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45 Things to Do in Flagstaff Arizona

The abundance of fun things to do in Flagstaff Arizona will blow you away. For outdoor adventurers this is an ideal location to explore hiking, biking, climbing, rafting, fishing, and enjoy nature.

Sitting at almost 7,000 ft elevation, Flagstaff gets a lot of snow during skiing season. Spring, summer, and fall are ideal for hiking and biking around Flagstaff. In every season you will find tons of outdoor activities in the area.

In this post I’m sharing 45 fun things to do in Flagstaff Arizona, including some of the best day trips from Flagstaff.

 

Flagstaff Arizona best things to do.

 

1.      Historic Downtown

Visit historic Route 66 and the train station in downtown Flagstaff. America’s Highway cut through Flagstaff and you can visit the Amtrak train station where you’ll find a giant Route 66 logo painted on the ground.

From the train station walk about downtown and explore the shops, pubs, and cafes along San Francisco Street. Hang a right on Phoenix Street, just past the Lumberyard beer pub and view the Route 66 mural by Mural Mice.

Wander the side streets to see historic hotels and buildings, and while you roam, you’ll notice there is no shortage of great coffee shops in Flagstaff.

 

Flagstaff Arizona Route 66 mural of old cars.

The Route 66 mural on Phoenix Street

 

2.      Coffee Shops

Normally I wouldn’t list coffee shops as something to do, but Flagstaff has a certain café culture, and you should participate to get the full on Flagstaff vibe.

Here are a couple of my favorite coffee shops in downtown Flagstaff.

Macy’s European Coffee House & Bakery at 14 S Beaver St is in central Flagstaff. Coffee + bakery = 2 of my favorite words :)

Firecreek Coffee on Route 66 across from the Amtrak Station is a groovy hangout for coffee and pastries. In the evenings they serve wine and beer.

 

3.      Best Downtown Beer Joints

What’s better than a cold beer after a day out hiking or biking? Enjoying a refreshing beer out on a patio.

Here are four downtown Flagstaff beer joints where you can quench your thirst.

Hop on over to Hops on Birch at 22 E Birch Ave (a couple blocks north of Route 66) for craft beers in a chillax setting, and outdoor seating on the patio.

Lumberyard Brewing Company at 5 S San Francisco St is in the heart of Flagstaff. This microbrewery has a patio with firepit and a pub grub menu.

Mother Road Brewing at 7 S Mikes Pike St just off Route 66 is a craft brewery with indoor and outdoor seating, the patio is dog friendly so you can bring your pup while you enjoy a pint.

Dark Sky Brewing centrally located at 117 N Beaver St will fill your belly with pints and pizza, and the outdoor patio is dog friendly.

 

Hiking and Biking Trails

Flagstaff has an excellent urban trails system, the hike and bike trails within the city offer a place to unwind and enjoy nature.

 

4.      Mars Hill Trail

1.9 miles (3 km) round trip

From Thorpe Park this out and back trail climbs up Mars Hill through the pine forest.

It’s an easy hike that’s part of the Flagstaff Urban Trails System (FUTS) and perfect for beginner hikers or when you’re looking for something not too strenuous.

 

5.      Sinclair Wash and Labyrinth

5.7 miles (9.2 km) round trip

Mostly flat dirt trail that features a labyrinth, watch for the sign just east of Lone Tree Road. The trail starts at Fort Tuthill Park and ends at an intersection of the Arizona Trail.

 

6.      Schultz Creek

8.5 miles (13.7 km) round trip

In north Flagstaff, Schultz Creek Trail is super popular for mountain biking, so be aware if you are hiking the trail. It’s a beautiful hike in the forest, lots of shade.

Mountain bikers rate it as moderate with some rocky areas, and fun on the downhill.

 

7.      Fatman’s Loop

2.4 miles (3.9 km) round trip

An enjoyable moderate hike with about 550 ft elevation gain and some decent views. I got a bit lost hiking this trail as there are unmarked trail intersections, and I’m directionally challenged.

If you use a hiking app it’s wise to download the map for this hike.

 

Flagstaff hiking trails sign.

 

8.      Campbell Mesa Loop

5.7 miles (9.2 km) round trip

Campbell Mesa Loop is a lovely hiking (or biking) trail through a gorgeous ponderosa pine forest. Lots of birds on the trail especially around sunrise or sunset.

This is a beautiful and easy hike for all skill levels, and not much elevation change so it’s great for beginner hikers.

