in Arizona.
COPPER CITY INN
Arizona Highways | By Noah Austin | Photo by Steven Meckler
“There are many things to do in Bisbee,” Fred Miller says, “but one of the best things is to not do anything.” Miller runs the three-room Copper City Inn — which he opened in 2005 and now co-owns with his wife, Anita Fox — with that mantra in mind. Guests are treated to a bottle of red or white wine and a voucher for breakfast at nearby High Desert Market and Café. The Mary Jane Colter and Louie de Bisbee rooms are perfect for couples, while the larger Warren Suite includes a full kitchen and can accommodate up to four people. Each has its own décor and personality, but all feature a private balcony, soft lighting and soothing colors that encourage guests to relax. And Miller knows a thing or two about relaxing: He’s the longtime bartender and beverage manager at Bisbee’s Cafe Roka. “We want to provide people with a place where they don’t have to think about the stuff they left behind,” he says. “They can just be here and enjoy.”
SPENDING THE DAY IN BISBEE CITY, ARIZONA
Manifesting Serenity | A Lifestyle Blog | |Bisbee city is a 19th-century town that has all the quirky details to be on the lookout for, from intricate details in the architecture to the displayed antiques. This town is filled with history and so many stories, some are even spooky ghost stories! Museums, mining equipment displays, stairwells, statues, and original building framework filled the town, keeping the eyes glancing for more.
Beat the pandemic blues with a day-trip to Bisbee
Jamie Verwys, Special to Tucson Local Media Apr 28, 2021 | 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.
Arizona Is Already in a New Normal
Daily Beast | by Winston Ross | Each night at precisely 8 p.m., in the Mule Mountains of Arizona and the quirky town of Bisbee, a joyful fracas echoes across the steep walls of Tombstone Canyon. Some howl, some bark, some yip, like scattered coyotes caterwauling in the desert night.
Road trip inspiration: Here are 7 things you don't want to miss in southern Arizona
By Roger Naylor | Window shop in Bisbee
At 5,300 feet, Bisbee sprawls in the canyons and gullies of the Mule Mountains. When the mines closed, much of the town was abandoned. That’s when folks of an artistic temperament moved in. Shops and galleries opened along narrow streets. Houses were refurbished, often set ablaze with color. Murals splashed across walls, sculptures sprang up in tiny yards and music spilled from every open saloon door.
Editor’s Choice Award: Café Roka Helps Couples Celebrate Relationship Milestones
The last year has brought a lot of changes to society, especially when it comes to entertainment and eating. The seasoned staff at Café Roka in Bisbee, Arizona, has weathered the restrictions and embraced the opportunity to bring food directly to people’s homes.
ANOTHER CAN'T MISS DESTINATION TO ADD TO YOUR LIST! RV LIVING IN BISBEE, AZ
Getaway Couple 57.3K subscribers | This Episode: We recently spent three nights in Bisbee, AZ. We didn't know what to expect from this old mining town, but it's safe to say we love it. This town was founded in 1880 when they started mining for gold, silver, and copper. They were actively mining until 1975! Since then, the area has become a place for artists, making it a very unique town indeed. With its rich history, amazing food, and eclectic vibe, we highly recommend adding Bisbee to your list.
Esquire | Charming American Towns You Haven't Heard of But Should Visit ASAP
Back in the day, Bisbee was a major silver and copper mining hub, but now it's a quaint small town home to artists and retirees. With houses on cliffs' edges and a mine cavern that you can still explore, it's pretty picturesque.
Sweet treat bakery finds success
Photo by Mark Levy
BISBEE – Two years ago, a little shop offering sweets and treats opened on Main Street not knowing what would happen.
For Jackie Oatman, it was a chance she was willing to take. So, she opened Patisserie Jacqui and has been happily providing Bisbee residents and visitors a menu filled with all sorts of goodies for takeout.
Arizona Highways: THUY'S NOODLE SHOP
By Kelly Vaughn | Photo by Steven Meckler
When Thuy Dang (pictured) moved to Bisbee from Vietnam nine years ago, she desperately missed the flavors of home — the spices, the heat, the way everything blended together to create steaming bowls of soup, noodles, rice, more. So, while her husband was at work, she Skyped with her friend.
Exploring Arizona in 2021: A wanderer's wish list of the state's most beautiful places
By Roger Naylor
Spend a night at the Shady Dell
This remarkable place is the closest thing to a time machine you’ll find in Arizona. The vintage trailer park in Bisbee offers beautifully restored aluminum trailers for overnight accommodations, as well as a bus and a Chris-Craft yacht.
