In the mood to take a day trip but don’t know where to go? Check out Prescott! From most places in the Valley the drive will take you right around two hours, making it a perfect day trip destination. Prescott is located in central Arizona and is known for its charming downtown, the historic Whiskey Row, and their abundance of outdoor activities. On the drive up north out of the Valley, you will notice the change in elevation as you enter into the ponderosa pine forest surrounding Prescott.
One of the reasons Prescott is such a gem for those looking for a day trip from the Phoenix area is the cooler weather! The city of Prescott has an average temperature of 70 degrees. The climate in Prescott is quite different from that of Phoenix, as they have four very distinct seasons, giving you a chance to see the snow in the winter, and also enjoy a more mild summer.
Wolf Creek Falls
Wolf Creek Falls is a great kid friendly hike to explore in Prescott, Arizona. This hike is right under a mile long, and it is an out and back trail, so you’ll see the same scenery on your way in and out. You can start the hike at the Groom Creek trailhead and can expect to walk through a well traveled wooded path. You will get to see great views of the surrounding mountains, but the real show stopper is the waterfall.
The best time of year to hike Wolf Creek Falls is during the late winter and early spring, when the waterfall will be the most active as the snow melts. This trail is also dog-friendly, so your best friend is welcome to hike along with you!
Elks Theater Opera House
If you love historic buildings, you will also want to stop by the Elks Theater while you are in Prescott. This is a classically designed opera house that is now listed on the National Register of Historical Places. The city has renovated the theater several times in the past decades to restore it to its original design. You can see movies at the Elks Theater, and many of the movies they show are seasonal classics. The Elks Theater also has a performing arts center attached, and they host dance and musical events throughout the year, so check their seasonal calendar to see if there are any events while you are in town.
Thanks to Prescott only being a short two hour drive away, it makes for a great day trip spot when you and your family are looking to explore a new town. Prescott is a small town that offers a great blend of history, nature, and fun activities, making it a place your whole family will enjoy visiting. One fun idea is to plan a day trip during the winter, and then to go again during the summer to get to see the town during two very different times of the year!
Whiskey Row is one of the more historic locations to explore in Prescott. This is the street that was made popular a hundred years ago as the place where local miners would come together to drink at the bars and enjoy meals together.
The historic saloons on the street have been rebuilt following a fire in 1900, giving it a super unique old Western feel. In the present day, there are a lot of bars, restaurants, and shops you can explore to learn more about the town’s mining roots. The Whiskey Row area is very walkable, making it a fun stop on your visit to town to stretch your legs and get a taste of Prescott’s history.
Lazy G Brewery
While you are in Prescott for your day trip, another fun place to stop and visit is the LazyG Brewhouse. While the Lazy G Brewhouse is fairly new to town, it has quickly become one of Prescott’s most popular breweries, winning the Daily Courier’s award for 2021 as the Reader Choice Winner for Best Brewery in Prescott. At the LazyG Brewhouse you will find a laidback brewpub setting where you can order some truly unique handcrafted beers. They offer many of their own specialities, including the Bones’ Brew, a West Coast Style IPA with aggressive hopping. You must try one of their local craft beers to get the full effect!
LazyG Brewhouse also serves classic bar food favorites like burgers and grilled cheese, making it a great spot to stop in for a meal during your time in Prescott.
If you want to learn more about art and the heritage of the American West, stop by the Phippen Museum while you are in Prescott. The eponymous local artist George Phippen had the idea for the museum because he wanted to raise public support for Western art and culture. The museum opened in 1984, and serves as a home for much of George’s art, in addition to art from other well known Western artists and upcoming local artists as well.
The museum has served as a cornerstone for Western art for the town of Prescott ever since it opened, offering a place where people of all ages can come to learn and see their five permanent exhibits, one of which is called Watercolors of the American West. The Phippen Museum hosts many art related events throughout the year, including fundraisers and local art shows.
When you are in the mood to be near the water, Watson Lake Park is easily accessible off of Highway 89, and is a short four mile drive away from downtown Prescott, making it a convenient stop on your day trip into town. Watson Lake is a scenic place with a lot of opportunities to get out on the water, whether you want to go fishing, boating, or kayaking. There are two boat launches located off of the lake, along with areas to clean your fish, so you are set up for success for your lake outing. One thing to keep in mind if you visit during the summer is that swimming is prohibited at the lake.
If you prefer to stay on dry land, you can also admire Watson Lake by going on a scenic hike around the perimeter or trying your hand at rock climbing in the park. One of the most popular hiking trails around the lake is called Pea-vine Trail, which winds around the water and offers visitors a chance to explore the local plants and flowers. The hours Watson Lake park is open change seasonally with the changes in the timing of sunrise and sunset, so make sure to check before you go.