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Start your visit to Prescott by breathing a little fresh air. You may not know it, but Prescott has a lot more to offer than cowboy shows and antiques. With dozens of trails winding around Prescott’s center, an exciting outdoor adventure is only minutes away. A great way to start your vacation in Prescott is to take a nature walk at Prescott’s Highlands Center, where nature walks are free and engaging. A knowledgeable guide will meet you in the morning and will lead you on a simple, yet entertaining tour through the forest that surrounds the center. The Highlands Center also offers multiple educational programs for children and adults and holds musical and theatrical performances regularly throughout the summer.
When your stomach starts rumbling at the end of the tour, head to Prescott’s historic downtown. You’ll find dozens of restaurants and eateries that will satisfy any craving. From the world’s best eggs benedict (in our opinion) to juicy burgers and local brew to Spanish tapas or authentic Indian cuisine, the options are endless. Check out our Prescott’s Best Bites article to see what there is to look forward to.
Even if you aren’t a fan of Antiques Roadshow, you can easily spend a few hours finding treasures at the dozens of antique stores hidden throughout downtown. You’ll find hand painted alphabet tea cups, Kodak Duaflex III cameras from the 40s, cast iron skillets, first edition children’s books and much more. Each shop is a treasure trove waiting to be combed through and patrons who are interested in learning the unpublicized version of Prescott’s history will be pleasantly surprised as the shop owners have been part of the community for decades.
After lunch, stretch your legs with a hike up Thumb Butte or along Watson Lake. Thumb Butte offers spectacular views of downtown Prescott and is a popular hike among locals, while the trails around Watson Lake are less popular and offer encounters with wildlife. If you love watching birds, Watson Lake is where you want to be.
Next, make your way back into town and find a place for dinner. You’ll be glad to have a full stomach for the next adventure.
Throw a little salt over your shoulder and get ready to take a walk with Prescott’s past. A Haunting Experience Tours is a two hour historical ghost tour of downtown Prescott lead by Darlene Wilson, a self-taught historian and spiritualist. This tour will shed light on just how haunted Prescott really is. It also provides a unique historical look at Prescott’s violent and lesser known past. Take a walk through downtown and learn about courthouse hangings, Whiskey Row fires, haunting violin performances, suicidal brides and shattered shot glasses. While it isn’t guaranteed that you’ll see a ghost on your tour, you’ll come away with a much better understanding of Prescott’s supernatural side. Even if you aren’t a fan of ghosts, this tour is an exciting way to learn more about Prescott’s history.
Polish the night off at the Hotel Vendome, a favorite destination for visitors and locals alike for nearly 100 years. Built in 1917, the Hotel Vendome was owned and operated by a young woman named Abbey Byr and her husband until she came down with tuberculosis. Now, the hotel is owned by an ambitious young couple who are dedicated to preserving the Vendome’s charm as well as updating some of its less comfortable features. Each room at the hotel has a different theme and is fully furnished with antiques, quilts, clawfoot tubs and a historic bell service. The hotel also has a reputation of being haunted by a few friendly ghosts and a cat, so if you didn’t see any ghosts during the tour, don’t dismay.Phone:(928)776-9550Address:1375 S. Walker Road Prescott, AZ 86303Price:FreePhone:9928)642-5074Address:230 S. Cortez Street Prescott, Arizona 86303Price:$20Phone:(928)776-0900Address:230 S. Cortez Street Prescott, Arizona 86303Price:$100 - $140
Spend the morning in downtown, where the Prescott Courthouse is always a buzz with community events and entertainment. Every weekend through the summer, the Courthouse Square hosts dozens of local artists, food vendors, live music and much more. Prescottonians spend evenings walking their dogs around the Square, meeting with other dog owners and throwing frisbees back and forth. During Christmas, the Courthouse Lighting takes place where hundreds of people gather to listen to a live choir and watch thousands of colorful lights illuminate the century-old building and surrounding trees.
