Table of Contents[Hide][Show]
- Prescott AZ: Four Seasons of Fun
- Visit a Haunted Hotel
- Antique Shopping
- Hike with Llamas
- Prescott Candy Company
- Prescott Heritage Trail and History Hunt Adventure
- Whiskey Row
- The Palace Restaurant and Saloon
- High Tea at a Historic Hotel
- Yavapai County Courthouse Square
- Prescott Farmers Market
- Faire on the Square Arts & Craft Show
- Prescott National Forest
- Sharlot Hall Museum
- Smoki Museum
- Lynx Lake Recreation Area
- Goldwater Lake
- Bashford Courts Shopping Center
- Live Music at Old World Bakery
- Prescott Gateway Mall
- Watson Lake
- Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary
- Historic Downtown
- Fort Whipple
- Phippen Museum
- Thumb Butte
- Watch a Rodeo
- Willow Lake
- Prescott Valley
- Pangaea Bakery
- Elks Opera House Theatre
Did you know that Arizona has its own mile high city? Prescott is located between the Grand Canyon and Phoenix, making it an ideal road trip detour. Nestled between mountains and canyons, Prescott is a bit cooler in summer, thanks to its elevation. Here are the fun things to do when visiting.
The writer was hosted.
If you’re planning an Arizona road trip, add Prescott to your itinerary. It’s 100 miles northwest of Phoenix, not far from the historic copper mining town Jerome (Arizona’s largest ghost town), Sedona (famous for its red rocks) and Flagstaff. If the Grand Canyon’s your ultimate destination, a stop in Prescott is worth the time. Here’s why.
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Prescott AZ: Four Seasons of Fun
We have been visiting Prescott, Arizona for 35 years and its charm always impresses me and keeps me exploring. The holidays are magical, especially when it snows. Surrounded by Ponderosa pines, it is known as “Arizona’s Christmas City.” The city hosts an annual Courthouse Christmas Lighting.
The summers are also filled with locals and tourists walking the streets downtown, hanging out at cafes like The Wild Iris, picnicking in the park, checking out art galleries or listening to live music in the square.
There are many fun things to do in this historical southwest city, including outdoor activities like hiking trails, kayaking or checking out the haunted hotels. You may not have time to visit all of them on your first visit. So you’ll have an excuse to go back and travel through Prescott. Bring the kids and come play in this adorable city that reminds me of a modern day Mayberry.
Visit a Haunted Hotel
You can even go on a haunted ghost tour where you start at a haunted hotel and end at a haunted saloon. (not appropriate for children under 13).
But my favorite is the Hassayampa Inn, Prescott’s oldest building and most-haunted. It is featured in articles and on TV as Prescott’s most active of the haunted hotels.
The Hassayampa Inn is almost ninety years-old and when it first opened, it had a newlywed couple staying there. The story is that the new husband went out for cigarettes and left his new bride Ruth for days, wondering what happened, only to finally hang herself out of anguish.
TravelingMom Tip: One of our favorite things to do when taking a vacation is to hire a photographer for family photos. This is a special gift and souvenir that we cherish. We use Flytographer to book a local photographer located in the area that we're traveling to. Use this link and you will get $25 off your photo session.
Ruth is known to wander the floors of the historic hotel making appearances now and then.
In town you can find many interesting thrift, consignment and antique shops filled with fun booths and unique treasures. My son loves discovering antiques and knick knacks.
I have found some of the best places for vintage items shopping in Prescott! One of my favorite shops is Prescott Antiques, located less than a mile from the Courthouse Plaza. It has 2 three-story buildings full of antiques and Joe Mudd’s Coffee and Bakehouse.
Hike with Llamas
Let Arizona Backcountry Llamas carry your snacks as you hike along the shores of a beautiful lake filled with waterfowl on the “Meet the Llamas Hike.”
TravelingMom Tip: You can get a family discount for children 6 and under for $45 (with min. two adults).
Prescott Candy Company
This isn’t just any candy shop. Prescott Candy Company is Prescott’s premier old fashioned candy store with the best in retro confections and old fashioned candy. Located in the well known Bashford Courts on the third floor.
My kids love stopping by and I love that they can just grab and weigh it and go. I have more control over their candy consumption!
Prescott Heritage Trail and History Hunt Adventure
Take a self-guided walking tour of downtown Prescott and check out some of the great historical landmarks and cultural attractions.
Take the kids on a History Hunt adventure where they can learn interactively about Prescott’s treasures. Pick up the History Hunt map at the Visitor Center.
Who doesn’t love a good bar? Prescott features many fine bars and restaurants, but none quite like Whiskey Row. Once home to 40 saloons, and a full block on Montezuma Street, you will find over 10 locations where you can enjoy a good meal with the family or drinks at the bar. My favorite place to eat is Bill’s Pizza.
The Palace Restaurant and Saloon
The Palace Restaurant and Saloon opened in 1877 and is now the oldest business in Arizona.
Most famous for its patrons Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday, it happens to be the most active haunted place in Prescott!
I love the old fashioned saloon doors and western feel inside.
High Tea at a Historic Hotel
Every fourth Sunday of the month, you can have a fabulous high tea in the Peacock Room, fit for a queen with finger food, scones and chantilly cream and a huge selection of tea. Everyone is welcome, including kids for this event at the Hassayampa Inn.
TravelingMom Tip: Make sure you book months in advance. They fill up fast.
Yavapai County Courthouse Square
The Courthouse Square is Prescott’s famous park and is the center of all activity. It’s also our family’s favorite picnic spot. Sometimes we take the kids to Frozen Frannies for yogurt and grab a coffee and take them to play soccer in the park.
