If you have Arizona’s Grand Canyon on your agenda and are coming in from another country, you may not have time to explore the surrounding area depending on the length of your trip and where else you have scheduled in the states on your itinerary. That said, I’d recommend three additional stops, all an easy (and beautiful) drive from the Grand Canyon.
First up, you’ll hit Sedona Arizona if you head south on the Flagstaff road and be greeted with stunning views and majestic red rocks and canyons on all sides. It is known to be a spiritual place with its vortexes, abundance of spas and healing centers and easy access to natural beauty. Read my write-up on Sedona which has useful links to other resources, including restaurants and tours.
Sedona is more well known than some of the smaller towns in and around Sedona which can be done in a lovely southernly loop that takes in both the town of Prescott and Jerome. You can also visit both towns on a side trip from Phoenix as well.
While we did not make it to Prescott in our most recent trip in February, I’ve visited a couple of times in the past. Prescott is a lovely historical town that is also known worldwide as the host of the World’s Oldest Rodeo and most recently now the host of the annual Whiskey Off-Road Mountain Bike endurance race, the largest competitive mountain bike race in North America.
While both little towns both off the popular Route 89A, are small, they attract American tourists who want to a little seclusion time in the beautiful Arizona canyons. Both towns are also known for their artsy ambiance and Jerome in particular, has a number of art galleries and funky shops along the main street that passes through the town itself.
I felt I had to return to Jerome as it had been many years since my last return and my recollection of the place has always been positive after each visit over the years. What’s unique about this special little Arizona gem is its location! Nestled on the side of Cleopatra Hill on top of what was once the largest copper mine in Arizona, the only way to reach Jerome is to climb to the top via a windy two lane road until you reach the main drag, which like most small towns in America, is called Main Street.
Below is a landscape view from the top of the hill inside the town itself, at dusk around the time we arrived on our first evening. The photo below it was taken around the same location along Hull Avenue, which juts off Main Street, within the same hour so you can see how the lighting changes as you’re greeted with evening.
During the day, when the sky is clear and blue, the winter spiky trees protruded upward into the sky and through the bare branches, you can see that magical view from nearly any point in the small town of Jerome.
Additional views facing outward from the center of town…..you can easily see why people might want to escape their urban life for a little R&R in this quiet and authentic town.
Jerome, in its heyday, produced an astonishing three million pounds of copper per month, through a combination of efforts from miners, smelter workers, freighters, gamblers, bootleggers, saloon keepers, storekeepers and preachers. Gold, silver, lead, zinc, azurite and malachite also contributed to the wealth of the time in its early days.
Founded in 1876, it was once the fourth largest city in the Arizona territory because of this mineral wealth. Jerome’s mines closed in the fifties, which brought the town’s population at a peak of 15,000 down to only around 50 people in the late fifties! WOW! Within five year’s of the mine’s closing, Jerome became the largest ghost town in America.
Interestingly enough, ghost town is how many I’ve talked to in the area, referred to Jerome, even today. The population remains small and the survivor instinct of those who remained brought on a bit of a counter-culture. My memories of my earliest visits to Jerome, now over twenty years ago, were loaded with artists and misfits, the kind of misfits you learn from and cherish every story. Artists and creative types settled in, renovated homes (refer to the back story of Andrea Prince’s renovation project of the Surgeon’s House B&B) and sold their creations in what what once abandoned shops.
The town’s appearance hadn’t changed much since my last two visits although if you talk to locals, there’s more traffic than ever before and it’s busier, something that can be annoying if you moved to Jerome for peace and quiet, and wanted to get away from traffic jams, which I’d imagine could easily happen during tourist season with a small two lane road leading into the town center.
Below is the view of Main Street from Miner’s Cottage where we hung our hat for a couple of nights (highly recommended). The Miner’s Cottage a historical old two floor house with an apartment on the upper floor and lower floor – the wood floors are uneven on the upper floor where we stayed, and dark antique wood fixtures and furniture add a rustic charm to the place that is both cozy and romantic.
