Random images from our Arizona getaway to Cottonwood

We recently made a weekend getaway to Old Town Cottonwood and found there’s lot to do and see in this quaint, historic section of the central Arizona town.

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We started out the morning with a short hike along the Jail Trail in Old Town Cottonwood. At the trail head, we noticed beautiful morning glory vines weaving along the fence at the Wild Rose Tea House.

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Views along the trail include these giant pampas grass clusters on the banks of the Verde River.

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Pampas grass plumes bent to the morning breezes, resembling billowing ostrich feathers.

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Fungus took over residence in a downed cottonwood trunk.

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We lingered for a while at the edge of the Verde River, near the Tuzigoot Road bridge.

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The far end of the Jail Trail connects to the entrance of Dead Horse State Park.  (Tip: Walk-in entrance fee is only $3.)

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After walking along the river, we stopped for a bit of brunch at the Red Rooster Cafe.

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There’s nothing better than a frothy latte on a chilly morning in Old Town Cottonwood.

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Even if you’re not enthusiastic about antiques, you’ll find enjoyment browsing Larry’s Antiques & Things.

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While shopping for unusual antiques, we not only found a “alien receiving” sign, but we found an alien to go with it… 🙂

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Finally, we topped off the day with wine tasting at one of several tasting rooms in Old Town Cottonwood including the Pillsbury Wine Company Tasting Room on Main Street.

Thinking about a road trip? Now is the perfect time to visit Cottonwood:

March 29 is the Verde River Runoff.

The Verde Valley Birding and Nature Festival is April 24-27.

A blues festival, guitar concert and local history program are among the events dot at the Old Town Center for the Arts.

Check the Cottonwood Chamber of Commerce calendar for more events.

Enjoy your Arizona Getaway!

 

Don’t miss Prescott’s Textiles & Textures Artisans Studio

Colorful sand cast leaves by artist Chris Ryback

Custom wood vases created by artists Roger and Jan Harlow

If you’re headed to Prescott for Fourth of July festivities, consider adding to your itinerary a visit to Textiles & Textures Artisans Studio.

Located at 217 North Cortez Street (the same street with all those cool antique shops), Textiles & Textures is steps away from the Courthouse Plaza in downtown Prescott. The shop which opened for business a few months ago, is run by sisters Debra Owen and Donna Stirnaman.

To put it mildly, this studio/shop is a showcase of unusual and unique art and crafts. To put it more accurately, Textiles & Textures is so colorful and crafty you’ll think the popular website, Etsy.com exploded from the Internet into a downtown Prescott storefront! Much of the media is textiles, paper, wood, stone and ceramics. I was really impressed by all the racks of upcycled children’s clothing. That’s what this gallery-studio-store-workshop is all about: upcycling, re-imagining just about anything. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, “upcycling,” think of it this way: Converting a used but colorful, print dress into a dust cloth is recycling; converting it into several sets of children’s pajamas is upcycling.

When we visited the shop during a recent Prescott visit, studio employees were busily designing new exhibits. Owners and staff were preparing for an event called “Tie One On Art Challenge,” an open call for art — a competition for artists and crafters to create works from men’s ties. Although the entry deadline has past, the competition submissions will be judged and exhibited July 2-28. A reception will feature the works Friday June 28 during the downtown Prescott Fourth Friday Art Walk. Check for more events and numerous photos on Textiles & Textures’ Facebook page.

The studio also offers a variety of classes and workshops, such as drawing and creating art journals. An upcoming workshop, beginning July 20, is Rag Papermaking by Annie Alexander. Participants will learn how to handcraft forms of paper to be used either as an art medium, or for a more functional purpose such as writing paper, cards or envelopes. Alexander’s paper art and original artist books also are available at the studio to purchase… or simply admire. Textiles & Textures’ shelves also boast creations by Chino Valley artists Roger and Jan Harlow. Find turned bowls, vases, tables, platters and more — executed from exotic wood pieces from throughout the world. Another noteworthy display includes large, colorful sand cast leaves by artist Chris Ryback.

Jewelry, apparel, painting, metal sculptures, art quilts, ceramics and paper art  — they’re all here. If you thought some of these crafts were “lost arts,” then consider them “found” at Textiles & Textures Artisans Studio. 

Bright spring and summer fashions in the Kids Corner at Textiles & Textures

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A ‘down-home’ getaway weekend in downtown Safford

Halloween decor at Gingerbread & Co., a popular downtown Safford gift shop

Traveling throughout Arizona to its smaller towns and cities, I’ve learned to allow time to explore the downtown areas. Window shopping, browsing through antique or thrift stores, visiting local attractions and relaxing in town squares have been important activities of my Arizona getaways. My visit to Safford’s historical downtown area provides another snapshot of an Arizona small town.

