Ok, so you’ve heard of Payson, Arizona. You are pretty sure that it is up in the mountains somewhere and you think that it might have a few pine trees. You might even know that it’s a bit cooler than the valley. But I’ll bet there are a few things you didn’t know, like…….
1) Payson is a mere 90 minute drive from Phoenix.
During most of those 90 minutes you’ll be oohing and awing at the scenery on the way up. Gorgeous views await you at every turn up the Beeline Highway, and most of the scenes you’ll swear you saw in an Arizona Highways magazine somewhere. The breathtaking views alone are worth the short 1 1/2 hr trip.
2) Payson weather is about 15-20 degrees cooler than in the valley.
Nice, especially in the summer time!
3) Payson boasts the oldest continuous rodeo. http://www.paysonrimcountry.com/WesternHeritage/OldestContinuousRodeo.aspx . The first Payson Rodeo started in 1884, 28 years before Arizona became a state. For this year’s rodeo schedule see http://www.paysonrimcountry.com/Activities/Rodeos.aspx
4) You can watch planes take off and land right out your window as you dine at the Crosswinds Grille at the Payson Airport - http://www.paysonairport.com/ http://160knots.com/payson.htm
Enjoy a low cost breakfast or lunch at the Crosswinds Grille at the Payson Airport, about a 5 minute scenic drive from the heart of town. Watch twin engine planes, jets and helicopters take off right out your window against the breathtaking backdrop of the Mogollon Rim. Well worth the visit.
And you can……
5) Go to $5 first run movies at the Sawmill Theater — Want to see the latest film but don’t want to brave the crowds and the expense? Try out the Sawmill theater in Payson. Watch the latest movies and pay only $5 for a matinee. There’s also a yummy ice cream/coffee shop called “Scoops” next door that has free Wifi and lots of board games — so bring your laptop and your friends. See http://www.paysonscoops.com/
6) Get great food in unexpected places – Have a hankering for beautifully prepared and incredibly tasty sushi? Try Ayothaya just off of Hwy 260. Want an old fashioned western meal? Try the Buffalo Bar and Grill. For terrific Italian Food, go to Gerardo’s Firewood Cafe on Hwy 87. The Knotty Pine Cafe, sister to the Crosswinds Grille, has great food and has been operating in Payson since before I was born (which is saying a lot!) But there are even more unexpected great places to eat. For great ribs and homemade bread and pastries, go to the Maverick gas station, which has a bakery on site. (Yes, you heard me right:-). For a great hamburger so big that you can’t get your whole mouth around it, try the local Wendy’s on Hwy 87. (Again, I’m not kidding!)
Or go to…..
7) ThatBrewery Microbrewery – Formerly a cafe, this restaurant is now also a micro brewery that sells their homebrewed beer everywhere, including to restaurants and stores in the valley. You can’t miss it–the place is just a few scenic miles from Payson on the left side of the road as you enter Pine, Arizona. The Grand Opening Ceremonies are scheduled for this weekend! Great food, great drinks and a lot of fun await you. There’s live music and a volleyball court available on site to round out the night’s fun with family and friends. See www.thatbrewery.com
8) Open Mic Night at Mountain High Espresso — Do you have a hidden talent? Express yourself at Mountain High Espresso Coffee House on Open Mic Fridays! You can also hear wonderful original Christian artists on Saturday nights. Check out http://www.reverbnation.com/thefourcornersworshipcenter for more information.
9) Free Summer concerts in the park on Saturday Nights – Sit alongside the lake at Green Valley Park and enjoy the music. For more information, go to: http://www.paysonroundup.com/news/2012/jun/01/concerts-park-start-saturday-night/
10) Here’s a list of a zillion other great things to do in Payson (I just found this site today:-) — Go to http://mypayson.com/WhatToDo/
And because you asked…
11) Yes, Payson does have a Catholic Church — http://www.stphilippayson.org/ , and an Anglican Church http://www.holynativitypayson.com/ and a lot of other Churches too! http://www.superpages.com/yellowpages/C-Churches/S-AZ/T-Payson/
12) There’s a hiker’s/fisherman’s paradise nearby:
Gisela (South of Payson) : See http://hikearizona.com/decoder.php?ZTN=132
Fossil Creek (Strawberry) : http://www.azcentral.com/travel/features/articles/2007/08/01/20070801road0802.html
Woods Canyon Lake (One of 7 lakes in the Rim Lakes Recreational Area) http://www.recreation.gov/campgroundDetails.do?contractCode=NRSO&parkId=70479
……….to name just a few.
For more “fishing hole” locations go to http://www.paysonrimcountry.com/MountainRecreation/FishingSpots.aspx
13) The housing prices in Payson are amazing right now — There are some amazing deals on houses right now in Payson.* Gone are the days when it was just a pipe dream to get a place for under $200,000. http://www.city-data.com/forum/phoenix-area/186226-prescott-vs-payson.html Nowadays you can find something pretty decent in Payson for around $100,000 to $150,000 and even better homes above that price.
