If the charming town of Jerome isn’t on your radar, allow us to convince you why it should be! Jerome is about a two and a half hour drive north from anywhere in the Valley, making it an accessible day trip destination. However, it is also a fun place to plan a weekend getaway to go for a few nights if you want to visit a historic city that takes you off the beaten path.
As far as small Arizona towns go, Jerome has a rich history. While some people might think of Jerome and associate it with being a ghost town, there is actually a fabulous art and culture scene in the city that makes it far more than a tourist destination!
The History Behind Jerome
The town of Jerome was once known as the “Billion Dollar Copper Camp,” because it was first settled as a very lucrative copper mining town. The mines officially closed in 1953, and at that point the town’s population dwindled all the way down to 50 people! In the present day, the population hovers around 500 residents, which makes Jerome one of the smaller towns in the state.
Jerome had a revival during the 1960s and 1970s when it became a haven for creatives. Artists flocked to the town to be around like-minded people, and they took inspiration from the beautiful sweeping mountain views around the city. Today you will find a blend of the history’s past as a copper mining town and the leftover influence from the local artist colony.
Jerome State Historic Park
The Jerome State Historic Park is a spot you must check off your list while visiting the town of Jerome. The park and museum are open each day from 10 am to 4 pm, and it costs $7 for adults and $4 to enter for children ages 7-13. The main attraction inside the historic park is The Douglas Mansion. It’s a stunning home built on the side of the mountain, and the Douglas Mansion has breathtaking views of the Verde Valley.
The Douglas family originally built their home in this location because it was on top of their mine, called Little Daisy Mine. When you tour the museum today, you can watch a video about the history of Jerome, the Douglas family, and see artifacts from the family’s mine which is no longer operational, but is still located underneath the house.
Our recommendation is to visit the Jerome State Historic Park in the morning and bring a picnic lunch with you to enjoy after you take the tour of the Douglas Mansion. There is a lovely outdoor picnic area located in the park grounds, so you can enjoy your lunch while admiring the surrounding mountain views. Try to see how many landmarks you can spot in the distance!
The Original Jerome Winery
For those 21 and up, the Original Jerome Winery is another destination to add to your list during your time in Jerome. Northern Arizona is actually a hub of great wineries, and Jerome has one of the best. The wine selection you can try at The Original Jerome Winery all comes from the Dragoon Mountain Winery in Wilcox, Arizona.
The winery’s website notes that their space is a bit small, and the winery is busiest on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. If you opt to visit on the weekends, there may be about a twenty minute wait. However, reservations are never required to visit, so walk-ins are always welcome at The Original Jerome Winery.
The great thing is that this winery is located in the heart of the town of Jerome, so it’s easy to visit while you are exploring the rest of the downtown area. This is a great place to try out local Arizona wines from one of the best vineyards in the state!
Gold King Mine & Ghost Town
The Gold King Mine and Ghost Town is the most family-friendly excursion you will find in Jerome. The Gold King Mine is a highly rated attraction in Jerome, because it offers an authentic look at life in a preserved mining ghost town without being overly touristy or commercialized.The Gold King Mine really allows you to feel like you’ve been transported back in time, making it an attraction that you will want to block out a few hours to explore!
At the mine and ghost town, you can visit and see the 1270 foot mine shaft that was first opened back in the 1890s. As the name would suggest, the miners struck gold at the Gold King Mine back in its heyday.
While the gold has long since dried up, you can experience what it was like to participate in the mining process and check out some of the historic mining equipment and buildings. Visitors love getting to see the collection of old historic cars on the property as well! There is even a petting zoo for kids and a station where they can learn how to mine for gold. Gold King Mine is an inexpensive daytime activity as well, costing $7 in admission for children ages six to twelve, and $10 for those that are thirteen and older.
For the art lovers, Raku Gallery is a necessary stop while in Jerome. The gallery features an eclectic collection of fine arts and crafts, with everything from paintings, to blown glass, to ceramics, to jewelry. The gallery opened back in 1988, and most of the art featured in Raku Gallery has locally inspired Southwestern flair. Raku Gallery is a great spot to pick up art from local artisans to bring back to your home. Art always makes for a great souvenir to commemorate your time in a fun city!
The name of the gallery comes from the Zen translation of “rake,” which means ease, contentment, and pleasure. This is how the gallery owners want you to feel while exploring all of the art inside the gallery. Raku Gallery is open year-round from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. If you only visit one art gallery in Jerome, make it this one!
Mingus Mountain is part of the Black Hills mountain range, and it’s about ten miles outside of the downtown area of Jerome. Mingus Mountain is the place to go for outdoor recreational activities in Jerome. You can go horseback riding, fishing, hunting, or even participate in adventurous activities like hang gliding and paragliding. With so much to do outside, Mingus Mountain should be an essential part of your trip to Jerome.
If you are looking to fish, you can expect to catch rainbow trout in the lakes around Mingus Mountain. The best time to visit Mingus Mountain is the spring through fall seasons, when the weather is mild and the mountain is lush with vegetation. If you are wondering about the mountain’s unusual name, it is named after the Mingus brothers Joseph and Jacob, who opened a sawmill in the area back in the 1880s.
Taking a trip to Jerome is a must for all Phoenix residents. With a blend of shopping, historic sites, nature, and wine, everyone will enjoy a trip to Jerome. The town is worth visiting for the history alone, but it’s also a great destination to include while on a longer road trip through Northern Arizona. While you are in Jerome, make sure to soak in the views of Sedona in the distance!