There’s an old fashioned wooden porch, similar to the others in town where you can take it all in while sipping a morning cup of Joe. (the above shot shows you the architecture of nearby buildings along Main Street)
Below is the a lovely porch area of the Surgeon’s House, a charming B&B on the top of the hill, just above Main Street, boasting stunning views of the valley below. We also stayed here during our last trip to Jerome in February – see my write-up on places to stay in Jerome, which includes more details on both of these lovely accommodation gems.
The Haunted Hamburger is a known classic in town and every local not only knows about it, but frequents it on a regular basis, kids and all. Note the mishmash of bar and family style restaurant, with salad dressing toppings on the right, adjacent to the bar and further along, there’s a glass case of scrumptious homemade desserts.
What’s so fun about this place is that you can sit at the bar with locals and spend a relaxing social evening out (note the chandelier, not a common thing to find in a family restaurant or a pub/bar), or you can sit out on the porch (with heat lamps on if it gets cold) and order one of their classic burgers.
Located on 410 Clark Street, it has been around now for roughly 20 years. Like so many other buildings in Jerome, it was old and abandoned and in need of great repair before Michelle and Eric Jurisin , the husband/wife team restored it. During renovation, they noticed things like tools had gone missing and then reappeared in the most conspicuous of places where supposedly the “ghosts” had returned them.
You don’t need to spend much time in Jerome to believe that ghosts could easily be an integral part of the shop buildings and homes in the town, even if you’re not a big believer in spirits. While it carries the “hamburger” name and most certainly has classic burgers on its menu, it serves a number of Mexican dishes as well, all casual in their appearance and style — from enchiladas and quesadillas to fajitas. There’s also cheese steaks, fish & chips, chili, and outa this world deep fried pickles, onion rings and zucchini.
They also have really delicious barbecue ribs & chicken with fresh veggies…..definitely worth a stop when in Jerome.
The Mile High Grill & Inn on 309 Main Street has live music on certain nights of the week and is more like a funky bar with a menu than it is a formal restaurant. Everything is casual in Jerome and fine dining isn’t why you head to this remote artsy town.
Remember you can rent out apartments and houses with full kitchens in Jerome. In addition to Miner’s Cottage (above), the Kelly House, located just down the street heading into town on the left and above Gallery 527 on Main, is another great longer term rental option (also included in my Jerome lodging write-up).
If you do stay at one of the hotels noted on the list or B&B (Surgeon’s is my favorite – tell Andrea Renee and Anthony say hello), then you’ll want to explore some of the fun eateries in town.
Below is a grilled chicken and bacon sandwich creation – simple but delicious and it goes well with one of their beers on the menu, although you can explore like we did and get a bottle of red. It wouldn’t be America’s west if you couldn’t find a Cabernet Sauvignon with a cowboy rising a horse on the label.
While you can eat light and healthy at this casual restaurant on the main drag (there’s tons of great salad options, including a very delicious blackened salmon kale salad), some of the less light but oh so classically American and naughty options may just leave you feeling a little guilty afterwards.
That said, how often do you find black bean ranchero, bacon cheeseburgers, Buffalo chips, battered cheese curd (yes really), pickle fries (seems to be popular here), pretzels, corn bread and chicken livers, bacon and crispy onions all on the same menu?
The Flatiron is on the opposite end of the spectrum. More of a breakfast and lunch eatery than an evening hang out (in fact it closes at 3 pm daily — closed on Tuesdays at the time of writing this), The Flatiron serves whole foods breakfasts, featuring organic and locally sourced ingredients.
They offer vegan and gluten-free options as well throughout the menu — from black bean tostadas and quinoa salads to tofu tacos and and chicken taco salads. You can get toast and bagels regular or gluten-free as well and they have a delicious organic oatmeal with pecans, butter and brown sugar. For those who have an issue with dairy, they serve almond and soy milk on its own or with your coffee.
We had lunch one day at Grapes on Main Street, which has great ambiance and plenty of wine choices by the glass. For food, they mostly serve pizza, pasta, salads and sandwiches – it’s a great lunch spot and if the weather is nice, be sure to ask for patio seating.
