If you’re like most Phoenicians a weekend trip to Flagstaff is a great weekend get away from the heat in the summer, to see the changing leaves in the fall or to enjoy the snow in the winter.
You can’t see everything in a weekend, but if you only have a weekend here are some of our favorite spots to visit around Flagstaff, Arizona.
Top Things to Do Around Flagstaff Arizona
- Lowell Observatory
- Riordan Mansion State Historic Park
- Arizona Snowbowl
- See the summer Sunflowers
- Lava River Cave
- Route 66
- Walnut Canyon
- Sunset Crater
- Wupatki National Monument
- Grand Canyon Deer Farm
- Sycamore Canyon
- Grand Canyon Railway
- Grand Canyon
Lowell Observatory is an active astronomical observatory, and it is where Pluto was discovered. The observatory is in Flagstaff and a drive up to it offers some great views of the city. During the day, tours are offered of the grounds.
There is also a small museum inside. In the evening you can look through the telescopes to view planets, the moon and star clusters. During the day there is a solar viewing tour, a Mars and Pluto tour.
When we visited we were able to see the moon in detail and the planet Mars. I was more impressed with the moon because of the magnification. It was truly incredible, if you’ve never seen it before. For more information visit their website at www.lowell.edu
Riordan Mansion State Historic Park
I spent the morning at Riordan Mansion Historic Park while my kids went snowboarding. The tour included myself and one other couple. If you want to learn about Flagstaff’s history this is a great spot to do so.
It isn’t a mansion by today’s standards, however it architecturally fascinating. I love touring old houses. I loved the wall to floor bookcases and who wouldn’t want a swing in front of the fireplace?
If you have ever been to Flagstaff in the winter, you will have gathered it is a popular area to go skiing, snowboarding, and sledding. If you want to avoid the crowds take a trip during the week.
Sunflower Fields & Fall Leaves in Flagstaff Arizona
If you visit Flagstaff mid-summer you will find beautiful fields of sunflowers.
Explore the Lava River Cave
A cave formed by molten lava, how cool is that? We drove the kids up to Flagstaff one weekend just to explore this cave. The lava river tube cave is 14 miles north of Flagstaff and a fun day of adventure. Don’t forget to bring a flashlight or better yet some headlamps. It is really dark in here. The little bit of light seen in the photo below is all the natural light you will have in this cave.
Get Your Kicks On Route 66
Flagstaff is on the famous route 66. Take a drive down historic route 66 in Flagstaff. Stop at one of the cafes along the way.
Walnut Canyon is located just east of Flagstaff and offers you the opportunity to see Native American Indian Ruins. The Sinagua dwellings date back some 700 years. There is a small visitor center and two trails available to hike.
Hundreds of years ago a volcano erupted and changed the landscape in Flagstaff creating the Sunset Crater. You can hike a one mile trail at the base of Sunset Crater through lava flow and cinders.
The site is surrounded by Coconino National Forest. If you are visiting Wupatki National Monument, stop and check out this crater.
Directions: About 30 minutes from Flagstaff. Twelve miles north on U.S. 89 turn right on the Sunset Crater – Wupatki Loop road and continue 2 miles to the visitor center.
Wupatki Native American Indian Ruins
Wupatki Native American Indian Ruins are worth the drive from Flagstaff to see. The Hopi buildings and surrounding community are well preserved. Check out the blowhole by the ball park while you are here. It is a blast of cold air.
Bearizona is a unique spot in Arizona to see animals up close, specifically bears. The park is the small town of Williams just west of Flagstaff. Bearizona is divided into two parts: one you drive through and one you can walk through.
Grand Canyon Deer Farm
My mom, my daughter, and I spent the day at Bearizona and the Grand Canyon Deer Farm. The Grand Canyon Deer Farm is only seven miles from Bearizona, so it makes it easy to see both places on the same day. After you pay an entrance fee you are free to roam around the property and interact with all of the animals including wallabies, goats, camels, horses and of course to feed the very friendly deer.
Hike Sycamore Canyon
What a fun place for a summer hike. We took the kids up to Williams and decided to hike along Sycamore Creek off of Thomas Loop Road.
The hiking trails are rocky and it is hard to see the canyon in some spots because of the trees. We walked further back from the canyon along a trail through the trees and a field of wild irises.
The first rocky trail that descended into the canyon that we came upon was a small pool of water where the kids spotted a water snake.
We climbed back up the canyon and then came back down another rocky trail to a local swimming hole. The path was a little steep, but not that bad. It was easy to navigate over the rocks to avoid the water.
In July, the water trickled over the rocks into the pool or swimming hole below. You can jump in from the rocks to your left or right. But you have to jump straight down in the middle so as to avoid jumping onto rocks slightly submerged in the water.
Grand Canyon Railway
The Grand Canyon Railway departs from Williams (just west of Flagstaff) to the Grand Canyon. They offer tours year round. In the winter they have the popular Polar Express.
If you made it to Flagstaff it is only 90 more minutes to the south rim of the Grand Canyon and well worth the drive. The Grand Canyon is a destination all in itself, however you can make it a day trip from Flagstaff.
Our Favorite Places to Eat in Flagstaff
About Flagstaff Arizona
One of the most fascinating things about Arizona is the difference in temperature and geography here. Most people think of cactus and hot desert sand when they think of Arizona. However, Flagstaff is full of ponderosa pines. Flagstaff borders the largest contiguous ponderosa pine forest in the continental United States.
Flagstaff is a college town in northern Arizona with a population of just over 125,000 residents. It is home to Humphrey’s Peak, at 12,000 feet it is Arizona’s highest elevation point. Full of surprises Flag, as it is affectionately called by locals, offers beautiful mountain peaks, fall colors, and hiking trails. In the winter visitors love sledding, skiing and snowboarding.
Because of Flagstaff’s central northern location it is often used as a base for visiting the Grand Canyon and other nearby attractions.
Flagstaff’s cultural scene includes the Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra, which holds Concerts from September through April. In the summer months you can expect to enjoy several festivals, including the popular Made in the Shade Beer Tasting Festival.