A quirky Arizona town

From Tombstone, Arizona, we continued south on Highway 80 to the town of Bisbee.  I’d heard a lot of fun things about this former mining community and was really looking forward to exploring this quirky little town.  Al and I anticipated Bisbee being similar to the town of Jerome, which we loved thus we were excited to experience Bisbee.BisbeeThe previous four days my energy had been low and I had a scratchy throat.  I just wasn’t feeling like myself.  As opposed to my usual go go go enthusiasm, I found myself having to push just to get out the door for any explorations.  So as I share my thoughts on Bisbee, bear in mind my state of health.

During its heyday, Bisbee was a bustling mining community centered around the Queen Anne mine.  Today Bisbee is a tourist destination complete with art galleries, gift shops, museums, and mining memorabilia. Once the Queen Anne Mine ceased mining activity it was quickly turned into a tourist experience.  Each mine tour is guided by a former miner.

Bisbee stairs Santiago

Lots of stairs throughout town

We thought we’d take one of these interesting mine tours after lunch.  First we explore the town and shops.  I love the old buildings and architecture.  The town is also known for its abundance of stairs and even conducts a race every year.

Bisbee Arizona

And more stairs

Many of the shops were closed the day we visited and the ones that were open were vastly overpriced.  $95 for a cotton blouse seems a tad much to me.  Moving on, we couldn’t wait to have lunch at Santiagos and boy it did not disappoint.  The food was great.  I would consider going back to Bisbee just to eat at Santiagos.Santiagos Bisbee Arizona

After lunch we strolled around town a little more.  I wasn’t feeling up to touring the mining museum or doing the Queen Anne Mine tour.  We decided to hop in the truck and drive around…..I just wasn’t “getting it” and I was trying really hard to like this quirky Arizona town. What was I missing?architecture in Arizona

Driving Bisbee’s side streets in a F250 with extended bed proved to be a bit of a challenge and probably not the smartest decision we made that day.  At one extremely narrow point there was concern we’d be stuck between two buildings.  Thank goodness we’re not a dually because we definitely would not have fit.  I felt like we were driving through a small village in Europe…..tight squeeze.  The architecture was enjoyable.

Al and I were disappointed with Bisbee.  Was it because I wasn’t feeling well?  Was it because we didn’t tour the mine or museum?  I don’t know, but just because we weren’t ‘feeling the vibe’ doesn’t mean you won’t.  Check out Amanda‘s take on Bisbee.  She and Tim had a great time in Bisbee.

There’s so much more to see and do in southern Arizona and if I had been feeling better you bet I would’ve taken in more of the sights…sights I was really looking forward to seeing since last year.  Oh well, guess we’ll just have to catch some of these sights on the next time through.  We have an appointment in Phoenix on Feb. 19th we need to get to…….   (remember; due to illness I’m behind in my blog posts but catching up)

Pleasant Harbor

enjoying gorgeous sunsets every night from our campsite at Lake Pleasant near Phoenix AZ


Arizona Mining Towns

Bisbee (AZ) (Images of America)

Panasonic Lumix ZS20 14.1 MP High Sensitivity MOS Digital Camera with 20x Optical Zoom (Black)

Judgment Call: A Brady Novel of Suspense (Joanna Brady Mysteries)

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66 thoughts on “A quirky Arizona town

  1. Beautiful sunset shot. Oh boy, you look tired in that photo, I hope you’re feeling better. I’m sure how you felt did affect how you perceived the place, hard to appreciate places when you’re feeling down.
    Brenda

  2. Even if still not at 100%, it’s good to see you’re feeling better. Too bad Bisbee wasn’t everything you thought it might be but you did get a good lunch, at least, and a gorgeous sunset. What if Santiago’s had been closed? 🙂

    • Ah, we had a restaurant back up lol. Several RV bloggers were in the area weeks prior to our visit and thus I had a list of ‘to see’ items as well as restaurants. Love this blogging community 🙂

  3. So happy that you’re catching up on blog posts. I know that means you’re feeling much better! We actually loved Bisbee when we visited several years ago, and are planning a return visit in our travels this spring. Like you, we avoid tourist traps, but hiking the stairs and hills of the town and seeing the wild street art is a lot of fun. We also loved the hike up to the shrine above the town. I think you will enjoy it on a return trip when you’re up to exploring.