After a nice stroll and a coffee, hop back in the car and drive over to Prescott’s wild side: the Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary. HPZS is a place where people can sit on a bench in the shade with a tiger, bald eagle, or mountain lion only a few feet away. Witness Gus, the two-year-old, 200 pound, black bear, who lost his mother to a car accident, feast on fresh fish, cantaloupe, apples, peaches, avocados, yogurt and berries. Don’t be surprised if your jaw drops as you watch him delicately strip the scales and bones from the fish, the pits from the peaches and the avocado meat from the skin and seed. Let yourself revel in Cassie the tiger’s joy as she leaps into her pool and wrestles with a giant ball. Discover a new appreciation for vegetables watching the javelina sniff out hidden ears of corn, bell peppers, onions, sweet potatoes and prickly pear. Meditate with the lemurs while they soak up the sun. Spend the morning relaxing with the critters at the sanctuary.
If you have children, top off the afternoon with a visit to The Spot… a Child’s Museum. The Spot is a hands-on discovery museum that encourages children of all ages to explore the worlds of science, history, local culture and the arts. Every exhibit at the museum is supposed to be touched and played with. The Spot is a place where children are free to be themselves and learn about the world around them in a safe way. Kids aren’t the only ones who have a great time though; parents quickly fall in love with the games and experiments as well. The Spot is completely run by volunteers and is open from 1 pm until 5 pm Fridays and Saturdays. Learn more about this incredibly fun and educational establishment in our Arizona issue.
Next, wave goodbye to Prescott, and drive over the hill to Jerome for dinner. Jerome is full of surprising restaurants promising unforgettable flavors and local flair, but if you are craving something particularly fresh and delicious, try Vaqueros Grill with their fusion of Native American and Southwestern cuisine in a vibrant and colorful setting. The Vaqueros Tacos are, as our Creative Director would say, scrumdiliumcious. Fry bread covered in black beans, pico de gallo, guacamole, sour cream and lettuce with a choice of a masterfully prepared meat. The Blue Corn Enchiladas are also very tasty smothered in green enchilada sauce, cheddar jack cheese, chipotle sour cream and chicken, pork or beef. Don’t forget dessert: honeyed fry bread sprinkled with powdered sugar.
If you’re in town for the weekend, you’ll probably notice a large crowd gathered around a pub called The Spirit Room. During the week, this little bar doesn’t have much to show for itself as the entire town empties out after nightfall. On the weekends however, The Spirit Room comes alive. Live rock bands play until the wee hours of the morning. Whiskey and beer poor endlessly from behind the bar. New friends are made and good times are had. If you’re up for a good time, head over to the Spirit Room.
End the day at the Connor Hotel, a place where travelers have been resting and rejuvenating since 1898. Business back then was booming until the copper mines started to close; then, as with so many other establishments in Jerome, the hotel was forced to follow suite. In 1931, Connor Hotel closed and remained closed until the 50s when it became a favorite spot for visitors who had had a little too much fun at The Spirit Room. Now, with brand new electrical wiring, sprinkler systems, fire escapes and modern renovations, the Connor Hotel is a favorite place for many to stay. The hosts are incredibly friendly and the rooms are comfortable, equipped with popcorn, televisions, chocolates, ironing boards and plenty of charm. It is suggested that if you’re not in the mood to listen to Spirit Room shenanigans during all hours of the night, you should book rooms five through twelve. These rooms are much quieter.Phone:(928)778-4242Address:1403 Heritage Park Road, Prescott, Arizona 86301Price:$5 - $8Phone:(928)771-0241Address:3250 Gateway Blvd Prescott, AZ 86303Price:$3Phone:(928)649-9090Address:363 Main Street Jerome, AZ 86331Price:$10 - $30Phone:(928)634-5006Address:160 Main Street Jerome, AZ 86331Price:$95 - $165
Start your day in Jerome with a little history lesson. This tiny town, stacked up on itself on the side of a mountain, doesn’t seem like much more than a community of disintegrating buildings, optimistic artists and creative restaurateurs, until you get acquainted with its rich history. Jerome’s uncommon past is saturated with ghost stories, copper mining victories and disasters, red light districts, fancy cars, and fame and fortune. The first place that will guide you through Jerome’s intriguing past is Jerome State Historic Park.
