Visiting Jerome, Az
Having traveled all over Arizona, it has become difficult for me to see something I've never seen before. My adventurous heart loves a good tourist trap. Arizona is full of tourist traps. I'm still looking for a two headed snake or big foot skeleton. I don't mind handing over a few dollars to see a room where Jessie James shot someone or Billy the kid played poker. It may be a cheesy and sometimes strange, but you only live once!
Arizona has and interesting mining history and culture. In some ways the desert is always trying to kill you with the heat, the cold, a wild critter, fire, or even storms. Yet, there is something magical about this state. It has the ability to seem vast and desolate while being beautiful at the same time. It's moods change quickly, so you have to pay attention.
While I was on a business trip in 2007, I discovered Jerome. Eventually I moved to that area and became local. Jerome is small town literally clinging to the side of a mountain in Arizona. Jerome was established in 1876 as a mining town. Tons of copper were pulled from the hills around this town and it boomed to support the miners.
The Wild West history of Jerome is evident in the architecture of its buildings. Brick and wood structures are built into the mountainside of this remnant of America’s mining history. From the shops to the restaurants Jerome is teeming with character. It's interesting that this town still exists considering the number of fires that happened in it's early years. You can still see remnants from buildings that were never rebuilt. The occasional stray wall leaves a lot to the imagination.
Art in Jerome
Over the years Jerome has gone through periods of almost extinction. In the 1960's Jerome became a mecca for artists due to its breathtaking views of the Verde Valley and interesting work spaces. Many of the utilitarian buildings were turned into art studios, such as the old high school. Part of the draw to Jerome is the peace and quiet. This town is secluded allowing artists to express themselves without the interference of everyday life.
Jerome is still home to many local artists who proudly display their work in a number of galleries and shops.Hand crafted items are also available as artisans do everything from woodwork to painting. Art is everywhere in this little town. At every turn one can find photography and unique paintings that bring the areas scenery to life. From Native American to modern, art from all influences can be found in Jerome.
Day of the Dead
Let's say you really like rocks, antiques, art, western stuff, and kaleidoscopes, well you have found your happy place. Jerome is great for shopping.Cultural shops with day of the Dead art are also present in this western town. Jerome contains many antique and novelty stores.
Nellie Bly is a Kaleidoscope shop filled with Kaleidoscopes of every style and design imaginable. These are not your average kaleidoscopes,, some are carved out of trees while others are made completely out of stained glass. A word to the wise these are all expensive so do not allow your kids to roam free.
The House of Joy features a creative garden that can be viewed from the street. The shop tends to have some racy art (possibly not appropriate for kids). Recently this shop went on the market, so this attraction may not be available for long.
Flat Iron Jerome
Eating in Jerome
Dining in Jerome is close quarters, expect to make friends with the people seated next to you, they will be close. All of Jerome's dining options feature limited space. My husband is known in our family for forcing us to try hole in the wall dining and that is how we ended up at the mile high grill. The Mile High Grill has the best blue cheese burger I have ever eaten. With a friendly staff always ready to feed your appetite the Mile High hits the spot after a day of wandering Jerome. Another favorite of locals and tourists is the Haunted Hamburger. Even the appetizers at the Haunted Hamburger are good. The place is usually packed, with a line so don’t wait until you are starving head up there.
Grand Hotel Jerome, Az
Haunting of the Grand Hotel
Many of Jerome's buildings have haunting stories. You can actually stay in some of the bed and breakfast places in Jerome if Ghost hunting is your hobby. Speaking of haunting, the Grand Hotel has an eerie past. Once United Verde Hospital, the Grand Hotel is known for its ghosts and macabre history. Claude Harvey once employed by the hospital was found pinned under the Otis Elevator that is still in use today. It was believed that he was murdered. Guests of the hotel have reported everything from smells to sounds in relationship to the hotels history.
Today the hotel is a destination for paranormal experts and armatures. There are all kinds of stories of miners dying at the hotel from inhalation issues. I'm not gonna lie, you do get a "this place is haunted" feeling off of walking the halls here. Most of the hotel has retained it's historic architecture lending itself to stories of children laughing, babies crying and so on. Even if the place isn’t haunted it is a neat building to see.
Many of Jerome’s structures are preserved in their natural state allowing tourists to roam. One such building is the Liberty Theater. From the outside, Liberty Theater appears to be just another flat front brick building. Once a person is inside the structure has details such as the tin ceilings, crown molding, and a grand theater. Tourists are invited to tour the theater all the way to the third floor where they will find a collection of film and theater memorabilia on display as well as the theater itself. This is a "don’t miss" stop for any visitor to the area.
The Verde Valley below has many moods and options for photography. Not unlike the Grand Canyon, the Verde shows contrasting red rock views. In the morning and evening the colors change. A good storm can bring amazing options for photography. Some of the best views of the Verde Valley are out shop windows. Interesting buildings, doors, and architecture are everywhere in Jerome. The Historical park also offers great views of the Verde Valley.
Jerome is at an altitude of over 5,000 feet. The demographics of being built into a hillside make this town steep for walking. If you look at the picture of the Flat Iron Cafe you will see the stairs in front of it, those are mild by comparison to the other stairs in town. It is not handicap friendly. The sidewalks are not well maintained and can be difficult to navigate even for strollers. My recommendation is that people with small children not take them to Jerome, it might be a pretty miserable day fighting the incline with a stroller. I have seen people in motorized wheelchairs in Jerome, it's still pretty treacherous. Be ready to face some steep inclines and stairs to tour this town.
Parking in Jerome is tricky. There is a parking lot right in the middle of town that usually has some spaces. Another good place to park is the streets were there isn't a building, these are few. Many of the homes in the area have street side parking so be careful that you do not take a home owners spot. This is a popular area for motorcycles, keep an eye out when traveling through town.
Enjoy your day in Jerome!
© 2011 MD Jackson MSIOP