Located in the pines of Northern Arizona, the historic town of Prescott is a city steeped in culture, entertainment, and outdoor adventure. At the heart of town lies Downtown Prescott and its charming streets, restaurants, shops, and unique experiences, making it the perfect destination to while away a day, a weekend, or even a month’s stay. With its history, lively entertainment and nightlife, incredible shopping, and amazing dining, Downtown Prescott offers something for everyone—including plenty of hidden gems around every corner. Browse through this post to find out why Downtown Prescott is the perfect getaway for locals, visitors, and vacationers alike.
Historical Background of Downtown Prescott
The town of Prescott, Arizona, was established in the summer of 1864, after the establishment of Camp Whipple near the confluence of Granite Creek and the Verde River. A month before the creation of the town, the first post office opened up, and Prescott was its official name. The town was named after the territorial governor of the time, William Hickling Prescott. When it was created, the town didn’t have any official boundaries, but it eventually covered an area of more than four hundred and sixty-five acres.
In keeping with the western traditions, the town was divided into four square city blocks. The central blocks were designated for public buildings, while the other blocks were divided up into twenty lots, each containing a single business.
The first business owners to establish themselves in Prescott included blacksmith smithies, general stores, saloons and bordellos. As more settlers moved in, the city streets soon filled up with more stores, churches, banks and homes.
At one point, there were even several grain mills in downtown Prescott, as well as a rock crushing plant, two breweries and a gas plant. Before long, Prescott was considered an industrial center, and by 1879, it was officially declared the territorial capital of Arizona.
Prescott’s downtown has a unique charm of its own, with its brick-built buildings, Victorians homes and numerous businesses. The most recognizable landmark in downtown Prescott is the Yavapai County Court House, which was built in 1916 in French Second Empire style. This landmark building is lined with Corinthian columns and topped with a grand dome, which makes it the standout feature of downtown Prescott.
The building is also known for its stately clock tower, which stands atop an impressive staircase. Other notable and noteworthy landmarks in downtown Prescott include Prescott’s Fine Arts and Music Center, which was built in 1897, and the Prescott Chamber of Commerce building, also built around that time.
The area around Prescott is also a popular destination for tourists and locals alike, with its wealth of restaurants, shops and entertainment venues. Some of the most popular attractions include the renowned whiskey row and the historic Grand Ave. Among these establishments, visitors can shop for unique wares and souvenirs and enjoy a wide range of activities such as live music performances, art exhibits and dramatic performances.
Impact of Notable Events
Since its founding, Prescott has seen its fair share of events that have had an enormous impact on the city. In 1900, the city was hit by one of the worst fires in its history. The fire started in the business district and quickly spread across downtown Prescott, destroying many of the buildings in its path.
This unfortunately was just the beginning of a series of floods and fires that the city would face over the years. In 1912 and 1915, two more major fires caused further damage to downtown Prescott and forced the townspeople to rebuild once again.
The floods that have impacted the city have also been a major source of damage. The worst of these was in 1938, when the area was completely submerged by up to nine feet of water. In response to the flooding, the government implemented a series of infrastructure improvements to help mitigate similar future events.
Preservation efforts have been undertaken across the city over the years, with organizations such as the Prescott Historical Society leading the way. Founded in 1911, the Prescott Historical Society has been the advocate for historic preservation in the city and has worked to maintain the integrity of its architecture and culture.
The efforts of the Prescott Historical Society have been paramount in making sure that the city still has its original charm and beauty, even if much of it was destroyed by fires and floods. This has also been accomplished through the acquisition and development of existing landmarks, as well as the celebration of the city’s rich heritage through the creation of museums and other historical facilities.
Examples from the Past
The town of Prescott has had a diverse cultural background since its inception, with many different people and cultures having had their impact on the city’s history. One of the native peoples had a great influence on the city’s culture, with thriving fields of cotton and vegetables being grown in the city by the Yavapai and Apache tribes.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Prescott had a large influx of miners and prospectors, who brought with them various cultural influences. They left an indelible mark on the city, with the inclusion of diverse food, architecture and music. They also helped build many of the city’s landmark buildings, bringing much-needed prosperity to the area.
Today, downtown Prescott is an important part of the city’s identity. Many of the city’s historical landmarks are still intact, and the preservation efforts from the Prescott Historical Society have helped to ensure that others may be restored to their former glory.
