What a difference a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Phoenix makes! An elevation change of nearly six thousand feet and a temperature difference of twenty to thirty degrees offers a much different climate and surroundings than the desert landscape of the Phoenix metropolitan area. However, while the cool pines of Flagstaff are reason enough to take a day trip or even a quick weekend getaway, there are so many other reasons to visit this northern Arizona city. Multiple national parks and monuments within driving distance, outdoor adventures and activities, museums, and dining experiences are just some of the reasons to plan a trip up north – not to mention a beautiful drive that truly highlights the multifaceted landscape of this great state!
A drive up Interstate 17 takes one through scenic lower Arizona desert for a beautiful start. As the elevation grows, saguaro cacti give way to high desert grassland, a glimpse of the majestic Sedona red rocks, and eventually the San Francisco Peaks that overlook the pine trees, Northern Arizona University (as Flagstaff is home to one of Arizona’s “Big Three” universities) and the city of Flagstaff. (Sedona itself is a quick jaunt off of the 17; a trip through red rock country and a winding but picturesque drive through Oak Creek Canyon via State Route 89A will deliver drivers to Flagstaff as well. It may be a longer drive, but the views are worth the extra time!)
From Flagstaff, national monuments such as Sunset Crater Volcano(cinder cone, hiking trails through cooled lava and ash), Wupatki (Native American pueblo remains amid red rocks, located on the edge of the Painted Desert), and Walnut Canyon (Native American cliff dwellings viewable from a short rim trail hike or accessed via a two-hundred-fifty plus stairstep trail) are short drives from the city itself. The majestic Grand Canyon National Park can be included in a day trip as well. However, it is recommended to include this in a longer trip to Northern Arizona, as it is a roughly ninety-minute drive from Flagstaff.
Staying in town, Flagstaff has much to offer. For the more adventurous types, Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Course offers zip lines and rope course challenges in the pines, between 15 and 50 feet above the ground, with courses for kids and adults alike! Looking to learn more about the history of Flagstaff and Arizona? The Museum of Northern Arizona and Pioneer Museums, along with the Riordan Mansion State Historic Park , offer glimpses at early Arizona life, Native American artifacts, and history. Want to spend a day taking in and learning about the natural beauty of Flagstaff and its surroundings? Visit the Arboretum at Flagstaff and learn about the native plants and animals of Northern Arizona. Perhaps you’re an astronomy buff, and want to visit the observatory where the planet Pluto (is it a planet?) was discovered? Make sure to visit the historic Lowell Observatory – night visits include lectures, presentations, and views through telescopes on clear nights!
No trip up to Flagstaff would be complete without finding a good bite to eat, and there are plenty of options to choose from no matter the time of day hunger may strike! For breakfast, Mike and Ronda’s The Place restaurant is a local favorite, from giant and tasty biscuits with savory gravy to omelettes and griddle favorites such as pancakes, waffles, and French toast. (If you find yourself back home and longing for another visit, The Place now has two locations in the Phoenix area – Glendale and Scottsdale!) For lunch or dinner, Satchmo’s serves up zesty Cajun and Barbecue choices, while another Flagstaff original, Diablo Burger, specializes in locally sourced and incredibly tasty burgers on English muffins. Need a little something to wet your whistle while you dine? Beaver Street Brewery and Lumberyard Brewing Company are just two options for a great craft beer with your meal. For a true craft and microbrew experience, Dark Sky Brewing offers multiple rotating and unique options with something to please every beer drinker. There’s also a food truck outside to pair a bite with your drink of choice!
Truly, this is all just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this Northern Arizona city. Whether you’re looking for an exciting outdoor adventure, unbelievable sights to see, or just a getaway up north with friends or family, Flagstaff is truly a cool escape with plenty to offer everybody! Visit https://www.flagstaff.com/ for even more information.