Prescott was the former territorial capital of the state of Arizona. Located nearly equidistant from Phoenix, Sedona, and Flagstaff, the town has a historic downtown business district, old and stately Victorian homes, great restaurants, wedding venues, rv parks, and more.
The town’s pioneer history runs deep with many old saloons and other remnants of the gold rush. In addition to the historical attractions around town, Prescott is located close to Prescott National Forest and the Granite Dells, which offer a plethora of outdoor activities. Here are the best things to do in Prescott, AZ on your day trip or weekend getaway.
1.Downtown Historic Area
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The downtown area of Prescott is full of many of the city’s oldest and most historically significant homes and buildings. The area exudes Old West history, and quite a few of the buildings date to the 1800s. Most all of them have been beautifully restored to the way they would have looked in the time period. The area has many hotels, saloons, and other buildings. One of the most notable sections of downtown is Whiskey Row. The area dates to 1864 and was frequently visited by many famous figures from the Old West such as the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday. The area today has many old-style saloons, restaurants, and bars including the Palace, which is Arizona’s oldest saloon.
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Watson Lake is one of two reservoirs at the Granite Dells. A dam that was built on Granite Creek formed the lake, which offers many options for outdoor, recreational activities such as fishing, boating, kayaking and canoeing on the lake’s water. The Peavine Trail passes along the southeastern side of the lake and goes into the Granite Dells region. The multi-use trail is level and fairly easy. Bikers, horseback riders, hikers, and joggers utilize the multi-use trial, which is fairly easy. Birds galore inhabit the area, which is endorsed by Audubon as a premier place to birdwatch. Additionally there are opportunities for rock-climbing and bouldering as well as campsites available during the summer.
3101 Watson Lake Road, Prescott, Arizona 86301, Phone: 928-777-1122
3. Things to Do in Prescott, AZ: Sharlot Hall Museum
© Sharlot Hall Museum
The Sharlot Hall Museum is an open-air museum dedicated to the history and local folklore of Yavapai County. Sharlot was a well educated pioneer woman and active politician. The museum holds artifacts and documents from her extensive collection. She donated the items in 1927. The museum houses many permanent exhibits related to the history of the area and includes an aerial photo exhibit, a Yavapai-Prescott Indian basket display, and much more. The museum offers daily, docent-guided tours for individuals and groups as well as self-guided tours at any time. The museum store features themed rooms with gifts for any occasion as well as toys and souvenirs.
415 W. Gurley Street, Prescott, AZ 86301, Phone: 928-445-3122
4.Lynx Lake Recreation Area, Prescott, AZ
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Lynx Lake Recreation Area is situated in the cool pine forests outside of Prescott. The recreation area offers a large range of recreational activities such as mountain biking, fishing, hiking, camping, and more. Boaters are permitted to take non-motorized and low-horsepower motorized boats onto the lake, and seasonal rentals of canoes and paddleboats are available in the summer. There is a gold panning area on Lynx Creek where recreational gold panning is permitted. There are several trails that permit both hiking and mountain biking. Guests who wish to stay overnight have several campground options with both tent and RV campsites available. Next read: Best Things to Do in Prescott Valley
344 South Cortez Street, Prescott, AZ 86303, Phone: 928-443-8000
© Whiskey Row
Whiskey Row is a part of Prescott’s downtown historic district that is especially concentrated with historic saloons. The area developed after a devastating fire in 1900 destroyed an entire city block in downtown Prescott. Many bars were built in the reconstruction, and at one point they numbered forty saloons on one block. The concentration of saloons is indicative of the type of visitors Prescott attracted during the time. The gold rush drew cowboys, prospectors, gamblers, and a fair share of outlaws to the small town. These days, Whiskey Row is known for art galleries and candy shops in addition to the saloons that have made it famous.
