Seligman, Arizona on Route 66, via Jon Chica /

9 Offbeat Towns to Visit in Arizona

Arizona is a spectacular state to visit, with numerous national parks featuring amazing landscapes filled with cacti, mountains, deserts, and sunshine. Besides the more popular destinations of Phoenix, Flagstaff, and Sedona, there are numerous offbeat towns that are unique and definitely should be on your list of next stops in Arizona. Here are nine offbeat towns to visit in Arizona that will immerse you in Arizona's mining history, Route 66, local art, and natural and historical landmarks.


Street view in Bisbee, Arizona
Street view in Bisbee, Arizona, via Cheri Alguire /

Bisbee is a laid-back historic mining town in Southeast Arizona, nestled in the Mule Mountains. Built on the profitable copper mining industry back in the day, it has evolved into a thriving artist community and tourist destination, offering visitors a glimpse into the past. Go ahead and don a hard hat to take a train ride down into the Copper Queen Mine, stop to marvel at the Lavender Pit Mining Overlook, and wander through the Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum, the first Smithsonian affiliate in the Southwest. Bisbee is full of character, with its 1000-stair climb, antique shops, art murals throughout the town, and ghosts at the Copper Queen Hotel—and frankly, ghosts everywhere on the Old Bisbee Ghost Tour. If you aren’t sure where to start exploring, the Jeep Lavender Tour will take you through the back roads and even up high to get a different perspective of Bisbee.


View of the historic mining town of Chloride, Arizona
View of the historic mining town of Chloride, Arizona. Editorial credit: littlenySTOCK /

Chloride is one of Arizona's oldest silver mining towns, established in 1862, which had over 72 mines at the time. Today, you can wander through an authentic Wild West town. While exploring Arizona’s oldest post office, the Old Jail, the Playhouse, and a mine shaft, you might see a cowboy coming into town on horseback. The highlight of this offbeat town is its quirky art installations in everyone’s yard, made from junk, like a flamingo made from a gas tank, and gravestones made from telephones in the town’s cemetery. Make sure you have your camera handy as you walk through the town. Watch out for the mock gunfights that happen regularly on Saturdays and more frequently in the summer between the Black Mountain Gunfighters and the Wild Roses of Chloride—the world’s only all-female gunfighting troupe. If you like chasing art murals, you must see renowned Southwestern American artist Roy Purcell’s painted murals, which cover 2,000 square feet on a granite cliff face.


J. H. Smith Grocery Store and Filling Station listed in the National Register of Historic Places
J. H. Smith Grocery Store and Filling Station listed in the National Register of Historic Places in Dragoon, Arizona, By Marine 69-71 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Dragoon hosts one of the weirdest sites to see—The Thing. The owners have expanded the destination to include aliens and dinosaurs and how aliens contributed to the extinction of dinosaurs. How does this make sense? You’ll have to visit it to see how surprisingly it does. Another interesting place to visit in Dragoon is the Rattlesnake Ranch, which also has ties to dinosaurs. At the entrance, many dinosaur sculptures welcome you to this roadside “snake sanctuary,” where you can see a fantastic collection of snakes. Switching gears to American Indian history, the Amerind Museum covers Native American culture and memorabilia from Southern Arizona, New Mexico, and northern Mexico. Plus, you can visit the grave of the notorious Wild West outlaw Johnny Ringo, whose cause of death is still unknown over a hundred years later.


The fomer mining town of Jerome, Arizona.
The fomer mining town of Jerome, Arizona. Image credit Nick Fox via

Experience what was once dubbed the 'Wickedest Town in the West' and is now known as America’s Most Vertical City: Jerome, Arizona. Perched on Cleopatra Hill, Jerome is a unique town that has embraced its rich mining history and subsequent decline, transforming it into a destination worth visiting with its spectacular views overlooking the Verde Valley and its spooky ghost tours. You can easily spend a half-day or more exploring the art galleries and unique shops, including the world’s largest kaleidoscope store. The Jerome State Historic Park is where you can delve into the town’s mining past and see the Douglas Mansion. Next door, at Audrey Headframe Park, you can stand on a glass floor peering down a mine shaft over 1,900 feet deep at the largest headframe still standing in Arizona. Other noteworthy places include the Jerome Historical Society Mine Museum and Jerome’s Sliding Jail, which has moved over 200 feet from its original location.


