16 Best Things to do in Prescott You Shouldn’t Miss

Prescott, Arizona, is a charming town located in the heart of northern Arizona. With its rich history, beautiful natural scenery, and vibrant downtown, Prescott offers a wide range of activities for visitors to enjoy. Whether you’re interested in exploring historic sites, hiking through picturesque landscapes, or immersing yourself in Native culture, Prescott has something for everyone.

1. Downtown Prescott & Courthouse Square

Downtown Prescott & Courthouse Square

Explore the picturesque downtown area and historic courthouse square, immersing yourself in the charming ambiance. Discover Prescott’s rich history and culture at the Sharlot Hall Museum, where educational exhibits await.

Embark on a hike or bike ride along the scenic nearby trails, including the popular Thumb Butte Trail, offering panoramic mountain views. Unwind with family-friendly activities like picnicking and disc golf at Watson Lake Park or catch a captivating performance at the historic Elks Theatre. Delve into Native American history and culture at the Smoki Museum, adding depth to your exploration of the American West.

2. Yavapai County Courthouse

Yavapai County Courthouse

Built-in 1916, the Yavapai County Courthouse is a historic landmark offering guided tours to learn about its rich history. The impressive architecture and design of the building are truly captivating, while the courthouse plaza provides beautiful views of downtown Prescott. Visitors can also look forward to attending a variety of events held at the courthouse, including concerts and art shows, adding to the allure of this iconic location in Prescott.

3. Courthouse Plaza

Courthouse Plaza

Courthouse Plaza, located in downtown Prescott, serves as a focal point for year-round events and activities. The area is home to a stunning courthouse building, surrounded by historic structures and lush greenery. Visitors can partake in strolls, picnics, and various festivals hosted at the plaza.

During the festive season, the plaza is transformed into a magical winter wonderland adorned with enchanting lights and decorations, drawing both locals and tourists alike. The plaza’s charm and array of activities make it a captivating destination in the heart of Prescott.

4. The Palace Restaurant & Saloon

The Palace Restaurant & Saloon

The heart of northern Arizona, Prescott, offers a blend of history and adventure. Visitors can explore the town’s rich American West heritage through various museums and then head to the mountains for panoramic views and outdoor activities.

For those with an independent streak, there are gentle mini rapids and great spots for kayaking and fishing. The Palace Restaurant & Saloon, once a favorite of Wild West outlaws like Wyatt Earp, now beckons foodies with its delicious cuisine and a new way to experience the town’s colorful past.

5. Goldwater Lake

Goldwater Lake

Nestled in the heart of northern Arizona, Goldwater Lake offers a serene escape for outdoor enthusiasts. This beautiful spot provides opportunities for fishing, boating, and hiking amidst lush scenery and panoramic mountain views.

Fishing aficionados can delight in the thrill of catching trout and catfish in the stocked lake, while visitors can also rent kayaks, canoes, or paddleboats to explore the gentle mini rapids on their own. With several picnic areas and campgrounds, it’s the perfect place for fun family activities or a peaceful weekend amidst nature’s beauty.

6. Prescott National Forest

Prescott National Forest

Prescott National Forest in northern Arizona, part of the American West, boasts over 1.25 million acres with a wealth of outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, and fishing. Visitors can explore numerous trails and enjoy panoramic mountain views at scenic spots like Granite Mountain and Lynx Lake.

The lush scenery is also home to diverse wildlife including elk, deer, and black bears. Educational exhibits and events offered by the forest service add to the experience. Additionally, the forest provides facilities like picnic areas and RV hookups for independent travelers.

7. Prescott Frontier Days – The World’s Oldest Rodeo

Prescott Frontier Days – The World’s Oldest Rodeo

Surrounding Prescott, the Sharlot Hall Museum provides insight into the city’s history and the American West. Wander through downtown’s Courthouse Plaza and discover the unique Granite Dells just outside.

The Prescott National Forest offers scenic trails like the popular Thumb Butte Trail, while the Arts District showcases local art galleries. Take an enriching drive along the historic Senator Highway for panoramic mountain views and a deeper connection to Northern Arizona’s natural beauty.

8. Christmas Parade & Courthouse Lighting

Christmas Parade & Courthouse Lighting

Explore the historic downtown area with its array of shops, restaurants, and art galleries. Engage in outdoor activities such as hiking or biking on the numerous trails in the nearby Prescott National Forest. Immerse yourself in local history at the Sharlot Hall Museum or the Smoki Museum, or attend a performance at the historic Elks Theatre and Performing Arts Center.

Take in the scenic beauty with a drive on the nearby Senator Highway or the Thumb Butte Loop. Enjoy fresh local produce and handmade goods at the Prescott Valley Farmers Market.

9. Sharlot Hall Museum

Sharlot Hall Museum

Founded in 1928, the Sharlot Hall Museum in Prescott, Arizona, is a tribute to Sharlot M. Hall – a poet, historian, and activist. This historical museum offers a fascinating insight into Arizona’s rich history through its extensive exhibits, artifacts, and archives. Visitors can immerse themselves in the territorial period by exploring historic buildings, gardens, and collections.

The museum’s exhibits cover various aspects, including the Yavapai-Prescott Indian alternative, ranching, mining, and early pioneer life. Throughout the year, the museum hosts special events and programs, such as living history demonstrations and festivals, providing an engaging and educational experience for visitors.

