20 Best Things to Do in Douglas, AZ

Douglas, AZ
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Are you looking for adventure like the cowboys in those old films?

Maybe you’ve seen a regular gunslinger in a black and white movie or read about a ranch owner in a history book.

Whatever the case, that kind of thing isn’t as far off as some might think.

A simple visit to Douglas feels like being transported into one of those old cowboy films.

From gigantic cacti to county fairs featuring rodeo and ropings, Douglas offers a change from the busy city life stressing out people.

Don't worry if this idea might feel overwhelming.

This article is a starting point for you on the best things to do on your trip to Douglas, Arizona.

Go Birdwatching at the Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area

Marshland at Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area
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Experience the magic of the wildlife of southeastern Arizona through the Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area.

It hosts the Sandhill crane and other waterfowls.

Take in the beautiful feeling of seeing these majestic animals dwelling in their natural habitats.

A bird flying over Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area
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There are also designated hunting areas for people interested in that kind of thing.

Step into the wildlife and carefully pick your way through the land, making sure not to disturb the serenity of the place as you stalk your prey.

Remember to snap a few photos as a token of the beautiful journey.

A dry pond at Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area
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Visit the Gadsden Hotel

Exterior of Gadsden Hotel
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The Gadsden Hotel is a local gem of Douglas that you’ll definitely want to visit.

The famous architect Henry Trost designed the hotel.

It gets its name from the historic Gadsden Purchase.

James Gadsden negotiated to buy 30,000 square miles of land from Mexico to create a southern railroad to the Pacific Coast.

The hotel itself opened in 1907 and became a meeting place for local workers and visiting travelers alike.

The beautiful lobby of Gadsden Hotel
Verschubert, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Now, the establishment is a sight to behold.

As you step into the lobby, you’ll see a grand staircase of white Italian marble framed by two large, pink columns.

You can also see a gorgeous stained-glass mural depicting the southwest desert.

Whether you’re there to stay, host an event, or admire the view, the Gadsden Hotel will not disappoint you.

Entrance doors of Gadsden Hotel
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Marvel at the Cars of Art Car World

Car lovers are the best kinds of enthusiasts out there, and if you’re one of them, this place is a must-visit!

This museum showcases the art of the automobile.

Check out the museum's 42-car permanent collection, with more models displayed on rotation.

Seeing these cars would make any car lover swoon.

The establishment is also bilingual to accommodate English-speaking and Spanish-speaking visitors.

Jot this place down on your travel itinerary and enjoy examining gorgeous cars with your traveling companions.

Learn History at the Coronado National Memorial

Scenic nature view at Coronado National Memorial
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In 1540, the conquistador Francisco Vasquez de Coronado organized the first expedition into the Southwest.

The journey was a gesture of goodwill between the United States and Mexico, promoting friendly ties and cultural understanding between the two nations.

Welcome sign of Coronado National Memorial
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This memorial, located near the Huachuca Mountains and the US-Mexico border, commemorates this historic event.

You can follow several hiking trails in the area to see the same view that the original expeditionists saw on their journey.

Try to spot some birds and appreciate the lovely and diverse natural wildlife area.

Lush trees at Coronado National Memorial
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Hike on the Douglas Spring Trailhead

Daytime at Douglas Spring Trailhead
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Another fun trail to hike is the Douglas Spring Trailhead.

This path is definitely not for the amateur or the faint of heart, so come prepared.

Many people consider it to be a challenging route and can take more than 8 hours to complete.

But, all that hard work is well worth it for the memories you’ll make and the gorgeous sights you’ll see along the way.

And it’s not just hiking you can do in this place, either.

It’s also great for bird watching and horseback riding, and you’ll most likely meet many people who share your interests and love for the outdoors along the way.

Relax and Unwind at Saguaro National Park

Gorgeous sunset over Saguaro National Park
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If there’s one park that has defined all parks in the Southwest, it’s the Saguaro National Park.

It’s home to the largest cacti in the United States.

You don’t want to miss seeing this universal symbol of the American West during the desert sunset.

Welcome sign of Saguaro National Park
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The park itself consists of the Tucson Mountain District and the Rincon Mountain District.

There are hike-in campsites in the eastern area where you can set up a tent and lay back and admire the stars.

You can also join a guided hike if you’re looking to socialize with other travelers or learn more about the area from an experienced guide.

