Our Ultimate Guide to the Best Family Fun in Flagstaff

We are big fans of weekend getaways for our family. It’s important to take time to leave all of the normal worries of life behind for a few days and just enjoy time together.

Since we live in Phoenix, we’ve been able to do a lot of exploring all over our state and one of our favorite destinations is Flagstaff which is only 2.5 hours from our home. We have visited Flagstaff 20+ times and we always have an absolutely great time there.

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Why do we love going there? The climate, food and activities are all a draw. It’s a beautiful city full of pine trees up in the mountains. We have visited during all seasons of the year. (Flagstaff actually has seasons unlike Phoenix.) The summer weather is beautiful. You can be outside and explore all day and then enjoy cool mountain air in the evenings. In the winter, there will likely be snow which is a fun change for desert dwellers.

Where is Flagstaff located? It’s in northern Arizona along the historic Route 66. It’s under and hour and a half from the Grand Canyon which makes it a great place to stay before or after a visit there. It’s also a couple of hours south of Lake Powell which is at the Arizona and Utah border.

Over the years, we’ve complied a long list of our Flagstaff Favorites and I’m excited to share that with you today.

Here’s a look at out favorite places to eat and things to do in Flagstaff:

Our Favorite Places to Eat

Mike and Ronda’s. If you are looking for a delicious diner-style meal, this is your place. We like going here for breakfast. Biscuits + gravy, omelette filled with bacon, cheddar and spinach, cinnamon rolls and pancakes are a few of our favorites.

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Pizziletta. This place has some of the best pizza I’ve ever eaten. The ingredients as so fresh and the wood-fired to perfection. The seating if very limited here, but we’ve always been able to get a table. If you have a large group, you probably want to try take out. There is only one long table where the sit guests together and then there are several 2-person tables. The salads and pizza and truly amazing and this place is definitely worth a visit.

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Oregano’s. If you are from Phoenix, you are probably familiar with this place. It’s one of our favorites when we are home, but if you are visiting AZ for this first time and haven’t been to Oregano’s you should check it our while in Flagstaff.. We love their Guacatony (large cheese cracker crust pizza topped with a huge amount of guacamole), cheese bread, Pablo Piccaso Salad, thin crust pepperoni pizza and a deep dish with sausage. They also have pastas and sandwiches, so there’s something for everyone.

Mama Burger After visiting the Lava Tubes (I’ll tell you more about that below) we always like to stop at Mama Burger for milkshakes. Freshly make shakes with so many flavor options makes this a favorite stop. Try the GOAT (greatest of all time) with chocolate, marshmallow and butterfinger or get your favorite fruit or candy bar.

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Our Favorite Things to Do

Lockett Meadow Hike

This is a beautiful hike through many aspen trees. It’s a 3.4 mile loop and the views are stunning.

The drive there is nerve-racking as it is along a very windy, narrow edge of a cliff road. Traffic went both ways on the road, but there was really only room for one car. So if you can brave the drive, then you will have an amazing hike.

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Walnut Canyon.

We have visited Walnut Canyon countless times and always enjoy it. This is part of the National Park System. There is a 1-mile loop hike (very steep with a lot of stairs) where you walk right next to Indian Ruins.  You can even walk into the ruin rooms. It’s a great place for families to spend a couple of hours. After hiking the look down to the ruins, can can also explore a bit on flat trails that lead from the parking lot.

Lava Tubes

This is truly a unique experience! You get to hike down into a large cave that was created by lava flow. The first time we visited, our kids were pretty young (around 5, 7 and 9) and we were NOT prepared for this adventure. Everyone was in flip flops, we only had one flashlight for our group of 10 and we didn’t make it very far into the cave.

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Learn from our mistakes! Be sure that everyone is wearing a sturdy pair of tennis shoes and that each person has a headlamp. I prefer headlamps over flashlights because they keep hands free, There is a little rock scrambling and some low ceiling areas, so it’s nice to have hand available to help you get through the smaller spaces. This is a one-mile hike each way in a lava tube/cave.

The entrance is through the small cave opening you can see in the photo. You do some rock scrambling down into the cave and then it really opens up. It’s a large room with pretty high ceilings for most of the hike.

