9 ways to have an adventure when you visit Bisbee
Deep in the desert, down near Mexico, there’s an inconvenient little town called Bisbee. It’s full of staircases and weirdos and little collisions of artistic intention and neglect. Every artist should visit. It’s a muse for any creative mind.
Most people that visit Bisbee just bounce off the surface. They walk up Main Street, dip into a restaurant, browse some antiques and hit the bars.
But for an artist, this is a town to be savored. Here’s 9 subtle ways to lift the covers on this weird little town, and turn your visit into an adventure.
9 ways to invite magic into your trip to Bisbee:
1. Don’t be shy (or lazy)
Most people who visit Bisbee don’t see much of the town. They walk up mainstreet until it seems like there’s no more shops, then turn around and head to lunch.
But the best, most beautiful moments in the town are hidden. You have to stumble upon them, which mean wandering around.
In the 1930s, the WPA (Works Progress Administration) hired a bunch of locals to build concrete staircases. You can still see the WPA imprint on many of them. You can traverse these staircases. They’re public property, even though you’ll often feel like you’re in someone’s front yard.
But if you’re keep your voice down and greet people when you see them on the stairs, nobody’s going to mind if you wander around and look at stuff. We’re all proud of this place, and we love to share it with people who appreciate it.
Bonus points for finding any of these choice spots: The old Porsche, the giant flower, the high table, the Buddha cave, the wall of masks, the Pi House, a car door gate, the plumber’s fence, cat house steps or the wall of infinite paint.
2. Send a Postcard from the Post Office
The mail doesn’t get delivered in Old Bisbee. You can’t expect your mail carrier to hump it up 100 steps to get to your house every day.
As a result, our post office is more lively than most, because everyone has to go there to get their mail.
It’s a fabulous place to watch the locals in action. Spend even 5 minutes there in the heart of the day and you’ll see friends connect and enemies ignore each other.
Buy a postcard at Bisbee Books and Music in the Convention Center. Write a note to an old friend in the park and then go stand in line at the Post Office to buy a stamp. If you go shortly after1pm when the post office opens after lunch, you’ll get the best people watching.
3. Go to the Saturday Market in Warren
For some reason, The Saturday Market isn’t advertised, so it often has an intimate feel. There’s usually a local music act, some kids running around, and a surprisingly good collection of local meats, dairy, vegetables and more at friendly prices. People are happy to talk, so start a conversation and you’ll learn something about the town.
To get to the Saturday Market, find your way to the
4. Gape at the Giant Hole in the Ground
Everybody that comes to Bisbee gets a look at the lavender pit, a giant hole in the ground where there used to be a mountain.
What most folks don’t do is imagine that there’s a giant ski-jump into the pit, so that people can drive themselves into oblivion, Thelma and Louise style.
What would the pit be like if there were a giant pile of twisted old Cadillacs and mangled bodies down there?
5. Visit the Border Wall
No need to build a wall around here. We’ve already got one. It stretches as far as the eye can see. It’s a six mile drive from Old Bisbee down to see it in Naco, Arizona, and well worth having a look at. Plus the valley view into Mexico is grand.
When you go, make sure you make a right turn into the town of Naco, or else you’ll get stuck crossing the border and it’ll be embarrassing.
6. Do something naughty on the invisible steps
Somewhere on lower OK street, there’s a staircase that disappears at night. If you duck into the darkness, you’ll be invisible to people passing by on the street. It’s a great place for a snog or a toke, just please don’t pee here.
7. Visit the Art Alley
If you’ve ever been shushed at an art museum, you’ll love this place. We should be joyful and ebullient in the presence of art, but too often the places we go to look at it are stiff and rigid.
On the art staircase, you are free to express how the art makes you feel.
8. Hike up to the cross
It’s short, beautiful hike up to the cross above town. The heat, altitude and obscurity of the trail mean that few people make it up there.
To find the trail, walk all the way up OK street, continue a few hundred feet past the end of the pavement and take a right at the statue of Jesus.
9. Visit Bathtub Coffee
Everyone that works at Bathtub Coffee is a working artist. It’s actually part of our business model to help artists develop their careers. (This article was written by one of the owners.) A lot of our team’s art hangs on the walls.
Bathtub is a quirky spot with reasonably priced food (the cilantro lime sauce has a large following) and really good coffee. We use beans from Cartel in Tucson and Golden Bean winners Elixr out of Philadelphia.
But above all, Bathtub is an easy place to get into a conversation with locals and visitors alike, making it an ideal place to brew your adventure. Plus you can chill in our Bathtub while you drink your latte.
Find us at 31 Subway Street in Old Bisbee.