South of Tucson are three historic towns that make up a fantastic scenic loop. Each offers a unique experience and a glimpse into southern Arizona’s vibrant history. From Tucson, head south to Tombstone, Bisbee and finally Tubac.
In the late 1880s, Tombstone was a booming silver mine town with 110 saloons, 14 gambling halls and three newspapers. Today, it’s home to 1,500 residents, and along with the historic town, you can visit Boothill, a graveyard full of fascinating miner history and eccentric epithets; tombstonechamber.com.
Bisbee sits at nearly a mile high, which makes it about 10-20 degrees cooler than Tucson. It got its start in the 1880s as a copper, gold and silver mining town. Today it attracts artists, free spirits and others who have restored the town’s charming historic buildings. To learn about its mining history, go 1,500 feet into the Queen Mine on a tour of the former copper mine; discoverbisbee.com.
In the far southern corner of Arizona, Tubac got its start as a Spanish fort established in 1752. Artist Dale Nichols revived the town’s artistic roots in 1948 when he established the Artists School. Sixteen years later, the first Tubac Festival of the Arts took place. Since then it has maintained a vibrant artsy scene with more than 100 shops and galleries; tubacaz.com.