Located in the Douglas Mansion, the Jerome State Historic Park has one of the best views of the town and provides a thorough and entertaining introduction to Jerome. Original mining carts and equipment are sprawled across the side yards and the back of the mansion while diagrams and models of the underground mining structures are featured inside. A helpful video plays every hour describing the glory days of Jerome, when it was one of the wealthiest towns in the nation as well as its ghostly fate after the mining industry faded. With a little knowledge of where prominent buildings once stood, where the best drinks were to be had and which buildings still balance precariously on the edge of the mountain, this little town will have a whole new depth.
If you’re a history buff and want to learn more about Jerome’s surprising past, check out the Mine Museum, New State Motor Building, Audrey Headframe Park, and the Goldking Mine and Ghost Town. There are also several historical tours, ghost tours and wine tours offered by Tours of Jerome (ask for Ken Mikell as your guide).
Next, take some time to walk the whole of the town, which only takes two or three hours. Browse the many shops and art galleries, take in the views, throw a few pennies into the town jail, sip on locally grown organic wine at the increasing number of tasting rooms, watch a glass blowing demonstration, try a bite of fresh fudge or handmade ice cream at Copper Country Fudge shop, play on the swings at the park, read a book at the town library, sink your teeth into a juicy hamburger at The Haunted Hamburger or The Asylum, and listen to live music at the Spirit Room.
If you happen to be in Jerome on the first Saturday of the month, don’t miss the Art Walk featuring 25 local galleries and dozens of artists. The Art Walk has been bringing in visitors and supporting the community for years and is a fun activity for anyone interested in all things weird and wonderful.
Spend a second night at the Connor Hotel as it is only a few miles from Cottonwood and the Verde Canyon Railroad (where the next day’s adventure will take place). The Connor Hotel has discounts on railroad tours if booked through them, so keep an eye out for special packages.Phone:(928)634-5381Address:100 Douglas Road Jerome, AZ 86331Price:$5
Start day four with a light breakfast at the Flatiron Cafe. Named after its architectural shape, the Flatiron Cafe is a cute little coffee shop that sells breakfast, lunch, snacks, coffee, chai and more. Before it became host to the Flatiron, the building itself had been an eatery, a nurse’s station, a needlework shop, a market and a bakery. Now, the cafe is a favorite breakfast spot for locals and visitors. Try the smoked salmon quesadilla, the oatmeal or the Southwest turkey panini.
Next, take a last look at Jerome and head down the hill to the Verde Canyon Railroad. This 102-year-old train will take you through the beautiful Verde Canyon, where you will witness golden eagles soaring over the river, horses playing in fields and pronghorn grazing in the meadows. During the four hour ride, you’ll learn about the history of the canyon and the reason for the train’s existence. You’ll spy indigenous ruins tucked into the sides of cliffs. You’ll have the opportunity to snack on homemade cookies and other treats, and if you booked a special ride, you’ll indulge in local wines and chocolates. Sit back and relax as the train takes you through a part of Arizona that can't be seen from any other vantage point.
Speaking of wine, your next stop, after disembarking from the Verde Canyon Railroad, will be Old Town Cottonwood. This tiny slice of town can be walked from one end to the other in five minutes; however, within those five minutes, you’ll find award winning restaurants, antique stores, thrift shops and several unique tasting rooms for local wines. Take your time and discover what this surprising stretch of town has to offer.
After all those wine tastings, you’ll be ready for quality cuisine. Good thing you booked a table at The Schoolhouse restaurant. Your first lesson at The Schoolhouse will be in beverages as samples of a refreshing non-alcoholic drink will be brought to the table. For dinner, you’ll learn about hemp dusted ahi tuna, pork osso bucco with a life-altering macaroni and cheese, Arctic char with forbidden black rice, grass-fed beef tenderloin with sauteed local vegetables and much more. All the produce is from the chef’s organic garden and the animals that provided the meat are raised sustainably and treated humanely. If there is one lesson you’ll remember from The Schoolhouse, it will be that incredible food can be found in the humblest of places.
