Labor Day Road Trips Close To Tucson


The combination of gas prices trending down, airline tickets remaining expensive and a three-day weekend makes Labor Day the perfect time for a day or weekend road trip. That's especially true in Southern Arizona, where there are a number of small towns each with their own personality.

Here are five places within driving distance of Tucson worth a visit over Labor Day weekend:

1. Sonoita and Elgin (47 miles)
Sonoita and Elgin might only be home to about 1,000 people, but it's the heart of Arizona wine country. The towns were founded in the 1880s as a stop on the Santa Fe Railroad, and are now a couple of the fastest-growing places in the state. Located at roughly 5,000 feet above sea level, the towns are nestled between 9,000-foot mountain peaks, making it a quiet scene with breathtaking views. There are nine award-winning wineries in the town, including Arizona Hops and Vines, one of the best wineries in the state and host of a number of different events. There isn't much more to do outside of the wineries minus a couple restaurants and shops, but it's a perfect destination for a couple's day trip.

2. Bisbee (93 miles)
Founded in 1880, Bisbee has a very European feel to it because of it's narrow streets, rustic hillside homes and outdoor cafes. The town is the perfect getaway spot for people looking to escape the urban lifestyle of Tucson. Bisbee is full of culture, as it's a perfect place to relax at a hotel, people-watch at a coffee shop or browse the numerous art galleries and bookstores. Good places to visit include Warren Ballpark, one of the oldest baseball stadiums in the World, the Queen Mine, which offers historical tours of the town's mining history, and the Bisbee Mini Museum of the Bizarre, a science museum for people with tougher stomachs. Good places to eat and drink include Cafe Roka, Cafe Cornucopia and Old Bisbee Brewing Company, home to the Royal Stout, one of the best chocolate beers you can find anywhere.

3. Tombstone (70 miles)
"The Town Too Tough to Die" is a time portal back into the Old West. Incorporated in the 1880s as a mining hotbed, Tombstone is now a tourist trap with a number of family-friendly historical tours, museums and reenactments. The hot-spots of the city are the gunfight reenactments of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, which put and keeps Tombstone on the map, and tours at the Tombstone Good Enough Mine Tour. But a very underrated aspect of Tombstone is their food: Big Nose Kate's Saloon, Crystal Palace Saloon and Restaurant, and Longhorn Restaurant are some of the best lunch and dinner spots in the Southern part of the state. It's easy to lose a lot of time -- and money -- by spending a day on Allen Street.

4. Yuma (242 miles)
Contrary to popular belief, Yuma is more than just a pit stop on the drive from Southern Arizona to San Diego. The sunniest place on the planet is actually one of the nation's biggest suppliers of produce, including lettuce and other greens. As a result, it's a good town for foodies as they can enjoy a farm-to-table meal. Good places to eat and drink include River City Grill, Yuma's Main Squeeze, Da Boyz and Prison Hill Brewing Company. Outside of culinary options, Yuma also has a number of other attractions, including the Yuma Territorial Prison and Yuma Quartermaster Depot state parks. For a more quiet experience, there is the town's restored riverfront along the Colorado River, which features walking trails and bird-viewing experiences.

5. Tubac (47 miles)
If you're looking a place to get away from everything for a weekend, Tubac is the place to go. The historic village is mostly known as an arts colony, but its centerpiece is the Tubac Presidio Historic State Park, a Spanish mission and fort that now features exhibits, galleries, shops and restaurants. The town, which was incorporated in the 1700s, is also home to the Tubac Golf Resort and Spa, one of the most luxurious and tranquil destinations in Southern Arizona. Located in the Santa Cruz River Valley, Tubac is a perfect place to enjoy the scenery, golf, hike and horseback ride. Since its between four mountain ranges, cell phone service is spotty, making it a plus spot for travelers looking to escape the real world.

Justin Sayers is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer. He was born and raised in L.A., and moved back after attending college and working in Arizona.