Complete Guide to Visiting Bisbee, AZ
I’m Dawn Marie, a travel and lifestyle blogger based out of Southern California. With in-depth articles, travel guides, and reviews on hotels & products, I seek to share my journeys to help you plan for your own. My adventures take me all over California, the western United States, and around the globe.
This week I’m thrilled to partner with Discover Bisbee as we explore the beautiful and historic mining town of Bisbee, Arizona. People travel from all over to this charming small town to be inspired and refreshed...and that certainly includes me! Join me as we explore what to do, where to stay, and what to eat on your next visit to Bisbee.
Located in beautiful Cochise County only 11 miles from the US/Mexico border, Bisbee is situated just over a mile high in elevation in the heart of the Mule Mountains. There are several districts and suburbs within the Bisbee city limits, but the two areas that are most popular for visitors are Old Bisbee and Lowell. I’d certainly recommend spending several days in Bisbee to really enjoy all this historic town has to offer, but at only an hour and a half drive south of Tucson, it can certainly make for a great day trip as well.
The Mule Mountains proved to a perfect spot for copper, gold, and silver mining in the late 19th Century, and as a result the boomtown of Bisbee was officially established in 1880.
The massive success of the mining operations continued through the early 1900s. However, with steady declines in mining and the population by the mid-to-late 20th Century, Bisbee shifted its focus to tourism and the arts, and the cultural renaissance of this area is still going strong today. In fact, both USA Today and Sunset Magazine ranked Bisbee as the #1 historic town in America in 2016.
For a more complete rundown of Bisbee’s rich and colorful past, read more at DiscoverBisbee.com/history.
Now the historic buildings that line Bisbee’s narrow and winding streets have been restored and are filled with art galleries, quirky shops, boutique hotels, and one-of-a-kind restaurants. Continue to read below as we dive into what to do, where to stay, and what to eat on your next visit to Bisbee!
What to Do in Bisbee
Originally founded as a copper mining town, Bisbee now welcomes guests with its vibrant art scene and thriving downtown area fondly referred to as “Old Bisbee”. Galleries line Main Street, live music rings out most evenings, and the rich mining history remains a vital piece of Bisbee’s identity. The historical architecture draws guests to enjoy Victorian-style houses along with the elegant Art Deco-designed Cochise County Courthouse. Bisbee’s Copper Queen Library located above the historic post office has been awarded the top prize for best small library in America by the Library Journal, and Bisbee’s historic ghost tours take guests back in time for some spooky stories at the town’s most “haunted” spots. Below is a taste of the wonderful activities to enjoy in town.
Queen Mine Tour
Located in the far southeast corner of Old Bisbee, the Copper Queen Mine Tour is one of the most popular activities for guests to enjoy. Over 100 years ago this mine was the most productive copper mine in all of Cochise County. It brought thousands of miners to the area and led to the creation and growth of Bisbee in the 1880s. Before ceasing operations in 1975, this mine produced an estimated 8 billion pounds of copper, nearly 3 million ounces of gold, and 77 million ounces of silver.
Today tourists can enjoy a guided tour of the famous mine. Outfitted in a hard hat, a miner’s lamp, and a yellow slicker, visitors are led 1,500 feet into the mine to recount mining days and learn about the techniques, dangers, and history of this mine. The Queen Mine building is home to the Discover Bisbee visitor center, which is filled with wonderful resources and maps about the town. You can also view informative displays about the mine here, as well as take home a piece of mining history with you, as there are many gems and minerals available for purchase in the gift shop. If you do plan on taking one of the guided tours, I highly recommend purchasing your tickets in advance...this popular activity can sell out quickly, especially on weekends.
Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum One of the first official Smithsonian Affiliates, the Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum offers visitors an interactive trip back in time to learn about this western copper mining town’s role in the industrialization of America. The museum is located in the former headquarters of the Copper Queen Consolidated Mining Company and is open from 10am to 4pm daily. General admission is $10 and some of Bisbee’s most impressive minerals are on display here, along with artifacts, photographs and tools. Other Bisbee Museums Worth Checking Out Bisbee Restoration Museum: Home to three floors of local historic items donated and loaned by Bisbee families. Muheim Heritage House Museum: A National Historic site with Queen Anne architecture.
As you drive south of Old Bisbee, you wind around a former open pit copper mine called the Lavender Pit. The pit covers an area of 300 acres and is 900 feet deep. Production of ore here totaled over 86 million tons before production ceased in 1974. A large pull off and parking area leads to the Lavender Pit Mining Overlook. This makes for a quick but interesting stop. Fence cut-outs allow for unobstructed photos and informational displays share about the history and mining process here.
