1. Discover the great outdoors at Dead Horse Ranch State Park (DHRSP). A crown jewel of the Arizona state park system, this idyllic getaway offers camping and RV facilities, trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding, and 20 acres of lagoons stocked with rainbow trout November-March. (928) 634-5283 or AZStateParks.
2. Take a walking tour of Old Town, the historic heart of Cottonwood.Businesses housed in elegant Prohibition-era buildings and fronted by covered sidewalks make a postcard quaint setting. You’ll find shops and restaurants galore but to truly appreciate what you’re seeing, grab a self-guided tour map that reveals Old Town’s colorful past. Maps are available at Cottonwood Hotel, 930 N. Main St., (928) 634-9455 or Cottonwoodhotel. More about Historic Old Town Cottonwood.
3. Tie on the feedbag at Blazin’ M Ranch, a rollicking chuckwagon dinner show. Amble through an Old West courtyard, feast on a BBQ supper, and then enjoy the show. Perfect even for little wranglers. (800) 937-8643 or BlazinM.com.
4. Go gallery hopping. An array of art galleries makes Cottonwood a must-stop for collectors. Check out the bold landscapes at Javadog Gallery, 1023 N. Main St., (928) 634-5217 or JavaDogGallery.com. Also in Old Town, you’ll find the wonderfully diverse Manheim Gallery, 747 N. Main St., (928) 649-0130 or TheManheimGallery.com. Off the beaten path but worth the trip, don’t miss the private studio of award-winning plein air artist Cody DeLong. By appointment, (928) 649-9032 or CodyDeLong.com.
5. Spend the night at Annabel Inn. This traditional European cottage B&B may be the most welcoming place in town. Owner Annabel Sclippa has created a warm, cozy and eco-friendly environment just steps from Old Town. With only three rooms, Annabel caters to her guests’ needs and prepares an absolutely divine breakfast. 611 N. 7th St., (928) 649-3038.
6. Let Cowboy Jeep Tour do the driving. Scenic and historic tours are available, or custom design your own. Knowledgeable yarn-spinning guides make this adventure a treat for the whole family. 2400 E. Hwy. 89A, (928) 254-9391 or Cowboy-Jeep-Tours.com.
7. Look into the past at Clemenceau Heritage Museum. Maintained and operated by volunteers, the museum preserves the heritage of the Verde Valley. The Model Train Room is history at its coolest. 1 N. Willard St., (928) 634-2868 or ClemenceauMuseum.org.
8. Attend a festival. With such great weather and so many friendly, talented people around, it’s hard NOT to throw a festival. So no matter what month you’re visiting, something big will be happening in Cottonwood. Activities range from the Verde Valley Birding & Nature Festival to Rhythm & Ribs to the Farmer’s Market to Chocolate Walk. For a complete calendar of events go to VisitCottonwoodAZ.org.
9. Picnic along the Jail Trail. Cottonwood exists because of the Verde River. To help protect this precious resource the Verde River Greenway State Natural Area was formed. The Greenway encompasses 480 acres and the Jail Trail provides easy access to this scenic and rare ecosystem. The one mile path meanders through a Fremont Cottonwood/Gooding Willow riparian community, one of only five remaining stands in Arizona and one of twenty such stands in the world. Trail leaves from the parking lot of the Old Jail which serves as a Visitor’s Center. 1101 N. Main St., (928) 634-9468. More about the Jail Trail.
10. Enjoy a moveable feast. Your taste buds will never suspect that Cottonwood is a small town, not with so many delicious restaurants to sample. Here are a few to get you started. For sandwiches, salads and heavenly desserts try Old Town Café, N. Main St., (928) 634-5980. Tender steaks and fresh seafood can be found at Nic’s Italian Steak and Crab House, 925 N. Main St. (928) 634-9626. Whatever you get at Verde Valley Wine Co. you’ll want to pair with a glass of vino from their extensive list. Ask about one of the local labels. 401 S. Calvary Way, (928) 639-WINE or VerdeValleyWineCo.com. For an unforgettable fine dining experience, everything you order at Pinon Bistro is perfection on a plate. Don’t miss the crab cakes. 1075 Hwy. 260, (928) 649-0234.More about Dining in Cottonwood.