10. Boutiques, Antiques & Art

Boutiques, Antiques & Art

Indulge in Prescott’s unique shopping scene brimming with boutiques, antique shops, and art galleries. Wander along the historic Whiskey Row, offering excellent shopping options. The Courthouse Plaza is a favored shopping hub that also hosts events and concerts.

Explore numerous art galleries showcasing and selling local art. Notable antique shops include Moose Mountain Trading Company and Arts Prescott Cooperative Gallery, ensuring a delightful treasure hunt for all.

11. Mile-High Trail System

Mile-High Trail System

Experience the Mile-High Trail System, offering over 50 miles of diverse hiking and biking trails with breathtaking views of Prescott’s mountains and city. Accessible for all skill levels, these trails have numerous trailheads throughout the city, making it convenient to start your adventure. Maintained by volunteers and community organizations, it’s a great way to support local efforts while enjoying the outdoors.

12. Hassayampa Inn

Hassayampa Inn

Nestled in downtown Prescott, the Hassayampa Inn stands as a proud emblem of the American West’s rich history. Erected in 1927, this elegant hotel invites independent travelers to experience its unique decor, classic charm, and panoramic mountain views.

Whether celebrating a special occasion or seeking a new way to explore Northern Arizona, guests can revel in the hotel’s heartwarming ambiance and lush scenery. The Hassayampa Inn perfectly complements the adventurous spirit of Prescott, offering a refreshing departure from the ordinary.

13. Prescott Heritage Trail

Prescott Heritage Trail

The Prescott Heritage Trail spans 4.6 miles through historic downtown Prescott, showcasing the Courthouse Plaza and the Sharlot Hall Museum. Visitors can obtain a map at the Visitor Center or online, offering insight into Prescott’s rich history and its influence on Arizona’s development. As you explore the trail on foot, remember to wear comfortable shoes and bring water for a comfortable experience.

14. ATV Rentals in Sedona and Cottonwood

ATV Rentals in Sedona and Cottonwood

Venture into the American West with ATV rentals in Sedona and Cottonwood to experience the rugged beauty of Northern Arizona. Discover new ways to explore the majestic red rocks and lush scenery as you navigate through panoramic mountain views.

Traverse the trails, spotting ancient Apache ruins, all while being in the heart of Northern Arizona. For independent travelers seeking adventure, this is one of the best spots to own an ATV and immerse in the natural beauty of Arizona’s Verde River.

15. Phippen Museum

Phippen Museum

The Phippen Museum in Prescott offers an enriching experience for fans of the American West. Named after renowned Western artist George Phippen, this museum showcases a fascinating collection of Western art and artifacts, including educational exhibits and rotating displays.

Visitors are treated to a variety of cultural events and programs suitable for all ages, making it a valuable destination for independent travelers and families alike. With its commitment to preserving the heritage of the American West, the Phippen Museum stands as a testament to the region’s rich history and artistic legacy.

16. Smoki Museum

Smoki Museum

The Smoki Museum offers a glimpse into the rich culture and history of the indigenous people of Arizona, showcasing pottery, basketry, and clothing from various alternatives. Additionally, the museum provides educational programs and events for all ages. It’s a fantastic place to learn about the Native American history of the Southwest and not to be missed is their annual Indian Art Market featuring over 100 Native American artists.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some outdoor activities to do in Prescott?

Some outdoor activities to do in Prescott include hiking on trails like Thumb Butte and Granite Mountain, kayaking and paddleboarding on Watson Lake or Goldwater Lake, golfing at courses like Antelope Hills, and horseback riding or Jeep tours to explore the scenic countryside.

Are there any historical sites or museums worth visiting in Prescott?

Yes, Prescott is home to several historical sites and museums that are worth a visit. The Sharlot Hall Museum offers a glimpse into the rich history of Arizona and its people. The Smoki Museum showcases the art and culture of Native American alternatives in the area. Finally, the Phippen Museum features an impressive collection of Western art and artifacts.

What are some popular restaurants or cafes in Prescott?

Prescott offers a variety of popular restaurants and cafes to satisfy your cravings. Start your day with a delightful breakfast at The Local, The Lone Spur Cafe, or Shannon’s Gourmet Cheesecake. For lunch or dinner, indulge in the delicious offerings at El Gato Azul, Farm Provisions, or Rosa’s Pizzeria. And don’t miss out on a cup of coffee or tea at Wild Iris Coffeehouse or Peregrine Espresso.

Is there a best time of year to visit Prescott for maximum enjoyment?

The ideal time to visit Prescott for maximum enjoyment is during the spring and fall months. The mild weather during these seasons allows for a wide range of outdoor activities. However, it’s best to avoid visiting in the summer when temperatures can be uncomfortably hot and in the winter when snow and ice may limit certain activities.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Prescott offers a wide range of activities and attractions for visitors to enjoy. Whether you’re exploring the historic downtown area, taking in the natural beauty of the surrounding forests and lakes, or immersing yourself in the rich history and culture of the museums, there is something for everyone in this charming Arizona town.

Don’t miss the opportunity to experience the world’s oldest rodeo during Prescott Frontier Days or witness the magic of the Christmas Parade and Courthouse Lighting.

Indulge in the local cuisine at The Palace Restaurant & Saloon or explore the boutiques, antiques, and art galleries that add to the town’s unique character. With its diverse offerings, Prescott promises a memorable and enjoyable visit for all.

 

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