day trip to Jerome, Arizona
To celebrate our three year wedding anniversary we “hit the road Jack” and went to Jerome, Arizona. Most of you probably haven’t heard of Jerome because it’s a very small town with a measly 455 inhabitants now. It’s hard to believe it was at once one of the richest cities in the USA with a population of over 15,000!
Jerome became a town in the late 19th century. There was a booming mining business and miners specifically found a lot of copper in those parts of the valley. Built on Cleopatra Hill, Jerome is 5,000 feet above sea level so the views are stunning from up here. Speaking of being built, they weren’t the sharpest when choosing their building materials. Many of the buildings were made of wood so they burned down frequently. We bet the firefighters were working overtime fighting all those fires!
However, the mining business took a dip when the ore deposits ran out and the mines closed, leading Jerome to become a ghost town with less than fifty people remaining. We had always heard it was a ghost town and assumed that meant it was haunted. When in reality, they called themselves a ghost town due to the sharp decline in the population. Wow, can you imagine living in a town that small? Goodbye privacy.
When we were there we found many of the businesses played off this ghost town theme. Like the Haunted Hamburger, the Asylum, and Wicked City Brew (which we will share more about later). When in fact, there was nothing scary or haunted about them. They were friendlier than ever!
Today we are sharing the top 5 things to do in Jerome, Arizona so you can make the most of your spooky day trip there.
Our absolute favorite thing was visiting the Jerome State Historic Park, home of the Douglas Mansion museum (James Douglas was the mine union owner). We spent quite a bit of time here. Head to the room in the back right of the mansion to watch the half hour video first. It’s very informative on the history of the town and you’ll get a kick out of the ghost narrator. Then there’s plenty of things to walk around and see within the museum. Like models of the mining tunnels underground, photos of the old town before it was deserted, beautifully colored stones that were discovered underground, and original furniture from the Douglas family’s home.
Don’t forget to head outside for some stunning views of the town. Look for the “J” on top of the mountain and be astonished at how tiny the mining equipment was! If you walk around the property you can get different views of the town and the views are expansive. All in all, it was our favorite part of visiting Jerome because we learned so much, so don’t miss it. It’s open 8:30am-5pm and is only $7 per person. The #1 thing to do in Jerome.
If you want to learn more about the history of Jerome…
After that we went to the Jerome Historical Society Mine museum which was downtown and only $2 per person. But to be honest, after being at the last museum, this one was extremely disappointing. The exhibits were old and poorly made, it was very tiny, and there was nothing interactive. We suggest you skip this one unless you’ve got a ton of extra time.
Instead make your way through the streets of downtown Jerome. You’ll notice there are a few levels to the downtown area. Meaning you’ll get your fair share of climbing the stairs today (hello leg workout). Along each level you’ll find artsy shops, candy or ice cream shops, restaurants, bars, and saloons. Here and there you’ll see some of those dilapidated buildings we mentioned earlier that likely caught fire or have simply worn down over the years. One example of those is the old Bartlett hotel where you’ll find something surprising sitting in the empty space to throw coins in: a toilet! How random, and the least bit spooky. While wandering the streets downtown, be sure to stop in Nellie Bly Kaleidoscopes shop for a few minutes of fun.
We really enjoyed grabbing a beer and cocktail at the Wicked City Brew if you’re into tasting some local beverages. They had a wide assortment of local beers and a fun cocktail list! It’s a small, relaxing venue with some indie music that had Steph dancing in her seat! Some other options if you prefer wine are Jerome Winery or Bitter Creek Winery.
FOOD IN JEROME, ARIZONA
If you’re hungry, we recommend one of two places: the Asylum or the Haunted Hamburger. They are the best reviewed restaurants in town. We chose the Haunted Hamburger which has some clever skeletons all around the building- try to find them! The hamburgers were great and the french fries were surprisingly unique! Consider the deviled eggs or a Boozy milkshake to partake in as well. This is a popular place with cleverly named menu items, so expect a wait. We recommend you put your name in (request an outdoor table with a view) and then walk around town because there’s likely going to be a long wait on the weekends.
The other restaurant the Asylum is within the Jerome Grand hotel. We didn’t eat there but it has American food and is known for having a haunted room within the hotel. That’s because the hotel used to be the United Verde Hospital so guests report noises like coughing, heavy breathing, and voices coming from empty rooms. There are also commonly reported experiences like hearing kids laughing, electronics being unplugged, or doors opening/closing on vacant rooms. Spooky!
We enjoyed our roadtrip to Jerome, especially stopping to fly the drone around at the end of the day. Checkout a minute of our drone footage to see views of the gorgeous valley!
Don’t forget, we’re talking about Arizona here. So avoid visiting in the summertime during scorching hot temperatures. Instead, the best times to visit are October-April typically. By the way, if you want a tour while you’re there, checkout this one from Viator.
Enjoy haunted Jerome, Arizona & get boozy!