Imagine the clatter of hooves and wagon wheels on a dusty boulevard, as the wind rustles and roils the red soil beneath. Imagine beer mugs clinking behind wooden shutters and the whoop of men beneath wide-brimmed cowboy hats. This is the Wild West as we know from the movies, and this is the Wild West that used to be Tombstone, Arizona. Tombstone was established by the prospector, Ed Schieffelin, in 1877. Where he was warned that he would find only his grave in the barrens land, Ed found instead a lucrative silver mine. The settlement soon flourished into a town with brothels, banks, churches, and more than a hundred saloons, witnessing in its time some of the most wicked gunfights between outlaws and the townsfolk. As one of the last boomtowns on the American frontier, Tombstone today is a popular destination for those looking to get a taste of life on the dangerous outskirts. Here, we show you the best ways to experience the fascinating heritage preserved in this old western town. Check out our list of the best things to do in Tombstone, Arizona.
1. Relive bygone western days at Old Tombstone Western Theme Park
Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account
A big draw for tourists in Tombstone is Old Tombstone Western Theme Park. If you can’t get enough of the American Wild West, then this is a great place to spend the day. This Old West amusement park features plenty of action-packed activities like thrilling gunfight shows performed by enthusiastic actors and a must-ride trolley tour. Practice your sharp-shooting abilities at the fun shooting gallery or enjoy hearty belly laughs at the lighthearted cowboy-comedy show. This unique adventure is an entertaining experience you won’t ever forget.
Old Tombstone Western Theme Park
Address: 339 S 4th St, Tombstone, AZ 85638
Website: Old Tombstone Western Theme Park
Opening hours: 11:30am - 4:30pm (daily)
Price: 6 - 20 USD
2. Uncover a rich past at Gunfighter Hall of Fame
Fans of the American West should not pass up the chance to visit Gunfighter Hall of Fame while in Tombstone. Though a modest establishment, this intriguing museum is packed with bygone-era firearms, historical photos, exhibits of famous and infamous gunfighters, and plenty of other western-related relics. See Doc Holliday’s shiny pearl-handled revolver and movie memorabilia like the gunfighting props used by Hollywood legend John Wayne. Gunfighter Hall of Fame is an ideal tourist attraction for history buffs in love with the Old West.
Gunfighter Hall of Fame
Address: 395 E Toughnut St, Tombstone, AZ 85638
Website: Gunfighter Hall of Fame
Opening hours: 10am - 4:30pm (daily)
Price: 8 USD
3. Relish tasty grub at The Longhorn Restaurant
Housed in a historic structure, The Longhorn Restaurant is the earliest continually operated eatery in Tombstone. The exterior and interior are replete with a fine western motif and patrons can savor juicy steaks, saucy ribs, and plenty of other delicious American dishes. The specialty is the meatloaf platter made with The Longhorn Restaurant’s unique recipe. Don’t forget to complete your meal with a huge slice of warm deep-dished apple cobbler topped with cool vanilla ice cream and luscious whipped cream. A breakfast menu boasts a mouthwatering chicken fried steak skillet or you can try the yummy chorizo and eggs with homemade salsa.
The Longhorn Restaurant
Address: 501 E Allen St, Tombstone, AZ 85638
Website: The Longhorn Restaurant
Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 9am - 7pm; Sat - Sun: 8am - 7pm
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4. See a western shootout at The Saloon Theatre
If you want to witness some dynamic gunslinging action in an authentic 1800s-style saloon setting then check out The Saloon Theatre. This expert theatre troupe dressed in genuine cowboy attire from head to toe showcases historic gunfighting entertainment daily and transports patrons back in time to the freewheeling and lawless days of the western frontier. This one-of-a-kind live theatre attraction is sure to excite and particularly enthrall any youngsters in your traveling party.
The Saloon Theatre
Address: 109 S 3rd St, Tombstone, AZ 85638
Website: The Saloon Theatre
Opening hours: Mon: 10am - 3pm; Thu - Sun: 10am - 3pm (closed on Tue & Wed)
5. Explore the unique Rose Tree Museum
A true jewel in Tombstone, Rose Tree Museum boasts the world’s biggest rose tree. Though the museum is filled with a wonderful assortment of historic artifacts, it is the massive rose bush situated in the yard of the museum that receives the most attention from visitors. The rose bush was planted in 1885 and has blossomed into an impressive sight. Comprised of delicate cuttings from a Lady Banksia rose that arrived from as far away as Scotland, this beautiful display of greenery has branched out to almost 5000 feet (1524 meters) of space! Visitors are welcome to picnic under the lovely natural canopy.
