A trio of trips to take around the Grand Canyon State
There’s no shortage of special destinations in Arizona. The
Grand Canyon, Sedona, Tombstone and Tucson are well-known for their nature,
culture and history, but here are three other spots to spend a weekend that are
less traveled than the aforementioned but just as rich in recreation,
restaurants and more.
From mining boomtown to Bohemian burg
By Teresa K. Traverse
Bisbee is an old mining town turned hip and vibrant artistic
community in Southern Arizona. You can wander Bisbee’s winding and steep streets
as you take in mountain views, quirky shops and hotels housed inside historical
buildings and see some of the city’s colorful street murals that pop up around
every corner. From a ghost town to touring Bisbee’s famed Queen Mine, discover
what this historical yet modern city has to offer visitors.
Begin your Bisbee journey in the historic heart of town: Old
Bisbee. Stroll by old buildings now filled with a variety of charming
boutiques. Highlights include Optimo Custom Hatworks (optimohatworks.com),
established in 1972. Here, you can purchase or just admire handcrafted hats
made using old world techniques. When you open the door to Bisbee Soap &
Sundry (bisbeesoapandsundry.com), you can look forward to inhaling the scent of
everything from cedar to creosote. All of the company’s products are handmade
on site. You’ll want to explore these shops early in the day, since many of
them close around 5 p.m.
Brewery Gulch was notorious back in Bisbee’s mining days as
a spot where miners could head to roughly 50 saloons and it still retains some
of its rough charms. You can literally smell the hops as you approach Old
Bisbee Brewing Company (oldbisbeebrewingcompany.com). Enjoy the brewery’s own
craft beer alongside a menu of gourmet bratwurst and vegetarian chili. Another
notable haunt is St. Elmo’s Bar, established in 1902. Anticipate a dark,
Thuy’s Noodle Shop is not a place you’d expect to find in
Bisbee, but you’d be glad if you did. Order a steaming bowl of pho (topped with
choice of fish or beef) and spring rolls from this bustling, cozy Vietnamese
shop that houses just four tables.
Housed inside an old gas station turned restaurant,
Screaming Banshee Pizza (screamingbansheepizza.net) slings notable wood-fired
pies. The Screaming Banshee pizza features house-made fennel sausage,
mozzarella fresco, house-roasted onion and mushrooms. Customers can ask for it
“bloody” with red sauce or even add meatballs. Guests also have the option of
building their own pizzas and calzones.
Opened this past October, Bathtub Coffee
(betterthanbathwater.com) is Bisbee’s newest coffee shop. And yes, there’s a
real bathtub in the corner that’s Instagram-ready. The light-filled space on
Subway Street features cold and hot coffee drinks, smoothies and a food menu.
Queen Mine Tour
Don your hard hat, miner’s headlamp and a bright mesh vest,
and get ready to head inside Bisbee’s Queen Mine (queenminetour.com). Once the
economic powerhouse of Bisbee and one of the world’s most productive copper
mines, the Queen Mine was in business from the 1800s until 1975. Former miners
lead tours. Shine your flashlight on different minerals on the wall, see
original equipment that was powered via compressed air, and walk across the
tracks where carts once regularly rode through. Bundle up because it’s chilly
inside. You must be wearing closed-toe shoes or you’ll have to borrow a pair.
This tour might not be right for you if you’re claustrophobic.
The open copper mine, the Lavender Pit, is worth a stop to
just take in the vast size of this former copper mine. You’ll see it just off
U.S. Route 80 past the Queen Mine. Head here at sunset and watch as the colors
of the mine change in the sunlight.
Where to Stay
Just 10 minutes from Old Bisbee, the pink bed and breakfast
Calumet & Arizona Guest House (calumetaz.com)—named after a mining company
and originally built for the chief clerk of said company—is a feast for the
senses. Individually decorated rooms range from 150 to 500 square feet and can
feature clawfoot tubs and heirlooms of owner Joy Timber’s maternal grandmother
and are decked out in period wallpaper. Included in the rate, the home-cooked
breakfast alone makes this place worth the money. Order off a menu and wait as
the owner or one of the staff whips up an All-American breakfast featuring your
choice of pancakes, cereal, French toast and eggs Benedict served on a long,
communal table where you can mingle with other guests.
