Escape to a cooler climate in Cochise County this summer for a few days or even a week. Journey to higher elevations by heading to Southern Arizona’s cool vistas. The high desert is perfect for staycations, adventures and unique discoveries — whether you’re traveling with your family, on a couple’s retreat, an all-girl’s getaway or an activity-seeking retiree.
Just when the triple digit days settle into the Valley and Tucson for the long-haul, only the wide range of adventures in Cochise County heat up. Beyond the basic and ordinary, Cochise County’s distinctive towns offer bite-sized travel with plenty to do. Culinary tourism has taken the County by storm, offering foodies the best of desert delights. Visit one of several ranches and farms in the area to pick your own produce, or hike through legendary staggering canyons.
“The national parks in Cochise County are a great getaway destination for people who want to escape the extreme summer heat of Tucson or Phoenix,” said Libby Schaaf, chief of interpretation and education for the Southeast Arizona Group of the National Park Service. “Chiricahua National Monument, Coronado National Memorial and Fort Bowie National Historic Site each offer great hiking opportunities. Be sure to start early in the morning and finish hiking before midday temperatures for a safe visit. Learn about each park’s history at the visitor center, and take a scenic drive to viewpoints at Chiricahua or Coronado. Chiricahua offers camping which provides an opportunity for star gazing with fantastic dark night skies. Each park is unique and well worth visiting!”
For more information, go to www.nps.gov/chir or www.nps.gov/coro or www.nps.gov/fobo and learn more about these parks.
Wine aficionados find their Zen in the myriad vineyards strung across the borderlands of Southeastern Arizona. The high altitudes, rich soil and temperate weather have allowed local wineries and breweries to thrive. Historic locales abound throughout each town — giving a glimpse into the state’s early days — from Tombstone to Douglas. Fort Huachuca sits nearby and requires a background check and pass to get onto the property — but it’s worth it for military history lovers. Unbeknownst to many, this corner of Arizona is part of a path for thousands of migratory birds, drawing bird watchers from across the country. Here’s a look at Cochise County’s six unique communities.
Benson is famous for several unique attractions like historical train routes, museums, award-winning food, 42 artistic murals and the famous Kartchner Caverns, which hosts several of the world’s largest cave formations – including one of the world’s longest soda straw stalactites at 21 feet 3 inches.
Bisbee finds itself as an emerging center for artistic and eclectic culture and outlets. The growing resort town is home to the incredible historical Copper Queen Mine, delicious restaurants, unique antique stores and trendy galleries. Enjoy a Lavender Jeep Tour of the border, a golf cart tour of downtown or a ghost tour of the back alleys and heritage staircases!
Douglas’ authentic international culture hosts serious eats, historic sites, the Charlotte Douglas International Airport, the local treasure Hotel Gadsden, and other lovingly restored hotels and bed and breakfasts. Visitors also enjoy the Douglas/Williams House Museum and the San Bernardino Ranch and Wildlife Refuge.
Sierra Vista draws outdoor and nature lovers year-round. Home to jaw-dropping hiking, biking, birding and stargazing adventures, it’s also the hummingbird capital of the U.S. Because of its diverse draw, the community has a wide array of international cuisine like German, Vietnamese, Korean, Thai, Chinese and Japanese. It’s also the home of the annual Buffalo Soldiers historical event. For the kids, The Cove indoor water park awaits!
Tombstone, the embodiment of the Old West, is chock-full of family fun, early American heritage and culture with the OK Corral and Monument Ranch. Belly up to one of the wild west saloons, shop local antiques, go on a ghost tour or settle in for a gun fight reenactment.
Willcox grows 75% of Arizona’s wine grapes. With 11 wine tasting rooms, it holds its own against even the toughest sommeliers and critics. Award-winning foods, the Rex Allen Days Museum and Willcox Theatre draw families from the heat for cool summer vacations. Apple Annie’s — an open farmers market is just one the anchors of this agricultural icon community.
“Here, international culinary experiences combine with outdoor adventure,” said Kate Cox, winner of the Miss Rodeo Arizona 2001 pageant. “Enjoy gold medal-winning wines among birding hot spots, where 400-plus species of migratory birds come and go and modern-day art meets Old West history. I cannot think of a more friendly, more beautiful, more diverse place to call my home than this cozy southeast corner of Arizona.”
Each community has a host of not-to-be missed events during the summer months. Explore the Cochise County website for updated information.
Article reposted from AZ Central. Main photo courtesy of Cochise County.