 

9.      Buffalo Park

2 miles (3.2 km) round trip

The Nate Avery Loop trail at Buffalo Park is a nice short, flat hike atop a mesa with panoramic views including the San Francisco range and Mt Elden. Lots of wildflowers in the springtime.

Sorry, there are no live buffalo in the park but there is a sculpture of a buffalo at the entrance to the park.

 

Buffalo Park Flagstaff with buffalo sculpture at the entrance.

 

10.  Mt Elden Lookout Trail

6.3 miles (10.1 km) round trip

With 2,313 ft elevation gain the Mt Elden Lookout Trail is a difficult and strenuous hike with the reward of spectacular views at the top.

 

11.  Picture Canyon

Tom Moody trail a great little loop trail at Picture Canyon that takes you along a small canyon, a waterfall, and pictographs on the canyon walls.

Tom Moody Loop Trail is an easy 4 mile (6.3 km) hike with little elevation gain. There are several places to rest in the shade when it’s hot out.

 

12. Fort Tuthill

A big, beautiful park surrounded by ponderosa pines, a few miles south of Flagstaff and great for year round outdoor adventures.

Enjoy camping, archery, disc golf, extreme adventure course, and visit Fort Tuthill Military Museum. Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in winter and hiking/biking trails in the warmer months.

 

13. Lowell Observatory

Enjoy stargazing experiences at Lowell Observatory, one of the oldest observatories in the United States, established in 1894.

Learn about the nights skies, telescopes, and the history of the observatory on one of the guided tours at Lowell Observatory.

 

14. San Francisco Peaks

Humphreys Peak is the highest point in the state of Arizona at 12,633 ft elevation. And it’s one of the San Francisco Peaks north of Flagstaff.

Experienced hikers can do the 12.2 mile trek up Humphreys Peak, with 3,343 ft elevation gain.

Those of us not quite ready for such a strenuous hike can do a loop drive featuring the San Francisco Peaks, get more info on the Forestry Service website.

 

San Francisco Peaks Flagstaff Arizona mountain range.

The San Francisco Peaks

 

15. Frances Short Pond at Thorpe Park

Thorpe Park is a beautiful urban park which includes the Frances Short Pond, a trout stocked pond in the Rio del Flag neighborhood.

This is the perfect place to relax and do some fishing and birdwatching in Flagstaff. You’ll see lots of ducks and other birds around the pond.

Mars Hill hiking trail is a short walk north from the park as is the historic original Flagstaff replica.

 

16. Historic Flagstaff Marker

Do you know why Flagstaff is named Flagstaff?

On July 4, 1876, a group of settlers from Boston attached an American flag to a ponderosa pine, its branches removed to make a flag staff. And voila! Flagstaff

You can see the replica flag staff and historic marker a short walk north of Frances Short Pond. There are also some colorful mosaic tile art works in the Rio del Flag neighborhood.

 

17. Museum of Northern Arizona

Explore art and artifacts in a beautiful historic stone building and afterwards explore the hiking trails through the ponderosa pine forest.

The Museum of Northern Arizona has an excellent gift shop with a large selection of Native American jewelry designs if you are looking for unique souvenirs.

Be sure to visit the permanent exhibit Native Peoples of the Colorado Plateau with artifacts, historical and cultural info from 10 tribes of the Colorado Plateau region.

Current hours: 10 am – 4 pm from Thursday to Sunday (advance tickets required)

 

18. Arboretum of Flagstaff

Open from May 1 to October 31

With 200 acres and over 750 species of native plants the Arboretum of Flagstaff is a gem for gardening enthusiasts and those that want to learn more about gardening in this high elevation region.

Hours: 9 am – 4 pm from Wednesday to Sunday

 

19. Snow Bowl

14 miles – 25 minute drive

The Arizona Snow Bowl is a ski resort in the San Francisco Peaks north of Flagstaff, but you can also enjoy the Snow Bowl in warmer months.

For summer season enjoy the scenic chairlift, also excellent for fall foliage viewing, and of course skiing in winter.

Bring sunscreen because UV rays are more intense at higher elevation. And bring layers so you can stay warm and comfortable at colder temperatures at the top.

Pack a picnic lunch, grab a snack from the food truck, or dine on the deck outdoors and enjoy the views.

 

20. Pioneer Museum

Although currently closed, it’s worth a visit when things get back to normal again. Check for updates on the Pioneer Museum website.

