Monday, May 6, 2019

Tombstone, AZ: Visiting the Town "Too Tough To Die"

If you're ever in Southern Arizona, you really should stop in to Tombstone. You'll need AT LEAST a day... two is better. Now, you're thinking, what does a woman from Hawaii know about Tombstone? I'm a huge fan of Westerns (shocker, I know) but I lived in Las Vegas for a few years and during that time I had the opportunity to visit Tucson and Tombstone numerous times.

Tombstone is a strange and wonderful mix of a town. Still anchored in the modern world, much of the town is still back in the day when you'd expect the Earp boys or the Clantons to brush shoulders with you as you walk along the boarded walkways.

Now, if you have limited time in town, I'm going to give you my picks of what to do. (keep in mind that the last time I was there was about three years ago... but you never know... it may still be exactly like I left it)

First stop is the Tombstone Trolley. It's a great way to get a quick overview of the whole downtown area of Tombstone and I believe the Trolley goes all the way to Boothill. And going to see the graveyard is a MUST (but we'll chat about that in a bit).

When the Tombstone Trolley business started it was the idea of a friend of mine. He's not only a great realtor, he's also a lifelong actor and spent many years as a movie/tv stuntman.

If there's something filmed in the area, likely Lee M. was on camera at some time. And if you think you see him 'twice'... that my be the case. Lee has a twin brother and they're both stunt men.  Handsome? Yes!

And if you're lucky enough to get Lee as a tourguide, you're really in for a treat.

The building you can see behind the trolley in the picture above is the Tombstone Courthouse. It's a museum/state park and yes, another MUST SEE on my list.

If it's as I left it... there's the courtroom upstairs with a video to watch of what court was like in the hayday of Tombstone. Also upstairs was a room full of household items from Tombstone homes and a room dedicated to the barbed wire that kept livestock near to home.
Downstairs there are a bunch of different rooms with exhibits, but my two favorites are the Assay Office set up (very informative) and there's also a room about the types of Gambling available when the town was flush with cash and anticipation of the future. Learn about what "Bucking the Tiger" means... it's one of my favorite games of the day.

Around the courthouse you'll find small shops, books, antiques, and souvenirs. The Chinatown area is nearby as well.

Up on the main street of town. Don't miss the Birdcage Theater. If you were looking for a show in the late 1800s, the Birdcage was the place to be. You could gamble, eat, enjoy the scenery and the company. Now, the Birdcage is filled with antiques and you could spend HOURS just looking around.

The Birdcage is also famous for ghost sighting and sightings of ghost hunters. Although my family's 'ghostly' encounter wasn't in the Birdcage, it seems like most people are lured there.

In this picture you can see the 'boxes' up on the second floor of the theater room. Those boxes were highly coveted not just to see the show but for the people in the boxes for being 'seen.'

You weren't someone unless you were in those boxes.
Don't forget to head over to the Tombstone Epitaph office. It's the newspaper in town and they're a wealth of information on the history of Tombstone. Lots to see, especially the working press they have. Even though I've been in there a few times, I always stop in to say hello and see what's new.

Now, I'm not forgetting to talk about food. It's just hard to know what's there now. The last time that I was there, I believe the future of one of my favorite places to eat was in question. Nellie Cashman's appears to still be open! What I used to love about the place was their mix-matched tea cups and plates. The food was delicious and I never had a bad meal there.

You can also find a place that serves not your average meats.. Ostrich and Buffalo. (Also, North of Tucson there should be Rooster Cogburn's Ostrich Farm. They have all kinds of animals to see and feed there)

I've also enjoyed the food from the Longhorn and the Ice Cream Parlor... yummmm...

Now, if you didn't take the Trolley Tour, but you're heade back out of town toward the highway, you can stop by Boothill. You'll see graves there from some very well known men and women and the epitaphs on some of the markers can make you chuckle a bit.

The Picture to the left is one of my favorite markers. The humor may be a little dry, but we're kind of in a desert.... so-

Wait, you're wondering why I didn't mention the OK Corral? Ok.

No, seriously. OK!  There is at least one reenactment in town... if you want to see one of them.. please check on tickets EARLY.  The shows fill up.
The noise is loud, I'm not joking. If you have small children head phones are great. Ear plugs get uncomfortable. So be warned ahead of time. And the action can be fast and a little scary!

Like I said though... there is a ton of activities, stores, shows... and if you go during one of the MANY Festival weekends.. be prepared for CROWDS.

And if you like the paranormal... you can check into the Ghost Tours at night... With a town this famous for gunfights and vendettas, there are bound to be many ghosts hanging around. Depending on who you ask... both Morgan and Virgil Earp are known to walk the streets at night keeping the law. Or you never know... you could be like my son who had a conversation with Virgil on the street in broad daylight.

My last... hint.. it probably the best place to visit on a hot day... Tombstone has the World's Largest Rose bush. Planted back in the late 1800s, it's still a beautiful sight.

So bring your love of history and the thrill of exploration... and enjoy your time in Tombstone, AZ.


  1. Great post. I was in Tombstone in the 1980s, and would sure like to see the changes that have taken place. One of my favorite places was Boothill, Glad to know it hasn't changed a lot. I'm sorry to say I didn't get to see a ghost.

  2. I loved reading about Tombstone and now more than ever I wish I could visit it..