Exploring Downtown Prescott, Arizona’s Historical Gem

Downtown Prescott Arizona is a historic small town nestled at the base of the Bradshaw Mountains in Central Arizona. It is located just an hour and a half north of Phoenix and offers an array of activities for visitors and locals alike. From outdoor recreation including hiking, biking, fishing and camping, to culture and entertainment offerings like art galleries, museums and live music venues, Downtown Prescott AZ has something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a place to explore, shop, dine and stay, you can find it all in downtown Prescott. From rustic lodging options to modern, chic eateries, you’ll find the perfect place to get away from it all without compromising on activities and amenities. Whether you’re visiting for a weekend getaway or looking to stay a while and enjoy the true beauty of Prescott, come experience the charm and history of Downtown Prescott AZ.

History of Downtown Prescott

Downtown Prescott is a National Historic Landmark District nestled in the Arizona town of the same name. Since its incorporation in 1864, the town has held on to its historic charm through projects such as the preservation of its iconic buildings, the conservation of its facades, and the regular maintenance of its scenery.

Downtown Prescott is a reminder of early Arizona history and culture. Before Arizona became a state, Prescott served as Arizona’s first Territorial Capital and adopted the motto “Everybody is Somebody in Prescott”.

In 1977, Downtown Prescott was recognized with a National Historic Landmark District status. This designation recognizes the importance of preserving and protecting the iconic architecture and culture of the town’s downtown area in order to keep the town’s history alive.

Preserving the Culture of Downtown Prescott

One of the key components to ensuring the longevity of the National Historic Landmark District status is the coordination and implementation of preservation projects. Scenic Prescott, an organization established in 2012, tackles the challenge of preserving the downtown area’s charm.

The organization’s mission is to protect and promote the downtown area by:

  • Maintaining the historic facade of iconic buildings like the Courthouse Square
  • Increasing public awareness by hosting monthly educational events
  • Planting Colorado seedlings to provide landscaping for historic sites
  • Rejuvenating the downtown area with cultural and entertainment events

Thanks to Scenic Prescott’s efforts, the town has managed to maintain its beloved cultural identity despite changes in the environment. Their exemplary efforts earned the organization the 2017 Arizona Preservation Award.

A Symbol of Pride

The dedication of local residents and town officials to protecting the town’s historical spots has never been more evident than the 2017 unveiling of the plaque commemorating Downtown Prescott’s National Historic Landmark District status. Craig Peterson, a local Prescott resident, spearheaded the effort to recognize the importance of the town’s history with the plaque.

During the unveiling ceremony, Craig Peterson said “Showing our pride in preserving this part of Arizona’s history is an important message to our children and grandchildren that we are still somebody”.

Notable Structures in Downtown Prescott

Downtown Prescott is home to a variety of iconic Arizona architecture and historic sites. Some of the notable structures in the area include the Sharlot Hall Museum, Yavapai County Courthouse and the historic Elks Theatre. Each of these sites is imbued with the town’s unmistakable and unique culture, making them treasures of the cosmopolitan city.

Visiting downtown Prescott and exploring its iconic venues is the perfect way to learn more about the town’s culture and history, as well as appreciate the beauty of its preservation efforts. Events such as the Downtown Prescott Summer Concert Series and the Prescott Summer Film Series offer fun activities that attract both tourists and locals alike.

Two Clear Wine Glasses

Outdoor Activities in Downtown Prescott

As a visitor to Downtown Prescott, Arizona, you will not be left wanting for recreational activities. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely stroll through the picturesque 19th century architecture, or an opportunity to soak in the beauty of the area through camping and hiking, Downtown Prescott AZ has something for everyone to enjoy.

Visiting Historic Courthouse Square

The Historic Courthouse Square is a great place to begin, as you can take in the unique older architecture of the courthouse, theatre, and other buildings. The square is also known for its abundant shopping and dining options, in addition to its array of cultural events and activities.

