Flagstaff, Arizona, is often thought of as the gateway to the Grand Canyon, but really it serves as the threshold to so much of northern Arizona’s incredible natural locations. With national forests such as Coconino National Forest and incredible natural sights like Walnut Canyon and Oak Creek Canyon, the Grand Canyon is just one of the incredible natural wonders near Flagstaff.
Here is our ultimate travel guide to Flagstaff, Arizona.
Best Time To Go To Flagstaff, AZ
A photo from Sunset Crater National Monument, Arizona, USA
Travelers generally agree that September to November is the best time to visit Flagstaff. During these months the summer crowds dissipate and the foliage slowly works its way into the backdrop of the city.
The weather during these months steadily becomes crisper, however, the skies are constantly clear and beautiful, quite welcoming to outdoor adventurers.
Winter sports lovers may want to try the months between December and February. Winter sports lovers flock to Flagstaff every year to enjoy Arizona Snowbowl, Arizona Nordic Village, and Coconino National Forest.
The spring unfortunately is known for its high winds making a stay in Flagstaff less pleasant. The summer is a popular time to come with its constant 80-degree weather, but there will be quite large crowds.
What To Know When Visiting
View of Sunset Crater in the Coconino National Forest near Flagstaff, Arizona.
Flagstaff, AZ, may be the closest city to the Grand Canyon National Park, but it is far more than just the gateway to the Grand Canyon.
Flagstaff is a thriving little city with a great outdoorsy culture perfect for its surroundings. The city itself is vibrant with popular shops restaurants and great accommodations as Flagstaff is quite the destination.
At 7,000 feet, Flagstaff has much cooler summers and enjoys all four seasons unlike other parts of Arizona at lower elevations. Many of the US Olympic teams make use of Flagstaff’s altitude for training too.
Travelers that love star gazing will love how clear the night sky is around the city. There is much to do in Flagstaff, Arizona even travelers never make it to the Grand Canyon.
Best Ways To Get Around
Cacti near Flagstaff, AZ
Flagstaff is home to a public bus that runs regular routes throughout Great Flagstaff, however, having a car really simplifies getting around.
Travelers may also enjoy making use of a bicycle or exploring pedestrian-friendly areas like the Historic Downtown and Railroad District by foot. However, getting to destinations outside the city is made easier with a car.
A photo of a road near Flagstaff, United States
Travelers looking for the easiest way to navigate their way around Flagstaff will want a car. Driving through Flagstaff is quite easy, though parking can be a challenge in the downtown area.
The general advice from locals is to bike or walk downtown. One fun drive for travelers the Historic Downtown and Railroad District through Oak Creek Canyon on the way to the Grand Canyon is incredibly scenic.
By Taxi, Uber, & Lyft
A photo of the city of Flagstaff, United States
Traditional taxis are plenty prevalent in Flagstaff, but travelers won’t be able to easily hail them from the road. Travelers will likely need to have their hotel concierge order a taxi for them or they can order one through Flagstaff’s official tourism site.
Travelers that prefer to make use of Uber or Lyft will also still be able to enjoy their favorite ride-sharing app.
FLAGSTAFF, ARIZONA, USA- June 2, 2017: Beautiful view of the historic city center of Flagstaff
Flagstaff itself may be too spread-out to be entirely accessible by foot, however, travelers can definitely enjoy parts of Flagstaff by foot.
The city is quite pedestrian friendly and areas like the city’s downtown are great to enjoy on foot. The only thing dragging down the city’s Walk Score to a 39 is the distance between the city’s attractions.
Flagstaff, AZ USA – October 24, 2016: Cityscape view of the historic downtown area with vintage architecture.
Flagstaff’s Mountain Line public transportation system offers a nice network of buses that run nice routes throughout the city and a great area. If travelers plan rather well, they can have a good time in Flagstaff making use of the bus system.
The rides are cheap too: $1.25 for an adult one way and $2.50 for an adult day pass. Purchasing these tickets is extremely easy. Travelers can do so on the buses themselves, at the Mountain Line office, or online. It will be a challenge to use the busses to get between some of the spread-out locations.
A photo of Snow capped mountains beneath a beautiful blue sky in Flagstaff, Arizona
The locals of Flagstaff love getting around on bicycles. About eight percent of all trips made in Flagstaff are made by bicycle and Flagstaff averages 1.9 bicycles per household. Flagstaff’s clear weather makes the city quite inviting to riders.