Upon finishing your lesson in incredible cuisine, your final stop for the day will be the Red Agave Resort in Sedona. This unassuming getaway is an outdoor adventure resort created to provide a beautiful natural space for visitors to relax and enjoy Sedona’s wilderness. The resort is composed of five studios and nine chalets arranged in a semicircle so every patron has a prime view of the red rock mountains. Each guest also has easy access to a stage for events and performances, a pool and two spas, desert gardens, a stunning night sky, a trail leading out into the red rock landscape, and a central fire pit (ingredients for s’mores are available at the front office). The resort is close to downtown and you can catch a trolley to get wherever you want to go.
One thing we love about the Red Agave is that is has several regulations in place to help conserve the environment. Patrons are asked to recycle and throw their trash away at the end of their stay. Shampoo and conditioner dispensers are installed in the shower, eliminating the use of small plastic bottles. Towels and sheets aren’t serviced until the end of the stay. Plastic water bottles also aren’t available, encouraging patrons to fill their bottles from the large water container at the office.Phone:(928)634-2733Address:416 Main Street Jerome, AZ 86331Price:$5 - $15Phone:(800)293-7245Address:300 N Broadway Clarkdale, AZ 86324Price:$55 - $150Phone:(928)634-0700Address:202 N Main Street Cottonwood, AZ 86326Price:$25 - $50Phone:(928)284-9327Address:120 Canyon Circle Drive Sedona, Arizona 86351Price:$115 - $250
It’s time to get your Jeep on. Sedona has hundreds of trails that stretch beyond its main town center and in order to access many of the trails, you need to have a four-wheel-drive vehicle. There are two ways to go about harnessing the power of a Jeep: you can book a tour with a local off-roading company like Pink Jeep Tours, or you can rent a Jeep from just about any rental car company. Jeeps are easy to drive, agile and they use less gasoline than other SUVs. And, let’s face it, driving them is half the fun.
Before you hit the trails, stop by The Hike House, an outdoor gear hub in the middle of Sedona. This shop has everything you could ever want or need for a day of adventuring in Sedona, including breakfast and advice from trailblazing experts. Grab a scone and a smoothie and plot out your adventure for the morning. You’ll want to be on the road by eight in the morning though, the trails will get toasty within a few hours.
After an adrenaline fueled morning, head back into town and stop by Tlaquepaque and the Oak Creek Brewery for a burger, beer and an order of wicked pickles. Yes, Tlaquepaque is a real word and yes, it is a real place in Sedona. Pronounced T-la-keh-pah-keh, this beautiful arts and crafts village is a pleasant getaway for just about everyone. With live acoustic music echoing off the stucco and blue tile walls, water fountains gurgling in the corners, giant cottonwood trees shading every step, and stunning sculptures poised on the cobblestone streets, Tlaquepaque seems to envelope visitors in a sense of calm and relaxation. Sip on locally crafted brews, indulge in French cuisine or let a square of dark chocolate and chilli pepper slowly melt on your tongue at one of the many restaurants inside this unassuming village. Even if you have a hard time pronouncing it, Tlaquepaque is a stop you don’t want to miss.
Spend a couple hours walking around downtown or relaxing at the Red Agave Resort or taking a little walk through the red rocks. Then, gear up for a little bike ride. Directly across the street from Red Agave Resort is the Bike and Bean, a coffee and bike rental shop. This is where you want to go if you like to bike and want to see the best sides of Sedona. With hundreds of miles of red dirt trails, Sedona is a mountain biker’s dream and the best part is, you don’t have to haul your bike across the country to enjoy it. The fellas at the Bike and Bean are experts with essential equipment at their fingertips. After a few questions, they’ll point out trails that will quench your thirst for adventure and fit your agility level.
After a few twilight hours of maneuvering a bike along red dirt trails, you’ll be ready to refuel.