S. Montezuma Street, Prescott, AZ 86301
6.Thumb Butte Trail 33
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Thumb Butte Trail 33 is a 2.5 mile long loop trail located within the Prescott National Forest. The trail is quite popular and is heavily trafficked. The difficulty level is rated as moderate, though much of the trail is paved and features clearly marked signs. The primary uses are hiking, nature walks, and road biking. The park is open year round and provides numerous opportunities to see local wildlife such as deer no matter the season. The top of the trail offers a great panoramic view of Prescott and the surrounding area. Dogs are permitted on the trail provided they are leashed.
2971 Willow Creek Road, Prescott, AZ 86301, Phone: 926-443-8000
7.Goldwater Lake, Prescott, Arizona
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Goldwater Lake is a reservoir formed by a dam on Bannon Creek south of Prescott. The park offers several recreational activities including picnicking, fishing, hiking, volleyball, and horseshoes. The small lake has fifteen acres of surface area and is perfect for kayaking and canoeing as well as fishing. Fish that may be caught in the lake include largemouth bass, crappie, sunfish, catfish, and trout. An easy hiking trail circles the lake and joins up with other trails in the Prescott National Forest. Picnic facilities include picnic tables, grills, restrooms, and a children’s playground for keeping the little ones in your group happy and occupied.
2900 South Goldwater Lake Road, Prescott, AZ 86301, Phone: 928-777-1122
8.Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary
© Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary
Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary is a not-for-profit animal sanctuary. The sanctuary is dedicated to preserving and conserving native and exotic animals and is designed with education, recreation, and entertainment in mind. The park is located on a beautiful ten acres that overlook Willow Lake and provide a unique and intimate experience with interesting animals. Most of the animals in the park have been rescued from the wild or inappropriate situations in captivity. The sanctuary has created large, respectful, natural habitats for the each animal. Guided tours of the facility are available, and staff from the sanctuary host a variety of educational events throughout the year.
1403 Heritage Park Road, Prescott, AZ 86301, Phone: 928-778-4242
9.Phippen Museum, Prescott, Arizona
© Phippen Museum
The Phippen Museum is a small, intimate fine art museum that showcases Native American and cowboy themed works related to the culture of the Old West. The museum’s permanent exhibits include studio replicas, a unique gallery dedicated to western heritage, and the Arizona Rancher and Cowboy Hall of Fame. The museum’s artwork, artifacts, documents, and historic memorabilia are presented in such a way to bring history to life for visitors. The Phippen hosts an annual Phippen Museum Western Art Show and Sale each Memorial Day as well as other special events throughout the year. Self-guided tours are available any time the museum is open and docent guided tours are possible with prior arrangement.
4701 AZ-89, Prescott, AZ 86301, Phone: 928-778-1385
10.Prescott Frontier Days - World's Oldest Rodeo
© Prescott Frontier Days - World's Oldest Rodeo
Prescott Frontier Days, billed as the World’s Oldest Rodeo, has taken place over the 4th of July weekend every year since 1888. The rodeo features eight fantastic rodeo performances and associated events that take place over a week’s time. Each rodeo performance includes bareback riding, team roping, a wild horse race, tie-down roping, barrel racing, steer wrestling, bull riding, and more. Headlining musical performers frequently perform at the well-known and popular event. There is an annual rodeo dance in downtown Prescott that runs for several days during the festivities. Thursday is typically family night, and the entire family can come out to the dance.
840 Rodeo Drive, Prescott, AZ 86305, Phone: 928-445-3103
11.Smoki Museum, Prescott, Arizona
© Smoki Museum
The Smoki Museum is a museum of Native American artifacts. Artist Kate Cory, who donated her photography album and eight paintings, as well as a professor from the University of Arizona who was involved with excavations in the area established the museum. The establishment now contains more than 2,000 artifacts, including baskets, beadwork, art, pottery, and more. The museum features a store both in person and on their website that sells items made by Native People among other things. The Smoki Museum hosts a variety of Native American cultural events throughout the year such as their popular Storytellers at the Smoki events where native storytellers tell folktales and other stories while guests enjoy snacks.
