Arizona has so many great places to visit. We visited a brand new town for us, Cottonwood, Arizona, on our recent trip. Just 20 minutes from Sedona and 15 minutes from Jerome, Cottonwood is home to a beautiful state park, a charming downtown, and is near many beautiful wineries. In fact, Cottonwood sits at the center of the Verde Valley Wine Trail, the newest AVA region in Arizona. The American Viticultural Area (AVA) identifies the Verde Valley as an area of unique viticultural significance compared to any other viticultural region in the country based on topography, soil composition, and geography. This is a big deal and just one of the many things the Cottonwood area has to offer. Oh, and it’s a lot less crowded and cheaper than nearby Sedona, so you might want to consider making Cottonwood your base the next time you’re in the area. Here are the things we loved most about Cottonwood.
I was hosted at Cottonwood; special thanks to Heather Herman. All opinions are mine.
Things to do in Cottonwood
Page Springs Cellars
Located in the center of the Verde Valley Wine Route, Cottonwood is home to many unique wineries and tasting rooms, and Page Springs Cellars is one of the best! Sitting on the terrace overlooking the vines, sipping wine and enjoying a very good cheese platter is my idea of the perfect way to spend an afternoon. While sampling a range of reds and whites, we learned that Page Spring Cellars makes all of its own wine here. This includes everything from growing their own fruit, to picking the grapes, to aging and bottling the finished product. They are also very serious about their sustainability efforts, using solar power for 100% of their electricity, creating their own waste water treatment center, implementing a significant recycling program and even achieving water consumption. zero net. It’s obvious that they care about how they produce their wine, and they produce dozens of labels each year. And, just as important, the wine tastes great! Enjoy your wine outside on the patio or in the cozy indoor tasting room. With yoga by the creek, wine tours, massages, music festivals and a great bistro menu, Page Spring Cellars offers so much more than just fine wine. And they have the largest wine club in the southwest. If you live in one of the states they are licensed in, you can have their delicious wines shipped right to your door!
Dead Horse Ranch State Park
Camping, fishing, hiking, disc golf, canoeing and dog park. You’ll find all this and more at Dead Horse Ranch State Park at Cottonwood. We went specifically for the horseback riding and let’s just say it’s been a day or two since I’ve ridden. Thanks to my great hiking guide, Christian, at Horseback riding adventures, it was like riding a bike. We had an amazing time with him on the trails, which are located inside the park itself. As we hiked the trails, Christian told us about the history of the area, modern day cattle rustlers, and how the park got its name. Both Coconino National Forest and the Verde River are accessible within the park, which only adds to the outdoor fun you can have here. Christian even guided us on the Verde River several times! The trail area is beautiful and Christian offers a wealth of information about the area including his interesting family history. I highly recommend Trail Horse Adventures.
Italian-inspired architecture and a rustic, rural location set the tone for this hidden gem about 15 minutes south of Cottonwood. Upon entering the main building we were greeted with the most amazing aroma of roasted garlic and the sound of an acoustic guitar in the distance. Inside the beautiful Tuscan-inspired tasting room, we got to work with our first wine tasting. We got off to a good start here, and things only got better. We were treated to a leisurely walk through the vineyards and discovered the Alcantara Vineyards transaction. Everything about their winemaking is done here, including the hand picking of the grapes. According to Ron Brumley, Alcantara’s winemaker, “wine doesn’t grow on the shelf.” After visiting Alcantara, it is obvious that there is much more to winemaking than most people will ever know. With over 15 types of grapes on almost 90 acres, people here are busy, but you could say it’s a labor of love! And the love shows in the quality of their wines. Plus, their beautiful grounds are the perfect photo backdrop for all those special occasions. I think Alcantara could very well be the perfect wedding venue. The chapel faces the confluence of the Oak Creek and the Verde River, the two bodies of water coming together representing the union of two people in marriage. How romantic! It really is an absolutely beautiful place. In addition to weddings, Alcantara offers daily live music, horseback riding, jeep tours, private walking tours, and birdwatching opportunities. We are already planning our return visit to Alcantara.
