Here are a few of our recommendations for the best things do around Willcox, Arizona. Most have something to do with the area’s history or its vineyards. In the past, Willcox was known for its ranches and cowboy lifestyle. Now it is quickly becoming the place to seek out wine and wineries. Hopefully, it can be both. We love its laid back, Route 66 feel.
Willcox is about an hour and a half east of Tucson on I-10. The town has seen better days, but fortunately, the citizens have preserved many of the historic buildings. Some are pre-1920. Others were build pre-1900. So one of the best things to do around Willcox is to take the short, self-guided walking tour of the historic downtown. Stop into the Willcox Chamber of Commerce as you exit I-10 for a map. It is a little hard to find, so use your GPS. It is on the north side of the freeway first road east off the main road north near Apple Annie’s Farm Outlet. Grab a pie or head out to Apple Annie’s for some apples, peaches, and corn, depending on the season. Read More
Rex Allen Museum
Western Movie Star – The main attraction in historic downtown Willcox along Railroad Avenue is the Rex Allen Museum. If you are younger than 65 as of 2012, it is unlikely you will know who Rex Allen was.
Through the 1950s & ’60s, Mr. Allen was a singer-songwriter, Western movie star, and narrator for many Disney nature films.
At one time, he was almost as famous as Roy Rogers and Gene Autry. In all, he starred and sang in 19 Westerns, and earned a star on Hollywood Blvd.
So popular was Mr. Allen that he became a comic book character for Dell Comics. With his trademark white Stetson, he was always the good guy. In his movies, he had a sidekick for comic relief: first Buddy Ebsen (later star of Beverly Hillbillies), then Slim Pickens.
Rex Allen was known as the Arizona Cowboy. His museum exhibits a lot of memorabilia, shows some of his old Westerns, and plays his music. His statue (and his ashes) are across the street in Railroad Park.
During Rex Allen Days they have a great old time parade and Rex Allen Jr. has been known to show up.
Marty Robbins Museum
Today far more people are familiar with the Western ballads of Marty Robbins than the songs of Rex Allen. Mr. Robbins has a small museum next to Rex Allen’s. A singer-songwriter, Mr. Robbins wrote and sang such hits as “A White Sportcoat”, “My Woman, My Wife”, “El Paso”, and “Big Iron”.
Both Frankie Lane and Elvis Presley recorded Mr. Robbins’ “You Gave Me A Mountain”.
The Academy of Country Music honored Marty Robbins by naming him Artist of the Decade (1960’s). In 1982, he was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame. Like Mr. Allen, he has a star on Hollywood Blvd. and Arizona claims him for its own.
Willcox Wine Tasting
Next to the Allen & Robbins Museums on Railroad Avenue is the Keeling Schaefer Vineyards’ Wine Tasting Room in the restored 1917 Willcox Bank & Trust building. This is a fine venue that includes a worthwhile art gallery.
Flying Leap Vineyards has several tasting rooms about Southern Arizona, one of which is on the corner or Railroad Avenue in Willcox. It also sports an art gallery.
Two miles west of Willcox: Coronado Vineyards. This is one of our favorites. Here you can taste their various wines while sitting out on the deck. They no longer serve dinner.
Visit Lawrence Dunham Vineyards and take a side trip to Johnny Ringo’s Grave. You can even stay at the Sunglow Ranch should you desire.
There are several other wine tasting rooms close by. To learn more, visit the new site promoting Willcox Wines here.
In historic downtown Willcox: Big Tex BBQ. This is just around the corner from Railroad Park. The restaurant is an old railroad car. Excellent BBQ ribs.
I-10 runs through Willcox. Thus, there are many modern motels: Days Inn, Holiday Inn, etc. Pick your favorite. We are not familiar with B&B’s in the area. The one’s we can recommend are miles from Willcox. If you know of one, let us know. We would like to visit.
Willcox Annual Events
January: Wings Over Willcox. Celebrates the arrival of the migrating Sandhill Cranes. Several days of Birdwatching events, lectures, hiking and other nature events.
October: Rex Allen Days. Celebrates the Old West in general and the Western movie star and singer-songwriter in particular.
May and October: Another WOW, Wines of Willcox the 3rd weekend in May and October. In Railroad Park.
Chiricahua National Monument
About an hour south of Willcox is one of our favorite places: Chiricahua National Monument. Wildlife, fantastic rock formations, hiking, camping, and birdwatching.
Once you enter the Monument, stop at the visitor center to get oriented and find out the schedule for guided tours of Faraway Ranch. Take the tour. To view our photos and notes on our road trip to the Monument, click HERE.
About an hour NW of Willcox on a fairly well-maintained dirt road is Muleshoe Ranch Preserve a part of the Nature Conservancy. Click here for our Muleshoe feature. This is a Southern Arizona paradise. Take a picnic or rent one of their casitas for a night or two. Enjoy the natural hot springs under the stars. Excellent!
About an hour east are the ruins of Fort Bowie. It too is off a fairly well-maintained dirt road, plus an easy hike of about a mile. This fort was hugely important from the 1860’s through the final surrender of Geronimo in 1886. If you are not familiar with the history of Ft. Bowie, please click here. For more information about Ft. Bowie, visit the Ft. Bowie National Historic Site.
Apple Annie’s Orchard
Just north of Willcox, everyone loves to visit Apple Annie’s Orchard at Harvest time. Apples and peaches are their specialty but they also have corn and other goodies. Apple Annie’s promotes festivals around these times, serving hamburgers and pies as well as hay rides. Fun for the whole family. In October there is a Corn Maze as well as a Pumpkin Festival. Visit Apple Annie’s Website for more information and directions.