Charming Bed and Breakfast in Former Schoolhouse
A mining boomtown, Bisbee saw its population swell to 20,000 at the turn of the 20th century. During those salad days, a two-story grammar school was erected about 1 mile from downtown to accommodate the growing number of children in the area. The school was converted into apartments in the 1930s and became a bed and breakfast in the ’80s. These days, the nearly 100-year-old building has been aptly rechristened the School House Inn.
Reminders of the past are all around, from the school’s original blueprints hanging in the stairwell to the mammoth, century-old oak tree that towers over the rooftop. On the bottom floor, the building’s original steam furnace still stands—though it’s been turned off for decades.
Thanks in part to its grammar-school theme, the inn has won the prestigious Fodor’s Choice award five times. The spacious guest rooms feature 12-foot ceilings, and a lack of phones and TVs means that peace and quiet reign throughout the place. Each room’s decor is based on an elementary-school subject, such as Arithmetic, Music, and Quantum Physics. Before heading into the Reading room, you can borrow a novel from the bookshelf standing in the foyer. Each morning, the innkeepers prepare a homemade breakfast, after which you can venture to nearby Garfield Park to play basketball or volleyball.
Bisbee, Arizona: Preserved Wild West Town with Artistic Flair
It’s hard to believe that Bisbee—current population: nearly 6,000—was once the biggest city between St. Louis and San Francisco. A mining boomtown tucked away in the Mule Mountains, Bisbee swelled in size with the discovery of copper around the turn of the 20th century. To survive after the large-scale mines closed in the 1970s, the town evolved into an artists’ colony, attracting free spirits with its warm temperatures, scenic mountain backdrops, and lax enforcement of coloring-within-the-lines statutes. In recent years, it’s become a hybrid of old and new, where 19th-century storefronts and Victorian homes house contemporary art galleries, antique shops, and cafés.
Take a stroll along the narrow, winding streets of Old Bisbee, which resembles a frontier outpost crossed with a European village. Stop in and explore the exhibits at the Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum, once the headquarters of the Copper Queen mining company and now an affiliate museum of the Smithsonian Institution. And no trip to Bisbee would be complete without a visit to the mine that started it all. Head over to Queen Mine Tours, don a hardhat, and ride a train more than 1,500 feet underground on a tour guided by retired miners.