25 Best Things to Do in Cottonwood, AZ

Cottonwood, AZ
Cheri Alguire / shutterstock.com

Cottonwood is a historic city located in Yavapai County, Arizona.

Newly rebranded as the ‘Heart of Arizona Wine Country’, Cottonwood is home to a host of wineries and dining experiences.

It is the center of all the activities of Arizona’s famed Verde Valley wine region.

Besides that, Cottonwood is surrounded by natural parks, hiking and biking trails, and fishing and water sports opportunities.

Interested to know more about this stunning city?

Here are the 25 best things to do in Cottonwood, Arizona:

Walk around Dead Horse Ranch State Park

Trail at Dead Horse Ranch State Park
I, Murderbike, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Dead Horse Ranch State Park on the Verde River covers about 423 acres.

It owes its strange name to the children of Calvin Ireys, who purchased the park in 1950.

When they first saw the park with a dead horse, they renamed it "Dead Horse Ranch" after Ireys purchased it.

Camping at Dead Horse Ranch State Park
PICTOR PICTURES / Shutterstock.com

When Ireys sold it to Arizona State Parks, keeping the name was a condition of the sale.

Apart from the unusual name, this state park is known for its hiking, biking, horse trails, camping facilities, and opportunities to spot wildlife, like river otters and gray foxes.

The waters of Dead Horse Ranch State Park
Thomas Trompeter / Shutterstock.com

Trek the Verde Valley Wine Trail

The best way to experience wine country Arizona is through the Verde Valley Wine Trail.

Starting in the historic city of Jerome, the wine trail leads to Cottonwood and Sedona.

The trail features twenty-five wineries, tasting rooms, and vineyards to contribute to the experience.

There’s nothing like the Verde Valley Wine Trail for wine enthusiasts.

The trail offers an immersive experience of the production and delights of Arizona’s unique wines.

And if guests fill up the wine trail passport available on the Verde Valley Wine Trail website, they stand to win a special prize!

Shop at Historic Old Town Cottonwood

Buildings at the Historic Old Town Cottonwood
EQRoy / Shutterstock.com

A charming district lined with art galleries, cafes, and businesses, the Historic Old Town Cottonwood is the Main Street.

It has a number of antique shops, studios, wineries, and the distinct look of the 20th century West.

Shops at Old Town Cottonwood
Mystic Stock Photography / Shutterstock.com

The boutique shops are one of a kind, selling things unlikely to be found anywhere else in the country.

The high sidewalks, historic architecture, and weekly farmer’s market make this quaint little town a priority for Cottonwood's itineraries.

Antique items at Old Town Cottonwood
EQRoy / Shutterstock.com

Trek the Jail Trail

The Jail Trail is a steep, 1.6-mile-long trail easily accessed from the old jail parking area in Old Town Cottonwood.

It passes through the Dead Horse Ranch State Park and then loops back into the historic Old Town Cottonwood.

It is a beautiful hike where leashed pets are welcome.

Most of the trail is easily accessible by wheelchair.

It offers about an hour’s worth of hiking through a dense forest at the Verde Riverbank, the Verde River flood zone, and sighting opportunities for a number of different birds.

Pay a Visit to Clemenceau Heritage Museum

Exterior of Clemenceau Heritage Museum
Finetooth, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Clemenceau Heritage Museum specializes in the history of the Verde Valley, with exhibits that represent the heritage of Clemenceau and Cottonwood.

The upper Verde Valley was home to many activities as the country developed.

Ranching, farming, copper mining, copper smelting, railroads, and businesses have all played a vital role in the region's growth and are represented in the exhibits at the museum.

While the Clemenceau Heritage Museum exhibits are frequently rotated, the permanent exhibits include a railroad diorama with working model trains.

Play Golf at Coyote Trails Golf Course

Located on 1480 Annas Ave, Cottonwood, at the base of Mingus Mountains, the Coyote Trails Golf Course offers a fun golf experience for everyone who wants to play, regardless of their skill levels.

The course is a par 33, 9-hole course with bent grass greens and ryegrass fairways.

The location offers fantastic views when playing, not only of the surrounding area but also of wildlife.

