Cottonwood in Central Arizona sits below Mingus Mountain in the Verde Valley, and you will get a feeling of history as you walk down the Main Street.
Its climate is tempered by altitude (3,300 feet) so it avoids the heat of the desert but also the cold of areas located even higher in the State. To the northeast there are the red rocks of Sedona and the southwest, Mingus Mountain.
You will be able to see evidence of ancient civilizations and cultures with the chance of exploring nearby parks. Alternatively, the Verde River offers activities for those seeking outdoor adventures and at certain times of the year, the migratory population of birdlife is most impressive.
Here are 15 things to do in Cottonwood which will certainly fill up your time when you are there.
1. Historic Old Town
Time has been kind to the Old Town.
The architectural heritage of Old Town Cottonwood is recognized in the USA’s National Register of Historic Places. On Main Street, there are buildings that originate from the era of “Prohibition,” and they are put to good use today.
Even if you have not come to shop, you will find it very difficult not to browse the shops and galleries that are found on Main Street. You will suddenly get the urge to buy; at least the locals will hope so.
2. Old Town Center for the Arts
This Center opened in the 1930s, made from local river stone and concrete. A series of special events held here means there is always something to enjoy.
It plays a role in educating everyone that walks through its doors, increasing people’s awareness of the Arts. You may learn more about farming and gardening, the local wine industry, or enjoy local theater performances.
There is a calendar of events and whenever you visit Cottonwood, there is certain to be something of interest in the Old Town Center for the Arts.
3. Clemenceau Heritage Museum
The history of Cottonwood and the other local communities in the Verde Valley is impressively revealed in this Museum. It includes the periods when copper mining was a major activity.
Learn more about the early settler days and the railroad which played such an important role in the development of Arizona and the West. Model train displays are especially good, and certainly something for children to enjoy.
See a pioneer kitchen and bedroom, a classroom from just after World War II, and a representation of a copper mine and smelter. It is a place for all the family.
4. Arizona Copper Art Museum
If you want to know more about copper and its use, this Museum is the place where all will be revealed. It is located in Clarkdale just four miles from Cottonwood.
Arizona has mined huge amounts of copper since it was first discovered, and the exhibits within the museum are a great illustration of what it has been used for over the years.
There are a number of sections within the museum and the Historical Collection especially is very interesting. You will learn about the military use of copper as well as its use for art and architecture, household goods, and how it has helped the drinks industry with distillery and winery products.
5. Tuzigoot National Monument
The site of Tuzigoot began to be cleared in the 1930s. It is an ancient village of the Sinagua Culture which dates from around the 11th century.
There were around 110 rooms in Tuzigoot in buildings, usually either two or three storeys high. At its peak, it is thought that around 230 people would have lived here. Close by, there are burial sites and over 400 sets of human remains were found during initial excavations.
The Sinagua were farmers though there is evidence that they traded with peoples over an extremely wide area of the continent.
6. Mingus Mountain
Mingus Mountain in Prescot National Forest is a great place for those looking to enjoy outdoor activities, including simply walking and enjoying the fresh air.
Mountain biking and horse-riding trails are found here, with those wanting to stay for a while able to camp in tents or rented cabins.
The fishing is good and picnic areas are there for family day trips.
Little has changed here since the days of the early settlers who panned for gold. The vegetation changes with the altitude, starting as desert and as you climb, shrubland, before forests of juniper and pine.
7. Larry’s Antiques and Things
One of the places where you may be tempted to spend money is Larry’s, where you will find items dating back to the 19th Century. The building itself was constructed in 1895 and was once an auto dealership.
Native American artifacts, old paintings and tools, and items associated with the “Wild West” are all on display. It is almost like walking into a museum and there is no pressure to buy although you are certainly welcome to do so.
A great place for people of all ages.
8. Blazin’ M Ranch
‘’Westworld’’ was a popular film and subsequently a TV Series. Its theme allowed people to live out their dreams of being in the Wild West.
The Blazin’ M Ranch seeks to offer a similar experience and its popularity seems to suggest there are plenty of people keen to do so. Head back to the pioneering days by going out to Blazin’ M Ranch.
Kids will love it, but grown-ups seen to do so as well; a great day out for the family and anyone who wants something a little different on their holidays.
9. The Verde River
If you find a spot of fishing relaxing, you can head to the nearby Verde River, sit on its banks, and try your luck. The species that you may catch include bass, catfish, and trout depending on the season.
It is fun to go kayaking on the river and slowly pass some lovely scenery as you go.
Whitewater rafting is a more vigorous alternative but that is entirely dependent on the flow when you are there. At times, there is insufficient water to offer that activity. However, one way or another, you will enjoy your time at Verde River.
10. Dead Horse Ranch State Park
Head across the Verde River from Cottonwood and you will find the Dead Horse Ranch State Park. Take a day trip to the park and if you have more time, you may decide to camp there.
It is a lovely park for hiking and if you have an interest in birdlife, take your binoculars with you. The trails are suitable for horse riding as well. At over 3,000 feet above sea level, the climate is ideal for activities.
Water enthusiasts can canoe or fish in the river, so you will never be lost for things to do if you head to this park.
11. Pillsbury Wine Company & Vineyard
When you think of US Wine you may think of Napa Valley in California; fine, but Arizona is also a notable wine producing region. Pillsbury in Cottonwood can definitely claim that the quality of its wines makes it worth a visit.
A good range of white, rosé and red wines are there for you to try. The list of awards that they have won in recent times, for example, 14 medals from the 2018 San Francisco Chronicle American Wine Awards, is impressive.
Shiraz and Grenache are the two to try and buy if you are looking for ideas, or perhaps a Chardonnay or Viognier?
12. Alcantara Vineyards and Winery
A family-owned and run vineyard, Alcantara has 13,000 wines in 12 different varieties.
The setting of the vineyard in the Valley’s foothills is lovely and adds to the experience of sampling the wines.
Regular tasting tours are available with a selection of food plates to accompany your choices; cheeses or antipasto for example. Before you sit down to sample, you will be given plenty of information on winemaking and see the production first-hand.
13. Burning Tree Cellars Tasting Room
Burning Tree on Main Street specializes in small batched wines with interesting names such as “The Impressionist,” “The Duke,” or “The Dragon”. If you go for a tasting, you can discuss the range and the grapes being used.
The Cellars do not seek to sell their wines through traditional retail outlets and invite visitors to join their Wine Club if they enjoy what they sample. If you are a regular wine drinker at home, it may be a good idea? Free to join and spring and fall shipments make it worthwhile.
14. Immaculate Conception Catholic Church
This Church on the outskirts of Cottonwood provides a feel of old and new. It is a fairly recent build, but the style is very traditional with a very interesting use of wood and plain white walls. You may feel that you are in an old mansion rather than a modern church.
Interesting statues and stained glass, some retrieved from old churches elsewhere in the country, add to its appearance. Some of the statues are copies of relics from places such as Lourdes and Santiago de Compostela.
15. Riverfront Park
The largest park in Cottonwood has plenty to entertain a family, including youngsters in a safe play area. It is great for a family picnic or BBQ.
As well as sand volleyball courts and a five-court horseshoe pit, there is a large grassed field for games.
When it comes to sports, there is the possibility of ice hockey, skateboarding, and softball, as well as an 18-tee disc golf. There is even a section set aside for dogs with separate areas for those being trained, and another for smaller dogs that need to be kept separate from larger ones.