Bisbee Coaster Race

With downtown Bisbee as a backdrop, Oklahoma coaster racer Brodi Asher, 10, from Tulsa, approaches the the finish line during a practice run for the Bisbee Coaster Race on Saturday, June 27, 2009, in Bisbee, Ariz. 

If large Bicentennial-like 4th of July celebrations are a thing of the past, Bisbee didn't get the message.

From coasters zipping down Main Street in the morning, cookouts in the afternoon and fireworks lighting up the sky around the Vista Park in the evening, there's plenty to do in this historic town, even for Uncle Sam. 

And with temps expected to reach 107 degrees on the 4th, taking a long-weekend road trip to a place that's always 10 degrees cooler than Tucson is just smart planning.

(PS: If you decide to stay we've got you covered on the best places to watch fireworks in the city.)

Growing up in Bisbee, I know how to run out of the house early in my favorite 4th of July gear (Old Navy t-shirts anyone?) and not come back until the last sparkler is lit. So, I feel like I can give some good general tips on how to make your trip spectacular. And I will! Cue the eagle!


Watch America's favorite pastime before the 4th

Warren Ballpark.

Head into town July 3 to watch a baseball game at one of the nation's oldest ballparks.

Root for your home team, the Tucson Saguaros, as they take on the Roswell Invaders at Warren Ballpark. The game starts at 1 p.m., tickets are $4 and can be purchased in advance here.

Line up for the coaster races 

This photo is a of my family (cute right?) cheering on my cousin, Micka Silva, during her first run at the Bisbee Coaster Race in 2013. The guys seen behind her, Chris Munsey, Andrew Silva and Anthony Silva, have also raced in the event as kids. My mom, Pam Munsey, seen far left, has been a supportive parent through it all. 

Watching kids get pulled by gravity down a two-mile empty street in homemade coasters as fans cheer them on along the route is an experience you can only have in Bisbee on July 4. 

The Bisbee Coaster Race has been a part of the festivities since 1924 — with an exception in the 1980s when the event was deemed too dangerous due to injuries, including a couple deaths.

But in 1993 the race was brought back after new rules and safety measures were put in place, and it's been enjoyed by locals and tourists alike ever since. 

The route starts on Tombstone Canyon at the Highway 80 underpass and ends at the bottom of Main Street. Racers travel down one at a time and are judged on their speed.

You might want to bring some coffee to this one as the first coaster will zoom by at 7 a.m. 

You can can watch the race from almost any sidewalk along the route, but some favorite spots of mine include: near the High Desert Market, Garfield Park, right on the corner of Main and Subway streets and looking above from Castle Rock. 

Parking is a little limited in Old Bisbee and roads shut down about an hour before the race, so be sure to get there early enough to snag a good spot. 

Feel some small town pride at the 4th of July Parade

After you've had your fill of coaster racing, go to the Warren Neighborhood to watch Bisbee's annual 4th of July Parade. 

The community shows off their schools, clubs, businesses and organizations on fancy floats and automobiles.

The parade starts at 11 a.m. on the corner of Bisbee Road and Cole Avenue and heads south to Ruppe Avenue, then turns north at Arizona Street, where it finally ends back at Cole. The whole route is about a mile to walk. 

Okay, so I know this photo is little blurry, but I had to share this one. It features my cousin, Ashley Cardenas, seen front left, and sister Kimber Munsey, seen front right, during Bisbee's 4th of July Parade in 2000. Kimber was born on the 4th and has had an article written about her, along with other Uncle Sam babies, in the Star

The event is hosted by the Bisbee Rotary Club and this year's theme is  "Bisbee: The best historic small town in the U.S."

Much like the coaster races, roads will close about an hour prior to the parade start.

Anywhere along the route is a good place to watch, but if you'd like to see some fun performances by the Bisbee youth, pick a spot close to the judges' table in front of the Warren Ballpark.

Hang out at the Vista Park

Stay in Warren for a while to check out all the fun events at Vista Park. 

It's the spot to bring your barbecue and chairs after the parade. Families from all over like to mingle and enjoy the day here. 

Food and product vendors keep the fun going till dusk, just in time for fireworks around 8 p.m. Just look north to catch the spectacular show.

If hanging out downtown is more your speed, head over to Old Bisbee where the Gulch will be hopping. 

Most years, contests for hard rock drilling and mucking are held here in the afternoon, but nothing has been confirmed yet for this year : (  

Where to stay

Bisbee offers several historic and fun places to stay. This website is a great place to start if you're looking:

Now go out and have the best 4th ever!