In 1899 Frank Hanchett of Lowell, Massachusetts purchased property and started the Lowell and Arizona Copper Mining and Smelting Company. Erie Street was originally established as a business and social center near the Lowell mine. The population of Lowell grew rapidly as local mines expanded, but as the Lavender Pit open copper mine expanded, more than half of Lowell was in the direct path of new development for this massive pit. As a result, over 250 homes and businesses had to be moved for the continued development of the Lavender Pit. Although much of Lowell was lost to mining, Erie Street has been saved and beautifully preserved by business owners and locals. They’ve worked together to create a spectacular outdoor museum of sorts that showcases what is left of this historic neighborhood. The Lowell Americana Project has made it possible to experience the street as a living snapshot into the past, and Erie Street is continually restored by a vibrant and passionate community of residents and volunteers who want to remember a different America. You can visit the Bisbee Breakfast Club and contribute to these efforts in their unique donation “jar” (an old tabletop jukebox), with proceeds going to the work of the Lowell Americana Project.
B Active Bisbee B Active Bisbee is a hub for exploring Bisbee and nearby surrounding vistas, offering a variety of fun experiences for your group. Connecting Bisbee enthusiasts with the outdoors and each other, B Active Bisbee is conveniently located along Main Street in the historic district of Bisbee. They also offer cool apparel and gear for hiking, biking, camping, and RVing. See my full B Active Bisbee blog post for more information on this wonderful local business, including details on the guided “OK” Walking Tour and E-bike rentals.
Art Incredible art can be found in all forms all over town. In fact, it’s been said that Bisbee may have the most concentrated collection of folk art in America. You can enjoy murals, sculptures, and art installations all over town, such as the Broadway Art Stairs, Judy Perry’s mural maps, Ben Dale’s iron work, and Fred Albert’s mosaic tiles. Of course no Bisbee trip would be complete without visiting the “Iron Man”, which is the striking statue of the Bisbee Copper Miner created by Phillip Sanderson back in the 1930s. There are also an abundance of galleries to enjoy as well. Below are just a few of the highlights... Artemizia Foundation - Artemizia Annex & Gallery 818: By exhibiting a dynamic collection of influential, contemporary, graffiti, and street artists from around the world, Artemizia Foundation seeks to provoke, inspire and promote 21st Century art and artists. Belleza Fine Art Gallery: Belleza features the works of over 20 artists in a restored gallery that typifies the wonderful feel of Bisbee at the turn of the 20th Century. Sam Poe Gallery: A contemporary art space featuring the work of husband & wife creators Poe & Sam. Pritchard Gallery: Located in the Copper Queen Library living room, this gallery features multiple Bisbee artists every year. Subway Gallery: Featuring sculpture, ceramics, photography, paintings, prints, and more.
From vintage fashion and antique decor, to artisan oils, hand crafted soaps, and beautiful jewelry, you can leave your Bisbee trip with a suitcase full of unique goods. Make sure to take time to peruse all the local shops and support these small businesses...below are some of the highlights I’ve discovered on my recent trips.
Bisbee Soap & Sundry: Hand crafted, small batch soaps, lotions, beard oils and more.
Bisbee Olive Oil: A tasting store, offering 35 different flavors of olive oil.
Bitchin’ Pickin’s: An eclectic mix of vintage clothing, home decor, and art.
Classic Rock Couture: Creative threads and accessories for desert gypsies, wild children, and boho babes.
Mile High MunCheese: Premier independent cheese shop offering bulk cheese, charcuterie, smoked fish, wine, beer, and more.
Optimo Custom Hatworks: Hand-formed, hand-finished hats.
Tumbleweed Mining Co.: Jewelry and gifts handcrafted from tumbleweeds and other desert plants.
Bisbee Hatchet House One of Bisbee’s newer venues was a personal favorite of mine on my recent trip. Established in 2022, the Bisbee Hatchet House is a premiere axe throwing venue, and whether you’re a first timer (like me) or a seasoned pro, there’s something incredibly fun about throwing axes in a real old-west environment. Try your hand at throwing knives or the classic hatchets with the help of the friendly and knowledgeable staff...you’re sure to get the swing of it in no time!😉 The space is both inviting and intimate, and it’s a perfect place to spend an hour having fun with old and new friends!
If you’ve been following my adventures since the beginning, you know that flyingdawnmarie.com started out solely as an aerial blog, sharing my adventures with my friends and students...so visiting an aerial studio always feels like returning to my roots. Bisbee’s Aerie Movement offers aerial classes in silks, lyra, trapeze, as well as yoga, aerial yoga, flamenco dancing, and more! For all my aerialist friends, keep an eye out for incredible aerial retreats with special guest instructors here. You can also schedule private events (birthday parties, bachelorette parties, etc.), or drop in for a dance or yoga class while you’re in town.
Warren Ballpark Warren Ballpark was built in 1909 and is one of the oldest professional baseball stadiums in the United States. Spectators can enter the concrete and adobe brick grandstands where thousands of minor league, semi-pro, high school, and amateur players have played over the last 110 years.
Where to Stay in Bisbee
Bisbee is an incredible small town and definitely worthy of a visit...and along with the delicious food, rich history, and thriving art scene, staying in Bisbee is great fun. I try to stay someplace different every time I visit, because there are so many historic and unique hotel and Airbnb options.
Offering spacious one and two bedroom suites with panoramic verandas, visitors have been calling this historic property home since 1914. Eldorado Suites not only offers some of the best views of Old Bisbee (especially from the 3rd floor suites), the property is also just steps away from numerous restaurants, shops, museums and galleries.
