Tombstone, Arizona, the name evokes visions of gunfights, saloons, Wyatt Earp, the Clantons, Doc Holliday, and ghosts.
Everyone’s heard of the infamous gunfight at the O.K. Corral and may have seen it depicted in the recent movie bearing the town’s name. But Tombstone is not just a remnant of the Wild West. It’s a real town with real people who’ve lived there through out history and live there still. This has earned Tombstone the epitaph “The Town Too Tough to Die.”
Ever since my younger daughter moved to Sierra Vista, Arizona we’ve found ourselves wandering the town of Tombstone every time we visit. It’s a quaint little town rich in Old West history. The history includes more than famous gunfighter Wyatt Earp and his pal Doc Holliday.
The town of Tombstone was founded in 1877 by prospector Ed Schieffelin when he struck silver in the surrounding area. Word spread and the town boomed. The town burned down twice in the 1880s and was rebuilt each time. It was filled with saloons, brothels, shops, and restaurants. The buildings along Allen Street, the town’s main street, are a mixture of original and rebuilt buildings. You feel the history as you walk around town. It’s said to be the most authentic Old West town left in America.
To learn more about Tombstone’s history click here.
We’ve spent many afternoons strolling down Allen Street browsing the shops and galleries. We stop for lunch or a snack at the Crystal Palace Saloon, dress up for photos at Can Can Old Time Photos, and of course pick up some fudge at the Fallen Angel Sweet Sin Parlor.
My grandsons love hanging out in Tombstone dressed in full Cowboy regalia. The friendly folks along Allen Street never fail to amuse them with tales of the Old West and even challenge them to a gun fight or two.
We usually park on Third Street. It’s very convenient because our first stop is always the Sarsaparilla Emporium for a bottle of this sweet soda.
It’s sold in many of the snack shops and restaurants but the boys love bellying up to the bar of the old shack.
We make our way to the O.K. Corral, they have a touristy show that re-enacts the fatal gunfight between the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday against the Billy Clanton, Tom and Frank McLaury.
The actors recount the tale of that fateful day that left Billy, Tom, and Frank mortally wounded. The show is a bit corny, but the kids love it. Tickets are sold in the gift shop and includes admission to a narrated show about the town’s history, a small museum, and a copy of the Tombstone Epitaph paper published the day after the infamous fight.
There are other shows offered in Tombstone including one about a bank robbery, and another that re-enacts a stage coach robbery. There are also mine tours, stage coach rides, and of course ghost tours. They have different schedules and one can catch them all in a day if you so desired. We limit ourselves to one per visit.
As we stroll up Allen Street someone inevitably challenges our cowboys to a gunfight. We usually leave them to it and take some time to browse the different shops and galleries selling everything from artwork, clothing, footwear, infused oils and vinegars, and other souvenirs. We meet up for food and drink at the Crystal Palace Saloon, after all gun fighting is thirsty work.
Sometimes we stop by at the Photo shop where the boys dress up as cowboys, lawmen, or indians and have an old time photo taken and mounted on a “wanted” sign.
We always end the visit at the Fallen Angel Sweet Sin Parlor where they sell the best fudge in town.
We all enjoy our trips to Tombstone, it makes for a fun family outing as you learn a bit of Old West history.
For more information on Tombstone shops, restaurants, and tours click here!
A visit to Tombstone would not be complete without going on a ghost tour. We returned one evening without the kids for the famous Bird Cage Theater Ghost Tour.