Central Arizona: Verde Valley’s Haunted Hills, Vineyards and Vortexes

The irresistible allure of red mountains, beautiful mesas and Indian jewels are enough to draw anyone to Central Arizona. Travelers have found the historic copper-mining town of Jerome to be particularly compelling. Once known as the “Wickedest Town in the West,” Jerome has morphed into a full-fledged creative art community with a dash of old-time western personality and the spiritual aura of the dearly departed, with reported ghost sightings making the quirky town a magnetic destination. And for those seeking a taste of wine while amid the supernatural, the tasting rooms within the town limits and Verde Valley Wine Trail on the outskirts of Jerome deliver.

Downtown Jerome will instantly transport you back to the Old West, as it feels like the set of a John Wayne film or Clint Eastwood western. With the area’s offering of quirky shops, restaurants, tasting rooms, bars and local art venues, your day will fill up quickly with Jerome treasures.

The Surgeon’s House Bed & Breakfast is about as lovely as it gets, as it’s perched atop a hillside flooded with luscious greenery. Outfitted in eclectic décor, the dining room is a main attraction, especially during the early hours of the day. Breakfast is whipped up daily and served at sunrise by Owner Andrea Prince, and the plump pastries are without a doubt the talk of the house.

On the main street, the seven-room Mile High Inn is the staple of this haunted town, glowing with western vibes yet still emanating comfort for all who wander through. Also, be sure to check out the noteworthy Mile High Grill and its live music on weekends.

Since 1898, The Conner Hotel has been spoiling visitors with luxury and charm. While the rooms are no longer $1 per night, the luxury and charm most definitely remain. The historical hotel gives guests a taste of old Jerome with a flicker of modern times, with prices starting at $165 per night. The hotel is situated above the popular Spirit Room which often features live bands on weekends.

Caduceus Cellars & Merkin Vineyards is definitely a place for wine lovers to explore. Primarily makers of Spanish and Italian varietals, the boutique vineyard is owned by Tool Frontman Maynard James Keenan, who describes his style in both music and wine as “thick, dense, rich, complex, engaging, emotional and spiritual.”

Hungry for some grub with a spooky touch? Dabble in Jerome’s most popular hamburger joint Haunted Hamburger. The ambiance is illustrated through cocktails served in mason jars while the comfort food makes guests warm and cozy. Baby back ribs are the house specialty, so grab some napkins and dive in.

Vaqueros Grill and Cantina is as delicious as it is fun. Located off the center of downtown Jerome, the restaurant prides itself on “Mexican soul food.” And if happy taste buds make you want to shop, you’re in luck! You can browse through unique handmade jewelry, local artwork and other Arizona treasures before, during or after your dining experience.

From Jerome, hop on the 89A and head north toward enthralling Sedona, while in route you can strut amid a multitude of vineyards. One of the most notable wineries dotting the Valley Verde Wine Trail is the Page Springs Cellars. The family-owned vineyard offers some of the Verde Valley’s vineyard views, as it rests amongst the vines and banks of Oak Creek. The tasting room is open 365 days a year and highlights a Rhône style flavor that is suitable for all palates. An exemplary winery, the vineyard is seen as the wine connoisseur’s playground. Cheese plates can be enjoyed on an open deck overlooking spectacular views of the idyllic landscape, with bocce ball as an option for those looking for added fun. The scenic route also offers Javelina Leap, Oak Creek and Alcantara Vineyards, complete with tasting rooms along the trail.

Sedona is known as one of the spiritual powerhouse centers in the world, Sedona’s energy centers can positively enhance your energy for days following the encounter. The vortexes are as truly powerful as Sedona is remarkable, adding to the blanketed red town’s appeal. Upon your arrival, you’ll find wondrous accommodations to add to the bewitching vibes.

The world-renowned Enchantment Resort lives up to its reputation by providing divine service, spa treatments, private hiking trails and the most delectable eats in the entire region. Che-Ah-Chi is a fine dining experience within the resort that takes the cake, mashing modern American cuisine with a Southwestern twang for the best all-around experience.

To embrace the cozy vibe of Sedona’s red rocks, opt for a cabin at Briar Patch Inn. Mother Nature had a sure hand in creating the ambiance of this Arizona oasis, allowing visitors to get in touch with their essence. Shining on nine acres of land, the bed and breakfast has 19 cottages with rates starting at $269 per night.

Inn Above Oak Creek is a fabulous bed-and-breakfast option for those ready to be engulfed by natural beauty. The toughest part will be choosing between the Oak Creek Suite, Creekside and Red Rock rooms, as all come with mighty views to enhance your stay.

What better way to sample all the flavors of Mexico than to travel everywhere inside its borders for 15 years? That’s exactly what Chef Jeff Smedstad did, and the beautiful result of his journeys is Elote Café. The restaurant’s authentic Mexican cuisine is infused with local charm as it supplies Arizonans with tastes indigenous to the southern country.

Located in a courtyard filled with shops and restaurants, the Secret Garden Café in Tlaquepaque is the lunch game’s most valuable player. Offering uniquely crafted menu items, the charming café will send off guests to explore energetic Sedona with a full and happy belly.

Also in Tlaquepaque, Rene must use the surrounding vortex energy in its favor because the restaurant consistently draws a crowd. Or maybe the lure is Chef Walter Paulson, who has been in residence for more than 20 years. The proper setting makes diners feel well cared for, from the moment they step into the establishment until their last bite.

So, dare to trek your way through the haunted grounds and energy fields of Central Arizona, where spirits, the spiritual and wine go hand in hand. Your soul will thank you.