Have you been to the Verde Valley (between Flagstaff and Phoenix) lately? There is a surge of energy here, communities growing and reviving their main streets, renewed attention to the area’s natural beauty, recreation opportunities, and both old and new thriving local businesses. Camp Verde is one of the most historical communities of the Verde Valley, and the site to the best preserved example of an Indian Wars period fort. It’s a green oasis tucked in the Verde River watershed making it a perfect destination for those wanting to explore a mix of history with outdoor adventure while tasting some locally grown treats along the way.
What to do?
The Verde River is the crown jewel of the region, creating a plush greenway with access points for water play. It’s a great place to cool off in the summer, but can be enjoyed throughout the year with self-guided or organized kayaking, canoeing and paddle boarding tours. Hiking and fishing along the river banks are also free, family-fun activities.
Be sure to visit Montezuma’s Castle, now a historic National Monument highlighting the Hohokam and Sinagua ancient cultures. A peaceful, self-guided,1/3-mile loop trail leads you past an incredible 5-story cliff dwelling, through a beautiful sycamore grove and along spring-fed Beaver Creek. Or head over to The Verde Valley Archeology Center to experience some of the most pristinely preserved archeological sites and collections.
A stop at Ft. Verde State Park to view and tour three historic house museums, all furnished in the 1880s. The Visitor Center includes interpretive exhibits, period artifacts from military life, and history on the Indian Scouts and Indian Wars era. It is a great way to understand the significance and history of the town. Don’t miss the Fort Verde Days carnival and parade, Indy car simulator, ‘50s dance, quilt show, and the opportunity to have your friends “arrested” and put in the historic jail for the Jail-a-thon fundraiser, Oct 7-9.
Just outside of town, you might explore Out of Africa Wildlife Park, and get close and personal with some exotic and everyday animals from giraffes and big horns to exotic snakes and monkeys.
What to eat?
There is plenty of good food in and around Camp Verde. Known for their agriculture, the area is full of incredible seasonal food, with both fruit and veggie stands. Hauser and Hauser Farm is known throughout the state for its seasonal sweet corn and juicy watermelons. Murdock Family Farms has seasonal veggies grown using organic methods. Summer Place Pecan Farm is open daily with a large selection of spiced pecans and other savory delights. The nuts are featured proudly at the Pecans, Wine and Antique Festival the third weekend of February each year. In the summer months, the Verde Valley Farmer’s Market is open on Saturday mornings with a wide range of local produce, honey, and seasonal vegetables.
For the best Italian in the Verde Valley, Moscato Italian Restaurant is a must-try for its handmade al dente pasta and fresh homemade mozzarella. Sip from their long wine list and dine on their quaint, Tuscan-inspired patio. Or try Sutler’s Steakhouse; a regional favorite serving local beef, hand cut steaks, homemade bread and live music. Warm up with some homemade soup and a huge selection of fresh pies from Udderly Divine and be sure to take home loaves of fresh baked kalamata olive or pecan cranberry bread, made with all natural ingredients, from Wingfield Bread Company.
Where to drink and nosh?
Verde Brewing Company is another local favorite and a destination for those looking for a taste of local micro brews including their High Noon IPA and Off to Jail Pale Ale, among many others. They have an incredible menu of great nosh items,some of which also include local beef, like a beef chili soup.
There are wineries and vineyards throughout the region. Just along Highway 260 are two picturesque vineyards and wineries, Clear Creek Vineyard & Winery and Alcantara, where you can enjoy a locally made wines and stunning views.
Where to shop?
Be sure to trek a little further out of downtown to Ruby Road Resale for a huge selection of accent furniture pieces, estate items, antique chairs and tables as well as kitchen accessories. It’s a great mix of refurbished and up-cycled, fun, and decorative stuff. Sweet Pea Antiques is a market full of western bliss. Find the old and worn, rusty and lacey, and many unique historic treasures of the past. And don’t forget to stop at Rick’s Pick’s for taste of upscale secondhand gems. From jewelry to electronics, Rick’s Pick’s is the destination for eclectic and fun collectibles.
There is so much to see and do in and around Camp Verde, even capturing a selfie with the world’s largest kokopelli. Plan your adventure now for a overnight or week-long stay in this beautiful town, located in the heart of the Verde Valley. Enjoy endless possibilities within just a few miles. Don’t trust us, go and see for yourself!
For more information, check out the Visitor Center on Main Street or VisitCampVerde.com.