Whether hiking red rocks or getting pampered with a spa retreat, Sedona is known as the place to be. This unique former copper mining town also has one of the nation’s oldest bars and is home to a hair-raising drive up Cleopatra Hill.
This central Arizona small town was built on copper mining and cattle in the 1870s and still keeps those traditions alive today. The downtown historic district is a sight to behold with its Georgian Revival and Neoclassical buildings.
The stunning crimson red rocks of Sedona have been sculpted by winds and waters into a canvas of breathtaking beauty that is Mother Nature’s own masterpiece. But this one-of-a-kind destination has more than just gorgeous scenery to offer. A rich history of Native American culture and heritage also makes it unique.
Countless Native American tribes have lived in the area for tens of thousands of years, and you can visit some of their ancient cliff dwelling sites. Some of the most famous include Palatki and Honanki, which were in use from around 1150 – 1350 AD. You can even go inside the dwellings to see how these people managed to live in such a remote location.
By the turn of the century, Sedona had become a popular destination for homesteaders who moved from the East Coast. This was due in large part to the excellent weather, and it enticed those who suffered from respiratory illnesses. The town grew rapidly during the Great Depression, as well, thanks to federal programs like the Civilian Conservation Corps.
Today, Sedona is an arts and culture town, attracting world-famous artists who come to capture the beauty of its sandstone canyons and dramatic red rock formations. You can view their works at more than 80 galleries that are woven into the fabric of the community. Some are found in high-end hotel shops, while others are located at the Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village and on State Route 179 in a cluster so dense it’s known as Gallery Row.
As a former frontier settlement surrounded by national forests, Payson is rich in history and culture. In its early years, logging, ranching, and mining provided the town’s economic foundation. This western heritage lives on today in the form of festivals, events, and attractions such as the World’s Oldest Continuous Rodeo, which was established in 1884, and the Old Time Fiddlers Contest.
The storied Rim Country Museum and Zane Grey Cabin honor the legacy of one of Arizona’s most beloved authors, who made the area around Payson his home. This museum is a treasure trove of memorabilia, including first editions of his books and personal letters.
Located near the geographic center of the state, this small town offers an array of outdoor activities year-round. It is a destination that is embraced by nature and surrounded by the Mogollon Rim escarpment, making it an ideal location for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, camping, and birding.
A popular tourist attraction is the Tonto Natural Bridge, which was discovered in 1877. The bridge straddles USDA climate classification zones, with high desert pinyon-juniper woodlands; stands of ponderosa pine, Arizona cypress, and live oak; and mixed conifer forests. The climate is chilly in the winter and hot and dry in the summer, which makes it an ideal year-round destination for many people who love the outdoors. In addition, the town’s historic downtown provides a unique shopping and dining experience.
Globe is a town steeped in history and culture with lots of old western flavor. Its economy was founded on silver mining and later diversified with copper. Its location, surrounded by mountain vistas and the mighty Roosevelt Lake, offers outdoor adventures such as fishing, boating and camping for residents.
The city’s historic district is home to a variety of restaurants and shops that give visitors a sense of the old West. Vidae Caffe, a modern-day coffee shop, is a popular destination with locals for its tasty eats and gorgeous bakery treats. The Cobre Valley Center for the Arts is located inside a 1905 heritage building and features various art exhibitions. The Old County Sheriff’s Office and Jail is now a museum that offers ghost tours by appointment.
Besh-Ba-Gowah Archaeological Park is an ancient pueblo built by the Salado people over seven hundred years ago. It’s a great way to learn about Globe’s rich historical past with displays of pottery, artwork and furnishings of the time.
If you’re looking for one-of-a-kind trinkets, you’ll find them at the Pickle Barrel Trading Post in downtown Globe. The store has around eight thousand square feet filled with Southwest-style home decor, Mata Ortiz pottery, yard art and leather goods. It’s a one-stop shop that’s a must for anyone visiting Globe. It’s also a great place to get a souvenir for your loved ones back home.
Cottonwood has a rich heritage and an artistic spirit that is complemented by its wine industry, outdoor recreation opportunities and culinary scene. Its Historic Old Town district reflects Prohibition-era charm with well-preserved buildings and is filled with boutique shops, art galleries and coffee shops. Nearby vineyards and the Verde Valley provide a variety of wine tasting options.
The area was first settled in the 1870s and by 1900 it had grown to become a town with a number of large businesses. The smelter in Clarkdale provided jobs for many local people and a company town had developed around the smelter.
In the early 1920s the town was hit by a major fire that destroyed buildings, homes and warehouses. One of the most devastating losses was that of Rev. Brooks, a spiritualist lecturer who was holding a meeting in his home at the time of the fire. The fire swept through his building and he was horribly burned.
Today, Cottonwood is a charming community with a small-town feel that attracts tourists from all over the world. Its quaint, historic downtown and scenic trails make it a top destination for hiking, cycling and horseback riding. Other attractions include a unique river walk, the Jail Trail and nearby Tuzigoot National Monument and Dead Horse Ranch State Park. This scenic community also boasts a new world-class recreation center, four parks, two swimming pools and a multi-complex softball and baseball field.
The town of Bisbee is a vibrant center of art and culture with a rich history to match. Originally founded as a copper mining town, the area’s historic architecture draws visitors to its streets and squares lined with galleries, and to a booming downtown district fondly referred to as “Old Bisbee.” The Copper Queen Library was named America’s best small library in 2017, while ghost tours and other fun events take guests back to the past.
As you make your way through the town, look for street art and bright murals that dot the landscape. The steep canyons of the town create a complex network of staircases, alleyways, and winding streets that you can wander through to discover these hidden gems.
Located at the base of the Mule Mountains, the town is a hiker’s paradise. Visitors can explore the trails that wind through the surrounding hills and canyons, or head down to the old mining ruins for a glimpse of the history that makes the town so special. In the heart of town, the award-winning Cafe Roka combines an artsy ambiance with the flavors of the region for a dining experience like no other. Whether you’re looking for a full-service bar, intimate date, or family meal, Chef Rod Kass and his team deliver a unique blend of flavorful dishes that will leave you wanting more. The restaurant is also known for its unique cocktails and craft beer selection.
Arcosanti was an experimental town that aimed to combine architecture and ecology. Its architect, Paolo Soleri, proposed a concept he called “arcology,” combining the social interaction and accessibility of an urban environment with sound environmental principles. The foundation he created bought land 70 miles north of Phoenix in 1970 and began construction on the city of Arcosanti.
Soleri used tilt-up concrete panels cast in the ground to create buildings that looked like they grew out of the Arizona desert. Its Romanesque ribbed vaults and soaring white domes gave it an otherworldly look. It was so unusual that George Lucas reportedly visited for inspiration for the Mos Eisley spaceport in Star Wars.
The city was meant to be self-sustaining and provide a model for future cities. Its buildings would maximize sun and wind to offset energy needs and use greenery to mitigate air pollution. They were intended to be walkable and serve as wonderful social spaces.
Today, the city is still an educational center with construction workshops and public events held throughout the year. There are around 80 full-time residents who live on site and call themselves “Arconauts.” They work for the Cosanti Foundation, which keeps the town running. They get housing, utilities, and education in exchange for weekly work hours. They can be educators, artists, architects, and even administrators.
While some residents have been there for several years, many come for only a few weeks at a time while taking a workshop or internship. This helps keep the community diverse and the town functioning as the original vision intended.