Historic downtown Safford

Safford’s central business section is attractive and well-kept, but like most historic districts, some buildings still need a facelift. The downtown includes a well-defined Main Street, rolling out to a city and county government complex and park. Side streets include many additional businesses, offices and light industrial firms. Safford’s downtown reminds me of the “Back to the Future” movie town – “Hill Valley.”  Walking down Main Street, one can envision Michael J. Fox’s character hopping on a skateboard and careening over parked cars. Even the Graham County Courthouse strikes a keen resemblance to Hill Valley’s courthouse – sans the clock. I guess classic revival or neo-classic architecture style must have been popular for government buildings constructed during the early 20th century.

I was expecting to find quaint shops and eateries lining the thoroughfare, as I often have discovered in other Arizona ‘historic downtown’ districts. I found a few, but with all the historical storefronts, I really thought there would be more.  Much of the street level commercial frontage seems to be undergoing renovation. Some existing businesses were simply closed on Saturdays such as professional and medical offices or business services providers. Obviously downtown Safford doesn’t exist to the whim of tourism and clearly Safford is not attempting to be the “shopping Mecca” of Arizona.  Local commerce here is more about providing goods and services for its townsfolk. Granted, on this particular blustery Saturday, clouds and winds threatened monsoon rains so I didn’t spend as much time wandering the downtown as I’d hoped.

Gingerbread & Co., a spacious market for home decorating and gift ideas

However, a few shops did manage to capture my interest — I’m really glad I took the time to browse two women’s apparel stores: Sorella’s Elite Fashions and The Wear. I find independent, locally owned clothing retailers especially appealing. Call it nostalgia, but I like the way clothing, shoes and accessories are neatly and tastefully displayed at these shops. It makes shopping extra enjoyable. Friendly customer service is a bonus. Another recommended store is Gingerbread & Co., a gift and home accessory shop. If you’re drawn to decorative knickknacks, this place is for you. Plan to spend a while here, browsing through odds and ends: frames, signs, wreaths, bookends, you name it. Let’s put this way: if you have an empty spot on a wall, table or shelf in your house, it may be filled when you return from Gingerbread & Co.

Outdoor seating at "A Step Back in Time Coffee Shop and Deli"

With all this walking, visitors to Safford’s historic downtown may need a ‘little pick-me-up,’ so I can recommend A Step Back in Time Coffee Shop and Deli. This was another downtown highlight. Coffee, tea, smoothies, sandwiches, pizza and breakfast dishes make up the menu.  I stopped in for a late morning latte and a chat with the barista on duty. Downtown Safford is still going through some changes; storefronts are being reconstructed and renovated, I learned. Businesses are moving to larger spaces and new shops are opening. A Christmas decoration shop was preparing its new inventory during my visit.

 "A Step Back in Time" was once a old hardware store. Now renovated, plans include an onsite bakery

Safford is about a three hour drive southeast of Phoenix. The trip would make a wonderful getaway for anyone wanting a kind of “country Christmas” or “downhome” autumn weekend. You could shop for unusual gifts and holiday decorations while getting acquainted (or more familiar) with one of Arizona’s more rustic county seats. (Don’t forget to pick up a few dozen tamales at one or more of those wonderful southeast Arizona Mexican restaurants.)

There were several other interesting retailers I wanted to visit, but we just ran out of time: Pollock’s Western Wear — a well-reputed western apparel and boot outfitter, and a liquor store that appears to be located in the middle of an intersection, on a traffic island, called — appropriately enough: Triangle Liquor. Those will have to wait until next time.

More reasons to visit Safford and Graham County in October: Graham County Fair is Oct. 11-14; Cowboy Poets and Music Gathering is Oct. 26-28; and Harvest Festival is Oct. 27.

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One-stop shopping at Globe’s Pickle Barrel Trading Post

Pickle Barrel Trading Post's array of metal flowers

I’ve found it. I found the perfect place to buy everything you thought you could never find, never needed or for that matter — never even knew existed — it’s the Pickle Barrel Trading Post in Globe. Probably some of you already are familiar with the Pickle Barrel, but to those of you who haven’t yet been there, please don’t miss it. It’s a one-of-a-kind shopping experience.

From the street, this historic Globe tourism icon holds a prime shopping property on Broad Street, a concrete-blocked, corrugated-roofed reminder of a bustling, booming mining town. At first, the building seems out of place on the perimeter of the historic downtown area, but when you drive around to the front entrance of the store, it’s clear why Pickle Barrel is a popular shopping destination.

