Most people probably do not envision Flagstaff when they think of Arizona. This city is a far cry from the desert regions just a few hours away because it is surrounded by ponderosa pines, volcanoes, and even a ski hill.
A full range of activities, many of which are difficult to find in other parts of Arizona, are available in this region, which is located at an elevation of about 6,900 feet, where the climate is cool and snow-covered for the majority of the winter.
Many people travel to Flagstaff in the summer to sightsee, hike, and enjoy the outdoors as it offers a welcome respite from the heat of lower-lying areas like Phoenix or Tucson.
You can visit Native American archeological sites at any time of year, wander through the volcanic landscape, or learn about the local history at some of the nearby museums and attractions.
Best Places to Visit in Flagstaff
See our list of the top things to do in Flagstaff for suggestions on how to fill your time while you’re here.
1. Walnut Canyon National Monument
One of the most impressive tourist destinations in the area, both for culture and scenery, is Walnut Canyon National Monument, which is situated not far east of Flagstaff.
The steep canyon walls, which lead to the shallow and dry Walnut Creek at the bottom, are lined with ancient Sinagua cliff dwellings. You can see the ruins on the far wall and the canyon from the visitor center.
2. The National Monument of Sunset Crater Volcano
As you travel along Interstate 40, you might not notice the more than 600 volcanoes that dot the landscape between Flagstaff and Williams. The newest of these is Sunset Crater Volcano, and it has a spectacular landscape that is difficult to fully appreciate until you visit the monument.
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The cinder cone itself resembles a massive black sand dune, with tiny lava granules tumbling down the inclining hillside. There are paths along the base. While some trails are broad and paved, others wind through undeveloped terrain.
3. The National Monument at Wupatki
The Colorado Plateau’s Wupatki National Monument, located north of Flagstaff in a sizable grassland area, is the location of some intriguing and well-preserved American Indian ruins.
The collection of pueblos scattered across the monument provides a brief window into a way of life that coexisted and flourished here between the years of 1100 and 1200.
The main hub for trade between various cultures was the Wupatki Pueblo, which was in a strategic location. The impressive structures are made of stone and mud, and they can occasionally reach two or more stories high.
4. Arizona Snowbowl
For skiers from the north, Snowbowl can offer a distinctive skiing experience. The peak elevation of this ski area is 11,500 feet, and it is situated on the flank of an extinct volcano known as the San Francisco Peaks. Arizona has other ski areas, but the Arizona Snowbowl is the best.
The top offers views of the distant cinder cones and the Grand Canyon beyond the level plateau below. In many cases, especially in the spring, you are looking out over a land of trees and grass rather than fields of snow.
5. Lowell Observatory
The Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff provides a rare opportunity to view and learn about the various celestial bodies. It is situated on a hill high above the main streets.
Throughout the day and night, there are frequent short programs on a range of topics. The majority of these only last 30 to 60 minutes, so it’s important to check the schedule before you visit.
6. Northern Arizona Museum
More than five million objects related to Northern Arizona and the Colorado Plateau are in the collection of the Museum of Northern Arizona, which was established in 1928. Native American artifacts, works of fine art, and items associated with natural science are just a few examples of the topics and collections covered.
The Geology Gallery, the Babbit Gallery, the outdoor James Golightly courtyard, and the Hopi Kiva Gallery are among the five permanent exhibitions that highlight the Colorado Plateau.
The museum additionally hosts unique traveling exhibits and holds unique Heritage Festivals four times a year. The Pioneer Museum is right across the street from it.
7. The State Historic Park at Riordan Mansion
The Riordan Mansion State Historic Park is situated on the campus of Northern Arizona University, somewhat concealed behind a few structures and surrounded by sizable pines.
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The structure, which was constructed in 1904, is a superb illustration of Arts and Crafts design. The structure has impressive structural components, including volcanic stones, and log slab siding. The interior of the structure has been expertly restored, incorporating both vintage items and original components from the turn of the century.
8. Pioneer Museum
Due to the preserved steam engine and 1929 boxcars in front of the main structure, the Pioneer Museum is simple to spot from Highway 180.
The museum, which is housed in a former hospital built in 1908, features artifacts and other items from Flagstaff’s early history. With rooms devoted to each decade, the emphasis is on the growth of Flagstaff from 1880 to 1960. Information and exhibits on the region’s logging and ranching history are also included.
9. Exhilarating Experiences Flagstaff
Visit Extreme Adventures Flagstaff for an afternoon of heart-pounding adventure between 15 and 60 feet above the ground. To navigate a tree-top course with more than 70 obstacles safely, you can sign up for a course led by an experienced instructor.
There is also the option to simply fly around on the biggest zipline course in the Western United States. Although the ziplining is self-guided, you will receive extensive safety instructions before beginning.
10. Historic Downtown: The Old City
Historic Downtown Flagstaff still has traces of Route 66 and a collection of old structures. This roughly 12-block area is packed with interesting eateries, boutiques, and tourist attractions.
The towering Hotel Monte Vista and Orpheum Theater signs are among the numerous neon signs and sizable free-standing billboards that have been renovated and are illuminated at night. Particularly on Aspen Avenue, there is a fantastic collection of old structures.
As the “City of Seven Wonders,” Flagstaff has attracted visitors since the early 1900s when they first flocked to Northern Arizona to see its wealth of tourist attractions. These include ancient Puebloan archaeological sites as well as other natural features like craggy canyons, crumbling craters, vast forests, and majestic mountain peaks.