From a peaceful day in nature to an afternoon full of historical exploration, Prescott, Arizona, has it all. Filled with scenic beauty and rich in history, Prescott offers countless opportunities for family fun and adventure. Here we bring you the ultimate guide to exploring the best things to do in Prescott for families.
The journey of this vibrant town goes back to the gold rush era. Known as the ‘mile-high’ city due to its elevation, Prescott was the territorial capital of Arizona. This alluring town, with its preserved historical landmarks, engaging museums, and cultural attractions, has a story to tell at every corner.
Prescott’s Old West charm is truly an experience for every family. From its quaint downtown area filled with Victorian homes, antique shops, and classic saloons, to its welcoming locals and pleasant weather, every aspect of the city brings you back to a simpler time.
But don’t be deceived by its historic charm, Prescott has a vibrant pulse and offers an array of modern, family-friendly activities.
Kid-Friendly Outdoor Activities
Outdoor activities are a key part of any family trip to Prescott. The city’s prime location amidst a stunning natural landscape provides plenty of opportunities for fun and adventure. Let’s start with one of the most prominent natural spaces in the area, the Prescott National Forest.
Stretching over 1.25 million acres, the Prescott National Forest is a vast playground for families who love to explore. More than just a forest, it’s a world filled with diverse habitats, from high deserts to mountainous terrain.
The forest offers more than 450 miles of hiking trails, each with different levels of difficulty, making it a fantastic place for families who enjoy nature walks. In addition to the hiking trails, families can also enjoy mountain biking or horseback riding through the beautiful landscape.
For those who prefer a more leisurely pace, there are plenty of scenic spots to enjoy a family picnic, surrounded by the forest’s tranquil beauty.
Apart from day activities, the forest also offers numerous camping sites. Camping here is a unique experience as it allows families to enjoy the beauty of the star-studded sky, away from city lights.
A Day at Watson Lake
If water activities are more your family’s style, then a day at Watson Lake should be on your itinerary. This beautiful lake, known for its iconic granite boulders and azure waters, offers a unique blend of fun and relaxation.
For adventure-seeking families, Watson Lake offers opportunities for kayaking and canoeing. Even if your family is new to these activities, there are many service providers around the lake who offer equipment rental and beginner’s lessons.
Beyond the water, the area surrounding Watson Lake is full of nature trails where families can explore the local flora and fauna. The most popular is the Peavine Trail, which offers spectacular views of the lake and its granite formations.
Wildlife Watching at the Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary
After the physical exertion at the Prescott National Forest and Watson Lake, a slightly laid-back yet equally thrilling activity awaits at the Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary. This sanctuary is not just a place to observe wildlife but also a refuge and rehabilitation center for animals in need.
The sanctuary houses a variety of animals, including black bears, Bengal tigers, and Mexican gray wolves, among others. A visit here is an entertaining and educational experience as children learn about the different species, their habitats, and the importance of conservation.
For those seeking an even more enriching experience, the sanctuary offers special events and educational programs. These programs provide an opportunity for families to engage more closely with the animals,
Indoor Attractions for Families
Prescott is not just about outdoor adventures. It also offers a variety of indoor activities that are just as engaging and enjoyable. Whether you’re looking for a dose of culture, some interactive learning, or a quiet reading time, Prescott has something for everyone.
Art is a great way to connect with a place, and the Prescott Center for the Arts provides a perfect platform for that connection. Established in 1968, the center is a hub of cultural and creative activities. From theater shows to art exhibitions, the center offers a variety of experiences that can be enjoyed by both adults and children.
While the center regularly showcases local talent through various performances, it also conducts workshops for children. These workshops are a great way to engage kids in creative pursuits and help them learn about different art forms.
The center’s exhibitions, featuring works from local and visiting artists, provide an excellent opportunity for families to appreciate art and learn about different artistic styles and techniques.
Interactive Learning at the Discovery Gardens
Learning about the environment is crucial for children, and there’s no better place for this in Prescott than the Discovery Gardens. An interactive outdoor classroom, the Discovery Gardens, are designed to provide a hands-on learning experience about the region’s native plants, wildlife, and ecological practices.
Children can engage in a variety of activities such as planting seeds, identifying different plants and insects, and learning about composting and recycling.
These fun and interactive sessions not only enhance children’s understanding of the environment but also instill in them a sense of responsibility towards nature. For detailed information about the garden’s various programs, check out their official website.
Adventure at the Prescott Public Library
No family vacation is complete without some quiet time for reading, and the Prescott Public Library provides the perfect setting for it. Housed in a historic building, the library offers a wide range of children’s books and resources.
The library goes beyond just lending books; it hosts various activities and events for children. Storytime sessions, craft workshops, and even children’s film screenings are a regular part of the library’s schedule. A visit to the Prescott Public Library not only enhances children’s love for reading but also offers a fun, learning experience.
Historical and Cultural Experiences
One of the things that makes Prescott truly special is its rich history and culture. The city offers numerous ways for families to step back in time and learn about the region’s past.
Preserving and interpreting the history of Yavapai County and Arizona is the mission of the Sharlot Hall Museum. The museum is named after Sharlot M. Hall, an early Arizona historian and poet, who began preserving Arizona’s history back in 1907.
At the museum, families can explore several historical buildings, artifacts, and exhibits that tell the story of Prescott’s early days. The museum also offers special programs for children that make history fun and engaging. These programs often include hands-on activities, storytelling sessions, and themed tours.