Drivin' & Vibin' THE BISBEE AZ ROAD TRIP GUIDE
By Kyle & Olivia Brady | Founders of Drivin' & Vibin'
The Bisbee AZ Road Trip Guide
The Wild West. Those words bring about feelings of nostalgia, gun fights, mining towns and ghosts that wander the streets at night. That is Bisbee, Arizona.
Bisbee is an old copper mining town full of secrets and ghost stories, Wild West Saloons and eclectic art galleries, exquisite dining and down home meals.
Arizona Highways: HIGH DESERT MARKET AND CAFÉ
By Kelly Vaughn Kramer | Photo by John Wagner
There's plenty about Bisbee to make your heart spin: winding roads, historic charm and just enough quirk to jump-start your creative juices. Then, there's the cherry-almond bread pudding you'll find at High Desert Market and Café.
AZPM: Minke whale skeleton comes to Bisbee
Bisbee is now home to an animal not normally found in the Arizona desert. Monday night, a truck pulled into Bisbee carrying the bones of a Minke whale — a gift for the Bisbee Science Lab. The whale skeleton was donated by the College of the Atlantic in Maine and delivered in person by one of its professors. Etta Kralovec, a University of Arizona professor of education and chair of the board of the Bisbee Science Lab said they've been working on the acquisition for a year and a half.
AZBIGMEDIA: Here are 10 spots to capture stunning fall photos
Bisbee is a small, historic mining town right on the southern border full of beautiful trees, winding roads, stunning houses and architecture, and majestic mountains, and it’s perfect for any kind of fall photo op! And for a side adventure you can explore the steep streets or go on a tour of an old mine.
Liven Up: ‘Haunted Bisbee' details history, horror
Madison McCormick, Speical to Tucson Local Media | Her mother stomped in, angrily snatching the Ouija board from Francine and her older sisters. She rushed outside, snapped it on her knee, and threw it away. Little did her mother know, the only way to close a portal to the ghost world is to burn a Ouija board. So began the decades-long haunting of the wooden house atop a grassy hill in Bisbee.
How Bisbee Laid the Queen of Copper to Rest
In 1877, an army detail was sent to the Mule Mountains in search of Apaches, but instead found signs of lead, copper and silver. Many would rush to what would later become the City of Bisbee for their chance of striking it rich.
In 1902, Bisbee was incorporated and had been coined the “Queen of the Copper Camps” for its rich mineral presence. By 1974, the mines were depleted leading to the city’s demise until new residents moved in and began revitalizing the city.
Wear your mask - The Martha's Vineyard Times
By Geoff Currier | Gretchen Baer’s new exhibit comes straight from the frontlines.
AZ WEEKEND’S ROAD TRIP GUIDE TO BISBEE
By Lisette Larson | If you’re from Arizona, you’ve surely heard of the historic mining town of Bisbee in Cochise County. In fact, Bisbee pulls visitors from across the country and even as far as Europe and Asia — all wanting to see what the quirky town has to offer.
Built off its history as a bustling mining town, Bisbee’s architecture hasn’t changed much. Old brick buildings line the streets and hundred-year-old wooden floors line those buildings from within.
5 DAY TRIPS FROM TUCSON
visitarizona.com | Like Tombstone, just 25 miles north, Bisbee got its start as a mining town. In the early 1900s, it blossomed into the largest city between St. Louis and San Francisco and boasted the nation's first baseball field. When the mine closed in 1975, the "Queen of the Copper Camps" avoided the ghost-town fate, and instead attracted artists, musicians, entrepreneurs and the other interesting characters that populate it today.
AAA | 10 Arizona Day Trips
Bisbee | Time to destination: 1 hour, 40 minutes | Once the largest city between St. Louis and San Francisco thanks to its mineral-rich mines, the mile-high small town of Bisbee, Arizona is nestled in the Mule Mountains, now known for its vibrant music and arts scene. For a look at the place that forged the town’s reputation as one of the richest copper sites in the world, take a tour of the Queen Mine (bonus for those looking to beat the heat: the mine stays a chilly 47 degrees, even in the summer). The town also claims more than its fair share of quaint cafes, art galleries, and historic architecture, such as the thousands of Depression-era concrete stairs that line the canyon, the Warren Ballpark (purportedly the nation’s oldest baseball field) and Copper Queen Library (Arizona’s first public library).