Flagstaff Extreme

This is a very fun set ropes courses and zip line courses. There are age limits, so you’ll want to be sure this is a good fit for your group before you go. We have always made reservations ahead of time. I’ve also seen admission come up on Groupon, so you may want to look there for a discount.

There is a kids course and an ages 12+ course. The big course will take 2 - 3 hours so if you have younger kids with you, plan on having someone in the group stay with them to keep them entertained. Or you may want to have an older group go to the ropes course and a younger group choose a different activity.

This is a highlight for our kids! It is perfectly challenging. Everyone encourages each other, helps talk through obstacles and cheers each other on. Such a great team building opportunity. We highly recommend a visit here.

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Bearizona

This is a perfect place for all ages. There is a drive-through area where you get to be right up close with Black Bears, bison, Arctic Wolves, Rocky Mountain Goats, Alaskan Dull Sheep, Rocky Mountain Elk, Mule Deer, American Burros, Alaskan Tundra Wolves and more! Be sure your car doors are locked and your kids know not to open the doors or windows. I remember wolves staring us down and I was very grateful that we were safe in our car!

After the drive through areas, you can park and go and check out more animals in a zoo setting.

It’s a fun place to visit for the whole family!

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The Arboretum

If you are looking for a relaxing way to spend a couple of hours, this is the place. It’s filled with beautiful gardens. I’d suggest bringing a picnic to enjoy here.


Ride the Ski Lift at Snowbowl (Summer + Winter)

In the winter, the ski resort is usually open. It’s a great place for people from Phoenix to go skiing since it’s not too far away.

In the summer, they run the ski lift and it’s a great ride up Mount Humphrey’s. The views are spectacular. Last time we rode the ski lift the weather was gorgeous on the ride up and we spent some time exploring at the top. Then a storm quickly moved in. We got back on the ski lift and it started hailing on us. It was pounding, hard hail! The ride is about {15 minutes} so it was a pretty long time to just sit and be pelted with hail. Once we were at the bottom, we all took off running to the lodge to try to dry off and enjoyed some hot chocolate. Although it was a bit uncomfortable, our kids will never forget the hail storm on the ski lift!

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Lowell Observatory

Flagstaff is known for being a great place to view the stars. You can visit the observatory day or night. There are some exhibits in a museum, guided tours and also a giant telescope. Pluto was discovered here and you can look through the telescope that first saw the planet. Definitely worth a stop.

Riordan Mansion

If you are looking for a little history lesson, try visiting the Riordan Mansion. It’s a historic hour where hourly tours are given and it’s a great way to learn about the history in the area. We took our kids on this tour when they we young and they did great. The guides are entertaining and we kept moving from room to room, so they didn’t get stir crazy by standing in one place for long.

Stroll Around Downtown

The downtown area is really charming and filled with treat shops, restaurants and shopping. We like to spend an evening wandering around downtown looking in shops and finding something to eat.

Art in the Park

We have ended up in Flagstaff of many summer holiday weekends and have always enjoyed stopping by the Art in the Park that is near downtown. It’s open both 4th of July weekend and Labor Day Weekend. There are lots of artisan and food vendors. Our kids have also enjoyed a little train pulled by a tractor and the bounce house while we were there.

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Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument

If you are looking to venture a little out of town, Sunset Crater is a 30 minute drive north of Flagstaff. We visited here in the winter and it was beautiful with everything covered in snow. There are lookout points and some hiking. The shortest hike is only 0.3 miles roundtrip and is accessible, so everyone in the family should be able to enjoy it. There are other hikes with the longest being 3.4 miles and rated moderate. We did a few of the short hike when we were there since our kids were little and the ground was covered in snow.

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As you can see, Flagstaff has a lot to offer families!

We always stay at the Wyndham Flagstaff since we have some time share points that we can use there. You can also just pay to book a room there without being part of the time share. We love this place because all of the rooms are set up like apartments with a family room, kitchen and bedroom(s). We love having extra space! There is a clubhouse here with a movie theater room, swimming pool, hot tub, billiards, a playground, basketball courts and a mini golf course. We end up spending a lot of time at the club house relaxing and playing together.

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Of course, I think Airbnb is another great option for accommodations anytime you travel.

If you are looking for a great place to spend a long weekend, I highly recommend spending time in Flagstaff! Let me know if you have any questions about visiting Flagstaff and I’ll be happy to try and answer them.