Bisbee

Exploring the historic town of Bisbee is the perfect day trip for any Tucsonan. 

Samantha Munsey / This Is Tucson

This story was produced for Jack Furrier Tire & Auto Care by #ThisIsTucson. Thanks for supporting the local businesses that support us! 


It's time to take a break and go on a road trip — someplace cool, someplace adventurous, and someplace close because I have to work tomorrow morning.

For us that means heading two hours east to the historic and picturesque town of Bisbee.

What was once a bustling mining town of the late 1880s and 1900s is now home to artists and eccentric folk alike. With unique architecture, rolling hills and an elevation of 5,000 feet, Bisbee is a fun place to explore and escape the weekend rut, if only for a day.

And we’re the best tour guides to tell you all about it, just take a look at our credentials — Alicia just made the trip for the first time, Andi is a fan of the Bisbee Grand, and Sam was raised here. The perfect perspectives!

Here is a list of all the things you should see, eat and do in Bisbee before heading back home.

Check out Bisbee’s Grand Canyon

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The Lavender Pit. 

Alicia: The Lavender Pit is one of the most amazing sights in Bisbee and that’s not an exaggeration. Sure, it wasn’t naturally made but where’s the fun in that? This giant hole in the ground was made by miners in the span of less than a century. That’s so rad.

To find the pit, head out of Old Bisbee on Highway 80, you can’t miss it. There’s a pullout area where you can park your car and bask in its beauty. Just take a second to enjoy it and snap some pictures.

The best part is where the dirt from the pit went. It’s disguised as hills and mountains around Bisbee. And it might not matter to someone from Bisbee who sees them all the time, but it’s spectacular. Sam kept pointing out dirt hills and dirt mountains every time we drove past one. 

If you go

Location: Lavender Pit, on Highway 80 between Old Bisbee and the traffic circle.

Hours: Parking area open 24/7

Cost: Free

You might also like visiting

Lowell District: Located two miles east of Old Bisbee near the Lavender Pit.

“Iron Man” Statue: 100 Quality Hill Road, located near the Superior Court of Cochise County.

Go on an adventure deep within the copper mines

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Alicia checks out some rocks inside a mining cave at the Queen Mine Tours. 

Sam: There are plenty of attractions in Bisbee that make learning about the town's past cooler than when your history teacher tried to rap the Gettysburg Address.

But if you really want to experience the town’s history up close, head over to Queen Mine Tours located in between the Lavender Pit and the historic area of Old Bisbee.

Alicia and I joined the million tourists who came before us by putting on hardhats and taking a mini-train ride 1,500 feet into an old mining tunnel.

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Visitors of the Queen Mine Tours get ready to take a train ride 1,500 feet into a mining tunnel. 

Our tour guide, David Morals, who worked in the Bisbee mines for the Phelps Dodge Corporation from 1956 to 1967, shared stories about what it was like to drill for minerals, blow up rocks and toil away in often dangerous conditions. He also told us some great facts about mining mules that I still can’t get over.   

As the Bisbee-raised person of the group, I’ve gone on so many field trips here but I don’t think I will ever get tired of taking this tour. I feel like an explorer every time.

If you go

Location: Copper Queen Mine Tours, 478 North Dart Road

Hours: Open seven days a week. Current tour times are 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m., Noon, 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. All tours last an hour.  

Cost: $13 for adults, $5.50 for kids ages 5-12. Children under the age of 5 are not allowed in the mine. For reservations call 866-432-2071.

Also… No open toe shoes are permitted and the mine is 20 degrees cooler than the outside, ditch the flip-flops and take a sweater if needed.

More info: queenminetour.com

You might also like visiting:

Bisbee Mining and Historical Musuem: 5 Copper Queen Plaza, open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., 520-420-7071, bisbeemuseum.org.

The Bisbee Tour Company: 2 Copper Queen Plaza (located in the parking lot of the Copper Queen Plaza Convention Center), call to reserve a tour at 520-432-477-7392 or schedule at bisbeetourcompany.com.

• Lavender Jeep Tours: 11 Howell Avenue (located in the Copper Queen Hotel), call to reserve a tour at 520-432-5369, lavenderjeeptours.com.

