Nation Travel World — 22 February 2012

Jerome’s mines produced over $1 billion dollars in copper, gold and silver. Like many mining towns, Jerome had a reputation for drinking, gambling and prostitution. In 1903, a New York newspaper called Jerome "the wickedest town in the West". Photo by Wendy Rose Gould

I grew up in country-land Indiana, a place ridden with cornfields, horse manure and clip-clopping buggies that held up traffic on just about every single road in town. To make a long story short, after college I did what many other freshly graduated kids did: I moved to Asia to teach English to children. This post-undergrad rite of passage helped satiate my desire for world travel, but it also taught me that there’s a lot of ground to cover in the United States besides row after row of veggie-filled fields.

I moved to Phoenix, Arizona in August of 2010 not because a new job required me to or because relocation was necessary. My move across the country was purely motivated by my wanderlust tendencies and a realization that the United States is an amazing country to explore. Naturally, I created a list of must-visit places in the Southwest and promptly began crossing items off my list. One of my first places to visit (mostly because it was highly recommended by just about everyone I ran into) was Jerome, Arizona.

In short, Jerome is a quirky town that’s nestled on the side of a mountain 5,000 feet up in the air. It’s located a roughly two-hour drive north of Phoenix and has a reputation of being one of your quintessential “Wild Wild West” towns. Think moonshine, guns, cowboys, ghosts, gambling and mining.

On my visit, I parked low and then hiked back and forth — and upward, naturally — stopping in many of the street-lined shops along the way. From tiny, independently owned candy stores to wineries, bars, boutiques and art galleries, there’s certainly no shortage of places to discover in Jerome. Of course, there are quite a few restaurants to choose from and, if you’re so inclined, a hotel at the tippy top of the town called Jerome’s Grand Hotel. Staying there requires a certain amount of courage, though, as it has a reputation for being haunted.

If I were to recommend a single solitary restaurant, it’d have to be the Haunted Hamburger.  I highly advise sitting outside on the deck, or at least near the windows in the back. There you’ll find a fantastic view of all that’s down below in Jerome. The Haunted Hamburger serves up lots of pub food and burgers. Read: comfort food. I ordered the Portobello burger, a tasty treat that comes with equally delicious thick fries. Expect to pay about $15 a person for a meal, drink and shared appetizer.

Photo by Wendy Rose Gould

Afterward, treat yourself to some mouth-watering fudge, ice cream or shaved shaved ice from Copper Country Fudge. If you’re trying to remain loyal to your diet, you may want to avoid walking by this place, as the smells wafting out will certainly tempt you. Note that they do offer sugar free fudge.

Another must-visit while touring Jerome is Caduceus Winery, founded and run by American rock singer Maynard James Keenan. For those who don’t know (my husband did have to inform me), Keenan’s associated with bands such as Tool, A Perfect Circle and Alice in Chains. Even if your musical preferences do not include the aforementioned entities, you’ll find Keenan’s award winning wine worth stopping by. Opt for a wine tasting to find a wine that pleases your taste buds.

Photo by Wendy Rose Gould

In addition to the establishments I’ve mentioned here, you’ll find a healthy variety of other shops to visit while discovering Jerome. I was to the town’s eccentric art galleries and vintage shops. Even just walking around is a great way to spend an entire day in Jerome. From breathtaking views to quirky architecture to little bits of nostalgia all around (such as the retro gas pump pictured here), Jerome will satisfy all ages and personalities.

Photo by Wendy Rose Gould

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Wendy Rose Gould

(1) Reader Comment

  1. I love Jerome. It’s artsy, quirky and just off center enough for me. I even wrote an ebook (The VAnishing Old West – Jerome) about the history and wonder in the town. If you get a chance, you really should visit Jerome.

    Have Fun,
    Jeff