The lovely little town of Bisbee, Arizona is known for being funky, fun, and a bit weird. That is just one of the reasons that we love it, and you need to visit it.
Some of the best things to do here include going on mine tours, admiring its street art, learning about what it was like "back in the good old days", and discovering why it has become this oasis of culture and beauty in the southwest of our state.
Our list offers you everything you need to visit this cool, friendly, southeast AZ community.
If you've never been into a mine under the ground, then you definitely will want to do it while you are here. It's one of the most popular things to do in Bisbee, AZ.
There is nothing else like it in the world since this mine was so prolific back when it was running for almost 100 years.
Before the mine tour, you enter the classic building that houses a number of displays and a gift shop. This is where you will pick up your safety vests, helmet, and spotlight so you can see during the tour. After that you will head outside for the start of the tour.
This is where the fun really begins since you will ride on a small train specifically built for this mine. After you hop on the train, you will venture inside the cave tunnels. As you go, your guide will tell you all about the history and why this mine was so important. You'll learn about the tools they used, how they mined it, and some massive caverns which were blown apart to find the minerals here.
For those who haven't been to Bisbee, you still might have heard of it since it has some of the most colorful steps anywhere. And, as you'll read later, there is the mind-blowing (and leg muscle blowing) Bisbee 1000 in which runners go up 1,000 steps during a race.
You'll find these colorful staircases all around the town. They are hard to miss!
Some are only a flight or two, while others go up for what seems like forever. Many of them are painted or decorated. As you climb, they will by gorgeous houses, and take you to viewing spots high above the city. It's an experience you will never forget!
There is one specific flight of stairs that you will not want to miss. You'll find it next to 24 Brewery Avenue. The reason we love it is because about 50 or more feet of it has art all over it. And we don't mean graffiti art, but real art pieces. These include paintings, photographs, and more. There are over 100 pieces of art scattered around it.
Trust us, you will hear or see something that goes bump in the night on this popular walking tour. Your (g)hosts are famous for finding all the perfect places where the spirits and souls hide as you roam around the stairs, streets, and haunted alleyways.
And believe it or not, we've actually seen what seems to be spirits when we were on this tour. We never used to think they were real, but now we do! But don't worry, they are totally safe and won't bother you.
Even though the tour sounds scary, it is family-friendly and kids from ages 6 and up are welcome. It is also pet-friendly, so your whole family can come along. It usually lasts about 1 and a half hours, so make sure to plan ahead for food and water. This tour was voted both the 2020 Best of Bisbee Tour and 2020 Traveler's Choice by TripAdvisor. It's the reason it's one of the best things to do in Bisbee, AZ!
Fun Fact: Did you know that there are "Little Blue Men" in Bisbee? Why are they blue and not green? Because the minerals from the mines have turned their skin blue.
Bisbee Tourism Center (BTC) is another one of our top recommendations. They offer a variety of tours around town on their special 4-wheel golf cart. Their tours run throughout the day and in the evenings (they also offer a fun ghost tour)!
Their tours take you to the top of the hills as well so you can get the perfect view of Bisbee from above.
You can select from their 30-, 60-, and 90-minute tours. All are well priced, so you can see as much of the town as possible.
In addition to their tours, the BTC has a restaurant (that is open late!) and rooms to rent.
They are also a great resource for other things to see and do in town. You will find them at #8 Naco Road.
The tiny town of Lowell is a borough about 10 minutes outside of Bisbee. Even though it's tiny, it attracts a lot of visitors.
So why would Lowell be listed as one of the best things to do in Bisbee, Az? Because of the abandoned area along Erie Street. It will make you feel like you took a step back in time to the 40s and 50s.
All along this abandoned street (which is about two blocks long), you will see classic cars, like the police car above (notice the word on it is backwards so when you looked in your rearview mirror, you'd see it correctly), abandoned businesses, and so much more. There is even an old, abandoned gas station with the cool, historic gas pumps.
As if that isn't enough of a reason to visit Lowell, then we'll give you another: The Bisbee Breakfast Club. This restaurant is one of the best you can find in the area. It is full of incredible food, with huge portions, and everyone leaves with a smile on their face. We do suggest getting there on the early side as there can be quite a waiting list since it is so beloved by both locals and travelers.
In addition to Bisbee's colorful staircases, you will also find all kinds of street art and murals around town. For anyone who loves street art and murals, you will be in for a treat!
After the mining corporations shut down in 1975, the town had a rough time. Shortly after the mines closed, artists from around the US started to discover it and determined Bisbee would be the perfect place to move to and build a community.
As they moved into the community, they also began to liven up the streets with their art.
Much of their art remains and younger people have continued to build upon it. You can be sure to find something beautiful around almost every corner of this town. Some of the artists are fairly famous in the street art world, so you'll see true art on the walls.
Something that will make you want to come back is that the city, or a store, will occasionally paint over the murals. This then allows space for newer pieces to be added.
So, even if you think you've seen it all, you haven't.
Last time we were there, someone decided to paint a mustache on a mural of a man and a woman looking at each other. That isn't that surprising other than they painted a mustache on both of them!
Although you can really get your heart pumping in the heart of Bisbee, you will also find a few really cool places to go hiking nearby. Here are a couple of our recommendations.
