Main Street, Bisbee, Arizona. Image credit travelview via

7 Breathtaking Towns to Visit in Arizona

As a state with many meanings to its name (like the Aztec word “arizuma” meaning “silver-bearing”; Spanish of “zona arida” for “arid zone”; and Basque for “good oak tree”), Arizona also has many breathtaking towns to visit this splendid year. From historic towns where legendary outlaws roamed, like Tombstone and Jerome, to destinations where the American landscape is at its most ferocious and beautiful, such as Sedona and Holbrook, these awesome sites are sure to attract all manner of cowboys and adventurers in the new Wild West. Give yourself a break beyond equally fiery cities like Phoenix, and let the wind sweep you away by the mesmerizing sights and experiences in the most breathtaking towns to visit in Arizona.


Looking down Allen Street in historic Tombstone, Arizona.
Looking down Allen Street in historic Tombstone, Arizona. Editorial credit: Atomazul /

In spite of the morbid moniker, Tombstone is so filled with vibrant livelihoods that it has been praised as the Town Too Hard to Die. Only 74 miles from Tucson, the diehard life of the Wild West is still kicking and shooting in a town where legends like Wyatt Earp, John H. “Doc” Holliday, and Johnny Ringo once kicked and shot. Some of these adventurous outlaws are entombed in Tombestone’s Boothill Cemetery. However, Tombstone is also alive with a few ghosts, especially at the bullet-riddled Bird Cage Theatre. At the infamous O.K. Corral, one can watch a reenactment of a gun battle between Earp and Doc Holliday from 1881. At the Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park, you can be fascinated by a replica gallows that hung many a wanted man. In pristine accommodations at the Tombstone Grand Hotel or Tombstone Miners Cabins, you can feel safer and more relaxed since no more guns are blazing than before.


Historic Connor Hotel in Jerome, Arizona
Historic Connor Hotel in Jerome, Arizona. Editorial credit: randy andy /

As the “Wickedest Town in the West,” Jerome has a wicked number of historical attractions for you to ogle over. With its location at the top of Cleopatra Hill and midway between Flagstaff and Prescott, the town was once the largest copper mining town in Arizona and had attracted swarms of bootleggers, gamblers, and prostitutes. Fortunately, these shady characters are no longer present in Jerome, and now the town is famous for the Queen Mine Tour and the Jerome State Historic Park, home to the Douglas Mansion. At the Audrey Headframe Park, you can walk along a glass platform to peer down at the mine shaft from 1918. These days, Jerome attracts people thanks to the beautiful art studios, historic galleries, and wineries in the Verde Valley. However, people tend to stay longer due to the excellent accommodations that the Connor Hotel, The Clinkscale, and Ghost City Inn provide.


Historic downtown in Prescott, Arizona
Historic downtown in Prescott, Arizona, via randy andy /

Prescott is a breathtaking town surrounded by the popular ponderosa pines of central Arizona. Travelers walking through the Prescott Heritage Trail and History Hunt Adventure can be immersed in both the present nature and past cultures of Prescott. A more direct appreciation of the town’s past, as well as honoring the ethnic groups in Arizona, can be seen in the pioneering exhibits and indigenous artifacts of the Sharlot Hall Museum and the Museum of Indigenous People. Furthermore, Whiskey Row houses a number of vintage saloons, bars, and live music venues, and on the 4th of July, Prescott celebrates an annual cowboy tournament called the World’s Oldest Rodeo. If you are interested in feeling revitalized by Prescott’s ponderosa pines, then find a room at the Prescott Pines Inn or Hotel Vendome.


Downtown Bisbee, Arizona.
Downtown Bisbee, Arizona.