Bikers rest at a burger joint on Historic Route 66 in Seligman Arizona
Bikers rest at a burger joint on Historic Route 66 in Seligman, Arizona, via benedek /

Seligman earned the distinction of being the first town designated as part of Historic Route 66. It boasts several unique shops, restaurants, and museums that specialize in Route 66 memorabilia, such as the Motoporium, Return to the 50s Museum, the Rusty Bolt with its mannequins out front, the Historic Seligman Sundries (listed on the National Register of Historic Places), and Delgadillos Snow Cap Drive-In, where comical pranks from the staff and good food are staples. Seligman inspired Radiator Springs in the animated movie “Cars,” with vehicles painted as the characters throughout the town. Other attractions include the 1860 Arizona Territorial Jail and the Roadkill Café, famous for its humorous “you kill it, we grill it” dish. If you visit in the first week of May, don't miss the Annual Route 66 Fun Run, where hundreds of cars cruise through town. A great side detour is touring the Grand Canyon Caverns, billed as the “largest dry caverns in the country.”


A Church in the Supai Village, Havasupai Indian Reservation, Arizona, United States
A Church in the Supai Village, Havasupai Indian Reservation, Arizona, United States

Supai, home of the Havasupai tribe, is nestled within the Grand Canyon and stands as the most remote town in the United States, accessible only by hiking, mule rides, or helicopter. It requires an eight-mile hike descending 3,000 feet into the Grand Canyon to reach the village. The town, with a population of just over two hundred people, includes a general store, café, post office, primary school, a lodge, a campground, and two churches. The Havasupai Museum of Culture offers insights into the history, culture, art, and traditions of the Havasupai people. Don't miss trying the Supai Tacos from the Sinyella Store. The journey to Supai is highlighted by the stunning blue-green waters of Havasu Falls, along with other waterfalls such as Mooney Falls, Beaver Falls, Navajo Falls, and Fifty Foot Falls. Accessing these breathtaking waterfalls requires a bit of luck, as permits are distributed via an annual lottery in February.


Historic Allen street in Tombstone, Arizona.
Historic Allen street in Tombstone, Arizona. Image credit Nick Fox via Shutterstock

If you're wondering what the Wild West looked like, you need only visit Tombstone. In the 1880s, Tombstone was the fastest-growing city between St. Louis and San Francisco, boasting over a hundred saloons. Today, you can encounter gunslingers, saloon girls, and Old West lawmen. A few must-have experiences in Tombstone include watching the re-enactment of the legendary gunfight between Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp, and his brothers at the O.K. Corral; exploring the Bird Cage Theater, where you might even encounter a ghost; and enjoying a drink at the Big Nose Kate Saloon. But wait, there's more; take a trolley ride to see all the historic sites, including Boot Hill Cemetery and Wyatt Earp’s home; experience a stagecoach ride; and walk under the world’s largest rose bush.


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.

Another offbeat town to visit in Arizona is Williams, known as the 'Gateway to the Grand Canyon.' This is where you can board the historic train to the Grand Canyon. After soaking up the Canyon's majestic beauty, ride the train back to town. The activities continue in town with Route 66 diners, souvenir shops, and two fabulous animal attractions: the Grand Canyon Deer Farm and Bearizona. The Kaibab National Forest offers diverse outdoor options, such as hiking trails in the pine-covered Kaibab Plateau and exploring ancient ruins and lava flows in the Tusayan District. You can also see more lava flows at the nearby Sunset Crater.


Cyclist traveling along route 66 in Winslow, Arizona
Cyclist traveling along route 66 in Winslow, Arizona. Image credit Terry Kelly via Shutterstock

If you've ever heard the Eagles' song 'Take it Easy,' then you've heard of Winslow. Winslow was a major Santa Fe Railroad destination and an important Navajo trading post from the late 1800s until the late 1950s, when traveling by rail became less common. In 1972, the Eagles put Winslow back on the map with that one line in their song. Today, Winslow is an offbeat town to visit in Arizona, with attractions such as “Standin’ on the Corner” Park, Route 66 sites, art galleries, and the Old Trails Museum, which showcases Winslow’s Native American and railroad history. And you can’t miss exploring the 550ft-deep Meteor Crater and the Discovery Center and Space Museum. Where else can you see a meteor impact zone from 50,000 years ago?

Where else in the United States can you experience such a diverse landscape as Arizona? These smaller towns offer visitors numerous natural landmarks to explore, whether it’s the Grand Canyon, Meteor Crater, waterfalls, state history to learn, or enjoying sites along Route 66; the Wild West is a great destination for your next vacation.

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