    • Since we will most likely be traveling the I-10 route regularly, I believe we’ll give Bisbee another go. I’d like to hike the stairways around town and check out more of the street art and possibly do the mine tour. I’m sure I’ll view Bisbee differently when in better health. Where do you plan to be this summer?

      • After much dithering, it looks like we’re heading back to the West coast for the summer — April in Texas, May in Arizona, June heading up 395 to Ashland (our home), and July and August in the San Juan Islands. How about you? Would love to meet up with you somewhere!

        • We’ll be in Colorado all summer tending to some obligations. 395 through the Alabama hills is on our future travel list…..just not sure when we can fit it in. Fall we’ll be back in parts of AZ and Jan. in Rockport then ??? I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before we bump into each other 🙂

  4. Yeah, I have an F350 Crew Cab Long Bed SRW for the same reason you mentioned. A dually would be too wide for some roads. I have already found a few roads that if I had a dually, I would have either gotten damage, or fallen to my death. I really was underwhelmed with Bisbee during the day. The shops were better in Jerome. My better half enjoyed the eccentricity of the residents, and the buildings. I really wouldn’t want to drive the back roads there in my F350…

    • Sounds like we’ve been on similar roads LOL. We loved Jerome when we were there in October and of course October is the best month to visit this haunted little town.
      We may stop in Bisbee again when going through the area. I may feel differently having a better day 🙂

      • LOL nothing like having to drive with your head out the window to make sure you have your wheels on the road. The better half has been positively puckered at times. There are even times when going around a corner seemed a bit challenging…

        I agree that Bisbee at night for the ghost tour is great. If you really want an experience there are haunted hotels in Bisbee that supposedly people have really seen ghosts. I’m unconvinced.

  5. Read some posts from others that made me want to try those stairs and such great quirky fun art to capture with the camera. Hopeful your lungs are on the mend…you’d ace that race when you are back to speed. The mine sounds interesting….

    • Yep, I think we’ll return and give Bisbee another shot. I’d like to do a bunch of those staircases and tour the mine. I forgot to write about our tour of the Queen Mine Hotel that displays some wonderful antique’s; Singer sewing machine, typewriter, etc. Fun stop. Read Amanda’s post for more ideas.

  6. We have not been to Bisbee since our Harley days (many years ago) and I’m sure it has changed a great deal. Hope this finds you back to your old spunky self Ingrid. Love your AZ sunset! 🙂

    • The AZ sunsets are the best and yes I’m on the mends but slower than I’d like. Still no hiking 😦 I’m sure I was just having a bad day when we visited Bisbee. That said, we might give it another try since our plans are to visit TX again.

  7. I realize you are behind in your blog posts. But I do hope you just decided to sit and chill for awhile until you felt better. One of the best parts of this lifestyle is the ability to slow down or stop for awhile or for as long as you want. At least then you can enjoy what you are seeing.

    I will be interested to see our reaction when we get to Bisbee next year. We aren’t big shoppers or artsy types, so it will be interesting see how we feel. But I do want to do the 1000 step challenge. And we love to eat good food:)

    • I would go back to Bisbee to do the stairway race route that Amanda blogged about as well as eat at Santiagos again and then possibly do the mine tour. After that, perhaps my opinion would improve. There are some wildlife refuges in southern AZ that I really wanted to visit. I guess next time. I would highly recommend the SKP Saguaro Co-op…..great jumping off point 🙂