The downtown area also serves as reminder of the city’s history, with its numerous businesses, monuments and attractions. Additionally, it is a testament to the diverse cultures that have made up Prescott in the past, and the mark they have left on the area’s history.
Preserved and cherished, downtown Prescott is an important part of the city’s identity, and an integral part of understanding its past.
Shopping and Entertainment Options Around Downtown Prescott
Whether you’re from out of town, recently relocated to Prescott, or are a local looking for a fun way to spend a day, the area around downtown offers plenty of activities for both daytime and night-time enjoyment. From live music and restaurant options to museums and shopping, here are some of the local gems you don’t want to miss out on.
The Palace Saloon:
When it comes to exploring historical treasures in downtown Prescott, the Palace Saloon should definitely be at the top of your list. Established in 1877, the Saloon offers an exciting collection of local memorabilia and is a popular destination for both tourists and locals alike. Take a walk through the district, listen to some music and have a cold beer at the bar—the Palace Saloon is definitely a must-visit.
Sharlot Hall Museum:
If you’re looking for a fun and educational day out, be sure to visit the Sharlot Hall Museum. Named after the first female mayor of Prescott, this museum houses an impressive collection of artifacts and artifacts related to the city’s history and culture. As well as offering educational programs, it’s the perfect spot for locals and visitors alike to explore the area’s vibrant past.
Founded in 2010, the Prescott Gallery features the work of over 350 local and regional artists, showcasing a selection of western artworks with every visit. Specializing in traditional and contemporary western art, visitors can explore the gallery’s impressive selection of sculptures, paintings, and photographs, as well as pick up something special from the gift shop.
Hidden Copper Cafe:
If you’re looking for a spot to grab a bite to eat, Hidden Copper Cafe is a perfect option. This cozy indoor cafe is located near the heart of downtown and serves up breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week. On the weekends, the café also often hosts live music, making it a great spot for locals and visitors alike.
Adventure seekers should also make a visit to Skydive Arizona! This facility, located just a short distance from downtown Prescott, offers a jumping point for thrill-seekers looking to skydive in the area. Whether you’re an experienced jumper or looking to experience the adrenaline rush for the first time, Skydive Arizona is sure to be a memorable experience.
Visiting downtown Prescott can be a great way to explore both the historic and entertainment sides of the city! Whether you’re trying out new restaurants, visiting museum exhibits, or looking for a thrilling adventure, there is no shortage of fun things to do in the area.
Outdoor Activities Available in Downtown Prescott
Visitors and locals alike enjoy discovering all the attractions in Downtown Prescott. With miles of trails, historic sites, picturesque scenery, and small town charm, this Arizona town is among the Southwest’s most popular mountain getaways.
Exploring Watson Lake
For many, Watson Lake is the number one attraction in Downtown Prescott – a scenic lake tucked away just north of town. Here, the volcanic rock formations and towering pine trees provide the perfect backdrop for a variety of outdoor activities. From rock climbing and sunbathing on the granite outcroppings to biking, fishing, and kayaking, Watson Lake is a favorite destination for those looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of town. Hiking trails are plentiful around the lake, making it easy to explore the beauty of the area.
Hubbell Trading Post
Located in the heart of Downtown Prescott is the Hubbell Trading Post, a Navajo Trading Post filled with Native American artifacts, art, and crafts. Built in 1878, the historic trading post is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and serves as a reminder of the United States’ western expansion. Visitors can view the grounds, browse the collections, and follow the path of the Navajo people. The trading post is also open to the public as a museum and is a great place to connect with Prescott’s past.
Shine Garden Cafe & Apiary
Perched on top of a cliff overlooking the town of Prescott, Shine Garden Cafe & Apiary is one of the area’s newest additions. This café offers seasonal food and craft beer, in addition to a rooftop patio perfect for relaxation and admiring the view. It’s a popular spot for visitors looking for a bite to eat or a sunset beer, and the friendly atmosphere makes it a great place to meet locals and enjoy conversation.
Downtown Prescott’s historic town square is known as Whiskey Row and is one of the city’s most popular attractions. The site of the oldest functioning courthouse in Arizona, Whiskey Row is now home to many restaurants, local shops, a few saloons, and plenty of entertainment. The Whiskey Row Historic District serves as a reminder of Prescott’s wild western days with buildings exhibiting the pioneer and territorial architecture of the area. On weekend nights, the square comes alive with street vendors, live music, and plenty of people out to enjoy the night.
