Best Things To Do In Tombstone AZ
Tombstone is possibly the most historically significant town in a state brimming with them.
The town was built in the 1870s by a prospector in Cochise County, however it was originally part of Pima County in the Arizona Territory before it became a state.
The granddaddy of western folklore, Tombstone has seen characters from the Old West immortalised in stories and, in some cases, brought back to life on the dusty streets of Tombstone.
Set in the southeastern region of Arizona, just over an hour from Tucson, the town has kept and renovated many of the old structures, which are now museums, restaurants, and shops open to the public.
Actors costumed in period garb walk the covered boardwalks or ride into town on horseback, and street gunfights are enacted. Visitors are encouraged to take a step back in time and become a part of the action.
Things To Do In Tombstone AZ
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OK Coral Gunfight
The OK Corral is Tombstone’s most well-known attraction. This was the location of the epic shoot-out between the Earp and Clanton gangs in 1881, which became a legend in the Old West. Today, life-size reproductions of the nine gunfighters stand on the locations where the gunfight began, giving an idea of the distance, or lack thereof, between each of the men and the general layout. The setting has remained largely unchanged since 1881.
Inside the OK Corral, a daily re-enactment of the gunfight takes place, replete with the sounds of pistols shooting and gun smoke in the air.
A visit to the OK Corral includes entry to the Historama and the Tombstone Epitaph in addition to the gunfight reenactment. The stables and C.S. Fly’s Photo Gallery are also open to the public.
Walk Down Allen Street
Allen Street is the primary thoroughfare through town, and it is here that visitors will undoubtedly end up. Many of the major attractions, as well as restaurants and shops, as well as the famous historic saloons, are located here. In this sun-drenched village, covered boardwalks span the length of the street, providing some shade.
On occasion, historical re-enactments take place on Allen Street, with actors staging fake gunfights and barroom brawls breaking out in the restaurants. Even if nothing is happening, performers dressed in western garb walk down the street. The famous O.K. Corral can be found on one of Allen Street’s corners.
Goodenough Mine Tour
The Goodenough Mine was the economic engine that propelled Tombstone to prominence before it, like the rest of Arizona’s hard-scrap mining towns, went bankrupt.
It used to yield a lot of silver, which gave the prospectors who mined it grandiose expectations that rarely came true.
Mine tours are presented by enthusiastic and informed employees who will provide you with a wealth of information and tales about the mine and the people who worked there.
It’s in the heart of the city, and the pricing is reasonable. It’s one of those Tombstone things to do that you won’t want to miss out on.
Visit Boothill Graveyard
All of the town’s hanging, lynching, and gunfight victims are buried in Tombstone’s Boothill Graveyard. There are an estimated 276 graves, many of which are unmarked. Boot Hill was established in 1878 and contains many unidentified grave markers due to the lack of identification at the time. Many people were solely known by their monikers!
The graveyard was repaired in recent years, with the crosses being refurbished and repainted, giving it a much less realistic aspect. One advantage is that the inscriptions can now be read.
Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park
Built in 1882, the Tombstone Courthouse is now a State Historic Park. The county seat was moved to Bisbee in 1929, and the courthouse was abandoned. The sheriff, recorder, treasurer, and board of supervisors were all situated in the courthouse, which also had a jail in the back.
The structure now houses one of Tombstone’s finest museums. Here you’ll find a wealth of information about the lives of local residents in the late nineteenth and early eighteenth centuries. Interesting antiques and relics are on display inside. A model of the gallows, where offenders were publicly executed, stands outside in the courtyard.
When you consider the gunfights and cold-blooded murders that the town is known for, the Tombstone Courthouse must have been a bustling place in its prime.
The old courthouse, located on the corner of 3rd and Toughnut Streets, has been converted into a museum that debunks many of the urban legends that have survived through the years.
It’s chock-full of first-hand tales and historical documents, and it’s been meticulously repaired and preserved to look just as it did back then.
It even has a replica of the gallows, which has seen many of the town’s guilty outlaws hanged over the years.
Go To Bird Cage Theatre
The Bird Cage Theatre, which opened in 1881 and operated for eight years, never closed. The Bird Cage, which served as a theatre, dance hall, tavern, and brothel, is believed to have 140 gunshot holes in the walls and ceiling.
The hand-painted stage and orchestra pit are still in excellent shape, as are the original fixtures and furnishings. Photos and biographies of the various entertainers who performed can be found on the stage. Some of the building’s underground rooms, which had been locked since 1889, have now been opened to the public. They are still in the same condition as when they were discovered a few days ago.
Many people believe the building is haunted, and the ghost tour, which takes place in the early evening, is one of the most popular things to do here.
Rose Tree Museum
The Rose Tree Museum, which opened in the 1960s, gives visitors a glimpse into the lives of the families who have lived in Tombstone for centuries. The World’s Largest Rose Tree may be found in the rear yard. If you travel during the blooming season, between mid-March and mid-May, be sure to stop in to witness the spectacular display of double white blossoms.
The rose tree provides plenty of shade and is a wonderful place to cool off in Tombstone’s summer heat. The museum also has suites where you can stay and enjoy unlimited access to the rose tree.
Recommended Reading :
John Philip Clum created the Tombstone “Epitaph” newspaper in 1880. It was the local newspaper at the time, and it chronicled the events that would later become part of Tombstone’s history.
The gunfight at the O.K. Corral was one of the first big stories. It is notable for being the state’s oldest continually published newspaper, and it still publishes on a regular basis–written as if it were back in the day. It is intended to be engaging and fun while depicting the history of the Old West.
