15 Best Things to do in Prescott, Arizona – fun year round!

15 Fun Things to do in Prescott, Arizona

Prescott Attractions: Are you looking for fun things to do in Prescott, Arizona? Prescott is a cute town in Arizona that is definitely worth a stop. Plus you have to check out Pangaea Bakery for delicious breads and cookies!

Prescott welcomes everyone with their warmth and hospitality. A charming mountain town filled with Western Heritage, adventure, and fun! No matter the season, Prescott offers activities that everyone will find memorable.

prescott az things to do

People come to Prescott to enjoy water recreational activities in the stunning blue waters of Watson Lake but that’s not all they have to offer. Keep reading to find out the Best Things to do in Prescott. You can also read my guide to celebrating Christmas in Arizona where Prescott is one of the top places to celebrate.

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Where to stay in Prescott, Arizona

Prescott makes for a great weekend escape. Fresh air, beautiful scenery and being in nature does a world of good for the soul.

  • There are lots of fantastic Airbnbs in Prescott. There are many beautiful places to stay near the park and this allows you to spend most of your time experiencing the park instead of driving to the park.
  • I stayed at the Best Western Plus. This is one of the best Bryce Canyon Hotels and it has amazing amenities and is close to everything. Plus its reasonably priced.

If you are taking a road trip remember to reserve a car in advance using Discover Cars .

15 Best Things to do in Prescott, Arizona

Watson Lake

Watson Lake is one of two lakes at Granite Dells, a popular tourist destination famed for its gigantic granite boulders and bedrock formations developed over millennia of erosion. 

prescott things to do

This is one of the Granite Dells’ two reservoirs. The lake was constructed by a dam built on Granite Creek, and it offers a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities such as fishing, boating, kayaking, and canoeing on the lake’s water.

Watson Lake is one of Prescott’s most visually lovely places. The orange granite hills and boulders that ring the lake, as well as little rock islands that jut up in the center, contrast sharply with the dark blue water.

The multi-use trail, which is very easy, is used by cyclists, horseback riders, hikers, and runners. The location, which is recommended by Audubon as a prime birdwatching destination, is teeming with birds. During the summer, there are also options for rock climbing and bouldering, as well as campgrounds.

Head to Watson Lake Park, where you’ll find a high vantage point or a lakefront location near the boat launch and the start of the hiking route that loops the lake, for a scenic view of the lake.

Kayaking, canoeing, fishing, hiking, and camping are just a few of the activities available in this area. The lake is not suitable for swimming. From spring to fall, kayak rentals are offered at the park office. The lake and park are very popular in the summer.

Sharlot Hall Museum – Prescott attractions

The Sharlot Hall Museum, located on West Gurley Street in Prescott, is an excellent site to start your trip to the area. The museum, which is packed with artifacts and displays, most of which have a distinct Arizona flair, concentrates on the history and legacy of Arizona’s north and central areas.

Flickr Michael Wilson

The Sharlot Hall Museum is an open-air museum dedicated to Yavapai County’s history and mythology. Sharlot was a politically involved pioneer woman with a good education. Artifacts and documents from her large collection are on display in the museum. In 1927, she gave the pieces to the museum. 

Many permanent exhibits about the history of the area may be seen at the museum, including an aerial photo exhibit, a Yavapai-Prescott Indian basket display, and much more.

Individual and group tour guide tours are available every day, as well as self-guided visits at any time. 

Tours usually begin in the main building, which features an amazing display of dinosaur bones and recreations of the enormous beasts that formerly roamed this area. After that, you can take a tour of the first governor’s mansion, as well as several other beautifully maintained structures that each had a role in Prescott’s development. In the main buildings, docents are typically on hand to give you a tour and answer your questions.

The museum store has themed areas with gifts for all occasions, toys, and souvenirs.

Phippen Museum – Prescott activities

This museum, named after sculptor and painter George Phippen, contains a stunning collection of American Southwest art. Paintings and sculptures by well-known genre artists are artfully placed throughout the exhibit rooms.

