Holbrook is a small city of around 5,000, located in the Navajo County of the state of Arizona, and it’s also the county seat.
It was founded in 1881 when the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad was built here, and it got its name from the first chief engineer of the railroad.
Even though it’s a small city, there are still plenty of interesting places to visit and cool stuff to do around here. Today we’ll take a look at the 15 best things to do in Holbrook.
1. See the Petrified Forest National Park
This park is huge, so if you have the time, feel free to take an entire day and hike through it, as there is a lot of beautiful scenery to see. Not all the trees in this forest are petrified, but you will see plenty of them along the way.
A piece of wood gets petrified when it is buried in minerals, which preserve it for a much longer period of time. It is said that some of the petrified wood dates back from millions of years ago, when Arizona was a forest, not a desert.
Here you will also find petroglyphs dating back hundreds of years and beautiful hills and slopes colored beautifully by the wide variety of rocks and minerals.
So feel free to take an entire day to just hike and explore this beautiful place.
2. Get a Souvenir from Jim Gray’s Petrified Wood Co.
Seeing all of that beautiful colored rocks and petrified wood might make you want to take some home. Instead of searching and digging through nature for the perfect souvenir, go and visit the Jim Gray’s Petrified Wood Co.
Here you will find hundreds of beautiful and unique pieces, carefully chosen and prepared. You can use them to decorate your home or your garden or just offer them as a gift to someone special.
There are lots of rocks, fossils, sculptures, jewelry items, clocks, toys, dinosaurs and much more. There is definitely a souvenir for anyone here.
3. Visit the Navajo County Historical Museum
When you think of Arizona, you think of its rich history of Native Americans. So when you are in Holbrook you should definitely check out the Navajo County Historical Museum.
The museum is quite large and includes a wide variety of antiques from different eras. It also has some items from the famous Route 66 and even an old jail with some artwork done by inmates.
You will find stuff from the Apache and Navajo cultures, from Hispanic people, from cowboys and sheriffs and even some fossils from millions of years ago.
The staff are friendly and are happy to answer any questions you may have.
4. Get More Souvenirs from the DoBell Ranch
If you visited the Jim Gray’s Petrified Wood Co. and still haven’t found the right piece of petrified wood for you, then head over the DoBell Ranch.
Here you will find thousands more other rocks, minerals and unique pieces of petrified wood. Some can be used as decorations, while others can be useful too, for example as bookends, jewelry or paperweights.
The business is family-owned and they are very friendly and helpful people.
5. Get a Dinosaur from the Painted Desert Indian Center
Besides a large collection of souvenirs, rugs, jewelry, pottery and sculptures, you will also find some cool dinosaurs and teepees.
They also have a nice café, a picnic area and clean restrooms, making it a nice place to stop by on a long road trip.
6. Get Even More Souvenirs from Geronimo’s Trading Post
Why is this gift shop more special than the others? Well first of all, here you will find the largest petrified log in the world. This place is like a mecca for tourists and those who are driving on Route 66, and it’s no wonder why.
They have thousands of gifts, souvenirs, rocks, petrified wood, clothes, teepees and many more items to choose from. Have fun!
7. Have a Drink at the Empty Pockets Saloon
After a long day of hiking and shopping for souvenirs, treat yourself to a cold beer at the Empty Pockets Saloon, a family-owned western saloon. Here you will find a wide selection of drinks at fair prices, and the staff are very friendly.
Here you will also find two tables to play pool and if you make it during happy hour, there is also free popcorn. The bar is full of antique furniture and there are plenty of old west relics hanging on the walls.
If you end up having too many drinks to drive, just stop by a nearby motel, or go and have some food at one of the excellent nearby restaurants.
8. Camp at the Crystal Forest Gift Shop Campground
We’re sure that by now you are already tired of shopping for crystals and petrified wood, so we won’t mention the fact that they have a large gift shop with thousands of products.
But what makes this place different is its campground. Here you can immerse yourself in the desert and spend a night or two under the Arizona skies, surrounded by the Petrified Forest.
9. Feed an Ostrich at the Stewart’s Petrified Wood
Besides selling petrified wood and various other souvenirs, this place is unique because of the creepy mannequins displayed all over the place and also because of the ostriches found here.
Make a quick stop here, buy some petrified wood, take a photo with the dinosaur eating a mannequin, feed an ostrich and then continue your visit to Holbrook.
10. Enjoy the Rock Art Canyon Ranch
Take a hike or a picnic in this splendid canyon, while you enjoy the unique petroglyphs and of course, the petrified wood.
The site is not that large, so take your time and visit all of it. You will be amazed by the art on the rocks and by the beautiful scenery.
There is also a ranch and a museum which displays hundreds of pieces of Native American history. The owners and employees are very knowledgeable of the history and the geology of this place, and will gladly answer all of your questions.
If you visit this place during the summer, make sure to bring plenty of water and clothes that are suitable for a hike on a torrid summer day.
11. Sleep in a Teepee at The Wigwam Village #6 Motel
This place prides itself on offering a clean and affordable place to sleep, but it also celebrates the culture of this area by offering some teepee lookalike accommodations.
It was first opened in 1950 and has been run by the Lewis family ever since. If you are wondering what’s with the #6 in the name, this is because there are a few other similar places in the country.
This village has 15 teepees, each one with its own bathroom, air conditioner and bed, plus a museum.
12. Visit the Bucket of Blood Street
The story behind the creepy name goes like this: many years ago, Holbrook was a place where criminals would hang out, drink, gamble and of course, get involved in gunfights.
In the year 1886 there was a gunfight that caused so many deaths that the floors of the Terrill’s Cottage Saloon were filled with blood. Soon after this tragic event, the bar changed its name into the “Bucket of Blood Saloon”.
The bar stayed open for many years after that, but it eventually closed. Even though the bar is gone, the street still has this name, reminding everyone of the bloody past of this area.
13. See the Ruins of Ella’s Frontier Trading Post
What used to be a popular attraction of Route 66, is now a rotting building that is worth a quick stop. The place was originally built out of telephone poles by a former clown called Fredrick Rawson.
Later on, he sold it to a couple. After a few years they broke up and the wife, Ella, kept it. She was an eccentric piano player and she would proudly say to everyone that her trading post was the oldest one on Route 66.
Eventually she passed away too, and no one took over the place. It’s now a relic of days gone by, and a great place to spend some time poking around and imagining what once was.
14. Ride a Giant Rabbit at the Rabbit Trading Post
Unlike many gift shops situated along Route 66 that are now closed, the Rabbit Trading Post is still operating to this day, probably because of its major attraction: a huge fiberglass rabbit that you can ride.
It was opened in the ‘40s and went through the hands of multiple owners. The giant rabbit was heavily advertised through billboards across Route 66, and with a final one near the location saying “HERE IT IS”.
This stop has become so popular that it was even parodied in the Disney-Pixar movie “Cars,” bringing even more people to this shop.
15. Have a Good Rest at the Quality Inn
After all of the above-mentioned activities and places to see, you definitely need a good sleep so you can start the next day fresh and continue your journey across the United States.
If sleeping in a teepee is not really your thing and you want the comfort of a classic hotel, then the Quality Inn is a good place to lay your weary head.
They offer free calls, TV and internet, free coffee, a laundry facility and even a free hot breakfast. The hotel is also pet-friendly, so the entire family can have a good night’s sleep.