Located two hours from six national monuments and Grand Canyon National Park, Flagstaff is a thriving university town with a charming historic downtown. Here are six things to do.
1. Tourist Home Urban Market
Why go: Opened in 2014, this fabulous spot still has an old outdoor neon sign from the days it served as a hostel for sheepherders, beginning in 1926. Today, this hip counter-service restaurant is a gourmet food hot spot.
Tip: Have breakfast or lunch, pick up specialty foods and sample the delicious pastries baked fresh daily. Try the quiche followed by the double chocolate espresso cookie. If you sit a the community table, you're bound to get insider area tips from a friendly local whose sitting next to you.
2. Fat Olives
Why go: Opened more than 25 years ago as a mobile catering company by award-winning chef John Conley, it has become a bustling restaurant full of Italian authenticity located on Route 66. Conley and his recipes have been featured in magazines, newspapers and on television, including "Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives" on Food Network. In fact, Fat Olives is one of 96 restaurants to be Vera Pizza Napoletena (VPN) certified. This is a traditional-style pizza prepared with thin crust in a wood-fired oven using the finest imported Italian ingredients. The restaurant's wood-fired dome oven was constructed in Italy and weighs nearly 4,000 pounds. With an oven temperature of 900 F, it cooks the traditional Neapolitan pizza in 90 seconds.
Tip: Order the Belgio Dolce pizza - a white base with mozzarella, pecorino romano, oregano, shaved brussel sprouts, Calabrian chili oil, Molinari soppressata, local honey and crushed pistachios.
3. Six Nearby National Monuments
Why go: There are six national monuments and Grand Canyon National Park within two hours of Flagstaff, each offering something different.
Tip: Head to Walnut Canyon National Monument 10 miles southeast of downtown Flagstaff. The one-mile roundtrip strenuous Island Trail will take you past 25 ancient cliff dwelling rooms.
4. The Museum Club
Why go: One of the only original Route 66 roadhouses still standing, this log cabin attracts national acts like Willie Nelson, features two bars and is home to one of the largest wooden dance floors in the state.
Tip: Check out the various animal mounts hanging on the walls. Before it became a bar, The Museum Club was a taxidermy. It’s located at 3404 East Route 66.
5. Lowell Observatory
Why go: This world-class observatory is where Pluto was discovered and the moon was mapped for early NASA astronauts. The Flagstaff area itself played a very important role as a training center for astronauts who participated in the Apollo program. Lowell Observatory was a map-making center to create maps of the moon for country's mission to the moon. For 10 years scientists and illustrators used telescopes, including the 24-inch Clark refractor to view the moon and hand-draw detailed maps of its surface.
Tip: If you go in the evening, you can get up-close views of planets, stars and the moon through Lowell’s telescopes.
6. Arizona Snowbowl
Why go: In summer take a scenic chair lift to 11,500 feet at this ski area located in the San Francisco peaks. It's a great place to escape the summer heat and experience the mountains.
Tip: At the top, you’ll see the red rocks of Sedona and the walls of the Grand Canyon in the distance. Bring layers, sunscreen and water because temperatures are chillier up high and the sun is extra strong.
For more information:
Flagstaff Convention & Visitors Bureau
One E. Route 66