Phippen (108)
Flickr Herbert Alfred Mayer

The Phippen Museum is a tiny, intimate fine art museum dedicated to Native American and cowboy-themed pieces from the Old West’s culture. Studio replicas, a unique exhibition dedicated to western heritage, and the Arizona Rancher and Cowboy Hall of Fame are among the museum’s permanent exhibits.

The Arizona Rancher and Cowboy Hall of Fame gallery, which features one-of-a-kind items, is particularly noteworthy. Every three months, the museum rotates its list of traveling exhibits.

The artwork, antiques, documents, and historic mementos on display at the museum are all designed to bring history to life for visitors. Each Memorial Day, the Phippen Museum hosts a Western Art Show and Sale, as well as other special events throughout the year. Self-guided tours are available at all times, the museum is open, and docent-led visits can be arranged in advance.

Check out the museum’s unique metal sculptures as well as the gigantic piece in the center of the traffic roundabout directly in front of it.

Thumb Butte Hiking Trail

Thumb Butte Trail is less than three miles long and mostly paved, making it quite easy and safe for all hikers. It is located in the famed Prescott National Forest.

Wiki Commons

The trail up to Thumb Butte is one of Prescott’s most popular hiking trails. The beautiful views from the top include rolling hills and the valley, which are covered in Ponderosa pines.

This hike is best done in a counter-clockwise direction because it is a steady climb. As there are some steep sections, the trail is easy to follow and demands a reasonable degree of fitness. The trail is categorized as somewhat tough, even though much of it is paved and has posted markers. 

Hiking, nature walks, and road biking are the most common usage. The park is open all year and offers a variety of possibilities to see local wildlife such as deer regardless of the season.

The trail’s summit provides a spectacular panoramic view of Prescott and the surrounding area. A small tribute to the Granite Mountain Hotshots’ 19 firefighters who died in the Yarnell fire in 2013 may be found at the summit. The trail is paved in places, and informative signs along the way highlight the flora and fauna.

Dogs are allowed on the trail as long as they are on a leash.

If you want a little tranquility – and maybe a sight of the local deer and hummingbirds – go on a weekday, early in the morning or in the afternoon.

Downtown Historic Area and Courthouse Plaza – Prescott AZ Activities

Many of Prescott’s oldest and most historically significant residences and buildings can be found in the downtown area. The area is steeped in Old West heritage, with many of the structures dating back to the 1800s. The majority of them have been meticulously restored to their original state.

Downtown Prescott, Arizona
Flickr Dick Shattuck

The 1916 courthouse, which takes up a whole city block with its grounds, is located in the center of Prescott’s Historic District. The Rough Rider Monument, an equestrian statue of Bucky O’Neill, stands in front of the courthouse.

The streets around the block, known as the Courthouse Plaza, are lined with restaurants and unique stores, providing plenty of opportunities for travelers to have fun. If you’re visiting Prescott for the first time, this is a wonderful place to start. Many of the prominent attractions, such as Sharlot Hall and the Elks Opera Hall, are located in the downtown area, which is readily walkable.

There are numerous hotels, saloons, and other structures in the region. Whiskey Row is one of the most well-known parts of town. Many notable individuals from the Old West, such as the Earp brothers and Doc Holliday, frequented the area, which goes back to 1864. There are many old-style saloons, restaurants, and taverns in the area today, including the Palace, Arizona’s oldest saloon.

If you happen to be in Prescott in December, don’t miss the spectacular Christmas decorations that adorn the Courthouse Plaza. Prescott is renowned as “Christmas City” in Arizona.

Whiskey Row

Whiskey Row began over a century ago as a gathering area for miners who ate their meals, drank their booze, voted, and entertained themselves. In today’s Whiskey Row, you’ll find several of these hotels, as well as art galleries and gift shops.

Flickr MB prescott to do

Whiskey Row is a section of Prescott’s downtown historic district where there are a lot of historic saloons. The area grew after a disastrous fire in downtown Prescott in 1900 destroyed an entire city block.

During the reconstruction, many bars were established, and at one point, there were forty saloons on one block. The high number of saloons reflects the type of visitors Prescott drew at the time. Cowboys, prospectors, gamblers, and a few outlaws flocked to the small hamlet during the gold rush. 