The Phippen Museum
Dedicated to preserving the art, history, and culture of Prescott, the Phippen Museum is one of the most visited attractions in the city. The museum houses over 1500 works by contemporary cowboy and western artists, in addition to historic pieces from the Southwest and Arizona. It also offers art workshops, summer camps, and special programs year-round. Visitors can learn about the history and culture of the region through the museum’s unrestored Territorial-style home, a recreated western saloon, and a replica of a turn-of-the-century downtown street.
Prescott Rim Trail
Located just north of the city is the Prescott Rim Trail, a popular hiking route boasting panoramic views, striking wildflowers, and desert vistas. The trail follows the ridges of the granite outcrops, providing spectacular views of the town of Prescott and the surrounding mountains. The well-defined path is suitable for hikers of all abilities, with markers that make it easy to follow the route.
The Sharlot Hall Museum
The Sharlot Hall Museum is dedicated to highlighting the history and culture of the Arizona Territory. Established in 1928, the museum showcases the state’s pioneer heritage with collections of artifacts and displays, in addition to offering tours and special performances. The museum also contains a fine art collection with works by American master artists and Arizona-based folk artists.
The Ghost Town of Jerome
Located on the side of a steep hill above Prescott, the once bustling mining town of Jerome is now a popular tourist destination. The old buildings, art galleries, and variety of shops and bars nestled into the hill make it a great spot to explore. At the top of the town, visitors can take in views stretching across the Bradshaw Mountains and the Verde Valley.
Downtown Prescott provides an abundance of attractions, activities, and sites perfect for exploring. From the breathtaking scenery, historic sites, and small town charm, this Arizona town is a gem of southwest mountain getaways. Whether it’s a visit to one of the museums, a hike around Watson Lake, or a night out on Whiskey Row, there’s something for everyone in Downtown Prescott.
Cultural Experiences Around Downtown Prescott
Prescott is a vibrant city filled with an exciting and unique culture. There are so many things to do downtown; it can be hard to choose what to explore. From historic tours to shopping, to live music and public art, it is easy to find something that will fit your interest.
Take a guided tour of the historic downtown and explore the area’s fascinating past. Learn about the Court House Plaza, Whiskey Row and many other sights that are recognized as national historic places. Tours are the perfect way to really get to understand the city’s important formation centuries ago and its extraordinary heritage today.
Throughout downtown, visitors are welcomed by Prescott’s culture in the form of public sculptures. From an antelope herd of metal wine glasses to a mural honoring firemen in the Civic Center, these art pieces have been inspiring locals and tourists alike for years. Boris Kramer’s “Land Sharks” at Courthouse Square is an especially popular attraction, sure to leave a lasting impression.
Whatever kind of music you might be into, there’s something for everyone in downtown Prescott. Restaurants and bars alike showcase local, original music acts of many genres, ranging from jazz and folk to pop and rock. The renowned Raven Café is the most popular spot for small music venues and should definitely not be missed.
Book Shops & Art Galleries
Take a stroll down Cortez Street and explore the various shops and galleries. From locally crafted jewelry and pottery to rare antique books, it’s guaranteed that an interested shopper can find something special. Featuring handmade items and works of art from local artisans, these shops are the perfect place to find unique souvenirs to take home.
Downtown Prescott is a paradise for thrifters, antique lovers, and bargain hunters. With multiple vintage clothing shops and pop-up markets, your shopping experience is bound to be special. A variety of local wares are at your fingertips in downtown Prescott, from second-hand clothing to antiques and handmade jewelry.
Unique Dining Opportunities Around Downtown Prescott
Downtown Prescott is home to some of the best dining in Arizona. From Mexican dishes to comfort foods and everything in between, this city has something to suit everyone’s taste. Whether you’re looking for a hearty breakfast or a light and healthy lunch spot, there’s something here for you. Here are five unique dining opportunities that every visitor to Downtown Prescott should check out:
The Palace Restaurant & Saloon- An Iconic Downtown Prescott Breakfast
The Palace Restaurant & Saloon has been an iconic destination in Downtown Prescott for many years. This old-style saloon has been featured in numerous Westerns, and is known for having the liveliest breakfast offering in the city. With hearty breakfast platters, made-to-order omelets, and mouth-watering pancakes, The Palace is the ideal spot for an energizing and leisurely breakfast.
