a VirtualTourist member asked on Apr 7, 2014
My honey and I are planning a road trip after landing in Ontario Cali. First leg is from Palm Springs to Prescott. I'd like to know if there are any cool things for us to see/do either on the way, or IN prescott. We love retro type things, love walking (not up for a big hike this trip), eating and drinking, and taking pics. Once we get to Prescott, how long would you think we'd need to feel like we experienced it?
I've only driven through Prescott on my way south from Sedona but it looked like a quaint location. I have friends that have just moved into the area and they have said it's a bit cooler than Scottsdale (etc) and more "laid back." I'll see if I can get more info from them unless a VT local provides more sooner.
On your road trip, depending on the route, I'd suggest including Jerome and Sedona for locations to stop and wander. Jerome is an old mining town (still has a "working ghost mine/town near by) that is seeing a recovery with artists and Sedona is just extraordinary picturesque.
Thank you for the tips! I'll look up Jerome, and yes, I'm thinking of going to Sedona and for sure Phoenix in our loop back towards the Ontario airport. I looked at the hotels/motels in Sedona and was quite blown away by the resort prices. I know there are some bare bones motels there, which we might have to do, but was hoping for something in between $$$ and nasty. :)
So appreciate your answer!
In Sedona, I stayed at the Best Western on the main street and at the time it was reasonable. Sedona "resorts" tend to be a bit on the high end just because of the tourist trade the town does.
Jerome has a couple of restaurants that you should try. The "Haunted" restaurant was quite good. Although the town is small it can take quite a bit of time just wandering around. VT has some good pages on the area.
On your way back to Phoenix, explore the Cave Creek and Scottsdale areas as well.
Prescott is a cute town. They call it the "most Midwestern looking city in Arizona" because of the architecture of many of the houses near the courthouse square. The courthouse square houses "Whiskey Row," which is a strip of historic bars, though one of the most historic recently burned down.
If you stay in Prescott, stay close to the square at one of the historic hotels. Avoid the chains in Prescott Valley, because it's a very sprawling and unflattering area.
AZ 89 from Prescott to Sedona via Jerome is also really beautiful. And Jerome is nice for a few hours. They have a number of "haunted" places there and, thus, do ghost tours. They also have wine tastings for some of the local vineyards and a number of art shops and galleries.
Verde Canyon Railroad is nice if you have time for it.
Sedona is very expensive all around. In the summer, Phoenicians drive up on the weekends and make it difficult to get a hotel room. Consider Cottonwood/Clarkdale if it's too much, or you can stay in Flagstaff, which is a nice city on its own. Just be aware that the road into Sedona from Flagstaff, Highway 89A, will be closed from Memorial Day into July this year, which adds quite a bit of time to the drive in to town.
Good luck though.
From Palm Springs to Prescott, I recommend getting on Highway 60, just east of Quartzsite. The Sonoran Desert through the hamlets of Brenda, Hope, Salome, Wenden and Aguila is quite lush this time of year, thanks to our "monsoon" rains. East of Aguila, keep on Hwy 60 to Wickenburg. There are a couple of "must-sees" in that Western-themed town: Desert Caballeros Museum, which focuses on Old West art and the Nature Conservancy's Hassayampa RiverPreserve, which offers several short, enjoyable walks in the river basin, and good information about the importance of conservation in a desert riparian environment.
Then, after perhaps enjoying a meal at one of downtown Wickenburg's fine establishments, double back towards Prescott, through the village of Congress, driving up the winding Rte. 89, to Yarnell, where the Shrine of St. Joseph is worth a visit of 30-45 minutes. Continue on Hwy 89, through Peeples Valley and Wilhoit, where the transition from desert to pine forest begins. After a 30-45 minute drive along the moderately steep, winding road, you will arrive in Prescott.
Allow 2-3 days for the following:
Courthouse Square, and its cross-street neighbour, "Whiskey Row", where the Palace Restaurant offers a fine lunch and dinner menu, in a large Old-West dance hall atmosphere. There are many shopping opportunities both on Whiskey Row and in Bashford Court, across Gurley Street from the Courthouse. In the evening, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, there are musical performances through September, on the Courthouse lawn.
Sharlot Hall Museum, two blocks west of the Courthouse, on Gurley Street, offers an amazingly complete picture of Prescott's history, from settlement in 1864 to the present day. Allow 2-3 hours to thoroughly explore this fascinating institution.
Our artificial lakes allow for short journeys along their shores, and have several fine spots to picnic, or just to sit and meditate. Goldwater Lake, reached by turning right on Mount Vernon Street(five blocks east of the Courthouse, on Gurley) and following it up the hill and into Prescott National Forest, for about five miles, is the easiest of three forest lakes to reach by car. It has short trails along its eastern edge. Lynx Lake, also a forest lake, is reached by following Hwy 69 eastward (stay on Gurley, going east, then bear right on Hwy 69, when it splits from 89. Turn right on Walker Road, about four miles out, and follow it until you see Lynx Lake North Campground exit. Turn left, and go past the small camp store/restaurant, parking in the US Forest Service lot. Lynx Lake has a circle trail, of about 2 miles, if you are up for it. The restaurant serves German and American fare, from Thursday- Sunday afternoon, until November. It reopens in March. The Highlands Nature Center is also delightful, 1/2 mile north of Lynx Lake, off Walker Road.
This brings us to the Granite Dells. On the northeast side of town, reached by bearing LEFT at the aforementioned junction with Hwy 69, are Watson Lake and Willow Lake. Watson has some overlooks right off Hwy. 89, or you can turn right, on Prescott Lakes Road, and follow the signs to Watson Lake parking lot. Again, there are walks and hikes that suit the needs of everyone. Willow Lake, reached by continuing on Hwy 89., then turning right on Willow Lake Road (south shore) or by entering Heritage Park, a bit further along on 89, then turning right, after the power poles and Dog Park. Heritage Park has a small, delightful zoo, and atop the hill, a display on the early Native American pueblo which once existed in the area.
There are several spots in northeast Prescott to enjoy the Granite Dells. Granite Dells Drive, a mile or so north of Heritage Park, along Highway 89, and Constellation Trail, across from Phippen Museum of Western Art, another mile or so north, are two of my favourites. One can spend as much or as little time as desired in these unique and amazing fields of granite boulders.
You mentioned not wanting to take any long hikes, but if you change your minds, Thumb Butte lies three miles west of the Courthouse, following Gurley Street, then bearing left, after two miles, onto Thumb Butte Drive. It is about 1 1/2 miles to as near the summit as prudence, and the Forest Service, allow. The right hand trail is the more gradual of the two. There are several benches along the trail.
Now, as to where to stay, there are a full range of accommodations. St. Michaels Hotel, on the corner of Whiskey Row and Gurley, is a Victorian-era establishment, as is Hassayampa inn, two blocks east of the Courthouse, on Gurley. Both are pricey, but worth it, for an Old West ambiance. Hotel Vendome, a boutique establishment, is on Cortez Street, a block south of the Courthouse. It is also upscale, and needs to be reserved a month or two in advance. Springhill Suites, a modern chain, is two blocks north of the Courthouse, at Sheldon and Marina. Hampton Inn, Motel 6 and Super 8 are each on the northeast edge of downtown, five minutes away from the Courthouse, by car.
Bed and Breakfast? Check out the options at [original link]. Rocamadour Bed & Breakfast
3386 Arizona 89 Prescott, AZ 86301
(928) 771-1933 is also recommended by some visitors from Phoenix. It's in the heart of Granite Dells, just off Hwy. 89.
I hope this is enough to get you started. Have a great visit with us, and if you would like info on other nearby locales, please stay in touch.