Arizona is best known for the Grand Canyon. Hence, it’s not a surprise that it’s always talked about whenever the topic is Arizona. But this state is more than that these land masses. Arizona is also popular for its little rugged town carved out of the wilderness called Oatman. In fact, it is a popular filming location. Some of the well-known shows and movies filmed here are Hustling America, Great American Road Trip, Glutton for Punishment, Killer Holiday, Edge of Eternity, and more. With its unique beauty, it has also become popular among travelers. It may be small but it has plenty of activities and attractions to offer that makes hundreds of thousands of visitors frequent this place every year. But before we go to the details of what awaits you, let’s see how you can get there first, shall we?
- 1 Getting to Oatman AZ
- 2 Unique Things to Do in Oatman AZ
- 3 More Fun in Arizona
- 4 Where to Stay in Oatman, AZ
Getting to Oatman AZ
First and foremost, it is best to know where an attraction is located, right? Lucky for you, we know how to get to Oatman. For starters, this small town is located in the northwest part of Arizona, just about two hours southeast of Las Vegas. It is located right on the Historic Route 66, on the section between Kingman and Topock. The town of Oatman is nestled in the Black Mountains.
To get to it, the easiest way we suggest is to rent a car so you can take your time exploring the town. Car rentals are affordable, especially when you rent at McCarron International Airport. For option B (if you’re on a really tight budget), we suggest that you reserve a shuttle from McCarron International Airport to Lake Havasu City. It would only cost you $50. Then, you can book a tour from Lake Havasu to Oatman. Now that you know how to get there, let’s take a closer look at the unique things to do in Oatman that awaits you.
Unique Things to Do in Oatman AZ
Oatman is often described as a ghost town (it once boasted more than 10,000 people and now it only supports just a little over 100 residents). Even so, you can still enjoy numerous activities and unique things here. In case you’re wondering what activities to expect, take a look at this list of what’s in store.
1Fry Eggs…on the Sidewalk
At first glance, frying egg is a common thing to do. But what makes it one of the unique things to do in Oatman AZ is that you get to fry an egg on the sidewalk. Apparently, this is an annual event that you shouldn’t miss. Every fourth of July, residents, as well as hundreds of tourists, gather to compete in an egg frying contest with neither fire nor electricity – all you need is the heat of Arizona and some cooking paraphernalia including anything to enhance the heat of the sun to cook your egg like magnifying glasses and maybe some sun protection for your skin.
Yes, you read it right. The temperature in Arizona can be so hot during this month that you could fry an egg on the street. In this competition, of course, there are prizes and you might be the lucky participant to win some prizes plus get to have a different egg frying experience. Don’t worry, the competition only lasts for 15 minutes or people could pass out because of the heat.
2Pet or Feed Wild Burros
In other places in the world, you don’t always get to see wild burros roaming your streets. But in Oatman, wild burros are almost everywhere. In fact, this place has more burro population compared to its residents.
During the day, these animals roam the streets of Oatman and head back into the Black Mountains at night. Probably after years of receiving handouts from tourists, they have become friendlier. They are also one of the many reasons why tourists still come to town. You can pet them and even feed them. However, they can become a bit aggressive at times and try to steal your food. Hence, be careful. Still, they are adorable and a must see.
3Eat and Drink at an Old Hotel
This might sound a bit common since many hotels today already have their own restaurant and bar. But what makes this one of the unique things to do in Oatman AZ is that it’s an old hotel where its first floor was turned into a restaurant and a saloon.
Originally named after its builder John Durlin, the Durlin Hotel was a two-story adobe building that was built in 1902. However, it suffered from a fire a few years after. Hence, it was rebuilt in 1924. From then on, it boomed. During its glorious days, the eight-room hotel is popular among local miners, who began the practice of covering its walls and ceiling with signed and dated one-dollar bills. The hotel even witnessed some parts of artists Clark Gable and Carole Lombard’s story as the couple chose this spot for their honeymoon in 1939. It is also reported that the two stars periodically visited this place for the duration of their tragically short marriage. Rumors say that they love it so much that their spirits still haunt the place.
