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13 Things To Do In Patagonia, Arizona: Take A Walk Back In Time - Updated 2020

things to do in patagonia arizona
Hannah
Hannah
Updated

With less than two thousand residents, Patagonia is filled with local charm and flavor. Best of all, it feels untouched by time. As you tour the abandoned towns left behind by eager miners in the 1900s, you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported into the past. Patagonia is a popular destination for art-lovers, and you’ll be able to browse and buy unique, handmade items during your visit. Check out the best things to do in Patagonia, Arizona.

1. Go bird watching at Patagonia Lake State Park

PATAGONIA LAKE STATE PARK, west end (9-29-10) -03 (5037023929)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user ALAN SCHMIERER used under CC0

If you’re wondering what to do in Patagonia, then pay a visit to Patagonia Lake State Park. It is a popular destination for birdwatchers, boaters, and fishermen. It features a 265-acre lake, and if you bring along a fishing rod, you might be able to catch crappie, bass, bluegill, and catfish. If you don’t own a boat, don’t worry, you can rent a variety of boats from canoes and kayaks to paddle boats, and enjoy your time exploring the lake. Though the lake is the park’s most popular feature, there is also a hiking trail available. Drop in to the visitor center for a park map, information on boat rental, and a handy bird guide that will help you identify the different species you’ll see as you explore the park.

If you’re a beginning bird watcher, consider taking a guided birding tour offered on a pontoon. You’ll be able to see a greater variety of birds and learn fun facts along the way. Pack a picnic and plan to stay for the day, (a day pass is 15 USD), or reserve a campsite and set up your home-away-from-home in an RV or tent. Patagonia Lake State Park is a great location for campers, offering shower houses, restrooms, and plenty of room for recreation.

Patagonia Lake State Park

Address: Patagonia Lake State Park

Price: from 15 USD

Opening Hours: 8:30am - 4:30pm during April-October. Park gates close from 10:00 pm to 4 am.

Duration: around 2 hours required.

Access: Accessible by car from Patagonia.

Contact: +1 5202876965

Near by Food: The Ovens of Patagonia Bakery.

Website: Patagonia Lake State Park

2. Take a walk through the Patagonia Museum

Patagonia-Patagonia Elementary School-1914-4
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Marine 69-71 used under CC BY-SA 4.0

When you visit Patagonia, don’t miss checking out Patagonia Museum! Housed in the former Lochiel Schoolhouse, which was built around 1905, the Patagonia Museum not only preserves the history of the Patagonia area but allows you to experience it first-hand with this historic structure. You’ll be able to browse pictures of some of the town’s earliest residents, and the museum features recordings of the residents telling stories of daily life in Patagonia in years past. You’ll also learn about the mining and ranching history of the town. It won’t take long to browse the museum’s collection, but it’s definitely worth a stop.

As it is run completely by volunteers, you can count on friendly service, but the museum is only open for a limited amount of hours. Be sure to call ahead before visiting to make sure the museum will be open or make an appointment to visit, as the museum staff will be happy to accommodate you. There is no admissions fee, but the museum appreciates donations.

Patagonia Museum

Address: 100 School Street, Patagonia, Arizona.

Opening Hours: Thursday-Saturday 2pm-4pm during October-May and Friday-Saturday 10:00 am-12:30pm during June-September, or by appointment. Closed on public holidays.

Duration: around 2 hours required.

Access: Accessible by car. Located within Patagonia.

Contact: +1 5203435641

Near by Food: Velvet Elvis Pizza Co.

Website: The Patagonia Museum

3. Peruse cultural pieces at the Metamorphosis Art Gallery

Art gallery
Source: Piqsels

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Located in the historic downtown area of Patagonia, the Metamorphosis Art Gallery showcases the finest local artists. Sculptures, paintings, and a variety of other media are displayed in the gallery, and employees will be happy to tell you a little bit about the artists who create the collections that are displayed in the gallery.