The Epitaph Museum in Tombstone is a free site where tourists may view 1880s printing techniques. The original printing press can be seen on display.
The Wyatt Earp House and Gallery
Wyatt Earp is connected with the cowboy and lawman traditions that are a large part of the American southwest’s lore and legend.
Wyatt Earp’s home has been converted into a museum and gallery with the most comprehensive collection of original items linked to his fascinating life.
During his time in Tombstone, Wyatt shared the residence with Mattie, his common-law wife, who died of a heroin overdose that the town’s medical examiner deemed a suicide.
If you want to buy a piece of American history, there are objects for sale as well.
Old Tombstone Western Theme Park
Visit the Old Tombstone Western Theme Park for a new perspective on the gunfight at the OK Corral. Here’s a lighthearted and not-so-serious take on what actually transpired.
With their antics and acrobatics, costumed actors are able to elicit laughter from the audience. The 17-hole (not 18!) miniature golf course, a Shootin’ Gallery, a railroad museum, an opportunity to mine for gold, and a jailhouse where you may be photographed in the slammer are just a few of the attractions at the Old Tombstone Western Theme Park.
This is one of the most popular attractions in town, so book ahead with a ticket to the Western Theme Park’s Gunfight Show.
This is the greatest spot to learn about Tombstone’s history and hear some of the stories behind the personalities that lived here and contributed to the town’s traditions and myths.
Vincent Price narrates this 30-minute video presentation that helps visitors have a better knowledge of the Old West. The OK Corral ticket price includes admission to the Historama.
The show starts on the hour, so make sure you arrive on time.
San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area
With all of the history and sites associated with gunfights, hangings, dead people, and jails, it may be prudent to take a break, appreciate some nature, and cleanse your spirit of all that gruesome history.
The San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area is located south of Tombstone and is home to a diverse range of plants and animals. It is located where the San Pedro River meets the vast Sonoran Desert.
The protected area is noted for attracting hundreds of different bird species, many of which are migratory wading birds and waterfowl that only visit for a few months of the year.
It’s a low-cost day trip with plenty of well-marked paths.
Flandrau Science Center
The University of Arizona’s Flandrau Science Center, which is located in Tucson, is jam-packed with exhibits pertaining to science, space, and the natural world that will keep you and your kids occupied for hours as you enjoy the center’s excellent air conditioning.
Many people enjoy the planetarium, which will take you on a live guided tour of the universe that you may never get to see again.
For the youngsters, there are a variety of interactive exhibits that will teach them something as they have fun.
It’s cheap, and the campus is also a nice spot to go about.
Benson Arts and Historical Society Museum
The nearby town of Benson is also rich in pioneer history, albeit it is far less dramatic and tragic than Tombstone’s.
The museum is located on South San Pedro Street in Benson, and its volunteers are happy to share their expertise of the museum’s exhibits with visitors.
There are no gallows or bullet-riddled walls, but there is an antique sewing machine and a carriage that was used as a sort of school bus before the invention of the automobile.
It’s also full of other interesting things, so take a look and consider leaving a donation to help with the upkeep.
Gammon’s Gulch Movie Set
When visiting the aforementioned museum, a trip to Gammon’s Gulch Movie Set north of Benson is a terrific way to make the most of your time.
It’s a step back in time, according to the movie set’s founder, and you’ll probably agree once you see all the fascinating things that’s been kept from that glossy movie age.
There’s even some old-time saloon music playing to add to the atmosphere.
There’s a lot of historic cinema memorabilia on the set, including some of the biggest actors of the day who shot a lot of movies in the picturesque western setting.
Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum
If Tombstone’s history is inextricably linked to the region’s violent past, Bisbee’s is also inextricably related to the region’s rich mining history.
The museum is connected with the Smithsonian Institution and is dedicated to preserving the history of copper mining, which has fueled Arizona’s economy for centuries.
Even though it was formerly known as the Queen of Arizona’s mining towns, the town’s mine shuttered in the mid-’70s, and it now relies heavily on tourists.
The museum is affordable, educational, and well worth an hour or two of your time.
Fairbank Historic Town
Fairbank began as a tiny rail station in the shadow of its more well-known and rich neighbour, Tombstone.
It’s now just a ghost town, but buildings that were previously businesses such as a warehouse, saloons, a hotel, and a school still stand.
The historic schoolhouse has been restored and transformed into a museum and souvenir shop run by local students and volunteers. It’s a spot you should visit before you depart.
With so much to see and do, you should set aside an hour or two to explore this charming little town.
Fort Bowie National Historic Site
The Fort Bowie National Historic Site, located in the nearby town of Willcox, was initially a military outpost entrusted with forcing the Chiricahua Apaches out of the area by whatever means necessary.
The fort is named after Captain George Washington Bowie, who led a detachment of California volunteer soldiers in the renowned and fatal Battle of Apache Pass in the early 1860s.
The national historic property is conveniently located along Highway 186, and entrance is reasonably priced.
It’s about a fascinating period of history that’s very different from what you’ll see in Tombstone.
Big Iron Shooting Gallery
With so much gun-slinging and shooting history in these harsh Arizona communities, it might be more fun to actually shoot a gun rather than just read about it.
The Big Iron Shooting Gallery on Allen Street in Tombstone is full of the guns that helped tame the wild west, but the ammo is only training rounds that make a loud noise but don’t have the deadly projectile or bone-jarring kick of the real thing.
They also have a wonderful gift shop with knives and other mementos from your Tombstone excursion, so pick up a few things before you leave.