The Ultimate Flagstaff Travel Guide

The Ultimate Flagstaff Travel Guide starts you on an expedition of high-altitude fun and adventure in Arizona’s Alps. We answer your questions like ‘what’s the elevation of Flagstaff Arizona?’, ‘where are the breweries in Flagstaff Arizona?’ and ‘what are the best restaurants in Flagstaff Arizona?’ Whether you are from ‘back east,’ the flatland (Phoenix or Tucson), or across the pond, this guide covers what you need to know before you arrive.

Table of Contents

PIN THIS: Pinterest image with words "things to do in Flagstaff Arizona" and images of Lowell observatory at night, people hiking, family riveted to museum exhibit and third, a glass of craft beer

Where is Flagstaff, Arizona?

Flagstaff is at the intersection of I-40 and I-17 in the American Southwest.

Distance to Flagstaff, Arizona from major cities:

  • 464 miles (747 km) from Los Angeles,
  • 145 miles (233 km) from Phoenix, 
  • 78 miles (126 km) from Grand Canyon National Park,
  • 249 miles (401 km) from Las Vegas and
  • 322 (518 km) from Albuquerque 

Access by Air

small communter jet sits on Flagstaff travel runway while passenger walks on tarmac with carry on bag - clear skies overhead, trees on other side of runway at airport in Flagstaff Arizona
The airport in Flagstaff Arizona is serviced by American Airlines and United Airlines | UNSTOPPABLE Stacey photo

You can certainly see why so many people navigate to Flagstaff Arizona with its incredibly centralized location, big-city amenities and easy access to nearby attractions. However, I think when you see what the city has to offer, you will want to spend plenty of time in Flagstaff Arizona.

Flights to Flagstaff Arizona land at the small, modern Pulliam Airport with several flights per day. Flights departing from the airport in Flagstaff Arizona go to Phoenix, Denver and Dallas. Many daily flights make Flagstaff travel easy and convenient.

Other Ways to Get to Flagstaff

The Flagstaff train station on Route 66 Flagstaff Arizona is home to AMTRAK and the Flagstaff Visitor Center | UNSTOPPABLE Stacey photo

AMTRAK stops in Flagstaff if trains are your preferred mode of travel. The Southwest Chief arrives and departs from the east and west daily.

 Located at the intersection of I-40 and I-17, Flagstaff is easily accessible by passenger car from any direction. Most importantly, Route 66 Flagstaff Arizona is known for its’ many buildings from the hay-day of Route 66. Therefore, I recommend a stop at the Flagstaff Visitor Center for a walking tour map of old Route 66 and other Flagstaff Arizona maps.

Just for kicks on Route 66, watch classic films Easy Rider and Forest Gump; both have easily recognizable scenes of Flagstaff and Route 66. 

 

What’s the elevation of Flagstaff Arizona?

Snow-topped SAn frnacisoc Peaks seen over tree tops in downtown Flagstaff
The San Francisco Peaks above 12,000 feet can be seen from Flagstaff. But what's the elevation of Flagstaff Arizona? 6,910 feet (2,106.2 meters)

What’s the elevation of Flagstaff, Arizona? One of the country’s highest cities, Flagstaff’s elevation is 6,910 feet (2,106.2 meters).

Flagstaff’s Two Sections: East and West Flagstaff

When reviewing a map of Flagstaff Arizona look for Switzer Canyon Drive—many locals consider it the dividing line between east and west Flagstaff. 

East Flagstaff

In east Flagstaff, you will find many family-owned and operated Mexican restaurants and food trucks featuring authentic Mexican food. Additionally, east Flagstaff includes an avid golfers’ opportunity, the beautifully manicured Eldon Hills golf course. The challenging course has several water features and panoramic views of Mount Eldon and the San Francisco Peaks. Furthermore, if shopping and indoor fun are on the Flagstaff travel itinerary, The Flagstaff Mall and a theater complex are in east Flagstaff. Many new retailers have chosen to open new stores here in recent years.

West Flagstaff

The west side of Flagstaff, which includes Northern Arizona University, has attracted many bars and restaurants catering to students, tourists and locals. Consequently, the old town near Lowell Observatory is genuinely a Flagstaff travel destination where many visitors congregate.

Similarly, the old downtown area south of the railroad tracks has its unique flavor with several excellent restaurants in Flagstaff Arizona including, four of the craft breweries in Flagstaff Arizona.

In contrast, a fashionable, more recently developed locale is Sawmill Square, with trendy shops and restaurants. To locate Sawmill square, find Butler Avenue on a map of Flagstaff Arizona where it intersects with Lone Tree Drive.

Flagstaff climate – Arizona’s high mountain desert featuring four seasons

Another means of travel Flagstaff - gondola and chairlift above snow covered trees
Artist Rendering of the new Agassiz lift to open at Arizona Snowbowl for 2020-2021 Season | courtesy photo

The weather in Flagstaff Arizona makes Flagstaff an authentic four-season destination. Summer temperatures in Flagstaff Arizona vary from 77F (25C) in June to the warmest month, 81F (27C) in July. Even in the summer lows in June average, 36F (2C) and 46F (8C) in July.