  8. Bisbee… I enjoyed it and did you see that copper mine??? Whoa! I walked all around and loved the little boutiques and art galleries. Having an RV and trying to get through some of those narrow streets could have been mind boggling. We enjoyed a picnic lunch and a great cup of coffee outside the coffee shop. I enjoy how they build houses on the sides of mountains. Sorry you did not feel the vibe. And since many stores were closed…that can always be a bummer. I purchased a beautiful sugar and creamer set in Bisbee. I used it for guests the other day. Well, please please rest and feel better! 🙂

    • I was not feeling too energetic that day, nothing seemed of particular interest and I’m glad I didn’t tour the mine that day. Perhaps a revisit is in order when I feel 100%. I know lots of folks just love Bisbee and sounds like you did as well 🙂

  9. I totally agree about “something is missing” in Bisbee. Being an old “Hippy”, I felt like I had stepped back in time, but that crazy stuff didn’t feel right in the “Old West”. So many of the little towns are just tourism traps anymore…Give my the dust of an old abandoned ghost town and now you have my full attention..Hope you are feeling better by now..

    • Each day I feel more like myself. I look forward to exploring some old ghost towns / mines in Colorado this summer without all the tourist stuff. I might give Bisbee another shot next season on our way to or from TX…..we’ll see. Loving the AZ weather 🙂

  10. Steve thinks the Ceviche at Santiagos is one of the best he’s ever had. We wished we were there with you enjoying it.
    Our short visit at Bisbee (with snow) was tempered with our broken window and were not able to explore more like you did. I never saw that staircase.
    Fabulous sunset!

    • I remember your day well as I went back to your site for ideas and possibly linking. That window had to have been a weight on your shoulders as well as the cold weather was no fun. Perhaps you and I both need return visits 🙂

  11. Maybe all those stairs were your undoing but I wasn’t thrilled with Bisbee either. It was good to see that it had reinvented itself after the mine closures but I thought it looked a little tired. Like you that day?

    • Yep, just like me that day…old and run down 😉 As the day progressed, I started heading downhill. We may give Bisbee another shot next season on our way to TX or maybe not 😆

  12. It’s funny because on our first day in town we felt the same way. Why did everyone rave about this somewhat run down, somewhat overpriced tourist/hippie/mining town? It wasn’t until a few days of walking the streets and finding the hidden gems that we really started to fall in love. I think the fact that we stayed right in town and walked everywhere helped because it really gave us a close up perspective. Also, it’s too bad you skipped the mine tour because we had a blast! Although, if you weren’t feeling well it was probably best that you didn’t venture underground where it was cold and damp. Glad you had a good meal at Santiagos, sounds like that was the best part of the day. We also enjoyed their food and gigantic margaritas. Thanks for the blog mention 🙂

    • You did such a nice write up on Bisbee and I wanted to share someone else’s experience besides my somewhat negative one. We may go back next season and give it another try when I’m feeling 100%. I’d also like to explore more of those staircases, maybe even do that race route that you guys did.
      I look forward to your upcoming posts on NM, a state that we’d like to meander around more. FYI…City of Rocks SP has excellent internet connectivity 🙂

  13. My guess is that your illness put a damper on the experience. I think you were a good sport to climb any of those stairs and i will certainly hope you didn’t try all 1000 while under the weather. Beautiful sunset photo.

    • I went about half way up those steps and said, “ok, far enough”. I was satisfied with that. It’s hard to get excited about exploring while feeling under the weather. Love these AZ sunsets!

  14. What an amazing sunset photo, a calendar shot if I ever saw one!

    Bisbee needs to be explored in the nooks and crannies and on foot. I would have felt the same had I been in your shoes.

    • Thanks Lisa….these AZ sunsets are the best. I think we may give Bisbee another shot next season when I’m hopefully feeling like myself 🙂

  15. Thanks for this tour back down the narrow hilly streets of my memory… I visited there in 1984, looks like little has changed. Being a ‘rockhound’, I spent time in a couple of related shops. In one I learned all about “dumpers”, persons going out onto the huge Phelps-Dodge mine dumps looking for turquoise, azurite, chrysocolla and the other copper related gemstones. These midnight miners would jump the fence (timed to avoid security patrols), and cover themselves with tarps to hide the lantern light as they dug down into the rock piles looking for specimens.
    I did take the Queen Mine Tour… I don’t like caves and mines in general, all the dripping and sounds of falling rock. My companion got very ill down in there, but likely because despite advice to the contrary she had had a glass of water with lunch the day before… across the border in Nogales. Bisbee is a very funky place!

