National Parks

Top 11 Fun Things to Do in Flagstaff Arizona


Grand Canyon Sunset
Watching a sunset at the Grand Canyon is a must for any trip. Credit: Pixaby

Located east of Grand Canyon National Park in Northern Arizona, Flagstaff is an excellent base for travelers to the region. Outdoor enthusiasts will find lots to do from hiking to skiing. National park visitors have several park sites to visit in the area.  It’s ideal for travelers who want to day trip to national park sites and then enjoy city conveniences.   As the first official Dark Sky city, the night sky is also a draw and is home to Lowell Observatory. Here are the top things to do in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Top 11 Things to Do in Flagstaff Arizona

Grand Canyon National Park 
Grand Canyon Railroad
Lowell Observatory
Arizona Snowbowl Ski Resort
Walnut Canyon National Monument
Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument 
Wapatki National Monument
Flagstaff Arboretum
Museum of Northern Arizona
Bearizona Park 
Route 66

Grand Canyon National Park

As a top National park in the U.S., the Grand Canyon is a sight that most yearn to see. With visitors from all corners of the globe, South Rim can feel like Grand Central, though there’s plenty of room to explore. As a year-round destination, it sparkles in the summer, and it glitters in the winter with a fall color season as well. It offers lodging, dining, camping and activities along the South Rim.

For a different point-of-view, head to the seasonal North Rim for a greener and cooler version of the Grand Canyon. Find lodging, hiking, dining and mule rides on this side of the park, open from May until October.

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Grand Canyon Railway
Take the train to Grand Canyon National Park. Credit: Xanterra Resorts

Grand Canyon Railroad

For those who want to make a grand entrance to the Grand Canyon, take the scenic train. Departing from Williams, Arizona, west of Flagstaff, guests can board the train for a day trip or an extended trip at the South Rim.

Most trains depart at 9:45 a.m. and return at 5:45 p.m. with three hours at the Grand Canyon. However, passengers who want to stay longer can book a room on the South Rim.

Located at 280 N. Grand Canyon Blvd. in Williams. Fares start at $28 each way, and riders must have reservations.

Lowell Observatory

A mathematician opened the observatory in 1894 for solar system exploration. In 1930, the Lowell Observatory discovered Pluto. 

The Lowell Observatory is a National Historic Landmark. It’s home to the 24-inch (61-cm) Clark Refracting Telescope and the 13-inch (33-cm) Pluto Discovery Telescope. 

Visitors get access to the facility for the entire day and can attend talks and tours, like the Lowell Tour. Another popular activity is stargazing from the Giovale Open Deck Observatory (weather permitting).

Located at 1400 W. Mars Hill Rd. Winter Hours: Open Wednesday to Sunday from noon to 10 p.m. (closed Monday and Tuesday). Summer Hours: Open daily at noon to 10 p.m. (Tuesday noon to 6 p.m.). Adult admission is $29 and kids (5 to 17) enter for $17.

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Arizona Snowbowl Ski Resort 

On the western slope of Mt. Humphreys, visitors will find an all-season mountain resort on the tallest point in Arizona. Arizona Snowbowl offers 777 skiable acres with 55 runs from green to black. Find six aerial lifts, including a 6-person high-speed lift along with two surface lifts. 

The ski season runs from late November until the end of April. The scenic chair lift transports hikers and mountain bikers from the summer through October for fall color. 

Located at 9300 North Snowbowl Rd. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Lift tickets are required, and find lessons and equipment rental onsite. 

Hiker overlooking Walnut Canyon. credit: Visit Flagstaff

Walnut Canyon National Monument

See how people lived in the area from AD 600 to 1400. Explore the cliff dwellings along Island Trail to see 25 cliff dwellings of the Sinagua people. They farmed corn, squash and beans below the cliff. This is one of the top things to do in Flagstaff, Arizona.

The area became a national monument in 1915. The Civilian Conservation Corps stabilized the site in the 1930s as a part of President Roosevelt’s Works Progress program that put young men to work in parks across the U.S. 

