The landscape of Arizona can be mesmerizingly beautiful, and the city of Flagstaff is excellent proof of that. Mountains on one side, desert on the other, and even pine forest on the third, this city’s surroundings show vividly what nature is capable of. Of course, the city itself has a lot to offer to every visitor, so even if you’re spending just one day in Flagstaff, Arizona, you are in for quite a treat. This detailed itinerary will help you plan your visit and make sure you don’t miss anything, so read on and get ready for a great trip.
Plan your trip to Flagstaff
1. What’s the best time to visit Flagstaff?
2. A few facts about Flagstaff
3. One Day in Flagstaff Itinerary
3.1. Grab some coffee and explore Historic Downtown
3.2. Visit Riordan Mansion
3.3. Check out Lowell Observatory
3.4. Go to the Museum of Northern Arizona
3.5. Sit down for lunch
3.6. Travel to Walnut Canyon
3.7. Stop at Flagstaff Mall
3.8. Sit down for dinner and drinks
4. Where to stay in Flagstaff?
5. Day trips from Flagstaff
6. Extra tips for visiting Flagstaff
Flagstaff has four distinct seasons, and thanks to its altitude, the temperatures here are actually often on the cold side of the spectrum. In fact, they often go below the freezing point during winter.
Due to the fact that this part of Arizona will see monsoons from July to September, you may want to come here in July, which is the driest month, or maybe May.
As for events, you will see a lot of music festivals during summer, but Hopi and Navajo Festivals of Arts are also very much worth checking out. The Flagstaff Mountain Film Festival takes place in October, and there are many other events worthy of your time throughout the year.
Flagstaff is not a big city – it only has 75,000 people, and its metropolitan area includes less than 150,000 inhabitants. However, it is located pretty high up because its altitude is just over 2100 meters (6900 feet). In the pre-Columbian era, however, this area was populated by the Sinagua people.
In the 20th century, the city was very important in space exploration as the observatories in its vicinity were vital for choosing the best place for Apollo missions to land on the Moon. Also, did you know that Pluto was discovered from Flagstaff? That’s pretty cool, right?
Obviously, Route 66 passes through here, which had a major impact on the city’s development.
Follow this itinerary to make sure your one day in Flagstaff is a memorable one. The following list will take you to all the most important places to see and things to do in the city, so feel free to follow it to the letter. You are sure to enjoy!
The best way to start your one day in Flagstaff is to get an early start and head to Historic Downtown and explore the area with a cup of coffee in hand – Macy’s, Steep Leaf Lounge, and Firecreek Coffe Company are all excellent places for a cup of Joe.
Historic Downtown actually contains parts of the famous Route 66, and the whole area is full of quaint bars, shops, and restaurants, so walking here really is a pleasure (come here at night, if at all possible). Flagstaff Visitor Center is also close by, and Aspen Avenue is loaded with historic buildings. Just the place to visit to get you going!
Slightly south from Historic Downtown but very much within walking distance stands Riordan Mansion. It’s actually on the ground of the North Arizona University campus, surrounded by some lovely greenery.
The area is actually a state historic park, and the mansion itself dates back to 1904 and was recently restored, so you will be able to thoroughly enjoy it. Do keep in mind, however, that you can only visit this building as a part of a guided tour, but with 40 rooms and 13,000 square feet, having a guide with you certainly come in handy. All in all, this is a lovely piece of authentic architecture from the turn of the century.
Lowell Observatory is also close to Historic Downtown, although slightly north of the previous location. Nevertheless, this should be an obligatory stop on your one day in Flagstaff.
The main reason for that is that this is the observatory that discovered Pluto, the infamous ninth planet of the Solar system. But apart from that, it’s just a great place to visit because the visitors center has many interactive displays that teach you a lot about the universe, plus the observatory got a brand-new deck in 2019.
With a bit of luck, you may stumble upon one of many interesting events that are regularly held here, such as talks and workshops, but even without that, it’s a great way to spend up to an hour of your day
Next, hop into your car (or call an Uber or Lyft) and get to Fort Valley Road. Follow it north for a while until you reach the Museum of Northern Arizona.
This impressive place contains millions of pieces, from fine art to artifacts of Native American origin. So, everyone should be able to find something interesting to check out, especially since there are five permanent exhibits in the museum (which was established in 1928, by the way).
There are even exhibits here that are placed out in the open, in James Golightly Courtyard.
Also, the Pioneer Museum is close by, but at the time of writing this itinerary, it is closed for the public.
By now, you’re probably hungry, so head back to the downtown area where you can find a wide range of choices. Josephine’s Modern American Bistro is a great place if you’re in the mood for a nice sandwich and a creative but tasty salad, whereas MartAnnes makes an excellent burrito. Pizzicleta, apart from a hilarious name, has a great pizza, and Karma Sushi Bar & Grill is an excellent place to enjoy some oriental dishes. All you have to do is choose.
Having a good lunch is very important because after that you should head to the eastern outskirts of the city, to Walnut Canyon. This national monument is one of the most popular attractions in Flagstaff and really shouldn’t be missed for the world.