Readers Digest | 25 Small Towns That Are About to Become More Popular
Nestled in the Mule Mountains at 5,538 feet, Bisbee is approximately 90 miles southeast of Tucson in what’s known as the Sky Islands. A successful mining town in the late 1800s, it was recognized as one of the world’s most productive mineral sites. These days, the city of Bisbee includes several neighborhoods: the historic center, Old Bisbee; Warren, with its landmark Arts and Crafts–style bungalow homes; Lowell, with its funky mid-century-style street that’s been the backdrop in movies; and San Jose, where you’ll find the business district and Arizona’s oldest golf course. The town’s creative spirit, small population (approximately 5,400), current median home prices around $135,000, and cool temperatures (85 to 90 degrees in summer) are a big draw. It’s also an ideal locale for outdoor enthusiasts, birders, hikers, stargazers, and wine enthusiasts. Discover the best small towns in America to retire.
Weird Wild West
WORDS AND IMAGES FROM BISBEE, ARIZONA AND THE ANNUAL SIDEPONY MUSIC FESTIVAL. BY JOSIAH Q. ROE
"All the best things in life are freaks" - Bisbee graffiti. 11 miles north of the US-Mexico border situated on a “sky island” in the largest desert in North America, the old mining town of Bisbee, Arizona and its three “suburbs” of Lowell, Warren, and San Jose, possess a people, culture, and charm as particular and peculiar as its location. A place where people build shrines overlooking town.
TIME Magazine: Meet 27 People Bridging Divides Across America
Bisbee's head librarian, Jason Macoviak is featured in Time Magazine: From Chris Evans to Eboo Patel, Meet 27 People Bridging Divides Across America
Thriving Together | Best Small Library in America 2019
Photo ©2019 Steven Meckler Photography | The Copper Queen Library in Bisbee, AZ, is the oldest in the state. It’s older than the state itself, having been founded in 1882 and open continuously ever since. But it isn’t resting on its laurels.
A Visual Ranking of the Top 25 Wanderlust-Inspiring New Age Cities for Spring
Once a town known for its precious metals, now it’s treasured for its quirky, community spirit. Its motto is “Keep Bisbee Bizarre.”
Events for health such as the 1000 Stair Climb might be the hardest 5K you’ve ever heard of. At least, competitors are encouraged by local musicians set up along the route to serenade and inspire.
Then there’s the annual rolling art parade hosted by the Bisbee Rolling Art Transport Society (BRATS) where soapbox derby cars transport incredible wacky art. It’s free-spirited, fun and even home to the charmer of killer bees, aptly referred to as the Killer Bee Guy.
Top 10 Town for Small Business Revolution
Bisbee has been selected as one of the top 10 towns to receive a makeover from the Small Business Revolution Show produced by Deluxe. See how you can help vote us into the number one spot so that some of our businesses can receive a makeover!
The Most Charming Towns and Small Cities in Arizona by Travel Mag
We share the top ten towns and small cities in Arizona, along with what makes each place so endearing. Be they former mining towns, artsy enclaves or forest and desert hideaways, each little locale on this list merits reverence. Use this guide for a road trip that will surely leave you charmed.
Frommer's names Bisbee as one of the Best Places to Go in 2018!
"We chose Bisbee because it's one of the most interesting small towns in the American West. It has a rich mining history that epitomizes the Old West, and in some ways it can feel like time stopped there, yet that comes with a creative community that's vibrant and modern. Its location in the Mule Mountains means its temperatures are usually comfortable year-round, and the ecosystems in the surrounding canyons are surprisingly diverse. We think Bisbee is unique enough to deserve recognition from a worldwide audience."
--Pauline Frommer, President of FrommerMedia
Bisbee voted Best Historic Small Town in America by USA Today Readers!
While chasing Apaches in 1877, scout Jack Dunn discovered rich copper ore in the Mule Mountains of Arizona and Bisbee was born. This mining boomtown produced more than $6.1 billion worth of mineral wealth in less than 100 years of mining operations. Today, Bisbee’s appeal lies in its Victorian architecture, pretty scenery and laid-back vibe, and the Smithsonian-affiliated Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum does an excellent job of recounting the town’s colorful history.
Bisbee, AZ Sunset Magazine's BEST Small Town 2016!
We searched the West for towns, cities, and neighborhoods that are easy to love. All our winners boast a strong sense of community—the gift of making you feel like you belong. Bisbee made the list!
