Check out this charming college town en route to the Grand Canyon from Sedona.
If you feel like you’re an extra in a Cheers episode while you’re in Flagstaff, the reason has a lot to do with the town’s friendly, laidback vibe.
But it also may have a little to do with the fact that actor Ted Danson, who played the show’s legendary bartender Sam Malone, grew up here. His father, Ned Danson, was an archaeologist who served as director of the Museum of Northern Arizona.
“It’s a live-and-let-live vibe,” says Trace Ward, director of the Flagstaff Convention and Visitors Bureau. “People enjoy the character of Flagstaff, whether it’s the architecture, the people, the dogs.”
Home to Northern Arizona University with 21,000 students, the lively historic downtown has a parade of locally-owned shops and restaurants. Beyond, don’t miss the Lowell Observatory where Pluto was discovered and Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Course.
The visitor center alone is worth checking out at One E. Route 66. Ward describes it as a sort of a mini-Hogwarts-esque building. In addition to learning more about the area there, you can buy your Grand Canyon park pass, which will allow you to skip potentially long lines at the park’s entrance.
Route 66 Walking Tour
Founded in the mid-19th century as a railroad and logging town, Flagstaff has a rich history encompassing Native American culture, Arizona’s frontier days, Route 66 and Grand Canyon tourism. Many buildings in the downtown area are more than a century old and fully restored, now housing shops and restaurants. Essential stops (at the intersection of North San Francisco Street and Aspen Ave.) include Winter Sun for Native American crafts, Late for the Train coffee shop and the retro Monte Vista Hotel. Take a self-guided historic walking tour of Flagstaff’s Route 66; download guide at: www.flagstaffarizona.org/wp-content/uploads/route66_walking.pdf.
The Ale Trail
Trade your hiking boots for a pint glass when you embark on the Flagstaff Ale Trail, a self-guided tour of seven breweries in Flagstaff’s historic downtown. Purchase your trail package, which includes a souvenir beer pint and a passport, online or at a brewery. Get it stamped at each brewery to receive beer discounts like $1.50 off pints. If you are still thirsty, your passport is good for a larger Flagstaff-Grand Canyon Ale Trail that includes breweries in Williams and Sedona. flagstaffaletrail.com.
Extreme Adventure Awaits
Feel like a kid again at Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Course, Arizona’s only tree-top self-guided obstacle course. You’ll find it at Fort Tuthill County Park. With five adult courses ranging from easy to challenging, you can swing on ropes, scramble up walls and traverse wobbly bridges. Those who complete the final black course can buy a special black T-shirt for $19 to celebrate their feat. For kids, the yellow course offers tons of fun: 888-259-0125 or flagstaffextreme.com
For more information:
Flagstaff Convention & Visitors Bureau
(888) 300-1244, One E. Route 66, www.flagstaffarizona.org