Located on Interstate 40 at Exit 204, Flagstaff. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Adult admission (15+) is $15 and kids (15 and under) are free. 

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Sunset Crater volcano lava field
Sunset Crater Volcano offers a lava field to explore. credit: Catherine Parker

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument 

The area around Flagstaff is volcanic, including Mt. Humphreys. See a cinder cone along with lava fields at Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument. Several of the trails remain closed though the Sunset Crater Loop Road is open. The Visitor Center is open Thursday to Monday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Located at 6082 Sunset Crater Rd., Flagstaff. Open sunrise to sunset. A 7-day private vehicle pass is $25 for neighboring Sunset Crater and Wapatki national monuments. 

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Wupatki National Monument
Wupatki National Monument. credit: Catherine Parker

Wapatki National Monument

Explore the ancient pueblos of the Wupatki that built multi-level structures 900 years ago, including the 104-room Wupatki Pueblo. Find several short hiking trails to explore partially preserved pueblos. 

Located at 25137 N. Wupatki Ln., Flagstaff. Open sunrise to sunset. A 7-day private vehicle pass is $25 for neighboring Sunset Crater and Wapatki National Monuments.

Flagstaff Arboretum

Explore a 200-acre property to see the native trees and plants of northern Arizona. With 750 different plant species, learn how plants adapt to the Colorado Plateau. 

Located at 4001 S. Woody Mountain Rd. Open from May 1 until November 1 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Adult admission (18+) is $12 and kids (4 to 17) are $6. Dog-friendly.

Museum of Northern Arizona

Sitting at the base of the San Francisco Peak, the Museum of Northern Arizona offers visitors a look into the people, arts, and geology of the Colorado Plateau. This museum offers pottery discovered through archaeological research, natural history specimens, fine art landscape paintings and arts and jewelry of the people of the Colorado Plateau.

Located at 3101 N. Fort Valley Rd. Open Wednesday to Monday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed Tuesday). Adult admission is $15, students (10 to 17) are $10 and kids 9 and younger are free.

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Bison are grazing at Verizon. credit: Pixabay

Bearizona Park 

Located south of Grand Canyon National Park, this 160-acre drive-through wildlife park. As visitors drive through the ponderosa pine forest, they can see several types of bears along with badgers, bison, bighorn sheep and more.

Located at 1500 E. Route 66 in Williams.  Open daily year-round from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., with the last car admitted at 4 p.m. Adult admission starts at $30, and kids (4 to 12) start at $20, more on weekends and holidays.

Meteor Crater Natural Landmark

See where a meteor crashed into the earth 50,000 years ago. It is considered to be one of the best-preserved meteor impact craters in the world. It’s 3,900 feet (1,200 m) across and 560 feet (170 m) deep and includes an interpretive center and rim tours.

Located on Interstate 40 at Exit 233, Winslow. Open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Adult admission (12+) is $29 and kids (6 to 12) are $20.

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Williamson Arizona
Along Route 66 in Williams, Arizona. credit: Catherine Parker

Route 66

Take a drive down fabled Route 66, one of the original routes across the U.S. before the interstate system. For the best driving experience, nearby Williams, Arizona offers an excellent section with lots of shopping and dining.

For those planning a Southwest Desert Road Trip including stops like the Grand Canyon National Park, consider Flagstaff, Arizona, as your base. Find fun activities like a wildlfe park, a moutain resort, an observatory, along with several national park sites. Here's the top things to do in Flagstaff. Where to go in Northern Arizona | Where to stay near the Grand Canyon #Arizona

Catherine Parker has a passion for travel and seen all 50 U.S. States. As a former flight attendant with one of the largest airlines, there isn't a North American airport that she hasn't landed in at least once. Since clipping her professional wings after 9/11, she combines her love of the open road with visiting architectural and cultural icons. She is based out of Central Texas dividing her time between writing and restoring a pair of 100-year-old houses. She shares her life with her three kids and her husband.

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