The city is also home to 130 miles of dedicated bike lanes or rideable shoulders. That’s 70% of major streets. Though cycling may not be great for everyone, it is definitely a great way to get around Flagstaff.
Where To Stay In Flagstaff
A photo of Inner Basin Trail in Northern Arizona
With so thousands of travelers making their way to Flagstaff each year, with the Grand Canyon so close, there are quite few accommodation options in Flagstaff. To help travelers out, here is a look at three of the top accommodations in Flagstaff.
Little America Hotel
It may be called Little America Hotel, but its rooms are large with comfortable beds, and spacious bathrooms. Travelers can look forward to the friendly and helpful staff and the cozy lobby fireplace is a nice welcome.
The Silver Pine Restaurant and Bar is a great choice too for travelers who want to stay within their hotel during the evening.
- Address – 2515 East Butler Ave., Flagstaff, AZ 86004
- Amenities – Pool, Fitness Center with Gym/Workout Room, Bar/Lounge, Hiking, Children’s Activities(Kid/Family Friendly), Kids club
Twin Arrows Navajo Casino Resort
Twin Arrows Navajo Casino Resort is great for travelers who want the casino resort experience during their stay in Flagstaff. The stunning backdrop of the San Francisco Peaks serves as just some of this resort’s incredible charm.
Travelers can look forward to the latest in casino gaming as well as incredible amenities like their beautiful heated indoor pool. The resort is a little outside of Flagstaff, but for travelers who want the casino experience, this is a great choice.
- Address – 22181 Resort Boulevard, Flagstaff, AZ 86004-9715
- Amenities – Pool, Fitness Center with Gym/Workout Room, Bar/Lounge, Casino and Gambling, Evening Entertainment
High Country Motor Lodge
High Country Motor Lodge is a stunning boutique motel set in the Arizona wilderness. This lodge blends an iconic 1960s retro feel with a contemporary aesthetic. Found on Flagstaff’s historic Route 66, this hotel is great for travelers who love the classic feel. With 123 rooms including three private cottage suites and two junior suites.
This lodge sits aesthetically on the Colorado Plateau with its 4,700 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting and event space. Travelers will have a great time staying at High Country Motor Lodge.
- Address – 1000 W Route 66 I-40 & Hwy 66, Exit 195, Flagstaff, AZ 86001-6212
- Amenities – Hot tub, Fitness Center with Gym/Workout Room, Coffee shop, Game room, Billiards, Pets Allowed (Dog/Pet Friendly)
Where To Eat In Flagstaff
Flagstaff enjoys a mix of cuisine with traditional American influences as well as Mexican influences on what they have to offer. To help travelers navigate the city’s cuisine, here is a look at four great destinations for travelers to choose from.
MartAnne’s Burrito Palace
A photo of Homemade chorizo breakfast burritos on a rustic wooden board on a white wooden surface, low angle view.
MartAnne’s Burrito Palace is an incredible destination for all sorts of Mexican-inspired offerings. Their breakfast burrito is probably their most popular item and it’s offered all day long.
Their whole menu is worth trying but definitely go for the breakfast burrito with chorizo.
- Address – 112 E Route 66, Flagstaff, AZ 86001-5791
- Contact – +1 928-773-4701
- Cost – $$-$$$
- Fan-Favorite – Breakfast Burrito
The Northern Pines Restaurant
A photo of Huevos Rancheros breakfast
Conveniently found on interstate 40, The Northern Pines Restaurant is a unique locally owned dining location that offers a relaxed dining experience complimented by its long list of delicious menu options.
They even offer a full-service bar with a wide selection of wine, beer, and cocktails.
- Address – 2200 E Butler Ave, Flagstaff, AZ 86004-6006
- Contact – +1 928-266-1929
- Cost – $$-$$$
- Fan-Favorite – Pork Huevos Rancheros
Brix Restaurant & Wine Bar
A photo of pasta Bolognese for dinner
Sourced by local farmers and ranchers from the Northern Arizona and Four Corners region, Brix Restaurant & Wine Bar is a great destination for local, seasonal, fresh, and farm-focused American cuisine.
Travelers looking for a fresh and delicious meal will love this restaurant.
- Address – 413 N San Francisco St, Flagstaff, AZ 86001-4613
- Contact – +1 928-213-1021
- Cost – $$$$
- Fan-Favorite – Pasta Bolognese
The Crown Railroad Café
A photo of Steak & Eggs
Making it their mission to promote an authentic experience in the Flagstaff area, this locally-owned restaurant provides high-quality and mouth-watering meals at a great price.