147 N. Arizona Avenue, Prescott, AZ 86304, Phone: 928-445-1230
12.Prescott National Forest
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The Prescott National Forest consists of 1.25 million acres of forested land managed by the United States Forest Service. The forest is divided into eight designated wilderness areas. There is a large number of campgrounds in the park with anywhere from five to sixty campsites. They range from developed campgrounds to undeveloped campsites for experienced outdoor enthusiasts. There are lakes and streams for fishing and boating or panning for gold. A number of hiking trails cross through the forest, and some are accessible by horseback. The wilderness area is great for individuals and families who want to get back to nature while relaxing and enjoying the beautiful scenery.
2971 Willow Creek Road, Prescott, AZ 86301, Phone: 928-443-8000
13.Prescott Brewing Company
© Prescott Brewing Company
Prescott Brewing Company is a classic tavern that features house-brewed beers and a selection of traditional pub food and tasty appetizers. The brewpub has been serving food and drinks in Prescott for more than twenty years, and the owners are very involved in the community. The restaurant’s kitchen makes most everything from scratch. Highlights of the menu include Dippin’ Chicken bites served with buffalo beer cheese, hand-made pizzas on a spent-grain beer dough crust, and much more. The beer selection is top notch as well and includes something for any palate. The hometown brewery offers apparel, gift cards, and beer merchandise in their in-house and online store.
130 W Gurley Street, Prescott, AZ 86301, Phone: 928-771-2795
14.Constellation Trails, Prescott, Arizona
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Constellation Trails is a series of trail loops in the Granite Dells. The trails travel nearly three miles and pass through relatively flat terrain with little gain in elevation. The easy trails are perfect for families. The surface of the trail is mostly packed dirt but does include some slick rock areas. There are marked trails for hiking and mountain biking. The sights along the trail include some interesting and beautiful rock formations as well as scrub oak passageways and beautiful wildflowers. Dogs are permitted on the trail provided that they remain leashed. The trail is open and accessible year-round.
5671 State Route 89, Prescott, AZ 86301
© Superstition Meadery
Superstition Meadery is a meadery and urban winery that creates unique meads and hard ciders. Their products run the gamut from dry to sweet, sparkling to still, and much more. Their products are offered for sale in stores throughout the state and by mail order to many other states. They have a tasting room in downtown Prescott where guests can come to enjoy samples of the mead and cider as well as delicious tapas and live music. The tasting room is located in Prescott’s Courthouse Square, which is a well-loved public space offering dining opportunities, historic hotels, and family friendly events.
120 W. Gurley Street, Prescott, AZ 86301, Phone: 928-458-4256
16.Arts Prescott Cooperative Gallery
© Arts Prescott Cooperative Gallery
Artists local to the Prescott area founded the Arts Prescot Cooperative Gallery more than twenty years ago. The gallery is artist owned and operated and offers a wide range of beautiful and unique pieces of art. The types of art on display include painting, photography, weaving, baskets, sculpture, ceramics, pottery, glassworks, and jewelry. The gallery is centrally located in the middle of Whiskey Row in Prescott’s downtown historic district. Arts Prescott Cooperative Gallery participates in the 4th Friday Prescott Art Walk and also hosts a monthly guest artist reception as well as other special events throughout the year.
134 S. Montezuma Street, Prescott, AZ 86303, Phone: 928-776-7717
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17.Elks Opera House Theatre
© Elks Opera House Theatre
The Elks Opera House Theatre is an event venue and performing arts center located in a turn of the 20th century opera house with seating for more than 500 guests. The construction was built in 1905 and was one of many “Elks” opera houses that were built across the United States. Today, it is the only one that is still in existence. Its purpose was to host minstrel shows, plays, balls and theatrical performances. It later showed movies up until the 1980s. The building was restored in recent years and now hosts concerts and other events. Visitors can take a quick guided tour of the building for no charge.
