12 Things To Do With Family 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 Old West history, scenic landscapes, and wealth of family-friendly attractions, Prescott makes for a wonderful family vacation destination.

From outdoor adventures to historical sites and museums to delight little learners, there are endless things to see and do with kids of all ages in Prescott. This article highlights 12 of the top activities and attractions to enjoy with family when visiting this western city. With so much to experience, you’re sure to make special memories that will last a lifetime.

Explore the Outdoors at Watson Lake


Prescott is surrounded by beautiful lakes and forests perfect for getting the family outdoors. One of the best places to enjoy nature with kids is at Watson Lake. This reservoir located just a few minutes from downtown Prescott offers excellent recreational opportunities for families.

At Watson Lake Park, you can take the kids on hiking trails that wind through granite boulders and pass by hidden small beaches along the lakefront. Stop to skip stones, look for fish and turtles in the water, watch for birds, or have a picnic lunch under the pine trees. If you’re visiting in the warmer months, let the kids wade in the shallow water and practice their swimming skills.

For adventurous families, rent a kayak, canoe, stand-up paddleboard or pedal boat from the marina and explore Watson Lake. Paddle alongside families of ducks and keep an eye out for bald eagles frequently spotted soaring above. End your time on the water with ice cream from the lakefront cafe.

With plenty of grassy areas perfect for flying kites, playing catch or frisbee, and watching boats pass by the scenic mile-long dam, Watson Lake Park has something for every family to enjoy together in the great outdoors.

Tour the Sharlot Hall Museum


Immerse your family in the history and culture of Prescott at the Sharlot Hall Museum, located just a few blocks from Courthouse Plaza downtown. As the regional history museum, Sharlot Hall Museum brings the old west to life through its artifacts, historical buildings, and educational programs.

Let your kids explore what life was like for early settlers and pioneers in Prescott. They can see a real log cabin from 1865, the original Governor’s Mansion, the Fremont House print shop, and more historical buildings filled with authentic items from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The littlest learners can dress up in cowboy hats and bonnets in the children’s discovery area while older kids will love using the old-fashioned printing press.

Families can join a guided tour of the museum’s highlights led by a costumed docent, take a self-guided tour using the museum’s app, or wander through rotating exhibits focusing on local history. Be sure to check the calendar for family-friendly seasonal events and hands-on activities like pioneer crafts, cowboy singalongs and historical reenactments which bring history to life for kids.

With indoor and outdoor spaces to explore, the Sharlot Hall Museum lets your family step back in time to frontier-era Prescott together.

Ride with Prescott Pony Rides


For families with little animal lovers, Prescott Pony Rides offers the perfect opportunity to introduce kids to horses in a safe, nurturing environment. Nestled among pine trees just minutes from downtown Prescott, this small family-owned stable provides escorted pony rides for children as well as horseback trail rides for older kids and parents.

The friendly miniature horses and gentle giants like Pepsi and Sweet Tea give smooth rides while toddlers giggle and squeal with delight. With help from the patient wranglers, even the littlest cowpokes get to feed, pet and brush a pony after their ride. Not only do kids get to ride a pony, but they also learn how to properly interact with these majestic animals.

Prescott Pony Rides maintains the highest standards of care for their herd and strives to connect people with these amazing creatures. When you visit, you’ll see that every pony receives top-notch nutrition, grooming and veterinary care so they are happy and healthy.

The trail rides take experienced equestrians and novices of all ages on scenic adventures through the surrounding Prescott National Forest. Meandering through the pine forest beneath the shadow of Thumb Butte, riders of all levels get to enjoy the beautiful mountain landscape from the back of their trusty and gentle horse.

For your little cowboy or cowgirl who adores horses, Prescott Pony Rides offers the perfect opportunity to interact with their favorite animal.

Walk Along Whiskey Row


The historic downtown center of Prescott is known as Whiskey Row. Families can take a leisurely stroll together down Montezuma Street past the colorful old buildings that once housed 40 whiskey saloons and brothels back in the wild west days. Though most of the original structures were destroyed by fire over the years, Whiskey Row today still boasts historic buildings housing restaurants, boutiques, galleries and pubs.

As you walk the streets of Whiskey Row, imagine what life was like in Prescott’s early frontier days when miners, cowboys, soldiers and outlaws swaggered past the swinging doors into raucous drinking establishments. Have the kids count how many cowboy hats or boots they spot passing by. Pop into the galleries and boutiques lining the street to find that perfect western-themed souvenir like cowboy boots for the kids or turquoise jewelry for mom.

Be sure to stop and snap some family photos in front of the iconic Whiskey Row sign framed by the prominently positioned Palace Restaurant and Saloon building. If the kids work up an appetite from all the walking, grab a bite to eat or an ice cream cone at one of the many family-friendly eateries dotting Whiskey Row. From the historic architecture and Old West ambience to unique shops and restaurants, Whiskey Row is a must-visit attraction for families to get a taste of Prescott’s Wild West culture.