Whiskey Row, located on Montezuma Street downtown, is a must-visit in Prescott. This iconic street was known for having the most saloons per block in the West during the late 19th century.
Parks and Recreational Areas
Prescott is known for its abundant green spaces, offering a refreshing break from city life. With beautiful parks and recreational areas, families can enjoy a day filled with fun and relaxation.
The Granite Mountain Wilderness is a must-visit destination for families who love outdoor activities. It boasts a variety of hiking trails suitable for all age groups, with the Granite Mountain Trail being the most popular. This trail offers breathtaking views of the Prescott area and, on clear days, even the distant San Francisco Peaks.
The wilderness area also has a rich biodiversity, providing an excellent opportunity for bird watching and wildlife spotting. With an abundance of picnic spots, it’s a perfect place to spend a day amidst nature, exploring, playing, and relaxing.
Relaxing at the Courthouse Plaza
Located in the heart of downtown Prescott, the Courthouse Plaza, also known as the Yavapai County Courthouse Plaza, is a lively and welcoming space. It serves as the community’s gathering place, hosting numerous events and festivals throughout the year.
The Plaza is home to various historical landmarks, including the iconic Yavapai County Courthouse. You can enjoy a leisurely walk, have a picnic on the grass, or simply sit back and people-watch. The plaza also hosts numerous family-friendly events throughout the year, which range from arts and crafts shows to concerts and holiday festivals.
Food and Shopping Experiences
A trip to Prescott wouldn’t be complete without indulging in the local cuisine and enjoying some shopping.
Prescott offers a variety of dining options that cater to all taste buds. From comfort food at local diners to gourmet meals at upscale restaurants, there’s something for everyone. For families, many restaurants offer kid-friendly menus and play areas.
Some popular options include the Firehouse Kitchen, known for its delicious burgers, and Rosa’s Pizzeria, which serves up some of the best Italian food in town.
If shopping is on your agenda, the Prescott Gateway Mall is the place to go. With a wide range of stores and services, the mall offers something for everyone.
Besides shopping, the mall also hosts various events and activities throughout the year, providing fun entertainment options for the whole family. For more information on store listings and events, you can visit the mall’s official website.
Prescott’s event calendar is packed year-round, but certain festivities and events are exclusive to specific seasons.
The annual Christmas Lighting at the Courthouse Plaza is a magical event that transforms downtown Prescott into a winter wonderland. Thousands of colorful lights adorn the Courthouse and surrounding trees, creating a mesmerizing sight. Enjoy the holiday music, warm up with hot cocoa, and don’t miss the holiday parade!
For music-loving families, the Prescott Bluegrass Festival in the summer is a must. This free event is one of the few purely Bluegrass Festivals still remaining in the Southwest. Families can enjoy performances by renowned bluegrass musicians while soaking up the summer sun.
Planning Your Visit: Practical Information
Prescott is beautiful year-round, but each season offers a unique experience. Spring and fall see pleasant weather, perfect for outdoor activities. Summer, while a bit hot during the day, has cool, comfortable evenings, while winter sees milder temperatures and
While Prescott has a public transportation system, renting a car would offer more convenience and flexibility, especially for families. Prescott is only a 1.5-hour drive from Phoenix, making it easily accessible for those flying in.
Prescott offers a variety of accommodation options to suit different budgets. From upscale hotels and charming bed-and-breakfasts to budget motels and vacation rentals, you can find an option that fits your family’s needs and preferences.
In this section, we will be delving into some of the most common inquiries and curiosities that surround our topic.
WHAT ARE SOME FUN THINGS TO DO IN PRESCOTT FOR FAMILIES?
Prescott offers a multitude of fun activities for families, such as hiking in the Prescott National Forest, exploring Watson Lake, visiting the Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary, discovering art at the Prescott Center for the Arts, learning at the Discovery Gardens, reading at the Prescott Public Library, exploring history at the Sharlot Hall Museum and Whiskey Row, and enjoying various parks and recreational areas.
WHAT FOOD IS PRESCOTT KNOWN FOR?
Prescott has a diverse food scene. You can find traditional American cuisine, Mexican food, Italian specialties, and much more. Local favorites include the Firehouse Kitchen and Rosa’s Pizzeria.
WHAT ARE SOME FREE THINGS TO DO IN PRESCOTT?
Many of Prescott’s attractions are free or low-cost. These include hiking in the Prescott National Forest, visiting the Courthouse Plaza, and attending local festivals like the Prescott Bluegrass Festival.
WHAT’S THE BEST TIME TO VISIT PRESCOTT?
Prescott is beautiful all year round, but each season offers a unique experience. Spring and fall have pleasant weather perfect for outdoor activities, while summer, although hot during the day, offers cool, comfortable evenings. Winter brings milder temperatures and occasional snowfall, providing a beautiful backdrop for holiday festivities.
Conclusion: Things to do in Prescott for families
Prescott, with its unique blend of outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, historical explorations, and family-friendly attractions, is a fantastic destination for a family vacation. The city’s rich history, scenic beauty, and welcoming atmosphere make it a place that families will want to return to time and again.
Whether you’re looking for adventure, relaxation, education, or simply a break from the routine, Prescott offers it all, ensuring an unforgettable experience for the whole family.