On Whiskey Row, the Palace Restaurant and Saloon is a great place to grab a bite to eat. It is Arizona’s oldest frontier tavern, dating back to 1877. Take the time to wander to the rear room and look at the massive artwork on the walls.

Matt’s Saloon is the most well-known place in town, with two-stepping cowboys dancing and drinking all night. Live musicians perform above the crowd, with the occasional “Footloose” thrown in during a break to keep the young entertained.

The Smoki Museum

The Smoki Museum, housed in a unique stone structure, presents the history of the Native Americans who have lived on these lands for millennia. It’s on North Arizona Avenue in Prescott, and it’s made of local wood and rock in a rustic design. Inside, you’ll find, among other things, an outstanding collection of ceramics, footwear, jewelry, petroglyphs, baskets, and carvings.

Prescott's Smoki Museum
Flickr Dagny Gromer

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. 

More than 2,000 objects, including baskets, beadwork, art, pottery, and more, have been added to the collection. The museum has a store that sells artifacts manufactured by Native Americans, among other things, both in person and on their website.

Throughout the year, the Smoki Museum presents a range of Native American cultural events, such as Storytellers at the Smoki, where native storytellers share folktales and other stories while attendees enjoy the food.

Information plaques accompany each piece, and friendly volunteers explain the significance of the relics on display. The Smoki Museum Trading Post has an outstanding variety of Native American jewelry for sale if you’re feeling inspired and searching for a souvenir.

Wolf Creek Falls

The trip to Wolf Creek Falls is ideal for families looking for a hike near Prescott. The round-trip distance is just under a mile. At the base of the falls, there is a nice spot for hiking and swimming. It cascades down a ledge into a little pool before meandering through boulders.

Michael Wilson

If you feel the need to cool off, a small swimming area at the base of the falls provides an opportunity to do so. Scramble up to the top of the falls if you have the energy for sweeping views of the surrounding woodlands.

The best time to go to the falls is in the spring when there is plenty of water. The falls frequently dry up in the summer. Hiking to the falls in the winter to see the spectacular icicles is another option.

Climb to the top of the falls for a spectacular view of the surrounding woodlands. The trail is largely flat, with a slight incline near the end.

The trailhead is located just past the Upper and Lower Wolf Creek campgrounds on Forest Road 384.

Elks Theatre Opera House

The Elks Opera House Theatre is a performing arts facility and event venue set in a turn-of-the-century opera house with a capacity for over 500 people.

07 - Elks Opera House (1905)

The Elks Theatre is easily identifiable in downtown Prescott because of the big elk on the roof. The theater, which was built in 1905, has a lot of character and history, but it was upgraded in 2010 and is now a popular location.

Today, the theater is mostly used to present a fantastic variety of tribute bands performing live music. Aside from opera, there are plays, balls, and other one-of-a-kind performances from bygone centuries.

You can take a tour of the facilities on select days of the week, usually in the afternoon, with a dressed tour guide. The performance hall has been painstakingly restored to its former splendor and is well worth seeing, especially if you have the opportunity to do so while watching a show.

Lynx Lake Recreation Area

Lynx Lake Recreation Area is located outside of Prescott, among the cool pine trees. A wide range of leisure activities are available in the recreation area.

Finding something to do at Lynx Lake won’t be difficult, with activities ranging from gold panning and fishing to horseback riding and canoeing. This lovely area on the outskirts of Prescott is a great place to hike, picnic, rent a kayak, camp, or simply enjoy nature. 

The blue lake at the base of the surrounding hills is a major attraction. The lake is circled by a walking trail that runs along the coast and through a lovely pine forest. A campground is located above the lake, with simple trails leading to the shore.

Non-motorized and low-horsepower motorized boats are permitted on the lake, and canoes and paddleboats are available for seasonal rental throughout the summer. Lynx Creek has a gold panning area where recreational gold panning is allowed. Hiking and mountain biking are both permitted on a number of trails.

Guests who desire to stay overnight can choose from a variety of campgrounds, which include both tent and RV spots. You can park in the day use area for a small fee. You can use the day use area for free if you are camping at Lynx Lake Campground.