117 E. Gurley Street #115, Prescott, AZ 86301, Phone: 928-777-1370
18.Prescott Center for the Arts, Prescott, Arizona
© Prescott Center for the Arts
Prescott Center for the Arts is a performing arts theater and community center that encourages young people and others to engage in theater and visual arts. They provide many opportunities for both young and old people to exhibit their skills whether in the gallery or by performing on stage. They have two theaters. The MainStage presents six to seven annual community theater performances, including the popular Christmas show. The Stage Too Theatre is a black box style theater with only fifty seats. It provides a space for special, more intimate performances. The Prescott Center for the Arts art gallery provides an ongoing and rotating space for exhibiting art work created by artists in the community.
208 N. Marina Street, Prescott, AZ 86301, Phone: 928-445-3286
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© Bucky's Casino
Bucky’s Casino is a casino complex located in the Prescott Resort and Conference Center. The casino features a variety of slot machines and table games along with two restaurants. The casino offers convenient valley-wide bus pickups for easy and safe transport to and from the casino and area lodging and other attractions. The casino is open all day every day and has more than 500 gaming machines. They have sixteen game tables featuring 7 Card Stud, Texas Hold’Em and Blackjack as well as a non-smoking poker room. They offer a cafe and sports bar that serve snacks and meals. The Yavapai casino is located just across the street for even more gaming fun.
1500 AZ-69, Prescott, AZ 86301, Phone: 800-756-8744
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20.Things to Do in Prescott: Fort Whipple Museum
© Fort Whipple Museum
The Fort Whipple Museum is located on the campus of the Veterans Affairs Hospital in one of the former military officer’s quarters that dates back to 1909. The museum tells the story of Fort Whipple’s history from the time it was founded in 1864 up until the present day when it serves as a modern hospital. The museum exhibits include a variety of memorabilia, documents, and artifacts related to the history of the fort. Some items on display include weapons from the Army, maps, photos, and stories written by the soldiers that were stationed in the fort. Visitors can tour the museum on their own, and guided tours are available with prior arrangements.
AZ-89, Prescott, AZ 86303, Phone: 928-445-3122
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21.Granite Mountain Trail 261
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Granite Mountain Trail 261 is one of an entire network of trails that wind through the Granite Mountain Wilderness and provide opportunities for recreational use. The trail is the first in a 6-mile loop that travels from Granite Basin Lake around Little Granite Mountain. The area has a wide variety of wildlife including deer, foxes, snakes, lizards, and scores of birds. The trail offers several opportunities for scenic views of the wilderness and surrounding areas. Motor vehicles and even bicycles are prohibited, but horses and leashed dogs are permitted. Visitors can connect to other trails in the system for longer hikes such as Little Granite Mountain Trail #37, Balancing Rock Trail #349, and others.
Prescott, AZ 86303, Phone: 928-443-8000
22.Prescott Farmers Market
© Prescott Farmers Market
The Prescott Farmers Market is an open-air farmers market where visitors and locals can browse for the best of home-grown and home-made local goods. The market has several locations around the city, including Harkins Theatres, Yavapai College, and a location in Chino Valley. The Summer Market at Yavapai College is the largest location and features more than sixty vendors. During the winter they offer an additional winter market. Vendors sell local eggs, fresh fruit, farm-fresh vegetables, and artisan foods prepared locally. The vendors are required to either raise or grow everything they sell locally in Arizona. If the item is hand-made or a prepared food product, they must use a certain percentage of Arizona products.
930 Division Street, Prescott, AZ 86305
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23.Kalusa Miniature Airplane Collection
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The Kalusa Miniature Airplane Collection is located in the library of Embry Riddle Aeronautical University’s Prescott campus. The collection contains more than 5000 model aircraft. The library is a working, college library, so visitors should be somewhat quiet during their visit. All of the models are hand-made by John W. Kalusa, former WWII photographer and aircraft mechanic. The collection holds the Guinness World Record for the largest collection of model airplanes in the world. Visitors can walk into the public building and tour the exhibit on their own or arrange a guided tour by contacting the curator.
