Bisbee, Arizona: Bringing Yesterday To You Today
Round off your visit to the Tucson area with a side trip to Bisbee, Arizona where you’ll step through the portals of time. As you enjoy the refined culture of Old World charm found here, you’ll notice the slightly rough edges that make Bisbee unique.
This Old West mining camp was one of the richest mineral sites found around the globe with the production of over three million ounces of gold, and over eight billion pounds of copper. In addition, silver, zinc, and lead were mined here as well. By the turn of the century, Bisbee was the largest city found between St. Louis and San Francisco.
Along with its riches came culture and glamour but the city had its share of saloons, brothels, and other hallmarks of the Old West. Brewery Gulch, which contained over 47 saloons at its peak, conjures up images of the rougher side of Bisbee.
A large fire wiped out much of Bisbee AZ in 1908 but the town quickly rebuilt itself and remains much as it was in 1910 today. Large scale mining became unprofitable in the 1970s and Bisbee has been forced to reinvent itself yet again.
Today Bisbee is a thriving artist colony and retirement community. You’ll find art galleries, specialty stores, coffee houses, gourmet restaurants, and well preserved Victorian buildings along Bisbee’s twisting streets. Many of these unique shops and galleries occupy former saloons.
Things to do in Bisbee, AZ
When you arrive in Bisbee, you can take a self-guided walking tour, stroll the shops and art galleries, or visit some of Bisbee’s numerous attractions. Wear good walking shoes and plan on going up and down a few staircases while you’re here.
Queen Mine Tours
Go underground and see Bisbee through the eyes of a miner at the Queen Mine. The Queen Mine Tours are led by actual miners who worked the mines and can give you true-life accounts of mining life. When you arrive, you’ll dress up in a slicker, a helmet, and a miner’s headlamp and board a mine train that takes you deep into the heart of the mine. It’s a chilly 47 degrees down there year-round so plan accordingly.
Tours cost $12 for adults and $5 for children between four and fifteen. Children under four are admitted free. Each tour lasts about an hour and fifteen minutes. The underground tours are extremely popular so reservations are highly recommended; they run five times a day, seven days a week. Call 520-432-2071 or 1-866-432-2071 for reservations.
Muheim Museum Heritage House
Another stop while in Bisbee is the Muheim Museum Heritage House. This National Historic Site is a splendid example of late 19th-century architecture that has been meticulously restored to all its glory and includes period furnishings to set the scene. Admission is $4 for anyone over age fifteen. This wonderful pioneer home is open Friday through Tuesday from 10 AM to 4:00 PM.
Bisbee Restoration Museum
The Bisbee Restoration Museum is easy on your pocketbook because admission is free. Located on Main Street in the Fair Store building, you will find all kinds of artifacts from Bisbee’s early mining and ranching history.
Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum
The Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum is affiliated with the Smithsonian’s Affiliation Program for good reason, this museum brings Bisbee back to life. You’ll learn the history of Bisbee AZ, view exciting exhibits and get a real sense of the heart and soul of Bisbee, Arizona.
Bisbee is located about 90 miles southeast of Tucson, close to the Mexican border. Bisbee has a wide variety of lodging if you choose to spend the night during your Tucson vacation. You can choose from charming bed and breakfasts, hotels and motels, RV parks and campgrounds, or guest houses and vacation suites. Whether you spend the night, a week, or just a day, Bisbee brings yesterday to you today.