Travel

8 Reasons to Drive to Jerome, Arizona

It's just a short day trip to this mining hub turned ghost town turned weekend destination.

Fotoluminate LLC/Shutterstock
Fotoluminate LLC/Shutterstock
Fotoluminate LLC/Shutterstock

Jerome might be known as a mining hub turned ghost town, but these days the town is anything but deserted with tens of thousands of visitors. And while ghost hunting is a must-experience activity when in town, Jerome has much more to offer than spooky sightseeing. The town is home to small shops, wineries, and lots of Arizona history-all with views of Arizona at a 5,000-foot elevation. Plus-with it being just two hours away from Phoenix-it’s perfect for a weekend getaway or easy day trip.

Here are our top reasons to make the short drive to the northern Arizona city.

Nick Fox/Shutterstock
Nick Fox/Shutterstock
Nick Fox/Shutterstock

See stunning views and a peek into Arizona history at Jerome State Historic Park

The Jerome State Historic Park is the perfect place to start any trip to Jerome. It’s home to The Douglas Mansion-which has roots dating back to 1916, when the city was still a booming copper mining town. Today, the mansion-which was renovated to be a museum in the 1960s-is filled with photographs of Jerome’s early days, historic artifacts as well as a model of the town and its underground mines. However, even those who don’t consider themselves history buffs will enjoy the stunning views of the Verde Valley from the mansion and nearby picnic area.

Caduceus Cellars
Caduceus Cellars
Caduceus Cellars

Do some local wine tasting at the Caduceus Cellars Tasting Room

A trip to Jerome isn’t complete without sipping wines made right in the Verde Valley, produced by owner and head winemaker Maynard James Keenan-known as the singer for Tool, A Perfect Circle, and Puscifer. In addition to great wines, visitors will enjoy a cozy atmosphere and a farm to table menu of pastries, pastas, bruschetta, sandwiches, and more.

Ghost Town Tours Jerome Arizona
Ghost Town Tours Jerome Arizona
Ghost Town Tours Jerome Arizona

Have an encounter with the supernatural on a ghost tour

There is no shortage of ghost tours to embark on when visiting Jerome. Ghost Town ToursTours of Jerome, and Jerome Ghost Tours are all top-rated options, but it’s hard to go wrong when searching for a taste of the supernatural in this ghost town. Tours range from one hour to four-depending on the number of haunted destinations and whether they’re within the town limits or also include nearby cities such as Sedona, Clarkdale, and Cottonwood.

Paul R. Jones/Shutterstock
Paul R. Jones/Shutterstock
Paul R. Jones/Shutterstock

Enjoy crème brûlée (with a side of ghost haunting) at the Asylum

The Jerome Grand Hotel-which was previously United Verde Hospital-might be known for being haunted, but its restaurant, The Asylum, is known for its upscale American dining. If you ask us, it’s worth a visit, even if you’re not feeling gutsy enough to spend the night at the hotel. Guests have their choice between specialties like the roasted maple-leaf duck and grilled pacific salmon salad or can opt for classics like the cheeseburger. Finish your meal with the Asylum Crème Brûlée for the full experience.

andysartworks/Shutterstock
andysartworks/Shutterstock
andysartworks/Shutterstock

Explore Arizona’s mining history at the Jerome Historical Society Mine Museum

While Jerome’s past as a copper mining hotspot is rooted in nearly every aspect of the town-you can get the full history lesson at the Jerome Historical Society Mine Museum, which was opened approximately 70 years ago to pay homage to the town’s roots. You’ll see guns from notorious town shootouts to mining equipment and even household goods from the late 1800s. Plus, with admission being just $2, you can’t beat the price.

Get the ultimate souvenir Jerome Olive Oil Traders

Who doesn’t love olive oil? Especially premium olive oils made right in Arizona’s Verde Valley, in flavours like chipotle chili, blood orange, and fresh basil. In addition, visitors can shop for balsamic vinegars-making It the perfect destination to shop for a gift or a souvenir to commemorate a trip to northern Arizona.

