Is Tombstone Worth Visiting? What You Need To Know To Decide
Are you looking for an exciting and unique travel destination packed with history, charm, and a touch of the Wild West?
Look no further than Tombstone, one of the most memorable towns in the Southwest.
Known as “The Town Too Tough To Die,” Tombstone is famous for its Old West heritage, making it a must-see destination for anyone interested in Western culture or just wanting to step back in time for a day.
So, is Tombstone worth visiting?
Let’s dive in and find out!
Is Tombstone Worth Visiting
As a couple who have visited (twice!), we can tell you firsthand that the unique town of Tombstone is absolutely worth visiting.
From the moment you set foot in this historic town, you’ll feel transported back to the Wild West era, with a saloon, gunfights, and cowboys around every corner.
Tombstone was founded in 1879 and quickly grew into a bustling silver mining town. It was also known for its lawlessness and violence, earning a reputation as one of the most notorious towns in the West.
Many famous figures of the time passed through Tombstone, including Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and the Cowboys gang, whose infamous gunfight at the OK Corral is still reenacted.
Today, the downtown area is filled with old buildings and museums that offer a glimpse of life in the late 1800s. To add to the feeling of the Old West, you will find cowboys, proper ladies, and sheriffs roaming the street with you.
If you are interested in the Old West, Tombstone should definitely be on your bucket list.
For ourselves, we enjoy the occasional Western movie but aren’t fanatics. In fact, we would say we only have a mild interest in this time period, but we still had a ton of fun on our visits.
📎 Note: There are costumed characters in town. Some of the ladies will be dressed as ladies of the night. Cleavage abounds. It didn’t bother us, but we wanted to point it out so you can decide what is right for you.
Do You Have To Pay To Get Into Tombstone Az
No. Tombstone is an actual city where people still live and work today. So there is no payment to enter the city itself.
But if you want to visit the attractions and museums in town, each will have its own admission fee.
What can you do for free?
You can walk the historic downtown area, East Allen St, for free. Wander along the wooden boardwalk and browse the shops. Admire the old buildings and architecture and chat with the locals in town wearing costumes.
What has an admission fee?
If you want to visit the various museums and attractions in town, like the reenactment at the OK Corral, an in-depth view of the Bird Cage Theatre, or a mine tour, there will be an admission fee.
These fees vary depending on the attraction but are usually very reasonable. Some are only a few dollars, like Boot Hill Cemetery.
Overall, there is plenty to see and do in Tombstone, Arizona, both for free and for a small price.
So, whether you’re on a tight budget or looking to splurge a bit, everyone has options.
📖 We have the perfect road trip for you if you are heading to Tombstone from Scottsdale.
Are There Tours TO Tombstone I Can Take
If you want to visit Tombstone but are on vacation without a car, you have a couple of options from the surrounding big cities.
Best Tour From Phoenix
This tour is your best option if you are staying in Phoenix and want to see Tombstone.
The tour has you spending time in Tombstone with opportunities to visit the OK Corral gunfight reenactment, head into Big Nose Kate’s Saloon for a drink, and see Boothill Graveyard. Plus free time to roam the downtown area for some shopping.
It also includes visiting Mission San Xavier Del Bac outside of Phoenix.
➡️ Book the Small Group Tombstone/San Xavier Mission Tour
Best Tour From Tucson
If you are in Tucson, which happens to be the closest “big city” to Tombstone, you also have a tour option available to you.
On Fridays, this tour heads to Tombstone and Bisbee. So not only do you get to spend time in Tombstone, but you get to see another city about 25 minutes away known for its mining and art.
You will get a couple of hours in both Tombstone and Bisbee, giving you time to get a great overview of the locations.
➡️ Book the Tour Too Tough To Die
📖 If you are visiting Tombstone, why not visit Bisbee too?
What’s The Best Time Of Year To Go To Tombstone Arizona
The best time of year to visit Tombstone depends on your preferences for weather and crowds.
The town has a desert climate, with hot summers and mild winters, so the best time to visit can vary depending on your heat tolerance.
Generally, the most pleasant time to visit Tombstone is spring (mid-Mar to May) and fall (Sep to Oct). The weather is typically mild and comfortable during these times, with temperatures ranging from the low 70s°F to the mid 80s°F.
The springtime is especially beautiful in Tombstone, as the desert wildflowers are in bloom, and the surrounding landscapes are green and lush. This can make for some great photo opportunities and outdoor activities.
But expect higher crowds during this time because it is the popular season.
You will likely find it quite pleasant still in the winter (Dec to Feb) if that is your preference. Averages are in the low 60s°F, but it can get much colder than that. So we would suggest still bringing a winter coat.
