Of all the places our family visited on a recent Route 66 vacation, none was more surprising than the town of Oatman in Arizona. This tiny ghost town won’t turn up on most maps but it’s so very worth taking the time to visit, especially if you are traveling with children. My teen especially loved Oatman. Here are four things she enjoyed the most during our brief two hour stay.
Commune with donkeys
We had heard that there are wild burros that roam the hillsides above Oatman but didn’t realize that these animals like to hang out with the tourists. When we visited Oatman earlier this year, visitors were still allowed to feed the burros though it sounds like the BLM is now discouraging the practice for the safety of the animals (and people too). There are about 10 burros that tend to stick around the town along with their babies which are totally fun to watch.
Get an ice cream at the Oatman Hotel and Cafe.
Probably the oldest building in town, the Oatman Hotel no longer functions as a hotel but still is a great place to look around and grab an ice cream or some lunch. From the lobby of the hotel, you can peek inside the bar which is covered with thousands of dollar bills from ceiling to floor.
Walk up and down the street
The town of Oatman only has one street and a rather short one at that which makes it quite easy to walk around and take in that old time Western ambiance. There are lots of historical old buildings here, plus old wagons, wooden sidewalks, baby burros that plop down in the middle of the street for a noonday nap, and staged gunfights. Oatmen also has special events scheduled throughout the year such as bed races, sidewalk egg fry, burro biskit toss and more. (Read about it at Oatmangoldroad.org)
According to the Oatman Chamber of Commerce, the town has over 40 gift and antique shops. We visited several of them and found everything from burro tee shirts to sprongy burro refrigerator magnets, both which make way cool souvenirs. If we hadn’t been so pressed for time, we would have loved to go through all 40 of those shops for even more burro loot.
For a ghost town, Oatman is about the liveliest ghost town we’ve ever seen but definitely worth a visit. Oatman can be found on Old Route 66 (also known as the Oatman Highway) 28 miles west of Kingman, Arizona.
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