Unfortunately, you can no longer spend the night here. But you can visit for some food and drinks. Who knows, you might get to see their spirits while you’re dining or drinking? Kidding aside, you need to see this place too as its dishes are worth talking about. It’s also a nice place to get some booze.
4Explore a Haunted Museum
Like the Oatman Hotel’s restaurant and bar, exploring a museum might not sound like one of the unique things to do in Oatman AZ. However, it actually is as what’s unique in this activity is that you can get to explore and hear more stories about the town’s past. And you can do that just on the upper floor of the Oatman Hotel. Another thing that makes visiting this place one-of-a-kind is that it isn’t just your normal theater room museum. Because according to the rumors, this place is haunted with mischievous ghosts.
Some of its famous ghosts are those of Clark Gable and Carole Lombard who evidently had so many good memories of the old hotel that they simply just refuse to leave. Aside from the celebrities’ ghosts who are often heard whispering and laughing from the room even when it’s empty, people also report capturing ghostly figures on cam. There was also an incident where distinct outlines of sleeping bodies were found in the dust on the beds in one of the rooms. But upon inspection, none of the surrounding areas appear to be disturbed.
Another guest room is also said to be haunted. The legends say that an Irish miner who once lived there never woke up after passing out behind the hotel due to heavy drinking. To this day, staff members say his spirit haunts the area as people often hear him play his bagpipe. Many visitors also often report that his room sometimes become very cold even in midst of a hot desert day.
With such stories, who knows what you’ll encounter during your visit. It’s a fun yet chilling attraction that you shouldn’t miss as you’ll not just get to hear stories of the hotel’s past but you might also get to hear chilling stories of its permanent “residents.”
5Chill with Olive Oatman Ice Cream
When you’re in Arizona, expect high temperatures, especially when you’re in Oatman. It’s so hot here that you can fry an egg. But don’t worry much about the heat of the sun as you can always cool down at Olive Oatman’s restaurant and saloon. Yes, aside from the delicious snacks, meals, and drinks that the place serves, it also offers delicious and creamy ice cream that will help you cool down when you can’t take Arizona’s hot weather. People of all ages will love it. Be careful, though, when you choose to eat your ice cream outside as the burros can get aggressive and come for your ice cream cone.
6Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth
The Oatman Hotel may be the most popular attraction in Oatman but there’s more to this small town than that. Aside from the old hotel, there are also a few other shops open around Oatman. One of which is the Gold Rush Candy Shop where you can satisfy your sweet tooth. Here, as its name suggests, you have a wide range of choices of hard candy to choose from that would even remind you of your childhood. Aside from hard candies, the shop also sells various chocolate combinations; some are even shaped like a gun to match the town’s theme. The candies and chocolates in this shop is well-loved that it has become one of the reasons why visitors frequent this place too. The way how the shop owner accommodates his customers are worth talking about too. In fact, when you take a look at the shop’s feedback, a lot of people give it good reviews because of its products and service.
If you want more snacks, don’t forget to drop by Cool Springs Station too. But aside from its snacks, what makes this place all the more worth the stop is the view from the area and its accommodating owner. From here, you can fill your eyes with great picturesque views. The way this place is designed is also something worth talking about as it has an Instagram-worthy exterior. On top of that, according to many previous visitors, its owner is very accommodating. She’d even tell you stories about the place’s past. You can even hear the stories of the shop’s pictures on the wall plus the movies that were filmed there.
8See a Gunfight
Oatman isn’t only about entertainment. In spite of its size, Oatman has a lot of stories in store to tell its visitors. Here, you can also get a dose of the town’s history. But there’s a twist – you’d have to see a gunfight first. Don’t fret much, though, no one’s risking their lives here. Rather, this little town holds shows played by The Oatman Ghost Rider Gunfighters, the oldest gunfighter group in the state. Here, you can get a glimpse of a gunfight just as how they do it in the old times. You will not just get entertained by their skills and script but you will also get to have a peek at the town’s history. If you want to see this unique wild-west shootout show live, make sure to be there before 1:30 so you can get to see how its starts. The show ends at 3:30 so plan your trip ahead.
9Break Out of Jail
Another one of the unique things to do in Oatman AZ is to break out of jail. But don’t worry, no files will be charged against you; it’s just a game that would be fun to play if you’re traveling to Oatman with your family and/or friends. For starters, it’s just like a normal escape room. However, the theme is Wild West.
