Downtown Tourist Marketplace in Sedona, Arizona. Image credit Lynne Neuman via Shutterstock

8 Unforgettable Small Towns to Visit in Arizona

Arizona, in the southwestern United States, is a respite of desert scenery and Wild West culture. The 6th largest state, it offers plenty of open space that tourists adore. Sights like the Grand Canyon, the Colorado Plateau, and the San Francisco Peaks are just a few of the amazing outdoor destinations in Arizona. Visitors also flock to major cities like Phoenix, which are full of opportunities and entertainment. However, hidden behind the bustling cities, Arizona also houses plenty of small towns. These towns offer amazing activities and attractions minus the urban crowds. So, one can get away from stress and enjoy a relaxing time of history, nature, and culture in these unforgettable small towns in Arizona.


Main Street, Bisbee, Arizona.
Main Street, Bisbee, Arizona. Image credit travelview via

Bisbee, the county seat of Cochise County, is a lovely town steeped in history. Founded in 1880 as a copper, gold, and silver mining community, dozens of businesses began to spring up. This continued for many decades as mining in the nearby Mule Mountains was a boom, and more than three million ounces of gold were mined throughout. However, in the 1900s, mines closed down and the town saw a shift to tourism-focused industries. To this end, Bisbee is full of historic sites and a vibrant mining town heritage. Dive into the experience with a trip to sites such as the Copper Queen Mine, Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum, or Lavender Pit. For the full experience, visit the Copper Queen Mine and Lavender Pit, both dating back to the 1900s and offering guided tours and amazing sights. Alternatively, learn about the industry with a trip to the Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum, which is full of artifacts, memorabilia, and stories.

As you step back into the present, you will notice that the streets of Bisbee are full of life. With its 5,000 affable residents, there is always a conversation to join, an establishment to visit, or a party to enjoy. You can often find locals enjoying their day on Erie Street, a lively road lined with fun spots. Old cars, cafes, art galleries, and gift stores are a few ways to enjoy the street. As evening sets in, get a table at the Old Bisbee Brewing Company! Here, one can relish delicious brewed beer while taking in the stunning mountainous backdrop from their outdoor seating. So, no matter your interests, you are sure to have a blast in Bisbee.


Historic Hotel Connor in Jerome, Arizona
Historic Hotel Connor in Jerome, Arizona, via randy andy /

Continue the mining town trend with a visit to Jerome in Yavapai County. Founded in the late 19th century for its rich copper deposits, this town has also shifted to being a tourist destination. Unlike Bisbee, Jerome takes a different approach to its past. Along with mines and museums, one will also find haunted destinations and local wineries. So, sign up for a Jerome Ghost Tour to learn why the town earned the nickname "The Wickedest Town in the West." The tour covers landmarks such as the Holy Family Church (built in 1894), Jerome's first hospital grounds, and the Haskins House (built in 1888), providing an ominous way to spend your evening. If you're looking for something even spookier, consider the Pandora's Box tour, which includes plenty of other haunted destinations. However, for those who prefer less eerie experiences, there are plenty of tamer options, such as the Jerome History Walk and Wild Wild West Tour, showcasing historic churches, banks, hotels, and more, minus the haunted aspect.

When speaking of the past, one cannot finish a trip to Jerome without learning about the town's intricate stories. Spend a day at cultural attractions like the Jerome State Historic Park, Gold King Mine Museum, and Raku Gallery. Whether exploring mining tales at the Gold King Mine or indulging in art at the Raku Gallery, there is something for everyone. Nature enthusiasts can head out into the adjacent Black Hills mountain range for a plethora of outdoor activities. Hiking, biking, and wildlife viewing are just a few ways to enjoy Arizona's natural beauty. Before leaving, be sure to taste some local wines, and voilà! You’ve had an unforgettable vacation in this small town.