Spiced popcorn. 100 percent agave tequila. Fire roasted corn with spicy mayo, lime and cotija cheese. Organic local greens mixed with cranberries, pumpkin seeds, and nuts drizzled in honey lime dressing. Grilled wild Alaskan halibut with pumpkinseed-tomatillo-herb mole and roasted corn salsa. Veracruz-style sweet corn cake served with homemade dulce de leche, strawberry jam, and vanilla bean ice cream. Need we say more? At Elote Cafe every incredible ingredient is sourced from local Arizona farms or caught humanely in the wild. Make reservations and prepare for a delectable evening.
Finally, head back to the Red Agave Resort and take a few minutes to appreciate the desert night sky. Billions of stars will be visible as well as most of the constellations. Dip your feet in the warm spa and listen to the calming sounds of nocturnal wildlife hooting and howling in the distance.Phone:(928)282-5820Address:431 State Route 179 #B-1 Sedona, AZ 86336Phone:(928)282-4838Address:336 State Route 179 Sedona, AZPhone:(928)284-0210Address:75 Bell Rock Plaza Sedona, AZ 86351Price:$30 - $50Phone:(928)203-0105Address:771 State Route 179 Sedona, AZ 86336Price:$11 - $30
On your last day, you’ll discover a different side of Arizona than the high deserts and cacti rich fields, but you will have to get up early. Leave the resort by 5 a.m. and drive to Arcosanti, a small establishment located in the middle of the desert 40 minutes south of Sedona. Arcosanti is dedicated to finding ways to build urban dwellings in ways that harmonize with the environment and it offers many activities for visitors including archeological and environmental tours of the grounds. During your morning tour, you’ll step carefully through centuries-old ruins of a pueblo; learn about ancient pronghorn hunting techniques; descend into an oasis filled with tiny toads, great horned owls, coyotes and other wildlife; and test your bird watching skills to see how many bird species you can spot (there are over 200 local species of birds in the oasis). After the tour, feel free to stay and investigate the campus. Arcosanti has a very unique mission and for four decades, its community members have injected their own creativity into the buildings on the grounds.
When your stomach starts to growl, hop in the car and head back to Prescott for a bite to eat.
Enjoy the afternoon at leisure before heading home.Phone:(928)533-8295Address:13555 S. Cross L Rd. Mayer, AZ 86333Price:$10 - $200
We started our central Arizona adventure early in the morning at Prescott’s Highlands Center for Natural History. Our plan was to assess one of their free naturalist hikes incognito. The hike started at 7:30 am and acquainted us with the nearby high desert ecosystem and the effects of long-term drought. For two hours, we walked a loop around the center. Even at eight in the morning, the trail was hot and the animals were hidden away; however, we learned a great deal about the area and by the end of the tour, we had a much better understanding of Prescott’s ecology. Our guide clearly had a love for conservation and had a wealth of knowledge. If we had a question he couldn’t answer, he was determined to find it as soon as we returned to the center.
Just down the road from the Highlands Center was the Lynx Lake Cafe, a small eatery serving traditional German cuisine and local favorites. We had known the cafe for its legendary Friday night fish fry, but we had yet to sample its daytime fare. The cafe also rents out kayaks and self-propelled boats for the lake below.
After lunch, we skipped down the road, where we met volunteers at The Spot… a Child’s Museum. For the rest of the afternoon, we investigated the Quantum Quizzics exhibits at the museum and interviewed children and their parents about their favorite weekend hangout. An hour into the interviews, one young spotologist strapped our GoPro camera to her head and guided us through the exhibits. After a few hours, we had all the answers to our questions and plenty of media for our feature.