Trevor Huxham/Flickr
Trevor Huxham/Flickr
Trevor Huxham/Flickr

Visit the infamous Sliding Jail

The beloved tourist attraction is unlike any other jail you’ll find, having slid 200 feet down the town’s hillside. Back when Jerome was known as the “Wickedest Town in America,” this humble jail housed the town’s crooks and criminals. Today if you visit, you’ll have the added bonus of checking out an incredible mountain view.

Bobby D's BBQ
Bobby D’s BBQ
Bobby D’s BBQ

Chow down on barbecue at the state’s oldest dining facility

While the smokehouse opened as Bobby D’s BBQ in 2011, this restaurant’s roots go back to 1899, making this structure the oldest dining facility in the state. Barbecue enthusiasts can choose between ribs, chicken, pulled pork, and brisket served traditionally with a side of cornbread, coleslaw, or barbecue beans-to name a few. And while the barbecue dishes are the star of the show, diners can also opt for hamburgers, sandwiches, or salads-making it a go-to for Jerome dining.

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Jamie Killin is a Phoenix native and Arizona State graduate who specializes in lifestyle and features writing. You can usually find her at the spin studio, a concert, or trying new restaurants across the Valley. Follow her at @jamiefayekillin.

Travel

Ditch your Phone for ‘Dome Life’ in this Pastoral Paradise Outside Port Macquarie 

A responsible, sustainable travel choice for escaping big city life for a few days.

nature domes port macquarie
Photo: Nature Domes

The urge to get as far away as possible from the incessant noise and pressures of ‘big city life’ has witnessed increasingly more of us turn to off-grid adventures for our holidays: Booking.com polled travellers at the start of 2023 and 55% of us wanted to spend our holidays ‘off-grid’.  Achieving total disconnection from the unyielding demands of our digitised lives via some kind of off-grid nature time—soft or adventurous—is positioned not only as a holiday but, indeed, a necessity for our mental health. 

Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, an accommodation collection of geodesic domes dotted across a lush rural property in Greater Port Macquarie (a few hours’ drive from Sydney, NSW), offers a travel experience that is truly ‘off-grid’. In the figurative ‘wellness travel’ sense of the word, and literally, they run on their own independent power supply—bolstered by solar—and rely not on the town grid. 

Ten minutes before you arrive at the gates for a stay at Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, your phone goes into ‘SOS ONLY’. Apple Maps gives up, and you’re pushed out of your comfort zone, driving down unsealed roads in the dark, dodging dozens of dozing cows. Then, you must ditch your car altogether and hoist yourself into an open-air, all-terrain 4WD with gargantuan wheels. It’s great fun being driven through muddy gullies in this buggy; you feel like Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park.  As your buggy pulls in front of your personal Nature Dome, it’s not far off that “Welcome…to Jurassic Park” jaw-dropping moment—your futuristic-looking home is completely engulfed by thriving native bushland; beyond the outdoor campfire lie expansive hills and valleys of green farmland, dotted with sheep and trees. You’re almost waiting to see a roaming brachiosaurus glide past, munching on a towering gum tree…instead, a few inquisitive llamas trot past your Dome to check out their new visitor. 

To fully capture the awe of inhabiting a geodesic dome for a few days, a little history of these futuristic-looking spherical structures helps. Consisting of interlocking triangular skeletal struts supported by (often transparent) light walls, geodesic domes were developed in the 20th century by American engineer and architect R. Buckminster Fuller, and were used for arenas. Smaller incarnations have evolved into a ‘future-proof’ form of modern housing: domes are able to withstand harsh elements due to the stability provided by the durable materials of their construction and their large surface area to volume ratio (which helps minimize wind impact and prevents the structure from collapsing). As housing, they’re also hugely energy efficient – their curved shape helps to conserve heat and reduce energy costs, making them less susceptible to temperature changes outside. The ample light let in by their panels further reduces the need for artificial power. 

