Many know Flagstaff, Arizona for its small, college town atmosphere (home to Northern Arizona University), its high elevation (nearly 7,000 feet!) or simply as a place to gas up before driving the final leg into the Grand Canyon. For the folks who think Flagstaff is limited to only these things, they are surely missing out because Flagstaff offers its visitors so much more. When you visit the Grand Canyon, stop in Flagstaff of a bit – for more than just a tank of gas – get out and see all this fantastic city has to offer!
A true Arizona treasure, Flagstaff is an eclectic mix of outdoor recreation, beautiful scenery, mountainous peaks and cool downtown vibe. It is the largest city in Northern Arizona and is surrounded by fresh air and pine forests. Its climate offers the best each season has to offer – snowy wonderlands in the winter months, sunny springs, cool, breezy temperatures in the summer and crisp falls with vibrant changing leaves. The city itself is just shy of 65 square miles and can be found at the bottom of the mighty San Francisco Peaks. The historic Route 66 runs right through town, with eclectic shops and restaurants along the way. Accessing Flagstaff is easy as it is just off Interstate 17 and I-40, a popular route for those on their way to the Grand Canyon.
Winter or Summer, Flagstaff is an Outdoor Enthusiast’s Paradise
With expansive coniferous forests just outside their backdoors, visitors can partake in a variety of recreational activities any time of year. In the warmer months, visitors have ample places to camp, hike, backpack, boat, hunt, fish and mountain bike riding. Flagstaff has an extensive urban trail system that many of the locals like to use for exercise. The mild temperatures of the summertime, coupled with the afternoon monsoon rains, have the desert dwellers of Phoenix flocking to Flagstaff in the summertime to get some respite from the blistering heat.
Cold winter months in Flagstaff provide visitors with ample skiing, snowshoeing, cross country skiing and snowboarding opportunities. And if sledding and snow forts are more your thing, Buffalo Park is a great place for families to burn off some energy and play in the snow.
Flagstaff Snowbowl is open year-round with skiing and snowboarding in the winter and ski lift rides in the summertime. Olympic athletes have been known to train at the Flagstaff Nordic Center, about 15 miles from downtown. Its pristine courses and high elevation (8,200 feet!) make for excellent training grounds. According to the Center, in fact, because it is only about 60 miles south of the Grand Canyon, many visitors on their way there make a specific stop at the Nordic Center to ski before heading to the Canyon.
Ample Things to See and Do
If you decide to make Flagstaff a destination during your trip to the Grand Canyon, there will not be a shortage of things you can pack into your stay.
For those who enjoy expanding their minds, places like Lowell Observatory, the Arboretum at Flagstaff and Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument are recommended stops. Nightlife isn’t hard to come by as many like to grab a cold one at Beaver Street Brewery and check the historic downtown charm.
Those traveling with children Thorpe Park and Fort Tuthill County Park come in handy, as do the ice cream and handcrafted candy shops scattered throughout town. The visitor center is located inside the train station downtown where kids can see an engine up close and feel its powerful wind from the benches outside of the station. Flagstaff is a very dog-friendly town, too, so if you are traveling with Fido, he’ll be in good company as fury friends can be seen joining their owners at Late for the Train coffee shop or wandering around downtown, where many shop owners leave bowls of water available outside their stores.
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Little America Hotel Flagstaff: One of the most desired properties in the area, Little America offers lovely views and plush accommodations somewhat secluded from the hustle and bustle of downtown.
Drury Inn & Suites: Centrally located and one of the newest properties in Flagstaff, Drury Inn & Suites offers modern, earth-friendly accommodations, making this one of the most desired hotels in the area.
Hilton Garden Inn & Suites: With conveniences that appeal to both family and business travelers, this property is an ideal place to stay in-town and on-budget.
La Quinta Inn & Suites: Conveniently located a short distance off of Interstate 17 and a short drive to get to downtown, the La Quinta Inn & Suites makes a great, budget-friendly place to stay in Flagstaff during your Grand Canyon vacation.
Radisson Woodlands Hotel: Located just off the iconic Route 66, this property offers guests closer access to destinations such on the opposite side of Flagstaff such as Sunset Crater and Wupatki National Monument.
Budget Inn: Affordable and right off the historic Route 66; the Budget Inn gives budget-conscious travelers a decent place to stay adjacent to downtown.
Best Western Pony Soldier Inn & Suites: This nationally-recognized brand delivers affordable rates and competitive accommodations off Interstate-40 in Flagstaff.
Highland Country Inn: Located in the heart of Flagstaff, Highland Country Inn is an affordable lodging option, especially for those who want the convenience of being within close proximity to the best of what Flagstaff has to offer.
Hotel Aspen Inn Suites: Located along the iconic Route 66 in Flagstaff, the Hotel Aspen Inn provides eclectic aesthetics and budget-friendly lodging for Grand Canyon tourists.
Ramada West: Conveniently located to downtown, Flagstaff, the Ramada West offers affordable, basic accommodations where kids under 17 stay free with an adult.
Days Hotel: Priced for the budget-conscious, the Days Hotel Flagstaff offers very basic accommodations but at an affordable price.