San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area: This gorgeous area that covers over 57,000 acres of land is about 30 to 45 minutes west of Bisbee. Not only will you find hikes that are incredibly beautiful, you are sure to also run into some wildlife. Keep your eyes out for different types of mammals, insects, and birds. It's also home to Prehistoric sites including the Murray Springs Clovis Site, which is an archeological site that is over 40,000 years old. If you are a horse lover, you can bring it along with you.
Ramsey Canyon Preserve-Nature Conservancy: This is a very special place in all of Arizona since it is home to a number of endangered animals. One of the reasons that these animals live here is that it is in a valley, so it stays cool, and they can survive. It is almost 300 acres and there are beautiful springs here. It is also especially kid friendly with their "Please Touch Room." They also offer tours from November through March. It is about 45 minutes west of Bisbee.
Chiricahua National Park: Even though this park is 1 and a half hours away, you still might want to go hiking here. The rock formations here, named "Hoodoos", are massive thin spires that reach up to the sky. As you venture further into it, you'll see rocks that are "stacked" on top of each other. Depending on the season, you might meet some wildlife such as deer, migrating birds, or even a coati (they look sort of like raccoons). There are also hikes ranging from easy, to medium, to extreme so everyone can do their own level.
When you go to Lowell, or come back from Lowell, you will want to stop at the Lavender Pit and check it out. This is definitely a relic from the old days of the miners and one of unique things to do in Bisbee, AZ. It is only about 5 minutes outside of the city.
The pit was part of the mines. It used to be a full-sized mountain before they started digging and blasting it to nothing. Now, just empty and unused, this crater is over 300 acres!
The city has set up a great overlook area, with all kinds of information and signs explaining the history of the pit, and it is well worth the stop. They have fences up, for your safety, and they have also cut out areas of the fence where you can pop your camera or cell phone in and take some photos or videos.
If you are a foodie, and love the most delicious, tasty bites, then Bisbee is going to feel like paradise to you! To help you find the best places, we've put together a list of our favorites with different styles of food, so you can decide which is best for you.
Screaming Banshee Pizza: How can you not love a pizza place with this name? This is our favorite pizza place. Some of their choices include Margherita Bliss, Thai Me Up, Thai Me Down, and of course, the Screaming Banshee. They have a nice outdoor area right by the famous "Iron Man" sculpture which is the perfect selfie photo spot.
Café Cornucopia: This is always ranked as one of, if not the best, of all the restaurants in Bisbee. It is a cute little café, with brick walls and a sort of old school feel to it, and the food is fantastic. There are lots of choices including vegetarian, vegan and pretty much anything else. Make sure not to fill up too much as their desserts are out of this world also! It is indoor seating only.
Thuy's Noodle Shop: Thuy, who is the owner, moved here from Vietnam, so you know it will be authentic. Their Banh Mi, curry, and caramelized catfish (YUM!!!) are just a few of the dishes we recommend when you eat here. You will have a large number of options since they also have vegetarian and vegan food. Both indoor and outdoor seating is available.
On The Vedge: For those of you who are vegetarian or vegan, then you will definitely want to check this out. You'll find it right on the main road. This restaurant is so cute, and the food is fantastic. With choices like Grilled Eggplant Muffuletta, Chickpea Shawarma Bowl, Chimichurri Tempeh Ciabatta and much more. There is indoor and outdoor seating.
Patisserie Jacqui: This is a restaurant and yet so much more. The food is outstanding, and they have the yummiest small breakfast and lunch treats, but this is the place for desserts. They are amazing and you will want to come back day after day. They are famous for their eclairs, croissants, and the Triple Threat: Peanut Butter Rice Krispie Treat among others.
This is one of the most famous of the things to do in Bisbee, AZ. People come from all over the world to do this one-of-a-kind race through the city, up and down over 1,000 steps, and through the valley.
This race is 4.5 miles long and is in October, so the weather is usually comfortable. They allow both runners and walkers. They only have online registration, and they sell out of spaces very quickly, so plan ahead.
We also love that this is run by a 501c3 non-profit, Bisbee Vogue, to help the local community. In addition to the yearly run, this non-profit gives back to the community quite a bit. They recently donated money to build a special fully outdoor fitness court that anyone can use.
The Bisbee Vogue non-profit also has the amazing "Bisbee Ironman Suite" where you can stay. It is close to everything in the town, and you'll feel like you are at home during your visit.
Bisbee Council on the Arts: Home to everything you could ever want to know about Bisbee's mining past, this museum is a great stop. It is a self-guided tour, which takes you through the start of the town, and then through the changes, and to how it is today.
There is also a special upstairs display with loads of rocks, minerals, and more. The upstairs part of the museum is a Smithsonian Museum affiliate, so you know you'll get the best of everything possible. #5 Copper Queen Plaza
The Bisbee Restoration Museum: This 3-story museum is loaded with all kinds of history, including weird history, from the early days. There are lots of photos, manikins showing how people lived in Bisbee, and more.
Much of it has been donated from residents who want travelers to understand the history, and magic, of this tiny town. They have textiles, art, and there is even a display with a two-headed calf! This is a great way to spend some time and save some money as it is free for everyone. #37 Main Street
Muheim Heritage House: You will feel like you are walking into the past, and your own little home on the prairie, when you visit this Bisbee Museum. The house was originally built by the Muheim family as a home and then enlarged it through the years.
Inside, you will see original furnishings, photographs and more. At this time, the Muheim Heritage House is open by appointment only.
NOTE: You will have to climb up some decent stairs to get here, but the view from it is well worth the time and effort! #207 Youngblood Hill Avenue