Due to their low environmental impact, they’re an ideal sustainable travel choice. Of course, Tom’s Creek Nature Domes’ owner-operators, Cardia and Lee Forsyth, know all this, which is why they have set up their one-of-a-kind Nature Domes experience for the modern traveller. It’s also no surprise to learn that owner Lee is an electrical engineer—experienced in renewable energy—and that he designed the whole set-up. As well as the off-grid power supply, rainwater tanks are used, and the outdoor hot tub is heated by a wood fire—your campfire heats up your tub water via a large metal coil. Like most places in regional Australia, the nights get cold – but rather than blast a heater, the Domes provide you with hot water bottles, warm blankets, lush robes and heavy curtains to ward off the chill.

nature domes port macquarie
Photo: Nature Domes

You’ll need to be self-sufficient during your stay at the Domes, bringing your own food. Support local businesses and stock up in the town of Wauchope on your drive-in (and grab some pastries and coffee at Baked Culture while you’re at it). There’s a stovetop, fridge (stocked as per a mini bar), BBQs, lanterns and mozzie coils, and you can even order DIY S’More packs for fireside fun. The interiors of the Domes have a cosy, stylish fit-out, with a modern bathroom (and a proper flushing toilet—none of that drop bush toilet stuff). As there’s no mobile reception, pack a good book or make the most of treasures that lie waiting to be discovered at every turn: a bed chest full of board games, a cupboard crammed with retro DVDs, a stargazing telescope (the skies are ablaze come night time). Many of these activities are ideal for couples, but there’s plenty on offer for solo travellers, such as yoga mats, locally-made face masks and bath bombs for hot tub soaks. 

It’s these thoughtful human touches that reinforce the benefit of making a responsible travel choice by booking local and giving your money to a tourism operator in the Greater Port Macquarie Region, such as Tom’s Creek Nature Domes. The owners are still working on the property following the setbacks of COVID-19, and flooding in the region —a new series of Domes designed with families and groups in mind is under construction, along with an open-air, barn-style dining hall and garden stage. Once ready, the venue will be ideal for wedding celebrations, with wedding parties able to book out the property. They’ve already got one couple—who honeymooned at the Domes—ready and waiting. Just need to train up the llamas for ring-bearer duties! 

An abundance of favourite moments come to mind from my two-night stay at Tom’s Creek: sipping champagne and gourmet picnicking at the top of a hill on a giant swing under a tree, with a bird’s eye view of the entire property (the ‘Mountain Top picnic’ is a must-do activity add on during your stay), lying on a deckchair at night wrapped in a blanket gazing up at starry constellations and eating hot melted marshmallows, to revelling in the joys of travellers before me, scrawled on notes in a jar of wishes left by the telescope (you’re encouraged to write your own to add to the jar). But I’ll leave you with a gratitude journal entry I made while staying there. I will preface this by saying that I don’t actually keep a gratitude journal, but Tom’s Creek Nature Domes is just the kind of place that makes you want to start one. And so, waking up on my second morning at Tom’s —lacking any 4G bars to facilitate my bad habit of a morning Instagram scroll—I finally opened up a notebook and made my first journal entry:

‘I am grateful to wake up after a deep sleep and breathe in the biggest breaths of this clean air, purified by nature and scented with eucalyptus and rain. I am grateful for this steaming hot coffee brewed on a fire. I feel accomplished at having made myself. I am grateful for the skittish sheep that made me laugh as I enjoyed a long nature walk at dawn and the animated billy goats and friendly llamas overlooking my shoulder as I write this: agreeable company for any solo traveller. I’m grateful for total peace, absolute stillness.” 

Off-grid holiday status: unlocked.

Where: Tom’s Creek Nature Domes, Port Macquarie, 2001 Toms Creek Rd
Price: $450 per night, book at the Natura Domes website.

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