Travelers don’t necessarily need to arrive to eat either as their cozy lounge area is incredibly popular, and they have fifteen beers on tap. Whether travelers want a meal or a drink, The Crown Railroad Cafe is a great choice.
- Address – 3300 E Route 66, Flagstaff, AZ 86004-4031
- Contact – +1 928-592-5476
- Cost – $
- Fan-Favorite – Steak & Eggs
Top Things To Do In Flagstaff
Travelers to Flagstaff often have the Grand Cayon in mind for their primary destination, and they would be amiss to not have it as their priority, however, Flagstaff is full of wonderful attractions. Here is a look at five of the top things to do in Flagstaff.
Walnut Canyon National Monument
A flower in Walnut Canyon National Monument, Walnut Canyon Road, Flagstaff
Travelers to Walnut Canyon National Monument can hike through the area that was once populated by the Sinagua Indians. The homes of those that once lived in the canyon can still be observed by travelers wandering through.
The unique geography is itself a sight with remarkable sights throughout the canyon.
Grand Canyon Tour from Flagstaff
A photo from Büyük Kanyon, Grand Canyon, United States
Travelers will love this tour of the Grand Canyon South Rim. This day trip from Flagstaff is an excellent choice for nature-loving travelers and first-time visitors to the canyon.
The tour handles transportation and doesn’t have to deal with the long lines at the visitor center. Travelers will love hiking along the Rim Trail and the guides will take travelers to some of their favorite choice locations.
Coconino National Forest
A photo from Coconino National Forest, Sedona, United States
Holding the title of one of the most diverse National Forests in the US. Its changing landscape holds new wonders around every corner.
Travelers will be able to explore mountains and canyons, fish in small lakes, and wade in lazy creeks and streams of Coconino National Forest. Travelers with a passion for nature photography will have a hard time finding a better destination.
Historic Downtown and Railroad District
Flagstaff, USA – May 26, 2022: old historic brick building downtown Flagstaff
The Historic Downtown and Railroad District is a great place to take self-guided tours to learn about the history of the area.
Travelers visiting this area should first stop by their visitor center so they can a full idea of the available tours. Ranging from 30 to 45 minutes, these tours are a free and fun way to get to know the historic parts of Flagstaff.
Small-Group Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend Tour from Flagstaff
A photo from Antelope Canyon, Arizona, USA
This small group tour is an excellent chance for travelers to explore Antelope Canyon’s carved red stone paths. Walking through the canyon with a Navajo through the aesthetic natural curves of the canyon illuminated by occasional shafts of lift entering the canyon from above. Nature lovers will have an excellent time on this tour.
How To Spend A Perfect Day In Flagstaff (Even Without Visiting The Grand Canyon)
Grand Canyon National Park South Rim Trail
The perfect day in Flagstaff, Arizona, probably includes the Grand Canyon, but that usually takes the day or perhaps longer. So, without going to the Grand Canyon, the perfect day starts with a breakfast burrito with chorizo from MartAnne’s Burrito Palace, then it’s off to Coconino National Forest for what will likely be the rest of the morning and some of the early afternoon.
Travelers will then venture to The Northern Pines Restaurant for a late lunch before taking a drive down back through Oak Creek Canyon, so travelers can see the scenery as the sun sets.
Afterward, Travelers can return to The Crown Railroad Café where they will finish off the evening.
Q: What is Flagstaff Arizona known for?
Flagstaff, Arizona is often referred to as the gateway to the Grand Canyon; the notable attraction is just over an hour’s drive away, and watching the sunrise there is a priceless vacation memory to make.
Yet Flagstaff boasts its own attractions too, including lava tubes, hiking, and winter snow sports.
Q: Is Sedona or Flagstaff better?
Visitors to Flagstaff often go there for snow sports in winter, to easily navigate to the Grand Canyon, or to enjoy local (National) parks. Sedona offers similar attractions, with the addition of rock climbing opportunities along the Colorado Plateau and swimming holes.
It’s tough to choose a winner between Flagstaff and Sedona, as both have great adventure opportunities. Why not visit both?
Q: Is it worth visiting Flagstaff?
Flagstaff is an excellent travel destination for people who love the outdoors, including various national parks, in all seasons—but it’s a great place to enjoy fine dining and local watering holes, too.