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Prescott, Arizona: Weekender

Once a rough-and-tumble town, Prescott has more antique shops than saloons, also historic architecture, scenic surroundings, modern eats, and maybe a watering hole or two.

Palace Restaurant and Saloon interior, Prescott, Arizona, picture
Photo credit
Photo: Lisa Corson
Photo caption
The Palace's dining room.

In 1864, when Prescott was named capital of the Arizona Territory, it was a rough-and-tumble place where cowboys and miners caroused over pints on Whiskey Row. The town has since grown up, but its pioneer spirit remains.

  • Past meets present downtown, as artists and artisans breathe new life into century-old buildings on Courthouse Square. One newcomer is a throwback: Superstition Meadery. The tasting room serves fermented honey wines, which locals Jeff and Jen Herbert craft using nontraditional ingredients, including bourbon vanilla beans and Hatch red chiles. Try the 12-mead flight and you'll taste a rainbow of flavors in drinks such as lemony War Honey and berry-infused Marion.

  • With more than 30 antique shops, Prescott is a popular spot to treasure hunt. Wander North Cortez Street and you'll find many portals to the past. Keystone Antiques brings sparkle in the form of rings and rhinestone brooches. Nearby, Mid-Century Madness exudes a Mad Men vibe with low-slung sofas and sculptural lamps.

glassware at Mid-Century Madness in Prescott, Arizona, picture
Photo credit
Photo: James Bueti
Photo caption
1950s and '60s-era glassware at Mid-Century Madness.
  • Strolling the city streets, you can't miss Thumb Butte, which juts from the forest west of town. Get a closer look on 1.75-mile Thumb Butte Trail. Watch the sky as you climb: Peregrine falcons nest nearby. The trail's crest offers views of the surrounding Bradshaw Mountains and—on a clear day—the snow-covered San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff.

  • Explore Arizona history inside the first territorial governor's mansion at the Sharlot Hall Museum. You might see baskets made by the Yavapai-Prescott Indians and a wagon that traveled to Pennsylvania to represent Arizona during the U.S. bicentennial in 1976.

  • With a burger-heavy menu, the Barley Hound feels casual. But the eatery has serious culinary cred: Owner Skyler Reeves cut his teeth as a bartender for 213 Hospitality in Los Angeles. Nibble blistered shishito peppers or dig into the Arizona chicken with green chiles and guacamole.

  • Whiskey Row may no longer boast 40 saloons, but the historic street is still home to the state's oldest watering hole, the Palace Restaurant and Saloon. Sidle up to the original 1880s bar, have a seat, and take a look around. In cases along the walls, you'll see ancient whiskey bottles and a vintage roulette wheel—testaments to days of yore, when the bar served Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp, and other Wild West legends.

This article was first published in Winter 2018. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.