Golf season here is year-round, and tee times begin as early as 7:00 AM.

The course is also equipped to hold tournaments for its guests.

Have Fun at Riverfront Park

Riverfront Park is the largest park in Cottonwood city.

It has its own 18-tee Disc Golf Course, a softball field complex, a hockey rink, and two sand volleyball courts.

It also has a skateboard park, play areas for kids, a barbeque area, and picnic tables.

There are a number of birds that can be spotted in the park, including the Great Blue Heron, Black-chinned Hummingbird, and Cassin’s Kingbird.

Grab Some Beers at THAT Brewery and Pub

THAT Brewery and Pub is a family-run brewery that creates a number of homebrews and serves them in an informal taproom.

Their Cottonwoods Brewing Facility has its grain silo as well.

In 2020, THAT Brewery was the 2020 Tripadvisor Travelers’ Choice Winner.

The THAT Arizona Trail Ale is the official beer of the Arizona National Scenic Trail.

THAT Strawberry Blonde, a blonde beer available at the brewery’s Cottonwood and Pine locations, was named among the best Spring Beers by Thrillist in 2016.

Visit Arizona Stronghold Vineyard Tasting Room

The Tasting Room of the Arizona Stronghold Vineyard is at 1023 North Main Street, Cottonwood.

The Arizona Stronghold Vineyard is known for its wines that express the wildness of the terrain and complement everything it has to offer.

The tasting room offers the full range of wines produced by the Arizona Stronghold Vineyard, including a few varieties that are not available anywhere else in the country.

The tasting room also has a full kitchen offering tapas and skewers to complement the wines.

Guests are encouraged to enjoy the wine in the main room or garden patio.

Rates for tasting flights at the Arizona Stronghold Vineyard Tasting Room start at $9 for five wines.

Parties larger than ten cannot be accommodated in the tasting room.

Try Wine-Tasting at Merkin Vineyards Tasting Room and Osteria

Merkin Vineyards Tasting Room and Osteria takes inspiration from the Italian Osteria – a place for locals to gather where regional food and wine is served at shared tables.

The tasting room aims to offer a gustatory experience completely immersed in Arizona.

The wine is served with food made of artisanal Arizona ingredients rather than snacks.

All the food, including the pasta, is handmade on the premises.

The location is known for its excellent food, atmosphere, service, and undeniably brilliant wine.

More than anything, the Merkin Vineyards Tasting Room and Osteria delivers on its promise of a 100% Arizona experience.

Savor Delicious Food and Watch an Entertaining Performance at Blazin' M Ranch

In the center of Ancient Old Town Cottonwood, Blazin' M Ranch has been offering guests an Old West adventure for over 20 years.

The Blazin' M Ranch has a Western Frontier Town with a complete-service bar, shops, horseback riding, and other traditional western pursuits.

On performance evenings, the Blazin' M Ramblers dish you a wonderful Chicken & BBQ Rib Dinner before putting on a one-hour Western show!

Visitors may participate in various engaging activities, such as a ride on an old tractor, roping lessons, shooting classes, and more.

Prepare to create a unique and unforgettable Western experience at the Blazin' M Ranch!

Taste Prize-Winning Wines at Burning Tree Cellars

Smaller volume, painstakingly managed boutique wines made with the best fruit sources, premium wood, and perseverance are the specialty of Burning Tree Cellars.

Their wines are never oversold to chain stores or aggressively advertised; instead, they develop through the power of positive thinking and the understanding that they are all a portion of something extraordinary.

Visit Burning Tree Cellars in Old Town Cottonwood for the best tasting room experience!

You will have an incredible time and make lifelong memories combined with their prize-winning wines.

Thanks to their calming and welcoming ambiance, they provide a wonderful way to kick off the weekend or relax after a hard day.

Plan a Lunch Date with Girlfriends at Old Town Red Rooster Cafe

Old Town Red Rooster Cafe was founded by close friends Jet Tennant and Shane Smith.

Eventually, they made their modest cafe in Old Town popular among locals.

Old Town Rooster Cafe is dedicated to serving delicious meals with the greatest ingredients and top-notch service quality.

