4 Small Town Gems In Arizona

Arizona is blessed with small towns that beg to be explored. But no matter how many times you may have visited, here are things you probably didn’t know about them.

Visiting small towns is one of the great joys of travel. Combine scenic beauty, easy access, and welcoming main street businesses and you’ve got all the makings of a memorable day trip.

Mining in the Mule Mountains was quite successful, and Bisbee proved to be one of the richest mineral sites in the world, producing nearly three million ounces of gold and more than eight billion pounds of copper, not to mention the silver, lead and zinc that came from these rich lands. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Mining in the Mule Mountains was quite successful, and Bisbee proved to be one of the richest mineral sites in the world, producing nearly three million ounces of gold and more than eight billion pounds of copper, not to mention the silver, lead and zinc that came from these rich lands. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

We’ve explored Arizona and found these four small-town gems you’re sure to enjoy.

Bisbee

Two- and three-story buildings built of brick and stone line Main Street as if holding back the canyon walls rising sharply along its length. Bisbee’s slopes display a century’s worth of architecture, from historic inns to refurbished, modern-looking former miners’ shacks.

Bisbee thrives on a laid-back foundation of artists, entrepreneurs, and free thinkers. Whether you’re exploring the shops downtown, the drinking establishments of Brewery Gulch, or the town’s dizzying network of concrete stairs, you’ll be welcomed with a smile.

Prescott has it all, including a tribute to the Rough Riders. The bronze sculpture of a dashing rider by Solon Borglum on Courthouse Plaza honors the Rough Riders who fought in the Spanish-American War. Locally, it is known simply as the statue of Buckey O'Neill. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Prescott has it all, including a tribute to the Rough Riders. The bronze sculpture of a dashing rider by Solon Borglum on Courthouse Plaza honors the Rough Riders who fought in the Spanish-American War. Locally, it is known simply as the statue of Buckey O’Neill. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Claim to fame: Put on a yellow rain slicker, climb aboard a rail car, and rumble into the heart of a mountain. The Copper Queen Mine Tour follows what was once one of Bisbee’s richest veins, mapped by men with no fear of dark, enclosed spaces.

Prescott

On sunny, mild weekends—and so many of them are—residents and tourists flock to the grassy square at the heart of downtown. In view of the Yavapai County Courthouse, a four-story granite structure looming like a castle, many stake claims to shady spots under spreading elms, or people-watch from the courthouse steps.

Jerome's permanent population of approximately 600 consists of an eclectic group of artists, musicians, writers, craftspeople, merchants, hermits, bed-and-breakfast owners, and shopkeepers. It’s definitely not your typical Small Town America. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Jerome’s permanent population of approximately 600 consists of an eclectic group of artists, musicians, writers, craftspeople, merchants, hermits, bed-and-breakfast owners, and shopkeepers. It’s definitely not your typical Small Town America. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Others browse the shops, restaurants and bars that box in the 4-acre plaza, a design that’s as perfect today as it was in 1864 when the town was laid out. Founders couldn’t have envisioned the role the plaza now plays, hosting more than 100 festivals and events annually. The square is not just Prescott’s heart, but its soul.

Claim to fame: Step back in time at the Palace Restaurant Saloon and Restaurant. Opened in 1877, the state’s oldest bar is one of the most popular stops on Whiskey Row and once hosted Doc Holliday as well as Wyatt and Virgil Earp. The Palace burned to the ground in 1900 but not before patrons carried the bar itself to safety. That original Brunswick bar remains, polished smooth over more than a century of use.

Jerome

The way buildings cling precariously to the side of Cleopatra Hill, it’s as if gravity has been suspended in this former mining town. Jerome is laid out vertically, with Arizona 89A switchbacking through it. The Verde Valley spreads out below in one of the most accessible vistas in Arizona.

Jerome was designated a National Historic District designation in 1967. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Jerome was designated a National Historic District designation in 1967. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

With few signs of the mine shafts that run through Cleopatra Hill like a honeycomb, Jerome now thrives on tourism, enhanced by a welcoming vibe exuded by artists and small-business owners.

Claim to fame: The town may be Arizona’s most haunted. Many visitors hoping for a spontaneous outbreak of spirits can play it by eerie at the Jerome Grand Hotel. The building opened in 1927 as the United Verde Hospital and since then guests and staff have reported all sorts of unearthly activity, from apparitions and flickering lights to disembodied voices. The hotel looms over Jerome and even appears menacing at sunset. That’s a great time to duck into its bar, The Asylum, where spirits of a different kind are served.

Sedona

Sedona and Red Rock Country as viewed from the top of Airport Road. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Sedona and Red Rock Country as viewed from the top of Airport Road. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The first glimpse of Sedona is one of awe. Towers and walls of red rock surround the hamlet like a fortress. But rather than keep visitors out, the surreal landscape attracts tourists by the thousands.

Claim to fame: Many come to Sedona to experience the spiritual energy said to emanate from vortexes. Those open to the possibilities may feel psychic forces energize and heal them, per adherents. Even if you don’t believe, it’s worth visiting the vortexes because they happen to be in some of Sedona’s most scenic spots, such as Bell Rock and Airport Mesa.

Worth Pondering…

The trip across Arizona is just one oasis after another. You can just throw anything out and it will grow there.

—Will Rogers

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