Grab some legit tacos at this local spot

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The locals eat at Tacho's Tacos, and you will too. (It's destiny.)

Andi: Get back in the car and keep going down Highway 92 past the Lavender Pit. Once you’re out of Old Bisbee, it’s a completely different scene, like a small Arizona border town with stripmall supermarkets and all.

Tacho’s Tacos is THE SPOT on Naco Highway for one of the best foods in existence: fried beef tacos with the crispy shell. They do everything here — full Mexican menu — but it’s best to put that aside and order a dozen tacos with some guac on the side. Very simple food, but by the end, everyone seemed to be in tears. (The salsa was pretty hot though, so maybe that was it.)

Many discussions were had about the iceberg lettuce, the velvety soft consistency of the beef and how the cooks managed to get those shells so crunchy, yet so loose and effortless. But tacos are their thing here.  

“They’ve been doing it since I’ve had consciousness, since I’ve known what life is,” Sam said, digging down deep for a moment of post-lunch clarity. Yup, the tacos do that to you ...

If you go

Location: Tacho’s Tacos, 1335 S. Naco Hwy

Hours: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.

You might also like visiting:

Jimmy’s Hot Dogs: Chicago-style hot dog joint down the street from Tacho’s at 938 AZ-92, (520) 432-5911, jimmysbisbee.com

Mariscos Sergio: Old Bisbee food truck that serves Mexican seafood and shrimp tacos, 123 Tombstone Canyon, open Wednesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.(520) 727-1826.

Poco: hip spot for vegan Mexican food in downtown Bisbee, 15 Main St., facebook.com/pocobzb

Experience the Gay 90’s?

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You can see Mexico from The Gay 90's, there's plenty inside to look at too! 

Andi: If you keep following the Naco Highway past Tacho’s Tacos, it’ll lead you down into another country called MEXICO. There’s a dive bar right on the border, next to the old checkpoint. It’s called The Gay 90’s.

What is the Gay 90’s, you may ask? It’s the 1890s, dummy … which was a gay time to be had by all! (And a recent memory when this 100-year-old bar began.) Our bartender Tumbleweed told us she gets calls all the time asking if it’s a gay bar. It isn’t, but everyone is welcome.

There are old antique mirrors with showgirls, and pictures of Ronald Reagan getting out of a Bronco. There are pool tables. There’s a bathroom. (Sort of.) But what there’s not? Absolutely anything on tap. Can you believe that? I walk into the Gay 90’s expecting a fine pint of dry-hopped Zombie Dust, and all I get is an old Corona.

If you go

Location: Gay 90's Bar, 3856 S Towner Ave, Naco, AZ

Hours: Open 10 am. to 2 a.m. every day

You might also like visiting:

Fort Naco: An abandoned building that was once a staging camp for American troops during the time of Pancho Villa. Find it on the northeast corner of West Newell Street and South Willson Road.

Walk the historic stairs of Bisbee

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One of the many stairways of Bisbee. 

Alicia: There are so many stairs, I’m pretty sure everyone who lives in Bisbee has rock-hard calves. And if you’re exploring the town you’ll end up climbing up some. We walked up so many steps — some led to Castle Rock, which is a lookout in the middle of Old Bisbee, some led to homes and others took you to historic landmarks.  

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For the last 27 years, the Bisbee Vogue Inc. organization has put on a special fitness challenge called the Bisbee 1000 where attendees run or walk up and down a scenic 4.5-mile course made up of nine staircases. The next event is on October 21 and is followed by a craft beer festival.  

If you go

Location: Bisbee stairs, stairways located all over Old Bisbee, just pick a spot and get to climbing.

Cost: Free

Places to check out while pounding the pavement:

The Muheim Heritage Museum: 207 Youngblood Hill, open daily from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., 520-432-4815, bisbeemuesum.org.

Old City Park and graffiti wall: Located in Brewery Gulch

Central School Project: It’s an arts a cultural center located in an old school building, 43 Howell Ave., 520-432-4866, centralschoolproject.org

Find your perfect shop on Main Street

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Bisbee's Main Street. 

