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One town you won’t want to miss in your exploration of Arizona is just about three and a half hours away, and a trip back in time.

Prescott, Arizona, a beautiful town located in North Central Arizona’s Yavapai County, is known for its historic sites, scenery and Old West feel. With numerous outdoor recreation activities, famous downtown area and a substantial arts community, you’ll want to tack extra days onto your vacation schedule to experience it all.

Founded in 1864 and made the territorial capital of Arizona (which moved to Phoenix in 1889) as well as the County Seat of Yavapai County, Prescott is a place that holds considerable history.

The Downtown Historic Area is one of the most popular spots for visitors to start their exploration. With some of the oldest buildings in town, Whiskey Row is a must-see. The name stems from the gold rush era, when saloons beckoned to miners and cowhands.

Today, it still has the reputation as a great place to grab a drink at any time of the day. It also has earned high marks for its art galleries, restaurants and family friendly shops. It doesn’t take long there for one to absorb the feel of olden days.

The story of the region unfolds in numerous museums, galleries, and even in the music joints. The Prescott Art Gallery on Whiskey Row shows handmade pieces by 26 local artists. Due to COVID-19, the gallery is ensuring that their space is extra clean and comfortable for people. “Together we can rediscover the joy of sharing beautiful art,” is the gallery’s current motto.

On the fourth Friday of every month, an art walk is held in Downtown Prescott, giving everyone an opportunity to check out 20 participating galleries. It’s a great time for people to socialize safely, enjoy food, share ideas and let their minds run to the creative side.

Every Saturday is the Prescott Farmers Market, with 30 different tents to explore. You can buy anything from fresh organic produce, to jewelry, to all-natural beauty products. The Winter market runs through April 24, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Although there aren’t many lakes in the immediate area, the few that Prescott has nearby are breathtaking. Willow Lake is known for has numerous trails to hike, bike or even ride horses.

Watson Lake is another place to visit if you’re looking for a shorter, but still scenic adventure with a one-mile trail. Water activities include kayaking, boating, canoeing, and paddle boarding.

The dining options are varied, and include breweries, steakhouses, international cuisine, seafood, and the list goes on.

One of the most popular restaurants in Prescott is a Southwestern bar scene called El Gato Azul. With green plants and colorful flowers surrounding the entrance from bottom to top, the atmosphere is both garden-like and quirky. Weather permitting, you may sit out on the heated patio, listen to live music and relax.

The menu is a blend of seafood dishes, chicken, beef and pork plates, wraps and sandwiches, along with vegetarian options. Following the long list of delicious food items, the drink menu is equally diverse, with signature cocktails, different kinds of beer and a variety of wines.

Another restaurant you might want to try is Superstition Meadery. It’s well known for a chill vibe, unique drinks and tasty tapas. It’s a perfect place to sit down with friends or family, grab an appetizer and kick back.

With so much to do in Prescott, it’s essential to have a comfortable room to rest up. There are many places in Prescott that accommodate overnight stays, with probably the most famous being the Hassayampa Inn. A restored 1927 property, the inn has Old World charm, along with amenities such as a fitness room and business center. One newer option is the Prescott Resort and Conference Center, a full-service resort that includes a spa with a long list of holistic treatments, and even a casino for those who want to try their luck.

If you’re planning a trip this month, you’ll be pleased to know that Prescott was once dubbed “Arizona’s Christmas City.” Though the pandemic has curtailed many holiday activities, the spirit lives on in events such as WildLights and Animal Sights at Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary. The event includes festive holiday decorations, music and impressive light displays.

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