Granite Basin Lake
Granite Basin Lake off of Iron Springs Road heading northwest, affords many recreational opportunities. Camping, fishing, hiking, and picnicking are all options for the outdoor-lovers. This particular lake is fairly small; however, the many hiking trails that surround it are not, and you can find hours of hiking surrounding this area.
Across the street from the Yavapai County Court House is the area known as Whiskey Row. There used to be 50 bars and saloons along this road. Today there are still some fine bars here; but they are mingled with trendy shops, bistros, and other businesses. Two of the better bars currently on Whiskey Row are The Birdcage and The Jersey Lilly. The Hotel St. Michael is an historic building that anchored one end of Whiskey Row.
My kind of Town
Every once in a while you visit a town and say to yourself: "I could live here." That was the feeling I had during an extremely brief half-day visit to Prescott. It helped, of course, that I was visiting an old housemate and his family. Even so, there is something very 'Norman Rockwell' about the capital of Yavapai county. The center of town is dominated by the lovely courthouse square and brick buildings that date back to the 1900 rebuilding of Prescott after a devastating fire. Here, underneath huge shade trees, you'll find women with strollers chatting, men playing chess and children running delightfully amok. Across the street, quaint 'Whiskey Row' storefronts retain the feel of an earlier time.
A few blocks west of the courthouse square you will find Sharlot Hall Museum (pictured above). This block long greenspace combines beautiful gardens and historic buildings to create an extremely inviting museum dedicated to the history of central Arizona from territorial days to the present. Come here for a stroll, or a tour of the old governor's masion or one of the many events -- from cowboy poets to contra dances -- that take place on this lovely spot.
"students and artists"
Part of what makes Prescott so inviting is the presence of students and artists. Not one, not two, but three institutes of higher education make their home here: Yavapai community college, prestigious Embry-Riddle aeronautical university and alternative but highly respected Prescott College. With students numbering in the hundreds rather than thousands, none of these insitutions is large enough to overwhelm the town but they each add a youthful dynanism to what might otherwise be another Arizona retirement community. The artists in Prescott have their own campus as well -- the McCormick Street arts district which lies directly accross from Sharlot Hall, a few blocks away from Prescott College. The west end of town certainly has that creative/funky feel that makes me feel right at home.
"small town charm"
To by "my kind of town", a place has to appeal to an eight year old boy as much as his 40 year old dad. I was a carefree young boy once (not that long ago according to my wife) and still remember loving places that were wild enough for adventures without pegging my parents' (or spouse's) worry meters. We found that Prescott has spots right in town where a couple of kids can forget that the adult world exists.
If you want to experience small town life as it was meant to be -- replete with bike swaps, farmers' markets, contra dances and poetry readings -- spend a long weekend in Prescott. As in any functional community, you should leave your car parked once you get here. You'll see, hear and experience more if you do this town on foot.