Arizona Stops on the Way

Perfect Prescott, Ariz.

From a boulder-dotted lake to Arizona’s oldest saloon.

From great hiking and kayaking to a fun downtown scene, here are the top 5 reasons to explore Prescott, Ariz., on your way to the Grand Canyon.

1. Watson Lake

Hiking at Watson Lake near Prescott, Ariz.
Hiking at Watson Lake near Prescott, Ariz. Photo: Courtesy of Prescott Tourism Office

WHY GO: You can hike the 6-mile Peavine Trail around the lake dotted with smooth, beautiful boulders. Or rent kayaks, canoes or stand-up paddleboards to explore the lake by boat.

TIP: For a unique experience, opt for an unguided moonlit kayak excursion from 6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. and rent a kayak from Born to Be Wild Adventures.

2. Historic Downtown Prescott

Strolling in front of the Courthouse in historic downtown Prescott, Arizona
Strolling in front of the Courthouse in historic downtown PrescottCourtesy of Prescott Tourism Office

WHY GO: Filled with locally owned boutiques and restaurants, this lively downtown is fun to stroll. Sit in Historic Courthouse Plaza where people of all ages people-watch.

TIP: Visit The Palace Restaurant & Saloon, Arizona’s oldest saloon where wait staff dress in 1880s-era clothing. It’s across from Historic Courthouse PlazaOpened in 1877, it offers lunch, dinner and live entertainment as well as Arizona craft beers. Be sure to look around the restaurant at owner Dave Michelson’s antiques and historic photographs on display.

“There are over 150 pictures on the wall, historic pictures of Prescott,” Michelson says. “The Earp brothers are on there because they played cards here [in the 1870s] before they went to Tombstone, along with Doc Holliday.” In fact the original bar from the Holliday and Earp days survived a 1900 fire and is still in use today. “The back bar is a gorgeous Brunswick bar,” Michelson says. “It’s 12 feet high and 24 feet long. That in itself is worth seeing.”

The Palace on Whiskey Row in Prescott, Arizona
The Palace on Whiskey RowCourtesy of Prescott Tourism Office

Once a month, diners can feast their eyes and ears while they feast on dinner. One of the Palace’s dinner performers and official Arizona state historian, Marshall Trimble, sings, plays guitar and tells stories of Prescott and the Palace during his set. Guests also can listen to musicians like South of Winslow, an Eagles tribute band, or Sky Daddy Conwell, a band dedicated to the sounds of Johnny Cash.

3. Circle Trail

Biking the Circle Trail in Prescott, Arizona
Biking the Circle TrailCourtesy of Prescott Tourism Office

WHY GO: This is a 56-mile-loop trail around Prescott that passes through grasslands, chaparral, lakes and forests. There are 15 trailheads around the town that give you access to the loop.

TIP: Find maps for the trailhead and more at

4. Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew Learning and Tribute Center

WHY GO:On June 30, 2013, the Yarnell Hill Fire, ignited by dry lightning, tragically killed 19 firefighters from the Prescott Fire Department’s Interagency Granite Mountain Hotshot crew.

TIP: This museum offers education to prevent wildfires and tells the story of the Granite Mountain 19. For a deep dive into Arizona history, visit Sharlot Hall Museum.

5. Prescott Frontier Days

WHY GO: Since 1888, Prescott has put on a fantastic rodeo, making it home to the world’s oldest rodeo. It turns 134 years old in 2022. Time your itinerary to coincide with this event that runs June 28-July 4, 2022.

TIP: Time your itinerary to coincide with this fun celebration that runs the week of Fourth of July and offers barrel racing, team roping, bareback riding, parades, dances, street parties and more.

For more information:
Prescott Visitor Center
(800) 266-7534
117 W. Goodwin Street

Where to Stay in Prescott

SpringHill Suites by Marriott

SpringHill Suite Marriott in Prescott, Arizona

Within walking distance of the famous Whiskey Row saloons, restaurants and shopping. Each room includes a kitchenette, free breakfast and free Internet. 200 East Sheldon, (928) 776-0998,

Residence Inn by Marriott

Residence Inn Marriott in Prescott, Arizona

Beautifully designed studio, one and two-bedroom suites with fully-equipped kitchen. Located directly across from the Trader Joe’s shopping plaza and the Prescott Gateway Mall, this hotel is perfect for families and longer stays. Spacious outdoor pool and patio area with grills, fireplace and fire-pit. 3599 Lee Circle, (928) 775-2232,