The Pioneer Museum began life as a hospital in 1908 but later it was converted into a museum. Explore the exhibit rooms and the outdoor area which features an old locomotive.

Hours: 10am – 4 pm from Monday to Saturday

 

21. Riordan Mansion State Historic Park

Reopening soon!

The Riordan Mansion was built by Michael and Timothy Riordan in 1904 and is about 13,000 square feet.

Tours of the mansion run hourly (on the hour) and take about 1 hour. You can also do a self-guided tour of the grounds, get the brochure at the visitor center.

Summer hours: 9:30 – 5:00 daily from May 1 to October 31

Winter hours: 10:30 – 5:00 Thursday to Monday from November 1 to April 30

 

22. Lava River Cave

19 miles – 35 minute drive

Volcanic activity in the vicinity leaves interesting geologic features, like the lava tube located 14 miles west of Flagstaff in the Coconino National Forest.

The .75 mile long lava tube is normally open year round but the roads leading to it often close in winter due to snow and mud. You can still ski to the lava river cave in winter.

Bring a headlamp and flashlight (remember to check the batteries) and wear rugged hiking shoes. Expect cool temperatures in the lava cave, around 40 F (5 C) in summer months.

No entrance fee or parking fee

 

23. Sunset Crater

20 miles – 30 minute drive

Take a short drive north of Flagstaff to visit Sunset Crater.

Almost 1,000 years ago a volcanic eruption created what is now known as Sunset Crater. The top of the cinder cone volcano glows reddish-orange at sundown, hence the name.

You can hike the trails at Sunset Crater – ranging from short easy walks only a quarter-mile, and up to 3.4 miles round trip for the Lava’s Edge Trail.

Bring water, sunscreen, and a wide brimmed hat in warmer weather. Wear sturdy hiking shoes because the lava is brittle and sharp.

 

Sunset Crater Volcano Elevation 8,039 ft

 

24. Lake Mary

13 miles – 20 minute drive

If you want to go kayaking, canoeing, or paddle boarding then Lake Mary is an excellent choice and a short drive south of Flagstaff.

Lake Mary refers to two lakes, first you will see Lower Lake Mary, the smaller lake, and a short distance away Upper Lake Mary is a long narrow lake.

At Lake Mary there is a boat launch, ramadas, picnic tables, and restrooms. The drive alongside the lake is beautiful, a nice getaway from the city and refreshing to see water!

 

25. Mormon Lake

27 miles – 35 minute drive

If you keep driving south from Lake Mary you will get to Mormon Lake, a shallow and intermittent lake. Sometimes Mormon Lake is the largest natural lake in Arizona and sometimes drought conditions make it disappear.

You can rent cabins at the Mormon Lake Lodge and there are a couple of campgrounds nearby.

 

26.  Elden Pueblo

One of many Indian ruins around Flagstaff, the Elden Pueblo is a short drive from downtown on US-89 North.

Construction of the Elden Pueblo took place between 1100 – 1275 CE by the Sinagua people. The site contained 60 – 70 rooms built from stones and clay mortar.

Elden Pueblo Archaeological Site features an interpretive trail (you can download it with a QR code at the trail) so you can do a self-guided tour.

 

Flagstaff Elden ruins with stone walls

Eldon Pueblo Flagstaff Arizona

 

27.  Walnut Canyon

12 miles – 20 minute drive

Cliff dwellings with 2 trails, rim trail, and island trail.

The Island Trail follows alongside the cliff dwellings and you can see other dwellings across the canyon. It’s a short but beautiful loop trail of about 1 mile. Note this is a paved trail but there are over 200 stairs on the trail.

The Rim Trail is mostly flat and will lead you to a scenic overlook of the canyon, picnic area, and pithouses.

 

28.  Wupatki National Monument

45 miles – 50 minute drive

The most impressive of the Indian ruins near Flagstaff, Wupatki National Monument includes five separate pueblos that you can visit.

  • Wukoki Pueblo
  • Wupatki Pueblo
  • Citadel Pueblo
  • Box Canyon Dwellings
  • Lomaki Pueblo

The houses were built from limestone and sandstone and held together with clay mortar. Wupatki Pueblo (located behind the visitor center) is the largest, with about 100 rooms in total, plus the handball court and community room.

 

29.  Homolovi

63 miles – 1 hour drive

Homolovi means “Place of the little hills” in the Hopi language. Located near the town of Winslow, Homolovi State Park is home to over 300 Ancestral Puebloan archaeological sites.