High Desert Market featured on nationally broadcast NPR radio show – the Splendid Table
September 2015 - It’s Serious Eats’ science superstar J. Kenji Lopez-Alt with his new book, The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science. Mary Karr, author of The Art of Memoir, talks about the role of smell and taste in memory. Musician Sammy Hagar, author of Are We Having Any Fun Yet?, compares cooking to writing a song. James Nienhuis, a professor at the University of Wisconsin, explains what paintings show about the history of vegetable domestication. Jane and Michael Stern report on the High Desert Market Café in Bisbee, Arizona.
Cowboy Wine Trails in Arizona
Sep 28, 2015
Arizona with its swath of Sonora desert, iconic saguaro cactus and searing summer heat seems more like a place for cowboy tales rather than wine trails. However with almost 100 wineries, some which make remarkable wines, a trip to the vineyards is a rewarding experience with plenty of Wild West flavour to boot.
Coolest Small Towns in the USA
(April, 2005) –Once a rowdy copper mining town, Bisbee--in the Mule Mountain range, 90 miles southeast of Tucson--still attracts a fair share of misfits and folks on the fringe. "Bisbee is for people who don't like the ordinary," says longtime resident Cynthia Conroy, a dog trainer.
One prime example is Reed Booth, a.k.a. the Killer Bee Guy. Booth removes swarms of killer bees from wherever he finds them, collects their honey, and sells it at his downtown store, Killer Bee Honey (15 Main St., 520/432-2938, eight-ounce jar $6). Then there's Greg--no last name--who has trained his pets to stand in a pyramid: bird atop cat atop dog. (Sometimes, there's a mouse, too.) Greg can regularly be seen parading his menagerie around.
Stylish amenities are slowly joining Bisbee's oddities. On the first Monday night of each month, the Prickly Pear Cafe has a themed meal and movie night. To accompany the 1998 film Run Lola Run, they served bratwurst and sauerkraut (105 Main St., 520/432-7337, movie night dinner $8). Behind the café is the Old Bisbee Wine Merchant; both are co-owned by partners Ryan White and O'Neil McGean. "We came for a visit and fell in love with Bisbee," says White. And at the Shady Dell, nine restored 1950s trailers, a yacht, and an old bus constitute the town's hippest motel (1 Douglas Rd., 520/432-3567, theshadydell.com, from $45).
Since Bisbee sits in a narrow gap in the mountains, staircases often double as streets. To fully understand what makes the place so special, Conroy suggests standing at the top of the stairs and just . . . listening. "Normal sounds take on a musical tone," she says.
Vegetarian Times : July-Aug 2005 The Twenty Greenest Spots in the Country
Praising Arizona - The Road from Tempe to Tombstone Reveals the many sides of Desert Charm
By Haley Shapely
AAA Arizona Highroads | The New Old West
By: Charles Vascellero
(May/June 2006) - The essence of an enjoyable road trip is often in the serendipitous discovery of places that inspire return visits to distant locales. Just past Bisbee's famed Lavender Pit mine, beside State Route 80, in the city's historic Lowell neighborhood...
Sunset: Queen of the Desert By Lawrence W. Cheek
National Trust Names Bisbee, Arizona, One of America's Dozen Distinctive Destinations
Washington, D.C. (March 2, 2005) – There’s an old saying in Arizona, “Bisbee is 100 miles – and 100 years – from Tucson.” Founded in 1877 by a cavalryman engaged in the bitter campaign by the U.S. military to contain Apaches on reservations, Bisbee (population 6,400) is an authentic Western mining town nestled in the spectacular mile-high Mule Mountains. This community is the first in Arizona to be named to America’s Dozen Distinctive Destinations. Once known as the “Queen of the Copper Camps” for its abundance of gold, copper, silver, lead and zinc, Bisbee in the early 1900s was the largest and most cultured city in the Southwest. Despite the town’s sophistication, the rough-and-ready air of a typical mining camp was on display in Bisbee’s famed red-light district, Brewery Gulch, which boasted nearly 50 saloons in its heyday. When mining ended in the 1970s, Bisbee reinvented itself as an artists’ colony with a well-preserved architectural heritage that draws history-seeking travelers. No visit to Bisbee would be complete without a visit to the Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. On the Queen Mine Tour, tourists don mining attire, climb aboard a train and explore the depths where many a fortune was made. Visitors should plan on walking through the city’s narrow, twisting streets to view Bisbee’s fine collection of turn-of-the-century Victorian structures – many of which have been transformed into charming small bed-and-breakfast establishments that offer both comfort and a hearty dose of Old West history.
