The 10 Best Small Towns in Arizona

Bisbee, Arizona
DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

Cities like Phoenix, Tucson, Sedona, and Flagstaff attract visitors with their world-renowned museums, immaculate golf courses, and impressive resorts and spas. But Arizona’s smaller towns, with less than 5,000 residents, contain some of the state’s best-kept secrets. From art galleries to wineries and historic sites, these small towns in Arizona will wow you with all they have to offer. 

01 of 10

Jerome

Jerome

ImagineGolf / Getty Images

“America’s Most Vertical City” overlooks Verde Valley from its perch on Cleopatra Hill, but it isn’t the view that makes it one of the state’s most popular getaways. Visitors come to explore its art galleries and unique shops, like Nellie Bly Kaleidoscopes, and sample local wines at Jerome’s tasting rooms. More of a history buff? Don’t miss Jerome State Historic Park, where you can learn about the community’s mining past. Jerome has several bed and breakfasts, independently-operated hotels, and excellent restaurants, so you can make a weekend of your stay. 

Continue to 2 of 10 below.
02 of 10

Tombstone

Tombstone

Walter Bibikow / Getty Images

 

Tourists come from around the world to visit the infamous town where Wyatt Earp, his brothers, and Doc Holliday faced the notorious cowboy gang at the O.K. Corral. In many ways, it seems nothing has changed since. Wooden sidewalks line the dirt streets in the historic district, and you can drop by the Bird Cage Theater, now a museum. You can also listen to live music in Big Nose Kate’s Saloon while munching on a burger, ride in a stagecoach, and watch a reenactment of the legendary gunfight. After, head to Boot Hill to pay your respects to those who have gone before. 

Continue to 3 of 10 below.
03 of 10

Bisbee

Bisbee

Bruce Yuanyue Bi / Getty Images

Just 25 miles south of Tombstone, this mining community was once the largest city between St. Louis and San Francisco. It is popular for its art galleries, vintage shops, and great bars and restaurants. Several museums explore Bisbee’s mining history, including the Smithsonian-affiliated Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum. Follow this with a tour of the Queen Mine or one of the adventures offered by Old Bisbee Ghost Tours. Drive to the Lavender Pit Mining Overlook for a more modern look at mining, a few miles south of Bisbee

Because Bisbee and Tombstone are so close, you can quickly visit both small towns for a weekend getaway.

Continue to 4 of 10 below.
04 of 10

Seligman

Seligman

Teresa Bitler

The last town on Route 66 to be bypassed by I-40, Seligman served as the inspiration for Radiator Springs in the animated movie “Cars.” Stop by Delgadillo’s Snow Cap Drive-In to see cars in the parking lot painted as the characters from the movie, or drop in at the Route 66 Gift Shop & Visitor Center for souvenirs. If you’re lucky, you’ll meet Angel Delgadillo, the man responsible for having Route 66 declared a historic highway, in the gift shop. 

To recapture the glory days of the Mother Road, continue driving west on Route 66 towards Kingman, passing the occasional souvenir shop, roadside attractions like the Keepers of the Wild animal sanctuary, and abandoned gas stations on your way to Kingman.

Continue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10

Oatman

Oatman

Steven_Kriemadis / Getty Images

From Seligman, you can continue on Route 66 to Oatman, approximately 100 miles to the west. Like Seligman, the town’s one main street is lined with souvenir shops and restaurants. However, Oatman’s claim to fame is its wild burros, the descendants of packing animals turned loose when the mines shut down during World War II. Many shops sell treats you can feed them, and the feisty creatures put on a show, sometimes braying, fighting, or causing other mischiefs. 

Continue to 6 of 10 below.
06 of 10

Williams

Williams

Teresa Bitler

This small town just off I-40 celebrates Route 66 with themed diners and souvenir shops, but the Grand Canyon Railway draws just as many, if not more, visitors than the Mother Road. Visitors board the historic train at the station in Williams and ride it to the Grand Canyon, where they can spend the night at rim lodging or return a few hours later. In addition to the train, Williams is home to two zoo-like attractions: the Grand Canyon Deer Farm and Bearizona, where you’ll see bears, bison, and other animals from the Southwest.

Continue to 7 of 10 below.
07 of 10

Strawberry

Strawberry

 Teresa Bitler

Tucked among the pine trees near the Mogollon Rim, this community has a surprising number of things to do. You can hike at nearby Tonto Natural Bridge State Park or follow the Waterfall Trail on Fossil Creek to a scenic swimming hole and waterfall. The town also has a historic, one-room schoolhouse open for tours, several good restaurants and bars, and a boutique hotel, The Strawberry Inn. If that weren’t enough, you can head south a few miles to the shops and attractions in Pine.

Continue to 8 of 10 below.
08 of 10

Cornville

Cornville

Cavan Images / Getty Images

A short drive from Sedona, this rural community is one to watch, especially if you love wine. Cornville has three reputable wineries—Javelina Leap Vineyard & Winery, Oak Creek Vineyards & Winery, and Page Springs Cellars—all three of which offer tastings. Page Springs Cellars also has a good bistro onsite and outdoor seating, perfect for sipping a glass and listening to the creek gurgle past. For a more casual bite to eat, head to 50s-themed G’s Burgers. 

Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10

Tubac

Tubac

chapin31 / Getty Images

This artsy community off I-10 south of Tucson features galleries and specialty shops, like the Tumacookery with its gourmet food items. You could spend a day browsing both but make a point to visit the Tubac Presidio State Historic Park, the site of the first European settlement in Arizona. In addition to exhibits on the early settlement and fort, the park presents living history demonstrations October through March. Plan to make it a weekend by booking a room at one of the local bed and breakfasts, boutique hotels, or the Tubac Golf Resort. Its golf course was featured in the 1996 Kevin Costner movie, "Tin Cup."

Continue to 10 of 10 below.
10 of 10

Willcox

Willcox sand cranes

kojihirano / Getty Images

Located in the southeastern corner of the state, Willcox is home to seven wineries and Apple Annie’s Orchard, a u-pick orchard that operates July through October. Come in the winter, though, to see the more than 20,000 sandhill cranes that flock to Willcox Playa or anytime to visit the Rex Allen Museum, dedicated to the Western movie star from here. Hikers don’t have to go far to find trails, but nearby Chiricahua National Monument has routes through the rugged terrain where Apache leader Geronimo hid with his people from American troops. 

Was this page helpful?