jerome arizona
Travel,  USA

Incredible Things To Do In Jerome, Arizona

This old mining town is now an artistic oasis that’s worth a stop on a road trip. Here are the best things to do in Jerome, Arizona.

Jerome comes into view after a winding drive uphill.

Perched on the side of Cleopatra Hill, this small town is built in a series of zigzags, sharp turns and steep stairs that cling to the landscape.

The New York Sun in 1903 dubbed Jerome as the Wickedest City in the West with its rowdy bars, treasure hunters and prostitutes.

Today’s quiet, artsy Jerome has preserved its tumultuous history as a roaring copper mining town. But when the mining died down, Jerome refused to shrivel into a ghost town.

Things to do in Jerome

jerome arizona

Walk uphill towards downtown, past crumbling facades and bright turquoise houses with balconies lined with bunting. There are cozy bookstores and quaint hotels like the Connor, built in 1898 and complete with a spirit room.

There are art galleries that sell polished mesquite wood and crystals. And hotels that could be backdrops for westerns.

Start with coffee, then make your way past a tiny fire department with red doors, Gibson’s Grocery and Market and a pit filled with rusty mining equipment.

Jerome is a curious mix of decay and high-end boutiques.

But there’s a small-town vibe that recalls black-and-white American films where people shop at corner stores and Main Street is the busiest road. An America filled with kind neighbors and bake sales – which is harder to find these days, but still here.

Jerome’s colorful history

jerome arizona

Jerome was once nearly forgotten.

It escaped a ghost-town fate into oblivion thanks only to those who couldn’t bear to leave.

Once a booming mining town of 15,000 people, Jerome in its heyday produced an incredible 3 million pounds of copper every month and attracted hopefuls from around the world, along with bootleggers, saloon keepers and sex workers. But the mines finally closed in 1953 after the Great Depression, falling copper prices and labor unrest took their toll.

The town dwindled to a population of some 50 people in the late 1950s. In the 1960s and 70s, artists and hippies moved in, renovated its homes and reopened once-abandoned shops. Then the residents turned to tourism and managed to secure Jerome’s legacy by getting National Historic Landmark status in 1967.

Arizona road trip

jerome arizona

Browse Jerome’s quirky boutiques and wander uphill until the streets turn thinner and more residential.

Then get back on the winding highways, through the Prescott valley and an Indian reservation, and on to your next stop.

Read my guide to Montezuma Castle for more on road trip destinations in Northern Arizona.

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