Prescott, Arizona, is a historic western town just 100 miles north of Downtown Phoenix. Even though cities like Flagstaff and Sedona might be better known, Prescott offers a unique charm and hospitality that other cities in Arizona simply can’t match!
Nearly 43,000 people live in Prescott, so it’s not a small town by any means. However, this list of the best things to do in Prescott mostly includes places that are located in Downtown Prescott, the quaint, historic part of the most popular city with tourists.
In my opinion, the best things to do in Prescott fit together perfectly into one jam-packed day trip. Every time I visit Prescott, I do all (or at least a combination!) of the things on this list.
To make the most of your day trip, I suggest leaving Phoenix between 7 AM to 8 AM. If you’re heading to Prescott from Downtown Phoenix, it should take anywhere from 90 minutes to two hours to get there.
Best Time to Visit Prescott
April – October is the ideal time to take advantage of the best things to do in Prescott. However, visiting Prescott for Christmas in December is another phenomenal time to experience the town!
Distance from Phoenix
The 6 Best Things to Do in Prescott During Your Day Trip from Phoenix
1. Coffee at The Porch Prescott or Wild Iris
Estimated Time: 30 minutes
I always stop for coffee first thing after arriving in Prescott. Downtown Prescott is home to two local coffee shops that I absolutely adore. Honestly, if they were located in Phoenix, I would frequent both of them!
The first coffee shop I love is called The Porch Prescott. The Porch is a spacious, farmhouse-style local coffee shop that’s only been around since 2017. The shop gets its name from a cozy, indoor hallway with tons of natural lighting that makes it feel like your sitting on someone’s front porch.
In my opinion, the adorable décor makes this coffee shop worth the visit, but their food and drinks are just as good, too. I usually order an almond milk latte, but my favorite part about visiting The Porch is ordering their crepes—my favorite is with fresh berries. They also make homemade scones and quiche with unique flavors—like lemon lavender and chicken & chile.
My other favorite Prescott coffee shop is called Wild Iris Coffeehouse and Bakery. Wild Iris is a charming, eclectic coffee shop that has dog-friendly patio seating and an extensive menu.
Wild Iris has a HUGE array of homemade pastries and desserts and a sizable brunch menu with yummy sandwiches, soups, and salads. Their coffee and tea menu has lots of delicious and unique options, and they have a monthly specials menu that’s always changing, too. I ordered a caramel oat milk latte (half sweet!) and thought it was delicious!
Overall, I would recommend visiting The Porch if you’re looking for a relaxing place to sip on a cup of coffee since they have tons of indoor seating. The seating at Wild Iris is more limited, but it’s a great choice if you’re looking to order breakfast and take your coffee with you on the go!
2. Kayaking at Watson Lake
Estimated Time: 3 hours
Now that you’re caffeinated and awake, it’s time to escape the desert heat at Watson Lake!
Watson Lake is a located just five miles from Downtown Prescott and is one of the best things to do in Prescott during the hot summer months. It’s a popular place for fishing, paddle boarding, kayaking, canoeing, hiking, rock climbing, camping, and picnicking. After paying the $3 parking fee, you’ll have access to all the park offers.
What makes Watson Lake unique are the giant granite boulders surrounding the lake’s deep, blue waters. They are truly magnificent and are so fun to explore!
Kayaking is my favorite way to spend the day at Watson Lake. You can bring your own kayak or rent a kayak from Prescott Outdoors. Their rates are super reasonable—tandem kayaks cost $20 for the first hour and $15 for each additional hour, and solo kayaks cost $15 for the first hour and $10 for each extra hour.
I love kayaking out to the unique rock formations, parking the kayak to enjoy a snack or drink, and then climbing up on the rocks! They offer some incredible views. Just hanging out on the boulders and enjoying the views is one of the best things to do in Prescott!
Obviously, kayaking is most enjoyable during the spring, summer, and early fall before the weather is too cold. If you’re visiting during the winter and still want to see Watson Lake, I would recommend skipping the water activities and opt for hiking Peavine Trail that runs around the lake.
There’s also a frisbee golf course that runs around the lake! It’s a fun activity to enjoy that gives you great views of the lake while doing something active. The photo below is the view from one of the holes on the frisbee golf course!
3. Lunch at Prescott Brewing Company or Farm Provisions
Estimated Time: 1 hour
Once you finish kayaking, you’ll probably be ready for lunch. My top recommendation for lunch in Prescott is Prescott Brewing Company!
Prescott Brewing Company is a casual brewpub concept located on Gurley Street in Downtown Prescott. Some highlights on their diverse menu (which looks like a newspaper!) are the PCB Chili Bowl, Frontier Fajitas, Aztex Brisket Sandwich, and PCB’s Pub Burger.
