In a nutshell:
- Travel back in time to when gun-slingin’ cowboys roamed the streets
- Attractions for the whole family
- Splurge a little: Take the old-timey, sepia photos in costume! Play the carnival-like shooting games! Buy a cowboy hat!
We rolled into Tombstone, AZ (lovingly nicknamed “The Town too Tough to Die”) late one summer morning. We started our adventure searching for locally-mined gemstone jewelry at The Wizards Workshop and after much success we headed straight for the main tourist drag… Allen Street.
Our first stop was The Bird Cage Theater which is the only original structure that’s still standing on Allen Street… impressive considering it was an operating theater in the 1880’s! Inside you’ll find a museum with all sorts of interesting artifacts like letters, playbills, and posters from the theater’s past. There’s even an authentic piece of art from the 1800’s… it has bullet holes and stab marks from when the cowboys got a little too drunk. The Bird Cage Theater felt special, like a piece of living history, like any moment cowboys in full Wild West garb could burst through the front door. (Which, to be fair, does happen frequently seeing as costumed performers continually roam the streets of Tombstone. )
We continued walking down Allen Street and visited a few shops admiring leather goods, sandals, and moccasins along the way. The night before we had booked a Wild West Gunfight Show online (a must-do for anyone new to Tombstone). We got to the show early and were pleased to find more fun activities to fill our time. There was a mini ghost town with fun photo props where we took pictures in old-timey jail cells and propped up coffins. There was a simulated shooting gallery which Callie (my 8 year old) tried (rather unsuccessfully) after the show. Lucy enjoyed an ice cold beer in the old cantina.
Finally it was time to pile into the bleachers for the show. One thing I will say is try to get in line a little early because only half the bleachers had a cover over them. (Which seems like a cruel joke… only letting half the people sit in the shade on a super hot, Southern Arizona afternoon.) The show was a lot of fun. It involved all sorts of audience participation to include cheering for the good guys with the blue bandanas and booing the bad guys with the red bandanas. There’s just something satisfying about a good, clear-cut good guy/bad guy cheer and boo situation, don’t you think? Another bonus…there was humor in the show, we laughed A LOT. I also laughed at the fact that my daughter jumped at literally every gunshot noise, she never got used to it or figured out you could tell when it was about to happen. Ok, that might sound mean but it did add an extra level of entertainment for me.
We left the gunfight show having laughed and smiled for almost 35 minutes straight and in great moods. Next we ventured off Allen Street just a little ways to visit a beer-lovers paradise, Tombstone Brewing Company. Lucy and I tried out their sampler flight and Callie enjoyed a sarsaparilla (it’s like a Wild West root beer).
Another classic Tombstone activity is dressing up and getting an old-timey photograph taken. We had a lot of fun with this one. All 3 of us agreed we didn’t want pretty dresses or umbrellas/fans, we wanted to be bad-ass, gun-slinging cowgirls who ran all of Tombstone. The end result did not disappoint!
After all the walking around, gunfights, and general bad-assery we had worked up an appetite. We decided to give Big Nose Kate’s a try. This saloon is a sight to behold, decked out in Wild West themed art and stained glass fixtures. It’s named after a prostitute who was Doc Holliday’s common-law wife. Lucy, Callie and I shared nachos, chicken tenders, and fries while we relaxed and listened to live music.
The last thing we did in Tombstone before leaving was Callie’s ONE request, the haunted hotel attraction. We weren’t quite sure what to expect as Callie gave Lucy and I a fearful and sacrificial push through the entrance and into a completely dark room. It ended up being a tour through about 4 different exhibits led by the dead and decaying spirit of Doc Holliday. The tour included some of the dark and haunted history of Tombstone, and had a few special effects along the way. It was a little cheesy and didn’t last long. If I’m being honest I think it was probably worth about half of the $10/person entrance fee, but it made the kiddo happy and was a fun and positive way to end our Tombstone tour.
So come, step back in time to the late 1800’s… where gun-slinging cowboys roam the streets, Wild West gun-fights are a daily occurrence, and vigilante justice still prevails. Whether young or old, local or visitor, Tombstone is sure to delight and entertain!
This one-day trip to Tombstone was a favorite of ours this summer! So much so, Sam and I wrote a couple more glowing posts about Tombstone Brewing Company and the Wizard’s Workshop. There was just so much to do and still some that I have to look forward to on the next trip.
For example, there are horse drawn carriage tours (and van tours if you prefer the AC), a Wild West mini golf course, and of course the famous OK Corral… where they reenact the legendary gunfight multiple times per day.
Also, if you’ve never seen the movie Tombstone I recommend you watch it before your visit… it’s a good movie and I think it will enhance your overall experience.