Located along Interstate 10 between Tucson, Arizona, and Lordsburg, New Mexico, Willcox is a southern Arizona town steeped in history that’s also home to artists, farmers, and the region’s budding wineries which have garnered lots of praise and accolades lately.
Considering its modest size, the town is packed with things to do, and unlike other tiny Arizona towns, you won’t need to do a lot of driving to see them if you’d rather stay close to your home base.
Due to its wonderful winter weather, Willcox is a great place to be when the rest of the country is mired in snow and ice.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Willcox:
1. TRUST Art Gallery
Created by a partnership between a local vineyard and gallery to celebrate and promote the area’s local artists, artisans, and winemakers, the building in which the gallery and tasting room reside has a history going back nearly 100 years.
Not surprisingly, the building was a rough saloon in decades past, and was notorious for its hard-drinking patrons who tended to get a bit sloppy with their guns after a few drinks, and was the site of at least one cowboy being gunned down.
Don’t worry though, wine and art don’t have the same effect on people as cheap whiskey.
They gallery is located on North Railroad Avenue in Willcox.
2. Willcox Historic Theater
With such rich and varied history, you’d probably know the Willcox Historic Theater was historic even if they didn’t include it in the name.
Built in the ‘30s, the theater has been the place for entertainment for Willcox residents for decades.
Combining architectural elements from the art deco movement, as well as traditional southwest architecture, the theater is a quirky but cool bit of southern Arizona history you won’t want to miss.
Don’t let its age fool you, the theater is full of cutting-edge movie and sound technology.
There’s also a dinner theater and small art gallery in the adjacent building.
3. Willcox Playa Wildlife Area
Located on the scenic Sulphur Springs Valley Loop, the Willcox Playa Wildlife Area is one of the premier places to see the area’s abundant wildlife.
Especially interesting and popular are the hordes of migratory fowl and wading-birds that flock here by the thousands in the winter months.
The area consists of over 30,000 acres of protected, watershed basin, which also draws predators like eagles, hawks, bobcats, and coyotes.
Every January a bird-watcher’s event called, “Wings over Willcox” is held which includes food, seminars, and group tours.
If you’re into birds, it’s an event you won’t want to pass up.
4. Aridus Wine Company
Located on nearly 40 acres of scenic Arizona vineyard, Aridus Wine Company’s name is a tribute to the parched and arid climate of southern Arizona, that’s surprisingly conducive to growing wine grapes.
With nearly 30,000 square feet of production space, it’s one of the region’s largest facilities and has also won awards from interior design associations for its sustainable, functional and aesthetic design.
Don’t worry, their wines have won plenty of awards too, and with a large variety, you’ll find one that’s the perfect match for your discerning taste buds.
Aridus Wine Company is located on North Haskell Road in Willcox.
5. Lee’s Pecan Farm
Located just north of the town of Willcox in Arizona’s Cochise County, Lee’s Pecan Farm has been a family owned and operated business for nearly 30 years.
Dedicated to producing natural pecans without the use of harmful pesticides, the farm produces a variety of pecans, all of which are yummy and healthy snacks.
At just 10 acres, the farm isn’t big but it allows the staff to care for each tree more than they’d be able to if the farm were bigger.
There’s plenty of parking onsite for buses and RVs, and tours are available, so call before you go.
6. Heart of Rocks
One of the gems of the Chiricahua National Monument is the impressive Heart of Rocks formations that are often referred to as hoodoos.
The formations, which resemble spires, or stalwart sentinels, are best seen from the Heart of Rocks Loop, which you can pick up near the visitor’s center.
The path is relatively easy and will lead you past some of the monuments must-see attractions like Lower Rhyolite Canyon, Bonita Creek and Sarah Deming Canyon.
There’s lots of wildlife in the area too, including some dangerous animals like mountain lions and bears, so whatever you do, don’t leave the trail.
7. Sunizona Family Farms
Certified organic farms are making a big splash in the produce business, and family owned and operated Sunizona Farms is dedicated to producing their crops naturally and organically.
They grow dozens of varieties of fruit and vegetables without the use of any pesticides or harmful fertilizers, which can have negative effects on health and the environment.
Stop by and pick some up, you may be surprised how much flavor natural produce has. It’s more packed with vitamins and minerals too, and is exactly what your body was designed to eat.
They also have an interesting Farm Box program, which is a healthy and economical way to eat your fruit and veggies.