Prescott Farmers Market
Prescott Farmers Market is a fun market where you can pick up fresh fruits, veggies and homemade desserts every Saturday during the summer until October 30th, from 7:30am -12:00pm.
Faire on the Square Arts & Craft Show
The Prescott Chamber of Commerce hosts four separate Arts & Crafts Shows downtown at the Courthouse Square. These weekend events showcase hundreds of interesting vendors. You are sure to catch one of them if you head there during the weekend.
Prescott National Forest
Prescott has 1.25 million acres of National Forest land that’s available to explore. You can easily see birds, deer, javelina, coyote, fox and rabbits while taking in the crisp mountain air.
You can rent cabins or just spend the day at the recreational areas. Other activities include camping, biking, fishing, swimming, horseback riding, backpacking or hiking. There’s so much to do there.
Sharlot Hall Museum
Sharlot Hall Museum is Prescott’s finest museum. It has unique exhibits that present a variety of subjects and artifacts from its history.
It’s named after a woman (a poet and a historian) named Sharlot M. Hall who was determined to preserve Arizona’s history and artifacts during the early 1900s. She persuaded the City of Prescott to purchase the “Old Governor’s Mansion” as a historic property to open the Sharlot Hall Museum in 1928.
The Prescott Smoki Museum is also known as the Museum of Indigenous People and has collections of Native American artifacts.
Smoki Museum is a collection of prehistoric, historic and contemporary examples of Indian cultural and artistic material from the southwestern United States and northern Mexico.
Lynx Lake Recreation Area
Lynx Lake is a popular 55-acre reservoir located within Prescott National Forest and great for boating, fishing, camping, hiking, kayaking, sailing, and canoeing. Lynx lake recreation area is a popular place for families.
Goldwater Lake is a small lake, about 15 acres with fishing docks, four miles from Prescott. It has a mile long walking trail, camping spots and is the place to relax or hold a BBQ or do some canoeing. It also has a fun kids park, picnic tables, a sand volleyball court and horseshoe pits!
Bashford Courts Shopping Center
During the holidays, it is very festive with shops selling Christmas ornaments and fun gifts.
Live Music at Old World Bakery
Check out some live music like folk or blues or grab a coffee and some baked goods at Old World Cafe. the owners wife has her amazing paintings hanging in every corner. I find them fascinating
You can grab your own coffee in a mug or take it to go. They also have great breakfast burritos and a killer egg sandwich!
Prescott Gateway Mall
The Prescott Gateway Mall is Prescott’s biggest mall, with stores like Dillards, American Eagle, Victoria’s Secret, Chico’s and more! There is a children’s play area too (super convenient).
I may have been caught getting my nails done with my mom while my husband took the kids to the play area.
TravelingMom Tip: There is a coffee shop next to Bed Bath and Beyond where you can play pickleball and the coffee shop also acts as a church on the weekends! Who knew?
Watson Lake Park, naturally made of boulders, is the perfect lake to visit and bird watch. Families can feed the ducks and it has a nice park for the kids.
Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary
Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary is also known as Prescott Animal Park Association and is a non-profit animal sanctuary that is open to the public. Also known as Heritage Park Zoo, it offers different events, kid’s Birthday parties and more fun stuff for kids.
The historic downtown Prescott area has some of the oldest buildings dating back to the 1800’s. Rich with the history of the Wild West, you will find historical hotels and saloons, all with many stories to tell.
A Lot of people walk by foot to do some shopping and dining but there is also The Old West Trolley Tour which starts at the corner of Cortez and Gurley and runs several times a day. If you take this tour, you can see the old beautiful victorian houses.
Take a tour of the vintage 1909 military officer’s quarters for its architectural interest. If you are interested in military medicine from the late 1800s, you will love this museum.
Phippen Museum is located seven miles north of downtown Prescott has 17,000 square feet of exhibits and collections of art and heritage collections of the American West.
TravelingMom Tip: Children under 12 are free.
Thumb Butte Trail is a well known hiking location 6,500 feet tall. It attracts many hikers as it is a well known landmark which rises about 1,200 feet from the downtown area.
Animals on leashes are welcome as long as you pick up after them. You can see a beautiful panoramic view of the city. It’s a popular place to do some mountain biking also.
Watch a Rodeo
Prescott is home to the World’s Oldest Rodeo® at the Prescott Rodeo Grounds. Prescott Frontier Days has been around since 1888. This traditional event has occurred annually over the 4th of July weekend (a huge weekend celebration with a parade). They offer eight performances. Check out their schedule here.
Willow Lake is.just a few miles from downtown Prescott and close to Watson Lake. It’s a great place for canoeing, kayaking and bird-watching.
I often see people sitting on the rocks of Granite Dells, enjoying the views. There are so many family activities to do like boating, fishing, hiking and picnicking.
TravelingMom Tip: No swimming at Willow Lake
Check out Prescott Valley, only eight miles east of Prescott. You can check out the library , check out the art or take a hike on Glassford Summit Trail or Iron King Trail.
Pangaea Bakery is by far the best bakery in Prescott. Known for its amazing pastries, different breads, daily specials and my favorite, the Palmier cookies.
Elks Opera House Theatre
The Prescott Elks Theater and Performing Arts Center is on Gurley Street. Box office hours are Tuesday-Friday 10am- 2pm.
It’s a classically designed turn of the 20th century opera house that seats over 500. It was finished in 1905 and listed on the National Register of Historical Places.
It offers concessions for the whole family, including candy, popcorn, soda, beer and wine.
You have to check out Prescott, Arizona, whether you are just passing through for a day trip or want to stay in town. It’s just a hop, skip and a jump away from Phoenix, a great place to visit on a road trip in the Southwest.
Check out the Visitor Center for more info to visit Prescott all year around.