Metal Petal: A perfectly planted flower bed at Pickle Barrel Trading Post

If, after “antiquing” through the whatnot shops of Globe and the this-n-that stores of Miami, and you still haven’t found that special something, you may locate it at Pickle Barrel. Upon arrival, stroll through gardens of ornamental metal and wood: copper, bronze and wrought iron sculptures. Every imaginable kind of lawn decor is found here. Fountains, planters, gazing balls and weather vanes make up a kind of obstacle course for an entire colony of soldered metal ants, spiders, scorpions and butterflies. Don’t worry there’s a path up to the entrance, so you’ll be safe.

Pendleton blankets and pillows at Pickle Barrel Trading PostAfter stepping inside the Pickle Barrel, you immediately get the sense that this store is indeed a forum for ‘deal hunting.’ It’s all worlds of imaginable shopping combined: second hand merchant, gift boutique, antique mall, attic storeroom, furniture gallery, general store, Indian trading post, Southwest-Mexican art barn, Arizona souvenir shop, bargain basement and flea market.

Rock and gem display case at Pickle Barrel Trading Post

Take your time to look. If you glance around too quickly at all the merchandise you’ll get what’s known as “shopper’s eyestrain” – the pain acquired when one’s eyes constantly focus and refocus, moving from close objects to faraway objects. And I’d recommend bringing keeping your cell phone in close range in case your spouse gets sidetracked and decides to explore the opposite side of the building. There are so many nooks and crannies, kiosks, display cases and shelving units, it’s easy to get lost. You’ll find a full range of merchandise: from those items you see practically everywhere – like Leanin’ Tree greeting cards, to other items harder to find – like antique beer and “fillin’ station” signs. Please be warned of the effects serendipitous shopping has on your wallet.

Fedora or 10-gallon, felt or straw - Pickle Barrel has hundreds of hats

I would recommend Pickle Barrel Trading Post to any Arizonan – full-time resident, winter visitor or regular tourist — and anyone doing some early Christmas shopping for those ” folks back home,” because you’ll find gifts and souvenir favorites such as turquoise jewelry, silver belt buckles, Bolo ties and Red Rock landscapes. Everything that can be manufactured and marketed that defines Arizona or the Southwest can be found at the Pickle Barrel. And then some.

A saddle or skull from Pickle Barrel will round out your decor

Note: Pickle Barrel allows shoppers to bring in their “well-behaved pets,” so you don’t have to leave the pooch at home. Pickle Barrel Trading Post is open daily except Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas from 10 a.m. to 5:45 p.m.

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Shopping in Globe’s historical district

This teepee was at one time part of a saloon frontage, now stand alone at the east end of historic Globe

Some of Arizona’s best attractions often are found close to home. You don’t have to drive for hours to find a picturesque, Old West town filled with quaint antique shops, art galleries, cozy cafés, historical museums and street-side parks. All of these can be found nestled on a hillside about 60 miles east of the Phoenix metro area — in Globe, Arizona.

I must admit; I hadn’t considered traveling to Globe just to go shopping. It never even crossed my mind until I recently read about upcoming shows at the Cobre Valley Center for the Arts (see August 6). So often, I only had been a passer-by of Globe only to stop for a quick snack at a Taco Bell or to fill up the gas tank. We were always in a hurry to get to the White Mountains or to get back to the Valley.

In recent years, Globe has been peaking the interest of Arizona visitors and Valley day-trippers on the hunt for quirky shops and novelty stores, antique merchants and unusual galleries. It’s all here in Globe: clock shops, coffee houses, sellers of handmade quilts, vintage clothing and jewelry, furniture, ice cream, candy and collectibles.

Place to eat? There’s a wide range, but what most notable is the number of “Mom and Pop” Mexican restaurants – you know those – the ones that have the homemade everything: sauces, salsa, tortillas, chips, machaca, chile rellenos, carne asada, huevos rancheros…. You get the idea. Globe and Miami could start a “salsa trail” of their own and give center stage to all of these wonderful independent Mexican eateries. Local residents are the best advertisements. When we inquired about the best Mexican place in town, no one could provide a single recommendation. “They’re all good,” we’d keep hearing.  So we picked Libby’s El Rey Café since it was open during the first weekend of August. (Several businesses were closed for a week or two during August.) Everything was delicious and the service was top-rate, too. Our only regret: we should have split a meal.