For these reasons, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the country's largest private, nonprofit preservation organization, today named Bisbee to its 2005 list of America’s Dozen Distinctive Destinations, an annual list of unique and lovingly preserved communities in the United States. It was selected from nearly 80 destinations in 44 states that were nominated by individuals, preservation organizations and local communities.
“To visit Bisbee is to step back in time,” said Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “Travelers from all over the world come to Bisbee to savor its unique charm – an uncommon blend of history, creativity, friendliness, style, romance and adventure, all wrapped in the rugged splendor of the Old West.”
This is the sixth time the National Trust for Historic Preservation has announced a list of Dozen Distinctive Destinations. To date, there are 72 Dozen Distinctive Destinations located in 36 states throughout the country. To see a complete list, visit www.nationaltrust.org. In each community, residents have taken forceful action to protect their town’s character and sense of place. Whether by enacting a local preservation law to protect historic buildings against demolition, rewriting zoning codes to prevent commercial sprawl, removing regulatory barriers to downtown housing, making downtown areas more walkable, enacting design standards, or taking some other major step that demonstrates a strong commitment to their town, residents have worked hard to preserve the historic and scenic assets of their communities, with rewards that transcend town limits.
The cities and towns on the 2005 list of America's Dozen Distinctive Destinations are:
Annapolis, Maryland (pop. 35,800): Home to the Naval Academy, Annapolis cherishes and celebrates its rich, proud history with a well-preserved cache of 18th century architecture and a charming harbor that invites both sailors and landlubbers to fall in love with this colonial capital.
Bath, Maine (pop. 10,000): Nestled along the sparkling Kennebec River, Bath is an old seafaring town, deemed one of the best small cities in America. A New England oil painting come to life, this compact, walkable community is known for its treasure trove of maritime history, historic buildings and rugged, scenic beaches.
Bisbee, Arizona (pop. 6,400): Once dubbed “Queen of the Copper Camps,” Bisbee was literally born overnight when precious metals were discovered in 1877 in this picturesque spot high in the Mule Mountains. Today, this thriving, eclectic community has been reborn as an arts center that pays homage to its mining heritage and Wild West roots.
Columbus, Indiana (pop. 39,000): Located in the center of a triangle formed by Cincinnati, Louisville and Indianapolis, Columbus has earned its reputation as a world-class center of contemporary architecture. Columbus entices visitors with its striking modern architecture and collection of public art, distinct wineries, shops, festivals and array of outdoor activities.
Dubuque, Iowa (pop. 58,000): Perched high on a limestone bluff above the mighty Mississippi, Dubuque is a charming and vibrant city known for its cache of Victorian mansions, breath-taking vistas and three centuries of river history.
Helena, Montana (pop. 26,500): Known for its pristine rivers, majestic mountains and wide-open spaces, Helena is a city of extraordinary beauty and history. The city’s proud past can be witnessed today in its spectacular 19th-century mansions, historic gold mining-era businesses and restored pioneer dwellings.
Jonesborough, Tennessee (pop. 4,200): In the heart of the spectacular Southern Appalachian mountains, Jonesborough is a small town with a big story. Jonesborough celebrates its rich history and culture with a beautifully preserved downtown and a number of highly respected celebrations including the annual National Storytelling Festival.
Key West, Florida (pop. 25,500): A tiny speck of land on the southernmost tip of Florida, Key West has a well-earned reputation as a tropical paradise with breathtaking sunsets, crystal clear waters and sultry nightlife. But architecture lovers gravitate to the island’s palm-lined streets and proudly preserved Spanish-Colonial mansions and tin-roofed conch houses.
Natchitoches, Louisiana (pop. 18,500): Established in 1714, this vibrant community is the oldest permanent settlement in the Louisiana Purchase. Natchitoches boasts a 33-block historic district, picture-book architecture and a variety of shops, restaurants, bed and breakfasts, tours and festivals that visitors are sure to enjoy.
New Braunfels, Texas (pop. 36,500): Founded in 1845 by German immigrants, New Braunfels offers genuine Lone Star hospitality, small-town spirit and a unique heritage that is celebrated year-round. New Braunfels boasts a variety of distinct activities that include Wurstfest, a “10-day salute to sausage” and Schlitterbahn, the top-rated water park in the nation.
Oak Park, Illinois (pop. 52,500): A diverse and dynamic town just nine miles outside Chicago, Oak Park is home to wide, leafy streets, quaint Victorian cottages and the world’s largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright designed buildings and houses. Oak Park’s delightful setting – complete with world-class restaurants, boutiques and art galleries –provides the perfect escape.
