Why this adorable historic Arizona town is a top summer getaway: Local hidden gems

From overlooked roadside attractions to offbeat museums and obscure natural wonders, Local Hidden Gems will showcase some of the unique and unexpected treasures that make America extraordinary. We will emphasize charm, surprise and delight.

Local hidden gem: Bisbee, Arizona

To travel into the past, you only have to drive a little more than 200 miles southeast of Phoenix, Arizona, to a former mining town in the Mule Mountains.

Bisbee was once the largest city in Arizona, bolstered by a thriving mining economy that produced 8 billion pounds of copper over a century. Mining ended in the 1970s; today, people can go underground in the mine that propelled the city to prosperity.

The Copper Queen Mine, which opened in 1877 and operated for nearly a century, was where miners descended into constant 47-degree temperatures to find precious metals beneath the Earth’s surface. Miners found a strain of turquoise exclusive to the area, which became known as “Bisbee Blue.”

Today, visitors can don hard hats and headlamps and ride a small train down into the Copper Queen Mine. Guides who worked in the mine share their experiences.

Local hidden gems: A spotlight on the American treasures in our backyards

Old Bisbee’s historic downtown delights travelers with its quaint small-town ambiance, abundant in eclectic shops and art galleries housed in colorful storefronts. Don't miss the Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum, a Smithsonian affiliate, filled with exhibits from when Bisbee was one of the biggest towns between St. Louis and San Francisco.

There's a handful of culinary institutions, including Patisserie Jacqui, revered for its scratch-made croissants, and fine dining emporium Café Roka (it’s up for sale). The smallest bar in Arizona, the Room 4 Bar, is in Bisbee.

The city’s famously steep steps inspired an annual tradition, the Bisbee 1000 Stair Climb, a race held every October that traverses 4.6 miles of the numerous staircases built into the town's hills.

People don't wait for Halloween to go ghost hunting in Bisbee. The Old Bisbee Ghost Tour is open year-round. The Copper Queen Hotel is said to be haunted.

Bisbee's charm and nostalgic appeal have made it a must-visit destination in the U.S., recently overcoming a fire that destroyed two historic buildings in February. The steps, mining history and historic downtown drew attention from Atlas Obscura, which named Bisbee alongside Mongolia; La Paz, Bolivia; Greenland; and Vanuatu as one of the five best places to visit for 2024.

More info: discoverbisbee.com.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Why Bisbee is a nostalgic, must-visit destination: Local hidden gems