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Cool Things To Do In Flagstaff – A Unique Visitors Guide

Flagstaff, AZ, is a beautiful city that offers plenty of things to do for tourists and locals alike. From hiking and biking in the city’s forests to visiting museums and cultural attractions, there is something for everyone in Flagstaff.

“Flag,” as it’s often called, is home to Northern Arizona University and is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. People who live in Phoenix make the 2-hour drive to Flagstaff in the summer months to escape the heat and during the winter to play in the snow.

If you run out of things to do in Phoenix and need to get away, Flagstaff is the perfect spot.

Here are some of the best things to do in Flagstaff, AZ.

Things To Do In Flagstaff

Arizona Snowbowl

Arizona Snowbowl, a ski resort in Flagstaff, AZ, is perfect for sightseeing and recreation. It offers skiers and snowboarders of all levels a place to enjoy the slopes during winter, with plenty of trails for everyone from beginners to experts.

During the spring and summer, take a scenic chair lift ride to take in Flagstaff’s spectacular views. In the fall, check out Aspen Corner for a beautiful trail surrounded by aspen groves and alpine meadows.

Ticket prices and hours will vary depending on the season, so check out the Arizona Snowbowl website beforehand.

Headed to other spots in Arizona? Check out things to do in Tucson

Explore a Meteor Crater

View of Meteor Crater Pin
Photo credit: Depositphotos.com

A famous crater to visit near Flagstaff is the Meteor Crater Natural Landmark, located about 35 miles east of the city. The crater is around 50,000 years old and a must-see for any geology lover.

While you can’t hike to the bottom of the crater, you can take a guided rim tour or walk up to the lookout points for a fantastic view.

Tickets range from $16-$25 and include a variety of on-site exhibits. You can explore the Interactive Discovery Center for hands-on activities or check out the Collision 4D Theater for a thrilling space journey and knowledge about meteorites.

Old Town Shops

Visit the Old Town Shops in downtown Flagstaff for an assortment of locally-owned shops, restaurants, and boutiques. The Old Town Shops are located in a historic area of Flagstaff, so you can also admire the beautiful architecture while exploring.

If you’re looking for a hidden gem to shop at, check out P.J. Chilcottage on Leroux Street. This eclectic boutique has something for everyone, with products ranging from handmade soaps to women’s clothing. P.J. Chilcottage is the perfect place to find a unique gift for someone special or treat yourself.

For any fashionistas out there, head over to Basement Marketplace. This store has pieces that can fit any style, from vintage and timeless to trendy. 

Looking for a delectable place to eat in Old Town? Check out Diablo Burger for a fresh bite or Old Town Creperie to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Visit the Grand Canyon

Us at the Grand CanyonPin

Your trip to Flagstaff wouldn’t be complete without visiting the Grand Canyon National Park. It’s about a 2-hour drive from Flagstaff to the South Rim, but it’s well worth it.

The Grand Canyon is one of the most iconic natural wonders in the United States. Visitors from all over the world come to admire its sheer size and beauty.

The 277-mile-long Canyon is home to a diverse array of plant and animal life. In addition, its colorful rock formations are a popular subject for photographers and artists.

For many people, hiking the Grand Canyon is a bucket-list item. And there’s no better way to experience the canyon than by hiking from the South Rim to the bottom and back up again.

It’s a strenuous hike, but it’s well worth the effort. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re planning on making the trek.

Start early in the day, the temperature at the bottom of the canyon can be more than 20 degrees hotter than at the top, so it’s important to get an early start. In addition, be sure to wear appropriate hiking gear and pack plenty of water and snacks. 

Whether you’re gazing down from the rim of the canyon or hiking to the bottom, visiting the Grand Canyon is something to cross off your bucket list.

Coconino National Forest

If you’re looking for a truly diverse landscape, the Coconino National Forest is awesome. This forest covers more than 1.8 million acres and is a must-see for any nature lover.

Whether you want to hike through a cool, shady forest or explore the red rocks of the Sedona wilderness, you’ll find it all here. And with so much landscape to cover, you could spend months exploring and still not see everything this special place has to offer.

The forest is divided into four districts, so check out the Flagstaff District during your stay. You can witness the San Francisco Peaks, the highest mountain in Arizona, and Mormon Lake, Arizona’s largest natural lake. You might even spot a herd of antelope or a bald eagle.

Bring maps, binoculars, and hiking shoes, and be prepared to explore the beautiful landscape.

Related: Things to do in Scottsdale

Museum of Northern Arizona

The Museum of Northern Arizona, located at the base of the San Francisco Peaks, is an institution dedicated to preserving and celebrating Arizona’s Native American heritage and culture.