Kicking Back At Watson Lake

If you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, Watson Lake is the perfect spot to get away. Ideal for swimming, picnicking and kayaking, it offers visitors an opportunity to immerse themselves in the natural beauty of Central Arizona. In addition, Watson Lake has well-kept trails, as well as areas ideal for camping.

Exploring Prescott National Forest

For the more adventurous, head to Prescott National Forest. Here, there are several hiking trails open to the public, giving you the chance to discover the lush and diverse plants and wildlife of the local area.

Attending Local Music Festivals

Lastly, take part in one of the many music festivals held throughout the year in Downtown Prescott. From blues to jazz and bluegrass, these music festivals are a great way for visitors to appreciate the local culture and heritage of the city. So plan your visit to Downtown Prescott soon and explore the natural beauty, compelling architecture, and vibrant music festivals on offer.

downtown prescott az

Cultural Experiences in Downtown Prescott

Prescott offers a huge selection of events and festivals for every attendee to enjoy. Every year, the town hosts the Prescott Christmas Light Parade as well as the Prescott-Tall Poppy Festival. This latter event is particularly meaningful as it is focused on honoring local veterans.

Historical Restaurants

Many restaurants have been serving residents in Downtown Prescott for years, maintaining their original recipes to remain a favorite amongst families. The Palace Restaurant and The Grand Hotel have held their ground and offer an atmosphere steeped in local history. Their menu items are sure to please any diner and might even bring out a hint of nostalgia.


Downtown Prescott is a shopper’s paradise! Local boutiques, specialty shops, and even antique malls, like the Antique Mall, Northern Arizona Trading Post, and Scrapbook Superstore all line the streets. Whether one is searching for something hard to find or simply wants to treat themselves with something unique, downtown Prescott is sure to have something for everyone.

Museums & Historical Sites

The town offers visitors the chance to explore Prescott’s past at its vast number of museums and historical sites. The Sharlot Hall Museum, Fort Whipple Museum and the Smoki Museum are all great places to start. Each museum tells a different story and provides a different perspective on the quaint town’s rich history.

Parks & Outdoors

No visit to Downtown Prescott is complete without exploring the great outdoors. Watson’s Woods provides stunning views and numerous hiking trails. There are also plenty of picnic areas and trails in the vicinity. The Elk Preserve Visitor’s Center is just close by and provides unparalleled opportunities to view animals in their natural habitat.

Group of People Gathering Inside Bar

Shopping Options in Downtown Prescott

Downtown Prescott, Arizona provides an unrivalled range of unique boutiques and one-of-a-kind experiences. From the Red Bison Trading Company, where you can explore a wide selection of vintage and one-off items, to the frontier-style decorations and live music in Whiskey Row Honky Tonk, you can explore what the Wild West was really like.

Not to mention, the town offers plenty of shopping opportunities that don’t cost a thing. Enjoy various public events such as the Prescott Farmer’s Market, which hosts more than 50 vendors selling fresh produce and artisan goods, or the Courthouse Plaza Art and Wine Festival, which offers live entertainment and a wide range of activities such as wine tastings.

You are also bound to find locally produced gifts whenever you visit downtown Prescott. From quilts and pottery to jewelry, books and unique cowboy hats, there’s something here for all tastes.

And if you’re interested in learning more about Prescott’s roots and history, there are plenty of tourist attractions. The Sharlot Hall Museum gives visitors a glimpse of life in the early years of Prescott, while the local theaters and the Phippen Museum provide an insight into the culture of the past.

When it comes to relaxation, downtown Prescott is the ideal pick. After all, the streets are lined with cafés, restaurants and bars, and there’s nothing quite like enjoying a cup of coffee or a cold beer on a summer sunset.

So if you’re looking for the ultimate shopping and relaxation experience, the downtown area of Prescott is sure to have something that you’ll love.

Seafood Neon Light Signage

Local Dining Spots in Downtown Prescott

When looking for the best places to eat in Downtown Prescott customers can be overwhelmed with options. These are five of the best spots in the area to grab a bite to eat.

