Located about 30 minutes north of Payson, and nestled amongst the piney forest of Rim Country. lies the blink-and-you’re-through town of Strawberry, AZ. The Mr and I paid the town a visit this during our last trip to the Grand Canyon State, mainly because I was a tiny bit obsessed with wanting to try the cinnamon rolls at Pine Creek Fudge. Aside from my food cravings, I also wanted to stay at The Strawberry Inn, a tiny boutique hotel that I’ve heard so much about (along with PCF) via Instagram. Luckily, they had rooms available for the date that we’d be coming in, and we made the side trip happen.
The Strawberry Inn almost reminds me of a Swiss chalet, or a quaint little inn in Alpine region of Central Europe. The two-story, eight-room inn is painted a dark grey and trimmed with white and red. There were numerous Adirondack chairs, rockers, picnic tables, and a couple porch swings that made it possible for guests to enjoy the evening sunsets and gorgeous mountain scenery. The focal point of the Inn was the famed (and most photographed) windmill, which sat a couple feet from the main building.
Since the Inn operates on a vacation rental setting, we had made our reservation online, and then were given a lockbox code to get to our key the day we arrived. I’m sure if you’ve researched the Inn, you’ll notice that a majority of the folks who have stayed there, have mentioned that the interior decor reminds them of Fixer Upper. I couldn’t agree more. I could see Joanna Gaines’ influence in the white ship-lapped walls, the hues of subtle whites and grays, and the hint of industrial chic. We stayed in room six, which was on the upper level. It featured a cozy king bed, sitting area for two, Keurig station, and good-sized restroom with standing shower. A hotel and area guidebook is also in the room, which I highly recommend reading when you first arrive. Before we left, I also took advantage of the little chalkboard (as most of the guests do) to doodle a thank-you message to the couple.
I didn’t get a chance to meet owners- Amber and Carson personally, however, I was able to e-chat with them briefly about the Inn. The Inn was built in the late 1970s, and was used as an office building. There was even a coffee shop that was housed in the windmill at one point (boy would I have loved to have seen that). Then it was converted into a motel called The Windmill Corner Inn. When the couple found it, it had been through a tax sale, and the last owner had done some cosmetic work, while also furnishing it with used hotel furniture. Amber goes on to explain, “As a family, we have had a connection to the Pine-Strawberry community for a long time, and have great memories of spending time in the area with family over the years. The idea of being able to create a unique getaway for others to come and fall in love with Rim Country was incredibly appealing! We stayed in the Inn during the summer of 2016 before committing to the purchase. The beds were uncomfortable and the lack of air-conditioning coupled with windows that wouldn’t open left us feeling pretty discouraged and we considered walking away from the deal. We packed up our kiddos at 11 at night to head back home, and just as we were getting out of town a BEAR ran across the highway! Yes, a real BEAR! Maybe we were just sleep deprived at that point, but we took it as a sign and decided to continue with the purchase, fully aware of the huge amount of time and energy this was going to take. We dove headfirst into a complete remodel of the property. It was a family affair, with a ton of help and support from both sides of our families. After a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, we officially launched in November 2016 and were thrilled when we sold out our very first weekend.”
Their hard work has definitely paid off. With cozy rooms that won’t break the bank, it’s no surprise that people flock to the town to stay there when they venture off to Tonto Natural Bridge, Mogollon Rim, Fossil Creek, and other numerous outdoor excursions. Next time, I’ll be sure to stay in Amber’s favorite room- number eight. “It’s REALLY hard to choose. We intentionally made each room unique and loved every minute of choosing pieces for each space. Room Eight has always been a favorite though, because it has an extra window that lets in tons of natural light.”
When we stayed at the Inn, a majority of the restaurants were either closed for that day, or closed early. We managed to find one decent place in town- Bandits, which was a bar and grill, that served up decent grub. I also recommend stopping at Mogollon Moose Bakery in Payson. They are open for breakfast and lunch, and have really great staff and food. Plus, the space is the cutest, and features goods from local artists. Also, definitely stop by The Honey Stand in Pine to pick up local honey, jam, and salsa. The next morning, we drove a couple miles back to Pine to get a cinnamon roll from Pine Creek Fudge. And yes…totally worth it! It’s a great little local coffee shop that serves coffee, lattes, ice cream, etc. It’s a MUST stop in my book! I can’t wait to get the chance to stay there again. This time, it’ll be for a couple days, in order to explore the area, and eat at more local restaurants.
Amber and Carson also recommend while in the area:
• Visit the Fossil Creek Waterfall – It’s beautiful, and even the most stunning photographs don’t do it justice. Permits sell out fast though.
• Old County Inn (Pine), wood-fired pizza and live music. (The owners are preparing to open a brand new restaurant in town called Pinewood Tavern that we can’t wait to try!)
• Breakfast at Randall House. They make the most amazing French Toast we’ve ever had. And for lunch, they take a simple grilled ham and cheese sandwich and turn it into the most delicious sandwich in the world!
• Old Strawberry Schoolhouse. It’s the oldest schoolhouse still standing in the state- cute photo op.
• Pine Creek Canyon Lavender Farm – one of the newer additions to the Pine-Strawberry community. It’s a beautiful farm where they also make and sell lavender goodies, and host cooking and canning classes as well.
• Pine Creek Ice cream and Fudge. They also make espresso drinks which I always need on “vacation.” When guests add on the romance package to their reservation, we get the fudge from Pine Creek Fudge (we love shopping local!)
Please scroll down for a mini-tour of my time in Strawberry (starting with the Inn)!