There are five hiking trails at Homolovi, ranging from a quarter-mile to one and a half miles. You will see lots of pottery shards (please look but take only photographs) along the trails.

On the fourth Saturday of every month, Homolovi State Park hosts a star party at the park’s observatory – it starts around sunset.

 

30.  Honanki Ruins & Palatki Heritage Site

50 miles – 1 hour 45 minute drive

Honanki Ruins and Palatki Heritage Site are both accessed via an unpaved road near Sedona, check road conditions before you set out on your journey as rainy weather could make it too muddy for some vehicles. You could also book a Pink Jeep tour from Sedona and let someone else do the driving.

There were at least 70 rooms at Honanki pueblo. It’s a short walk from the parking lot to the ruins.

Hours: 9:30 am to 3:00 pm

Permitted entry via Pink Jeep Tours are offered before 9:30 am and after 3:00 pm

Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas

 

31.  Tuzigoot

65 miles – 1 hour 10 minute drive

Drive south of Flagstaff (near Cottonwood) to the historic pueblo of Tuzigoot, another of the Sinagua pueblos. The site is one of the largest of the Indian ruins, consisting of more than 100 rooms.

The word Tuzigoot is derived from the Apache word for ‘crooked water’ and was named at the suggestion of an Apache member of the excavation project.

The Sinagua people grew beans, corn, cotton, and squash and built the living quarters between 1000 and 1400 CE.

After visiting the historic ruins take the boardwalk trail to Tavasci Marsh and watch for birds in the wetland area.

 

Tuzigoot National Monument Arizona

 

32.  Montezuma Castle

55 miles – 50 minute drive

Montezuma Castle and Montezuma Well is an interesting day trip to the Verde Valley of Arizona. The well preserved cliff dwelling of Montezuma Castle is a unique experience. This is another pueblo of the Sinagua people.

Take a short drive from Montezuma Castle to visit the Montezuma Well, a natural spring fed lake with a walking trail and cliff dwellings. You can also see the old canals the Sinagua people used to water their crops.

 

33. Oak Creek Canyon

20 miles – 30 minute drive

Oak Creek Canyon West Fork Trail is a superb hiking trail and makes a perfect day trip from Flagstaff starting with the scenic drive along Route 89A.

The most beautiful things about this trail are the red rock canyon, shaded hiking area, and several creek crossings. Make sure your kids bring a bathing suit if they want to wade in the water of Oak Creek.

 

34. Slide Rock State Park

23 miles – 35 minute drive

Just a few miles north of Sedona on scenic Route 89 you can slide down an 80 ft natural sandstone rock waterslide in Oak Creek Canyon.

Slide Rock is super popular and it’s on many Top 10 lists for best swimming holes in the United States. Get there earlier in the day before the crowds arrive especially in summer months when it gets crazy busy at the park.

 

35. Sedona

30 miles – 45 minute drive

Once you visit Sedona for a day trip you’ll want to return for more. There’s a ton of fun things to do in Sedona, especially outdoors.

Sedona is known for its energy vortexes and stunning red rock formations. Hike the Little Horse Trail, Airport Vortex, or Cathedral Rock.

For an enlightening experience in Sedona visit the Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park and be sure to hike the trails and walk the labyrinth.

Afterwards enjoy a meal at one of Sedona’s excellent restaurants.

 

36. Williams AZ

33 miles – 35 minute drive

West of Flagstaff you can drive the historic Route 66 and stop in Williams Arizona, gateway to the Grand Canyon.

Located in the Kaibab Forest, Williams AZ enjoys mild summers. You can take a train ride from Williams to Grand Canyon on the Grand Canyon Railway.

 

Old locomotive in Williams Arizona.

 

37. Grand Falls

40 miles – 50 minute drive

If you are visiting Flagstaff in the springtime, be sure to make a trip out to Grand Falls in the Painted Desert region of the Navajo Nation.

The waterfall on the Little Colorado River is 185 ft tall but it only flows for a few months each year in the spring, so you have to have good timing to see this amazing place in Arizona.

 

38. Meteor Crater

43 miles – about 45 minute drive

Meteor Crater is the privately run site of an impact crater. While I must admit I am too frugal to pay $20 to see a giant hole in the ground, other people love visiting Meteor Crater.