Restaurant 505

Restaurant 505 is the perfect spot for those seeking a modern take on traditional local dishes, utilizing locally sourced ingredients. This favorite spot of both locals and visitors alike serves up delicious food that is unique and pleasing to the taste. The menu features new twists on favorite dishes such as succulent steaks and Charcuterie plates.

Frontier Wine Bar and Bistro

Located in Downtown Prescott, the Frontier Wine Bar and Bistro offers an extensive wine selection, with something to please all local tastes. Along with a variety of wines, the bistro also offers classic Mediterranean dishes that are sure to satisfy. Customers can enjoy a great evening out with dinner and drinks from the epic Frontier Wine Bar and Bistro.

Pearl’s Place

Pearl’s Place has been a favorite in Downtown Prescott since opening its doors in 1986. If you’re looking for Mexican-inspired dishes or traditional Western delicacies, look no further than Pearl’s Place. All dishes feature fresh, quality ingredients and portions that are sure to satisfy.

Prescott Beer Garden

If you’re a beer enthusiast, you will want to check out the Prescott Beer Garden. This hop spot offers an extensive selection of craft beers. All the beers come from local Prescott-area breweries, so you can try something new and fresh. Enjoy a cold brew, music, and food while dining at Prescott Beer Garden.

American Provisionality

Love homemade comfort food? Stop by American Provisionality to experience a unique menu of classic favorites like burgers, sandwiches, and chili. This spot has something for everyone and is the perfect place to visit for all those craving a comforting home-cooked meal.

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Places to Stay in Downtown Prescott

Headed to Prescott for an Arizona getaway? Make sure to check out the best places to stay in the city’s downtown area. From luxurious hotels to budget-friendly motels, there’s something for everyone in this thriving destination.

The Hassayampa Inn

The Hassayampa Inn is an historic hotel that has been a Prescott favorite since 1927. Located in the heart of downtown, the inn offers guests cozy rooms adorned with antiques and all the modern amenities. Guests will also enjoy the live music and exquisite dining offered by the hotel, as well as its central location near shops, restaurants, and other attractions.

The Inn at 429

Elegant and ornate, the Inn at 429 is a full-service bed and breakfast located near Whiskey Row. Guests will love the convenience of staying close to the city’s nightlife, as well as its relaxed atmosphere and luxurious amenities. From delicious breakfasts to weekly resident events, the Inn at 429 is a great option for travelers interested in a high-end stay.

The Grand Highland Hotel

For a step back in time, travelers can check into The Grand Highland Hotel. Built in the Victorian style, this downtown hotel served as a fire station in the early 1900s and still retains much of its old-world charm. Guests can enjoy beautiful views of Thumb Butte, as well as quick access to shops and eateries within walking distance.

Residence Inn

If you’re looking for a modern accommodation experience in downtown Prescott, don’t miss Residence Inn. This spacious and comfortable hotel features amenities such as a large breakfast buffet, swimming pool, and fitness center. Travelers also appreciate the convenience of the hotel’s location close to downtown attractions, as well as its convenient shuttle service.

Super 8 Prescott

For those who are looking for an economical stay in Prescott, Super 8 Prescott is a great option. This budget-friendly motel is conveniently located near downtown attractions, and offers amenities such as a swimming pool and free continental breakfast. Super 8 is ideal for those who don’t need luxury but still want a clean, comfortable place to stay.

Rancho Sedona RV Park

If you’re traveling with an RV, be sure to check out Rancho Sedona RV Park. Located just a few miles outside downtown Prescott, this full-service RV park offers an array of amenities such as complimentary WiFi and a heated pool. It’s a favorite stopping point for travelers who want a peaceful stay close to the city’s attractions.

People Walking Inside Building

Recreational Attractions Nearby

Do you want to know about downtown Prescott AZ? If yes, then you’re in luck! With its many points of interest and recreational attractions, Prescott AZ is undoubtedly one of the most rewarding places to visit in Arizona.

Sharlot Hall Museum

The Sharlot Hall Museum tells the story of Arizona’s territorial history. The museum’s collections include artifacts and documents that vividly represent the pioneer life of the area. It also boasts several rooms adorned with period antiques.

