prescott things to do
Travel,  USA

4 Incredibly Unique Things To Do In Prescott, Arizona

With its charming downtown and small town feel, Prescott is perfect for a day trip. Here’s my ultimate guide to the best things to do.

Prescott’s historic downtown and white-columned courthouse feels straight out of Gilmore Girls.

It’s called “everybody’s hometown” – and it’s especially spectacular at Christmas.

But there are none of the cowboy cliches you’ll find in some other Arizona cities.

Prescott boasts stately Victorian homes, bars that date back to the gold rush and some incredible antique shopping.  It’s surrounded by lakes and some stunning hiking trails. And it’s all just a 90-minute drive from Phoenix!

So where do you begin exploring this small town Arizona gem? 

Here’s my ultimate guide to all the unique must-does in the city:

1. Stroll the Downtown Historic Area

Start with a stroll through Prescott’s old fashioned downtown.

It’s packed with historic buildings, shady trees, quaint little shops and lots of great restaurants – all with that charming small-town feel.

Many buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places. And there’s plenty of great antique shopping too. You should definitely set aside a few hours to wander through the quirky boutiques or indulge your sweet tooth.

The Western Heritage Center ​(at 156 C South Montezuma) makes a great starting point for your walking tour. There are lots of historical artifacts and fine art on exhibit that will make your Prescott experience come alive.

Memorabilia includes photos from a 1909 Model T parade that rolled through Whiskey Row and bits from the World’s Oldest Rodeo. Pick up a free map and history booklet too before setting out.

Prescott’s downtown comes alive for the holidays with hundreds of twinkling lights and great shopping for unique or antique Christmas gifts. There’s a good reason it’s called “Arizona’s Christmas City.”

Pro tip: You won’t find many parking spaces in downtown, so park on the outskirts and walk in. There’s also a spacious parking garage right behind Whiskey Row.

2. Have a drink on Whiskey Row

Whiskey Row is a block-long line of historic bars and saloons – and the former watering hole of the Wild West’s most notorious outlaws.

The city likes its booze.

When a great fire in 1900 nearly destroyed all of Whiskey Row, the patrons reportedly took their drinks across the street to watch the flames from the courthouse square.

Today, many of the historic buildings have been lovingly restored and converted to bars, boutiques and restaurants.

There are also plenty of breweries and hotels – and more great shopping if you’re looking for Native American crafts, jewelry or antiques.

The Palace first opened in 1877 and it’s now Arizona’s oldest saloon. This Western gem is a must-see in any pub crawl. It was once the preferred drinking and gambling spot for Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp.

Get some photos of the swinging wooden doors and the bullet holes in the ceiling.

And take a peek inside a few of the different saloons along Whiskey Row. The decor and architecture are straight out of a Western movie.

The saloons date back to the early gold rush when the promise of riches attracted a medley of misfits from prospectors to gamblers and outlaws.

Pro tip: Carry some cash because many of the bars don’t take credit cards.

3. Wander around the Yavapai County Courthouse Square

With its laid-back vibes, the tree-lined courthouse plaza is a heartwarming reminder of what’s best in small-town American life.

Prescott was once the capital of the Arizona Territory. And this majestic 1916 courthouse with its white columns is still the legal center of Yavapai County.

The plaza surrounding the courthouse is filled with giant Western sculptures.

There’s a Rough Rider Monument in front of the courthouse of Bucky O’Neill atop a horse.

Grab a seat on one of the benches and people-watch as tourists, dog walkers and the occasional reenactment groups of cowboys and ranchers wander through in period costumes.

4. Visit the Sharlot Hall Museum

The open-air Sharlot Hall Museum is a 4-acre complex of historic buildings that includes a charming exhibit narrating Prescott’s history – from prehistoric times to the present day.

You’ll find everything from dinosaur bones to the first governor’s mansion (built in 1864) in this sprawling and kid-friendly museum. There’s also an aerial photo exhibit, a Yavapai-Prescott Indian basket display, and Fort Misery – Arizona’s oldest log cabin.

Sharlot was an educated pioneer woman ahead of her time with her ideas of preserving local history. In 1927 she donated many of her documents and artifacts to the museum.

The museum offers daily guided tours and you can visit for a self-guided tour anytime.

Read my Guide to Montezuma Castle for more destinations in Northern Arizona! 

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