Meanwhile, in the winter, it does snow in Flagstaff. Sometimes it snows a lot! Annual snowfall averages are 81 inches (2.1m), one of the country’s highest totals. In the coldest winter months (December and January), the high temperature in Flagstaff Arizona averages 46F (8C). On the other hand, the average low in December and January is 11F (-12C).

To summarize, Flagstaff’s annual precipitation is 23.6 inches per year, with 266 sunny days a year. Consequently, making the weather in Flagstaff, Arizona, one of the most desirable climates in the western United States.

Flagstaff’s Diverse History

Gold miners in Flagstaff Arizona – note railroad building on right still stands today | Photo courtesy of Tom Alexander Photography

600 – 1450 –The Sinagua people settle and live in Walnut Canyon 18 miles east of Flagstaff

1857 – Edward Fitzgerald Beale begins surveying near Flagstaff to build a wagon road from Kansas to California

1876 – A scouting party passing through the area on July 4th hangs an American flag on a stripped pine (flagstaff) to celebrate the centennial. The name Flagstaff sticks

1881 – City of Flagstaff founded

1882 – The Transcontinental Railroad arrives in Flagstaff

1894 – Percival Lowell builds Lowell Observatory

1897 – A stagecoach line to the Grand Canyon serves tourists 

1926 – Route 66 Flagstaff Arizona becomes a significant stop for travelers and a windfall for businesses

1928 – Harold S. Colton and Mary-Russell Ferrell Colton found the Museum of Northern Arizona

1930 – Amateur astronomer Clyde Tombaugh discovers Pluto at Lowell Observatory 

1938 – Arizona Snowbowl ski area opens 

1963 – Astronauts arrive in Flagstaff to begin training for the 1969 moon landing 

1994 – First modern craft breweries in Flagstaff Arizona established

2019 – Population of Flagstaff Arizona exceeds 75,000

What to do in Flagstaff Arizona

silouette of band on outdoor stage looking out at crowd on lawn with pin trees and blue skies
Pickin’ in the Pines at Pepsi Ampitheater in one of the many things to do in Flagstaff Arizona | Pre-COVID photo courtesy of Pickin’ in the Pines

As you plan your trip, you will want to prioritize your list of what to do in Flagstaff Arizona. 

That’s because there is plenty to do including, attractions in Flagstaff Arizona. For instance, Lowell Observatory, where Clyde Tombaugh, an amateur astronomer, discovered Pluto. The Arboretum is a beautiful and educational experience about the native plants in the region. And certainly, the Museum of Northern Arizona to admire local art and learn about natural history and Native people of the Colorado Plateau. All of these attractions deserve several hours to appreciate. Drill in to check out 9 Wonderful and Safe Flagstaff Things to Do During COVID

Events calendars for Flagstaff travel

Secondly for what to do in Flagstaff Arizona, look to events calendars for free outdoor concerts, paid concert venues, festivals, art shows and farmers’ markets. From Memorial Day through Labor Day, something is happening every weekend. The Blues and Brews Festival and Pickin’ in the Pines Bluegrass Festival are two of the most popular events, with many others throughout the summer and early fall. 

Thirdly, the breweries in Flagstaff Arizona draw many visitors from the warmer climates, especially in the summer months.

Moreover, many visitors come simply for the opportunity to enjoy nature. Hiking, biking, skiing, fishing and star gazing top the list. The Arizona Snowbowl also attracts skiers worldwide, and the Arizona Nordic Center has miles of beautiful groomed, safe trails for cross-country skiers.

In conclusion, others visit Flagstaff to breathe the pristine air or experience the laid-back vibe. Even though there is more activity in the summer, there are still plenty of things to do in Flagstaff Arizona all four seasons. 

Flagstaff: Your Launching Pad to the Grand Canyon … and the Moon!

Display case at Lowell Observatory which is entitled, "Lowell's Lunar Legacy" with artifacts from NASA astronauts who trained in Flagstaff
Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff played a crucial role in putting men on the moon

You will find that some of the best things to do in Flagstaff Arizona are actually within a short drive of the city limits. For example, experience an ancient culture at Wupatki National Monument or Walnut Canyon National Monument. Both are a short drive from Flagstaff and give visitors a fascinating glimpse into the past. Here, the Sinagua people settled around 600 AD and disappeared mysteriously around 1450 AD, leaving behind ruins and their belongings. 

Furthermore, the Grand Canyon is only an hour and a half drive from Flagstaff, and Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon 45 minutes. Both canyons will take your breath away as you view red rock vistas and geologic wonders words cannot describe. Enjoy some of the activities, such as exploring the backcountry in Sedona with one of several jeep touring companies. At the Grand Canyon, hike down the Bright Angel Trail, or simply enjoy the vistas from the rim. Dine at the historic El Tovar Hotel to complete your day. 

By contrast, Meteor Crater represents the future as a place contributing to our quest to explore the universe. It is here astronauts trained for the moon landing. Meteor Crater is also the world’s best-preserved impact crater. 

