Flagstaff, Arizona is a great location for your next vacation. There is so much to do on Flagstaff vacations that it will fit every type of traveler, whether you're looking for adventure, shopping and fine dining, getting out into nature, or learning more about culture by visiting museums and historical sites. This Flagstaff travel guide will take you through the many activities that you can do on your Flagstaff vacation, but be sure to let us know if we missed anything so we can add it to this travel guide.

What to Do in Flagstaff

flagstaff whitewater

Finding Adventure in Flagstaff

If you've never been river rafting, then you're really missing out. This is one of the greatest adventures — nature's own roller coaster. Knowledgeable guides will train you on how to work together as a team so your group can keep the raft upright and have some fun. There are a few rafting companies in Flagstaff including Arizona Raft Adventures who will take you down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. Rafting is best done in the spring when the rapids are faster and there's more water in the river from the snow melting, but you can go throughout the summer.

Getting out into Nature

With the Grand Canyon so close, it's not surprising that Flagstaff vacations often center around nature. There are many hikes and nature spots in the area, but if you would like to learn more about the area, consider going on a guided hike with Around the Bend Adventures. The guides are extremely knowledgeable and you'll come away with an experience of a lifetime.

A great place to explore is the Lava River Cave. Located 14 miles north of Flagstaff, it's estimated that this cave was formed around 700,000 years ago by molten rock. You can now explore the cave, but make sure you bring flashlights (probably one for every one or two people), wear sturdy shoes, and wear warm clothing. Another great nature location is Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument where you can see ancient lava flows as well as Wupatki ruins.

Walnut Canyon National Monument
is also a great stop on your Flagstaff vacation. Here you can see the 700-year-old homes of the Sinagua tribe. You'll get history as well as a great hike.

flagstaff vacations

Educational Stops in Flagstaff

If you're hoping to learn more about the history of Flagstaff and the surrounding area, there are some amazing educational stops that you won't want to miss. One can't-miss stop is the Lowell Observatory. This non-profit astronomical research center was established in 1894 and is located on Mars Hill, just one mile west of Flagstaff. Here you can look through telescopes, view exhibits in the science center, go on guided tours, view multimedia programs, and attend special events.

At the Museum of Northern Arizona, you'll have the opportunity of learning more about the unique landscape of Arizona including the diverse cultures, ecology of the Colorado Plateau, and history of the area. This is definitely one of the largest museums in the area. Riordan Mansion State Historic Park is a mansion from the early 1900s that showcases furniture and decor from the period. This park is five acres, and is a great stop on your Flagstaff vacation if you're interested in learning about what life was like during this time period.

Another way to learn about the Flagstaff area is by going on a tour with Silver Spur Tours which will introduce you to Flagstaff in a unique way. The guides are very knowledgeable about the area and will give you an insider's look into Flagstaff that you won't find in travel books.

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What to See in Flagstaff

Besides the nature locations in and near Flagstaff, including the ones mentioned above, you might also want to visit The Arboretum at Flagstaff. This is a 200-acre botanical garden where you can learn more about the plants and animals that live on the Colorado Plateau. The Arboretum has over 2,500 species of plants and guided tours are offered throughout the day (about every two hours). This garden is open between April and October.

Other history locations include the Pioneer Museum, which is housed where the old Coconino County Hospital was located. There is the main building as well as a barn and cabin that show artifacts and exhibits from the early 1900s. And, of course, if you have the opportunity, make a day trip to the Grand Canyon, one of the greatest natural wonders of the world. After a full day of hiking around the Canyon, you can return to your Flagstaff vacation rental to relax.

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Where to Shop and Eat in Flagstaff

flagstaff shoppingThere is so much to gain from shopping near Flagstaff vacation rentals, especially if you love art that comes from Native American tribes in the area such as rugs, hand-painted pottery, blown glass, and more. The Downtown Flagstaff Historic District is a great location for shopping. It's set along streets that have been around since the 1890s and here you can find unique clothing boutiques, out-of-the-way bookstores, and great art galleries.

If you're looking for local art, Echo Canyon Art is a great gallery where you can find art focusing on the Wild West, hand-blown glass, amazingly colorful pottery, sculptures, and more. Many locations also have gift shops where you can buy souvenirs for your trip including at the Flagstaff Visitor Center and Museum of Northern Arizona.

Recommended Restaurants in the Flagstaff Area

Although you'll love having a full-sized kitchen at your Flagstaff vacation rental, you'll likely want a night or two out while you're in Flagstaff. One very popular choice is Cuveé 928; here you'll get good food for a good price including spice cured salmon with capers, iced-tea cured pork loin, and a melon, fennel and duck prosciutto salad.

For a fine-dining restaurant, try Josephine's where you can find tortilla encrusted halibut, sweet potato gnocchi with snow crab, and pork osso buco. If you're in the mood for some Thai food, try Swadee Thai, and for great burgers, try Diablo Burger. Other great restaurants include Karma for sushi and American food, Criollo Latin Kitchen for Latin American food, The Cottage Restaurant for fine dining, and Cafe Ole for Mexican.

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When to Visit Flagstaff

Spring, summer, and fall are all great times to go on Flagstaff vacations. If you are planning a white-water rafting trip, spring is definitely best. Summer is great for hikes and exploring nature. Because summer is a popular time to visit Flagstaff, you can avoid the crowds by coming in spring or fall. The winter has great activities including skiing at Arizona Snowbowl, sledding, snow tubing, and more.

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What to Bring to Flagstaff

Be sure to bring a sturdy pair of shoes, either tennis shoes or hiking boots (make sure they're broken in before your trip). Vacations to Flagstaff often include a lot of exploring either around the Grand Canyon or at places like Lava River Cave and Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, so you'll definitely want shoes that you'll be comfortable climbing in. You'll also want to bring layers, including light jackets, sweatshirts, T-shirts, shorts, sweats, and jeans. That way if it gets colder, either from weather or elevation, you won't be cold or hot. And of course don't forget your camera! You'll see some spectacular sights and you'll want to capture them all.

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Local Services in Flagstaff

You'll find many services in Flagstaff. There are many tour companies that will take you on a tour of the Grand Canyon and other nature areas as well as Flagstaff itself. Because Flagstaff is a large town, you won't have problems finding stores, banks, car rental locations, etc. Whatever you need on your vacation, you'll find in Flagstaff.

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What to Know About Flagstaff

Although Arizona is known for being sweltering during summer months, Flagstaff is much cooler in the summer than Phoenix. Where Phoenix is only at 1,117 feet, Flagstaff is at nearly 7,000 feet. This means that in July when Phoenix's low for the day is 82 and its high is 106 degrees Fahrenheit, Flagstaff will average between a low of 50 to a high of around 82 degrees. This means that you might need a jacket at night while on a Flagstaff vacation.

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Getting to Flagstaff

To get to Flagstaff, you can fly into Phoenix and drive or you can try to find a flight to Pulliam Airport, which is just three miles south of Flagstaff. US Airways has flights from Phoenix to Pulliam. You can also ride on Amtrak if you want to come by train. If you're driving, Flagstaff is located where I-40 and I-17 meet.

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Why Flagstaff vacation rentals?

Flagstaff vacation rentals will give you a home away from home where you will have the space to relax and enjoy your Flagstaff vacation. You'll find Flagstaff vacation rentals in many sizes and with many amenities including large patios with barbecues, HDTVs, washers and dryers, Wi-Fi, ping pong tables, and more. You're sure to find one that is perfect for you and your family. And if you want to bring your dog or cat, there are many vacation rentals that allow pets. A vacation rental will make your next vacation one to remember!

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