Local More and More – Serving Authentic Mexican Dishes and Fisherman’s Plates
Local More and More is a local favorite that has become a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. Offering authentic Mexican dishes like tacos, burritos and their famous Fisherman’s Plate, Local More and More is the place to go for a true Mexican dining experience. For those looking for lighter menu offerings, there are many fresh salads and veggie dishes to choose from.
Knowledge is Power Café – Dedicated to Organic Development, Serving Organic, Local Meals
Knowledge is Power Café is a Downtown Prescott gem that serves organic, local and sustainably-sourced meals. This café is dedicated to organic development and conscious living, offering menu items that use organically-sourced ingredients. Its menu is constantly changing due to seasonal availability, and its specials often include homemade desserts and beverages as well.
Gurley Street Grill – A Fusion of Flavors and Flavourful Cuisines
Gurley Street Grill is a great option for lovers of international cuisine. This restaurant offers a unique fusion of flavours, and their menu includes everything from Mexican to Italian and beyond. With a range of appetizing and budget-friendly lunch dishes, Gurley Street Grill is ideal for those looking for something a bit different.
The Barley Hound – Serving Craft Beers and Comfort Foods
Finally, The Barley Hound is a must-visit for beer-lovers. Offering an extensive selection of craft beers from across the world, The Barley Hound also serves up delicious comfort foods like burgers and fries, as well as tasty sides and salads. Perfect for a light lunch or an evening of beer-tasting, The Barley Hound is a great place to kick back and relax.
So if you’re looking to explore Downtown Prescott’s dining scene, there’s no shortage of unique and delicious options to choose from. Whether you are after a hearty meal or a light and healthy lunch spot, you can find something to suit your tastes in Downtown Prescott.
The Nightlife Scene Around Downtown Prescott
Exploring Prescott late-night yields unique experiences that I can’t find anywhere else. Mingling with locals and listening to live music, while indulging in craft beers and cocktails, make for a lively evening. From downtown bars to burger joints, the Prescott nightlife scene provides locals and visitors with a casual opportunity to mingle and chat with the people that make up the downtown community.
Local Live Music
Not only does Prescott have several smaller music venues that feature regular live music lineups, but the atmosphere is electric. I’ve loved running around town checking out Crow’s Feet Commons, The Avenue Bar, and several other cozy music spots. Crowds flock from all corners of downtown to catch up on some classic rock, jazz, or hip hop.
Craft Beer & Wine
I always save a bit of room for craft beer and wine pairings on my night out in Prescott. The Grand Depot Cafe and Whiskey Row Brewing and Historical Taproom offer unique atmospheres and my favorite beverages and foods. It’s the perfect place to share stories with friends and discuss the happenings of the day.
I’m a big fan of the craft cocktails that Prescott offers up. Wingfield’s Saloon and Grill on Whiskey Row offers traditional cocktails with a Southern twist. It’s rich with history, as it once was frequented by Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp. I love sharing stories with my friends and discovering the history behind this stellar spot.
After Hours Activities
For those still looking for activities after the bars close, Downtown Prescott offers a selection of late-night cafes and bowling alleys for a bit of fun. It’s always nice to grab a couple of drinks at Barley Hound and then head to Stumble Inn for some of Prescott’s classic homemade snacks. Nothing quite compares to the laughter, music, and food available in Prescott’s nightlife scene.
Local Events Hosted in Downtown Prescott
Downtown Prescott is a hub full of activity and entertainment, so it’s no wonder why locals and visitors alike flock to the area. Every season, Downtown Prescott plays host to numerous events, activities, and festivals that bring top-notch entertainment, unique crafts and goods, and plenty of food and drink options. Attending one of these events is a great way to get acquainted with the local city and all its attractions. Here are some of the local events you can enjoy in Downtown Prescott.
Farmer’s and Ranchers Market
The Farmer’s and Ranchers market takes place every Sunday from May-December in Downtown Prescott. It’s a great way to get fresh, locally grown produce and homemade goods for your table. You can also find artwork, handmade crafts, clothing, and more. And at the market, you’ll be able to mingle with locals and chat with local farmers and artisans while exploring all that the market has to offer.
