What to do in Prescott Arizona ? A Complete Guide to What to Do in Prescott, Arizona

Located in the heart of Arizona, Prescott is a unique blend of natural beauty, historic charm, and modern appeal. Often overlooked in favor of its larger siblings, Phoenix and Tucson, this city of just over 40,000 inhabitants has carved out a niche for itself as a must-visit destination in the Southwest.

Prescott offers a little bit of everything. Its location amidst the largest stand of Ponderosa pine forests in the U.S. gifts it with an array of outdoor adventures, from hiking and biking to boating and horseback riding.

The city’s vibrant history, dating back to its founding in 1864 as the Territorial Capital of Arizona, can be explored through its well-preserved Victorian-era architecture and informative museums. Meanwhile, a lively art scene, eclectic shopping, and diverse culinary options add a touch of modern sophistication.

In this article, we will journey through Prescott’s top attractions and hidden gems, providing a comprehensive guide to what to do in this charming city. Whether you’re a history buff, an outdoor enthusiast, a foodie, or a shopaholic, you’ll find something in Prescott that piques your interest.

History and Cultural Landmarks

Stepping into Prescott is like stepping back in time. This historic city has preserved its past and proudly showcases it through its numerous landmarks and museums.

Prescott’s rich history can be traced back to the Native Americans who originally inhabited the area, but it was the Gold Rush of the mid-1800s that truly put this city on the map. Prospectors, adventurers, and settlers flocked to Prescott, transforming it into a bustling hub of activity.

Today, traces of this vibrant past can be found at every corner of the city. From beautifully preserved Victorian homes to historic downtown, Prescott’s charm lies in its ability to make you feel as though you’re living in another era, all while providing modern amenities and comforts.

You can learn more about this fascinating history from Prescott’s official city website.

The Whiskey Row

Whiskey Row, a historic block in downtown Prescott, is a testament to the city’s lively and sometimes rowdy past. It got its name in the late 1800s when it was home to over 40 saloons. Despite several fires and modern developments, Whiskey Row has managed to maintain its historic appeal.

Today, Whiskey Row is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. While you won’t find 40 saloons anymore, there are a handful of establishments that continue to capture the spirit of the past.

Walking down Whiskey Row, you can’t help but feel the echoes of the Old West. Learn more about Whiskey Row’s history and current attractions on the Prescott Downtown website.

Sharlot Hall Museum

The Sharlot Hall Museum, named after the renowned poet and historian Sharlot Mabridth Hall, is a must-visit for history buffs. It houses an impressive collection of artifacts and exhibits that delve into the history of Yavapai County and Arizona.

The museum sits on a four-acre campus and includes several restored historic buildings. Whether it’s the Governor’s Mansion built in 1864 or the exhibits showcasing Native American culture, each corner of the Sharlot Hall Museum is a testament to the region’s rich history. You can check out the museum’s exhibits and events on their official website.

The Elks Opera House

Built in 1905, the Elks Opera House is one of Prescott’s most cherished historical landmarks. The opera house boasts an impressive calendar of performances, ranging from plays and concerts to dance performances and film screenings.

Visiting the Elks Opera House isn’t just about the performances, though. The building itself, beautifully restored, features stunning architectural details that reflect the opulence of the early 20th century. For information about its history and current shows, visit the Elks Opera House’s website.

Natural Attractions

Prescott’s beauty extends beyond its historic buildings and cultural landmarks. With sprawling forests, unique rock formations, and tranquil lakes, the city is a paradise for nature lovers.

Covering over 1.25 million acres, the Prescott National Forest is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. The forest is home to a wide range of flora and fauna, offering opportunities for wildlife viewing. Hiking trails wind through the varied terrain, providing breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.

Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a casual walker, the Prescott National Forest has a trail that suits your preference. Moreover, the forest’s campgrounds invite visitors to experience the great outdoors in all its raw beauty. More information about the forest, including trail maps and campground details, can be found on the USDA Forest Service’s website.

Granite Dells

The Granite Dells are a collection of ancient, weathered boulders that have captivated visitors for centuries. These natural wonders, sculpted by the forces of wind and water over hundreds of millions of years, are more than just a sight to behold.

For those who love an adrenaline rush, the Dells offer an unforgettable rock-climbing experience. If you prefer something more relaxing, you can also take a leisurely boat ride on the two reservoir lakes – Watson and Willow – that are framed by these beautiful granite formations.

More information about recreational activities in Granite Dells can be found on the Prescott’s tourism website.

The city’s array of natural wonders doesn’t end there. Nestled within its terrain are some of the most stunning bodies of water you’ll come across in the Southwest.

Watson and Goldwater Lakes

Watson and Goldwater Lakes are among Prescott’s best-kept secrets. These picturesque bodies of water provide a tranquil setting for a variety of activities.

Watson Lake, with its blue-green water contrasting with the rounded granite boulders of the Granite Dells, is an idyllic spot for kayaking and fishing. Goldwater Lake, located in the pine-covered Prescott National Forest, offers excellent picnic spots and hiking trails.

Detailed information about these lakes and the recreational opportunities they provide can be found on the City of Prescott’s website.

Prescott’s abundant natural beauty continues to astonish its visitors, with every location offering a unique charm.

Lynx Lake Recreation Area

Just a few miles southeasts of Prescott lies the Lynx Lake Recreation Area, one of the most popular getaways in Central Arizona. This beautiful lake, covering approximately 55 acres, is a favorite among locals and visitors for its fishing, boating, and hiking opportunities.

Surrounded by lush forest, the lake’s recreation area also has a well-equipped campground for those who wish to extend their stay overnight. Wildlife is plentiful here, so don’t be surprised if you encounter a deer, a variety of birds, or even an elusive lynx.

