12 Things To Do in Prescott, Arizona

Last Updated on February 10, 2024 by Emily Johnson


Prescott, Arizona is a charming city nestled in the mountains of north-central Arizona. With its wild west history, scenic landscapes, and plethora of outdoor activities, Prescott makes for a wonderful vacation destination.

The city offers something for everyone – families can enjoy hiking, biking and camping, history buffs can explore the downtown area and its museums, and thrill-seekers have no shortage of heart-pounding adventures. And that’s just scratching the surface of things to do in Prescott!

From sipping craft beers at local breweries to experiencing an authentic cowboy dinner show, here are 12 of the best things to do in Prescott, AZ that you won’t want to miss:

Explore Downtown Prescott


As Arizona’s first capital from 1863 to 1867, Downtown Prescott gives visitors a glimpse into its Wild West days. The historic Whiskey Row is a must-visit, where 40 drinking and gambling houses once stood in the late 1800s. Today it features boutique shops, restaurants, wine-tasting rooms and galleries housed in preserved brick buildings with Old West façades.

Be sure to check out the popular Palace Restaurant and Saloon, known as the oldest frontier saloon in Arizona. Order drinks like the signature mint julep while listening to live music and marveling at the eclectic Western decor.

Other key landmarks downtown include the Sharlot Hall Museum to explore Prescott’s history, and the infamous Jersey Lilly Saloon made famous by dancer Josephine “Jersey Lilly” Spencer in the late 1800s.

Hike the Peavine Trail


Outdoor enthusiasts will love hiking along the popular Peavine Trail that leads through the Prescott National Forest. The nearly 11-mile round trip hike passes through pine forest along the crest of Peavine Mountain, opening up to impressive views of the Bradshaw Mountains, Prescott Valley and Watson Lake.

sections of the trail follow an old abandoned railroad grade, adding historic intrigue to the hike. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife like black bears, skunks, squirrels and various bird species that inhabit the forest. The moderate inclines make it a great leg-stretcher!

Float Down the Hassayampa River


Cool off tubing or kayaking down the Hassayampa River, an excellent spot for water sports located only 7 miles from downtown Prescott. Rent tubes, rafts or kayaks to float the gentle rapids along the Hassayampa River Preserve.

The nature reserve here has an awesome visitor center to learn about wildlife native to the riparian habitat. Be sure to walk the River Trail to spot birds and admire the lush forests lining the shores. Early summer is a beautiful time with wildflowers blooming along the water.

Mountain Bike the Trails


Prescott is fast becoming a mountain biking hotspot with over 175 miles of trails at varying skill levels across town. Test your skills at the Iron King Trail that takes riders up 4.5-miles of switchbacks and rollers along the south slopes of Thumb Butte.

More beginner-friendly options include the Peavine Trail’s wider double track, or the dedicated Pump Park with dirt jumps and wooden features next to Pioneer Park. Don’t miss tackling the infamous Skull Valley Loop, considered one of Arizona’s top 10 mountain bike trails spanning 38 miles.

Drive Along Historic Route 89A


History meets epic landscapes driving along the stunning 89A highway just west of Prescott. The National Scenic Byway crosses over 40 miles of rolling mountains, grassy plains and granite cliffs while connecting historic sites between Prescott and Jerome.

Be sure to hop off the highway to explore remnants of the mining days at Landscape Arch and Audley Headframe Park which still has an operational headframe structure used to transport ore. Further along 89A, stop at the ghost town of Jerome, built directly on Cleopatra Hill with majestic views. Wander past old saloons, shops and museums, learning the town’s intriguing mining history of brothels and gunfights.

Spend a Day at Lynx Lake


Just 15 minutes from downtown is the easily accessible yet secluded Lynx Lake, a 55-acre recreational area nestled within Prescott National Forest. Rent kayaks, canoes or stand-up paddleboards, or bring your own boat to spend the afternoon paddling across turquoise waters, taking Instagram-worthy photos with Thumb Butte mountain as the backdrop.