For dinner, we didn’t need to travel far beyond downtown Prescott to find something tasty. From creamy baked brie at Bin 239 to prickly pear mojitos and Spanish tapas at El Gato Azul to juicy burgers and locally brewed beer at Prescott Brewing Company, downtown Prescott has a restaurant to satisfy any craving. Throughout the week, we enjoyed many delicious types of cuisine including Indian, Spanish, vegan, Italian, and good ol’ American. Read our Best Bites article to learn more about the mouthwatering places to eat in Prescott.Phone:(928)776-9550Address:1375 S. Walker Road Prescott, AZ 86303Price:FreePhone:(928)778-0720Address:4505 E Forest Service Rd Prescott, AZ 86303Price:$10 - $20Phone:(928)771-0241Address:3250 Gateway Blvd Prescott, AZ 86303Price:$3
Our second day started with a bowl of chilled watermelon and dill soup at The Raven Cafe and a hike around Granite Mountain. Our plan was to see if we would be lucky enough to spot a few highland critters like peregrine falcons, bobcats and deer. Alas, while the hike was fun and beautiful, the only wildlife we encountered were a few busy squirrels, a crow and a few dragonflies.
The afternoon was spent enjoying the downtown courthouse square, where art and food vendors were selling their wares. Live music echoed off the buildings and locals took the opportunity to mingle with other community members. Dogs chased each other and played with frisbees. We snacked on pizza slices at Bill’s Pizza and picked out sweet and savory spice mixes at the Spice Traveler.
Our day ended with a tour of the haunted side of Prescott with A Haunting Experience Tours. With our self-taught guide, Darlene, we learned about the many unfortunate events that took place a hundred years ago in Prescott and the tormented souls that endured. We were sure to double check every story that was told for authenticity and Darlene’s renditions checked out. One thing that we weren’t fans of for the tour was the mobile app that Darlene used to locate nearby spirits. The app screen would notify us that it was sending out electrical waves and soon a red, blue or green spot would show up next to the spot in the middle that was supposed to be us. A word would also pop up indicating something about a spirit such as “angry,” “music” or “crime.” According to the app, the streets of Prescott were crawling with spirits who seemed confused about their predicament. While the rest of the tour was quite spine tingling, it also gave a very thorough history of the town, which we greatly appreciated.Phone:9928)642-5074Address:230 S. Cortez Street Prescott, Arizona 86303Price:$20
Our third day was completely booked for the Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary, a little organization dedicated to rescuing animals and educating the public. Over 200 critters, unable to be released into the wild due to injury or imprinting, have been given a comfortable and spacious home at the sanctuary. As previous visitors and big fans of HPZS, we arranged a production day where we shadowed keepers as they cared for Montana the bald eagle, Gus the American black bear, Jade the mountain lion and many others. We also interviewed the sanctuary director and several staff members about the sanctuary's work and future plans. By the end of the day, we had three cameras full of media, including a GoPro that had gotten licked by a tiger, and a full feature ready to be shared.
In the evening, we checked in to a boutique hotel called the Hotel Vendome. Known for its friendly resident ghosts and unbeatable charm, the Vendome turned out to be quite the adventure.Phone:(928)778-4242Address:1403 Heritage Park Road, Prescott, Arizona 86301Price:$5 - $8Phone:(928)776-0900Address:230 S. Cortez Street Prescott, Arizona 86303Price:$100 - $140
The fourth day in the field started at 4:30 in the morning. We splashed water on our faces, packed our bags and headed down the road toward Arcosanti, a small art community living in the desert. Arcosanti offers nature tours, archeological tours, theatrical performances and other cultural events for visitors to enjoy. There are also guest rooms to stay in; however, after our experience, we wouldn’t recommend staying the night.
Our guide, who would be taking us on an archeological tour and a nature walk, met us at the dining hall in Arcosanti’s main building at six o’clock in the morning. Soon, we were following him through cacti and loose volcanic rock to the ruins of a centuries-old pueblo. The guide shared his knowledge about the pueblo inhabitants and showed us several other sites where people used to thrive.
We eventually descended into a canyon and followed a tiny stream. Frogs jumped away from our approaching steps, swallows zipped around our heads and a great horned owl glided from tree to tree in front of us. We couldn’t believe the oasis we had stumbled into and we knew that our readers would be thrilled to share the same experience.
After the tours, we investigated the rest of the campus and sat in on a community meeting about water, or the lack thereof. In the afternoon, we were given the key to our guest room and we decided to take a few minutes to catch up on notes, charge our gear and prep for the next leg of the journey.