Located in the heart of downtown Bisbee, Copper Queen Hotel
(copperqueen.com) touts itself as the longest continuously operating hotel in
Arizona. The hotel originally opened in 1902 as a hotel for investors and
dignitaries of Copper Queen Consolidated Mining Company. John Wayne, Julia
Roberts, Nancy Reagan and John McCain have stayed or visited. The Copper Queen
hotel is also allegedly haunted. One of the hotel’s guests that has never
checked out? Julia Lowell. Lowell was an “employee” of the hotel’s brothel and
is said to have killed herself at the hotel after she confessed her love to one
of her clients and he did not return her feelings. The hotel also offers a
Ghost Hunt package. The Ghost Hunt is every first and third Thursday night of
the month. A trained ghost host from Old Bisbee Ghost Tours will teach how to
use ghost-hunting equipment and then search for signs of paranormal activity.
A big deal small town
Photos and story By Niki D’Andrea
Known as “The Heart of the Verde Valley,” Cottonwood packs a
lot of culture into a so-called small town (pop. 12,000). Art galleries, antique
shops, book stores, wine tasting rooms and restaurants line Main Street (aka
the commercial historic district), and parks populate the surrounding Verde
Valley, from state parks to out-of-this-world animal attractions.
Down on Main Street
Cottonwood boasts quite possibly the best Main Street in all
of Arizona. People stroll along its shaded sidewalks every weekend all
year-round, window shopping and stopping in a variety of unique local
businesses. Antique lovers – or anyone who appreciates big, fun and funky
displays – should check out Larry’s Antiques (larrysantiques.com). The old
West-looking, wood-shingle-covered building is impossible to miss – it’s
covered in antique signs and wacky outdoor decor like a fake skeleton in the
driver’s seat of a rusty ancient car. Enhancing the frozen-in-time vibe is
Bing’s Burger Station (bingsburgers.com), located next to Larry’s. Located in a
refurbished 1940s gas station, the popular diner retains its service station
roots – two Gilmore gas pumps are out front, with a red 1950 Plymouth Special
Deluxe Sedan permanently parked next to them.
A short walk down the street, pedestrians can peruse and
sample various vinegars and olive oils from around the world at Verde Valley
Olive Oil Traders (vvoliveoil.com). Local art including jewelry, clothing,
paintings and pottery exclusively fills places like Dragonfly Handcrafted Local
Art (dragonflylocalart.com) and Hart of Arizona Art Gallery
(hartofazgallery.com). Book lovers will delight in the epic Adventures
Unlimited Books (adventuresunlimitedbooks.com), which stocks thousands of tomes
on topics ranging from aliens to zen, plus hiking guides, New York Times best
sellers, children’s books and pulp paperbacks. There are many more shopping
options, from a flower shop to a quilting supply store.
There’s no shortage of food options on Main Street, either.
About 18 different restaurants dot the strip and surrounding streets.
Highlights include Thai Palace (thaipalaceaz.com), Nic’s Italian Steak &
Crab House (nicsaz.com), and Pizzeria Bocce (boccecottonwood.com) for dinner.
For breakfast, two places offer equally great eats – Old Town Red Rooster Café
(oldtownredrooster.com), which serves hot breakfast classics in a cozy diner
environment, and Crema (cremacafe89a.com), which sells drinks and delicious
pastries from its walk-up-only window.
Thanks to its semi-arid climate and access to the water of
the Verde River, The Verde Valley is a thriving wine region. More than a dozen
wineries operate in the area, and Main Street is home to nine tasting rooms.
That’s too many to visit in one day, but four is a manageable number,
especially spread over several hours. Must-stops are Arizona Stronghold
(azstronghold.com), which offers gourmet grilled skewers in addition to its
Cochise County wines; Burning Tree Cellars (burningtreecellars.com), which
sells wines with grapes from various places, but mostly California and Arizona;
Pillsbury Wine (pillsburywine.com), which makes wine with only 100 percent
Arizona grapes; and Merkin Vineyards Osteria (merkinvineyardsosteria.com),
owned by musician and winemaker Maynard James Keenan.
Where to Stay
If one is exploring the Verde Valley for any length of time
or wishes to imbibe at any (or several) of the wine tasting rooms that line
Main Street, getting a room at one of the lodgings in Old Town is a good idea.
The largest hotel on Main is The Tavern Hotel (thetavernhotel.com), which has
an embedded bar and grill, followed by the historical Cottonwood Hotel
(cottonwoodhotel.com), where John Wayne once stayed. The newest hotel on the
strip is The Iron Horse Inn (ironhorseoldtown.com), a boutique renovation with
a young vibe and courtyard lit by a canopy of holiday lights. Rooms at all
three tend to fill up fast, so booking in advance is recommended.