8. Apple Annie’s Country Store
With over 100 acres of fields planted with corn, tomatoes, pumpkins, apples, and more, Apple Annie’s farm and country store is a family business that’s been feeding and entertaining southern Arizonans for years.
If you’d like to get out into the dirt, you can pick your own fruit, of if you’d rather not, you can get everything you need in the country store, which also includes baked goods, soup, sandwiches and the area’s most delectable pies and fudge.
There’s also a restaurant that serves hearty fare on the weekends.
Apple Annie’s is located on West Hardy Road in Willcox and is a great place to pick up some uniquely Arizona gifts.
9. Muleshoe Ranch
Consisting of nearly 50,000 acres of protected land, the Muleshoe Ranch Cooperative Management area is home to some of southern Arizona’s most dramatic landscapes, and an incredible variety of wildlife too.
The ranch was built in the late 1800s, and though it’s been thoroughly modernized, many of the buildings have been preserved or restored to near-original condition.
There are private casitas, or small houses on the ranch, that you can rent if you’re a conservancy member.
There are natural hot springs close by too, and more than 20 miles of trails which are a great way to stretch your legs and see some desert animals.
The ranch is on North Muleshoe Road in Willcox.
10. Friends of Marty Robbins Museum
Located on North Historic Railroad Avenue in Willcox, the Friends of Marty Robbins Museum is a memorial to the life and career of one of country music’s legends.
As the first country singer to earn a Grammy in 1959, Marty Robbins soon expanded his repertoire to include a stint as a race car driver, driving in the ’73 Daytona 500.
Though Robbins wasn’t born in Willcox, he was born nearby in Glendale, a western suburb of Phoenix.
Admission costs only a few bucks, and includes lots of photos and memorabilia related to the life of this talented Arizona native.
11. Wines of Willcox
In case you didn’t notice, Wines of Willcox’ acronym is WOW, which is what most people say after trying their wines.
Located between Tucson and Lordsburg, New Mexico, Willcox and the surrounding areas produce nearly three quarters of the grapes grown in Arizona.
Wines of Willcox produces wines of nearly every variety, from big reds to dry whites, all of which can be paired with food to make them really stand out.
Consider doing a self-guided tour of the Willcox area’s vineyards and tasting rooms. And if you get all-wined-out, there are plenty of galleries, shops, and museums in town too.
12. Fort Bowie National Historic Site
The Chiricahua Apaches who called southern Arizona home weren’t too thrilled by the settlers who squatted on their ancestral land in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Led by the fierce Cochise, the Apache warriors held out against the well-armed U.S. soldiers until 1886, when they finally gave up and surrendered their mountain stronghold.
Located on South Apache Pass Road in Bowie, the historic site includes a museum and many of the trails Cochise and his men used when they needed to disappear into the mountains.
There are wildlife viewing areas too, and guided tours are available if you’d like to schedule one for a group.
13. Zarpara Vineyard
It may seem strange that a sleepy Arizona town known for its cowboys, rodeos and country-western singers is a place you’d also find great, locally-made wine, but with Willcox that’s exactly the case.
Certain varieties of wine grapes thrive in the baking Arizona sun, and the Willcox area is home to nearly 20 wineries, many of which have won awards for the quality of their products.
The Zarpara Vineyard and tasting room are a short drive from Willcox, and feature indoor and outdoor seating areas so you can sample their wine, chat, and take in the beautiful scenery of the Dos Cabezas Mountains.
14. Chiricahua National Monument
Covering nearly 12,000 acres of southeast Arizona, Chiricahua National Monument was largely created by tumultuous volcanic activity millennia ago.
With jagged peaks reaching nearly 10,000 feet, the mountains are one of the area’s most iconic and visited sites.
The park is full of paved roadways from which you’ll be able to see all there is to see from the comfort of your car, or if you’d rather hoof it, there are miles of hiking trails that’ll get you closer to the caves, canyons, and amazing lava formations.
The entrance and visitor’s center are on East Rhyolite Creek Road in Willcox.
15. Rex Allen Museum
Arizona doesn’t have any shortage of cowboys or museums, so if you’re interested in both and happen to find yourself on North Railroad Avenue in Willcox, you should make it a point to stop by the Rex Allen Cowboy Museum.
Opened in 1989, the museum is a tribute to the famous cowboy, singer, and actor of the ‘40s who is Willcox’s most famous native son.
The museum is inexpensive and features exhibits, statues, and lots of cool movie and rodeo paraphernalia, and even the burial site of his trusted horse Koko.
The museum also has a great gift shop, so check it out before leaving.