The Top 10 Things to Do Flagstaff, Arizona

Aerial Panorama Of Flagstaff Arizona At Dusk

Manuela Durson / EyeEm / Getty Images

One of Arizona’s most popular cities, Flagstaff combines historic sites and museums with boutique shopping and outdoor adventure. It also has an acclaimed brewery trail, festivals every weekend throughout the summer, and skiing during the winter. While the city is less than 80 miles from seven national parks and monuments—including the Grand Canyon—there is so much to do in Flagstaff itself that you could spend several days there and still not see it all. If you’re short on time, though, don’t miss these top attractions.

01 of 10

Glimpse the Stars at Lowell Observatory

Lowell Observatory

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Founded by mathematician Percival Lowell in 1894, Lowell Observatory is where Pluto was discovered in 1930 and the moon was mapped for the Apollo missions. Scientists still use its telescopes and resources to explore the universe, but the observatory also welcomes more than 100,000 visitors every year to its Mars Hills campus, minutes from downtown Flagstaff. On a visit, you can safely observe the sun from the Giovale Open Deck Observatory, learn about the universe through observatory exhibits, and see historic telescopes, including the one used to discover Pluto, Night-time programs allow you to glimpse the stars.

1400 W Mars Hill Rd, Flagstaff, AZ 86001, USA
Phone +1 928-774-3358
02 of 10

Learn About the Colorado Plateau at the Museum of Northern Arizona

Museum of Northern Arizona

Discover Flagstaff

The Museum of Northern Arizona covers everything related to the Colorado Plateau, from the geology of the Grand Canyon to Native American culture. Highlights include the artifacts and artwork created by the region's 10 tribes, the geology gallery, and a recreated Hopi kiva. The excellent gift shop sells fine art, authentic Native American jewelry, and books on all topics related to the Colorado Plateau. Outside, the museum has five gardens and is surrounded by nature trails that provide access to the Flagstaff Urban Trail System.  

3101 N Fort Valley Rd, Flagstaff, AZ 86001-8348, USA
Phone +1 928-774-5213
03 of 10

Wander Around the Arboretum at Flagstaff

The Arboretum

The Arboretum at Flagstaff

Open seasonally from May 1 through October 31, this botanical garden showcases more than 750 species of plants native to the Colorado Plateau. Learn more about local flora on a docent-led tour of the themed gardens, free with admission, or take a bird or wildflower walk on select days. The Arboretum also holds yoga classes on Saturdays, art classes, outdoor concerts, summer camps for kids, plant sales, and other special events. General admission is just $12, and leashed dogs are welcome for $3 each. The Arboretum is open Wednesday through Sunday.

4001 S Woody Mountain Rd, Flagstaff, AZ 86001, USA
Phone +1 928-774-1442
04 of 10

Go Skiing at Arizona Snowbowl

Arizona Snow Bowl scenic gondola ride

Thomas Roche / Getty Images

Located on the western slope of Mount Humphreys, the Arizona Snowbowl features 55 ski and snowboard runs, more than half of which are suitable for beginners and intermediate enthusiasts. You can purchase day passes (starting at $29) or a pass for the entire season, which runs from mid-November through the end of April. The fun continues through the summer when the Snow Bowl continues its scenic gondola rides up to a viewing point of 11,500 feet. From there, you can see the cinder cone volcanic field, Sedona’s red rocks, and, on a clear day, the Grand Canyon.

9300 N Snow Bowl Rd, Flagstaff, AZ 86001, USA
Phone +1 928-447-9928
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05 of 10

Excavate for Artifacts at Elden Pueblo Heritage Site

Elden Pueblo

Steven Love/robertharding / Getty Images

Containing approximately 70 rooms that were inhabited from 1070 to 1275 A.D., this ancestral Hopi site just off U.S. Highway 89 North is thought to have once been part of a major trading center. While you can take a self-guided tour using brochures available onsite, watch for Public Archaeology Days when you can take a guided tour and help excavate the site. These public days are free and held several times every year. Elden Pueblo is also a popular birding area known for two types of woodpecker and Western bluebirds.