The museum houses various artifacts, from fine art to natural history specimens. In addition, indigenous people from the Colorado Plateau are represented here, making it a truly invaluable resource.

The museum is also home to various events, including lectures, film screenings, and family-friendly activities. In addition, the exhibits rotate frequently, so there are always new things to learn.

In addition to its educational mission, the Museum of Northern Arizona is also a beautiful and peaceful place to enjoy some time surrounded by Native American culture.

It is recommended to purchase tickets online beforehand. Adult tickets cost $15, and kids nine and under are free.

Dive Into Wet Beaver Creek

Wet Beaver Creek is one of the best things to do in Flagstaff during the summer. Swimming is a great way to beat the heat.

Located about 45 south of Flagstaff, Wet Beaver Creek is a great place to check out the scenery, swim, fish, or hike.

You can hike for 3.5 miles to reach “The Crack,” a swimming hole with perfect cliffs to jump off. If cliff-jumping isn’t your thing, you can sunbathe on the rocks or go for a swim.

Bring a camera and hiking shoes because the trails along the creek offer views of the red rock canyon it runs through and the luscious surrounding riparian area.

Flagstaff Brewery Trail

Formerly known as the Flagstaff-Grand Canyon Ale Trail, the Flagstaff Brewery Trail is a free self-guided tour of the best local breweries in the area. From classic ales and lagers to IPAs and stouts, there’s something for every taste.

There are nine breweries on the trail, and each offers something unique. For example, Beaver Street Brewery is known for its classic and historic beer. At the same time, Dark Sky Brewing Company is famous for its starry night-sky-themed decor and delicious pizza.

You’re sure to find a brew perfect for you on the Flagstaff Brewery Trail. In addition, you’ll get a complimentary pint glass if you complete the trial form and bring it to the Flagstaff Visitor Center.

So grab a friend and explore all the local breweries offer.

Lava River Cave

Lava River Cave in FlagstaffPin

Flagstaff is home to a lava tube that is worth exploring. The Lava River Cave is a result of lava that cooled and solidified around 700,000 years ago. Today, the cave is a well-known destination for hikers and adventure seekers.

The cave is approximately one mile long and features various lava formations. Visitors can also see evidence of ancient lava flows.

However, be prepared and cautious before entering the cave because it can be treacherous.

Bring a light source such as a flashlight, lantern, or headlamp. The lava tube is pitch black inside. You don’t want to misstep and slip on the hard rock. Wear closed-toed hiking or running shoes and warm clothing because the cave’s temperature is 42 degrees year-round.

If you are taller, be prepared to crouch or even crawl on the ground in some areas. Furry friends are not allowed, so travel with a group of friends or family instead, or even solo.

Although the Lava River Cave is not the most beginner-friendly exploration, it is a must-visit for adventurous lovers of the outdoors.

Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Course

The Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Course is a popular zip line and treetop obstacle course. Situated in the Ponderosa Pines of Flagstaff, the course offers incredible views and exhilarating zip lines.

The course is high above the ground, with five adult courses and 70 obstacles, including zip lines, bridges, and rope courses. It is perfect for both experienced thrill-seekers and beginners, with different courses.

There are adult and kid (ages 7-11) Adventure Courses, so bring your family and be prepared to have a blast.

So whether you’re looking for a family-friendly outdoor activity or an adrenaline-pumping adventure, the Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Course is sure to deliver.

Grab a Bite to Eat

There’s no need to be hangry in Flagstaff – there are plenty of delicious places to eat. From fine dining establishments to food trucks, there’s something to suit every taste and budget. 

Flagstaff is home to Salsa Brava’s, the “Best Mexican Restaurant” in Arizona, as rated by Arizona Daily Sun. On their menu, you’ll find a wide selection of traditional Southwest and Mexican dishes made with local ingredients and fresh produce. Salsa Brava’s was also featured on Food Network and Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, so it has a good reputation.

You also can’t go wrong with Pizecletta in downtown Flagstaff. The Neopolitan pizzas are mouth-watering and wood-fired, cooking in under 90 seconds. If you want something a bit more classy, be sure to give Tinderbox Kitchen a try. The menu features American comfort food and cocktails, making it a perfect choice for food lovers.

No matter your culinary taste, you’re sure to find something to your liking in Flagstaff.

Visit National Monuments

If you’re looking to dive into America’s rich history, there’s no better place to start than Flagstaff, Arizona. This city is home to three national monuments, each of which tells an important story about the country’s past.

From looming volcanic cinder cones to ancient archaeological sites, these landmarks offer a unique glimpse into the cultural and natural roots of the United States.

The Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, for example, is the site of a well-preserved volcanic eruption that occurred over 900 years ago. The monument also hosts a variety of plant and animal life, making it a popular destination for hikers and nature lovers.

The Wupatki National Monument, on the other hand, protects several ancient Native American ruins, including dwellings and ceremonial sites.

In addition, The Walnut Canyon National Monument tells the story of the Sinagua people who once lived in cave dwellings along the canyon.

So whether you’re a history-lover or just looking for a unique place to visit, be sure to add Flagstaff’s national monuments to your list.

Unique Ways to Explore the Grand Canyon

Although the Grand Canyon hikes are a popular way to view Arizona’s pride and joy, there are plenty more unique ways to explore the canyon.

Schedule a rafting trip to see hidden waterfalls and side canyons that can only be seen by river access. Coasting down the Colorado River is an exciting endeavor perfect for the family.

There are many places to find a rafting trip, such as Western River Expeditions, OARS, and Rivers & Oceans. You can take a full-day inner canyon river tour, or customize the trip to whatever length you want, so check out their websites.

For a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience, take a Maverick Helicopter Tour over the Grand Canyon.

Reach new heights and get a birds-eye view over this national wonder, all from the safest tourism helicopter in the world. The picture-perfect views and beauty visible from this “limousine of the sky” will not disappoint you.

No matter which Grand Canyon tours you embark on, they will be breathtaking, so don’t stress the details.

Visit the NAU Campus

Whether you are planning to attend classes or just want to explore, check out the Northern Arizona University campus to get an inside scoop of college life in Flagstaff. The campus is surrounded by sky-high pine trees and Arizona’s tallest mountains, so the views are worth visiting.

There’s also plenty to do on campus, from visiting the library or catching a show at the performing arts center. You can also walk through The Arboretum at NAU, which is home to over 750 native plants.

The NAU Art Museum is a minor but mighty institution that offers visitors a chance to experience the diversity of today’s art. There are ongoing and rotating exhibits, so check the calendar to find special events during your stay.

You can register for a student-led campus tour, bring friends, and plan a group tour. Both tour options come with on-campus lunch, so stop by one of the many cafes, restaurants, or campus markets for a bite to eat.

With 29,000 students, the joke is that Flagstaff is a suburb of NAU.

Flagstaff Mall

The Flagstaff Mall is currently the largest in northern Arizona. The mall features over 60 stores, including anchor stores Macy’s, JCPenney, and Sears. The mall has recently undergone several renovations, including adding a new wing with upscale shops and restaurants.

You can enjoy a variety of stores, ranging from Hobby Lobby and Bath & Body Works to Game Stop and Planet Fitness.

Many other activities keep you entertained if you need a break from shopping. Stop by the Food Court for free Wi-Fi, seating by a massive fireplace, and delicious meals. You can also bring your kids to “Camp Wannaplay,” a fun and educational soft play area.

Whether searching for the perfect outfit or just a place to grab a bite, the Flagstaff Mall is a great spot.

Lowell Observatory

Picture of the moon taken through a telescope at Lowell ObservatoryPin

If you’re looking for educational things to do in Flagstaff, check out the Lowell Observatory, one of the oldest astronomical research institutions in the country. The Lowell Observatory is best known for discovering the dwarf planet Pluto in 1930.

Today, the Observatory remains an active research institution and provides opportunities for public outreach, including stargazing events and educational programs.

Visitors can explore the cosmos through the Observatory’s telescopes on Mars Hill or learn about the many research telescopes used for past discoveries.

General Admission tickets cost $25 for adults and $16 for children and give you access to informative talks, tours, and stargazing experiences.

There’s truly no place like space.

Ghost Tours

If you want a hair-raising way to spend the night in Flagstaff, consider taking a ghost tour. These tours typically take place in the evening and provide an opportunity to learn about the spookiest places in the city.

Check out Ghost City Tours or Freaky Foot Tours for a classic haunted history tour. You will visit the most ghostly places in Flagstaff and hear some eerie tales about local ghosts. If you get tired of walking, you can take a haunted Downtown Flagstaff Ghost Tour by segway.

For a more hands-on experience, try the Haunted Downtown Flagstaff Pub Crawl. You will visit three of Flagstaff’s most haunted bars while listening to haunted stories and entertainment.

Bring a jacket because it can get chilly at night, even in the summer.

Hiking In Flagstaff

Mountains in Flagstaff are great for hikingPin

There’s something about Flagstaff that just makes you want to go for a hike. The city is home to various trails, each offering its own unique views and challenges. So whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a first-time visitor, Flagstaff has a trail that’s perfect for you.