The day ended with a guided tour of the campus and a dinner that was slightly better than the “Fantastic Fish Cakes” we tried to eat at lunch. An assortment of insects and arachnids, including cockroaches, decided to join us in our room as soon as the sun disappeared and the night was spent swatting at the brave souls that tried to crawl onto the covers. Learn more about this adventurous experience in our Arizona issue.Phone:(928)533-8295Address:13555 S. Cross L Rd. Mayer, AZ 86333Price:$10 - $200
Day five brought another early morning and a questionable breakfast at Arcosanti. After a bite of toast, we hopped in our Jeep and headed for Sedona and red rock country. The plan was to procure a Red Rock Pass and drive deep into the wilderness to visit two protected indigenous heritage sites. We found our Red Rock Pass at The Hike House in Sedona, as well as an incredible array of outdoor gear, maps, planning stations and snacks.
The morning and afternoon were spent driving along dirt roads, appreciating the legacies that were left behind by previous native communities, and taking advantage of unique camera angles and the GoPro’s ability to suction cup onto any surface. Six hours and hundreds of photos of pictographs later, we were ready to head back into town.
We stayed at the Red Agave Hotel, a little lodge designed specifically for outdoor adventurers. The hotel sat at the base of the majestic Sedona landscape and the view outside each room was one for the record books. A small desert garden and swimming area stood only a few steps away and a trail lead from the hotel to the wilderness beyond. We had found a place that was truly an outdoor lover’s paradise.
After much needed showers and a few minutes to rest, we headed back out in search of Elote Cafe, a restaurant we had been wanting to try for months. We were given a bowl of spicy popcorn while we waited for our table and the tequila bar was open for anyone who wanted to try a cocktail. Once we were seated, the real adventure began. Fire roasted corn with spicy mayo, lime and cotija cheese. Organic local greens mixed with cranberries, pumpkin seeds, and nuts drizzled in honey lime dressing. Grilled wild Alaskan halibut with pumpkinseed-tomatillo-herb mole and roasted corn salsa. Veracruz-style sweet corn cake served with homemade dulce de leche, strawberry jam, and vanilla bean ice cream. It was all we could do to refrain from ordering everything on the menu. What made each bite even more delightful was the fact that every incredible ingredient had been sourced from local Arizona farms or caught humanely in the wild.
The last thing we did for the day was enjoy the splendor of the night sky with its jet black canvas and multitude of stars. We set up one of our cameras on the low brick wall separating the Red Agave Hotel and the Sedona wilderness, and for a few hours we pointed the camera at the red rock mountains. By leaving the shutter open for 20 minutes at a time, we were able to see the star paths circling behind. These images weren’t sharp enough to use in the issue, but taking the time to take them was well worth it.Phone:(928)282-5820Address:431 State Route 179 #B-1 Sedona, AZ 86336Phone:(928)203-0105Address:771 State Route 179 Sedona, AZ 86336Price:$11 - $30Phone:(928)284-9327Address:120 Canyon Circle Drive Sedona, Arizona 86351Price:$115 - $250
The morning started with a chai and a coffee at the Bike and Bean across the street from our hotel. The Bike and Bean specializes in bike rentals, coffee and getting riders geared up for Sedona’s trails. After renting one of their mountain bikes, Chris embarked on a two hour journey through the red rock wilderness. He returned with his arms and legs covered in dirt and sweat and there was a smile the size of the Grand Canyon on his face. Apparently, the experts at the Bike and Bean had recommended the perfect trail.
The next stop was Page Springs Winery in Cornville. We had heard about the winery from an employee at the Hike House and we couldn’t wait to learn more about the growing wine industry in Arizona. The ten-year-old winery was situated on the banks of Oak Creek and had a wealth of healthy vines. After asking a few questions, we learned that the wine industry had exploded across northern Arizona and wineries were popping up every few hundred yards in towns like Cottonwood and Jerome.