Here, you and your squad will play as if you were bank and casino robbers. However, Sheriff Oaty, Oatman AZ’s sheriff, has tracked and locked you into the most notorious treacherous prison, The Oatman Jail. How will you escape? What clues do you need? How will you all work together? It sure is going to be fun as you solve puzzles and take on different challenges with your family and/or friends so don’t miss adding this activity to your list of things to do in Oatman too.
10Shop for Accessories
Oatman also has a place for when you want to bring home items to remember your trip and that is the Yellohammer’s Place. Here, you can find unique handmade accessories that gives off some vibes of the old Oatman town. Don’t forget to stop by here too, especially if you’re looking for something to take home with you or to give to your loved ones back home to share such unique trip.
More Fun in Arizona
Arizona is a place worthy of anyone’s time with the sights and activities that it has to offer. In case you still have plenty of time to explore other attractions near Oatman, here are some more sites we suggest that we’re sure you’ll love too.
Just a few minutes away from Oatman is Sitgreaves Pass. This dusty pass on a dusty road, unlike other attractions don’t have much activities to offer. But the view here is unparalleled. This place is covered with wild flowers that are not just good to the eyes but are very much Instagram-worthy. From here, you can also get a picturesque view of the nearby mountains. Fill your eyes with such beautiful sight and take some photos for some Instagram game-changing photos, this place is definitely worth the drive.
The London Bridge
Contrary to the nursery rhyme, the London Bridge didn’t fall down as it still stands today. And it’s one of the attractions that many tourists visit too – not to see if it really has fallen down, though, but to see the beautiful views that it has to offer. Near it, you can also get to enjoy other activities including jet ski. There is a cruise ship as well that offers tours of the lake. In addition to that, you have a number of restaurants to choose from.
Route 66 Museum
If you’re a history buff, you can also visit the Route 66 Museum nearby. This museum has a small theater that features a one-hour movie that tells the story of Arizona’s famous Route 66. This place also has an electric car museum wherein, needless to say, you can get to see cars on exhibit. Both old and new cars are featured here. Thus, from electric vehicles like race cars, motorcycles, to autos, you can find it here and learn more about them. It’s yet another place neat Oatman that you shouldn’t miss when you’re in Arizona.
If you want to go sightseeing, Laughlin Tours got your back. Here, you can plan a day trip to the Hoover Dam and other nearby attractions. Through Laughlin Tours, you can also get to visit Oatman. It’s also a must try.
No, we’re not talking about the bearded man but a town in Arizona. Back in its glorious days, families used to flock this town to send mail to their loved ones addressed “from Santa Claus.” However, if you drive through this place today, you probably will not even think twice as you pass its abandoned buildings. Even Santa might not think of coming to this town anymore. But this destination can spark your imagination – probably why some people still visit this place. If you’re not faint-hearted, you can try visiting this place for a quick photo op. Be warned, though, as there is a lot of rotting wood in the area. Hence you need to be careful walking through any building if you choose to explore. There are signs around the property as well, warning visitors of poisonous snakes that may be hiding under shady parts from the sun. Still, it’s a unique place that you might want to have a glimpse of.
Flagstaff, AZ is also an awesome college town that you shouldn’t miss. There’s always a lot going on and it has a lot of good restaurants. On top of that, it is is a nice place for shopping and lodging.
Where to Stay in Oatman, AZ
With these activities and attractions, it can be quite overwhelming and a day might not be enough to explore them all. However, there are no hotels in Oatman. Your options outside Oatman are also limited. Your best bet is to spend the night in one of Kingman or Needles’ hotels and then make a day trip to Oatman and/or the attractions near it. If you’re on a budget, you can try renting AirBnB rooms just east of Oatman.
Contrary to what many people would often think when talking about Arizona, this state is not all about canyons and other landmasses. This state has more than that and we’re sure that with so many activities that it has to offer, you will find something that suits your needs. Oatman alone has plenty of activities for you in spite of the fact that it’s already considered a ghost town. It’s something that you need to consider adding to your travel bucket list or itinerary. We assure you, you won’t regret traveling to this place.