Salem, Massachusetts (pop. 40,400): Most famously known for the witchcraft trials of 1692, Salem is also one of New England’s most colorful, coastal cities. Dubbed “America’s Bewitching Seaport,” Salem boasts a rich maritime heritage, an impressive display of historic architecture and nearly four centuries of history.
To obtain high resolution images of this year’s Dozen Distinctive Destinations, please contact the National Trust Office of Communications, 202-588-6141.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation is a private, nonprofit membership organization dedicated to protecting the irreplaceable. Recipient of the National Humanities Medal, the Trust provides leadership, education and advocacy to save America’s diverse historic places and revitalize communities. Its Washington, DC headquarters staff, six regional offices and 26 historic sites work with the Trust’s members and thousands of local community groups in all 50 states. For more information, visit the National Trust’s web site at www.nationaltrust.org.
Arizona Highways: Feb. 2005 Quirky Town of Bisbee Still Has Its Old-time Charm
By Carrie M. Miner
After a short trip through the darkened tunnel at Mule Pass, visitors arrive in Old Bisbee, the historic mining town in southern Arizona. Once known as the Queen of the Copper Camps, Bisbee shines with an allure all her own. Although no longer one of the largest towns between New Orleans and San Francisco, as it was in the early 20th century, this quirky place tenaciously clings to the steep slopes of the Mule Mountains as if to prove that it is here to stay.
At first glance, downtown Bisbee looks as if time stopped at the turn of the 20th century. Main Street, which runs up to Tombstone Canyon, is home to artist studios, galleries and boutiques.
A stroll down the sidewalks reveals a smattering of unique and eclectic shops. You can pick up a hand-woven straw hat at Optimo Custom Hatworks, chat with a potter as she throws a clay bowl at a pottery shop, and sample award-winning honey butters and honey mustards made by Killer Bee Honey. Art collectors will discover fine arts at specialty galleries, including Belleza Fine Art Gallery, 55 Main Gallery and the Tang Gallery. Many other unusual shops hide in the historic buildings - each as distinctive as the town they reside in.
The dining opportunities in Old Bisbee are just as diverse. You can eat a hearty lunch at Cafe Cornucopia, known for homemade sandwiches, soups and desserts, or relax during a leisurely meal at the quaint historic Copper Queen Hotel.
For an exquisite evening, make a reservation at Cafe Roka. The original 1907 brick building was originally part of the Fair Department Store, and later became The Tavern, one of the rowdiest bars in Bisbee. Chef Rod Kass transformed it into a fine dining establishment in 1993. As Cafe Roka, the building's old exposed brick provides a charming backdrop for original artwork, the soft light and polished wood creates an Old World atmosphere, and an 1875 bar recalls Bisbee's glory days.
"It was hard for the old-timers when it [Bisbee] declined," said Sally Holcomb, whose family has lived and worked in the Bisbee area for five generations. "Now there's a new energy. It's more vibrant."
The Mule Mountains aren't as impressive as some of the other ranges in southern Arizona, but their rocky canyons hoarded what became known as one of the richest mineral sites in the world. Jack Dunn, a scout with Company C from Fort Huachuca, first discovered an outcropping of rich ore in 1877 while chasing Apache Indians in the area.
By 1910, more than 20,000 people lived in the crowded canyons around the Bisbee mines. Phelps Dodge purchased most of the other major mines during the Great Depression, and mining continued until 1975. In less than 100 years, the area surrounding Bisbee had yielded about $10 billion in copper (at today's prices), all gleaned from a surface area of about 3 square miles.
Bisbee visitors can walk in the shoes of those old-time hard-rock miners with a tour of the Copper Queen Mine. After donning a helmet and a yellow slicker, they will descend deep within the mountains for a guided train ride through the tunnels. The Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum, located in the former headquarters of the Copper Queen Consolidated Mining Co., provides an in-depth look at Bisbee's mines and the way of life during the copper camp's heyday.
If you are willing to go off the beaten path, you'll discover more riches than just those found on Main Street. Tom Mosier, a native of Bisbee, takes locals and tourists on historical adventures through Bisbee’s streets on his Lavender Jeep Tours. Mosier drives his passengers along Bisbee’s backstreets and regales them with history of the town and its buildings. Among the ruined miners’ shacks and restored Victorian homes, Mosier points to the stairs that cling to the steep hillside.
“There are some houses that you can only get to by stairs,” said Mosier. “And in some places there are stairs that don’t go anywhere at all.”