A few miles up the road, we landed in Jerome, a hundred-year-old copper mining town that became a thriving community for artists, chefs and other creatives. The afternoon was spent recording the fury of a torrential monsoon rainstorm that blew in. After a while, the rain subsided and the flash floods drained from the streets and we checked in to the Connor Hotel. Dinner was a delightful fusion of pork tacos wrapped in fry bread at Vaqueros Grill and Cantina. We watched the sun set through the viewfinders on our cameras before visiting Jerome’s signature pub, The Spirit Room. Unfortunately, The Spirit Room was a bit lackluster as the town was hosting only six visitors for the night. Everyone else was sweeping water from their porches or staying in for the night (weekends are much more lively).Phone:(928)284-0210Address:75 Bell Rock Plaza Sedona, AZ 86351Price:$30 - $50Phone:(928)639-3004Address:1500 N Page Springs Rd Cornville, AZ 86325Price:$11 - $25Phone:(928)649-9090Address:363 Main Street Jerome, AZ 86331Price:$10 - $30Phone:(928)634-5006Address:160 Main Street Jerome, AZ 86331Price:$95 - $165
Day seven dawned with a warm sunrise and a few patriotic shouts from Fourth of July fans. After posting an article about sustainable ways to celebrate the country’s birthday, we fueled up at our favorite cafe, the Flatiron, and headed down the mountain for a Fourth of July train ride on the Verde Canyon Railroad.
Within four exciting hours of rolling through the Verde Canyon and watching eagles glide through the trees and horses play alongside the train, we had hundreds of beautiful photographs and pages of notes for another feature. However, our day was only half over. Our next stop was a campsite at Dead Horse Ranch State Park, where we set up our tent and prepared for an evening of fireworks. We had reserved a campsite on the edge of the park in a open field so we would have an open view of the fireworks. The only thing left to do was grab some dinner.
Reservations had been made at a restaurant called The Schoolhouse, a little place along Main street in Cottonwood that cooks up mouthwatering dishes with sustainably produced ingredients. Every bite was glorious and by the end of the meal, The Schoolhouse had secured its spot in our next issue.
The day ended with a bang, or to be accurate, hundreds of bangs, as Cottonwood lit up the sky with fireworks. All of our cameras were rolling and we captured nearly every second of blazing glory. A great way to end a day’s work.Phone:(928)634-2733Address:416 Main Street Jerome, AZ 86331Price:$5 - $15Phone:(800)293-7245Address:300 N Broadway Clarkdale, AZ 86324Price:$55 - $150Phone:(928)634-0700Address:202 N Main Street Cottonwood, AZ 86326Price:$25 - $50Phone:(928)634-5283Address:675 Dead Horse Ranch Rd. Cottonwood, Arizona 86326Price:$15
The last day of our production trip took us to the middle of the red rock wilderness and the Sedona Mago Retreat. Even though we had our doubts driving the eleven miles back into the countryside to check the place out, the retreat turned out to be quite welcoming and relaxing. While reservations need to be made to stay at the retreat, visitors are welcome to stop by and explore on Saturdays. The campus has its own organic garden and every building has been built in a way that conserves natural resources. After an hour of walking the trails and investigating the campus, we decided to add the Sedona Mago Retreat to our list of places to further investigate, as we didn’t have the time or the means to book a full week to do a complete review.
Our last stop was the Verde Lea Market in Cottonwood. A shabby little market with a rusted car out front, the Verde Lea didn’t inspire confidence at first site. However, we had heard wonderful things about their tortas and we had to see what all the fuss was about. As soon as we stepped through the door, the atmosphere changed. A man named Bill greeted us with a warm smile and walked us through his favorite items on the menu. Needless to say, after inhaling two suggested sandwiches, we were hooked. If we lived anywhere close by, we’d be eating there every day. No joke.Phone:(928)204-3391Address:3500 E Bill Gray Rd. Sedona, AZ 86336Price:$164 - $385 (for two guests) per nightPhone:(928)634-8731Address:516 N Main St Cottonwood, AZ 86326Price:$3 - $10