Like Bisbee, the border town of Douglas (pop. 17,378) grew up on copper mining, which here lasted until fairly recently: The Phelps-Dodge smelter a mile west of town was in operation until 1987, processing ores from mines in Bisbee and Mexico. Now most of the economy revolves around the many maquiladora plants in its much larger Mexican neighbor, Agua Prieta (pop. 79,138), which feels surprisingly calm and quiet, considering its border-town location.
There’s not a lot to see in either Douglas or Agua Prieta, though Douglas does boast one fabulous attraction: the landmark Gadsden Hotel (1046 G Ave., 520/364-4481, $50 and up). Rebuilt in 1929 after a fire destroyed the 1907 original, the spacious gold-leafed lobby—one of the grandest public spaces in the state—has a pretty Tiffany-style stained-glass mural decorating its mezzanine. The small and basic rooms are bargain-priced. The hotel also has a good Mexican-American restaurant, the El Conquistador Dining Room, and a very popular bar, the Saddle and Spur Tavern, its walls decorated with over 200 cattle brands from area ranches.