Downtown Sedona, Arizona.
Downtown Sedona, Arizona. Image credit Akane Brooks via

Sedona is a serene desert reprieve from urban hustle and bustle. Located along the county line between Coconino and Yavapai counties, the town boasts idyllic red sandstone surroundings. Outdoor enthusiasts rejoice at the range of opportunities to enjoy the scenery. Red Rock State Park, with 286 acres of stunning canyons and lush forests, offers activities like mountain biking, horseback riding, hiking, and wildlife viewing. Lucky visitors might spot locals such as cougars, mule deer, and coyotes. For a more relaxing experience, take a drive on the Red Rock Scenic Byway, featuring 7.5 miles of landmarks like Bell Rock, Cathedral Rock, and Big Park, providing a memorable way to enjoy the views.

Owing to its tranquil environment, Sedona is also a wellspring of spiritual growth, healing, and mental peace. With an abundance of healers, guides, and locations dedicated to nurturing the body and soul, visitors can find solace in the town. Sedona’s four vortexes—Bell Rock, Airport Mesa, Cathedral Rock, and Boynton Canyon—are particularly popular. These vortexes are believed to emit healing energy, making them ideal for meditation, yoga, and other spiritual practices. After replenishing your soul, explore the town for a bit of fun. At shopping centers like the Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village, you can indulge in local arts and crafts or pick up some souvenirs to remember your trip. In conclusion, Sedona is the perfect place to escape from stress and ease your mind.


Historic Allen street with a horse drawn stagecoach in Tombstone
 Historic Allen street with a horse drawn stagecoach in Tombstone, via Nick Fox /

Quite the opposite of Sedona, Tombstone is a town reminiscent of America’s Wild West. From cowboys to gunslingers, everyone was rushing into town during the late 1800s. With so many people in one place, tensions were bound to rise. That is exactly what happened in 1881 during the shootout between the Earp and Clanton gangs. Since then, it has become one of the most notorious gunfights in history, and you can learn all about it at the OK Corral, the site of the gunfight. There are even re-enactments of the event so you can get a complete idea of what happened. Continue your historical journey with a trip to some of the many rustic attractions in Tombstone. For example, the Bird Cage Theatre, Courthouse State Historic Park, and Good Enough Mine Tour are among the best. While the Bird Cage Theatre showcases the town’s wild side with 140 bullet holes, the Good Enough Mine Tour remembers its silver mining past.

As you wander further through the streets of Tombstone, the cultural attractions give way to an array of entertaining establishments. Perfect for a vacation, most tourists spend their time on Allen Street, a hub of activity. Lined with a mixture of old saloons, restaurants, stores, and more, there is plenty to do on this street. Additionally, the town's 1,300 friendly locals are always happy to help, making it easy to make friends here. From historic gunfights to wild west saloons, Tombstone feels like a trip to America’s past.


Street scene with classic car in front of souvenir shops in Williams, Arizona.
Street scene with classic car in front of souvenir shops in Williams, Arizona.

Williams, a town in Coconino County, is abundant in natural beauty and historical tales. If you’re visiting after Tombstone, the historical attractions are sure to catch your attention. Dive into the town's rich history along the iconic Route 66. As you stroll through the street, stunning Renaissance Revival architecture and busy shops will evoke an air of the past. History lovers will revel in the Bill Williams Monument Park, Williams Visitor Center, and Pete's Route 66 Gas Station Museum. Apart from these, another cultural hotspot is Williams Depot, a historic train station from the 1880s. Once an important part of the transcontinental railroad, it is now filled with vintage items, memorabilia, and a restaurant.

While dining at Williams Depot, you might notice the still-active Grand Canyon Railway on the line. Hop on for an antique train ride, complemented by views of the Grand Canyon's vast 6,000-foot depth. In addition to the canyon, there are many other outdoor attractions near Williams. Bearizona Wildlife Park is a family favorite, boasting dozens of furry friends such as bears, wolves, and bison. Kids love touring the enclosures and watching the animals. For a more interactive experience, opt for the nearby Grand Canyon Deer Farm instead. Here, you can play with and feed the deer, llamas, and goats for a fun time with Mother Nature’s creations. Altogether, Williams offers a delightful experience in Arizona.


