Explore Arizona Day Trip Guide: Prescott To Flagstaff
Arizona is home to three historic scenic routes, one of which runs from Prescott to Flagstaff on the 89A highway. The journey is a must-see adventure for those travelers looking to experience the incredible natural change from low desert cacti to high mountain pines in only a short distance, while simultaneously exploring Arizona history, small towns, and local businesses.
To complement this 84 mile drive, we’ve put together a list of food, drinks, and adventures you can enjoy along the way. This perfect day trip starts in downtown Prescott, meanders up and over Mingus Mountain into Jerome, continues down into Clarkdale and Cottonwood of the Verde Valley, winds through the red rocks of Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon, climbs up the switchbacks to the Mogollon Rim, and ends in vibrant downtown Flagstaff. Follow this guide, pick and choose your stops and experiences, and explore an Arizona that you have never imagined.
Stop 1: Downtown Prescott
There is no better starting point than Prescott; Arizona’s downtown square. Once the state capitol, this bubbling rural metropolis has so much to offer. Grab a cup of coffee or go big, and order a full breakfast from the well known Raven Cafe before meandering around the downtown historic square surrounded by shops, galleries, and historic sites. Venture just slightly beyond the main square and explore Mountain Artists Guild and Gallery, Prescott Winery, Pereguine Book Company, and countless other shopping gems.
Stop 2: Jerome
Your next stop along 89A is Jerome, an historic copper mining town now turned art destination. Hop out to explore quaint shops and galleries, while taking in the spectacular view from Mile High Grill & Inn. On weekends, you will most likely stumble upon live music at several locations along the main drag. If it’s too early for wine tasting at Caduceus Cellars, they also serve espresso on request. You can purchase a bottle of local wine to take home or open at your later destination. Visitors often walk down hill to the Flatiron Cafe for a quick snack or warm beverage, and peruse the Jerome Artists Cooperative Gallery and Gallery 527. Other town highlights include the Jerome Historical Museum, the Jerome State Historic Park, and the Old Jerome High School, which has turned into a barrage of funky art studios and galleries. For an early lunch, The Haunted Hamburger, Grapes, and Hilltop Deli all have a variety of tasty menu items for every diet or preference.
Stop 3: Clarkdale
Onward down hill into the historic town of Clarkdale. On your way, slightly off the beaten path, is Chateau Tumbleweed, a small boutique winery with some splendid Arizona reds and always friendly smiles behind the bar. Or venture down the road to S-Scape West Fine Art Studio with original works by Christine Dobrosky who is often behind the easel when you visit her in-home studio. Be sure to take the short jog off of 89A onto Historic 89A, that leads right into this quaint main street district of the first company town in America. Recently making an economic shift with several new businesses in the town’s historic district, you can enjoy beverages and sweet treats, or even lunch at Violette’s Bakery Cafe, located in a red caboose in the heart of downtown. Across the street is Four Eight Wineworks - a wine making co-op. Most noteworthy is the newly renovated Copper Art Museum, an incredible collection of old and new copper items from kitchen ware to brewing equipment, you won’t believe what’s inside. Other quick stops for a breath of fresh air are the Clarkdale Gazebo - a town landmark and family park and 10-12 Lounge. The Verde Canyon Railroad and Tuzigoot National Monument are also big local attractions and add adventure to any day trip or might be the destination on your next time through.
Stop 4: Old Town Cottonwood
Hop back into your car and head a few miles further on Historic 89A to the now re-energized Main Street of Old Town Cottonwood. You are now about halfway through the full journey. It’s a great time to park and walk this nice stretch of shops, galleries, tasting rooms, and restaurants. A great destination for pleasing a range of palates, Old Town Cottonwood is home to Burning Tree Cellars, Arizona Stronghold Vineyards, Pillsbury Wine and Fire Mountain Wines. Find one you love or do a bit of skipping around. Between stops, check out local art at Old Town Frame Company with a must see collection of fine art, cards and gifts. Other take homes and treasures can be found at Old Town Pepper Company, Heart of Arizona and a selection of many other antique, clothing and gift shops. If it’s time to nosh, the newly opened Crema Craft Kitchen and Bar has an amazing menu with brunch served all day. Other quick stops include a short riverwalk hike on the Jail Trail, or a visit to Blazin M Ranch for frontier town activities or a beer at the saloon.
Stop 5: Sedona
Once you can peel yourself away from the fun and energy of Old Town Cottonwood, continue north on Main Street until it turns back into 89A. The route will lead you directly into the stunning red rock country of Sedona. Take in the beautiful, picturesque views, stop by Red Rock State Park or explore one of many internationally known hiking trails. West Side Deli has a full menu of make-your-own sandwiches that never disappoint. Local Juicery is a one stop shop for all things healthy and vibrant. They make incredible smoothies and organic juices from all natural, all organic foods. Vegan and raw treats are also available for those in need of quick, delicious energy options.
Stop 6: Oak Creek Canyon
Once through Sedona, 89A winds through the cool, crisp pines of Oak Creek Canyon. Weather pending, stop for a quick dip in Oak Creek or short hike at Slide Rock State Park. Another great spot for a sandwich or a snack along the way is the Indian Gardens Cafe and Market before continuing on 89A up the switchbacks.
After you clear the switchbacks and find your way up on top of the rim, turn out onto the Oak Creek Canyon Vista Overlook; a great stop off for a break and a look at American Indian art and jewelry often on display and for sale. The final stretch to Flagstaff is only another 20 minutes. Follow the signs onto Milton Avenue and then into the downtown area which is packed full of great shopping, eating and drinking. Stay in the historic Hotel Monte Vista, enjoy coffee drinks and cocktails in house at Rendezvous, and listen to some live music in the Monte Vista Cocktail Lounge.
Stop 7: Downtown Flagstaff
If you need to loosen up after the long day in the car, Flagstaff is great for hiking. There are accessible walks for folks of every fitness level; from a walk along the Flagstaff Urban Trail System (FUTS) to the arduous climb up Humphrey’s Peak. Prepare for your outdoor adventure with outdoor gear and clothing at Peace Surplus and Mountain Sports. Or take the alternative route and pamper yourself with some handcrafted bath and body products from Fizzy Bella Bath Boutique. Post hike or walk about town, you can refuel with a beer and a burger at the Lumberyard. Sosoba Nonstop Noodle Shop is great for lunch or late night noodles. Mother Road and Pizzicletta have partnered up to offer delicious wood fired pizza with refreshing local beer.
With so many options along the 89A path, you might just choose to break up your drive. Each community is unique and you deserve to savor and enjoy them at whatever pace you decide.