Pick from their breakfast entrees, lunch meals, and thirst-quenching beverages.

Do you want a catered business meal?

Business lunch catering is available, including a house salad platter, sandwiches, wraps, and cookies.

Book a Room at Tavern Hotel

In Old Town Cottonwood, Tavern Hotel is a distinctive Euro-style luxury hotel with 41 magnificent bedrooms and two opulent penthouses.

Originally constructed in 1925 as a grocery shop, the hotel was the hive of activity in Old Town Cottonwood.

The original hotel's 31 newly expanded bedrooms provide the same luxury amenities as the previous, including spacious accommodations, opulent fittings, plush bedding featuring fine cotton linens, flat-screen TVs, soft-topped beds, walk-in showers, and premium bath and spa goods.

Exclusive events at Crema Craft Kitchen & Bar will be offered at reduced pricing to parties lodging at the Tavern Hotel.

Make a reservation right away to experience a hotel with a distinctively contemporary personality and a historic charm!

Prepare for a Day of Entertainment at Old Town Center for the Arts

The well-known Old Town Center for the Arts in the Verde Valley is the top venue for live performances and entertainment.

The leading concert site in Old Town Cottonwood, which offers shows and events in comedies, theatre, music, and the performing arts, is only a twenty-minute drive from Sedona.

The Old Town Center for the Arts provides a unique and welcoming alternative to the standard rental space!

Old Town Cottonwood serves as your background and the immediate environment when you reserve Old Town Center for the Arts for private or business events.

They feature two distinctive venues, a range of rental options, and services tailored to your special occasion.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Pay a Visit to Tuzigoot National Monument

Daytime view of Tuzigoot National Monument
EWY Media / Shutterstock.com

Five miles away from Cottonwood lies the Tuzigoot National Monument.

It is a small national monument that preserves the remains of Sinagua Indian dwellings from the 12th century.

These ruins include a cluster of buildings near the Verde River Valley, built on a small sandstone ridge.

Ruins of Tuzigoot National Monument
EWY Media / Shutterstock.com

The central rooms are built higher than the rest and are likely used for functions rather than general living.

The monument is very visitor-friendly, with a short, easy trail leading up to the entrance and small enough to explore in about 1 – 2 hours.

Interior of Tuzigoot National Monument ruins
EQRoy / Shutterstock.com

See the Castle at Montezuma Castle National Monument

Daytime view of Montezuma Castle National Monument
Stephen Moehle / Shutterstock.com

Twenty miles away from Cottonwood in Camp Verde lies the Montezuma Castle National Monument.

This national monument protects a set of buildings made by the Sinagua people.

Likely built over three centuries, the buildings have about five stories and 20 rooms.

The castle is built on a sheer limestone cliff, about 90 feet up, facing Beaver Creek.

Close view of Montezuma Castle National Monument
Abbie Warnock-Matthews / Shutterstock.com

It is very likely that the castle was constructed so high up to avoid the annual flooding of Beaver Creek.

The monument itself is easy to visit, but visitors are not allowed inside the structure due to concerns for the safety of the people as well as the monument itself.

The park is open from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM every day, which includes a museum about Sinagua culture.

See the Copper Art Museum

Signage at Copper Art Museum
Autumn Sky Photography / Shutterstock.com

Copper Art Museum is located in Clarkdale, a few miles away from Cottonwood.

The Copper Art Museum has exhibits about copper from around the world but naturally focuses on Arizona, with displays of items dating back to about 500 years.

There is also a military art section that features ‘trench art.’

This exhibit includes brass artillery shell casings carved by soldiers while they waited in the trenches.

Other collections include an information collection, art and architecture, kitchenware, drinkware, and naturally, distillery and winery.

See the Stunning Trees at Oak Creek Canyon

Aerial view of Oak Creek Canyon
LHBLLC / Shutterstock.com

The Oak Creek Canyon is frequently described as the Grand Canyon’s smaller cousin because of its beauty.

A river gorge between Flagstaff and Sedona that’s about 23 miles away from Cottonwood, the Oak Creek Canyon is accessible via State Route 89A.