Around 50,000 years ago an asteroid crashed into Earth’s surface and created what is not known as Meteor Crater. At the site there is a paved overlook, a short walk, a movie, and gift shop.

 

39. Winslow

58 miles – 1 hour drive

Visit the town made famous by The Eagles song Take it Easy and enjoy standing on the corner in Winslow Arizona.

Go early and enjoy breakfast at the historic La Posada Hotel which also features an excellent gift shop and a gallery of Tina Mion’s amazing paintings.

 

Route 66 Winslow Arizona

 

40. Cottonwood

63 miles – 1 hour

Take a day trip to Cottonwood and the Dead Horse Ranch State Park. Cottonwood is a cute town in the Verde Valley and the oddly named state park is a few minutes from town.

The park features beautiful lagoons and large cottonwood trees along the water. In the fall the trees turn a lovely golden yellow. Cottonwood is a great choice for camping and fishing.

Be sure to visit Main Street in Cottonwood for the one of a kind restaurants and shops including Larry’s Antiques for collectibles and treasures.

 

41. Historic Jerome

70 miles – about 1 hour 20 minute drive

Check out the former copper mining town of Jerome, a fun day trip from Flagstaff, located in the Black Hills of Yavapai County.

Explore the Jerome State Historic Park, Douglas Mansion and the carriage house. Also visit the Jerome Historical Society Mine Museum then take a Ghost Tour in Jerome and find out why it is known as the ‘Wickedest Town in America’.

 

42. Grand Canyon South Rim

72 miles – 1 hour 20 minute drive to South Entrance

81 miles – 1 hour 20 minutes to East Entrance

You have two options for a Grand Canyon road trip from Flagstaff, east entrance, or south entrance. It’s best if you can visit for at least two days at the Grand Canyon, there’s a lot to see.

East Entrance: Visit the Desert View Watchtower, designed by architect Mary Colter, and enjoy stunning views of the canyon. Take the scenic Desert View Drive all the way to Grand Canyon Village.

South Entrance: Park in the Grand Canyon Village then walk a portion of the Rim Trail for spectacular views of the Grand Canyon and visit historic buildings such as Kolb Studio, Bright Angel Lodge, El Tovar Hotel, and Hopi House.

Enjoy a meal at one of rustic lodges in the park, then walk down 1.5 miles of Bright Angel Trail to the first resthouse and back up to the rim.

 

South Rim Grand Canyon Arizona

 

43. Prescott Arizona

95 miles – about 1 hour 35 minutes

Prescott was the first territorial capital of Arizona, although the capital is now Phoenix. Prescott enjoys mild winters and cooler summers than Phoenix so it’s a popular weekend vacation spot.

Something unique about Prescott is the abundance of beautiful lakes near town, as well as lots of great hiking trails in the Prescott National Forest. Wolf Creek Falls a fun hike and Watson Lake features hiking trails all around the lake and the Granite Dells rock formations.

You’ll find lots of things to do in Prescott for a day trip, better still spend a weekend in historic Prescott.

 

44. Petrified Forest

110 miles – 1 hour 45 minute drive

With the largest concentration of petrified wood in the world, the Petrified Forest is fascinating to explore. The park road is 26 miles long and features several interesting stops and hikes along the way.

Be sure to get a map at the entrance station or visitor center. It lists all the hikes and places of interest in the park. Read my post about visiting Petrified Forest in one day.

 

45. Navajo Bridge

123 miles – 2 hour drive

There are two bridges over the Colorado River – one for vehicles and one for pedestrians. There is also a gift shop and covered picnic area. Read more about visiting Navajo Bridge.

Although this is longer than some people prefer for a day trip, I lived in Texas long enough that a 4-hour round trip drive makes a pleasant day’s journey.

At the Navajo Bridge and at several places along the way from Flagstaff you will find excellent Navajo jewelry and art work.

 

More Things to Do in Arizona

Here are a few more places to see in Arizona. All of these would make excellent weekend trips or connect them all and do an Arizona road trip.

Grand Canyon North Rim gets fewer visitors than the South Rim but it’s just as spectacular!

Horseshoe Bend in Page Arizona is a wonderful one-of-a-kind hike

Saguaro National Park is in Tucson Arizona – great for winter vacations, with lots of hike and bike trails

Wave Cave Hike is a great hike near Phoenix, in the Tonto National Forest

 

Route 66 emblem at the Amtrak station in Flagstaff.

Get your kicks on Route 66

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