One observer in 1902 claimed, “It is eminently an upright camp, especially in the topographical sense, the residences rising one above the other like seats in the balcony of the Tabor Grand.” Some things never change.
Location: Approximately 93 miles southeast of Tucson.
Getting There: From Tucson, drive about 45 miles southeast on Interstate 10 to Exit 303 near Benson. Drive about 48 miles southeast on State Route 80 to Bisbee.
Additional Information: The Bisbee Chamber of Commerce, (520) 432-5421; toll-free, (866) 224-7233;www.bisbeearizona.com
Things to Do in Bisbee
Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum: View the colorful history of the Queen of Copper Camps at this museum, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. No. 5 Copper Queen Plaza; (520) 432-7071;www.bisbeemuseum.org
Cafe Roka: Enjoy a four-course meal at this first-class restaurant at 35 Main St.; (520) 432-5153;www.caferoka.com
Lavender Jeep Tours: Bisbee native Tom Mosier and his wife, Ginger, offer seven different tours, including the historic back roads of Bisbee, the Sky Islands, a sunset mountain tour and mining landscape tour. No. 1 Copper Queen Plaza; (520) 432-5369.
Muheim Heritage House Museum: The restored pioneer house, built by Joseph and Carmelita Muheim beginning in 1898 and completed in 1915, gives visitors an intimate look at the style of living in Bisbee’s heyday. 207 Youngblood Hill; (520) 432-7698.
Queen Mine Tour: Take a trip deep underground and learn about the approximately 2,500 miles of tunnels in the Bisbee mining area. 47 Dart Ave. (just off State 80); (520) 432-2071; toll-free, (866) 432-2071.
Shady Dell, a vintage trailer park: Stay in a restored 1950s aluminum travel trailer complete with period furnishings.1 Old Douglas Rd.; (520) 432-3567; www.theshadydell.com
Shops and Galleries: Bisbee has reinvented itself as a thriving arts community with galleries, specialty boutiques and restaurants settled into the historic buildings running up Tombstone Canyon.
High Desert Gardens of Old Bisbee
Feb. 15, 2005; for more information, call Fred Miller @ (520) 432-1418
Fourth Annual Bisbee Garden Tour
May 7, 2005 10 am-4 pm
The allure and beauty of high desert gardens in historic Old Bisbee will be featured during the fourth annual Bisbee Bloomer Garden Tour, Saturday, May 7.
Ten of Bisbee's finest gardens will be on display during the self guided tour in historic Old Bisbee. All gardens will have docents availabe for information.
Eclectic in style, much like the former Copper mining town itself, the tour gardens reflect home-owner's preferences and experiments rather than landscape architects planned perfection. There is much practical knowledge and advice to be gained through the tour. Because Bisbee is located on the overlap of the Chihuahua and Sonora deserts as well as the mile high elevation, the unique growing conditions are especially challenging.
The gardens reflect a range of landscaping including Xeriscape, natural state, water feature, and sunlight mitigation. Visitors will find fruit trees, lily ponds, roses, roses, roses, low water use plants, high water use plants, native high desert plants, water features, bonsai shrubs, and many different varieties of trees, bushes, vines, perennials and annuals.
Tickets for the tour, which runs from 10 am to 4 pm, are $8 and may be purchased at the Bisbee Visitor Center, 2 Copper Queen Plaza and the High Desert Market in Old Bisbee. Call 520-432-3554 for more information. Or visit www.discoverbisbee.com.
The tour is sponsored by the Bisbee Bloomers civic improvement group and the City of Bisbee.
Budget Travel : Feb. 2004 Arizona the way it was
By Laurie Kuntz
History runs deep in Southeast Arizona, but you don't have to dig to find it. Get off the main road and you'll bump into ghost towns and missions, abandoned mines and airstream trailers.
Delta Sky Magazine: July 2003 Unhurried
Busy Bisbee - by Nancy Oakley; Illustration by Francis Livingston
That's the tempo in these 5 American villages.
Scottsdale Life: June 2003
Small Town, AZ
By Ginger S. Eiden; Photos by John Beckett
A slice of pie and life in Jerome, Wickenburg and Bisbee.
Travel + Leisure: October 2002 The Not So Old West
By Catherine O'Neal
Hey, cowboy: beyond the ghost towns and desert roads of Arizona, Catherine O'Neal finds an unexpected oasis of vintage trailers, fusion cuisine, and bohemian style.
Money Magazine: April 2002 Best Places to Vacation
By Andrea Bennet and Amy Wilson with Tara Kalwarski
From Oregon to Maine, we picked 10 perfect places in North America to spend your summer holidays.
