Finding Prescott Arizona
In 2008, I was traveling down Interstate 40 when I heard the news over the radio that there was a white out (snow storm where you cant see the road) before the turn to highway 89 to Prescott Valley. They closed I-40 before the turn off. All the traffic was rerouted down highway 93. This meant that I would have to drive through Prescott to get to Prescott Valley.
There was snow on the ground about ten miles after the 93 exit. We drove the longer route and some time around midnight we entered the cutest town I have ever seen. There were Christmas lights in all the trees around court house plaza . The court house itself looked like it came out of back to the future. My son turned to me and said “Mom I like this place, can we live here?” If it were not for that white out we would have never seen Prescott during that trip. Six months later we moved to the area.
The signs in Prescott say “Prescott Arizona everyone’s home town” I would have to agree. The downtown area is full of shops all within walking distance of the courthouse. There is always something going on in Prescott. Craft fairs and free concerts are a regular occurrence. Prescott feels like you have been there before even if you haven't. You can almost immediately see yourself living there.
Prescott Court House
Annual Court House Lighting
My favorite activity is the courthouse lighting. Every year the story of the birth of Jesus Christ is read to a crowd of 2,000 to 4,000 people. Local high school choirs sing carols and at the end of story the courthouse and surrounding grounds are lit. To say this is a beautiful sight would be an understatement. Most years the court house lighting is on a cold winter night so we have developed the tradition of getting hot chocolate and then walking to the courthouse. The entire town joins in caroling and the shops on court house square stay open later. It is a home town event.
During it's gold rush days, Whiskey Row was home to 40 bars. This strip of buildings is right on courthouse square in downtown Prescott. Today the bars are mixed with shops and restaurants. It was in one of these bars/hotels Maddie Earp was said to have poisoned herself to death. The Palace was said to be frequented by the Earp family, still a saloon today, it has been restored. Saloons such as the Bird Cage and Matt's still entertain with local bands. Matt's is known for having attracted the liked of Willy and Waylon back in the 60's.
Food In Downtown
We have spent a lot of time downtown exploring shops and eating. Mama Edda’s on Cortez Street makes the best east coast deep dish pizza. This is one of those hole in the wall places the only the locals know about.
Grama's Bakery has amazing pastries and cookies. This place is tucked into the incline on Gurley Street. If you are in the mood for something sweet head to Grama's.
The Raven Cafe is a hang out for locals. This place is known for its atmosphere and organic food. There is often live music and local artist display their art on the walls in this fun eatery. They specialize in craft beers and wines.
If you are in the mood for Indian Cuisine, The Taj Mahal fine dining may be your thing. This little bit of Indian culture features authentic Indian food. The Chicken Ginger Tandoori is a favorite. They often have live authentic Indian entertainment. As a side note this family is wonderful.
Prescott is also a good place to hike the trails and feed the ducks. Granite creek runs right through the middle of the downtown area. There is a path that also runs along the creek all the way to Granite Park. The trail is mild, no steep hills or difficult climbing. Granite Creek Trail is a favorite of mountain bikers and joggers. Once you are down on the creek level an amazing thing happens, you forget that you are downtown. We went north and eventually found a charming bridge. There are signs in the downtown area telling you how to get to Granite creek.
The streets for five blocks in any direction from downtown Prescott have historic Victorian and row homes that date back to the late 1800’s early 1900’s. There were a few things I noticed about people in Prescott, they all have dogs and they all love art. Art is everywhere in this town from the sides of buildings to the large high end galleries. Street performers are usually down on courthouse square. Any type of art imaginable can be found here from welding to wax work.
At one time Prescott was known for it's opium trade. The Opium trade took place in tunnels under Prescott's down town area. Known as old Chinese underground section of Prescott, these tunnels contained almost an entire other town complete with brick roads. Today the brick road is home to specialty shops but back in the old West this alley was the walk way for the Chinese population that did most for the service jobs in town. It is one of the more interesting places to see in downtown. even if you do not shop, I recommend heading down stairs to see whats there.
Right across from court house square is the Bashford Courts building. This building is a three story open atrium shopping experience featuring Prescott Brewing Company. Interesting shops featuring Celtic themes and country decor are highlights in this downtown structure.
Some of the best antique shops and antique malls are located just off courthouse square. The buildings are deceptive and while an entrance may look small the buildings go back a ways. These antique malls are fun look around in and you might even find something to bring home. Take a walk and explore.
In 1864 Prescott was the capitol of Arizona. Eventually Phoenix became the capitol. During the early years of Prescott it was a military fort. Once the civil war was over, Prescott became a lively town for gamblers, miners, and prostitutes. It was almost the end of civilization of anyone heading west as the desert began not far from there. In 1888 the worlds first rodeo (cowboy tournament) was held in Prescott and is still going strong today. Western law men Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday were known to have roamed the streets of Prescott before heading down to Tombstone. History is everywhere in this downtown area. Most of the buildings have plaques and with the technology today you can look up what happened there.
You can park right on courthouse square. The farthest I have ever had to park was a block away. Courthouse square is easy access for strollers and wheel chairs. some of the shops and buildings may not be wheel chair accessible. This area is dog friendly although they may not be allowed in shops.
There are many bed and breakfasts downtown as well as the larger chain hotels. Or for the adventurous people there are camp grounds all over the Prescott area at the lakes. A calendar of events is on the Prescott web site http://www.cityofprescott.net/. I hope you enjoy your visit to everyone’s hometown… maybe you will make it your hometown too!