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Strawberry? Where the heck is that?

RAK received a comped stay at The Strawberry Inn. This review is our honest recollections of our weekend stay.

There is so much to be explored in Arizona, so it was no surprise to me when I told a friend we were taking a trip to Strawberry, she had no idea where that was. A quaint little town nestled in between Pine and Camp Verde, you’ll find Strawberry (about 25 minutes outside of Payson) …and The Strawberry Inn—a boutique hotel that manages to capture the charming history of the original inn while offering modern amenities.

A friend had told me about the inn, and I shared that I had never stayed there, but had driven through the town once about 12 years ago (yep, that long ago!). I looked at some pictures and decided we had to put it on the cover of our October issue. The owners were so sweet and asked if we’d like to come and stay for a few days to see what it was all about. My husband and I are always looking for adventures around Arizona to take part in, so this was right up our alley. Exactly a week after we shot the cover, we packed up the kids, and took off!

We decided to go up early on our arrival day and get a head start on the fun things to do in town. Some things that came recommended to us were to visit the lavender farm, antique shops, farmers market, grab some ice cream, see the Old School House, and make our way to the Tonto Natural Bridge.

On our first day, we arrived right around lunch time so we stopped at THAT Brewery in Pine. The kids played in the yard space while we ate a ton of great food (try their smoked meats!) and beer, then explored the quaint downtown area and admired the collection of unique stores.

We picked up a Christmas ornament at the local farmer’s market store to put on our tree this year to commemorate our trip. Then we stopped for ice cream at Elky’s and picked up a geode for our oldest son at Fancy Finds.

Next, we took a quick drive to the Old School House but I definitely recommend calling ahead to make sure they’re offering tours! My son was amazed by the small school room, which used to be the norm. This is the oldest standing school house in Arizona and the renovated touches the Pine-Strawberry Archeological and Historical Society added really made all the difference–it was like stepping back in time!

The kids were smoked at this point but we weren’t ready for check-in just yet, so we stopped by the Pie Bar in Strawberry for a quick snack. We tried the cherry, strawberry, lemon, green chili, and chicken pot pie empanadas and they were all delicious. But, the strawberry one was my favorite, my husband preferred the green chili, and the lemon was my eldest’s pick!

We had a little bit of time still before check-in and decided to grab a few things to bring to our house in case we got hungry later in the night. If you have kids…you know the snack requests are never ending! We stopped by the Ponderosa Market and found everything we needed.

At exactly 4:00 p.m. we got our easy check-in email with our key code for entry and we excitedly made our way back to the property.

We stayed in ‘The Bungalow’ which is walking distance from the main property and was the perfect place for a family. The contactless check-in was a breeze and we were able to settle in right away. This property is a beautifully renovated home with a gourmet kitchen, master suite, gorgeous bathroom, a family room and living room with extra sleeping arrangements!

If your oldest child forgets to pack enough clothes for the weekend, you’ll appreciate the stocked laundry room as well (I guess I never learn to double check his bag!). Both the front patio and back deck are fully fenced, and you’ll also find a porch swing in the front and a hot tub and a wonderful, wooded view in the back. The hot tub is not easy for a child to open so when you have a toddler who loves to explore, that extra bit of safety is important! They even thought to provide a highchair and a pack n’ play! As a parent those little touches really mean the most.

We spent a few hours relaxing before settling on the Old County Inn for dinner. It came highly recommended and we had to try it! We got a few appetizers, pizzas, and cocktails and the service was great! The kids also enjoyed the patio space with games. We finished up dinner and decided to unwind back at the Bungalow. We got in the hot tub and had some fun around the fire pit before settling in for the night.

Day two was a little slower. We started our morning at 6:00 a.m. with a nice wake up call from our 4 month old. We went out onto the back deck and waited until Windmill Coffee opened at 6:30 a.m. Luckily The Strawberry Inn has a coffee pot to hold you over if your kids don’t let you sleep in!

We grabbed a latte, regular coffee, and hot cocoa for the kids. The owner was even thoughtful enough to make sure the cocoa wasn’t too hot! Then, once everyone was ready for the day, we played some yard games and visited the library on the main property to add some new books to to their Little Free Library collection.

By 8:00 a.m. we were ready for breakfast and had a tough decision on where to go…but we decided on the Early Bird Café in Pine. I mean it when it say they were hands down the BEST pancakes I’ve ever had. When you’re in the area, definitely make this place a ‘must visit’ for breakfast!

On our last full day we decided on the Tonto Natural Bridge, a few more shops in town, and just enjoyed walking around at a slower pace. We made it a goal to be back at the Bungalow by early afternoon so everyone could relax and enjoy the cooler weather. We had an early dinner at the Pinewood Tavern and it was a hit with our family. We did another hot tub and fire pit night and after the kids went to sleep, we got to spend a little time conversing with each other on the back deck. It was a nice change of pace.

Somehow while we did SO much while in Strawberry, it definitely didn’t seem like enough. We can’t wait to visit again and check more off our to-do list!

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