We visited over winter, and it was cold enough to snow one day during our stay.
On the plus side, the crowds are fewer, and you can probably get a lower rate for a hotel room.
The only season we don’t recommend is the summer (Jun to Aug). Temperatures average in the mid-90s°F and often reach above 100°F. If you are a sun worshipper, this might work for you. But for most, it will feel like you are in the oven.
📖 Want to bring Fido along? We have some great pet-friendly hotel options in Tombstone for you.
How Much Time Should I Spend In Tombstone
If you are interested in history, the Wild West, and cowboy culture, you will likely want to spend more time in Tombstone than if you are just passing through the area and have a mild interest.
A good rule of thumb is to plan for at least one full day in Tombstone. This will give you enough time to get a feel for the town’s unique atmosphere, visit two or three of the main attractions, and wander the historic downtown area.
If you have more time to spare in your schedule, consider staying two or more days to experience all that Tombstone offers.
This will allow you to immerse yourself in the town’s history and culture and do additional attractions.
This could include taking a stagecoach ride around town, visiting nearby ghost towns, or hiking in a local nature reserve.
Ultimately, the amount of time you spend visiting Tombstone depends on what you want to get out of your trip.
But whether you have a few hours or a few days to spare, there is plenty to see and do in this historic Arizona town.
📖 Tucson to Tombstone is a great road trip!
How Do I Spend A Day In Tombstone
If you only have one day to spend in Tombstone, Arizona, here are a few things we suggest to make the most of your visit.
Wander Historic Downtown
East Allen St is filled with original buildings from the 1880s. Everything from the OK Corral to the Tombstone Epitaph to the Crystal Palace Saloon has significance from this period.
Watch The OK Corral Gunfight Reenactment
Tombstone is famous for its Wild West history, and nearly everyone has heard of the “Gunfight at the OK Corral.” If you are going to do just one paid attraction, this would be what you should do.
The attraction has the gunfight a few times per day, and your ticket price also includes access to the grounds where you can view old artifacts and photos, walk through the 1880s stables, and look at the exact spot where the shootout occurred.
As part of the admission, you also can visit the Tombstone Historama next door and the Tombstone Epitaph Newspaper around the corner.
Grab A Drink At Big Nose Kate’s Saloon
The saloon has a ton of character and charm, from its stained glass windows to the long bar that was part of the original hotel that stood on its location in the 1880s.
You can grab a drink at the bar, or if it is time for a meal, the saloon has a great selection of yummy food. In the evenings, the saloon often has entertainment with a live singer or quiz nights.
Get Spooked On A Ghost Tour
One of the best ways to end your time in Tombstone is with a ghost tour. You will learn all about the most haunted places in the city as you walk past on foot. We took this tour and had a blast.
➡️ Book the Bullets & Bordellos Ghost Tour
Of course, these are just a few of the highlights to make the most of your time. You can tour the mine if you would rather explore Tombstone’s mining past. Or if you want to invest more time into the cowboys that frequented the area, you can do that too.
So tailor your visit to your interests. Just make sure to take in at least a few activities to enjoy what the town offers.
📖 If you are looking for other attractions that might pique your interest, we have tons of things to do in Tombstone on our list for you to check out.
What Time Are The Gunfights In Tombstone
You have three options to see gunfights in Tombstone.
The first is with admission into the OK Corral. You will have the chance to see about a 15-minute reenactment of what happened between the Cowboys and the Earps on that fateful day.
You will be seated in bleacher seating, looking at a small design set of the main street and the OK Corral with actors going through the motions of what is believed to have happened on October 26, 1881.
As previously mentioned, once you finish with the reenactment, you can stay on the premises to view old artifacts and carriages, see the old stables, and more.
Currently, the show takes place three times per day, at 11 am, 1 pm, and 3 pm. Additional shows may be added during the busy season if shows are sold out.
Times are subject to change. If you want to see the show, we suggest heading to the OK Corral first and purchasing tickets for later in the day. Then you can explore the town until it is showtime.
Old Tombstone Western Theme Park
The second option is the gunfight at Old Tombstone Western Theme Park. This gunfight is part of their Wild West stunt show and is not a reenactment but just pure entertainment.
The Tombstone Cowboys, a national champion gunfight team, performs the stunt show. There is an admission fee to see the show.
Like the OK Corral gunfight, this show is performed on a small set within the theme park. The show has a bit of everything from stunts to shootouts to jokes (sometimes raunchy ones).
Showtimes are at 11:30 am, 1 pm, and 3 pm.