Most importantly, bring your best camera to capture the images of Flagstaff Arizona as you explore these spectacular landscapes surrounding the town. 

Where to stay in Flagstaff Arizona

Interior of Flagstaff hotel room with kiva-like firplace, rugs on wooden floor and beautifully dress bed against red brick wall
The Southwestern Suite at Inn at 410 is one of the most requested rooms | UNSTOPPABLE Stacey photo

Where are the best places to stay in Flagstaff Arizona? That is pretty much up to you. The gamut of sites encompasses rugged camping near Flagstaff Arizona to luxury hotels Flagstaff Arizona. 

First of all, if luxury is your goal, check out Wyndham resort on the eastside or the prominent Little America Hotel just off I-40. 

Secondly, historic accommodation like the Monte Vista Hotel or The Inn at 410 are in the historic downtown area. Both charming properties have hosted famous people from bygone eras. The hotel has many ghost stories, which are Flagstaff lore. 

By contrast, the Residence Inn is a newer upscale property located in downtown Flagstaff’s heart. Additionally, there are many budget hotels near Flagstaff Arizona. 

Airbnb Flagstaff Arizona if that’s your style! There are many to choose from—luxury log cabins or modest homes for those on a budget. 

Moreover, there are plenty of camping opportunities too. Campgrounds with full-RV hookups are available, and primitive camping just about everywhere you can find a flat spot in the forest. Remember when we asked what’s the elevation of Flagstaff Arizona? The high altitude of 6,910 feet (2,106.2 meters) means you need to pack camping provisions for cool mountain temperatures

UNSTOPPABLE Stacey asked her travel writer colleagues to name their picks for top lodging in Flagstaff. Here’s what they said.

Where to Eat in Flagstaff Arizona

white deep bowl hold bone-in-lamb surrounded by fresh veggies
Lamb Osso Bucco at Brix Restaurant & Wine Bar | Photo courtesy of Brix

If you are trying to decide where to eat in Flagstaff Arizona the choice is limited only by the time you have and your budget. Do you want fancy, frugal or famous? I say famous because one of the best places to eat in Flagstaff Arizona Salsa Brava, has been featured on Diners, Drive In’s and Dives and Mess Lords. The chef who owns Salsa Brava is also a three-time winner of Guy’s Grocery Games! Salsa Brava is renowned for taking traditional Mexican food and adding a creative flare. My favorite, Baja fish tacos, yum! 

However, for fancy, a favorite is Josephine’s American Bistro. Therefore, featuring excellent service, atmosphere, and delectable dinners for special occasions. Try the achiote smoked pork, Osso Bucco. My mouth waters, just writing about it!

In conclusion, for frugal restaurants in Flagstaff Arizona visit the Galaxy Diner. It has a cool Route 66 vibe, good food and service for a reasonable price. And yes, the diner is on Route 66 Flagstaff Arizona! 

UNSTOPPABLE Stacey asked her Flagstaff foodie friends for their favorite restaurants in Flagstaff Arizona. Read their recommendations now.

Breweries in Flagstaff Arizona | Arizona Craft Beer Capital

Pint of A light ale with a reddish tint sits on bar next to pizza at one of the best places to eat in Flagstaff AZ
Wood-fired pizza and Flagstaff craft beer at Beaver Street Brewery, #5 on the Flagstaff breweries map. Photo courtesy of DiscoverFlagstaff, Flagstaff Conventions and Visitor Bureau

Ever since the microbrewery resurgence began, there have been many breweries in Flagstaff Arizona to patronize. In 2018, the Governor of Arizona recognized Flagstaff as a “Leading Craft Beer City,” providing a commendation letter to that effect. As a result, the Flagstaff City Council used this momentous occasion to declare the month of February craft beer month. 

The ale trail is where visitors and locals sip tasty suds at eight different microbreweries. Many of the microbreweries on the trail are within walking distance of one another. 

Most craft breweries in Flagstaff Arizona are located in quaint, repurposed historic buildings, featuring comfortable outdoor seating areas. Visitors often ask, what’s the elevation of Flagstaff Arizona? The answer is 6,910 feet above sea level. Therefore, evening temperatures are cool year-round, and you will want to bring a jacket to enjoy the breweries’ outdoor seating. 

In addition to craft beers, several breweries are also home to the best restaurants in Flagstaff Arizona. Microbrewery fare in Flagstaff includes everything from burgers to specialty pizzas. In conclusion, if you enjoy an excellent full-flavored beer, historic venues and fantastic food, Flagstaff’s breweries need to be on your Flagstaff travel checklist.

For more to see and things do in Flagstaff Arizona check out Flagstaff Things to Do During COVID. Up next: UNSTOPPABLE Stacey reveals the top lodging in Flagstaff.

As is common in the travel industry, UNSTOPPABLE Stacey was provided with accommodations, meals and other compensation for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, the Arizona travel writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.

In addition, this blog, UNSTOPPABLE Stacey Travel, contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, she will earn a commission at no extra cost to you. These commissions help reduce the ever-increasing costs of keeping this travel blog active. Thanks for reading.

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