More details about the amenities and activities at Lynx Lake can be found on the USDA Forest Service’s website.

Shopping and Dining in Prescott

Prescott is a shopper’s delight. From unique antiques to locally made crafts, the city’s shops have something for everyone.

Downtown Prescott is a haven for antique lovers. Its streets are lined with shops that offer a wide range of items, from vintage furniture and collectibles to rare books and clothing. Each store is like a miniature museum, where each piece has a story to tell.

Walking through these shops is like taking a trip back in time. You can find treasures from different eras and enjoy the thrill of unearthing that perfect piece. More information about antiquing in Prescott can be found on the Prescott Antique Show & Vintage Market website.

Of course, no day of exploring is complete without enjoying some good food. Prescott’s dining scene is as diverse as its landscape, offering an array of options to satisfy any palate.

Local Cuisine and Dining Experiences

Prescott’s food scene reflects its eclectic culture. From classic American diners to Mexican eateries and upscale restaurants, you’re sure to find something that tickles your taste buds.

Whether you’re in the mood for a hearty steak, a fresh salad, or something in between, the city’s array of dining options will not disappoint.

Some of the must-try local dishes include the Southwestern staples like enchiladas, tacos, and tamales. If you’re looking for dining recommendations, the Prescott Chamber of Commerce website offers a comprehensive list of local restaurants.

Festivals and Events

Prescott’s community spirit truly shines through its vibrant festivals and events. These celebrations, many of which have deep historical roots, offer both locals and tourists a chance to immerse themselves in the city’s culture.

Prescott Frontier Days, home to the World’s Oldest Rodeo, is a cornerstone of Prescott’s cultural heritage. Since 1888, this event has been a highlight of the summer season, drawing thousands of visitors from around the world.

The week-long celebration features not only the thrilling rodeo events but also a parade, dances, and an arts and crafts show. The rodeo itself includes traditional competitions like bull riding, steer wrestling, and barrel racing. Learn more about this historic event and its schedule on the Prescott Frontier Days’ website.

Acker Night Musical Showcase

Another standout event in Prescott’s calendar is the Acker Night Musical Showcase. Held annually in December, this unique event transforms downtown Prescott into a vibrant concert venue. Musicians of all genres perform in shops and on sidewalks, offering a delightful evening of entertainment.

Acker Night is not just a fun event; it’s also a significant fundraiser for local youth arts programs, further cementing Prescott’s commitment to nurturing its arts scene. Find more details about this musical extravaganza on the Acker Night website.

Outdoor Adventure Activities

With its rugged landscapes and favorable climate, Prescott is an ideal location for a range of outdoor activities. From adrenaline-fueled adventures to serene nature walks, there’s something for everyone.

Prescott’s trail system is a paradise for hiking and biking enthusiasts. With over 450 miles of trails, each offering unique vistas and challenges, you’re sure to find the perfect path for your adventure.

Peavine and Iron King Trail, for example, take you through the scenic Granite Dells. Thumb Butte Trail, on the other hand, offers a challenging climb with rewarding panoramic views of the city and beyond. Information about Prescott’s trails and their conditions can be found on the City of Prescott’s website.

Horseback Riding and Ranch Experiences

For a classic Southwest experience, why not explore Prescott on horseback? The city’s many ranches offer guided trail rides that cater to all skill levels. Some even provide the opportunity to participate in cattle drives or cowboy cookouts.

These experiences allow you to appreciate Prescott’s landscapes in a new way and give you a glimpse into the cowboy lifestyle that is an integral part of Arizona’s history. More information about horseback riding and ranch experiences can be found on the Visit Prescott website.

FAQ

Prescott’s array of attractions can lead to many questions. Here, we address some of the most frequently asked ones.

What is the best time to visit Prescott, Arizona?

The best time to visit Prescott depends on what you want to do. For outdoor activities like hiking and camping, spring (April to June) and fall (September to November) offer mild weather and beautiful scenery. Summer (July to August) is a great time for water-based activities in the area’s lakes and attending the annual Prescott Frontier Days and the World’s Oldest Rodeo.

Are there any guided tours available in Prescott?

Yes, several companies in Prescott offer guided tours. You can choose from a variety of options, including historical walking tours, nature and wildlife tours, and even haunted tours that explore the city’s ghost stories. Information about tour options can be found on the Visit Prescott website.

How can I find out about upcoming events in Prescott?

The Prescott Chamber of Commerce website and the City of Prescott’s official website both have calendars of upcoming local events. These resources provide information about festivals, concerts, art shows, and more.

What kind of wildlife can I see in Prescott National Forest?

Prescott National Forest is home to a wide variety of wildlife. Common sightings include deer, coyotes, foxes, and a myriad of bird species. Less frequently, visitors might spot larger animals like black bears and mountain lions. The forest is also known for its variety of reptiles and insects.

Where can I find information about Prescott’s camping sites?

Information about camping in Prescott, including locations, amenities, and reservation details, can be found on the U.S. Forest Service’s website. The site provides detailed information about both developed campgrounds and locations for dispersed camping in the Prescott National Forest.

Conclusion

From its vibrant history and lively festivals to its stunning natural beauty and outdoor adventures, Prescott offers a unique blend of attractions that truly make it a gem of the Southwest. Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, an adrenaline junkie, or a foodie, there’s something in Prescott for you

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About the author

Hi, I'm Teri Franks, the voice behind Prescott Voice. I've spent years immersing myself in all that Prescott has to offer, and I love sharing the unique stories and experiences I've discovered. When I'm not writing, you'll find me exploring Prescott's trails or tasting our local cuisine. I believe that the vibrant lifestyle here in Prescott inspires us to live a healthier, happier life. Come join me on this exciting journey as we explore Prescott together.

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