Courthouse Plaza

The Courthouse Plaza is home to the Yavapai County Courthouse. Designed to reflect the style of the Spanish-American missions, the plaza has become a hot spot for art festivals, seasonal markets, live concerts, and other special events. The plaza was recently remodeled, making it a great place to spend the day.

Watson Lake Park

Watson Lake Park is Prescott AZ’s outdoor mecca. With scenic hiking trails, camping, boating, fishing and stargazing opportunities, this park is a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. A dam located on the lake also features many trails for visitors to enjoy.

Whiskey Row

Whiskey Row is a block on Montezuma Street that has seen a resurgence in its popularity recently. It has served as a home to saloons and merchants since the late 19th century. After its recent restoration, the block now boasts boutiques, galleries, and iconic saloons.

Ruins at Fort Whipple

Fort Whipple was built in the mid-1860s to protect the settlement of Prescott. Now part of the National Historic Landmark, the fort’s ruins serve as a reminder of its otherworldly past. Its remodeled officer’s quarters, parade grounds, and museum tell us even more about the fort’s legacy and impact on the area.

Prescott AZ offers a wide variety of recreational attractions and points of interest for visitors. From the historical buildings and grounds of Fort Whipple to the vibrant and bustling Courthouse Plaza, this Arizona gem is sure to make a lasting impression on all that visit.

Ishim River in Astana, Kazakhstan

Nearby Tourist Hotspots

Prescott, Arizona, is a beautiful and historic city known for its quaint downtown Old West atmosphere. Visitors to downtown Prescott have a variety of places to explore, each with its own charm and attractions! Whether you are looking to explore the outdoors or enjoy a dose of culture, Prescott has something for everyone.

Thumb Butte Park

Just a few miles outside of Downtown Prescott is Thumb Butte Park, a stunning recreational area. Hikers can take advantage of the 4 miles of trails, with many opportunities to explore the park’s gorgeous mountain views, meadows, and lake. Visitors can also enjoy a picnic area and relaxing atmosphere.

Pioneer Park Zoo

Located within walking distance of Downtown Prescott, Pioneer Park Zoo is a great place for families to explore. With a variety of animal exhibits, the park offers a unique experience for each visitor. Animal lovers can also get hands-on with the interactive Wildlife Interpretive Center, where kids can learn about the local animals and the habitats they inhabit.

The Phippen Museum

The Phippen Museum is a must-visit for art lovers. Boasting an expansive collection of Western American art, the museum offers something for everyone. From traditional paintings to unique sculptures and artifacts, visitors can take a journey through the historic Southwest.

Whiskey Row

One of Prescott’s most famous streets is Whiskey Row, a popular spot for shopping and exploration. Visitors can take a stroll down this historic street while they take in the vintage Western-style buildings and the many stores and restaurants along the way.

The StepMasters Downtown

Experience Prescott in a unique way with The StepMasters Downtown. This outdoor staircase tour takes visitors on a journey through the downtown landscape and its historical landmarks. Along the way, visitors can take in all the sights of the city while learning some of its secrets.

The Sharlot Hall Museum

Located in what was the office of Arizona’s first territorial governor, the Sharlot Hall Museum is a great spot to explore early Arizona history. With its immersive exhibits, visitors can experience the culture, lifestyles, and stories of the area’s first settlers.

Veterans Memorial Plaza

Honoring the servicemen and women of the United States Armed Forces, this plaza is a wonderful place to visit in downtown Prescott. With its public statue, it serves as a tribute to those who make the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

Square with walkway and benches in winter

Day Trips from Downtown Prescott

Prescott, Arizona’s majestic mountain town, is filled with a range of outdoor activities and attractions. There’s something for everyone – from hikers and adventurers to creative types and art admirers. And located in the heart of town is Downtown Prescott – a vibrant area offering visitors a unique mix of eclectic shops, restaurants, entertainment, and sights. With so much to do, it’s no wonder why visitors head downtown to explore all that Prescott has to offer.

