Going to Arizona? Don’t miss visiting the quaint towns of Jerome & Cottonwood

It’s been thirty years since I went to the small town (population 400) of Jerome. This little artisan’s town impressed me then—and still does. It’s full of tourists passing through and yet the residents and shop owners maintain their friendliness and welcome you into their stores with a familiar, casual approach.

During my last trip, I toured the Douglas Mansion, built in 1916 by miner, James S. “Rawhide” Douglas. It’s impressive with a wine cellar, billiard room, marble shower, steam heat and an odd choice, a central vacuum system. The nearby Daisy Hotel served as a dormitory for the miners. Sad to see it in total disrepair, but nice that the Spanish Mission style Jerome Grand Hotel is ready for visitors.

Nearby is Tuzigoot National Monument, the first Indian ruins I saw. Built by the Sinagua people between 1100 and 1400 AD, it received the name Tuzigoot by one of the Apache members of the crew excavating the site in the 1930s and means “crooked water.” There’s a great virtual tour available. A third-mile trail leads you through the 100 rooms of this pueblo. It’s self-guided, but rangers are on hand.

Within easy driving distance in the Verde Valley is the Montezuma Castle National Monument. Excavated in 1933, it’s a 45-50 room pueblo left by the Sinagua people 600 years ago. This sort of continuity of history is remarkable.

When you’re tired of historic sites…well, there’s more. Between Jerome and Cottonwood, stop in the little town (population 2,000) of Clarkdale. It might have started as a company town by William A. Clark, the owner of the Jerome copper mine, but now it’s a thriving independent community with antique shops, a variety of restaurants and even a wine tasting bar. We popped into Four Eight Wineworks and enjoyed some samples. It’s located in a former bank, complete with vault. Besides the delightful wines, pay attention to the photographs.

Last on our stop in the Anthem-Jerome-Anthem journey was Historic Old Town Cottonwood. This town of 6,000 boasts multiple restaurants from Mexican, burgers, multiple Italian joints, as well as Asian and burgers. I’d break one of my own rules about trying new places and opt for a repeat at Pizzeria Bocce Patio Bar. The salad served with ravioli and a creamy pesto dressing was delectable. The other adults opted for Margherita and Funghi pizzas and side salads while the self-entertaining kids chose plain cheese pizza. This is a town that calls for strolling and savoring with places to stay, hiking nearby and again, so many food choices!

Don’t let yourself stayed tied to metropolitan Phoenix, get out into the small towns and see what the wild west looks like in the 21st century.

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