Prescott is an historic city south of Williams, the gateway to the Grand Canyon, and southwest of the popular towns of Sedona, Jerome and Cottonwood. I drove down after my train trip to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. In 1864, Prescott was designated as the capital of the Arizona Territory before it was moved to Tucson in 1867. Prescott again became the Territorial Capital in 1877, until Phoenix became the capital in 1889.
Mountain men and trappers first came to the area followed by miners, lumberjacks and cowboys. Prescott was a stereotypical “wild west” town during the latter half of the 19th century. Famous residents included Doc Holliday and Virgil Earp, brother of Wyatt Earp. The area was also visited by Georgia O’Keefe, Alfred Stieglitz, Mable Dodge and D.H. Lawrence
Located at an elevation of 5,200 ft., it is surrounded by ponderosa pine forests and giant granite boulders along with hiking and biking trails. Here you can find wonderful views, mountains, lakes, streams and rolling meadows filled with wildlife. In the historic city you will find local microbreweries, distilleries and restaurants serving both comfort and modern cuisine.
My top recommendations of where to eat, stay and what do to include:
Hassayampa Inn: Located downtown a block from the Courtyard Square at 122 E. Gurley St., this is an historic hotel that is part of the National Trust Historic Hotels of America. It opened in 1927 and has hosted Will Rogers, Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, Steve McQueen, Joan Rivers, Alec Baldwin, The Beach Boys, Tom and Dick Smothers, John McCain and Barry Goldwater.
I had a very nice updated room with a king bed. Downstairs, the Peacock Room is their upscale restaurant. I had an excellent dinner of grilled pear salad, mussels in a smoky tomato broth and a perfect glass of rosé wine. I also had a great breakfast the next morning. There is also the Territorial Cafe for coffee and pastries, the Glass Bar plus an outside patio often with life music.
Whiskey Row: An historic part of downtown, Whiskey Row contains many saloons and bars from the Gold Rush era that were rebuilt on this street after being destroyed by a fire in 1900.
Palace Restaurant & Saloon: Opened in 1877 on Whiskey Row downtown, this is the oldest business and older bar operating in the state of Arizona. In 1883 it was destroyed by a fire and re-opened in 1884. It has a fun vibe and classic decor. The menu features burgers, sandwiches, tacos, soups, salads, steaks and other entrees. They also have a back patio for outside seating. 120 S. Montezuma St.
At 112 S. Montezuma St., Matt’s Saloon, from 1962, is another fun spot for drinks and live music.
Across from Whiskey Row is Courthouse Square, an historic plaza from 1864. You will find the courthouse from 1916.
Grama’s Bakery: Located at 207B W. Gurley St., this is a fun spot for cookies, pies, cakes and other treats.
Frozen Frannies for great frozen yogurt and ice cream, coffee drinks and pastries. I highly recommend the pistachio almond ice cream. 104 W. Gurley St.
I also enjoyed Praline’s of Prescott for chocolates and gelato. 112 W. Gurley St.
Flying Leap Vineyards Winery Tasting Room & Art Gallery: This is a branch of Flying Leap Vineyards located two blocks west of Whiskey Row. In the past, I have enjoyed tasting their wines in Elgin and Tubac. In addition to wines, they make a number of distilled spirits. 124 Granite St.
Next door is Wild Iris Coffee House & Bakery. This is a fun, casual coffee shop serving coffee, drinks, pastries plus breakfast and lunch items from quiche, frittatas and sandwiches. I liked the vibe and the large/attractive outdoor patio.
The Old Firehouse Plaza: This is a popular destination for dining and shopping that was created out of an old firehouse. Make sure to stop in at Black Butterfly Artisan Chocolates in suite 102. I really loved the dark chocolate bark and enjoyed meeting the owner Tracy Taylor. 218 W. Goodwin St. I also enjoyed Olde World Bakery at 220 W Goodwin St Suite 1.
Lone Spur Cafe: With a cowboy theme, this is a casual cafe open for breakfast, lunch and dinner that serves classic American dishes. 106 W. Gurley St.
Raven Cafe: At the recommendation of a local at Wild Iris Coffee House & Bakery, I found Raven Cafe. I had another spot in mind, but she told me not to miss this casual cafe and I was glad I went. They feature coffee drinks, organic and local foods plus craft beers, ciders, meads and wine. I loved my smoked salmon bagel sandwich which I ate on their upstairs terrace with great views of downtown. I highly recommend it. They also feature live music at night. 142 N. Cortez St.
The Dinner Bell Cafe has been a local institution since 1939. Open for breakfast and lunch. 321 W. Gurley St.
Prescott has many cultural activities. There are concerts at the historic Elks Theatre & Performing Arts Center, from 1905, at 117 E. Gurley St. and the Yavapai College Performing Arts Center at 1100 E. Sheldon. In addition there are festivals, art and craft fairs, farmers markets and the 4th Friday Art Walks featuring local gallery exhibits.
Prescott is home to the World’s Oldest Rodeo dating back from July 4, 1888. Now held annually during the Fourth of July weekend, the rodeo is combined with the Prescott Frontier Days. During this week-long event, there are a variety of family-friendly activities, including dances, parades and arts and craft shows. At the rodeo you will see bull riding, steer wrestling, roping and barrel racing.