A Weekend of Paradise in Prescott, Arizona

Explore Arizona's high desert oasis, Prescott! Whether you spend your day hiking, biking, boating, or exploring the historic downtown, you'll be sure to enjoy every moment. Tucked into the pine forests and granite rock formations, Prescott offers an escape from the desert heat and a chance to relax by serene Watson Lake. Learn about local Indigenous and natural history on your adventures to truly appreciate this unique area in Northern Arizona.


If you’re looking for a unique Southwestern destination where desert meets forest, look no further than Prescott, Arizona. At an elevation of about 5,300 feet (1,600 meters), Prescott is the perfect place to escape the summer heat and enjoy shady pine forests and serene lakes. In addition to its outdoor recreation opportunities, Prescott is steeped in history—from its establishment as the Arizona Territory capital in 1864 and its Wild West days to its rich cultural heritage through the Indigenous tribes that have called the area home. Plan a weekend stay in Prescott and get a taste of this slice of Arizona paradise.

This story was created in partnership with Visit USA Parks.

Day 1: Exploring Historic Downtown Prescott

Start your trip at the Prescott Visitor Center, located in the heart of historic downtown. Here, you can pick up maps and brochures and get some local tips from the friendly staff. From there, take a leisurely walk around downtown. Explore Courthouse Plaza and its surrounding streets, filled with charming shops, art galleries, and historic buildings. Van Gogh’s Ear is a unique gallery filled with locally made pieces of various mediums that you definitely won’t find anywhere else!

Spend the late afternoon walking or biking the Greenways Trail, which weaves through the city and offers a peaceful escape with its green spaces and scenic views. Look out for the incredible murals on the walls across the creek as you walk. Near the end of the trail, stop for dinner at El Gato Azul. This eclectic eatery offers a variety of tapas, salads, and entrees that you can enjoy in their patio space overlooking the creek.

Just a short walk up the street is the famous Whiskey Row, known for its lively bars, unique shops, and vibrant history. Stop by the Palace Restaurant and Saloon for a drink and a taste of the Old West. End your first day in Prescott by checking into the Motor Lodge. This funky and vibrant hotel offers covered parking for vehicles and retro-inspired rooms that are sure to add some color to your stay!

Day 2: Outdoor Oasis

Start your second day at the Wild Iris Coffeehouse before heading out for a hike on the Constellation Loop Trail. This 2.4-mile loop offers beautiful views of the Granite Dells and is suitable for all skill levels. After your hike, pack a picnic and head to Watson Lake for a relaxing lunch with stunning views of the lake and surrounding rock formations. There are numerous trails that surround the lake for more hiking opportunities. If you’re looking to get out on the lake, you can rent a kayak or paddleboard, go fishing, or simply relax by the water. While swimming is prohibited in the lake, that won’t limit you from having an enviable afternoon. There is also a campground at Watson Lake if you decide to extend your stay into the evening to experience the iconic sunset over the granite spires and the epic stargazing at night.

Day 3: Connecting to Prescott’s Roots

Start your last day with a mountain biking adventure. The Prescott area has numerous trails suitable for all levels. Consider riding the Peavine Trail or the Prescott Circle Trail for some exciting terrain and beautiful scenery. After pedaling to your heart’s content, enjoy a hearty lunch at Colt Grill for some mouthwatering barbecue.

Fill your afternoon with natural and human history at the Highlands Center for Natural History, located in the Prescott National Forest. Take a guided nature walk or explore the interactive exhibits to learn about the local ecosystem. On your way back into town, visit the Museum of Indigenous People. Explore the rich history and culture of Native American tribes in the Southwest through their extensive collection of artifacts and exhibits.

End your weekend of adventure by heading back to downtown Prescott and dining at The Raven Cafe. They offer organic and locally sourced dishes, along with live music on some nights. Sit back and reflect on the relaxing time spent in Prescott.