Every January my boyfriend and I travel to a quaint, relaxing corner of Arizona for a post-holiday weekend getaway. We celebrate that the “celebrating” has come to an end, and we enjoy the comfort of each other’s company. This year we wanted to explore new terrain, so we chose Cottonwood, Arizona. Little did we know Mother Nature would try to intervene…

Traveling to Cottonwood, Arizona

We left on a crisp Saturday morning, excited for our itinerary filled with first-time activities. The list included wine tasting at local Arizona vineyards, staying in a newly-renovated, boutique hotel and sampling local cuisine. Not 30 minutes into the drive the rain began to come down, lightly at first, then eventual downpour. As we drove along Interstate 17, I was relieved that I was the passenger and not the driver. We crept though the winding mountains slowly and cautiously anxious to arrive at our destination.

Wine Tasting in Verde Valley: Page Springs, Javelina Leap and Oak Creek Vineyards

Map in hand, we made the turn east on the 260 for the enchanted Verde Valley. Our first stop was Alcantara Vineyards. As you pull in, your eyes fall upon a landscape reminiscent of Tuscany. In the spring, when the grapevines are in bloom, it is said to be a spectacular feast for the eyes, and looks more like Napa Valley than Arizona. Inside, we were greeted by a friendly server and were surprised to see a tasting room filled with guests. We enjoyed a tasty flight of reds and whites and were encouraged to stay for a bit and explore the property. We drove around in the rain perusing the dozens of grapevine-lined hills and checked out the chapel on the back of the property.

After Alcantara, we looped around to Page Springs Road to explore Javelina Leap, Oak Creek and Page Springs wineries. All were bustling with business and happy to invite us in from the rain. The wines were exceptional and several of the grapes were new to my palette such as the Rousanne and Marsanne varietals from Page Springs Cellars.

Dining and Shopping in Cottonwood

Larry Shop.jpgNext, we headed to the Main Street of Cottonwood to check-in to the Tavern Hotel. The hotel sits adjacent to the Tavern Grille, which is where guests check in. Upon entering our weekend abode we were pleasantly surprised to be welcomed by a modern but cozy room adorned with high-end décor and wood floors. We quickly unpacked and excitedly headed back into town to explore.

We had fun just popping into coffee shops, bars and eateries that sprinkled the streets of Cottonwood. After a couple of hours we noticed there was something unusual in this town—everyone was really nice, we almost felt like celebrities. It’s not every day (in a big city) that someone takes the time to have a thoughtful conversation with a stranger, but we were greeted with this behavior at every turn. We enjoyed a scrumptious Italian dinner at Nic’s and remarked to each other about what a nice day it had been despite the cold, dreary weather. After my creamy risotto and his baked ziti the weather had finally gotten the best of us and we retired back to our warm, welcoming room.

Enjoying the Hospitality of the Town

The next morning we enjoyed a home-cooked breakfast at Red Rooster Café. We devoured our fresh selections. Again the friendliness of the place oozed like the cheese on our egg sandwiches. We couldn’t shake the smiles from our faces.    

We had one last day and while many of the shops were not open yet we were able to visit a few. One was the Pillsbury Wine tasting room where we were schooled in the fine art of wine-making. (I quickly realized being a winemaker is serious work!)

Taking a Scenic Drive Through Sedona

We took the scenic route 89A through a cloud-filled Sedona for our final descent back to the Valley. I had never seen the red rocks look quite so mystical. As we coasted around the red giants, I felt relaxed and grateful that we had this weekend to ourselves. It was a gift to us, and one that I love to give and receive— the precious gift of time.

Sedona- edited.jpgIf you haven’t explored the Verde Valley yet you must work this into your next itinerary to, or through, North Central Arizona. Want a quick way to see what Cottonwood has to offer its visitors? Check out this great video from our friends at WeekendZona which features a great sampling of the offerings available in this quaint little town: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tsOjLBeN51w&feature=youtu.be
Lindsay Norman is the Advertising Specialist for the Arizona Office of Tourism. A native to Arizona, she loves to travel throughout new regions of her home state exclaiming all the while, “I had no idea this was here!”