There’s excellent trout fishing year-round in Lynx Lake, along with plenty of grassy areas perfect for picnics. Hiking trails surround the lake too with options like the moderate 5-mile Volz Trail or more strenuous Gurley Trail. Watch for wildlife like bald eagles, osprey and golden eagles.

Explore the Phippen Museum


The charming Phippen Museum in downtown Prescott celebrates the legacy of cowboy artist George Phippen. Their Western art galleries showcase paintings, sculptures and drawings by members of the prestigious Cowboy Artists of America. Unique special exhibits at this non-profit art museum cover everything from Native American pottery to contemporary Western landscapes.

The Phippen Museum also hosts fun events like weekly live music on the museum lawn and festive Cowboy Poets performances. Don’t miss their massive Downtown Hoedown held each June with two full days of live Western music acts, cowboy poetry, chuckwagon grub and a saloon serving beer tastings.

Play Disc Golf at Pioneer Park


Pioneer Park offers hours of free recreation and gorgeous scenery thanks to an 18-hole disc golf course tucked beneath pine and juniper trees. Navigate through granite boulders, hills and open fields as you toss your disc towards strategically placed chain baskets along the course DESigned by world champion disc golfer “Steady” Ed Headrick himself.

Novices can start with the east “Family-friendly” 9 holes while more competitive players test their skills on the challenging west 9-hole course filled with hazards and tight doglegs. Disc golf rentals are available on-site too at the park’s Recreation Center.

Off-Road at Bulldog Canyon


Adventurous types will have a blast cruising along the remote backroads of Bulldog Canyon just north of Prescott. The scenic 25-mile trail can easily be tackled in a 4X4 vehicle or ATV – highlights include driving across several creek ford crossings, navigating tight dry washes and enjoying awesome panoramic views across rolling ranch lands towards distant mountain peaks.

ATV and Jeep rentals are available in Prescott to explore Bulldog Canyon. Be sure to call the Coconino National Forest Bradshaw Ranger District for latest conditions on the dirt road before attempting the rugged yet incredibly scenic drive.

Take in a Show at Historic Elks Opera House


Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the eye-catching Elks Opera House in downtown Prescott is a stunning performance venue known for hosting big-name music acts, theater productions, movie screenings and other entertaining shows since 1905.

Upcoming 2023 events at the Elks Opera House include award-winning plays like To Kill a Mockingbird and popular musical acts like Prescott’s own country rock band The Burns Sisters Band. Enjoy your night out in the historic theater with drinks from the cocktail bar followed by dinner at one of many excellent restaurants on Whiskey Row just steps away.

Tour the Phippen Family Ranch Museum


Gain fascinating insights into Prescott’s Wild West history and cowboy culture at the Phippen Family Ranch Museum. This working cattle ranch offers hourly tours of their late 1800s homestead, replica saloon & dancehall, blacksmith shop and saddlemaking studio where real cowboys work preserving old ranching traditions.

Guests can opt to enjoy an authentic chuckwagon dinner by the campfire while listening to Western folk music. The summer months also feature rodeos, horseback riding and lively reenactments like Wild West gunfights and cavalry battles that feel straight out of an old John Wayne movie!

Conclusion


With epic landscapes, Wild West towns, adrenaline-packed adventures and no shortage of Western hospitality, it’s easy to fall in love with Prescott, Arizona. From exploring historic sites downtown to heart-pumping thrills like skydiving and mountain biking, the list of amazing things to do here goes on and on.

Whether you’re a family looking for scenic hikes or a couple wanting to sip craft beers in a 140-year-old saloon, Prescott offers an entertaining, visually stunning and uniquely Western vacation destination. Its rich history and culture coupled with outdoor recreation options for all interests makes it almost impossible to be bored.

So pack your cowboy boots and sunscreen for an unforgettable trip enjoying these 12 awesome attractions around Arizona’s popular mile-high city!

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