Rose Tree Museum
Address: 118 S 4th St, Tombstone, AZ 85638
Opening hours: Sun - Fri: 11am - 5pm; Sat: 10am - 5:30pm
6. Read original reports of the O.K. Corral Gunfight at The Tombstone Epitaph
The Tombstone Epitaph is a historic museum that’s a true crowdpleaser. Whether you’re into American West history or not, this attraction offers a wealth of interesting information and exhibits. The newspaper was founded in 1880 and was the first to report The famous O.K. Corral Gunfight. Tourists visiting the museum can read original reports of the compelling 1881 O.K. Corral Gunfight, take a fascinating tour of the establishment’s historic print shop, and view how the Epitaph was printed in the 1880s on the newspaper’s original printing press!
The Tombstone Epitaph
Address: 11 S 5th St, Tombstone, AZ 85638
Website: The Tombstone Epitaph
Opening hours: 12pm - 5pm (daily)
7. Sample local vino at Silver Strike Winery
In the mood for a taste of Arizona’s local wine? Then, head to Silver Strike Winery. A splendid family-operated establishment, Silver Strike Winery offers a refreshing break in Tombstone. This local winery provides a charming tasting room and bar where guests can try robust, dry, and subtle sweet wines in an easygoing lounge setting. Every wine produced at Silver Strike Winery is made from aged grapes grown on the property in the well-maintained sustainable vineyard. The operation is small yet still offers a tantalizing array of wines.
Silver Strike Winery
Address: 334 E Allen St, Tombstone, AZ 85638
Website: Silver Strike Winery
Opening hours: 12pm - 6pm (daily)
8. Watch dramatic reenactments at O.K Corral
Most of Tombstone’ s attractions can be found on East Allen Street, three blocks of sheltered boardwalk that run through the heart of the town. The first stop is O.K Corral, infamously associated with the shootout between law keepers and members of the outlaw group, the Cowboys, following a long-simmering feud. Although the vicious gunfight did not actually occur at the stables, this mattered little to the public who saw it as a representation of life in the treacherous old west. The current O.K Corral is a preserved site that presents dramatic reenactments of the shootout. Visitors can explore the grounds of the stables as they were back in the 1800s, and visit the Historama Theater next door for an overview of Tombstone’s history. For the price of your ticket, you also receive a reprint of the Epitaph, Arizona’s oldest newspaper, with original reports of the fight!
Address: 326 East Allen Street, 85638 Tombstone, AZ
Website: O.K Corral
9. Sign up for a ghost tour of Bird Cage Theater
Of all the entertainment joints in 1800s Tombstone, the most notorious of all is undoubtedly the Bird Cage Theatre. An unassuming theater on the front, the place also doubled as a gambling hall, a saloon, and a brothel that drew lusty men from far and wide. Word goes that Bird Cage was named for the cages suspended from its ceilings, where ladies of the night kept their customers entertained 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Yet it was not all fun and games at this rowdy joint. Visitors can see for themselves the bullet holes that still riddle the flaking ceilings and musty walls. A self-guided tour takes you through the original furnishings of the old theater, with mannequins adding a spooky presence to the scene. For the braver souls, sign up for a ghost tour that starts every evening at 6.15pm. Who knows, you just might meet a patron of the wild and wicked Bird Cage Theatre.
Bird Cage Theater
Address: 535 East Allen Street, 85638 Tombstone, AZ
Website: Bird Cage Theatre
10. Get a glimpse of the town's past at Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park
The Tombstone Courthouse was once the administrative center of Cochise County. Built in traditional red-brick Victorian style, the elegant courthouse was one of the largest buildings in Arizona at the time it was erected. Its two floors housed the offices of the sheriff, recorder, treasurer, and the Board of Supervisors, as well as courtrooms and a jail. The courthouse was designated a state park in 1959. Visitors can get a glimpse of the place in its former glory days, and key historic moments in Tombstone through artifacts and renderings at the museum. There is also a replica of the gallows in the courtyard where convicted murderers met their sorry end.
Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park
Address: 223 East Toughnut Street, 85638 Tombstone, AZ
11. Learn more about the historic Old West town at Boothill Graveyard
Boothill Graveyard was Tombstone’s first cemetery, built in 1879. While it was known simply as the Old Cemetery back then, it acquired the name Boothill in the 1920s in reference to those who died “with their boots on”, that is, in gunfighting action. The cemetery fell into disrepair after the mining downturn, as people departed from the settlement. Locals claim that it was John Clum, former mayor and editor of the Tombstone Epitaph, who motivated the clean-up process when he returned to visit the grave of his wife Mary and could not find her resting place. Of the ill-fated that rest at Boothill, notable names include China Mary, the undisputed queen of Tombstone’s Chinese neighborhood, and Dutch Annie, queen of a different sort – the Red Light District.
Address: 408 North Hwy 80, 85638 Tombstone, AZ
12. Visit integral part of town's history at Gleeson Jail
Gleeson Jail is technically in the ghost town of Gleeson, 26km (16.2 mi) east of Tombstone. Even so, it is such an important symbol of the region’s lawlessness in that historical period, that it has to make the list. The jail was built in 1910. Many of the region’s most wanted have passed through its cells, from petty bootleggers to the most abominable murderers, and only the boldest sheriffs dared guard the post. As Gleeson faded as a town following the closure of the mines, the jail too lost its purpose. It was not till 2008 that several locals restored the place so as to preserve this integral part of Gleeson’s history. Since then, it has been drawing past residents and curious visitors alike to marvel at this 106 years old slammer.
Address: Gleeson Road, East of Tombstone, Tombstone, AZ
Website: Gleeson Jail
13. Engage in an exhilarating activity at Big Iron Shooting Gallery
Editor’s note: Establishment is permanently closed
If all this history has you riled up and ready for some action, the Big Iron Shooting Gallery offers visitors a chance to load up a real Colt 45 caliber cowboy gun. Admittedly, firing wax bullets at a metal target is not quite the same as engaging in an epic duel to the death. Still, challenging your friends and family to a shootout to see who is the sharper marksman can be an exhilarating experience. To up the excitement, try firing two pistols simultaneously as Doc Holliday or Wyatt Earp, Tombstone’s best gunfighters, would. As any old western fans know, a true blue gunslinger must have a lightning-fast draw and a repertoire of trick shots.
Big Iron Shooting Gallery
Address: 510 East Allen Street, 85638 Tombstone, AZ
Website: Big Iron Shooting Gallery
Shootings, lynchings, hangings and more, there were plenty of ways to die a violent death in 19th century Tombstone. Armed with EM meters and infrared thermometers, ardent ghost hunters can embark on a quest with Gunfighter and Ghost Tours to investigate the most haunted sites in town. Stops include the courthouse gallows, China Mary’s Opium Den, and the former General Hospital. As night falls and the streets empty, familiar sights in the day become shrouded in a chilling aura. Be warned, this tour is not for the faint-hearted.
Tombstone Gunfighter Dark History Haunted Walking Tour
Duration: 1 hour
15. Invite your friends to a 45-minute tour of Tombstone's underground
It is easy to forget amidst all the excitement of being in the actual wild west, but Tombstone was first and foremost a mining town. With The Good Enough Mine Tours, you can actually venture half a mile deep into a once-operational silver mine. Visitors crawl through twisting passages and descend rope ladders into narrow shafts, where the cool subterranean air can be a reprieve from the unforgiving Arizonian heat above. Occasionally, the passages open up into cavernous stopes where miners used to dig for the precious silver ores. Every tour is led by a guide with thorough knowledge of the local history and geology. Strap on your helmets and fasten your safety vests. A unique foray into Tombstone’s mining past awaits.
Good Enough Mine Tours
Address: 435 East Toughnut Street, 85638 Tombstone, AZ
Website: Good Enough Mine Tours
Saddle up for the Wild Wild West
Tombstone Arizona may be the resurrected version of a ghost town, but many of its sights and structures have been preserved for more than a century. The Wild West comes to life in this bygone mining town. Where felons use to run amok in the untamed territory, and miners used to toil for buried treasure, you can now see for yourself what life was like on the American Frontier.
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