Approximately 25 minutes away from Tombstone, Bisbee is a vibrant town camped in the Mule Mountains near the US-Mexico border. Long ago, Bisbee used to be one of the wealthiest mining towns in Arizona, and the Bisbee Restoration Museum plus the Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum evince the town’s value. Much like the town of Jerome, visitors can undertake a Queen Mine Tour through several subterranean avenues entitled Bisbee as the “Queen of the Copper Camps.” At the Lavender Pit Mining Overlook, we appreciate the mining operations and industrialization of a bygone time, and on March 9, we watch the migratory return of Bisbee’s turkey vultures. For those eager to spend more time in Bisbee, opulent lodgings like Shady Dell and Bisbee Grand Hotel have the amenities suitable for your daily needs.


Wild donkeys in Oatman, Arizona.
Wild donkeys in Oatman, Arizona. Image credit Jon Chica via Shutterstock

The term “ghost town” implies abandonment, vacancy, and lifelessness. But Oatman is one of the few ghost towns in Arizona that is still thriving and alive thanks to tourists eager to learn more of the state’s history. During its heyday in the 1900s, Oatman was a large mining town for gold prospectors after the Apache and Mojave Native Americans left the territory. It is estimated that over 10 million US dollars worth of gold has been mined from the town and in the underground caverns and quarries of the Black Mountains. People now travel down the historic Route 66 to explore the many attractions of the semi-abandoned Oatman. But many stay longer for the rustic ambiance and the recognizable burros—descendants of the early miners’ donkeys, which currently outnumber humans five to one.


Downtown Sedona, Arizona
Downtown Sedona, Arizona

Head on down to good old Sedona, a dynamic town only 67 miles from Prescott, and camp out in the Grand Canyon. In the amber-colored rock formations of the Grand Canyon, visitors can marvel at Native American exhibits and artifacts at the Verde Valley Archaeology Center. In the nearby Camp Verde, you can learn more about the ancient ancestors from a mural wall called the Hisatsinom, a Hopi term meaning "Ancient People“, which shows the travels of the Hopi ancestors in the Sedona and Verde Valley since 2,000 B.C. The Montezuma Castle and Well National Monuments, plus the Tuzigoot National Monument, are more destinations to deepen your knowledge of the Native American culture. For those who are invested in appreciating both the natural landscapes and indigenous cultures of America, you ought to book a room in one of Sedona’s excellent lodgings like the Sedona Reál Inn and Suites, A Sunset Chateau, or Sky Rock Sedona.


Dinosaur Gift Shop in Holbrook, Arizona.
Dinosaur Gift Shop in Holbrook, Arizona. Image credit DCA88 via Shutterstock

Within the stunning canvas of the Painted Desert, travelers will stumble upon the humble town of Holbrook. Once a 200-million-year-old dwelling place of the Navajo Nation as evinced by the Chinle Formations, Holbrook is now a gateway to the Petrified Forest National Park. The ancient forest is home to several ancient petroglyphs, a hundred-room Pueblo compound, and the Agate House—an eight-room Pueblo structure found in Puerco Pueblo. Close at hand, visitors can sightsee more Native American ruins and remnants at Canyon de Chelly. You can walk through the ruins of Homolovi Ruins or take photos of Window Rock. Once you head back to town, learn all about the standoff between Sheriff Commodore Perry Owens and the Blevins gang at the Bucket of Blood Saloon and the Blevins House. If the night calls you back to bed, seek a place to rest up at either the Wigwam or Brad’s Desert Inn.

The Takeaway

For a truly authentic and immersive experience of the old Wild West, Arizona’s breathtaking small towns have both rustic architecture and unchanging wilderness to thrust you back to a time of gunslingers and criminals. In a harsh desert landscape where Native American warbands once roamed, you will be captivated by historic and panoramic towns like Oatman and Prescott, which continue to campaign the preservation of geographic and cultural heritages. Journey through the rugged and ferocious Grand Canyon and delve into the silver and gold mines of the many ghost towns of Arizona. Jump from one location to another like a tumbleweed on an empty road, and let the most breathtaking towns in Arizona give you a rooting and tooting good time.

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