Personally, I love the Burmeister Burger—it’s essentially a burger topped with spinach artichoke dip. Does it sound strange? Yes. But does it taste amazing? Absolutely!
Something to note: Prescott Brewing Company doesn’t have outdoor seating. If you’re looking for a place to sit outside, I would recommend Farm Provisions!
Farm Provisions offers a seasonal menu that features fresh, local products. They have tons of gluten-free and vegan options, as well. Their patio is also dog-friendly, which was very convenient when we were visiting Prescott with our pup!
I ordered the Buffalo Chicken Sandwich, and it was delicious! The buffalo sauce is made in-house. They also have amazing sweet potato waffle fries that are so crispy and delicious. Their drink menu is diverse, too. They serve lots of local beers, unique cocktails, and have an excellent selection of wines.
4. Mead Tasting at Superstition Meadery
Estimated Time: 1 hour
After lunch, head to Superstition Meadery for a mead tasting! Honestly, I am convinced that this place is Prescott’s hidden gem. I have been to Prescott dozens of times and only discovered that it’s one of the best things to do in Prescott the last time I visited!
To find the Meadery, you’ll have to walk into the Spice Traveler (which you should also check out!). Once you’re in the store, look for a staircase, and walk down. You’ll feel like you’ve been transported to a new place—the quaint, quiet mead cellar has a mellow vibe.
Superstition Meadery has introduced over 200 unique meads and hard ciders since 2012. If you’re not familiar with mead, it’s honey and water fermented by yeast, but it can also be flavored with fruits, spices, grains, or hops.
If you’re traveling with someone, I recommend splitting the flight of twelve meads for $24 for the best value. However, you can also choose which meads to sample from their vast menu selection. The menu options can be overwhelming, so I recommend asking the bartender for some guidance.
I tried the Marion (notes of blackberry, raspberry, and blueberry) and Strawberry Peanut Butter Jelly Crime (strawberry, blueberry, and peanut mead aged in strawberry white barrels), and they were both delicious!
5. Shopping at Courthouse Square
Estimated Time 1 hour
One of the best things to do in Prescott, AZ, is checking out the shops in the Courthouse Square. Here are all the stops I recommend stopping at during your afternoon in Prescott!
This is such a fun kitchen store that sells spices, olive oils, herbs, jams, and jellies. It’s also where the Meadery is located!
This small shopping mall with a candy store, vintage boutique, handcrafted beauty care products store, and more is fun to walk around. This is where Prescott Brewing Company is located!
Hotel St. Michael
Located on Whiskey Row, this iconic hotel has been around since the 19th century. You can book a night here if you decide to spend the night in Prescott, or you can walk through the shops in the lobby. My favorite is the Old Sage Bookshop!
This is a fun store to check out for western-themed gifts and Prescott souvenirs. It’s one of the best things to do in Prescott to get a feel for the culture of the town! Plus, you can check out all the awesome, authentic cowboy boots and hats.
Treat Center on Courthouse Square
This old school candy store is the best place to stop for ice cream in Prescott! I am still obsessed with the white chocolate coconut ice cream I ordered here and would 100% recommend it. They also sell delicious homemade fudge and gourmet popcorn.
6. Christmas Parade & Courthouse Lighting
If you’re traveling to “Arizona’s Christmas City” during the holiday season, I highly recommend visiting on the first Saturday of December for the annual Christmas Parade and Courthouse Lighting. This isn’t only one of the best things to do in Prescott during the holidays—it’s one of the best things to do in Arizona!
Each year, the city hosts a festive Christmas Parade in downtown Prescott, featuring creative floats by local businesses and organizations, festive lights, and Santa!
And of course, you can’t miss the Yavapai County Courthouse Lighting—an annual tradition for over 60 years. Once it gets dark, everyone gathers around the Courthouse to anticipate the magical Christmas lights to turn on to kick-off the holiday season.
Both of these events are free and are an excellent addition to your Prescott day trip itinerary during the Christmas season! I recommend staying the night in Prescott after this event—it ends late in the evening, and the traffic back to Phoenix is usually a nightmare.
The Perfect Prescott Day Trip
There you have it—my recommendations for the best things to do in Prescott during your day trip from Phoenix!
If you arrive in Prescott by 10 AM, you should be able to head home around 4 PM—just in time for dinner!
Or, if you’d like to extend your Northern Arizona road trip, you can drive 60 miles (about an hour and a half) to Sedona. If you visit, check out my blog post about the best things to do in Sedona!
Which of these best things to do in Prescott would be your favorite? Or, better yet, do you have anything to add to the list? Let me know in the comments!
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