A trail lined with cacti at Saguaro National Park
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Spend the Night at Camp Rucker

Do you prefer camping over hiking?

Maybe you’re looking for a night’s rest after following a long trail.

Whatever the case, Camp Rucker is a great place to stop by if you’re looking for a great camping experience.

You can find the site tucked near Rucker Creek, away from civilization and the bustle of city life.

It’s a great place to kick back and relax, take a few scenic photographs, and eat around the campfire with your friends and family.

Live the Cowboy Life at the Slaughter Ranch Museum

A vintage vehicle under a shed at Slaughter Ranch Museum
Marine 69-71, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Check out the Slaughter Ranch Museum, a site dedicated to another thing that makes Douglas such an iconic place: cowboys.

John Slaughter, also known as "Texas John," has become one of the most beloved characters in the Southwest.

One look at him takes you back to the wild West, where people needed protection from the noble lawmen from wandering rogues.

Step into the man's shoes on this property turned museum at 6153 Geronimo Trail.

An old wagon at Slaughter Ranch Museum
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Walk into his house, granary, commissary, and other parts of his property to see how he lived.

Once you're done with that, take your lunch under one of the massive trees dotting the area.

Lay down a picnic blanket, serve the food, and enjoy the warm breeze against your face as you settle into wild west living.

A baby goat at Slaughter Ranch Museum
Bettina Arrigoni, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Wind Down at the Douglas Visitor Center

Sometimes, sightseeing is incredibly taxing.

Even the most enthusiastic tourist will need a break from the hustle and bustle.

If that’s the case, stop by the visitor center at 345 16th Street to catch your breath and regain your bearings.

Learn about the area’s history in a safe, structured environment that offers you all the material you’ll need.

You can also gain local knowledge of your surroundings by asking what other places you should visit.

Maybe you’re looking for a specific kind of restaurant or an establishment that offers the service you need.

Whatever your need, the visitor’s center can share information to help you find your way again.

View the Lavender Pit

Aerial view of Lavender Pit
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Mining is also a big part of Arizona life.

The best place to learn that history is the Lavender Pit Open Mine on Arizona 80.

Daytime view of Lavender Pit
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The site is a former open copper mine named in honor of Harrison M. Lavender.

Drive up to the mining site to get a panoramic view of the place against the chain-link fence.

Bring your camera and take as many photos as you need!

Closer view of the Lavender Pit
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Get Spooked at the Old Bisbee Ghost Tour

The past has a way of reminding us of its existence, and ghosts are one of them.

It may be unbelievable, but what sort of life can a person have without a bit of imagination?

If you’re looking for some spooks and scares and maybe a hint of the supernatural, then join the Old Bisbee Ghost Tour at 7 Lowell Ave.

They offer different tours to chill your blood.

Their regular ghost tour is the most popular, leading you through back alleys and stairways as you learn the history of the area and the ghosts that haunt it.

You can also join in their haunted pub crawl, for example, and visit the most haunted bars in the area.

Allow yourself to get spirited away in more ways than one.

Trek through the Kartchner Caverns State Park

Entryway of Kartchner Caverns State Park
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Are you ready to take your trip up a notch and enter the Kartchner Caverns?

Visit the famous cave system and don't forget to take pictures of the beautiful sights inside.

Map board of Kartchner Caverns State Park
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Various exhibits should teach you about the site scattered around the area.

Remember that the caverns' creepiness comes from unfamiliarity and not something more sinister, so there are steps you can take to conquer your fears.

Learn about the area's geology and why the caves look the way they do.

You can even learn about particular caves, such as the Kartchner Caverns, which have some of the most unique mineral compositions in the world.

Don't forget to stop by the gift shop to get a souvenir for your experiences.

Foot hill hoops mountain trailhead at Kartchner Caverns State Park
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Go to the Presidio de San Bernardino

Once upon a time, Presidio de San Bernardino was a huge Spanish fortress.

The Irish mercenary Hugh O'Connor established the fort in 1776.

It belonged to a network of presidios and missions scattered throughout Southern Arizona.

In 1780, the presidio's inhabitants abandoned the place, but the structure itself still stands.

Check out the fortress and fall in love with all the area's history.

Remember to take a picture.

After all, it's not every day you get to visit a place that existed so long ago.

Celebrate History at the Jerome State Historic Park

Welcome sign of Jerome State Historic Park
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The Jerome State Historic Park features the Douglas Mansion, a critical site in the area’s mining history.

