Peaceful. A word that epitomizes the feeling you get upon arrival in Cottonwood, Arizona. The “Heart of Arizona Wine Country”, Cottonwood is a charming and diverse community; one which values its natural and social history as much as its thriving wine, dynamic arts, and rich agricultural scene. Surrounded by six State Parks, magnificent Cottonwood trees, and the flowing Verde River, the natural beauty of the surrounding Verde Valley will almost instantly capture your heart and calm your mind. A typical day in Cottonwood is likely to consist of a peaceful kayak journey or a quiet stroll through Historic Old Town; enjoying tasting rooms, perusing the gourmet market, dining in local restaurants, or shopping for unique antiques.
Known as Arizona’s biggest little town, Cottonwood offers all of the amenities of a much larger city with the inclusivity and character of a small town. Cottonwood was the first ‘free town’ in the area, surrounded by company towns developed to support mining activities nearby. This free-town mentality still exists today, in a diverse community where it is not uncommon for a stranger to wave as you pass by or a local to strike up a conversation and share their passion for their unique community. With its perfect weather, popular community festivals and close proximity to cities like Prescott and Flagstaff, Cottonwood, AZ is a must-see destination for travelers and potential residents alike.
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Arts & Culture (Recommended up to 2)
Cottonwood has an active arts and culture community that keeps locals and visitors alike coming back for more. Not only a destination for the visual arts, but Cottonwood also has a thriving music scene and active performing arts programs. Live performances, art galleries, and locally made clothing boutiques bring a fresh style to Cottonwood; making it a hub for local artists and craftspeople. Main Street galleries proudly display the local talent and provide an array of opportunities to immerse visitors and locals alike in vibrant Arts.
Known for its unique glitter paint, Art Glitter not only showcases specialty paintings completed with glitter paint, but also offers weekly classes for those interested in learning how to utilize its brilliance.
This stunning gallery house works from artists throughout the Verde Valley, featuring jewelry, pottery, glass, metal, photography, paintings, and more. Hart of AZ also offers regular artistic and holistic workshops for the community.
What better way to explore the art and culture of Old Town Cottonwood than during its Second Saturday Art Walk? The whole street comes together in a celebration of local talent with art openings, special offers, and live music.
“Verde Valley’s Premiere Arts Celebration on Earth Day” celebrates where art meets nature with fine arts, selected crafts, live performances, local wine tasting, and farm-to-table demonstrations - all hosted by the Verde Valley Arts Council.
This historic, charming theater located in the center of Old Town Cottonwood has produced more than 350 music, theater, comedy, and performing arts events - promoting local artists, artisans, and inspiring a culture of creative commerce.
Stay for a minute and observe artist Transy Lopez sculpting, building, and glazing amongst his endearing and eye-catching iridescent raku vases, animal sculptures, yoga-inspired poses, and stunning canvas giclee photography.
Walkin’ on Main is Cottonwood’s largest arts and crafts celebration honoring the Historic Route 89A with live sidewalk chalk art, The Classic Car Show, Juried Art Show, and Wine Tasting Garden courtesy of the Verde Valley Wine Consortium.
History, Heritage & Tradition (Recommended up to 4)
The town now known as Cottonwood has long been home to indigenous communities. The Sinagua, Yavapai, and Apache people all have roots in the Verde Valley, which means that the area is filled with the remnants of the tribes’ ancient roots.
For more than 20 years Blazin’ M Ranch has given visitors a taste of the real Old West with an authentic chuckwagon supper, an hour-long Western stage production, and activities like a shooting gallery, Old-Tyme photos, and a vintage tractor pull.
This self-guided tour presented by Cottonwood’s Historic Preservation Commission explores more than two dozen unique, historic properties like the Cottonwood Hotel whose famous guests included John Wayne, Gail Russell, and Elvis Presley.
Wine & Dine (Recommended up to 4)
Known as the “Heart of Arizona Wine Country”, it is no surprise that Cottonwood is home to several renowned wineries and tasting rooms. There are also several opportunities to take in Cottonwood’s flourishing restaurant scene; dining on fresh, local fare in a historic building or on one of many outdoor patios.
Escape to one of Cottonwood’s beautiful vineyards with more than 20,000 vines, stunning views of the Verde Valley, and a kayaking excursion that ends with a tasting of a selection from 17 delicious varietals.
With approachable, readily available wines, Arizona Stronghold’s’ minimally mucked-with wines retain their natural vitality and character like the 2011 Stronghold Mandala White that combines ripe peach, nectarine, apricot, and tangerine flavors.
From a deep-seated dream to create a multi-generational business to one of the largest vineyards in Arizona, Willcox-based Carlson Creek Vineyard’s Cottonwood tasting room features a comfortable, casual wine tasting experience for guests to enjoy.
Casual, comfortable BBQ Grill with modern farm atmosphere; offering a full bar and large outdoor patio. Best known for their legendary smoked meats, gourmet burgers, fresh salads, and craft cocktails.
Before you dash off to dine in one of Cottonwood’s renowned restaurants, stop by the Cottonwood Community Garden at Riverfront Park where community members grow and harvest edible food in 40 established rentable garden plots.
With authentic family-owned recipes, Cork & Catch presents a unique interpretation of All-American, Southwestern, and South American-inspired cuisine. The gourmet dining experience captivates a sophisticated palette paired with the perfect wine.