Ride the Rails at the Smoki Museum


All aboard! At the Smoki Museum in Prescott, your family can discover the magic of model railroading together. Operated continuously since 1935, the Smoki People’s Museum houses intricate model train layouts depicting the Arizona landscape as well as a collection of Native American artifacts.

Kids with an interest in trains will marvel at the impressive HO scale model railroads. Winding through miniature scenes of the Old West, modern cities, mining towns and the Grand Canyon, these small electric trains delight visitors of all ages as they come chugging through tunnels and over bridges. Visit the museum on select weekends or during a special event to enjoy the excitement of seeing the model trains running throughout the exhibit halls.

Younger children will appreciate the interactive Kids Train Room where they can play with Thomas the Tank Engine sets while toddlers can push around wooden trains and play with train-themed toys. The little engineers might even make new friends with children who share their passion for locomotives.

Between visiting the train layouts, families can browse the educational museum exhibits displaying Native American baskets, pottery, rugs and other cultural artifacts. Kids can try traditional beading crafts or get their faces painted with indigenous designs by museum docents. With trains and activities for kids of all ages, the magical Smoki Museum is one of the best family attractions in the Prescott area.

Head Underground at The Day Mine


A unique way for families to learn about Prescott’s mining heritage is by descending 1000 feet underground together at the Day Mine. Located just a few miles from downtown, this once working gold and copper mine opened in 2020 as an interactive mining museum and educational attraction perfect for kids.

After gearing up with hard hats,safety goggles and flashlights, your family will take a minute-long ride down the mine shaft elevator to explore the tunnels and caverns far beneath the earth’s surface. Friendly and knowledgeable guides take you through the mine while explaining how early pioneers dug out the precious ore by hand decades ago. Kids can touch the cool rough walls, spot glittering minerals tucked inside, and imagine what it was like to work such a dark, damp environment day after day.

Back above ground, families can try panning for gems, play mining-themed games, and view mineral specimens in the activity area. Around every corner there are photo opportunities like the antique ore carts and mining artifacts so be sure to bring your camera. There’s also a gift shop filled with stones, crystals and jewelry so your little explorers can bring home a shiny souvenir. From start to finish, the Day Mine delivers an exciting educational adventure families won’t soon forget.

Step Back in Time at the Phippen Museum


Nestled among towering pine trees on the outskirts of downtown, The Phippen Museum transports families back to Prescott’s cowboy and western art roots. Opened in 1984 to preserve and showcase the artwork of George Phippen and other American realist artists, the museum’s galleries are filled with paintings, bronze sculptures and interactive exhibits showcasing life in the Old West.

Kids can stroll past colorful artwork depicting cowboys tending cattle, ladies dancing in saloons, and landscapes of desert mountains just as this region’s early settlers and explorers would have experienced. Holding true to George Phippen’s mission to “preserve the West he knew,” a trip to this museum lets parents share stories of frontier living in early Arizona while kids gain inspiration for their own western-themed masterpieces.

For families visiting between May and September, be sure to check out the Phippen Museum’s signature Living History Encampment. At this area behind the museum, reenactors dressed in pioneer clothing help children try hands-on activities like churning butter, writing with quill pens, pumping water from a well, or panning for gold. Kids can even get a picture on a saddled pony or take a covered wagon ride. Through interactive play and museum exhibits, families at the Phippen Museum find meaningful connections to Prescott’s western heritage.

Play Disc Golf at the Eagles Nest Course


Just a short drive from downtown Prescott near scenic Granite Creek, the Eagles Nest Disc Golf Course offers families affordable outdoor recreation with spectacular mountain scenery. Suitable for all ages and skill levels, this wooded 18-hole course winds through towering ponderosa pines making it the perfect active adventure for parents and kids to play together.

Before starting out, families can purchase inexpensive discs at the local sporting goods store or borrow them from the library. Then traverse the hilly terrain teeing off from wooden platforms and trying to hit the chain-link basket targets along the way. Kids will enjoy scrambling around the towering rock formations and thickets of brush in search of errant throws. Since games move quickly, you can play multiple rounds experimenting with different paths along the course.

The Eagles Nest terrain provides plenty of challenges but also options appropriate for beginners so the whole family can get involved. Nestled among the rolling hills, scenic lakes, and forest of pine trees, this disc golf course also gives families the opportunity to take in Prescott’s beautiful natural landscape from breathtaking vistas overlooking the Bradshaw Mountain range. Close to town yet surrounded by nature, playing disc golf at Eagles Park offers the perfect blend of sports and scenery for active families.

Explore Goldwater Lake


The glistening Goldwater Lake surrounded by the Prescott National Forest provides families endless options for outdoor fun including fishing, boating, hiking, birdwatching and picnicking. Located just 10 minutes north of downtown Prescott, Goldwater Lake offers beautiful natural scenery, crystal clear water, and plenty of family recreation options perfect for sunny Arizona days.

Rent a kayak, canoe, standup paddleboard or pedal boat from the marina and enjoy a smooth ride across Goldwater Lake’s calm waters taking in views of granite rock formations speckled with hardy desert trees. Pack a lunch to enjoy on one of the lakeside picnic spots or let the kids reel in their own fresh catch from the fishing pier.