Buffalo Park Trail is the perfect hike for a beginner because it is just over 2 miles and takes less than an hour to complete. You’ll also see plenty of people birdwatching and mountain biking along the trail.

Fatman’s Loop Trail is another easy hike with spectacular views of the Flagstaff countryside. It is known for its huge rock formations, particularly one with a 4-foot gap that you walk through, inspiring the name “Fatman’s Loop.”

If you are craving a more strenuous hike, check out Kendrick Peak Trail, which is around 9 miles round trip and one of the highest summits in Flagstaff. This hike takes around 6 hours to complete and takes you through beautiful pine scenery.

No matter what level of hike you are going on, bring water, sunscreen, and good hiking shoes.

North Pole Experience

If you are in Flagstaff during the winter holiday season, check out The North Pole Experience for a unique holiday adventure. Located on 500 acres of private forest, this is the perfect event to get you feeling festive in no time.

Upon arrival, you will be taken on a trolly ride through Santa’s magic portal. You’ll then have the opportunity to meet Santa and his elves in his workshop. And, of course, you’ll get to make some toys along the way.

After that, it’s off to Santa’s Bakery, where you can enjoy cookies with Mrs. Claus. Visitors can also attend Elf University and explore Santa’s mailroom. Finally, at the end of each session, families are given a private visit with Mr. Claus himself.

It is recommended that you wear pajamas, boots, and a hat to stay extra warm and get in the holiday spirit. The North Pole Experience is at a high altitude and can get chilly. 

So bring your family and be prepared to have a jolly time.

Riordan Mansion State Historic Park

The Riordan Mansion State Historic Park is a structure like no other. This 13,000-foot mansion, sitting on a five-acre plot of land, has been preserved for over a hundred years. The mansion is two identical linked houses with rustic details like wood beams and stone arches.

The mansion was built in 1904 by Timothy and Michael Riordan, two wealthy brothers who made their fortune in the timber industry. The houses are an excellent example of the Arts and Crafts style of architecture. They are furnished with period-appropriate furniture and art.

Visitors to the mansion can take an hour-long guided tour of the house and grounds or simply enjoy the property’s beauty on their own.

So whether you’re a fan of architecture, history, or simply beautiful views, add Riordan Mansion to your list of must-see destinations.

Visit Art Galleries

If you’re looking for some artsy inspiration during your stay, check out the art galleries in Flagstaff. Whether you’re a fan of oils, pastels, or mixed media, there’s a gallery for everyone.

If you don’t know where to start, pay a visit to the Coconino Center for the Arts. The center showcases unique local art from the Colorado Plateau area in its 4,000-foot gallery.

The West of the Moon Gallery features a wide selection of fine art, such as jewelry, ceramics, glass, and crafts by local artists. Many exhibits are available for purchase so that you can find the perfect gift for someone special.

Also, stop at The Artists’ Gallery in the historic downtown Flagstaff district. It is the oldest art gallery in the city, with a stunning array of artwork ranging from paintings to ceramics and textiles.

The galleries in Flagstaff are worth checking out, whether you’re an art lover or not. They provide an excellent opportunity to learn about the history and culture of the area, as well as to support local artists. 

Horseshoe Bend

Horseshoe Bend is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the American Southwest. However, the 2-hour drive from Flagstaff is well worth it, as the views from the top of the canyon are breathtaking.

The bend in the Colorado River is truly breathtaking, and beautiful red rock formations surround it.

Don’t forget to bring your camera, as Horseshoe Bend is one of the most photographed places in Arizona. Just be sure to bring plenty of water, as it can get quite hot during summer. 

If you are so inclined, many people kayak and paddle board down this beautiful stretch of the Colorado River.

Antelope Canyon

Just a 2-hour drive from Flagstaff, Antelope Canyon is one of Arizona’s most popular tourist destinations. And it’s no wonder why – the canyon features flowing sandstone formations, carved out over millions of years by wind and water.

To take a tour of Antelope Canyon, you must book a tour with an authorized tour company. If you want to see the famous light beams, the best time to visit is during the summer months.

However, the best time to go to Antelope Canyon is between November and March to avoid crowds and heat.

Bearizona Wildlife Park

Bearizona is a wildlife park located in Williams, Arizona (about 30 miles west of Flagstaff). The park is home to various animals, including bears, wolves, bison, and elk.

Visitors can see the animals up close from the comfort of their own car, or they can take a walk through the park to get an even closer look.

Whether you’re a local looking for a new adventure or a tourist looking to learn more about the area’s wildlife, Bearizona is sure to be an enjoyable experience.