You won’t have to spend a dime on this attraction, simply browse till your heart’s content. After perusing the art, take a walk around the downtown area to take in the structures and flavor of historic Patagonia.

Metamorphosis Art Gallery

Address: 316 W Naugle Ave, Patagonia, AZ 85624

Opening Hours: Hours are limited; call ahead. Closed on public holidays.

Duration: around 1 hour required.

Access: Accessible by car. Located within Patagonia

Contact: +1 5203942105

Near by Food: Wagon Wheel Saloon.

Facebook: Metamorphosis Art Gallery

4. Tour eerie ghost towns

Harshaw Cemetery Arizona 2014
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user The Old Pueblo used under CC BY-SA 4.0

One of the most popular Patagonia tourist attractions are its various ghost towns. The most famous (and closest to Patagonia) are the towns of Harshaw, Mowry, Washington Camp, Duquesne, and Lochiel. These five towns are abandoned mining towns, and all that remains are the remnants of old buildings and foundations. Harshaw, which grew to a population of 2,000 during its peak mining time, was the largest of the remaining towns, but Duquesne is perhaps the most interesting ghost town to tour. Duquesne still has many abandoned buildings and mining shafts to view.

You can tour the ghost towns yourself, provided you have a car that can withstand gravel roads and semi-rough terrain. You’ll just need to follow state route 82, which heads southwest out of Patagonia and will pass through the five ghost towns mentioned above. For safety, make sure to visit the towns during the day to avoid injury and wildlife! Also, don’t forget to venture out of town with a current map and a full tank of gas, as there are very few gas stations along the route.

Patagonia Ghost Towns

Duration: around 3 hours required.

Access: One hour drive down AZ State Route 82.

Near by Food: Mercedes Restaurant

Website: Patagonia Ghost Towns

5. Browse unique, handmade gifts at Grayce's Gift and Candle Shop

Candle Shop
Source: Pexels

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Established in 1976, the history of Grayce’s Gift and Candle Shop stretches back even farther– into 1905, when the house that the gift shop is located in was built in Patagonia. For years, the shop has attracted tourists and locals alike for its unique collection, and it is the oldest retail store in the area.

The history of the 1900-era house is present in the items for sale in the gift shop. Located close to the Mexican border, the shop has a southwestern flair, offering items from Mexico and Latin America as well as handmade items from local Arizona artists. The shop also offers some African items. If you’re looking for a souvenir to bring back home, look no further. You’ll be able to find home decor, candles, and a variety of other collectibles here.

The shop is also home to the La Galeria Dia De Los Muertos Museum, which features Latin American artifacts. Don’t miss this classic, old-time Patagonia destination.

Grayce's Gift and Candle Shop

Address: 260 Naugle Ave., Patagonia, AZ 85624

Opening Hours: 10am - 5pm Saturdays and Sundays or by appointment.

Duration: around 2 hours required.

Access: Accessible by car. Located within Patagonia.

Contact: +1 520 3942035

Near by Food: Route 82 Market.

Website: Grayce’s Gift and Candle Shop

The following content is contributed by Trip101 writer, Laarni

6. See the pretty birds at Paton Center for Hummingbirds

hummingbird
Source: Pixabay

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

As the name suggests, indeed Paton Center is a place where you can see lots of hummingbirds. However, aside from these nimble creatures, the center is also home to more than 213 other species of birds that represent southeast Arizona’s amazing biodiversity. You can expect to glimpse violet-crowned hummingbirds, Harris’s hawks, Gila woodpeckers, and more here. The space was once owned by Wally and Marion Paton, who moved to Patagonia in 1973. They were avid birders, and when they passed away, the local birding community came together and worked hard to establish the center, making sure that the couple’s legacy lived on.