Sam: If you're going to do a Bisbee trip right, taking a stroll down Main Street is pretty inevitable. It's a tourist's paradise — there are plenty of cool, unique shops that sell everything from killer honey to vintage bicycles. The area is so historic at the atmosphere so pleasant as visitors, locals and artists come together to enjoy the day.

One shop we all really liked is Acacia Art and Antiques. They have such a good mix of both old and the new, and it's two-stories so there’s enough space for anything you can think of — even a section for cat stuff.

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The second floor finds of Acacia Art and Antiques. 

The shop is also housed in a former 1900’s stable called the Palace Livery where carriages and wagons were stored on the first floor and horses on the second floor. Oh man, now I’m trying to picture what a horse looks like on an elevator.

If you go

Location: Acacia Art and Antiques, 69 Main Street

Hours: Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Phone: 520-432-2752

More info: acacia-bisbee.com

Other shops to check out:

Finders Keepers Antiques & Collectibles: 81 Main Street, open Sunday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., 520-432-2900, fkeepers.com.

Bisbee Soap & Sundry: 74 Main Street, open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday and closed Mondays, 520-775-2290, bisbeesoapandsundry.com.

Black Sheep Imports: 15 Main Street, open Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Friday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m

Spook yourself on the Bisbee Ghost Tour

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Alica can't get over this ghostly photo taken at near the Bisbee Grand Hotel on the Old Bisbee Ghost Tours. 

Alicia: This has to be at the top of your Bisbee to-do list. On the Old Bisbee Ghost Tour you get to walk around town, learn a lot about its history and hear some really spooky stories — they’ll even show you some photos of actual Bisbee ghosts, but we’ll let you be the judge of that.

We were fortunate to be led through the streets of downtown by our ghost host Lee, he was wearing the best hand-painted vest and told the best stories about some of the friendly and not-so-friendly ghosts of Bisbee.

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Old Bisbee Ghost Tour guide guide Lee takes us though the haunted history of Bisbee. 

Without giving too much away, one of the scariest stops for me on the tour was the Oliver House — and we didn’t even go inside. This bed and breakfast is charming but super haunted. Your belongings will probably get moved around but it’s a nice place to stay.

This is a great activity for a first-time visitor, but it might keep you up at night. I couldn’t go to the Bisbee Grand Hotel bathroom because I was afraid of running into a ghost.

If you love spooks, Old Bisbee Ghost Tours offers other paranormal adventures including a haunted pub crawl, ghost hunting, and a trip through Evergreen Cemetery (eek!).

If you go

Location: The tour starts at the steps of the Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum at 5 Copper Queen Plaza. and ends at the Copper Queen Hotel at 11 Howell Ave.

Hours: Tours start at 7 p.m. and last about an hour and a half. The Old Bisbee Ghost Tour takes place every night between October and May and five nights a week between June and September.

Cost: $15 per adult, $13 per under-12-year-old, and free for pets.

Also… Bring comfortable shoes and a flashlight. You’ll be walking a lot and as the sun goes down.

More info: oldbisbeeghosttour.com, or call 520-432-3308

You might also like visiting:

The Bisbee Séance Room: 26 Brewery Ave., shows Thursday through Saturday every hour from 6 to 9 p.m., to reserve seats call or text 520-203-3350, thebisbeeseanceroom.com.

Enjoy some breakfast at High Desert Market

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Daily quiche at the High Desert Market with goat cheese and pillowy ricotta, $6.95.

Sam: I know I’m not the food writer over here, but I just had to ask Andi if I could talk about one of my favorite spots to visit whenever I’m in town — the High Desert Market and Cafe.

Over the years I’ve spent so much time there drinking coffee and eating giant scones, I’m surprised it wasn’t the first place I took my co-workers when we rolled into town. Oh wait I did that.

It’s like a Bisbee one-stop-shop. There’s a little market area that’s stocked with gourmet bites, beer, wine, and gifts from all over the world.

They’ve also got a coffee and juice bar, so it’s easy to grab your favorite beverage and hang out on their colorful outdoor seating space to watch the world go by.

