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
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
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.”
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
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 prescott-az.gov/recreation-area/prescott-circle-trail/
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
117 W. Goodwin Street
Where to Stay in Prescott
SpringHill Suites by Marriott
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, www.marriott.com/prcsh
Residence Inn by Marriott
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, www.marriott.com/prcri