Surviving Sierra Vista (and enjoying it!)
Hold on, though! It's not all doom and gloom! Sierra Vista (Spanish for "mountain vista") is actually quite a beautiful area! Well, to be clear, the natural surroundings are beautiful. My first impression as I drove in was that it reminded me of Northern Tanzania and the Ngorongoro Crater area. I realize that is hyperspecific and probably unrelatable, so my second impression might be more helpful. My second impression was that it reminded me of Denver. Namely the city (town?) is in a flat area with grass and small brush, bordered by imposing, tree-covered mountains. The weather is milder than Phoenix, having been at least 10 degrees cooler during my stay than it was in Phoenix.
Dining in Sierra Vista is not rife with options. Probably the newest development in the dining scene is Arizona-celebrity-chef Aaron May's Sasquatch Lodge Kitchen. The menu is what you would expect from an Aaron May restaurant - American standards dressed up with fancy mustard and such, as well as a tasty and overwhelmingly-large steak spinach salad. SV Korea Home was a surprising delight for dinner. Also recommended by my SV-Native coworker are: Caffe Ole ("charmingly misspelled in any language you try to parse it in") for breakfast; Indochine for Vietnamese; Peacock for better Vietnamese; and Filiberto's for "not as bad as it looks" Mexican.
Less than a half hour away are two unique western towns: the infamous Tombstone and the quirky Bisbee.
Tombstone features a surprisingly small old-west downtown with the OK Corral, Birdcage Theatre, and a variety of themed restaurants and gift shops. There are gunslingers and ladies-of-the-night (in costume, comeon!) roaming the streets and several staged gunfights throughout the day. I was a little disappointed in the whole thing, but I did spend my childhood dreaming of being an old-west cowboy so I had high expectations. It's still cool to see and kids will love it.
Bisbee is an old mining town built into the mountains, as evidenced by the 1,000 step staircase (there's even a "5k that feels like a 10k" for you masochists out there). Bisbee has a feeling unique to any Arizona town/city that I have seen...roaming the streets at night after a light rain shower reminded me of walking around Rome at night. There are a variety of restaurants and breweries, as well as hotels and B&Bs for your accommodation needs.