The true gem to this place however is their food and bakery counter. Pick up a slice of fluffy buttery quiche or drool over their many dessert options (Texas sheet cake plz!). There’s a full menu with tasty sandwiches and salads as well as daily specials.

If you go

Location: High Desert Market and Cafe, 203 Tombstone Canyon

Hours: Open daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

More info: highdesertmarket.net or call 520-432-6775

Have more breaky

Cafe Cornucopia: 14 Main Street, open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Tuesday, closed Wednesday, 520-432-4820.

Bisbee Coffee Company: 2 Copper Queen Plaza, open daily from 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., 520-432-7931, bisbeecoffee.com.

Bisbee Breakfast Club: Eat at the original BBC. 75A Erie Street, open 7 a.m. to 3:05 p.m. everyday, 520-432-5885, bisbeebreakfastclub.com.

Go out drinking in Brewery Gulch

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The tasting tray at Bisbee Brewing Company has 3-ounce pours of every beer for $10. 

Andi: Bisbee is a super fun town to drink in, with half a dozen bars within walking distance. Most of these are in the historic Brewery Gulch, which during its early-1900s heydey boasted more than 50 saloons and brothels.

The No. 1 joint in town is St. Elmo’s, with live music and all sorts of kitschy stuff all over the walls. But I usually pop back and forth between Old Bisbee Brewing Company and the Stock Exchange, which also has some pretty good burgers. Ask nicely and they’ll show you the wall-length De Grazia mural in the other room.  

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Magic Kenny is a regular at St. Elmo Bar. You can always tell when he's there, because something is on fire. 

There’s also the Room 4 Bar at the nearby Silver King Motel. With only four stools, it’s been called the smallest bar in Arizona. The whole neighborhood has a cozy vibe, and you’re bound to run into somebody you know. Well, you’ll know ‘em by the end of the night at least …

If you go

Location: Close to the Copper Queen and Mining Museum. On foot, take a left on Brewery Avenue from Main Street.

Notable bars:

• St. Elmo Bar: 36 Brewery Ave., open daily from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m., (520) 432-5578, facebook.com/bisbeestelmo.

Stock Exchange Saloon: 15 Brewery Ave., open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday, (520) 432-1333, stockexchangebisbee.com.

Old Bisbee Brewing Company: 200 Review Alley, noon to 10:30 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, noon to 11:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, (520) 432-2739, oldbisbeebrewingcompany.com

Stay someplace awesome

A post shared by @julie___ee on

Sam: When it came to lodging we scrubbed the internet, looked at every Airbnb option, and made a few calls before booking the cheapest place we could find in Old Bisbee.

But it worked out because the Gardens At Mile High Ranch was the perfect spot for us. The inn was peaceful and offered a variety of room and suite options. If I could have stayed there longer to swing on the large hammock out front or make pizza in their wood-fire oven, I would have.  

On a different note, we did notice the inn offers colonics with a certified colon therapist. Yeah, you read that right. A Bisbee trip can be all about your colon too.

It’s located about a mile away from Main Street, so it lends itself to a pretty walk through Tombstone Canyon.

If you go

Location: Gardens at Mile High Ranch, 901 Tombstone Canyon

Cost: Rates start at $70.

Phone: 520-432-3866

Other places to stay:

Copper Queen Hotel: 11 Howell Avanue, rates start at $89 per night, 520-432-2216,  copperqueen.com.

The Shady Dell: 1 Old Douglas Road, rates start at $85 per night, 520-432-3567, theshadydell.com.

Eldorado Suites Hotel: 55 OK Street, rates start at $135 per night, 520-432-6679, eldoradosuitesbisbee.com.

• Search more accommodations at discoverbisbee.com.


Ready to roll? Jack Furrier Tire & Auto Care will get your ride ready

Before you head down the road, take your car to Jack Furrier Tire & Auto Care to get it Road Trip Ready with five percent off services that will get you where you need to go. Click here for more info or call 520-547-5005. With 14 locations around Tucson, you'll find one near you.

Online producer for #ThisIsTucson. Fan of all cactus.

You can find the Star's digital food writer Andi Berlin at a taqueria near you, taking tiny bites and furiously scribbling into an old notepad.