I recently spent a week in Flagstaff and northern Arizona and it was awesome. Here are my recommendations on what to do in Flagstaff and what to do in northern Arizona.
We flew in to Phoenix and spent a night at the Hampton Inn, then we started the drive to Flagstaff (about 2 hours). Along the way we stopped at a winery called Alcantara Vineyards. If you are also driving from Phoenix, this was a great midway point and had delicious food and wine!
Later that day we arrived in Flagstaff. We stayed at Little America hotel. It was in a great location and had plenty of parking. While it was next to the highway, it was very quiet and the back of the hotel was nestled in the Coconino National Forest.
What to do in Flagstaff
Take an afternoon trip to the Meteor Crater. About a 45 minute drive away, this natural landmark is a sight to see. It’s the best preserved meteor crater on earth and was created 50,000 years ago. It’s about a mile in diameter and 550 feet deep!
Once you are here, watch the short video in their theater on how the crater was formed, then head outside to the viewpoints. You can also opt for a guided tour of the rim – just know that there are no railings on this tour and may be cancelled due to high winds. Don’t worry, the overlooks that aren’t on the tour are still amazing and worth a visit!
Hike Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument. Only a 20 minute drive out of Flagstaff, this is easy to get to and connects to their sister site, Wupatki National Monument.
This area was created a thousand years ago when a volcano erupted. You can walk among the lava flow rocks and learn about how it impacted life in the area. There are 5 hiking trails here. We did the Lava Flow Trail (1 mile loop) and A’a Trail (.25 mile trail). Wear comfortable shoes as you are walking on a mix of concrete and loose lava gravel.
Go to the Grand Canyon. About 1 hour and 45 minutes away, this is a must-see destination while in Flagstaff. It’s one of the most famous national parks. We visited the South Rim and walked the Trail of Time which allows you to walk along the rim – 2 miles round trip – from Mather Point to the Yavapai Point and Geology Museum. We then drove Desert View Drive which offers additional overlook points. Try to get an early start for your visit here. If you arrive later than 9 or 10 am you could wait in an hour long line just to get into the park and you may not find parking.
Take a Day Trip to Sedona. About 45 minutes from Flagstaff, this town is famous for its red rock formations. We did a hike around Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte. There are plenty of trails to choose from ranging in length of 2 miles to 6+ miles. You can also climb right onto Bell Rock itself. Entrance is free but you have to pay to park. Wear a hat and pack plenty of water! There is very little shade and the sun is very strong in Arizona.
While you are here also take a Pink Jeep Tour. They have plenty of options to choose from and ranges in terrain: mild, bumpy, rough, and rugged. We did a rugged tour and man was it bumpy! It was very cool though!! The views were stunning. Make sure to book early as they sell out fast. We booked ours 2 weeks before our trip and only had 2 tour options to choose from!
After walking around the downtown, get dinner at Hideaway House. The views from their deck are amazing and the food is delicious.
(We also drove highway 89A to get to Sedona and the views were amazing!! It brings you down into Oak Creek Canyon. There are many switchbacks and the narrow road hugs the mountain walls so don’t take this route it if that kind of driving scares you. However, it was rated a top 20 most scenic road in National Geographic and I can see why.)
Hike Walnut Canyon National Monument. About a 30 minute drive out of Flagstaff, this was a hidden gem. I’d never heard of it before, but decided to give it a try and we were pleasantly surprised. You can walk down into the canyon and see the ancient cliff dwellings that are nestled into the cliffs. There are two trails: the Island Trail, which descends 185 vertical feet into the canyon and then back up the same way; and the Rim Trail which is paved and an easy ~1 mile walk. We did both. Take your time coming back up the Island Trail as you are in a high elevation and you don’t want to tire yourself out or get sick.
Visit some breweries! We went to Lumberyard, Beaver Street, and Mother Road Brewery. Our favorite was Mother Road – we went back twice!
Relax at Steep Leaf Lounge. A quaint cafe with plenty of tea options (and coffee!)
Treat yourself at Sweet Shoppe Candy Store. Every piece of candy we got here was delicious. The caramel was homemade.
Where to Eat in Flagstaff
Josephine’s Modern American Bistro
Silver Pine Restaurant and Bar
Biff’s Bagels (perfect for a quick bite if you are headed to a National Park for the day)