Intrigued by the prospect of a haunted weekend, cooler weather and expanding my knowledge of Arizona wines, I headed to Jerome. The anticipation built up for a calm and relaxing drive through the Verde Valley, but then I got to the 89A, just two hours outside of Phoenix. I was jolted to attention with every switchback, yet couldn’t help being transfixed by the stunning scenery. The road was just the first exciting part of the adventure.
Historic Downtown Jerome
Driving into Jerome’s historic downtown, you can imagine the bustle in the streets at the beginning of the 20th century when copper was king. Remnants of the town jail, the Silver King Mine and several saloons help paint the picture of the exciting Old West. Although the mines are no longer active, the saloons remain, as well as the ghosts that are said to haunt some of the local hotels and restaurants.
Downtown Jerome is filled with quaint restaurants, wine tasting rooms and charming shops. In fact, in one store window I saw a T-shirt that said, “I survived the 89A.” I could relate to that statement!
Wine making has been a part of Arizona since the 16th century, but the documentary Blood Into Wine has helped make Arizona wineries hip to a national audience. Our first stop was Caduceus Cellars, the brainchild of the band Tool’s frontman, Maynard Keenan, who starred in the documentary that followed his journey from rock star into viticulturist. I enjoyed a flight of reds from his vineyard with interesting names like Chupacabra and Le Cortigiane Oneste.
A new treasure in Jerome is Dionysian Cellars. We stumbled upon this quaint wine tasting room on their second day in business. The wines were paired with artisan cheeses and the live music added to the relaxing atmosphere. The owner’s dogs even stopped by to greet the locals and out of towners.
Haunted Attractions in Jerome
In the evening, the Haunted Hamburger patio is the perfect spot to watch the stunning Arizona sunset over the Verde Valley’s lush canyons. We also enjoyed the live music at the Spirit Room, a local bar since the 1890s where locals and tourists shared the dance floor and a few spirits.
Walking up the hill toward the haunted Grand Hotel was also an adventure. The neon red “No Vacancy” sign was eerily lighting our path. The creeking of the 1926 Otis elevator added to the adventure of sharing the hallways with the friendly ghosts that are rumored to reside in the hallways.
Sunday morning came too quickly and it was time to drive back to Phoenix. Jerome surely is the “Wickedest Town in the West,” – but it’s also one of the most charming!
Laura Franco French is a third generation Phoenician. Laura works at the Arizona Office of Tourism as the Director of Community Relations, working with communities across the state on tourism projects, legislative affairs and joint Arizona-Sonora projects.