Saturday, February 28, 2009

Scenic and Historic Towns of Jerome & Prescott, Arizona

Today we decided to drive the scenic loop from Camp Verde to Jerome to Prescott and back to Camp Verde. We allocated the entire day and glad we did for we found there was much to see and do along the way. As we made our way toward Jerome we decide to drive through Old Town Cottonwood. This old downtown area is located near the town of Clarksdale and is made up of several shops and restaurants. We didn’t stop here for we knew there would be plenty of shops to explore in Jerome and we wanted to make sure we had enough time to do the complete loop today.Old Town Cottonwood is near the Tuzigoot National Monument, a Sinagua Indian pueblo built in the 13th Century. (We plan to come back to this at another time, so stay tuned....)

We continued our route until we came to the town of Jerome. This is an historic old mining town built a mile high on the side of Cleopatra Hill. Founded in 1876, Jerome boomed and thrived as a copper mining town until 1953 when the mine was closed. In 1967, Jerome was designated as a National Historic District and now the once wild mining town is a community of artists, galleries and shops that attract many tourists each day.

As you enter into the town of Jerome from Cottonwood, the first set of buildings to note is the Old Jerome High School on the left. The rooms of these buildings now house various artist studios and art galleries. Unfortunately, when we were there most were closed. After talking with the owner of one of the galleries that was open today, we learned that because most of the artists have part-time jobs, their shops aren’t open on set schedules. However, we found out that they are always open during the Jerome Art Walk which is the first Saturday of each month from 5:00 to 8:00pm. This is the opportunity to meet many of the artists, as well as enjoy some wine and cheese offered by the many galleries. There is also a free shuttle service that’s available to help with the hilly streets.

After stopping at the old high school, we continued up the windy narrow road for about a mile to the main part of town. We immediately went to the Visitors Center and got a walking map of Jerome which helped us plan how we would explore the two streets of eclectic art galleries, funky gift ships and restaurants. After walking for a while we stopped in the Grapes Restaurant for lunch. The restaurant had indoor and outdoor patio seating. The menu had many upscale items at reasonable prices from sandwiches, pizzas, salads to sandwich/salad combinations. We decided to split a hot pastrami sandwich that came with small Caesar salad and Brad ordered a bowl of their split pea soup. The food was terrific, but the wait staff could have been better. The Grapes also had a very nice wine list that seemed to complement their food well. After lunch we had a need for something sweet, so we kept our eyes open while we finished walking the street and soon enough we came upon Copper County Fudge and bought a few pieces of their handmade fudge. Yum!!!

Jerome Tips:
1. Walking the sidewalks of the two main streets can be steep and uneven so make sure you watch where you are walking.
2. On the right just past the first parking area on Hull Street you will find a very small building that is the Visitor Center. Here you can get a walking map of the town which offers a little information about each historical building but more importantly helps you navigate Jerome.
3. Watch for information plaques on the outside of many buildings. These plaques have interesting information about the structure or about life in Jerome during the mining days.
4. Parking is free but can be difficult to find if you don’t get to town early. Make sure you take that first spot that you find.

Continuing our journey we stopped in Prescott’s old downtown area. This is a courthouse square where the courthouse is surrounded by stores that make up the perimeter of the square. On one side of the square are a series of old bars/saloons and a few shops. In the day, beer and whiskey were made and sold in some of these establishments thus the nickname Whiskey Row. In its prime, this area was frequented by the unlawful and colorful people of the area and it seems that it’s still the case today. Now horses have been replaced with Harleys and some of the Whiskey replaced by gourmet coffee. If you want to do more shopping, there are plenty of studios, shops, and restaurants in the streets around Courthouse Square.

Conclusions about the day and scenery:
We enjoyed Jerome but didn’t find Prescott that interesting. If you really enjoy exploring shops then stopping at Old Cottonwood, Jerome and Prescott is for you. If you can only take one significant shopping experience then definitely make it Jerome. The scenery throughout this loop drive was not that spectacular, except for the drive out of Jerome where there were expansive views of Verde Valley. Be sure you stop at the big turn-out on your left as you leave Jerome - that's the best view of the day.


Jerry and Suzy said...

Next visit to Old Cottonwood, try the Hog Wild Restaurant, especially if you like barbecue as much as we do! It's a small place, and not fancy, but there is patio seating, and you can get food to go.

Good for you not to try taking your RV through Jerome! It's harrowing enough for the driver of the RV, but the oncoming traffic is positively petrified when they see you coming!

Suzanne and Brad said...

Thanks for the restaurant tip! We may go back since we want to go back out to Tuzigoot NM.

Anonymous said...

We just visited the Cottonwood area and spent some time in Jerome. The next time you are in Jerome, you must have one of the "Haunted Hamburgers." It's monsterous and absolutely delicious!!! If possible, grab a table on the outdoor deck since the views are unforgettable from there.

Suzanne and Brad said...

Yes, we saw the Haunted Hamburgers but had already eaten. Next time, for sure!

Suzanne and Brad said...

Yes, we saw the Haunted Hamburgers but had already eaten. Next time, for sure!

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