A family of wealthy mining entrepreneurs once owned the property.

Today, the park contains a museum commemorating this history.

There are also several museums scattered across the park.

A house on a cliff at Jerome State Historic Park
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You can visit the Mine Museum, which features the history of Jerome himself and the mining town he lived in.

If you’re interested in more unique attractions, you can stop by Montezuma Castle National Monument.

Check out the splendid view from one of the best-preserved cliff dwellings in the country and marvel at the fantastic legacy of human ingenuity.

Exterior of the douglas mansion at Jerome State Historic Park
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Have Fun at the Cochise County Fair Association

Horse racing, among other things, is one of Arizona’s longstanding traditions.

No trip to Douglas would be complete without it.

Stop by the Cochise County Fair and treat yourself to a day of rodeos, ropings, and racing that’ll surely get your heart pumping.

You can also participate in livestock shows and auctions to get the whole experience of an Arizona fair.

There are also various carnival rides and attractions to keep even younger travelers interested.

View Local History at the Douglas-Williams Home Museum

Exterior of Douglas-Williams Home Museum
Karen Fasimpaur, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Having stood in town since 1909, there’s no place to get a better taste of Douglas’ past than the Douglas-Williams Home Museum.

Owned today by the Arizona Historical Society, the historical home first belonged to James S. Douglas—the son of Dr. James Douglas, for whom the town was actually named.

Inside, you’ll find rooms recreating what life was like during the early 20th Century, transporting you back in time.

There’s also an exhibit here of early Arizona Impressionist Painter Elife Anderson Smith, showcasing the beauty of the region’s dessert blossoms and sunsets.

Open during Wednesday and Saturdays, you can visit Douglas-Williams Home Museum along D. Avenue.

Do Recreational Activities at Airport Park

Airport Park is a fantastic addition to your itinerary if you have some downtime during your trip in Douglas.

The greenery here is some of the best, with its grass fields being a perfect area to play soccer and football.

It’s also a great place to do some jogging or cycling, with the park being equipped with exercise stations and other workout equipment.

If you’re bringing the little ones with you, there’s also a nice playground here and a splash pad for the hotter months.

Airport Park is located along East Geronimo Trail.

Douglas Art Gallery is one of the more underrated spots in the city, managed by a non-profit organization, Douglas Arts Association.

This gallery features varying themes year-round depending on the season.

You’ll mostly see a lot of local artworks here which is a great way to appreciate the talent that Douglas and other Arizona cities have in the art industry.

However, one of the most exciting parts of the Douglas Art Gallery is its shop—a fantastic place to get souvenirs and other knick knacks during your trip to Arizona.

Located along East 10th Street, Douglas Art Gallery is a great place to visit for the art enthusiasts.

Go for a Swim at City of Douglas Aquatic Center

One of the best ways to enjoy summer in Douglas is through the City of Douglas Aquatic Center.

This aquatic center has everything you’d want—an indoor pool and eight lanes worth of laps if you want to do competitive swimming.

Besides this huge pool, they also have an outdoor splash pad, a kiddie pool, and a therapy pool as well for hydrotherapy.

The City of Douglas Aquatic Center is more than just a pool, however, as they also have indoor racquetball courts here to add variety to your visit.

You can visit this aquatic center along 15th Street.

Have a Picnic at 15th Street Park

15th Street Park is another great recreational space in Douglas, perfect for family picnics with the little ones.

The park is equipped with plenty of grills if you want to do family cookouts and barbecue, and there’s plenty of shade where kids can run and play.

If you’re feeling sporty, there’s also a baseball field here where plenty of locals play.

15th Street Park is also a great place to bring your pooch and immerse them with other dogs, as plenty of fur parents are here especially on late afternoons.

Just a stone’s throw away from the City of Douglas Aquatic Center, 15th Street Park is a great extension to your itinerary if you’re already visiting the aquatic center.

Final Thoughts

Douglas, Arizona, is a big place, and it’s easy to get lost there if you’re not careful.

But, getting lost is half the fun in most journeys, so don’t afraid to stray off the beaten path and figure out where you want to go on your own.

Douglas will never run out of exciting things to do, from desert trails to museums about infamous cowboys.

Take your time, pick a place you’ll love, and make the most of your experiences there.

After all, it’s not every day you’ll visit a place as special and unique as Douglas, Arizona.

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