Goldwater Lake, Prescott Arizona

Goldwater Lake is a reservoir formed by a dam on Bannon Creek south of Prescott. Picnicking, fishing, hiking, volleyball, and horseshoes are just a few of the activities available at the park.

Goldwater Lake
Flickr Melissa Munding

The small lake has a surface area of fifteen acres and is ideal for kayaking, canoeing, and fishing. Largemouth bass, crappie, sunfish, catfish, and trout are among the fish that can be caught in the lake.

A simple hiking track around the lake and connects to other Prescott National Forest trails. Picnic tables, grills, bathrooms, and a children’s playground are available to keep the little ones in your group happy and occupied.

Pack a picnic lunch to enjoy on the lake, schedule a boat ride, or simply stroll through the mild hills.

Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary

The Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary is known for its diverse collection of local animals and interactive programs that allow visitors get up close and personal with many of the animals.

Heritage Park Zoo 95
Flickr visit-prescott

Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary is a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection of animals. The sanctuary is committed to the preservation and conservation of native and exotic species, as well as education, recreation, and entertainment.

The majority of the park’s animals were rescued from the wild or unsuitable confinement circumstances. For each species, the sanctuary has provided huge, respected, natural environments.

Along with the Kiwanis Korner Animal Encounter, a Wallaby Walkabout takes place each day. The daily tiger and black bear feeding events, as well as the Tarantula Grotto, are well worth seeing.

Breakfast with the Animals, Boo at the Zoo on Halloween, and a special visit from Santa close to Christmas are just a few of the special events. Picnic spots and a children’s playground are available at the sanctuary, which is located at Willow Lake.

Staff from the sanctuary organize a range of educational activities throughout the year, and guided tours of the facility are available.

Prescott Frontier Days – World’s Oldest Rodeo

Each year during Frontier Days, Prescott hosts the country’s oldest rodeo. Every year since 1888, Prescott Frontier Days, described as the World’s Oldest Rodeo, has taken place over the Fourth of July weekend. Over the course of a week, the rodeo comprises eight great rodeo performances and related events.

cul28 - World's Oldest Rodeo in Prescott
Flickr visit-prescott

Bareback riding, team roping, a wild horse race, tie-down roping, barrel racing, steer wrestling, bull riding, and other events are featured at each rodeo. The well-known and popular event usually hosts headlining musical performances.

During the festival, there is an annual rodeo dance in downtown Prescott that lasts several days. Thursday is usually family night, so bring the whole family to the dance.

The Fort Whipple Museum

The Fort Whipple Museum is housed in a former military officer’s quarters on the site of the Veterans Affairs Hospital and dates back to 1909.

Fort Whipple
Flickr visit-prescott

The museum chronicles Fort Whipple’s history from its founding in 1864 to its current function as a modern hospital. The museum displays a wide range of memorabilia, documents, and artifacts from the fort’s history.

The area around the museum is now a hospital and is filled with antiques, papers, and weaponry, all of which have some connection to the medieval fort.

Moreover, personal accounts and letters from troops stationed at the fort during the Civil War are among the most fascinating displays.

Visitors can also tour the museum on their own, or guided tours can be arranged in advance.

Prescott Brewing Company

Prescott Brewing Company is a traditional tavern that serves house-brewed beers as well as traditional pub fare and delectable appetizers.

Prescott Brewing Company
Flickr Scottb211

The brewpub has been serving food and beverages in Prescott for over two decades, and the owners are active members of the community.

The beer variety is excellent as well, with something to suit every taste. The in-house and online stores of the hometown brewery provide clothes, gift cards, and beer goods.

Dippin’ Chicken nibbles with buffalo beer cheese, hand-made pizzas on a spent-grain beer dough crust, and more are among the menu’s highlights.

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American Southwest Obsessed

Nicole is a travel expert who has been traveling to the American Southwest since 1992. There is so much to see and do in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, and California. I spend part of the year in Phoenix and travel around the area visiting all the best places and going on the best hikes. Check out my detailed destination guides, the best hiking in each state guides, and the travel gear you need for your next trip.

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