The beautiful Southwest is also home to some amazing history about the Wild West days of yore. If you’re interested in learning more about Arizona’s storied past, here are some places worth paying a visit . . .
For a kid-friendly attraction that’s also a perfect destination to share with your out-of-town visitors, consider checking out Rawhide. This theme park is styled after a real Wild West frontier town, complete with a general store, a saloon, a blacksmith, and a photo emporium. There are also attractions such as a petting zoo, hay rides, gold panning, a shooting gallery and live-action stunt shows. While entering Rawhide is free, there is a price per attraction (or you can buy an all-inclusive wristband). Rawhide closes for the summer, but is now open during the fall, winter and spring seasons. History buffs will enjoy Scottsdale’s Museum of the West. This well-curated museum is known for its art and memorabilia which showcases Arizona’s Wild West history. The exhibitions are regularly changed, making for a fresh viewpoint each visit. The museum also is home to a theater, sculpture courtyard as well as docent-led tours.
A fantastic day trip for those who reside in the Valley of the Sun is a few hours south to Tombstone. Known as “the town too tough to die”, this historical town is centered around the Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park. This two-story museum is a treasure trove of historical documents and memorabilia which describe the O.K. Corral gunfight between Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp and the cowboy fugitives. The museum also is home to a reproduction of the sheriff’s office, courtroom and gallows. Also in Tombstone are the Bird Cage Theatre and the Boothill Cemetery (with its humorous headstones). Every second, fourth and fifth Sunday of the month, the Tombstone Vigilantes re-enact gunfights on Allen Street, and on the fourth Saturday of the month, shops stay open late for Tombstone at Twilight. En route back to the Valley of the Sun, consider stopping at Old Tucson Studios. This 320-acre Western town/movie set and theme park recreates the Wild West as seen in more than 300 TV shows and movies, including 3 John Wayne westerns. You’ll have your choice of performances and stunt shows, you can pan for gold, take a trail ride around the property or watch living-history presentations. Old Tucson Studios is open only on the weekends from October 1 through September 5 (closing for the month of September).
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