Paton Center for Hummingbirds

Address: 477 Pennsylvania Ave, Patagonia, AZ

Website: Paton Center for Hummingbirds

Opening hours: sunrise to sunset (daily)

Price: free

7. Get a dose of nature at San Rafael State Natural Area

San Rafael Ranch House Arizona 2014
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user The Old Pueblo used under CC BY-SA 4.0

San Rafael State Natural Area can be found in the San Rafael Valley, which boasts one of the best grasslands in Arizona. The valley covers more than 90,000 acres (36,422 hectares) of land, making it a definite must-visit for outdoor enthusiasts. If it’s a dose of nature you’re after, you’ll definitely have your fill with the astonishing biodiversity that can be found here. Aside from the vast collections of plant species scattered throughout, the place is also inhabited by rare animals. There are Mexican garter snakes, Gila topminnows, and Baird’s sparrow, just to name a few. If you want something less wild and more domestic, you can check out San Rafael Ranch. With its stately structure and beautiful rolling grasslands, no wonder the ranch has been featured in a Hollywood film!

San Rafael State Natural Area

Address: 2036 Duquesne Rd, Patagonia, AZ

Website: San Rafael State Natural Area

8. Eat yummy pizza at Velvet Elvis Pizza Company

Pizza with tomatoes
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user jeffreyw used under CC BY 2.0

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

If you are in Patagonia and suddenly find yourself craving a delicious pizza, make your way to Velvet Elvis Pizza Company. The owners of this restaurant take pride in the fact that everything that goes into each pizza is produced from scratch or uses an original recipe. The whole wheat dough and pizza sauce are prepared in-house, and the chorizo for topping is made using top-quality lean beef. Other must-try dishes here are the calzones and salads. Of course, you can also order a dessert to complete your meal, then wash everything down with a refreshing beverage like freshly squeezed juice.

Velvet Elvis Pizza Company

Address: 292 Naugle Ave, Patagonia, AZ

Website: Velvet Elvis Pizza Company

Opening hours: Thu - Sun: 11:30am - 8:30pm (closed from Mon - Wed)

9. Explore Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve

PATAGONIA-SONOITA CREEK PRESERVE, SCC, AZ -01 (5042185033)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user ALAN SCHMIERER used under CC0

This is another great choice for all the nature lovers out there. When you think of Arizona, what usually comes to mind are deserts and arid land. Well, Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve will surprise you. The place has flowing streams, which make it suitable for various plant and animal species to thrive. Bring a pair of binoculars or a camera along, so you can spot rare birds, butterflies, and fishes of the region. The 873-acre (353-hectare) preserve is maintained by Arizona’s Nature Conservancy, and the initiative was able to help protect creatures who would have otherwise gone extinct. With this in mind, do note that the area is generally underdeveloped. This is intentional in order not to disturb the existing ecosystems.

Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve

Address: 150 Blue Heaven Road, Patagonia, AZ

Website: Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve

Opening hours: Wed - Sun: 7:30am - 4pm (closed on Mon - Tue)

Price: 8 USD

10. Shop at Global Arts Gallery

art gallery souvenir
Source: Pixabay

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Get to know the town of Patagonia even more through the works of local artists. This is a great way to get a glimpse into the lives of the locals, their history, culture, and more. Aside from local crafts, the place also offers a collection of rare finds that have come from all over the world. It is especially loved by female visitors for the beautiful collection of women’s clothes available for purchase. This is indeed the best spot to score a souvenir or two for your special someone back home. The wide variety of jewelry on display is amazing too.

Global Arts Gallery

Address: 315 Mc Keown Ave, Patagonia, AZ

Website: Global Arts Gallery

Opening hours: 10am - 5pm (daily)

11. Enjoy amazing coffee at Gathering Grounds

Mmm... sometimes it just has to be pancakes
Source: Photo by Flickr user jeffreyw used under CC BY 2.0

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

After your adventures around Patagonia, satisfy your hunger at Gathering Grounds. This spot offers both breakfast and lunch, serving a variety of meal options, including vegan and gluten-free food. For breakfast, you can order the amazing omelet that is made with three eggs, cheese, meat, and vegetables. Other options include the breakfast bowl, breakfast burrito, pancakes, and more. For lunch, take your pick from the long list of salads, wraps, and sandwiches. Gathering Grounds is also known for serving great coffee. Last but not least, if you have a sweet tooth, don’t hesitate to ask what ice cream flavors are currently available.