Main Street in Old Town Cottonwood
Main Street in Old Town Cottonwood. Image credit Mystic Stock Photography via Shutterstock

Cottonwood is a lively destination in Yavapai County, perfect for all kinds of travelers. Steeped in history, bustling with restaurants, and offering a variety of outdoor activities, Cottonwood has something for everyone. If you are here for the culture, places like the Historic Old Town, Clemenceau Heritage Museum, and Arizona Copper Art Museum will brighten up your trip. From the interesting architecture to the stunning artwork, you can spend days taking in the vibrance of these sights. After walking through the historic district, if you find yourself a bit hungry, Cottonwood has you covered with some of the best food options in the state. Crema Craft Kitchen and Pizzeria Bocce showcase the town’s culinary diversity with their delicious offerings, ranging from pizza and steak to toast and more. Meanwhile, those fancying an evening drink should visit one of Cottonwood’s amazing wineries. For instance, Alcantara Vineyards and Winery, located just 15 minutes away, boasts live music, wine tasting, and scenic views for an unforgettable experience. Combined with stunning natural surroundings, there is no end to the allure of Cottonwood.


The downtown core of Patagonia, Arizona.
The downtown core of Patagonia, Arizona. Image credit Matt Gush via

About 300 miles from Cottonwood lies the quaint town of Patagonia. Home to less than 1,000 residents, it offers solace from the relentless pace of urban life. Visitors to this serene destination are often there for one purpose: wildlife viewing. The town is a treasure trove of rare and exotic birds, with more than 200 species migrating through it. The Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve is a testament to this, boasting acres of prime birdwatching spots engulfed in wilderness. One can grab a camera and spend hours taking photos of hummingbirds, songbirds, orioles, and other beautiful avians. Similarly, the Tucson Audubon’s Paton Center for Hummingbirds offers close-up views of these enchanting birds, an experience that kids are sure to love. If you're not into birding, you can spend the day at Patagonia Lake State Park, which offers boating, fishing, camping, and hiking in Arizona's beautiful scenery.

Those looking to stay in town will be pleased with Patagonia’s colorful downtown area. With its affordable motels, art stores, eateries, and museums, the downtown area is a hub of activity and enjoyment. As you stroll through town, you can choose from a variety of activities like shopping, dining, or simply engaging in conversation with the friendly locals. Whether it's the beautiful hummingbirds or the vibrant downtown, Patagonia is sure to leave you with memories for a lifetime.


Welcome to Carefree, Arizona Desert Gardens and Sundial
Welcome to Carefree, Arizona Desert Gardens and Sundial

Carefree is nestled gracefully between the bustling metropolis of Phoenix and expansive deserts. This makes it a favorite destination for travelers seeking a quick reprieve from the city. Strolling down its streets, you’ll find a plethora of quirky stores, perfect for a day of shopping. For example, antique enthusiasts can browse through a variety of items at Un Jour En France, a charming French antique store. Meanwhile, gourmands can savor a delicious steak at Keeler's Neighborhood Steakhouse. Budget travelers should consider visiting the Carefree Sundial, a notable landmark and an excellent spot for photos, offering a taste of the local food and drink scene.

As you venture beyond the town’s boundaries, the pavement gives way to sandy trails dotted with alluring sights. Hiking is a popular activity here, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the stunning environment near Carefree. Cave Creek Regional Park boasts numerous scenic trails where one can wander among cacti, encounter wild animals, and navigate through thick bushes. For plant enthusiasts, a visit to the Carefree Desert Gardens is a must, with its array of native plants, tranquil fountains, and fresh air. It's an ideal place to learn about local flora, capture memorable photos, and enjoy a leisurely walk in this aptly named town.

Each of these towns in Arizona showcases a unique aspect that visitors are sure to love. From the mining history of Bisbee to the delightful wine in Cottonwood, there are myriad options to explore. Moreover, each town is set away from the urban hustle and bustle, offering a tranquil environment for relaxation. So, what are you waiting for? Book your tickets to Arizona for an unforgettable experience in this desert state!

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