3700 Willow Creek Road, Building 43, Prescott, AZ 86301, Phone: 926-777-3811
24.Things to Do in Prescott: The Highlands Center for Natural History
© The Highlands Center for Natural History
The Highlands Center for Natural History, dedicated to educating the public about the wonders of nature, offers a range of educational programs and has something for guests of all ages. Options include youth nature camps, natural history classes for the public and opportunities for expert nature study. The center is home to the James Family Discovery Gardens, which have a variety of beautiful plantings showcasing plants from around Prescott and the Central Arizona Highlands region. They offer demonstration gardens and interactive learning experiences. The center has a 3-mile nature trail that also connects to Lynx Creek and provides access to the Prescott National Forest trails. In addition, they offer a selection of special events throughout the year.
1375 S. Walker Road, Prescott, AZ 86303, Phone: 928-776-9550
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25.Prescott POPS Symphony
© Prescott POPS Symphony
The Prescott POPS Symphony is a local symphony group that mostly performs in the summer when many other musical groups are on break. They specialize in performing light-hearted orchestral music, and they are heavily involved in youth education and supports instrumental music education in local schools. The schedule for upcoming concerts can be found on their website. The symphony frequently performs concerts at the Yavapai College Performing Arts Center but occasionally performs at other venues as well. The orchestral performances stress the idea of fun for both musicians as well. They average about six performances a year, including their yearly children’s concert.
1100 E. Sheldon Street, Prescott, AZ 86301, Phone: 928-776-2000
25 Best Things to Do in Prescott, AZ
- Downtown Historic Area, Photo: Courtesy of desertsolitaire - Fotolia.com
- Watson Lake, Photo: Courtesy of tiva 48 - Fotolia.com
- Things to Do in Prescott, AZ: Sharlot Hall Museum, Photo: Sharlot Hall Museum
- Lynx Lake Recreation Area, Prescott, AZ, Photo: Courtesy of equigini - Fotolia.com
- Whiskey Row, Photo: Whiskey Row
- Thumb Butte Trail 33, Photo: Courtesy of wingedwolf - Fotolia.com
- Goldwater Lake, Prescott, Arizona, Photo: Courtesy of schankz - Fotolia.com
- Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary, Photo: Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary
- Phippen Museum, Prescott, Arizona, Photo: Phippen Museum
- Prescott Frontier Days - World's Oldest Rodeo, Photo: Prescott Frontier Days - World's Oldest Rodeo
- Smoki Museum, Prescott, Arizona, Photo: Smoki Museum
- Prescott National Forest, Photo: Courtesy of tiva 48 - Fotolia.com
- Prescott Brewing Company, Photo: Prescott Brewing Company
- Constellation Trails, Prescott, Arizona, Photo: Courtesy of tiva48 - Fotolia.com
- Superstition Meadery, Photo: Superstition Meadery
- Arts Prescott Cooperative Gallery, Photo: Arts Prescott Cooperative Gallery
- Elks Opera House Theatre, Photo: Elks Opera House Theatre
- Prescott Center for the Arts, Prescott, Arizona, Photo: Prescott Center for the Arts
- Bucky's Casino, Photo: Bucky's Casino
- Things to Do in Prescott: Fort Whipple Museum, Photo: Fort Whipple Museum
- Granite Mountain Trail 261, Photo: Courtesy of PackShot - Fotolia.com
- Prescott Farmers Market, Photo: Prescott Farmers Market
- Kalusa Miniature Airplane Collection, Photo: Courtesy of freddykid - Fotolia.com
- Things to Do in Prescott: The Highlands Center for Natural History, Photo: The Highlands Center for Natural History
- Prescott POPS Symphony, Photo: Prescott POPS Symphony
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of tiva48 - Fotolia.com