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7 Things to Do While Visiting Flagstaff Arizona

I've now been to Flagstaff a few times. For day trips, RV trips, and weekend explorations. Every time I go there I am amazed by just how much there is to do in Flagstaff and the surrounding area. It makes a great base camp for any number of activities including visiting state and national parks, museums, sports activities, and space geekery.

Here are my 7 favorite things to do so far. I know there will be many more to come!

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Grand Canyon National Park

Arizona Grand Canyon National Park

I have to list this one because it is obvious. But if you are visiting Flagstaff and have never been to Grand Canyon National Park you really must mark it off your list. It is one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World for a reason. Although I have been four times, it's always been the winter (strange) and I look forward to seeing it in the spring and fall. I also have plans to hike down the Bright Angel Trail and to do a river tour on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. No matter how you see the 277-mile long, 17 million plus-year-old canyons, you will see a glimpse of nature that is powerful and majestic.

Access this park with your America the Beautiful National Park Pass.

Distance from Flagstaff: 1 hour and 30 minutes

Wupatki National Monument

Wupatki National Monument

Wupatki National Monument contains several ancient red-rock pueblos, some ruins are scattered over a large prairie area, some on top of sloping hills. All of them fascinating. The more I try to discover the incredible Sinagua culture, the more humbled I become. The tribal rituals and customs that were handed down over centuries created dwellings that still exist today.

These ancestors of the Hopi and Zuni people were so advanced in their understanding of how to use what was available to them. They traded with other peoples along trade routes, exchanged agricultural products for other goods, and were gifted artisans. Then, what I think is one of the greatest unsolved mysteries of all time, in 1250AD they just disappeared. And no one knows why. Fascinating, right?!

Wupatki is a great spot for sunrise, sunset, and Milky Way photography as well.

Access this park with your America the Beautiful National Park Pass.

Distance from Flagstaff: 1 hour

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument is a nice park showcasing lava flows, craters, trails, and drives. The dominant peak is Sunset Crater but there are many others to photograph and explore. There are several colorful cinder cones formed by extinct volcanoes and large expanses of lava and ash. One of the coolest things about the park is that you can see lava fields up close. Lots of short hikes and things to do.

Access this park with your America the Beautiful National Park Pass.

Distance from Flagstaff: 30 minutes

Lowell Observatory

Lowell Observatory Flagstaff
Photo credit: Lowell Observatory

Are you looking for someplace to get your space geek on while visiting Flagstaff? Look no further than Lowell Observatory. If bars and being a party-animal aren't your thing (they certainly aren't mine) then you can visit the observatory in the evening and use telescopes to see the stars. This spot is where they discovered Pluto, it's also where lunar landing training and star mappings for the moon took place. Flagstaff was the first-ever dark sky city and it is amazing to see this practically in the center of town!

Distance from Flagstaff: It's in Flagstaff proper so it depends on your hotel.

Riordan Mansion State Historic Park

Kitchen in the Riordan Mansion State Park

This historic home is full of Arizona history. You can see how one of Flagstaff's founding families lived and thoughtfully contributed to their local community. 90% of the contents are authentic and if you are a fan of the Arts & Crafts movement, you will absolutely love this place. The docents are so knowledgeable and you will be thrilled with all that they know!

Distance from Flagstaff: It's in Flagstaff proper so it depends on your hotel.


Winslow Arizona

You have to stand on the corner in Winslow Arizona at least once in your life. This iconic Route 66 stop is easy to do from Flagstaff. Take some photos, read a little bit of history, and have a great cup of coffee or meal at La Posada Inn, another part of Winslow and Arizona's deep train history.

Distance from Flagstaff: 1 hour

We also drove from Flagstaff to a few other spots along Route 66 on I-40 West.

Petrified Forest National Park

Petrified Forest National Park

Totally off the radar but worth a visit, Petrified Forest National Park is now one of my favorite national parks. You'll see thousands of years of history right at your feet. Fossils, petrified wood, painted desert steppes, and badlands. It can be done in a day with time for views at all the major overlooks and a few short hikes. It has spectacular views and ancient history right at your fingertips.

Access this park with your America the Beautiful National Park Pass.

Distance from Flagstaff: 1 hour and 45 minutes

I am only just getting started when it comes to exploring Flagstaff and its surrounding area. There is so much to do it makes my head spin! This area is an excellent day trip from Phoenix.