You’ll have plenty of opportunity to walk off your enchilada combo plate on Broad Street while window shopping and browsing through merchants’ wares. One stop we made was at Stacy’s Art & Soul, a combination gallery, art supply store and artists’ studio. Owners Stacy Waddell and Laura Stennerson who celebrated their grand opening earlier this month, also offer art classes and will be host to additional community art events. Just hearing them describe their new business, it’s easy to see why they’re excited to be a part of the historic downtown Globe community.

“Simply Sarah” was another shop we decided was worth a closer look. It’s a collection of vintage clothing, unique fashion accessories, kitchen gadgets, cooking goodies and ingredients, toiletries and gifts. If you’re looking for that perfect gift for a lady who’s impossible to shop for, you could probably find it here. Owner Sarah Anna Bernstein has created a retail space that transforms each cubbyhole and corner into a colorful conglomeration of curiosities.

When we visited Globe, we didn’t realize that the first thing we should have done was pick up a copy of the Globe Miami Times, the free tourism newspaper which is available at many shops, restaurants and points of interest. The centerfold provides walking maps for both Globe and Miami shopping districts as well as a listing of retailers, service providers and restaurateurs. (Did you know there are at least a dozen antique shops?)

Park at one end of Broad Street as you pull off Highway 60, then walk up one side and down the other. Stop by Kim’s Fashions – an authentic, small-town, family-owned clothing store with special occasion dresses, Dickies and Wrangler jeans. Don’t miss the Palace Health Mart Pharmacy with its antique Toledo scale or the White Porch Gifts and Antiques with additional antiques and crafts. There’s just too many to mention. You’ll have to see them for yourself.

Stacy Waddell and Laura Stennerson of Stacy's Art & Soul in historic Globe

Stacy Waddell and Laura Stennerson of Stacy’s Art & Soul in historic Globe

Sarah Anna Bernstein of Simply Sarah, a store for ‘woman’s spoils’

One of the nostalgic store signs in historic Globe

Take time to window shop along Globe’s Broad Street

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Don’t sidestep Superior’s sights

There’s a lot more to Superior, Arizona than meets the eye – at least the driver’s eye. For motorists traveling east on US 60 from the Phoenix area, it’s easy to pass up the downtown business section of the small town, located about 30 miles east of Apache Junction. For many motorists, their destination ends at Superior’s main tourist attraction, Boyce Thompson Arboretum or their destination lies beyond the town’s main intersection of US 60 and State Route 177. They rarely turn off the main highway onto Supeior’s Main Street from the west, or Ray Road from the east. But they’re missing the chance to shop at the unique shops or dine at the home-style eateries.

Over the years, after making some trips around Superior, such as Picket Post Mountain, Apache Leap and Pinal City (ghost town), we’d often stop in Superior for breakfast or lunch. I always thought to would be nice to come back and spend some time in Superior, but I never had the chance again — until just recently.

I  recommend making Los Hermanos Restaurant your first stop of the morning. This one is right on the highway – impossible to miss, really. Although my husband and I love all the food here: basic Mexican fare and sandwich platters, we especially like the breakfast menu. There’s nothing better than one of their big breakfast burritos to start the day. The tortillas are homemade — thin, flaky, and always fresh and warm.

Los Hermanos Restaurant: homemade tortillas and delicious Mexican breakfasts

 

Sausage-egg breakfast burrito from Los Hermanos. Took mine 'to go' and eat in the park.

After breakfast, take a drive down Main Street, park your vehicle and explore.  There are some fascinating places! Rolling Rock Gallery is one of those. You’ll find everything here: unique toys and gifts, rock specimens and mining equipment – even handcrafted dinnerware. It’s a museum and gift shop in one, and according to clerk Toni Sanchez, it’s also a temporary employment agency.

 

Rolling Rock Gallery is part gift shop, rock shop and employment agency

Toni Sanchez of Rolling Rock Gallery

The Copper Gecko is another shop that looks worthwhile, unfortunately it was closed for the day, but we did do some “window shopping,” and just gazing inside, we could see all the antiques, gifts and collectible items.

 

Copper Gecko, with antiques and collectibles, in 'downtown' Superior

Because we were traveling with our dog, we didn’t get to visit the Bob Jones Museum, which contains collections about the area’s mining and pioneer history. Also worth a look: the World’s Smallest Museum, a cute, maybe gimmicky, little roadside stop, tourist-type photo op and Porter’s Café, which appears, on Yelp and Facebook at least, to be a popular place for lunch and dinner. We’ll have to have one of their daily lunch specials on our next visit. I guess we’ll have to come back to Superior and spend more time.

Spend some time in Superior, Arizona -- like at this peaceful park along Main Street