Prescott: The Place for Year-Round Fun

By: Arizona Office of Tourism

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November 3, 2013

The past meets the present in this historic Western town.

About the author

Arizona Office of Tourism

These articles are brought to you by staff of the Arizona Office of Tourism, as well as local tourism organizations around the state.

Prescott is located just 90 minutes north of metro Phoenix in the North Central region of Arizona. With a mild, four-season climate, Prescott is surrounded by the Prescott National Forest and the largest stand of Ponderosa Pines in North America.

Where It All Began

Prescott is the original capital of Arizona, dating back to 1864 with the founding of the Arizona Territory. Throughout 2014, Prescott will be celebrating its sesquicentennial (150th birthday) with a series of celebrations and special events starting with the weekend of May 30, 2014.

Prescott’s unique Western history is well documented at four area museums, the Sharlot Hall Museum, the Smoki Museum, the Phippen Musuem of Western Art and the Ft. Whipple Museum. Each museum specializes in a different aspect of Arizona and Prescott history and culture.

Step Back in Time

Downtown’s Whiskey Row still houses saloons patronized by Old West legends like Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday, but also has many art galleries, boutiques, restaurants and bars (many with live nightly entertainment). Shoppers will enjoy the unique boutiques and the many antique shops in the downtown historic district.

Courthouse Plaza, in the heart of downtown, is the fulcrum of activity in Prescott. During the summer months, the elm-shrouded venue beats to five nights of free, live entertainment. The plaza also hosts community events, arts, crafts and car shows. Courthouse Plaza was named one of the Top 10 Public Spaces in the United States by the prestigious APA (American Planning Association). 

Outdoor Adventure

One might think that Arizona is an arid moonscape dotted with cacti and other prickly plant life, but Prescott is a mile above sea level and has four mild seasons and blooming flora. The city boasts 16 parks and three lakes, with kayak and canoe rentals available at Watson, Goldwater and Lynx lakes. Bike rentals are available at Watson Lake.

Prescott also caters to those in the mood for an outdoor odyssey of trail trekking, with more than 450 miles of groomed trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding. The Mile-High Trail System contains approximately 48 miles of trails, including rails-to-trails projects along the former Santa Fe Railroad – Prescott Circle Trail System and Greenways Trails System. 

The Prescott Circle Trail is a network of trails that continues to expand, and eventually will encircle all of Prescott. The Greenways Trails are urban trails along Granite and Miller Creeks that run through downtown Prescott.

Creative Outlet

Performing and visual arts play a large part in the fiber of this high-desert community. In addition to the many area galleries, the Prescott Center for the Arts, the Yavapai College Performing Arts Center, the Sharlot Hall Museum Theater and the historic Elks Opera House provide artistic sustenance to this entertainment-savvy locale. 4th Friday Art Walks are a favorite of residents and visitors alike.

Mark Your Calendar

Throughout the year, Prescott plays host to a plethora of events that celebrate the history, culture and art of the West. In the spring, the Whiskey Off-Road Mountain Bike Race, the Whiskey Row Marathon and the Phippen Museum Western Art Show and Sale take center stage. 

The summer season heats up with Prescott Frontier Days and World’s Oldest Rodeo (celebrating 125 years this summer), Tsunami on the Square performing arts festival, the Prescott Indian Art Market, Prescott Jazz Summit and the Arizona Cowboy Poets Gathering. 

The soft autumn days are perfect to enjoy the cooler weather and changing leaves as well as highly anticipated annual events like the Folk Music Festival, Prescott Area Artist Studio Tour, Day of the Dead festival and Prescott Oktoberfest

Prescott is Arizona’s Christmas city and lives up to its name with the World’s Largest Gingerbread Village, the Christmas Parade and Courthouse Lighting, the Frontier Christmas Open House at Sharlot Hall Museum and the Acker Musical Showcase throughout downtown. 

The Valley of Lights in neighboring Prescott Valley has become a holiday favorite, attracting visitors from all over Arizona. The Prescott area positively lights up and opens its doors for all to enjoy the sights and sounds of the holiday season.

(Brought to you by Prescott Office of Tourism, (866) 866-7534, 


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