December 27, 2017
Best Day Trips from Prescott
If you’ve had your curiosity piqued by Prescott’s rich historic past, it’s a natural inclination to head out and discover more about the surrounding area. We’d recommend a trip up the 89A highway, which runs from Prescott to Flagstaff. Along the way you’ll pass through the old mining town of Jerome, historic Clarkdale, Old Town Cottonwood, the red rock grandeur of Sedona and end up in Downtown Flagstaff.
Drive the entire 92 miles from Prescott to Flagstaff in a day, or break it into several days to experience the flavor of each city. You’ll see a change from desert cacti to mountain pines along the way. Hop on your Harley, drop the top on your vintage convertible, and head for the hills!
- 34 miles from Prescott to Jerome
Jerome is an old mining town built into the side of Mingus Mountain. Once known as the Wickedest Town in the West due to the rip-roaring miners and their accompanying “true west” shenanigans, Jerome’s economy slowed considerably after the mines closed in 1951. A few remaining residents promoted it as a historic ghost town for a few years, but in the 1960s the old mining center enjoyed a rebirth and is now a thriving artist community with a population of about 450.
Many of the original buildings are now eclectic art galleries and restaurants nestled into the sides of the mountain, plus there are several cozy bed and breakfasts, inns and hotels. BudgetTravel.com readers recently voted Jerome as one of “America’s Coolest Small Towns”.
- Have dinner and take a haunted tour of the Mile High Grill and Inn on Main Street. Rumor has it there’s a resident ghost kitty and more.
- Visit the Jerome Historical Society Mine Museum on Main Street, which houses a collection of minerals and provides information about Jerome’s mining past.
- Listen to music at one of the saloons, sit and relax with a glass of wine at Jerome’s own Jerome Winery, or visit the tasting room at Caduceus Cellars on Main Street.
- Try some of the terrific food and drink at the Haunted Hamburger on Clark Street while enjoying a terrific view of the valley below.
- Visit the Jerome State Historic Park and the Old Jerome High School, which has turned into a collection of funky art studios and galleries.
- Stop by The Spirit Room – THE place to have fun, enjoy great live music and show your wild side. Whether 1 p.m. or 1 a.m., this place is always packed and might inspire you to dance on top of the bar for a song or two. A favorite of locals, motorcycle enthusiasts and day trippers, the Spirit Room is known for outstanding live music, drinks, and let-your-hair-down fun.
Clarkdale (Verde Canyon Railroad)
- 40 miles from Prescott to Clarkdale
Down the hill from Jerome, cruise into the historic town of Clarkdale, the gateway to the Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Area in the beautiful Verde Valley. Originally a “company town,” Clarkdale was founded by the United Verde Copper Company to provide housing and services for the employees of their copper smelter, which processed copper ore from 1913-1953. The original rail line that served the smelter is now host to a scenic excursion train, the Verde Canyon Railroad.
- Visit the Clarkdale Historical Society and Museum, housed in a small building that was formerly a clinic, a town hall and the Department of Motor Vehicles!
- On the northeast border of Clarkdale, the National Park Service operates the 42-acre Tuzigoot National Monument, a breathtaking 800-year-old pueblo surrounded by hiking trails and a museum.
- Take a trip on the Verde Canyon Railroad, a four-hour round trip to view the protected ecosystem of the Sycamore Canyon Wilderness Area and Verde River.
- Stop at the Chateau Tumbleweed – a small boutique winery, the S-Scape West Fine Art Studio, or enjoy lunch at Violette’s Bakery Cafe – located in an adorable red caboose in the heart of downtown.
Old Town Cottonwood
- 43 miles from Prescott to Cottonwood.
Head a few miles further on Historic 89A to the quaint Main Street of Old Town Cottonwood, which boasts a generous selection of one-of-a-kind shops, galleries, tasting rooms, and restaurants. Named for the beautiful Cottonwood trees that grow along the Verde River, the small farming community was called “the biggest little town in Arizona” in the 1920s. It was also called the “Bootleg Capital of Arizona” for the speakeasies that once lined Main Street and a network of underground tunnels that allowed easy access to moonshine and a quick escape from the law. The tunnels have long-since been sealed, but the town’s colorful history remains.
Today it’s become a destination for wine and art lovers, with tasting rooms up and down Main Street in Prohibition-era buildings. Each month Old Town Cottonwood hosts a not-to-be-missed Second Saturday Art Walk.
- Taste award-winning wine at Burning Tree Cellars, Arizona Stronghold Vineyards, Pillsbury Wine and Fire Mountain Wines.
- Discover local artists at the Old Town Frame Company with a must-see collection of fine art, cards and gifts.
- Find unique treasures at Old Town Pepper Company and shop at a selection of many other antique, clothing and gift shops.
- Enjoy brunch all day at the Crema Craft Kitchen and Bar.
- Venture on a short river walk hike on the Jail Trail. Starting from the site of the historic town jail, this easy hike can be enjoyed year round and follows the riverbank through River Front Park to Dead Horse Ranch State Park. Towering cottonwoods and thick willows shade the trail, which is home to hundreds of resident and migratory bird species.
Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon
- 67 miles to Sedona, 75 miles to Oak Creek.
Nestled in the heart of “Red Rock Country,” Sedona has been recommended by travelers throughout the world for decades. The red rocks form a popular backdrop for many activities, ranging from spiritual pursuits to hundreds of hiking and mountain biking trails. Enjoy not only the gorgeous scenery, but also the many (more than 40) fine art studios and restaurants.
Looking for adventure? Jump into a local jeep tour, where you can hear stories of the Yavapai and Apache tribes. You’ll be inspired by the spectacular off-road wilderness, red rocks and tree-lined canyons.
- Stop by the Red Rock State Park visitor’s center to view exhibits and learn more about Sedona.
- Explore one of many internationally known hiking trails, perhaps beginning with one of the most popular, the West Fork Trail where you can take an easy hike amongst towering cliffs and cool water streams. Note that sometimes parking can be a challenge here.
- Don’t miss Tlaquepaque, an arts and crafts village beneath the canopy of towering sycamores on the banks of Oak Creek. Travel along charming cobble-stoned walkways and underneath arched entryways while enjoying the peaceful sounds of the nearby trickling stream.
- Explore a little deeper by taking a Pink Jeep Tour, a fun way to sit back and let tour guides take you on an off-road adventure. The guides undergo months of intense training learning each destination’s flora, fauna, geology and history. It’s been a favorite of visitors since 1960.
- 92 miles from Prescott to Flagstaff
The final stretch to Flagstaff is only another 20 minutes from Sedona. The city is named after a ponderosa pine stripped to fly an American flag. Flagstaff’s early economy was based on the lumber, railroad, and ranching industries. The Northern Arizona Normal School was established in 1899, renamed Northern Arizona University in 1966. Today, the city remains an important distribution hub for companies such as Nestlé Purina PetCare, and is home to the Lowell Observatory, nearby skiing and enjoys a strong tourism industry.
The downtown area is packed full of distinctive shopping, eating, and drinking establishments. It’s surrounded by the beauty of the San Francisco Peaks and the Colorado Plateau, with a plethora of great hiking, biking and running trails.
- Tour the Riordan Mansion to view a historic example of Flagstaff’s rich past.
- Book a room or have a cup of coffee at the Hotel Mote Vista, a historic centerpiece of downtown Flagstaff. Or try the Little America Hotel, a bit northeast of the city.
- Hike along the Flagstaff Urban Trail System, with trails for all fitness levels.
- Tour the Lowell Observatory, where astronomers discovered Pluto. Call us Old School, we still call it a planet!