As Julie and I have hit a lot of Arizona towns, we found it surprising how inspiring they are for artists and those wanting to live a different creative life. Some areas have grapes and vineyards and art shops, others have artists, galleries, and scenic vistas. Whatever draws them to these areas - they are magnificent to visit. Pack your jeans. Let's go!
Bisbee is the most picturesque and fun artist town. It's a perfect mix of classy art, olive oil shops, trendy coffee spots, and tourist wants, while maintaining the bones of an old west town. It's easy to trek around to everything in the heart of it. Want a tour of a mine? Maybe you want to stay in a haunted inn and take a ghost tour? With fun events and really nice townsfolk, it can make you feel like you're found a secret within the Southern Arizona desert.
It gets even more fun on the perimeter of the town where a street in an area called Lowell, recreates a 1950s street down to the detail.
A fantastic escape sleepover at the Shady Dell has a mid century vibe of old air streams, a bus, a yacht, and more that you can sleep in!
A stay at the Copper Queen Hotel is likely to produce some chills of delight as it is pretty haunted and super comfy and friendly.
Jerome is an extremely cool town up at a higher elevation. It's a windy road to get there, but once you arrive it feels a bit like a European village with the narrow streets and hillside buildings.
It has an art co-op, many galleries, and art center and pretty much anywhere you go in this mountain village, you will see the touch of the artists' hands.
Tubac Center of the Arts starts off your journey into an artist colony town. The visit Arizona site pretty much sums it up.
Tubac offers an astonishing array of premium galleries, unique shopping, fine art, and dining. Here, one can find world-renowned birding, hiking (or strolling), biking, holistic health and spa treatments, wine tastings, and art classes.
Arcosanti in Central AZ was built as an experiment by architect Paolo Soleri. This experimental form was to be an active display of self-sufficiency in a community. It's referred to as "archology." There's amazing architecture that takes advance of the gorgeous location, a sense of community built into one almost living structure, with ecology, self-sufficiency, artists, and more.
You can take tours or you can rent a room (I suggest the Sky Suite). Everyone is so open and friendly about sharing what it's like living and working in this dynamic piece of architecture meets sustainability. You cannot take a bad picture from any angle, you are greeted by tinkling bells, butterflies, and plants growing everywhere.
If architecture could breathe, Arcosanti's exhale would carry ancient wisdom and peace.
They are known for their windchime bells that are very unique and the sound of them chiming is part of the experience of weaving through courtyards and past grapevines and if the zen doesn't hit you, you're not breathing.
They often have exciting workshops that draw you in and if you want to test your new age hippie/permaculture vibe, I highly suggest this place. You cannot take one bad picture there as every angle is gorgeous and a living breathing piece of art.
BUDDING ARTIST TOWN
There are some places that are making some real headway to being the next artist's town and Superior, AZ is one of those. Just an hour outside of Phoenix, it's tucked under the Apache Leap, creating a giant geological tsunami that sets the tone for a mining town gone artsy.
You can feel the off-grid, tired mining town getting downtown renewal by dreamers and artists. I love the vibe.
Some artists teach there. In fact, one time Julie and I were considering getting a cottage there and renovating into an artist retreat where we could get away and get inspired to create. Sometimes, life starts another path, but if I were in artist, I'd get a place in this very affordable town in the most amazing location, not far from Phoenix but out of sight.