Gathering Grounds

Address: 319 Mc Keown Ave, Patagonia, AZ

Website: Gathering Grounds

Opening hours: 7:30am - 2:30pm (daily)

12. Sip on cocktails at Wagon Wheel Saloon

Wagon Wheel Saloon
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user cobalt123 used under CC BY-SA 2.0

To relax with your favorite beer or cocktail paired with some tasty bar food, head over to Wagon Wheel Saloon. It has been in business since 1933, and this fact alone should tell you that the place is definitely worth a visit. If you’re not the drinking type, don’t fret. This bar-and-restaurant opens early and serves breakfast and lunch too. The menu even includes options for kids, so you can bring the whole family along for some bonding over good food. Indeed the appetizers are just a small portion of what Wagon Wheel Saloon has in store for its patrons. You can order burgers, hot dogs, and sandwiches here. If you’re thinking of something heavier, check out Mexican specialities, steaks, and burgers.

Wagon Wheel Saloon

Address: 400 Naugle Ave, Patagonia, AZ 85624, United States

Website: Wagon Wheel Saloon

Opening hours: Sun - Thu: 7am - 10pm; Fri - Sat: 7am - 1am

13. Spend a day at Patagonia Town Park

Patagonia Arizona 2
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Burley Packwood used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

It is easy to see why Patagonia Town Park is a favorite hangout among locals and visitors in town. This place is a top choice for hosting music events and festivals. The intermingling of soft grass underfoot and various trees providing shade overhead makes this spot suitable for bringing the whole family together for a picnic. If your group is the athletic kind, there are wide portions of open land for playing a friendly game of football. There is also a gazebo here where you can bring your special someone to just relax and observe the beautiful surroundings after a romantic walk through the park. If you’re lucky, you might catch a performance by some of the locals.

Patagonia Town Park

Address: Patagonia, AZ

Website: Patagonia Town Park

Take a walk through historical Patagonia

Historic railroad depot built in 1900
Source: Wikimedia

Browse the historic downtown streets, take a mini road trip through the ghost towns of the area, eat some delicious local food from Route 82 Market or go hiking near Patagonia. It is the perfect destination for tourists who want to feel as if they’ve stepped back in time.

Frequently asked questions about the best things to do in Patagonia, Arizona

1. Which are the top attractions to visit in Patagonia, Arizona?

Patagonia, Arizona has many amazing spots to visit. The top attractions here are Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve, Patagonia Museum, Patagonia Lake State Park, Paton Center for Hummingbirds and San Rafael State Natural Area.

2. Which are the best outdoor activities in Patagonia, Arizona?

Outdoor enthusiasts will find many attractions in Patagonia, Arizona. You can go boating, camping, hiking or fishing at Patagonia Lake State Park or enjoy exploring the rolling grasslands of San Rafael State Natural Area. Birdwatching at Paton Center for Hummingbirds and Patagonia-Sonoita Creek Preserve is also a great outdoor activity here.

3. Which are the most popular things to do with kids and family in Patagonia, Arizona?

Patagonia, Arizona is a very kid and family-friendly destination. You and your family can spend an entire day or the weekend exploring the beautiful outdoors of Patagonia Lake State Park. Take your kids to play at Patagonia Town Park or enjoy a relaxed picnic there with your entire family.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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A storyteller first and foremost, Hannah has a bachelor's degree in English Creative Writing and a fascination with the written word. Over the past several years, she's gained experience as a...Read more

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