Prescott Summer Concert Series
Courthouse Square in Downtown Prescott springs to life with live musical performances featuring both local and national artists at the Prescott Summer Concert Series. Whether you love country, jazz, rock, classical, or even genre-blending music, there’s something for everyone. Spend a beautiful evening outdoors, listening to amazing music in the heart of the city.
For something a bit different, check out Whiskey Off-Road. It’s a mountain bike race featuring a unique mix of entertainment, fun, and competition for riders of all levels. The event has games, music, and even entertainment for all ages. Beer, bacon and more, are also available for attendees to enjoy.
Prescott Fine Art & Wine Festival
Every April, Downtown Prescott is home to the Fine Art & Wine Festival. At this event, you can shop for unique works of art, sample from various wineries, and listen to live entertainment. From sculptures, to paintings, to handcrafted furniture, you’re sure to find something great to add to your art collection.
Prescott Jubilee Festival
The Prescott Jubilee Festival is a free, outdoor celebration meant for all ages. You’ll find vendors, music, and plenty of different entertainment and activities throughout the event. Admission and parking are free, so there’s no excuse not to come out and enjoy the celebration in Downtown Prescott.
No matter what time of year you’re visiting, you’ll find something unique and exciting happening in Downtown Prescott. From markets, to concerts, to festivals, there’s something available to entertain anyone. Be sure to make time to check out some of the events that this lively city has to offer.
Hidden Gems Around Downtown Prescott, AZ
When exploring Downtown Prescott, Arizona, there’s a wide array of unique attractions and activities to keep you busy. From historical locations to cozy cafes, there are so many wonderful spots to visit! Here are five of the best hidden gems to check out while in Downtown Prescott.
Sharlot Hall Museum
The Sharlot Hall Museum is a fantastic historic landmark in Downtown Prescott. Showcasing artifacts and exhibits that highlight the city’s heritage and history, its a great spot for tourists and locals alike. The museum also has many educational programs for children and adults – perfect for those interested in learning about Prescott’s past!
Whiskey Row is a lively street lined with over a dozen establishments in Downtown Prescott. A popular stop for cowboys and settlers long ago, Whiskey Row is full of character and history. Take a stroll down the street for some of the best shopping, eating and drinking spots around!
Looking for a cozy cafe? Then be sure to check out the Marketplace Cafe, which offers a variety of items crafted with local, seasonal ingredients. Perfect for brunch, lunch or dinner, the welcoming atmosphere of the cafe will make you feel right at home.
If you’re looking to take in a bit of nature while exploring Downtown Prescott, be sure to check out Goblin Garden. This idyllic outdoor oasis boasts imaginative sculptures and statues dotting its grounds. Take a leisurely walk amidst its tranquil scenery and relaxing environment.
Antiques at Prescott Trading Company
Downtown Prescott also contains some of the best antique shopping around. Antiques at Prescott Trading Company is full to the brim with unique trinkets, relics and souvenirs. Trust us when we say you won’t be able to leave empty-handed!
Irving Green School
On top of all these spots, the Irving Green School is a fantastic place to visit while in Downtown Prescott. Built in 1907, this historical landmark is frequently used as a filming location for western movies. Take a step back in time and explore this charmingly-preserved building.
To conclude, Downtown Prescott is full of great attractions and activities for tourists and locals alike. Be sure to check out these five gems for a truly wonderful experience!
As you can see, Downtown Prescott, AZ offers a variety of engaging experiences and opportunities for visitors, as well as locals. Whether you’re looking to explore the city’s historical background, shop and be entertained, partake in outdoor activities, experience the culture of the region, try new and unique dining options, explore the night life, attend a local event, or discover the city’s hidden gems, Downtown Prescott won’t disappoint.
Considering its well-rounded mix of attractions, central location, and friendly community, it’s no surprise that Downtown Prescott, AZ has earned its coveted place as a top destination on the map. If you’re in the area, I highly recommend stopping by and checking it out!
I’m passionate about exploring the world and helping others do the same. My interest in travel began 15 years ago, and since then I’ve been to over 40 countries. In recent years, I’ve become an expert in collecting miles and points to take advantage of amazing deals, and I even started a small consulting firm to teach others how to maximize them. I want to share my expertise so others can take advantage of the same savings and experiences that I have. Let’s explore the world together!