It's Cool to go South in the Summer: Bisbee a Cool Place to Beat the Heat
Bisbee, AZ (June, 2005) – Elevation is everything when it comes to escaping the desert heat. Travelers heading to Bisbee, the nation’s southernmost mile-high city, will discover that they can “rise above it all” when they realize “It’s Cool to Go South in the Summer.”
COOL VISTAS— With elevations ranging from 4,500 to 7,300 feet, the Mule Mountains help elevate visitors to a higher plane. And, because of its mile-high elevation, Bisbee enjoys cooler summer climes. These mountain peaks top out at about 7,300 feet, and provide Bisbee’s scenic backdrop. Expansive views, challenging hiking, biking, scenic drives, jeep tours and birding are among the recreational opportunities.
COOL MINING EXPERIENCE—And then there’s the flip side of elevation – the underground experience in Bisbee. The Queen Mine Tour allows visitors to experience cool comfort by traveling deep into the earth. During the tour, visitors experience one of the coolest spots in Arizona, even in the hottest months. The temperature registers a cool 47? F year-round. Cars formerly used to transport copper are now “trams” that carry passengers donning yellow slickers and hard hats equipped with spotlights, and trundle down the mine’s tracks. Miners-turned-tour-guides tell fascinating stories of the mine’s historic operations. Above ground, visitors can learn more about mining history and life in early 20th Century life at the Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution.
COOL ARTS SCENE— A walk through historic Old Bisbee is a chance to peruse the city’s artistic riches. Whether frequent art patrons or casual shoppers, visitors can find an eclectic arts scene full of uncommon finds. Streets are lined with art galleries, studios and antique shops that are housed in diverse architecture from Bisbee’s turn-of-the-century mining heydays. Art deco, Classical Revival and Beaux Arts styles grace the unique structures along its streets.
COOL GOLF—Golfers itching to hit the links will find cool fairways in Bisbee, too. Sitting at an elevation of 4,600 feet, Turquoise Valley Golf Course offers a cool respite from urban courses—10-20 degrees cooler than Tucson or Phoenix layouts—and at value prices. “The Rattler,” hole #15, features 747 yards of cool green fairways – quite a challenge for even the latest in titanium technology or the biggest Big Bertha.
For more information on Bisbee’s cool summers, contact the Bisbee Visitors Center at (520) 432-3554, toll-free at 1-866-2 BISBEE (866-224-7233). Visitors can also get information on Bisbee’s events, attractions and accommodations at the website at www.discoverbisbee.com.
Recently named a Distinctive Destination by the National Trust of Historic Preservation--the first city in Arizona to receive the designation, Bisbee is located approximately 90 miles southeast of Tucson and offers old-world charm, new-world charisma and is Arizona’s premier destination for arts and culture, western heritage, bird watching and outdoor recreation.
BISBEE: Mining Town Turned Artists' Haven
BISBEE, Ariz. – At the end of the 19th century the Queen Mine churned with activity beneath the town of Bisbee. Today, the mine is dormant, but Bisbee is not. Built along the sides of the Mule Mountains in southeastern Arizona, the thriving mile-high community of Bisbee is richly blended with art, history and western charm.
Miners descended into the depths of the Queen Mine to extract copper ore beginning in the late 1800s. At the turn of the century, the city claimed the largest population of any city between St. Louis and San Francisco. The bustling city saw bawdy days and hosted more than 40 saloons. Today, the mining history is told in the Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum, the Smithsonian Institution’s only rural affiliate.
Copper production slowed in the mid-1970s, but an infusion of artists kept the town alive. Today, artists’ galleries, historic homes and the antique shopping district combine to give Bisbee its unique character. On Brewery Gulch and Main Street, galleries and cooperatives showcase the work and skills of local and regional residents. Their talents are evident in many different artistic media, from landscape artists and photography to fiber arts and many more.
Shoppers can hunt for artistic treasures or search the shelves of the antique shops. In addition, custom hats can be had from local milliner Grant Sergot at Óptimo Custom Hatworks and wines from regional growers can be sampled at the Copper Door Wine Shop.
For more information on Bisbee attractions and accommodations, contact the Bisbee Visitor Center at (520) 432-3554 or toll-free at (866) 2 BISBEE (224-7233) or visit the website at www.discoverbisbee.com.
Bisbee, located approximately 90 miles southeast of Tucson, offers old-world charm, new-world charisma and is Arizona’s premier destination for arts and culture, western heritage, bird watching and outdoor recreation.