If this isn’t enough adventure for you, Prescott offers a number of day trips that are perfect for locals and visitors alike. Here are a few of the top day trips from Downtown Prescott:

Sharlot Hall Museum

Located on historic Gurley Street and operated by the City of Prescott, the Sharlot Hall Museum offers an impressive collection of more than 20,000 artifacts, plus a research library and an array of special galleries and programs. Featuring artifacts relating to the area’s history, the museum traces Prescott’s story over the last 170 years.

Thumb Butte

Part of Prescott National Forest, Thumb Butte is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Known for its stunning mountain views, this spot offers a range of activities, such as hiking, mountain biking and rock climbing. And on a clear day, visitors can take in panoramic views of the surrounding landscape from the top.

Heritage Park Zoo

Kids of all ages will love exploring the exotic wildlife at Heritage Park Zoo. This popular attraction is home to more than 500 animals, representing over 100 species from around the world. Plus, there’s plenty to do – such as visiting the petting and feeding area, taking in live animal shows, and enjoying the splash pad playground.

Watson Lake

Snuggled among the Granite Dells, Watson Lake is a popular spot for water enthusiasts. Along with fishing, swimming, and boating, visitors can enjoy stunning views, as well as walking and biking trails. Or, you can take in the beauty of the lake by going on a kayak excursion.

Whipple Observatory

For astronomy fans, Whipple Observatory is a must-see. Located on Mount Francis and operated by Kings College London, this research facility and historic telescope offer breathtaking views of the night sky. Guided tours are available, giving visitors a unique look at the stars, planets and more.

As you can see, there’s plenty to explore in and around Prescott. Time spent downtown is always an adventure, but for those looking for even more excitement, don’t miss out on these day trips from Downtown Prescott.

Top-view Photo of Restaurant

Art Galleries and Museums

Prescott is a paradise for art appreciation and collecting. Located on the historic downtown district of Whiskey Row lies the Gallery on the Green, an artist cooperative gallery dedicated to showcasing the amazing community of local artists. It offers a wide variety of works of art from over 40 different artists, represented in a variety of media.

The Yavapai County Courthouse, located in the downtown area, features a classic Richardsonian Romanesque architectural style and was built in 1889. It serves as an iconic sight and a popular backdrop for many of Prescott’s oldest and most beloved events.

Sharlot Hall Museum, one of the oldest buildings in the town, was constructed in 1889 and offers numerous exhibitions and artifacts that represent the life, experiences and rich history of Prescott. Smoki Museum is another interesting stop. It is a private museum that celebrates the culture of the American Indians and how they coexisted with the Pioneers in the 19th century. Here visitors can find ceremonial masks and pottery from the various tribes.

The Phippen Museum, located next to the Sharlot Hall Museum, is dedicated to displaying the work of famed western artist George Phippen, as well as other works from the Cowboy Artists of America. The artworks pay homage to the tradition of cowboys and ranchers in the 19th century.

Lawsons’ Antique Mall is another unique stop that Prescott offers. Established in 1975, this mall features 70 vendors offering a diverse range of antiques, collectibles and vintage items.


Prescott offers art lovers a paradise. From the iconic Yavapai County Courthouse to the many museums and galleries in the downtown district, there are plenty of attractions and destinations to experience. Whether you’re looking to learn the history of Prescott or appreciate the artwork of the local artisans, there is something for everyone to enjoy in Prescott.

Four Paintings on Wall


Downtown Prescott is an amazing place; its vibrant atmosphere, wide range of activities and attractions, delicious dining sites, and the plethora of historical, cultural and artistic experiences it can provide make it the ideal destination for any kind of traveler. Visitors will definitely be able to find something that best suits their interests, whether they are looking to enjoy some outdoor recreation, shop around, explore historical and cultural sites, or just spend some time relaxing in this quaint and cozy town. Prescott is also close to some other popular tourist destinations, making it the perfect starting point for day trips and excursions throughout Arizona. All in all, Prescott is definitely the right place to be for everyone seeking to experience the old-west charm and hospitality of the Southwest.

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