Unveiling Bisbee's Quirky Charm: A Guide to Arizona's Historic Town - My Family Travels

The second I saw Bisbee, Arizona, rated one of “America’s Favorite Towns,” I was in love with its quirky charm. I was surprised in so many ways by its mining history and what it has become.  

The town was born as an ambitious development during a boom in copper mining. The miners harnessed their amazing rock-cutting skills when building the town. They constructed houses in the hills and mountainsides around it. Their craftsmanship gives Bisbee a mystical, almost European feel.

Author, daughter and dog walk past paintings and a "Let's Be Better Humans" step on Bisbee's 1,000 Step Staircase. Photo by Victor Aziz.
Author, daughter and dog walk past paintings and a “Let’s Be Better Humans” step on Bisbee’s 1,000 Step Staircase. Photo by Victor Aziz.

When visiting Bisbee, we were told some miners took dynamite to sections of the mountain and built houses right into the rock.

My kind of people, my kind of town! 

In a Remote Corner of Arizona, Quirky Bisbee Beckons 

There is something special about Bisbee beyond the rocks. I felt much like a miner myself in the town and you will, too. The more you delve into the historic town and sift through it, the greater your discoveries will be. Bisbee is a gem full of gems. 

Maybe Bisbee has this feel because it is off the beaten path. For people to go to Bisbee, they must actively make it a point to visit. It is not right outside of one of Arizona’s many National Monuments or Parks. Nor is it close to another popular city — Tucson, for example, is a 90-minute drive away.  

Many of the people of Bisbee came to Bisbee and fell in love. In turn, they decided to add to the town’s magic. Residents appreciate sharing this love of the town with the people who visit, which is part of the charm. 

No Such Thing as Overtourism in Bisbee, Arizona 

More than any physical part of Bisbee, the people hold my love for the town.  

I live in a tourist town. No matter how awesome it is, or how aware you are as to why people visit, I have always felt that the locals are a little upset with the frequent visitors. There is a sense that the slice of heaven they have found would be better if less people came to visit.

This is NOT what I felt in Bisbee.  

Bisbee, Arizona Grows with a Burst of Creativity 

House murals seen during ascent of the 1,000 Stair Climb in quirky Bisbee, Arizona. Photo c. Victor Aziz
House murals we passed during our ascent of the 1,000 Stair Climb in quirky Bisbee, Arizona. Photo c. Victor Aziz

In the years since the mining era, artists and creative souls have sculpted the rock-cut town into a fantastic place of discovery and fun.

There is a Thousand Stair Climb that takes you up the hillside. It climbs past colorful and artfully decorated houses and through winding alleys. Murals are everywhere.

Pockets of human expression line each nook and cranny and rock face.  

A Uniquely Bisbee Day at the Movies 

The bright blue Royale Theatre in Bisbee, Arizona -- a concert hall and performance venue -- is part of the town's quirky charm. Photo by Victor Aziz
The bright blue Royale Theatre in Bisbee, Arizona — a concert hall and performance venue — is part of the town’s quirky charm. Photo by Victor Aziz

A perfect example of what we felt in Bisbee is our experience at the Bisbee Royale Theater.

In our explorations we saw the theater and were curious about it. We decided to take our explorations inside.

As you walk in, you see a stunning bar. It is well lit and features a long, white stone bar top. Like the rest of the town, the seating inside has spots built for fun. No one was at the bar as we walked in, but when a woman appeared, we asked if any shows were playing. We were told they played a movie the night before, and that they weren’t sure when the next would be.

Then a man came around the corner and told us he would open the theater and play any movie we wanted. 

Watching a movie at Bisbee Royale with just my family was possibly the best experience I have ever had when traveling with my wife and daughter. Our daughter had just gotten a Belle doll from “Beauty and the Beast” as a gift and had been wanting to watch the movie. So that was the movie we chose.  

Having The Bisbee Royale Theatre All to Ourselves 

"Beauty and the Beast" showing on the screen of the Roayle Theatre in Bisbee, Arizona. Photo c. Victor Aziz
We asked for “Beauty and the Beast” to be shown at Bisbee’s charming Roayle Theatre. Photo c. Victor Aziz

The theater is a two-story music venue with a large screen they can drop over the stage. We had the theater completely to ourselves and chose a cozy booth in the back.  

During the movie we ordered food, which was delicious. My wife and I shared a craft cocktail and our daughter was given a housemade lemonade.

I can’t explain to you how incredible this experience was, because it was so unique. The best part was that at the end of it all, we were not even charged for the movie.

The hospitality was refreshing and the Bisbee Royale staff and owner were happy to provide it. We came to find that this was something they don’t do often but would like to start, offering private screenings to the public. 

The openness at Bisbee Royale was how all of Bisbee felt. The people genuinely cared about connecting with us. They wanted us to experience Bisbee and enjoy our time there.  

Explore Bisbee’s Mines and Mining History for a Southwestern Adventure 

Guide and visitors in a golf cart in Bisbee, Arizona
Bisbee City Golf Cart Tour is offered by locals at BActiveBisbee.com

There is so much more to see in Bisbee. If you love mines, mining and history, venture into the depths of the Copper Queen Mine, the mine which allowed Bisbee to become a booming mining town.

In town, we visited the Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum, which has Smithsonian grade specimens from the area. I especially love azurite and malachite and they have some marvelous pieces there. I know many people are interested in a Bisbee Ghost Tour but that wasn’t appropriate with our young daughter.

There are many adventures around Bisbee, which makes walking and hiking in and around town a joy. Drop into any of Bisbee’s unique shops and art galleries. Converse with Bisbee’s amazing locals and get to know them. Even better, stay the night at one of the many Bisbee motels. If you’re short on time, many residents lead guided tours around the new and historic Bisbee.

Often when we visit a town, it is the residents and their interactions with us which we remember most.

It is in the people that roots of the town of Bisbee took to the rock to live and thrive. It is in the people that a wonderful, creative and quirky town now excites and captivates all who visit. 

Author Victor Aziz is RVing around the United States while remote working, schooling his daughter, caring for pets and supporting his wife. He enjoys sharing his discoveries in off the beaten towns with other travelers. Learn more about Victor’s vanlife at his blog.

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