Visiting Central Arizona: Vortexes, Vineyards and Haunted Hills

The irresistible allure of Sedona’s red mountains and expansive mesas are enough to draw anyone to Central Arizona. Travelers have also 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 creative art community with a dash of Old West personality and hauntings of the dearly departed, with reported ghost sightings making the small mountain town a unique destination. 

Th history of Jerome will transport you back to the Old West, and the town’s restaurants, bars, shops and art galleries make this tiny hillside destination a fun and quirky place to visit. And, for those who like to drink wine, the tasting rooms within the town limits and along Verde Valley Wine Trail deliver.

The Surgeon’s House Bed & Breakfast is 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 tasting room primarily offers Spanish and Italian varietals. The boutique labels are 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.”

If you are hungry for a meal that plays on the town’s reputation, try Jerome’s most popular hamburger joint, the Haunted Hamburger. This little place delivers with a good selection of hamburgers and cocktails served in mason jars. 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 treasures while you are there.

From Jerome, hop on the 89A and head north toward Sedona, while in route you can stroll through a number of vineyards. One of the most notable wineries dotting the Valley Verde Wine Trail is Page Springs Cellars. The tasting room boasts views of a vineyard along the banks of Oak Creek and highlights Rhône style wines. Light bites are offered and can be enjoyed on an open deck, with bocce ball as an option for those looking for added fun. The scenic Page Springs Road route also includes Javelina Leap, Oak Creek and Alcantara Vineyards, complete with tasting rooms along the trail.

Sedona is known as one of the spiritual centers in the world. The vortexes are truly magnificent, creating remarkable red rock vistas. The renowned Enchantment Resort lives up to its reputation with excellent service, spa treatments, daily activities and private hiking and biking trails. Che-Ah-Chi is the property’s fine dining experience, and mixing modern American cuisine with a Southwestern twist. 

To embrace the cozier side of Sedona’s red rocks, opt for a cabin at Briar Patch Inn. On nine acres of land, the bed and breakfast has 19 cottages with rates starting at $269 per night, with breakfast included. Inn Above Oak Creek is another lovely bed-and-breakfast option with Oak Creek Suite, Creekside and Red Rock rooms.

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 result of his journeys is Elote Café, and the restaurant’s authentic Mexican cuisine is infused with local charm. Located in a courtyard filled with shops and restaurants, the Secret Garden Café in Tlaquepaque is a casual lunch option that offers uniquely crafted menu items in a charming setting.