Arizona has one of the most distinct landscapes of any state in the United States. Mention Arizona and most Americans will instantly think of sprawling red desert and mountains of vividly colored sandstone. Its natural beauty makes it a fun place to visit, but its history makes it all the more interesting. Though the cities of Arizona are a must-see, the towns are sometimes less acknowledged. These are the most charming small towns in Arizona.
With a picturesque main street still surrounded by its original buildings, the town center of Bisbee transports you back to the 1800s when Arizona was truly the Wild West. While in the town, visit the Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum to learn about mining history and the golden age of the west. This museum is an affiliate of the Smithsonian, making it a great hub for artifacts. You can also explore an old copper mine while in Bisbee – the Copper Queen Mine.
To go down into the mine, you will have to wear a reflective, sleeveless jacket, a miner helmet, and a headlamp. Throughout the town center, you’ll find plenty of cute shops and restaurants to check out. Some of the best restaurants include Café Roka, Santiagos, and Bisbee Breakfast Club. A highlight is the Old Bisbee Brewing Company, a microbrewery in the heart of Old Bisbee. A great spot to relax and chat whether you like beer or not. You will also find that Bisbee is a hub for southwestern art. Enjoy the exhibits in the Belleza Fine Art Gallery.
This remote town in Arizona is a perfect spot to visit if you’re an outdoorsy person. Things to do there include hiking, biking, camping, and learning about the history of the wild west. The Cave Creek Regional Park is the best spot in town for hiking, picnicking, and cooking out. You can also visit the nature center there. While in the town, be sure to check out the Cave Creek Museum to learn about the history of this old town. Not only are the exhibits fascinating, but the museum staff are well-versed on the history of the town, and will share their own personal experiences of living in Cave Creek as well. For shopping in Cave Creek: the “Town Dump,” as they call it. It is a funky store in the town with all kinds of décor, furniture, and knick-knacks. Get a feel for the vibe of the town by shopping their most popular store. Frontier Town, a strip of shops, also has a lot of great shopping for visitors to enjoy.
Just southeast of Phoenix, Gilbert is a small town with a growing population. While visiting, one of the best places to relax is the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch. You can go walk, picnic, feed birds, or just relax on a park bench and take in the natural beauty. Enjoy the arts of Gilbert by attending a show at the Hale Centre Theater, or learn about the history of the town by visiting the Gilbert Historical Museum.
One of the highlights of this town is the Gilbert Rotary Centennial Observatory. From inside, you can view our solar system through a telescope. Be sure to visit at night, of course.
Globe is a somewhat isolated town, but the views are quite breathtaking. Once a mining camp and hometown of Arizona’s first female governor, this is an important place in Arizona’s history. While visiting, go to the Old Dominion Historic Mine Park.
You can see the hardware used for mining and learn about the mine when it was functioning. For hiking, Round Mountain Park is the place to go. There are five trails of different difficulty levels. Get some exercise in while taking in plenty of natural beauty. Besh Ba Gowah, the ruins of the Salado people, is an important landmark in the town of Globe. You can walk through what was once their village, and visit the adjoining museum that tells their story. For shopping, visit the Pickle Barrel Trading Post. You’ll find plenty of southwestern jewelry, vintage items, and Old West knick-knacks. For a further dose of history, be sure to walk through the historic district (you can take a historical tour) and visit the Gila County Historical Museum.
Jerome was once a mining town, then a ghost town, and is now a resurrected ghost town, as residents like to call it. Only an hour away from Sedona, Jerome is a town worth the visit even if you aren’t staying the night there. Start your day at Jerome State Historic Park. The museum has plenty of historic exhibits to view and you can take yourself on a tour of the Douglas Mansion located there. Bonus: the views from the museum and mansion are beautiful.
For more history, visit the Gold King Mine Museum and Ghost Town. You can see what the town once looked like, and see the old gold mine that’s no longer active. Check out the art scene in Jerome via the Raku Gallery, Jerome Artists Cooperative Gallery, and La Victoria Studio. Shop at Copper Mountain Antiques.
In this Arizonan town, you’ll find art, nature, relaxation, delicious food, refreshing drinks, and award-winning golf courses. For shopping, visit Cosanti Originals while in town to check out the process behind creating bronze and ceramic pots, planters, and bowls. You can witness the creation happening as well as purchase your own piece to take home. Another shopping option is the Scottsdale Marketplace. You can find a range of home décor, antiques, and knick-knacks. Indulge in some serious relaxation at the Joya Spa at the Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa then enjoy drinks at the Jade Bar located at Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort. The best spot to dine might be El Chorro – not only are the food and drinks great, but there is usually live music as well as bocce courts to play in. For your dose of nature, hike the Mohave Trail, Mummy Mountain, or Cholla Trailhead for panoramic views.