Historic Old Town Cottonwood is a town within a town, with its own quaint character and colorful 20th century Old West past. (It was a bootlegging center and a popular movie location!) Its well-preserved architectural heritage has won it a place on the National Register of Historic Places.
Located on the northern edge of the city of Cottonwood, Old Town is central to many popular Verde Valley attractions. It is 2 miles from the city of Clarkdale, the Verde Canyon Railroad and Tuzigoot National Monument with its Sinagua Indian pueblo; 6 miles from the old mining town of Jerome, and within walking distance of Dead Horse State Park with its beautiful Verde River.
Old Town Cottonwood is a picturesque, year-round destination, where one can step back in time and enjoy a meal at one of many excellent cafes and restaurants, experience the relaxing ambiance of the wine and spirit tasting rooms and local establishments providing craft beer, or walk away with a treasure from the area’s one-of-a-kind boutique shops.
There are plenty of stores and art galleries in the Prohibition-era buildings along Old Town’s Main Street, featuring art, antiques, clothing, gift items, jewelry, Southwestern decor, as well as a variety of services, including a yoga studio, and an athletic club.
Visitors may want to notice the high sidewalks and period architecture and to look up when they are in the stores and eateries. Many of the ceilings are beautiful examples of elaborately hammered tin.
For those wanting to sleep with history, there is the Cottonwood Hotel (circa 1925) on 930 N. Main. It is the oldest hotel in Cottonwood and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The five-unit hotel is proud of its famous guests, including Mae West, John Wayne, Gail Russell and Elvis Presley, who shot films in the area. Old Town also features two other boutique hotels, the Iron Horse Inn and the Tavern Hotel.
Many of the Old Town buildings have stories to tell. 1060 N Main Street used to have underground cellars for storing moonshine. The Cottonwood Civic Center (805 N. Main) was built by the WPA in 1939 but not before the women of Cottonwood raised funds for the materials.
The Old Town Tea House at 1101 N Main, was once the county jail. Its two metal-enclosed cells were built in 1929 to contain bootleggers and sometimes held up to a dozen people “sardine style.” The jail continued to be used until the 1970's, when it was converted to other uses, including a court room and a boys’ and girls’ club.
Just off to the right of the Tea House is the Jail Trail, a lush one-mile riparian area with many rare plants and nearly 20 threatened or endangered animals, including the river otter and southern bald eagle. The road connects with the Verde River Greenway, a six-mile reach of the Verde River, which adjoins many of the area’s sites, including Dead Horse Ranch State Park.
Every Thursday evening from July through the first week in October, Old Town Cottonwood hosts a Farmer’s Market in the ball field behind City Hall from 5 p.m. until the sun goes down. The event features local produce, hand-crafted items and a live band.
During the first week in December, there is the annual Christmas parade and Chocolate Walk. Old Town merchants also hold art walks and there are other festivals, including Walkin' on Main (art festival), Thunder Valley Rally (motorcycle festival), Tilted Earth (food & wine festival), the Fall Carnival (Halloween festival), and the Pride Festival.