For more information, go to http://www.cazbr.com/default.asp?content=search&menu_id=190049 or http://www.paysonhomeguide.com/913-Payson-AZ-Affordable-RESCity.aspx
If you can’t buy a place, the hotels in Payson are really nice and pretty reasonably priced. Check out http://www.paysonrimcountry.com/TheTown/Accommodations.aspx for more information.
For surrounding locations and other places to stay check out:
Christopher Creek Lodge http://christophercreeklodge.com/
Kohls Ranch https://www.diamondresorts.com/Kohls-Ranch-Lodge
Oxbow Estates http://paysonrvpark.com/
Payson also has a great…..
14) Farmer’s Market every Saturday morning — For fresh home-grown fruits and vegetables, wonderful Italian food, pony rides and lots of other great vendors, try the Farmer’s Market in Payson at the Sawmill Plaza from 9 to 12. You won’t be sorry!
Not only that, but….
15) Nearly 97% of Payson, Az is National Forest land — (from wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Payson,_Arizona)
“Ninety-seven percent of the land around Payson is under the jurisdiction of the United States Forest Service (Payson is surrounded by the Tonto National Forest) or by tribal governments. Consequently much of the land is available for hiking, horseback riding, fishing and hunting activities.”
So basically you are completely surrounded by natural, untouched forest, which explains why everywhere you go, you find this incredible natural beauty around you.
But what you might not know until you visit Payson a few times, is that the beautiful terrain of Payson and its surrounding areas varies depending upon which direction you travel. Take a drive up Hwy 260 towards Christopher Creek and beyond and you encounter spectacular vistas, canyons and forests. Take a drive up Houston Mesa and you get a completely different, yet just as incredible view of plains and valleys, mountains and trees. Take another drive towards Pine and Strawberry in the cool of the tall pines and majestic valleys and along the way you pass the more rustic, Sedona-style red rock mountains and the flowing waters of the beautiful east verde river and other unexpected loveliness. (Note–The East Verde Park (again about 5 minutes from town) is open to the public.)
Go towards the airport and you get a marvelous view of the town of Payson on one side of the road as you travel, and another spectacular view of the rim on the other. And travel farther in any direction, and it is all gorgeous as far as the eye can see.
And if that is not enough, no kidding….
16) Payson has Uncommonly Friendly People — I know that it is hard to generalize –people are so different and so how can I say such a thing about everyone in a town? But in my experience, this is true. Payson has this easy-going, small town lifestyle and feel. And just about everyone I’ve met in this town is just incredibly nice. So traveling to Payson has become as much an escape from the city hustle and bustle as much as it is an escape from the heat.
I’m not sure if I can put my finger on it exactly, but people just have a bit more time for you here. They will start chatting with you, will let you merge into their lane, and will remember you if you come into their establishment more than once. They’ll tell you about their dogs and ask you about your kids. They’ll go out of their way to help.
Perhaps the best example of the kind of people you find in Payson happened to me last weekend. My battery was acting up and so I went into the local O’Reilly’s store to find out what to do. The guy at the store, Larry, not only tested my battery, but located the part I needed, took off the old part and put on the new one for me! He spent about 45 minutes making sure that my car was working properly and told me to come back again just in case to make sure all was well before I started down the hill back to Tempe. He was incredibly kind and incredibly decent.**
THAT’S what I call friendly. And those are the kind of people you find in Payson.
17) Payson was voted “Best Small Town in Arizona” See http://www.paysonrimcountry.com/Activities/SpecialEvents/4thofJuly.aspx http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-A-S2oA-cSc
18) Payson was founded in 1882, 30 years before Arizona became a state. See http://www.paysonrimcountry.com/WesternHeritage.aspx
And for the future….
19) ASU is coming! ASU is coming!! ….Hopefully… :-) http://trizrealworld.blogspot.com/2011_07_01_archive.html
Looks like it is! http://www.paysonroundup.com/news/2012/jul/03/asu-alliance-agree-university-plan/
20) There’s a celebration, event, craft show or festival just about every weekend in Payson or the surrounding areas. The 4th of July celebration this week, in fact, should be fantastic!
For more information……
For Pine/Strawberry see http://pinestrawhs.org/events.html
For 4th of July ceremonies see http://www.paysonrimcountry.com/Activities/www.paysonrimcountry.com/Activities/SpecialEvents/4thofJuly/tabid/286/Default.aspx
Not that I’m a fan of Payson or anything……
And here are a couple more things I’ll bet you didn’t know….
A) Payson’s water is fantastic right out of the faucet.
B) Payson’s gasoline is always a few cents cheaper (I have no idea why that is… )
(*I’m not a realtor or anything, but I love looking at houses, especially in this town.)
(**I should mention that O’Reilly’s is an auto PARTS store, not a repair shop. I should also say that the part in question only cost me about $5. It was a Saturday evening and without his help I would have been stranded without a working car—and I had to get home to Tempe. It was incredibly decent of him to help me and I am really grateful.)