How about you? Have you been to Flagstaff? Have you visited any of my favorites? Do you have a suggestion for another place to explore in the Flagstaff area? Do tell!

For a visual summary of this post, check out my Flagstaff web story!

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Things to Do While Visiting Flagstaff ArizonaThings to Do While Visiting Flagstaff ArizonaThings to Do While Visiting Flagstaff Arizona

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  1. Marcie W. says:

    Would you believe I have lived nearby in Las Vegas all of my life and still have yet to visit the Grand Canyon?! I need to plan a trip and add a few more of these awesome activities to the itinerary.

  2. My kiddos and I may be stopping in Flagstaff this summer. I totally want to visit Grand Canyon National Park even just for an hour.

  3. Oh my god it’s so picturesque. This would be a perfect family getaway when the kids are a little older.

  4. Flagstaff, Arizona looks like a beautiful place to visit. I haven’t been anywhere outside of the New England area, except maybe twice but still on the East Coast. I need to get out more, I think Flagstaff is going to be added to my must-visit list.

  5. There are so many gorgeous places in Arizona to explore–I really need to go back there someday!

  6. CourtneyLynne says:

    Oooo so many fun things to do in flagstaff!! I really should plan a trip out that way one day. The family would love it

  7. Arizona has been on our travel bucket list for a while! I haven’t been to the Grand Canyon since I was a kid. But there’s so much to see and do!

  8. What a trip this would be! And that observatory! I have to get to Arizona soon. Great photos in this post, by the way.

  9. Gret photos Andi. I would love to visit the observatory, if only it were closer!

  10. Great info! Planning to explore Arizona later in the year, so this post was timely for me. The NPs and monuments look stunning. We have visited GC but not the others!

  11. I loved visiting Flagstaff when my daughter was attending NAU. You highlighted some of my favorite things to do near Flagstaff. Another fun thing to add to your list is the Lava Tube Cave. You can hike inside a mile-long cave that was formed by lava!

  12. the Curious Pixie says:

    Arizona is on my travel wish list, so many incredible places to visit.

  13. I’ve been lucky to visit a few of these places — Winslow, the Petrified Forest, the Grand Canyon — but there are definitely a few more places for me to check out next time I’m in Northern Arizona! (PS The photos are all amazing!)

  14. Your article brings me back memories about visiting this area during government shutdown in October 2013. I was not able to visit Grand Canyon because of that. I just passed Flagstaff on my way to Monument Valley which was not a National Park and was open then. Now I know that there are many other places to visit in this area. My hotel receptionist could not give me good suggestions then. Thanks for sharing.

  15. I’ve been to the GC a few times, but never anywhere else on this list – they all look great!

  16. I only had a chance to visit Sedona and the Grand Canyon during my AZ trip. But I really want to check out the Petrified Forest. I didn’t know Flagstaff was so close to so many spots.

  17. Arizona has been on top of my bucket list for a while now, there’re so many incredible places to see! Thanks for the information.

  18. This is a great post! Your pictures are fantastic! I definitely think everyone should go to the Grand Canyon!

  19. I lived on Flagstaff for 3 months and loved it SO MUCH! Your post brought me back. It’s such a pretty and underrated place, and Sunset Crater in particular is SO COOL.

  20. Ashlee Fechino says:

    Oh so fun! We will have to add the Lowell Observatory to our next trip. I saved your pin on my Pinterest where I plan all our family vacations 😉 Thanks for sharing your adventures.

  21. How fun! I’d love to visit if only for the Grand Canyon. The other activities look great too though.

  22. I usually like to take 10-day road trips to a USA state every year on my quest to visit and explore all 50! Arizona is definitely in my next batch of states that I would like to see (yanno, when it’s safe and whatnot). I had no idea there was so much to do in Flagstaff! I can’t wait to visit!

  23. I had no idea how many great things there were to do in Flagstaff, I seriously cannot wait to visit

  24. Oh goodness nature here is just absolutely breathtaking! I cant wait to visit one day soon.

  25. Walnut Canyon is a must!! It’s a short drive south of Flagstaff and it is absolutely gorgeous. You can hike down to see how they lived on the sides of the canyon and the views are breathtaking.