Grand Canyon Railway

The Grand Canyon Railway offers a unique way to experience one of the most iconic landscapes in the United States. The journey begins in Williams, Arizona, where passengers board vintage trains for the trip to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

Along the way, they are treated to stunning views of the canyon and its many layers of rock formations. Upon arrival at the South Rim, passengers have plenty of time to explore the area before boarding the train for the return trip to Williams.

Whether you’re looking for a unique travel experience or a fun-filled day trip, the Grand Canyon Railway is sure to offer something for everyone.

Petrified Forest National Park

Petrified Forest National Park is 1 hour and 30 minutes east of Flagstaff, Arizona. The park is best known for its petrified wood and colorful badlands.

Aside from being a beautiful place to explore, the park also has a rich history. Petrified wood can be found throughout the park, and several fossils of ancient plants and animals exist.

The park also has many interesting geological features, such as the Painted Desert. Petrified Forest National Park is a great place to explore if you’re interested in geology or history.

There are plenty of hiking trails and opportunities to learn about the park’s unique features.

Family-Friendly Indoor Recreation

Flagstaff offers plenty of indoor recreation if you want a break from the great outdoors. There are many fun outdoor activities, but don’t skip these indoor events either.

For more competitive folks, check out Flagtag AZ. This ax-throwing and laser tag facility are perfect for letting loose and having fun. After an afternoon of working up an appetite, grab a slice of pizza from the on-site arcade.

Flagtag is the perfect place to bring friends and family to escape the summer heat or a rainy day.

You can also head over to Starlite Lanes for some bowling fun. The alley has 16 lanes and is equipped with a lounge and arcade.

It also has a snack bar, so you can enjoy pizza, wings, fries, and hot dogs while you bowl. In addition, there are weekly specials for reduced prices, so check out the website to find ways you can save.

Pioneer Museum

The Pioneer Museum in Flagstaff is a must-see for anyone interested in the history of the American West. This one-of-a-kind museum gives visitors a chance to step back in time and experience life as a pioneer in the Arizona Territory during the late 1800s.

Formerly a hospital, the museum has workshops, educational events, and monthly festivals to display the rich history of Flagstaff.

There are three permanent exhibits. First, the Hospital contains an old recovery room and displays conditions of the late 19th century. Next, head to the Decade Rooms to experience the eras of 1880 through 1960. The third exhibit is the grounds, where you can see an old locomotive and caboose.

Adult tickets cost $6, and children’s are $5. If you are interested in learning about the historical development of Flagstaff, the Pioneer Museum is the place to be.

Conquer Your Fears and Zipline

Buckle up because ziplining in Flagstaff is an experience you don’t want to miss. This thrilling activity is perfect for enjoying the area’s stunning scenery.

There are several zipline courses to choose from, each offering its own unique challenges and thrills. The courses vary in length and difficulty, so you can find one perfect for your skill level. And, of course, the views from up high are simply breathtaking.

You can zipline at amusement parks, such as Canyon Coaster in Williams, AZ, and the Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Course.

If you’re looking for an exciting activity that will leave you with lasting memories, ziplining in Flagstaff is definitely for you.

Fort Tuthill County Park

Fort Tuthill County Park is located in the Coconino National Forest just south of Flagstaff, Arizona. The park features various visitor activities and amenities, including hiking and biking trails, disc golf, and equestrian courses.

In the summer, you can enjoy festivals and concerts in the park. The park turns into a snowy playland for kids and adults in the winter.

Flagstaff Segway Tours

Looking for a unique way to explore Flagstaff? Segway tours are a great option.

Flagstaff Segway Tours offers several different tour options, each of which takes you to some of the most popular tourist destinations in the city.

The tours are led by experienced guides who will show you around and provide interesting facts and stories about the places you visit. Best of all, Segway tours are a fun and eco-friendly way to see the sights.

Conclusion

There’s a lot to love about Flagstaff. From the beautiful scenery to the historic attractions and vibrant art scene. The diverse landscape provides various opportunities to explore and appreciate the natural world.

Whether hiking through the redwoods or stargazing in the desert, there are endless ways to connect with nature in this special place.

From its early days as a railroad town to its recent growth as a tourist destination, Flagstaff has always been a vital part of the region’s story.

So if you’re looking for a fun weekend getaway or a place to put down some roots, Flagstaff is definitely worth checking out.

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About the author
Steve
Steve is the owner of Paddle About, a blog that's all about helping people get out and enjoy nature. He loves to kayak, camp, hike and spend time outdoors with his wife and two kids. When he's not out exploring the great outdoors, Steve enjoys writing about his adventures and sharing tips for getting the most out of your outdoor experiences. He has a lot of interesting stories to share, and he's always happy to help others get more out of life.