Serving up exceptional Arizona-roasted coffee and espresso as well as small-batch gelato and sorbet made on-site, the unique menu includes local favorites like the walnut chicken salad, cucumber bacon dill sandwich, and beer marinated bratwurst.
Owned by Maynard Keenan of the band Tool, Merkin Vineyards Osteria, an extension of the Caduceus Cellars family, specializes in Arizona-produced wines which accent a menu of locally sourced food including housemade pasta and fresh gourmet salads.
With polished brass, rich dark woods, and a 40’ long mahogany bar reminiscent of a classic Hollywood, Nic’s is best known for mouthwatering steaks, authentic Italian dishes, and Chef Michelle’s special New England style clam chowder!
Looking for a cozy patio, a comfortable café setting, and a delicious meal? Enter Old Town Rooster Café. Owner Shane Smith has a passion for comfort food with fresh ingredients and supporting locally-owned, organically sourced products.
Proud of its 100% Arizona, sustainable high-elevation vineyard and estate-grown vegan wines, Pillsbury Wine Company was honored with 16 San Francisco Chronicle American Wine Awards in 2021, including "Best Of” for its 2019 Malvasia.
Certified by the Verace Pizza Napoletana in Naples, Pizzeria Bocce’s chef crafts gently kneaded artisan pizzas cooked in a wood-burning stove for the most delightfully flavored, crispy crust topped with your favorite ingredients.
With craft beer brewed onsite, beer enthusiasts can enjoy one of THAT Brewery’s many options while watching the entire brewing process take place. Local favorites include THAT Knotty Nut Brown and the famous THAT Arizona Trail Ale.
This bar not only provides a fun environment to grab some of Arizona’s best wine and beers, but it also consistently hosts can’t miss events. Not in the mood for beer or wine? They also serve Arizona coffee, mead, kombucha, Sake!
Rising from a 1998 fire that claimed the longest-running single-screen theater in the U.S., The Tavern Grille offers what is easily the most diverse menu in Cottonwood with items like Asian-spiced pork potstickers and the best burger in Old Town.
Whether you’re in the mood for white wine, red wine, or sweet wine, this family-owned and operated tasting room offers flights for any wine lover with over 20 wine and two lines of wine.
Outdoor Sports & Recreation (Recommended up to 2)
Nestled among magnificent Cottonwood trees along the Verde River, Cottonwood provides endless opportunities to experience the outdoors. From golf and yoga to high desert exploration, river activities, and scenic natural wonders, there is truly something for everyone.
Regularly offering Yoga, Ballroom Dancing, Aerobics and Massage, Bonzai Studio is a hub for health, wellness and relationships. The spacious venue also hosts workshops, pop-up art shows, dance parties and is available for private events.
Originally established as a ‘game range’ for bighorn sheep, the landscape now functions as an 860,000-acre wildlife refuge. Visitors will be able to observe and photograph wildlife, camp, and learn about the environment.
This Pima County-run park includes a dog park, skate park, lighted baseball fields, basketball courts, shaded playground, exercise stations, ramadas with tables and grills, and a pool (open Memorial Day to Labor Day).
Ajo is located at the heart of the Sonoran Desert and has miles of some of the best mountain biking trails in Southern AZ. Visit the Ajo Chamber for trail maps.
Twenty-six species of cacti have adapted to this beautiful reserve. Come enjoy a scenic drive, developed trail rides, interactive ranger programs, wilderness hikes, or a night of camping under the dark skies of the Sonoran Desert
The Ajo area is a mecca for big rigs, glampers, and 5th-wheeled wanderers alike. You can find everything from the La Siesta RV Resort with a pool, to a cleared patch of Sonoran Desert with a view, and everything in between.
This 10.4-mile drive goes around the now-closed open pit mine through a strikingly beautiful section of the Sonoran Desert where you have a good chance to spot wildlife. Camping and RV ‘boondocking’ are allowed for up to 14 days on BLM land.
Birding enthusiasts cannot miss the three-day Verde Valley Birding and Nature Festival jam-packed with informational tours, guided watching trails, and educational workshops as well as keynote speakers that cater to professional birdwatching.
Local Lodging (Recommended up to 2)
With all the activities, scenery, and beauty that makes the Cottonwood community so special, it is almost impossible to truly experience the community with a day trip. Take a few days and book a stay at one of the local lodging options to get the full experience.
With prohibition-era origins and a passion for delivering a pleasant experience, this boutique inn located in the heart of Cottonwood has found its niche telling the story of days past and is a perfect stay for history lovers and explorers alike.
Stunning scenery, incredible perks, and friendly local staff all greet you when you book your stay at this inviting location. Each guest room matches the canyon desert theme and offers comfort you simply can’t resist.
Origins B&B offers four engagingly themed rooms, artfully delicious breakfasts and unparalleled views of the Verde River, Mingus Mountain, the red rocks of Sedona, and the tan bluffs of the Verde Valley.
Another great stay in the community, The Iron Horse Inn delivers a perfectly intimate experience. Book your stay and enjoy the comfortable rooms, great service, and serene patio.
This Euro-style hotel offers an extravagant and modern stay one might not expect to find in #RuralAZ. Enjoy the character and culture of this elegant local spot and don’t forget to grab your complimentary cocktail at The Tavern Grille.
Charge your EV, enjoy the saltwater pool, and bring your dog to this clean, comfy, family-owned inn centrally located in the Verde Valley.