Elden Pueblo, AZ 86004, USA
06 of 10

Explore Flagstaff's Historic Downtown

Downtown Flagstaff

Discover Flasgstaff

Many visitors spend an entire day exploring the boutique shops, art galleries, and historic buildings in downtown Flagstaff. The area is also home to excellent restaurants and award-winning breweries including Mother Road Brewing Co. and Lumberyard Brewing Co. For a different perspective on downtown, take a themed, self-guided walking tour on a variety of topics, ranging from Route 66 and haunted Flagstaff to public art and breweries. You can pick up a walking tour brochure at the visitor center, located in the historic train depot on Route 66. Or, download a guide at Discover Flagstaff's website. The Historic Downtown Flagstaff and Haunted Flagstaff walking tours are offered as guided tours seasonally.

6 E Aspen Ave Suite 200, Flagstaff, AZ 86001, USA
Phone +1 928-275-2655
07 of 10

Visit Riordan Mansion State Historic Park

Riordan Mansion

Arizona State Parks & Trails

Built in 1904 by brothers Michael and Timothy Riordan, Riordan Mansion was designed to house their two families—in fact, the mansion is actually two identical homes connected by a rendezvous room. Guided tours take you inside the Arts and Crafts-style home to see some of its 40 rooms, furnished with period pieces. Inside the families’ garage (now the visitor center), you can learn all about the Riordans, while the West House features more Arts & Crafts pieces, Native American pottery and baskets, and displays on logging in the area. The park is open Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; tours are offered every hour from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

409 W Riordan Rd, Flagstaff, AZ 86001, USA
Phone +1 928-779-4395
08 of 10

Get Your Kicks on Historic Route 66

Relive the glory days of the Mother Road when you drive or walk along the 14 miles of original Route 66 that run through Flagstaff. To drive the historic route, take the I-40 business loop exit (Historic Route 66) through downtown Flagstaff. Along the way, watch for vintage neon signs and landmarks, like The Museum Club, a taxidermy-shop-turned-restaurant-and-bar. If you’d rather walk, pick up a brochure for the Route 66 or Green Book self-guided walking tour at Flagstaff's visitor center. While Route 66 will take you to general Mother Road locations, the Green Book tour takes you to those businesses that were willing to serve all American travelers, regardless of color.

Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10

Dive Into the Lava River Cave

Roughly 700,000 years ago, molten rock erupted from a volcanic vent in Hart Prairie, creating a mile-long lava tube you can explore on your own. Dress appropriately—the cave is a constant 42 degrees Fahrenheit even during the summer—and bring a flashlight. Although the cave is open year-round, the forest roads leading to the parking lot sometimes close due to snow or mud. The Lava River Cave is located approximately 14 miles north of Flagstaff. 

171B Forest Rd, Flagstaff, AZ 86001, USA
Phone +1 928-526-0866
10 of 10

Tour the Arizona Historical Society Pioneer Museum

Pioneer Museum

Discover Flagstaff

Housed in the former Coconino County Hospital for the Indigent, this museum displays artifacts used by the area’s earliest settlers and tells their stories. Inside the museum, you’ll see everything from a campaign button and a historic phone exchange to an iron lung. Outside, visit a historic cabin, poke your head inside a barn of covered wagons, check out antique farm equipment, and pose with a 1929 Baldwin locomotive. The Arizona Historical Society regularly hosts demonstrations and workshops onsite. Admission is $10, and the museum is open Tuesday through Saturday.

2340 N Fort Valley Rd, Flagstaff, AZ 86001-1200, USA
Phone +1 928-774-6272
Article Sources
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  1. Lowell Observatory. "About Lowell Observatory." Accessed April 14, 2022.

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The Top 10 Things to Do Flagstaff, Arizona