    • Wow, that seems a little crazy to be digging up rocks by lantern, but to each his own I guess. I’m glad I didn’t tour the mine that day or I may have had a similar experience as your companion did. However, I might consider going back and taking that tour and giving Bisbee another try when I’m feeling healthy.

  16. Love your Lake Pleasant sunset pic!! It made me feel like I was there with you. Oh wait … I was!! Hope you are getting back to 100% healthy now. Look forward to seeing you soon. -Linda

    • These sunsets are the best aren’t they? Working on our meet up post. Be sure and email me about dry camping at the Navajo Nation. We’d like to stop there as well 🙂

  17. I hope you are feeling better. I was feeling restless the day we were there also and we didn’t do as much. I think it’s just being in a “tourist” area that drains some of the energy out of you. Maybe that’s why we full-timers start to enjoy the boondocking and solitude of those remote places, they seem more genuine. Maybe it’s just getting older and everything seems to be “been there done that” now.

    • Ah, I think that last sentence hit home. I’m beginning to get bored with museums, caves, and other tourist destinations opting for the boonies or wildlife refuges instead. Will I ever tire of the birds near the Gulf? I look forward to trying 🙂

  18. Since I’ve never been there, I can’t comment as to whether you just had a bad day there or not, but I do know from my travels that first impressions aren’t always correct.

  19. We really enjoyed our time in Bisbee, perhaps your impressions were colored by your state of mind. (or body!) Its hard to get into a place when you have to push yourself, it’s no fun to do things you think you should, but don’t really feel like. Its probably good you didn’t do the Queen Mine tour. We did and it was quite a claustrophobic experience! Well, hope you’re feeling better.
    Sue

    • Yep, that’s what I was thinking because so many other folks love Bisbee. We’ll have an opportunity to revisit next season, and each day I start to feel better – thanks!

  20. All of those stairs would have let the air out of my balloon if I hadn’t been feeling well. Having had your bug, I know how bad you felt. I tried to do a similar thing when I got sick on the way to Niagara Falls on my honeymoon. It took every ounce of energy I had to not spoil the trip. By the time I felt better as we went down the Erie Canal, Rick started feeling like crap and was trying to push himself. One day, we’d like to go back and do it again healthy.

    As for Bisbee, I find it interesting that mining occurred until 1970s. It’s like a modern mining operation with the old west feel. It does seem too tourist trappy for my taste.

    I prefer places like Bodi, a ghost town along the Nevada/California border. Simply remnants of a once thriving city. No stores trying to sell the latest trinket…just the town…as if one day they all just up and left.

    • I’m with you, I like old ghost towns. We hope to explore several this summer in Colorado. I was just beginning to feel that flu bug coming on. It didn’t hit me hard till a couple of days later. Brutal indeed.
      Sounds like you two could use another try for a honeymoon. That’s awful. Another go is in order 🙂

  21. You must have just hit that area on a bad day. We loved Bisbee so much more that Tomb$tone. Wish you could have had a bite to eat at the Bisbee Breakfast Club. It is the hot spot for community talk. We enjoyed a great tour of the Copper Queen Hotel.
    Hope you feel better very soon so you can enjoy the good life at 100%.

    • Thanks….each day I start to feel more like myself. We might go back and give it another try and do the mine tour. We did tour the Copper Queen Hotel and loved all the antique memorabilia.

  22. The steps look like a workout – sorry you left Bisbee disappointed – keep moving forward – one step at a time and hope you are back to 100% soon.

    • Yep, gorgeous sunsets and those steps are great for the glutes. I thought it would be fun to climb all the various staircases but my body said another time 🙂

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