Fitness Lifestyle

My Winter Stay at the Strawberry Inn

One of the most wonderful things about Arizona is the ability to drive just a couple hours in any direction of the Phoenix Metro Valley and find yourself immersed somewhere entirely different. Recently I had the pleasure of taking a trip up to Strawberry, Arizona to stay at the ever famous Strawberry Inn, less two hours north – where the scenery is lush with pine trees, cooler temps and an exquisitely quaint local community. Especially during the Winter, its buzzing with wildlife, frosty mornings and Christmas lights. There is just something so magical about the entire experience.

The Strawberry Inn was revamped and reopened back in 2016, featuring the Inn itself, as well as private cabins and their most recent update – airstreams! Whether you’re looking to stay cozied up inside with their luxury linens and a cup of complimentary coffee, or enjoy the community areas with yard games, porch swings and communal picnic tables – there is something for everyone.

I spent my two-night stay in one of the remodeled airstreams. Quaint but luxe, these airstreams are thoughtfully redesigned with a modern and contemporary twist, but with all the touches of luxury. Providing the essentials, and a little extra – all while capitalizing on every inch of space available. I spent my mornings with coffee in the beyond comfortable bed, let me tell you.. I genuinely want to know where Amber and Carson (owners of the Inn) found those incredible pillows.

With keurigs in each room, you can pour yourself a hot cup of jo’ or head to the Windmill Coffee Shop, which is just .25 miles away and across the street from the airstreams and private cabins, up at the Inn. Pro tip: each morning around 8:30am a huge family of elk crossed just behind the airstreams down along the creek. They’re so majestic and etherial, something you don’t want to miss.

Places to eat:

For breakfast:

The Early Bird Cafe, a true local spot just a few miles up the road in Pine. They offer incredible service, delicious eats and they definitely don’t skimp on the portions sizing. I got the blueberry pancakes (I was an overachiever and ordered 2.. 1 alone was bigger than my head!) Fluffy and cooked perfectly, easily some of my favorite pancakes I’ve ever had. *Apologies that I dove right in and forgot to take a picture, fail! But trust me, get the pancakes.

The Randall House, another great local spot also just a few miles away, across the street from the Early Bird Cafe. The Randall House is a staple in the community. It is a historical building built back in 1881, and was converted into a shop + restaurant combo in 1998. With an air of tradition, menu items are cooked in house, with home-baked goodies and specially prepared meals featuring garden fresh fruits and vegetables. I got the omelette of the day, mushroom, prosciutto, onions, and spinach, a side of house potatoes and an English muffin. If the weather permits, The Randall House features a beautiful outdoor patio.

For Lunch:

Look no further than PieBar AZ, directly across from the Strawberry Inn’s main cabin. Filled with delicious puff pastry handheld pies, perfect for a light lunch or even breakfast or a quick snack. They feature both sweet and savory options, and I couldn’t help myself from a savory (not much of a sweets girl here). I got the Mountain Mama – 10/10 recommend.

For Dinner:

The Old County Inn officially has ties on my heartstrings. I make a point to never go to the same place twice while traveling, and it was the most tempted I have ever been to return two nights in a row after going my first night there. Some of the best pizza I have truly ever had. No, seriously. Who wants to take a day trip for dinner? Haha. Along with their pizzas, they have a great beer and wine list and wonderful staff. It was fun, energetic and again – absolutely delicious.

Pinewood Tavern is a neighborhood kitchen and bar, with some of the best waffle sweet potato fries I’ve ever had. I got that and a delicious salad and happy amounts of wine. But they have an extensive menu of delicious food and drink options. Its a fun atmosphere that you can truly tell the locals love and enjoy regularly.

Things to do near The Strawberry Inn:

Now, when I am traveling, exploring and adventuring is an absolute must. Hiking is always at the top of my list, and when in Northern Arizona, its not hard to find a trail or two. I did two separate hikes and would easily return to do both.

The first one was Water Wheel Falls Trail, just about 30 mins from the Strawberry Inn. It is a family friendly 1.5 mile hike, running right along a creek, up to trickling falls, such a serene hike. Definitely doable for dogs and littles, you can venture about 2/3 of the way down and stop and enjoy the serene waterside area, or continue on into the rocks – but be mindful, its easy to get off trail. I found my way down to the top of the falls, and quite literally sat on a rock on top of the waterfall. This area was tricky to get to and I wouldn’t recommend to anyone less than experienced at hiking. But this was definitely a hike to remember.

Before heading out to go home, I went to Tonto Bridge State Park, just 15 mins from The Strawberry In, somewhere I have always wanted to go. There are 4 hikes spread along a stunning piece of land tucked into the mountains. The 4 main trails are the Pine Creek Trail, Waterfall Trail, Gowan Trail and Anna Mae Trail. I did all but the Pine Creek Trail just due to timing.

Pine Creek Trail is about ½ mile long (400 feet developed – undeveloped in the creek bottom), leads to the Pine Creek natural area. Hiking shoes are recommended. Follow the arrows. Allow one hour.

Waterfall Trail is about 300 feet long, ends at waterfall cave. Uneven steps. Allow 15–20 minutes.

Gowan Trail is about 2,200 feet long, down and back leading to an observation deck in the creek bottom. The trail is steep and rough. No trash cans. Hiking shoes are recommended. Allow one hour. 

Anna Mae Trail is about 500 feet long and leads to Pine Creek Trail and the Natural Bridge. Allow one hour.

*Credit: https://azstateparks.com/tonto/things-to-do/trails*

The Waterfall Trail is a short and easy little hike, but be mindful, the stairs are quite steep and can be slippery. It leads down to a beautiful natural waterfall that trickles down the cliffside. It has an fantasy sort of feeling, with the moss and incredible scenery surrounding you.

The Gowan Trail and Anna Mae Trail are connected to get you down to the base of the natural bridge. The Gowan Trail leads you down through the inside of the natural bridge, which is steep and has a lot of rocks to climb over – definitely recommend hiking shoes. This is a laborsome hike to a certain degree, but well worth it if you are physically capable.

But once you get to the end…

If you are looking for an easier way down to the National Bridge and Lower Observation Deck, take the Anna Mae Trail. Its more of a walking trail that takes you sidewinding down the mountain. It is far less steep and less labor some.

Escaping our mild temperatures here in the Valley is a luxury, and the Strawberry Inn makes it a quick trip to do just that. Temps are normally 20-30 degrees cooler in the Winter months.

You will find no better accommodations than The Strawberry Inn. Thank you for having me, I will definitely see you again soon!