Two nights in Prescott, AZ–Tucson for Christmas trip

We visited Prescott in December 2023 as part of our Tucson for Christmas trip.

Bugsy over Watson Lake in the Granite Dells
hiking around Watson Lake

Prescott is known for a historic and happening downtown and outdoor adventures, and we’ve long had it–and specifically the campground we stayed at–on our giant wishlist map with notes along the lines of “looks like a really cool town” and “campground seems like a destination in itself.” So with a couple days between Tucson and Tucson (yes, we went back to Tucson after Prescott) we drove three hours north on a crappy interstate with terrible drivers (maybe we were just unlucky, but are Phoenix drivers especially bad??) to Prescott.

Also, it’s pronounced Pres-kit. Don’t call it Pres-cott. Embarrassing!

Campground

Bugsy looking down at the Airstream at the campground
looking down at the Airstream from our backyard

Our subpar intro to Point of Rocks RV Campground was arriving at our narrow and sloped campsite with very close neighboring spots, which fortunately stayed vacant during our stay. But any misgivings we had about our campsite completely evaporated by the end of our two days in Prescott due to Point of Rocks’ proximity to Watson Lake and the Granite Dells.

We loved the wild jumble of rocks backdropping our site, our first taste of the Granite Dells, a gem of Prescott: lumps and humps of large granite boulders towering over two reservoirs, wound through with hiking trails. From the Point of Rocks you can hike 15 minutes to Watson Lake, the larger of the two reservoirs, or take a shorter trail to clamber around on the rocks overlooking the lake.

Point of Rocks also won for best internet of the trip.

Exploring Prescott

Prescott's huge granite courthouse
Prescott Courthouse

After setting up the Airstream, we headed downtown to check out Whiskey Row and Courthouse Square. The downtown area with its old saloons, Victorian houses, and massive granite courthouse was super cute but super crowded; it turns out Prescott is known as “Arizona’s Christmas City” and so everyone was visiting. We were there post-Christmas, and on New Year’s Eve Prescott has a Boot Drop party on Whiskey Row that looked very popular, but by that time on New Year’s Eve we were tucked into our Airstream watching Andy and Anderson.

Eating

Our eating in Prescott wasn’t terribly adventurous: we made breakfasts and lunches at home and when we went out for dinners, we ordered salads. And fried pickles, but they don’t count. We’d been abusing our stomachs in Tucson by eating everything we could get our hands on, so gave our poor systems a break in Prescott with some lighter food.

salad from BiGA at home in the Airstream
salad from BiGA

First salad carryout was from BiGA, who are dedicated to the idea of “farm to fork,” sourcing most of their ingredients from local farms. The restaurant was super cute, and we considered going back the following night for their New Year’s Eve prix fixe menu, but the pull of hanging out at home again won out.

salad from LazyG in the Airstream watching CNN on New Year's Eve
salad from LazyG

Second salad carryout was from LazyG Brewhouse. Yes, a brewery. Surprise! We munched on fried pickles while we sampled a couple beers (more on that below) which J thought were the best fried pickles ever. We have eaten MANY fried pickles in our time, so that says a lot. We took home salads for our wild and crazy New Year’s celebration with Anderson and Andy.

From our research, we were also excited to try El Gato Azul, but they weren’t taking to go orders when we tried. Farm Provisions was on our list too, but we ran out of time. Next trip!

Drinking

Prescott has two breweries, a distillery, and two bars that looked cool enough from Google to go on our to-do list. We hit them all just to be able to report back to you, dear readers.

beer at LazyG Brewhouse
beers at LazyG Brewhouse

I already mentioned the otherworldly fried pickles at LazyG Brewhouse. The beers–I had a raspberry sour and J had a hazy IPA–were good too! The place was rocking at 4:45 (we are earlybirds), and it was cold so we skipped the dog-friendly patio to sit inside. Sorry, Bugsy.

Bugsy in the beer patio at Wren House Brewing
dog-friendly Prairie Patio

Wren House Brewing is a Phoenix-based brewery with a Prairie Patio outpost in Prescott. It’s a great location only a few minutes north of the campground. We were worried about freezing sitting outside with Bugsy on the small patio, but we had fun sipping the hazy IPA. They didn’t have any sours, but they did have some local meads and ciders.

beers at the bar in Park Plaza Liquors and Deli
beer and mimosa at Park Plaza Liquor & Deli

Park Plaza Liquor & Deli is a bar/restaurant/liquor store/cigar bar/maybe the most popular place in town. The bar in the back is first come first served so we skipped the madness of table seating and had a drink there while plotting our next move (which was to pick up salads from BiGA). They have a massive selection of beers to take away, and we left with some from Resident Culture, our favorite Charlotte brewery.

Pointdexter the deer head dressed for Christmas at The Point Bar and Lounge
Pointdexter, the greeter at The Point Bar and Lounge

We ended our roaring New Year’s Eve night out on the town (at about 5pm) at The Point Bar and Lounge, a really cool craft cocktail lounge hidden behind a nondescript door in the basement of a seemingly industrial building. It’s a super cool spot and we may have stayed longer if we weren’t looking forward to pjs and A&A (J would want me to note that the A&A thing was my jam, not his).

Hiking

hiking over Watson Lake
hiking around Watson Lake

Remember how in our Tucson post I wrote that J said his favorite hike of the trip was in Prescott? And that’s after epic hikes in Death Valley!

the view from Spruce Mountain Fire Lookout Tower
the view from the Spruce Mountain Fire Lookout Tower

His favorite hike was not our first hike (although he liked it just fine): to Spruce Mountain Fire Lookout Tower in Prescott National Forest. It was a lovely and easy walk through the woods for a total of just over 7.5 miles, with no real views until the lookout tower. We enjoyed the Abert’s squirrels, also called tassel-eared squirrels, with crazy tufted ears; the puffy woodpeckers that we think are Acorn Woodpeckers, a new species to us East Coaster; and the Ponderosa Pines that I can’t keep my nose out of.

the View trail from Point of Rocks Campground into the Granite Dells
the View Trail from Point of Rocks

Our other hiking was around the Granite Dells and that’s where J made his grand proclamation. First we took Bugsy on the View Trail from our campground, a short scramble up and over some of the big boulders, and it was an awesome teaser. The next day we walked from the campground to Watson Lake and did a five-mile loop hike around the reservoir.

Bugsy hiking by Watson Lake in the Granite Dells
hiking around Watson Lake

What a cool hike! The scenery was gorgeous, the rocks were fun to climb around on, and we enjoyed the way-finding involved in keeping to the trail. We’d return to Prescott just to spend more time exploring the Granite Dells.

Bugsy in the Granite Dells by Watson Lake
Bugsy in the Granite Dells

Other hikes we had on our list of possibilities were:

But for now, we were cold and looking forward to a couple more nights in toasty Tucson before turning east for the long drive home. I combined all our before-and-after-Prescott Tucson activities into one post, so our next post will be from Las Cruces, NM!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *