There’s a city in Arizona that’s called “Strawberry”, but it’s not a city where you can find strawberries. In fact, you won’t find any here. This small city with only a population of 1,100+ people and if you’re looking to spend some time out here, it’s most likely you know someone, or one of these things I listed is enticing you to check out this city named after a fruit. This town located among the pines is actually a popular getaway place and it’s located by the Mogollon Rim and the cities of Payson and Camp Verde.
Strawberry is beautiful to explore any season and it is always generally colder up there than cities like in the Phoenix Valley of Arizona. It’s especially beautiful in the wintertime when the city is blanketed in snow, like we were able to explore during this time. I gathered some of the best places to see if you’re planning on visiting Strawberry and areas nearby!
Strawberry School House
If you’re wondering what a historic school house looks like in person just like the one featured in the movie Holes or from Little House on the Prairie, then you should check out Strawberry School House. It is a one-room schoolhouse that opened back in 1886 and it’s been an elementary school up until 1916. It’s also the oldest school house in the state of Arizona. The student desks in this schoolhouse is the original ones back then. (You can see how they’re attached to the chairs, how useful is that!)
Tonto Natural Bridge State Park
This beautiful natural arch, just 15 mins from Strawberry, is a must-see as it is believed to be the largest natural travertine bridge in the world! The tunnel is 393 feet long. The breathtaking geology also has a few trails you can explore, which are all under half a mile but strenuous and steep: Pine Creek Trail, Waterfall Trail, Gowan Trail, and Anna Mae Trail.
East Verde River
As a tributary of the Verde River, you’d want to pull aside here if you want to do some sightseeing, fishing, or even eat a meal nearby, which you can do by East Verde Picnic. Or if you’re crazy (and know you can do this safely) like me, during the winter, you can do a polar plunge in it. (It was probably a good 30-degree in that water right after a day of snow.) The East Verde River is surrounded by rugged canyons and it is beautiful! Within this river and the surrounding forest, it is home to some threatened species like Northern Mexican garter snake, Chiracahua leopard frog, and the Mexican spotted owl.
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The Strawberry Inn
The first time I heard about this place was when they once hosted a giveaway on Instagram, and not that they do that often (or at all anymore), but the place can turn heads as you drive past it. This unique boutique hotel operates like a vacation rental as it has private cabins and tiny cottages. If you’re really looking for a place to stay in the city, consider The Strawberry Inn as it has accommodations with their airy rooms, perfect for families, solo travelers, and any one seeking adventure out in Strawberry and surrounding cities.
Green Valley Park in Payson
This 43-acre park is also nicknamed as “Jewel of Payson” and you can see that with its massive (not swimmable!) three lakes with a playground and picnic areas. You can do fishing, kayaking, and enjoy long walks around here. During the winter where there’s snow, it became a great spot to go sledding down its hills.
Eat at Old County Inn
Old County Inn is a restaurant located in the city of Pine. It is a local restaurant known for its wood-fired pizza and known to be one of the best pizza places in the state. The cabin-like restaurant can be found remotely among the backdrop of the mountains of Pine along Highway 87 and it has seatings both in the patio and in their limited space indoors. If you get inside, you’ll be amazed by the gallery of antique frames hanging on the ceilings.
Check out The Honey Stand in Pine
If you love honey, you should check out The Honey Stand. There’s a collection of raw pure honey to find here that come from local farmers! You will also find honey sticks here that are just fun to have or to put in your drink. However if you don’t like honey, this place also has more than that because you can find pure fruit jams, salsa, butter, BBQ sauces, and condiments.
Rent an Airbnb in Pine or Payson and invite friends
Although my friends and I stayed at my friend’s sister’s house in Strawberry, we still had the experience to be in a home where we can share the memories with a group of friends. Renting an Airbnb with your friends (or even a similar rental site like Vrbo) can be a fun way to spend your time out here in Strawberry and although it may be limited in Strawberry, consider renting a place out in nearby Pine or Payson. It’s even funner if you get to be “snowed in” (like I was) and spend your days watching movies in, playing games with your friends, and eating some good cooked food.