Best restaurants in Cottonwood
We found what we were looking for at Crema artisan cuisine — protein for my husband and a killer latte for me. Housed in the building once operated by a bootlegger, and said to be haunted at the time of this writing, Crema is intriguing for its historic location alone. We luckily found a lot more to like than the gorgeous building, though. Upon arriving, we settled into a comfortable spot overlooking Main Street. Their enclosed patio also looked super inviting. The eclectic menu had many great options, including my husband’s choice of red velvet waffles and chicken. The decadent waffles and lightly breaded fried chicken were amazing. With Crema being known as an espresso bar, as well as a sit-down restaurant, it’s no surprise that they know how to make a pretty spectacular latte, complete with latte art. From design on top of coffee to exquisite taste, my the latte was scrumptious. I noticed lots of other people grabbing coffee and a sweet treat from the bakery at their quaint walk-in window. Other entrees include their popular chilaquiles, benedicts, bread pudding French toast, and their special red chili glazed bacon. We decided that next time we will stop at Crema for brunch and try some of their craft drinks. I particularly like the morning mule which includes vodka, ginger beer and orange juice; or the whiskey chai, complete with Irish whiskey, spiced chai and milk. If all of the above isn’t enough, Crema even makes its own gelatos and sorbets, with many locally sourced ingredients and non-GMO whenever possible.
Merkin and Osteria Winery Tasting Room
This cool restaurant is the perfect place to try fresh and inventive Italian cuisine. The polished wood bar mixed with the upstairs open kitchen gives this corner location on Main Street a modern farmhouse feel. We also liked the upbeat music playing in the background. But what we absolutely loved was our meal at Merkin and Osteria Winery Tasting Room. My husband is a sucker for Italian dishes and was biting at the thought of trying the gnocchi. The gnocchi served here are a melt-in-your-mouth delight and we – yes, I did share it – ate every bite. I opted for something a little lighter as I wasn’t that hungry – gnocchi aside. My dish of choice was the bruschetta special of the day. This inventive dish featured toast topped with apple butter, blue cheese and micro-vegetables. I love something so totally different and delicious. That was it. Merkin makes all of its pastas and breads from scratch using Arizona heirloom and Italian-milled wheat flour. I guess that’s why our food was so fresh and authentically Italian. They take the same approach with their fruits and vegetables, most of which are grown on site; and what they don’t grow, they source locally from Arizona farmers. So what you get here is a true farm-to-table experience and it shows! Since Merkin is also a tasting room, all of their wines are of course produced at their own vineyards in Arizona.
Violets Bakery Cafe – Clarksdale, Arizona
Located just 10 minutes northwest of Cottonwood, Clarkdale is home to a unique beer garden, Cafe Bakery Violets. Known for its Parisian-inspired menu, everything here is homemade with the freshest ingredients. Choose from macaroons and cream puffs, pies and special cakes for your sweet tooth. For the savory side, try a croissant sandwich or quiches. Stroll through the charming town of clarkdale and explore Main Street while you’re here. We loved it!
Best hotels in Cottonwood
Pines Inn & Suites
If you’re looking for a dog-friendly, family-friendly place with plenty of amenities, including a saltwater pool, Pines Inn and Suites is the perfect place. This hotel is located a few miles from Old Town Cottonwood and is a quiet retreat close to all the action. We liked the full kitchen in our suite and being able to park at the door was great.
the Tavern Hotel has the perfect location in Old Town Cottonwood. Located on Main Street and within walking distance of all the shops, restaurants and bars of Old Town, this hotel is luxurious. Built in the 1920s, it was completely redone in 2011. Rooms here are almost certainly cheaper than what you’d pay for similar accommodations in Sedona.
Iron Horse Inn
A historic hotel with all the features you would expect from a new hotel, the Iron Horse Hotel in Old Town is a good choice if you are looking for an affordable boutique stay in the heart of the Old Town.
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