The Inn at Castle Rock
Across from Castle Rock is where the Muirhead House—now The Inn at Castle Rock—was built by Bisbee’s first mayor, John Joseph Muirhead, in 1895 in the middle of Old Bisbee. Located at the foot of Castle Rock, The Inn at Castle Rock is a beautiful eclectic hotel, and inside the lobby you’ll find the historic Apache Springs Well. The backyard is an acre of steep ivy covered hills with tiled trails, gazebos, and fruit trees.
Pythian Castle Airbnb
Built in 1904 and completely renovated in 2016, the Pythian Castle is an iconic and historic Bisbee structure. Guests have access to the entire 2nd floor, which features 3 bedrooms and 3.5 baths, as well as 18 foot tall ceilings in the “great room.” This beautiful building is also perched above the historic Brewery Gulch District, located just steps away from a wide array of restaurants, shops, and fun activities.
Castlerock Casita Airbnb
Located on Main Street in the heart of Historic Bisbee. the Castlerock Casita is a cozy little 1 bedroom/1 bath home that is walking distance to much of what Bisbee has to offer. Amenities include a relaxing patio porch swing and dedicated parking spot right next to one of Bisbee’s historic staircases.
Other Unique Stays in Bisbee
Yurt at the Top of the Mountain
What to Eat in Bisbee
In a town filled with such rich history and diverse attractions, you would hope delicious dining is also a highlight of any Bisbee visit...and you will not be disappointed! For a small town, you’ll find a huge array of yummy eatery options. Below are a few of my favorites!
This popular spot offers a fun atmosphere and the cheerful wait staff serves American comfort food. On our most recent visit to Bisbee’s Table, both Nate and I couldn’t get enough of the bacon wrapped dates on the Charcuterie Board, which is a perfect appetizer for two to split. I enjoyed the Mediterranean Flatbread immensely...meanwhile, Nate devoured a Frick’n Chicken Sandwich.
Both locals and visitors alike rave about Cafe Roka (and for good reason). If you’re looking for a unique and delicious fine dining experience, here you’ll enjoy locally sourced ingredients in a beautiful art deco atmosphere.
Bisbee Breakfast Club
Located on historic Eerie Street in the old pharmacy building, the Bisbee Breakfast Club has a fun throwback Americana atmosphere. Our server, Mitsy, made us feel like family from the moment we entered. The food is not only delicious, but the portions are beyond generous, so bring your appetite! For our fellow “Parks & Rec” fans, there is even a menu option celebrating “Uncle Ronnie Swanson”, which includes a double portion of meat and a shot of Lagavulin! 😄
On the front counter sits an old tabletop jukebox where you can pop in a dollar or two to support the Lowell Americana Project and the wonderful ongoing work they do to keep historic Erie Street vibrant for visitors.
When I saw a line down Main Street to this pink shop Saturday morning, I knew I had to check out Patisserie Jacquie for myself...and spoiler, I absolutely got back in line for seconds (yep it’s that good!). Enjoy a classic zingy lemon bar or opt for something a bit more adventurous like a freshly prepared Cruffin (a cross between a croissant and a muffin). Nate loved everything he tried and almost inhaled his Triple Threat Peanut Butter Rice Krispy Treat...it’s certainly indulgent, but if you love peanut butter and chocolate, you’ll be in heaven. I also adored every treat I tried, but my favorite was probably the Lavender Earl Gray Tart...its magical look is absolutely matched by its out-of-this-world taste! Enjoy a mix of classic European & American-style pastries and baked goods here.
Other Notable Dining
While I’m not a food blogger, I’m pretty sure Bisbee could make me one with its many wonderful restaurants. Below are other spots I’ve enjoyed on my Bisbee visits, and I would absolutely recommend them to you too!
Know Before You Go
• Make sure to plan out your dining ahead of time. Not every restaurant takes reservations, wait times can be lengthy, and hours of operation vary. I recommend calling in advance for the latest information...I assure you, though, the food in this town won’t disappoint!
• As you walk through the streets, staircases, and alleyways looking at the many murals and historic structures, be respectful of local residents. Many of these sights are now on private property.
• If you’re staying in Old Bisbee, particularly near the Brewery Gulch District, know that the nightlife can be quite loud with live music going fairly late into the evenings. If you stay at the Eldorado Suites, earplugs are available for guests.
• If you’re flying into Arizona, drive-time to Bisbee is 1.5 hours from Tucson International Airport and about 3.25 hours from Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix.
• Due to the proximity of the US/Mexico border, expect to come across Border Patrol checkpoints along northbound highways in the area.
In Summary & Post Sponsor
I’d like to give a huge thank you to the sponsor of this post, Discover Bisbee. Make sure to visit the official Discover Bisbee website and Instagram account for information on what to do in & around this beautiful and historic mining town.
Thanks so much for joining me this week in Bisbee, AZ. For a virtual visit of my recent trip, make sure to watch my Behind the Blog video at the top of this post, or watch it on YouTube here. Until next week, I hope you find adventure and encouragement where you go!