High-mountain town boasts beer, burgers and more
By Niki D’Andrea
Despite its reputation as Arizona’s most popular winter
destination, Flagstaff has much more to offer than snowboarding and skiing at
Arizona Snowbowl for a few months out of the year. In fact, summertime sees the
city come alive with a flurry of festivities and artistic activities, from
outdoor concerts to nature walks. But mostly beer. Seriously, there may be more
beer here than at every fraternity party around the state combined, and June is
like unofficial Beer Month in Flagstaff.
Food and beverage
Flagstaff boasts seven craft breweries: Beaver Street
Brewery (beaverstreetbrewery.com), Dark Sky Brewing (darkskybrewing.com),
Flagstaff Brewing Company (flagbrew.com), Historic Brewing Company
(historicbrewingcompany.com), Lumberyard Brewing Co.
(lumberyardbrewingcompany.com), Mother Road Brewing Company
(motherroadbeer.com) and Wanderlust Brewing Company (wanderlustbrewing.com).
Each one serves a distinctive line of stellar suds, and collectively they
comprise what’s known as the Flagstaff Ale Trail. Print out a “passport” at
craftbeerflg.com and use it to receive discounts along the trail, and collect
stamps for a prize at any Flagstaff Convention & Visitors Bureau location.
If filling your belly with beer isn’t your thing, Flagstaff
has plenty of cool foodie spots to sate your appetite. Let’s start with
breakfast, and MartAnne’s Breakfast Palace (facebook.com/MartAnnes). This place
is legendary among locals for its hearty, heaping plates of Mexican breakfasts.
For years, the wait to get a table at MartAnne’s was even more epic than the
food, with lines winding down the street. Thankfully, MartAnne’s moved into a
larger space a couple years ago, which has diminished some of the wait time.
But only some.
Another popular Flagstaff institution, especially among the
college set, is Diablo Burger (diabloburger.com). Every burger is made from
local, free range, hormone-free beef; char-broiled; and served on a signature
English muffin. Popular menu items include “The Cheech” with guacamole, pepper
jack cheese and jalapeños, and the unusual “Vitamin B,” topped with bacon,
beets and blue cheese.
One of the newest and hippest nosh spots in town, The Mayor
(themayorflagstaff.com), serves decent subs and sandwiches, but it’s the
atmosphere most people come for: pillars covered in orange shag carpet, a wall
constructed from vintage boom boxes, a 1980s-centric jukebox, a Skee-Ball
machine, and out back, cornhole boards and an Airstream trailer. If the servers
had mullets and wore MC Hammer-style pants, we’d swear we got caught in a time
The Great Outdoors
Calories can be walked off at Walnut Canyon National
Monument (nps.gov/waca/index.htm). Located about ten miles southeast of
downtown Flagstaff, this monument offers all manner of interpretive hikes and
has two trails to explore – the Island Trail, which has 25 ancient cliff
dwellings along its paths; and the Rim Trail, which includes views of a pit
house and pueblo.
The Arboretum at Flagstaff (thearb.org) hosts interpretive
nature programs. Lowell Observatory (lowell.edu) has fun events and educational
exhibits year-round, including “Meet an Astronomer” nights on Fridays, wherein
a professional astronomer shares their insights into celestial bodies; science
demonstrations; and tours of the observatory, which was founded in 1894 and
became world famous in 1930, when Clyde Tombaugh discovered the dwarf planet
Pluto at the observatory (the “Pluto Discovery Telescope” is still on the grounds).
Where to Stay
When it comes to lodging, there are many national chains,
hostels and small motels in Flagstaff, but for an authentic experience in the
heart of downtown, only one of two historical properties will do: Hotel Monte
Vista (hotelmontevista.com) and The Weatherford Hotel (weatherfordhotel.com).
“The Monte V,” as it’s known to locals, opened in 1927 and has hosted a horde
of famous folks, including Bob Hope, Zane Grey, Bing Crosby, Michael J. Fox,
Gary Cooper, Debbie Reynolds, Humphrey Bogart, Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy, John
Wayne and Lee Marvin. The hotel knows who stayed in which room, and also notes
which rooms are supposedly haunted.
The Weatherford Hotel is even older than the Monte V. Opened
in 1900 as the picture of modern luxury, the hotel got a major facelift last
year and has been almost completely renovated with an eye toward maintaining
its old world charm – claw foot bathtubs, in-hotel saloon with massive mirrored
bar back, wraparound balcony overlooking
a bustling square. Both The Weatherford and Hotel Monte Vista host live
music multiple nights a week, so guests looking for some “peace and quiet”
might prefer one of the chain hotels.
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