📎 Tip: These gentlemen stand on the main street touting the gunfight show, and some people have misunderstood, thinking it is the one at the OK Corral. If you want the OK Corral show, head inside the shop to purchase tickets. If you want a fun stunt show, instead head to the Western Theme Park, a block off East Allen St.
If you are planning on visiting during a big event weekend, like Helldorado Days held in October, you may get to experience a gunfight along East Allen St as part of the festivities.
The times for these would be published in the events schedule.
How Late Does Tombstone Stay Open
The hours of operation for businesses in Tombstone can vary depending on the day of the week and the time of year.
However, generally speaking, most businesses in the historic downtown area of Tombstone are open from around 9:00 am or 10:00 am until 5:00 pm or 6:00 pm.
Businesses such as restaurants stay open later because of the dinner rush, but even they close fairly early by bigger city standards, often by 10 pm.
This is not a city that stays open late. In fact, during our visit, the streets were dead after dark.
Some businesses may have extended hours during peak seasons and special events, such as Helldorado Days.
And it isn’t uncommon for businesses to be closed a couple of days per week. So while everything is generally open for the larger crowds on the weekend, you might find some shops closed on Monday or Tuesday, for example.
If there is a particular attraction or business you plan to visit during your time in Tombstone, it won’t hurt to reach out to them to verify hours before your arrival.
Can You Stay Overnight In Tombstone
Yes, there are plenty of options for overnight accommodations in Tombstone.
You can choose from hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, and vacation rentals in and around town. With so many options, something will suit every preference and budget.
Just be sure to book in advance, especially during the peak tourist season, to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable stay.
Motels & Hotels
Many of the hotels and motels in Tombstone are within walking distance of the downtown area, making it easy to explore the town’s attractions on foot.
Options include Tombstone Grand Hotel or Tombstone Sagebrush Inn.
But the Larian Motel is one of our favorites. However, you may not want to stay after you do the ghost tour.
➡️ Check Availability & Pricing for the Larian Motel
Tombstone Monument Ranch is a perfect choice if you want to continue your time warp into the Old West. However, this one is a few miles from town, so it isn’t as walkable as other options.
Bed & Breakfast
If you prefer a more intimate and personalized experience, consider staying at one of the bed and breakfasts in Tombstone.
These establishments offer comfortable rooms, homemade breakfasts, and a chance to meet other travelers.
➡️ Check Availability & Pricing at Tombstone Bordello B&B
For those looking for a longer stay, vacation rentals are available in and around Tombstone.
These can range from cozy cabins and cottages to more spacious homes, offering a home away from home for families or larger groups.
FAQs About Tombstone
Let’s talk about some questions regarding Tombstone’s proximity to other places.
How Far Is It From Tombstone To The Mexican Border
Tombstone is located near the state’s southeastern corner, not far from the border with Mexico.
One of the closest border crossings to Tombstone is the town of Naco, located approximately 34 miles south of Tombstone. This crossing connects Naco, Arizona, with Naco, Sonora.
This is a popular spot to cross into Mexico for residents of Southern Arizona, who often visit the city for cheaper medical care and prescriptions.
Please remember that crossing into Mexico requires proper documentation, like a valid passport.
And always exercise caution and be aware of current safety concerns and travel advisories when visiting and crossing border areas.
How Far Is Tombstone From Phoenix
Tombstone is around 180 miles southeast of Phoenix, the capital city of Arizona.
The driving time from Phoenix to Tombstone is typically around 3 hours, depending on traffic and road conditions.
Is Tombstone Close To Tucson
Tucson is the second-largest city in Arizona after Phoenix. And it is also relatively close to Tombstone.
Tombstone is about 75 miles southeast of Tucson.
Depending on traffic, the driving time between Tucson and Tombstone is around 1.5 hours.
If you want to fly into the city closest to Tombstone, this is the city you choose. From here, it is a relatively quick and easy drive to Tombstone.
Read More On Tombstone:
–Fun Things To Do In Tombstone
–Tombstone To Bisbee: How To Get There And What To See
–Pet-Friendly Hotels In Tombstone
–Tucson To Tombstone Road Trip
–What To Do From Scottsdale To Tombstone
To Finish – Is Tombstone Worth Visiting
After reading about what Tombstone is like and some activities to do there, what do you think? Is Tombstone worth visiting?
We think so. With its rich history, unique attractions, and friendly atmosphere, Tombstone offers something for everyone, from families to solo travelers and from history buffs to Western enthusiasts.
Whether you want to see a gunfight, explore an old mine, or stroll down the streets of a historic Southwest town, Tombstone will leave you with lasting memories and a deep appreciation for the fascinating Western frontier.
So grab your cowboy boots, and let’s hit the Old West.