Arizona is well known for its western heritage but it can be easy to get lost in suburbia and urban life as we go about our day-to-day routines. Sometimes it can be rewarding to put on your boots, let your hair down, and kick back. But don’t take my word for it. Check out these five family-friendly places where you and your kin can experience the Old West and get in touch with Arizona’s wild west side.
Goldfield Ghost Town – Located just a few miles past Apache Junction on SR-88, Goldfield Ghost Town was built on the site of the old Goldfield Mill and the area is teeming with history. You can hear about and see some of this history on the train ride. You can also take a mine tour, see a gunfight, visit a reptile exhibit, pan for gold, and even ride a horse. You can also treat yourself to everything from an ice cream cone to a juicy steak. This is truly a wonderful family destination. The town is open daily from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm. Admission is free but there are charges for some of the attractions.
Rockin’ R Ranch – It is had to put Rockin’ R Ranch in a box since they have so many varied activities on site. Your family can take in a western show, have a cowboy-style dinner, watch a gunfight, pan for gold, and even host a private event. My son’s Cub Scout pack even had a camp-out there with fishing, a campfire, and archery. Located on Baseline just west of Power Road. Visit their Web site for a full schedule.
Rawhide – Rawhide has been around for a long time and it has a great reputation. This western town includes live action stunt shows, a petting zoo, a stagecoach, gold panning, and a mechanical bull. There are also restaurants and special events. Rawhide’s schedule and hours vary so visit the Web site for details. Rawhide is located off I-10 in Chandler near Wild Horse Pass Hotel and Casino.
Rustler’s Rooste – This is a restaurant but I included it in this list because of its fun and family-friendly Old West atmosphere. Rustler’s Rooste is a steakhouse with a cowboy flair. You can eat rattlesnake, dance in the sawdust to a live band, visit with a real live longhorn, and take a few trips down their famous tin slide. There is even steak on the kid’s menu and cotton candy at the end of your meal. Rustler’s Rooste is located off of I-10 and Baseline at 8383 S. 48th Street and is open from 5:00 pm to 10:00 pm daily.
Tombstone – Located three hours south of the Valley, Tombstone is the historic Old West town where the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral took place. Tombstone is worth the drive. Your family will love seeing the town where Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday once roamed. Visit the Boot Hill Cemetery, the Tombstone Courthouse, watch a gunfight, and visit the museums and galleries. Bring your most comfortable boots because there is a lot to see!
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