The reason for that is that the canyon, apart from being immensely beautiful, hides many ruins that were left here by ancient Sinagua. Interestingly, these are cliff dwellings, and you can see them throughout the canyon. Some of them have been reconstructed to show how these people once lived.
There is a trail from the visitors center that leads through the canyon, and it’s not demanding at all, which means anyone can complete it. Approximately one mile in length, it’s the best way to explore this fascinating place while surrounded by wonderful nature.
On your way back from the canyon, you may want to treat yourself to a stop at Flagstaff Mall, the biggest mall in town. It’s a great way to have some nice time for yourself without any history and sightseeing, plus this is a perfect place to buy souvenirs.
There are plenty of shops to check out before dinner!
After your day in Flagstaff, you deserve to relax at a dinner that’s preferably accompanied by some nice drinks. Salsa Brava is an excellent Mexican restaurant that serves some pretty creative margaritas, which makes for a great way to end the day. And if you’re into beers, Lumberyard Tap Room and Grille is bound to appeal to you.
As for drinks, Monte Vista Cocktail Lounge is pretty good, plus they often have something going on like game nights or musicians performing, and Cuvee 928 is a classier joint, a wine bar with all kinds of famous wine brands.
Little America Hotel Flagstaff
2515 East Butler Avenue, Flagstaff, AZ 86004
If you want an exquisite location for your stay, Little America Hotel Flagstaff will oblige! Book a room here and you will be staying in a place surrounded by 500 acres of Ponderosa Pine forest that has an outdoor pool, too. The rooms are exquisite, the staff is amazing, and they serve breakfast, lunch and dinner here. An amazing stay!
Drury Inn and Suites Flagstaff
300 S Milton Rd, Flagstaff, AZ 86001,
There are plenty of reasons why you should book a room at Drury Inn and Suites Flagstaff. One of the main advantages is that it’s close to the city’s airport, but it’s also practically in the city centre! It also has an indoor pool and a hot tub to help you relax. Every evening, you can get cold drinks and hot snacks for free, as well as a breakfast every morning. The rooms are nice and comfortable, so you will definitely have a great time here.
Residence Inn by Mariott Flagstaff
100 North Humphreys Street, Flagstaff, 86001
Another great place in the centre of the city, Residence Inn by Mariott Flagstaff boasts an excellent location, an indoor pool and a hot tub. Furthermore, the rooms come with a full kitchen! Another big plus is that you only need to step out of the hotel and you’ll be able to choose between many bars and restaurants, and there’s even a brewery close by.
Fairfield Inn and Suites by Mariott Flagstaff East
1000 North Country Club Drive, Flagstaff, 86004
Fairfield Inn and Suites by Mariott Flagstaff East offers great service and value for your money because here you get to enjoy an indoor pool and a hot tub, plus the rooms come with free toiletries. In addition, the breakfast served here is excellent, and the interior is designed in a fairly modern style. Kind and capable staff will make sure you are well taken care of.
Don’t be surprised if the beauty of this place makes you want to stay more than one day in Flagstaff. If that happens, you may want to think about day trips from the city, just to get to know this amazing part of the world better. Here are some good ideas what to visit!
This is a no-brainer, really. If you have more than one day in Flagstaff, it would be a real shame not to go and see Grand Canyon because it’s just about an hour and a half away. Amazing views combined with some impressive ruins will make this day trip something you’ll always remember.
This great city is just over two hours’ drive away, so spending one day in Phoenix is very much worth it if you have the time. Amazing parks and a fantastic botanical garden, an excellent zoo, and a thriving gastro scene guarantee that you will have a fantastic time here. Oh, and don’t forget about the city’s museums!
Alternatively, you can opt for one day in Sedona, too. It’s a small town where you can just take it easy, plus there are some amazing hiking trails around here, too. The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Palatki is close by, and the Chapel of the Holy Cross is bound to impress anyone who sees it.
Wupatki National Monument will let you explore the ruins that were once occupied by Ancestral Puebloans. Definitely, a very special place that takes you centuries back into the past, primarily thanks to the five pueblos you can explore. Furthermore, there are many different trails to choose from, so you will be having quite an active day trip, too.
– No matter when you come here, keep in mind that the temperatures will vary. Dress accordingly!
– The altitude around here makes the effects of alcohol much more pronounced. Careful how much you drink!
– Always consult the weather forecast when making plans – the weather changes quickly around here.
– Another problem the altitude can cause is the sun. You should always have sunscreen with you, no matter the season or the temperature.
– Flagstaff is one of the places in the world for stargazing, so finding yourself a spot and enjoying the show is a great way to spend an evening.
Make sure you have everything you need
What to pack for your next trip?
Make your next trip as simple and as enjoyable as possible by packing smart. It’s amazing how much stress top travel items can save you, so choose carefully.
Things like lightweight travel backpacks, for example, are ideal for short trips and allow you to move around with ease, and a passport holder will make sure you keep your documents safe at all times.
Check our travel checklist guide for 2021 to make sure you haven’t missed anything, and travel to your next destination in style and with maximum comfort.