A stagecoach filled with tourists travels the historic streets of Tombstone, Arizona. Image credit CrackerClips Stock Media via Shutterstock

8 Most Beautiful Historical Towns in Arizona

Visit any of these beautiful historic towns in Arizona if you want to bask in the rich heritage of the American Wild West. While some are still well populated, a handful of ghost towns are on this list, which adds a fun and mysterious element to your adventure. Enjoy the scenic views, and well-preserved local history, and take a glimpse into American life during the turn of the century. Any or all of these historical towns in Arizona is a worthy visit for history and nature lovers alike.


Street scene with classic car in front of souvenir shops in Williams, one of the cities on the famous route 66
Street scene with a classic car in front of souvenir shops in Williams, Arizona. Image credit Jordi C via Shutterstock

The town of Williams, Arizona is a gem for history and nature lovers near the Grand Canyon in northern Arizona. As the gateway to the Grand Canyon, make an adventure of your trip to this picturesque town that oozes Americana style and charm. The historic landmarks in the area include the Route 66 Museum, which delves into the story of the famous American highway and its significance in American culture and lore. There are more than six blocks of shops in town that affectionately keep the spirit of historic America alive, and you can pay a visit to them all. You can also ride the Grand Canyon Railway all the way to the site and back into town for a scenic evening via the railroad.


Historic Allen street with a horse drawn stagecoach in Tombstone, Arizona
Historic Allen street in Tombstone, Arizona. Image credit Nick Fox via Shutterstock

Tombstone, Arizona is a must-visit for lovers of the Wild West. It is one of the most frequented destinations in the state for history buffs because of the infamous shootouts in Wild West history that took place there. A visit to Tombstone, (The Town Too Tough To Die) is like stepping into 1800s American life due to its largely preserved architecture and style. Old saloons and other historic buildings are still standing, and the storytelling of that time is alive and well. Visitors can learn about the outlaws that frequented the area while standing in the very places where those stories once took place. There are even gunfight re-enactments and history tours by foot, trolley, or stagecoach.


School house and Montana Peak, Ruby, Arizona
Montana Peak, Ruby, Arizona.

The town of Ruby, Arizona is a privately owned ghost town that is immaculately preserved. It is a day trip away from Tucson and only a few miles from the Mexican border. You can visit the town for a fee of $15 per person, and explore the 350 acres of trails that lead to old abandoned buildings of the mining town’s past, which is on the list of the National Register of Historic Places. The town was once a prominent producer of lead and ore before it was abandoned like many other mining towns. You can stop by for a day tour, or even camp on the grounds. While fishing is permitted, hunting is not allowed.


Aerial view of Downtown Prescott, Arizona
Downtown Prescott, Arizona.

A visit to historic Prescott, Arizona is like stepping back in time to the days when American towns were mining destinations and outlaws roamed the Wild West. One of the town’s most popular attractions is Whiskey Row, a street where there were once up to 40 saloons at one time during the gold rush culture. Now, it attracts visitors in search of real-life cowboy history and looking to see turn-of-the-century saloons and Victorian homes, not to mention the approximately 700 buildings in the area that are on the National Register of Historic Places. Additionally, four of Arizona’s prominent museums are in Prescott, allowing for an educational visit while you are in town.


Downtown Bisbee, Arizona and the large "B" on the hillside behind it, shot during late afternoon.
Downtown Bisbee, Arizona. Image credit Atomazul via Shutterstock

One of the most picturesque historic towns in Arizona is Bisbee. On the southeastern side of the state near the Mexican border, the town has tons of cool bars, shopping, and a flourishing artistic community that has situated itself in this scenic pocket of Arizona. The well-preserved buildings from the turn of the century are still standing, paired with the mountainous landscape makes for a destination that oozes historic charm. You can visit the numerous haunted hotels in town, including the most famous Copper Queen Hotel. There are also themed hotels in the form of restored airstream trailers or renovated school buses and boats that you can spend the night in.


Downtown Yuma, Arizona aerial view
Downtown Yuma, Arizona.

The town of Yuma, Arizona is in the southwestern part of the state, on the Colorado River near the Mexican border. According to the Guinness World Records, Yuma is the "Sunniest City on Earth." It is also home to Yuma Territorial Prison, a historic correctional facility preserved since the days of the Wild West. You can learn about the inmates kept there. The reasons range from murder to polygamy, casting a light on the societal values of the times. However, the most common reason for imprisonment was grand larceny. Yuma is also home to the Colorado River State Park, which is a collection of US Army warehouses that were once used to hold supplies for the military in the Southwest and it is open to visitors.


wild donkeys crossing Oatman, Arizona main street
Wild donkeys in Oatman, Arizona. Image credit Jon Chica via Shutterstock

The ghost town of Oatman, Arizona is a worthy destination to visit for history lovers, and you will find businesses operating there despite the lack of residents. It is a common tourist destination that is best known for the small donkeys, also known as burros, that frequent the area. In fact, more burros reside in Oatman than humans. The population of about 100 people is mainly business owners who make a living off of the steady stream of tourist traffic that runs through the town annually. Oatman was once a small mining town that was part of the Route 66 highway but was later abandoned as many others in the region. You can learn about its vibrant history at the Oatman Hotel (formerly the Durlin), but they offer no overnight accommodations.


Jerome town, nestled on a hillside in the winter's morning sun in Arizona,
Jerome, nestled on a hillside in Arizona.

Despite its official status as a ghost town, Jerome, Arizona is quite a bustling place and a sought-out destination for those interested in turn-of-the-century American life. The town sits on a hillside about 100 miles north of Phoenix, and while it was once known for its copper mining culture, a vibrant arts scene thrives in Jerome. Tourists visit for the interesting history and the spectacular view from the 5,000-foot elevation. You can stop by the Jerome State Historic Park to learn about the local heritage and how people lived in earlier times.

A visit to any of these beautiful historical towns in Arizona will let you take a peek into what the times of the Wild West were really like. Visit an abandoned ghost town, a National Historic Site, or a museum in any of these destinations to learn more about the people and life in early American history. You can also appreciate the scenic landscapes and rich biodiversity that Arizona has to offer, including the scenic backdrop of rugged cliffs and mountains at every turn.

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