The easygoing shoreline trail loops completely around the lake giving little hikers panoramic views of the Bradshaw Mountains reflected in the water’s still surface. Families can play spot-the-bird-species or have a friendly race to the scenic covered bridge over a gurgling creek feeding the lake. With wide open space to run around, various recreational rentals, and endless photo opportunities surrounded by gorgeous scenery, Goldwater Lake offers hours of family fun.

Pan for Gems at Lost Dutchman Gem Mine


While in Prescott, let your kids live out their dreams of striking it rich at the Lost Dutchman Gem Mine. Just a few miles east of town, this family attraction lets kids experience the thrill of gemstone prospecting firsthand. Excitement builds as soon as you see the towering claim shack and winding water flume surrounded by the high desert landscape.

Families receive an authentic metal mining pan before heading out to the sluice where everyone gets soaked seeking out precious gems swirling all around in the running water. The little prospectors marvel wide-eyed as they discover genuine raw gems like tiger’s eye, pyrite, quartz, agate and more glinting in the bottom of their pans. Kids can bring home these real treasures they unearthed themselves to incorporate into homemade jewelry.

Between panning sessions, cool off in the Old West style sweet shop and ice cream parlor filled with 19th century candy favorites. Strike a pose at the photo-op wall where it looks like you’re stuck in a mine shaft or take a ride down the giant slide. With nonstop kid-friendly mining fun set in the beautiful high desert, the Lost Dutchman mine lets families unplug and enjoy simple pleasures together surrounded by nature’s splendor.

Ride the Scenic Chairlift


Just southwest of Prescott, families can soak in spectacular views of the Bradshaw Mountains while riding nearly a mile above the landscape on the Scenic Chairlift. Whisking passengers 700 feet up Granite Mountain, these ski lift-style gondolas provide an ever-changing perspective of the scenic vistas surrounding Prescott. From the lofty elevation, take in unobstructed sights of mountain peaks dotted with boulder formations, rolling grasslands, and lush stands of Ponderosa pines that make this region downright picturesque.

As you sway above granite-lined Copper Basin Wash and see for miles into neighbouring Chino Valley, your family might spot rock climbers scaling the cliffs or perhaps soaring hawks riding the thermal air currents. Small children may need to sit on an adult’s lap as the chairlift safely carries you high above the rugged earth below. Bring your camera to capture charming photos of your loved ones suspended in mid-air with the Prescott Valley as your backdrop. Even if it’s just a peaceful temporary escape from the ground, floating together through crisp mountain air makes for priceless bonding moments your family will treasure.

From the top station, meander along the short interpretive trail to take in more breathtaking scenery from various overlooks. Riding the chairlift before dinner makes for an unforgettable sunset! With incredible sights around every corner,Pres1cott’s Scenic Chairlift creates lofty family memories that will last a lifetime.

Splash Around at the Prescott Valley Aquatic Center


When Arizona’s summer heat becomes sweltering, the best place to stay cool while having fun is at the Prescott Valley Aquatic Center. Conveniently located near downtown Prescott, this family-friendly waterpark provides acres of wet and wild attractions perfect for kids of all ages.

Younger children will love paddling around Kiddy Cove or splashing down the tiny tot slides repeatedly. Take on your kids in a game of pool basketball or race them down the twisting blue Speed Slides plunging into refreshing water below. Bigger kids can ride the exhilarating Boomerango all on their own, braving the super-fast enclosed tunnel and huge swirling bowl at the end. Meanwhile parents can relax poolside and watch the action or join in the games with the whole family.

When you need to take a break from water play, grab snacks at the cafe or stroll beautifully landscaped walking paths circled by grassy areas ideal for picnics. Family changing rooms make it convenient to switch into and out of swimwear so you can easily go back and forth from the waterpark to open lawn space. With endless options for aquatic adventure perfect for all ages, the Prescott Valley Aquatic Center delivers vibrant family memories to last.

Conclusion


Overflowing with family fun from scenic nature escapes to hands-on museums to Old West culture, Prescott, Arizona makes an outstanding vacation destination for families of all ages. From pony rides to paddle boats, little prospectors to little swimmers, Prescott offers endless attractions and activities to delight every member in the family. The 12 highlights covered in this article, from Watson Lake to the Aquatic Center, provide just a sample of the countless things families can experience together while exploring this Arizona mountain town.

Beyond the places detailed above, Prescott delivers opportunities all around for families to forge connections in a rich historical setting surrounded by awe-inspiring scenery. Meander the Courthouse Plaza downtown hearing stories of frontier justice before partaking in quintessential cowboy cuisine from charming cafes and ice cream parlors.

Hike the dramatic landscapes of towering Thumb Butte or the lush riverfront along Granite Creek Recreational Trail. Tour the Phippen Museum’s western art exhibits then make your own masterpieces side-by-side in a workshop tailored for budding artists.

With genuine warm-hearted people around every corner ready to welcome your family plus gorgeous nature vistas serving as the backdrop for memorable moments, Prescott offers the quintessential destination for an unforgettable family vacation.

Leave a Comment