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Best Places in Prescott

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Prescott, Arizona is an amazing destination located at approximately 5,300 feet. Locals will tell residents that Prescott has four seasons, and sometimes even snowfalls in winter. Clear lakes and Ponderosa pines tower over the hills and forests.

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There are so many things to do in this area, including hiking, camping, boating, and fishing.

The city is a former capital of Arizona Territory and has many historical attractions. Museums in the area also focus on the history and art of the American Southwest. Although winter is mild, the city experiences cool temperatures in winter. Visitors should plan accordingly.

Historic Downtown/Courthouse Plaza

The 1916 courthouse is located in Prescott’s Historic District. It takes up an entire block of Prescott. The Rough Rider Monument is an equestrian statue by Bucky O’Neill that stands in front of the courthouse.

The Courthouse Plaza is a neighborhood known for its street-side restaurants and shops. There are plenty of things to do in the area. If you’re visiting Prescott for the first time, this is a great spot to begin your visit. It is easy to walk around the downtown area, where you will find many top attractions such as Sharlot Hall or the Elks Opera Hall.

You should visit Prescott’s Courthouse Plaza in December to see the amazing Christmas decorations. Prescott is Arizona’s Christmas capital.

Watson Lake

Watson Lake is one of Prescott’s most striking areas. Contrast the dark blue water with the boulders and orange granite hills that surround the lake, and the small rock islands that rise in the middle, and you can see the stark contrast.

You can enjoy a stunning view of the lake from Watson Lake Park. This area is near the boat ramp, and the start of the looping hiking trail.

The area offers a variety of recreational activities, including canoeing, kayaking, fishing, hiking, camping, and canoeing. The lake is not suitable for swimming. From spring through fall, you can rent a kayak at the park office. The lake and park are very popular in the summer.

Sharlot Hall Museum

The Sharlot Hall Museum, located in downtown Prescott, is comprised of both historic buildings and modern exhibits. The museum displays the history of Prescott, Arizona Territory and its surrounding area from prehistoric times through the present. It also includes information about Prescott’s role as the capital of the Arizona Territory during the 1860s.

The main building is where tours start. Here you’ll find a display of dinosaur bones as well as recreations that show the enormous animals that once roamed the area.

After that, you will be able to walk through Prescott’s first governor’s residence, and several other beautifully preserved buildings. Each building has its own role in Prescott’s development.

Docents can be found in most main buildings and are available to answer any questions.

Address: 415 W. Gurley Street in Prescott, Arizona

Hiking

Prescott is located at the Prescott National Forest’s edge. It is surrounded with beautiful natural areas that are perfect for hiking. This area is ideal for hikers looking to do short or long-term excursions.

Watson Lake and Lynx Lake Rec Area are three of the most picturesque hiking areas in the city. The Watson Lake Loop Trail, and the Thumbbutte Trail are two of the most visited hikes in Prescott .

Prescott is located at 5,300 feet elevation, which makes it cooler than Phoenix and Tucson. This makes it an ideal hiking destination in the warmer months when temperatures are too high to hike at lower elevations.

Lynx Lake Recreation Area

This area is located on the edge Prescott and offers a great place to walk, have a picnic or rent a kayak. You can also camp here. The blue lake at the bottom of the hills is the main attraction.

The lake is surrounded by a walking trail that runs along the shoreline and through lush pine forests. A campground is located above the lake, and has easy trails that provide quick access to the shore.

The day use area can be accessed by paying a small fee. You can also use the day-use area if you camp at Lynx lake Campground.

Phippen Museum

This museum is named after George Phippen, a sculptor and painter from the American Southwest. The museum features a variety of sculptures and paintings by well-known artists.

The gallery at the Arizona Rancher and Cowboy Hall of Fame, which showcases unique items, is particularly noteworthy. There are a variety of rotating exhibits at the museum that change every three to four months.

Make sure you check out the unique metal sculptures that are on the museum grounds, and the huge work at the center of the traffic circle just in front of it.

Address: 4701 Highway 89 North Prescott, Arizona

Official site: http://phippenartmuseum.org/

Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary

Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary is known for its extraordinary collection of native animals and interactive programs that allow visitors to get up close and personal.

Every day, a Wallaby Walkabout is held along with the Kiwanis Korner Animal Encounter. You should also check out the Tarantula Grotto and daily tiger/black bear feeding shows.

Breakfast with the Animals, Boo At the Zoo on Halloween and a Santa visit close to Christmas are some of the special events. It is located near Willow Lake, and offers picnic areas as well as a children’s play area.

Address: 1403 Heritage Park Road Prescott, Arizona

Official site: http://www.heritageparkzoo.org/

Thumb Butte Hiking Trail

The trail to Thumb Butte is one of the most well-known hiking trails in Prescott. You can see the valley from the top, as well as rolling hills covered in Ponderosa pines.

The hike is steady and should be done in a clockwise direction. You will need to be fit enough to complete the trail. There are some steep sections.

A small monument to the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots firefighters who died in the 2013 Yarnell Fire is located at the top. The trail is paved in sections, and interpretive plaques are placed along the route to highlight the local fauna and flora.

The Smoki Museum

The Smoki Museum is housed in a striking stone building and explores the history of Native Americans who lived on these lands for hundreds of years. You’ll find a remarkable collection of pottery and footwear, jewelry, petroglyphs baskets, and carvings.

Information plaques are placed on the pieces, explaining the significance of each artifact. The Smoki Museum Trading Post offers a great selection of Native American jewelry to purchase as a souvenir if you feel inspired.

Address: 147 N. Arizona Avenue, Prescott, Arizona

Official website: www.smokimuseum.org

Elks Theatre Opera House

This building is easily identifiable in downtown Prescott thanks to the large elk at the top of Elks Theatre. The theater was built in 1905 and is full of character and history. However, it has been upgraded in 2010 to become a prominent venue.

The theater hosts a wide range of tribute bands and musical performances.

On certain days of week, you can tour the facility. Your tour guide will wear a period costume and you can visit the facility at any time. It has been beautifully restored to its former glory. If you have the time, take the opportunity to enjoy a show while touring the hall.

Address: 117 E. Gurley Street in Prescott, Arizona

Official site: http://www.prescottelkstheater.com/

Wolf Creek Falls

The hike to Wolf Creek Falls takes less than one mile round trip. This is a great family outing in Prescott. Wolf Creek plunges from a ledge to a small pool, then descends through boulders.

If you feel the need to cool off, there is a small pool at the base. For expansive views of the surrounding forests, if you’re feeling energetic, climb up to the top.

Spring is the best time to visit the waterfalls, as the water will be plentiful. The falls can often dry out in the summer. You can also hike up to the falls during winter to see the amazing icicles.

It is mostly flat with a short section at the end. You can access the trail via Forest Road 384, just past Upper and Lower Wolf Creek Campgrounds.

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