The gorge has a number of colorful rocks and rock formations, pools, picnic areas, and swimming holes.

A hiker at Oak Creek Canyon
Sam Spicer / Shutterstock.com

The drive on the 89A from Sedona to Oak Creek Vista is known to be America’s most scenic drives, shaded as it is by Oak trees that gave the Canyon its name.

But apart from a road trip, people can also go hiking, swimming, fishing, or camping through the Canyon.

Trail lined with trees at Oak Creek Canyon
RoSy76 / Shutterstock.com

Fort Verde State Historic Park

Welcome sign of Fort Verde State Historic Park
The Courage to Travel / Shutterstock.com

Fort Verde State Historic Park is located in Camp Verde, about 16 miles away from Cottonwood.

The park was set up to preserve parts of a fort from the Apache Wars era.

This was a time when there were armed conflicts between the European settlers and the people of the Apache Nations.

It is known to be the best-preserved of any of the military posts from the 1872-73 campaign against the Apache people.

Exterior of Fort Verde State Historic Park
PICTOR PICTURES / Shutterstock.com

The Fort itself served as an army base for General Crook’s U.S.

Army Scouts and several of the original buildings are still standing.

Visitors are allowed access to three house museums.

The former Administration building houses a Visitor’s Center with a number of related exhibits and artifacts from the era.

Exhibit in Fort Verde State Historic Park
PICTOR PICTURES / Shutterstock.com

Alcantara Vineyards and Winery

One of the largest vineyards in Northern Arizona, the Alcantara Vineyards and Winery in Camp Verde offers 17 different varieties of wine.

They offer wine tastings and winery tours through their vineyards in the Verde Valley, with over 13,000 vines.

The tastings are held with a fantastic view of the valley and are well-paced to ensure that guests can enjoy the experience fully.

The vineyard also has a grassy picnic area for guests to enjoy.

Apart from tours and tastings, the Alcantara Vineyards and Winery also hosts weddings and events and a wine club open to everyone.

Visit the Verde Canyon Railroad

Train along Verde Canyon Railroad
Pamela Au / Shutterstock.com

Verde Canyon Railroad runs from Clarkdale, a town close to Cottonwood.

The excursion line operates for about 20 miles, ending at Perkinsville.

The excursion route takes four hours, during which the train follows the Verde River into the canyon, passing through a 680-foot-long tunnel.

Front view of Verde Canyon Railroad's train
Pamela Au / Shutterstock.com

It was named an Arizona treasure in 2005.

Inns and motels in Cottonwood also offer combination packages with the Verde Canyon Railroad.

The journey offers fantastic views of wildlife and nature and is a uniquely comfortable way of viewing the Canyon.

People boarding the Verde Canyon Railroad train
Pamela Au / Shutterstock.com

See the Red Rock State Park

Scenic view of Red Rock State Park
Scott Prokop / Shutterstock.com

The red rocks of Sedona are an essential feature of the American desert landscape.

Located just over 16 miles from Cottonwood, in Sedona, is the Red Rock State Park, where this landscape can be admired in all its beauty.

A 286-acre nature preserve and environmental education center, the Red Rock State Park was opened in 1991.

Oak Creek meanders through the park, enriching the ecosystem with plants and wildlife.

You can experience the beauty of the red rocks and the life around them along the trails by hiking, walking, biking, or horseback riding.

Hikers at Red Rock State Park
meunierd / Shutterstock.com

Final Thoughts

Cottonwood, Arizona, serves as the hub for all festivities in Arizona's renowned Verde Valley wine area.

If you appreciate wine, expect to find a vast and exquisite assortment of wines here, so you'll definitely enjoy your visit!

Not only that, but scenic beauty, popular destinations for outdoor activities, and chances for fishing and water sports surround Cottonwood.

As unique and magnificent as Cottonwood, Arizona, boasting brilliant colors and a bustling population, there will be no shortage of activities and places to visit!

Spotted a mistake, have some feedback, or just want to chat with our editorial team? Click here to get in touch.
Find out more about Travel Lens and read our editorial guidelines here.