On another day, we headed to Passion Cellars who has a tasting room — our friend Howard went to town and ordered a bunch of different tastings – white and red selections, so we could get a handle on Arizona wines. While we didn’t have time on this trip to take side tours (okay, after being on the road for over a month, we were too overspent to), we wished we had taken a Tour of Jerome (866.996.TOUR for more info) which takes you on haunted, historic and wine tasting tours in and around Jerome.
Shopping & Art
A fun place on the main street is the Jerome Ghost Pepper Company, a great spot for people who love their food hot and spicy and where you can buy some spices to take home with you.
While Arizona vineyards are relatively new and not on the national radar yet, there are a bunch of passionate wine lovers who are trying. The Verde Valley Wine Trail has several Arizona wineries and four tasting rooms cushioned in the red rock countryside and lush canyons surrounding Cottonwood, Jerome, Clarkdale, and Cornville, all small communities south of Sedona.
Known far beyond the reaches of Jerome is Nellie Bly or the longer version – Nellie Blyscopes, a shop which offers a unique gallery of kaleidoscopes and art glass and has been around since 1988. Cool stat is worth knowing is that Nellie Bly is the largest dealer of kaleidoscopes in the world, featuring over 90 kaleidoscope artists.
Discovered in Nellie Bly II, the gift shop next door, which has a number of quirky gift ideas, including these ceramic chocolates, definitely delicious enough looking to eat….but warning to those you give them to – please don’t!
I have to give a call out to one of my favorite jewelers on town – Arum Jewelry. The work of the artists they carry so inspire me that each time I’ve been to Jerome, I end up purchasing a piece.
This year, I also went home with a piece from Turquoise Spider, which doesn’t just carry jewelry but other interesting turquoise artifacts and crafts as well – also not quite as pricey as Arum, which tends to carry a wide range of stuff – don’t forget the price of silver remains through the roof, so those fabulous silver cuff numbers will cost you a bit.
The Jerome Art Walk
The Jerome Art Walk happens on the first Saturday of the month, a fun thing to do if you can plan your trip around it. Various galleries, art studios and shops serve wine and snacks as you browse through their latest creations.
Some of the galleries who participate include Gallery 527 (a great place for fun, eclectic and more unusual gifts, pottery, art and photography including the work from Donna and her husband who helped us navigate our way through Jerome – tell them I said hello if you stop by), Flux Gallery, Western Heritage Gallery for rustic Heritage furniture, the Zen Mountain Gallery for local contemporary art, jewelry and pottery, Pura Vida Gallery, Made in Jerome Pottery, Lincoln Gallery for fine art, Cody DeLong Studio, Spirit Dancer Fine Art, and one of my favorites the Jerome Artists Cooperative (Jerome Artists Coop for short).
Each time I’ve been to Jerome, I leave with something from the Jerome Artists Coop, made up of previous work by local artists in and around the town. From pottery, wood work, crafts, jewelry and clothing, to photography, crafts and paintings, it’s impossible not to find something that catches your eye in this golden nugget of an art gallery in town.
Because it’s a coop, the artists share manning the till so it’s likely you’ll meet the artist of your fun-filled discovery and the prices are still reasonable, a godsend after dealing with rising prices in Sedona, likely due to the Hollywood crowd who fall upon Sedona during certain times of year — remember that it’s an easy shuttle from LA to Phoenix.
Like the last three times, I left with something from the artists coop….okay, more than one thing. I happily walked out of the coop’s doors with a small horse painting which has now replaced my Paris clock in the kitchen and a hand-painted cotton wrap with sleeves, which is one of the more creative pieces I’ve seen in awhile. Anthony surprised me with a beautiful turquoise painted bowl and matching mug done by an artist I have supported in the past. Two thumbs up — we love this place!
And oh btw, we loved Jerome and I had as much fun here this time around as the previous two times. If you haven’t yet explored it, add it to your list and let us know what you thought. If you have been, let us know what was your favorite part about Jerome and/or the surrounding area. Join the conversation in comments below!