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28 Fun Things to Do in Flagstaff, Arizona

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by Angela Magsajo

flagstaff arizona
Image by Discover Flagstaff on Facebook

Wondering what to do in Flagstaff, Arizona? From strolling through its historic downtown area to exploring its many natural wonders, the list of fun things to do in Flagstaff is endless! Situated in the mountains of northern Arizona, Flagstaff’s abounding diverse landscapes from rugged beauty to vibrant downtown, there is so much to explore. Meanwhile, the vibrant cultural scene will surely appeal to history buffs. It also boasts a hip and youthful vibe ideal for people who just want a chill and laid-back holiday.

 

Whether you’re looking to spend a family day out or searching for cheap weekend getaways, Flagstaff, AZ has it for you. Read on to discover all the best Flagstaff attractions and figure out what to do in Arizona today!

1. Go Hiking at the Grand Canyon National Park

Woman hiking along the trails of Grand Canyon National Park, one of the best things to do near Flagstaff.

Photo by blazekg on Adobe Stock

Located a few miles northwest of Flagstaff, the Grand Canyon is truly the city’s backyard. Explore the spectacular beauty of this UNESCO World Heritage Site in the USA on foot, on the back of a mule, or from above on helicopter tours. For a one-of-a-kind view of the canyon, go on a whitewater rafting trip and float down the Colorado River. Spending the night under the stars at one of the campsites is also a popular activity at this tourist spot.

2. Marvel at the Meteor Crater

Couple marveling at the Meteor Crater from an observation deck, one of the best things to do near Flagstaff.

Photo by Gary Peplow on Adobe Stock

The Meteor Crater, also known as the Barringer Crater, is not just the largest meteor crater in the United States, but it’s the best-preserved in the world. Dating as far back as 50,000 years ago, this 550 feet deep crater draws in plenty of curious visitors who want to marvel at the evidence of when space and Earth collided.

 

You can easily add it to your list of things to do in Flagstaff because it’s located near the city. You can view the crater from the indoor viewing area or on one of the observation decks of the Meteor Crater Visitor Center. If you’re up to it, you can also get an up-close-and-personal view of the crater when you take part in one of the guided tours along its rim.

3. Explore Coconino National Forest

Cascading waterfall within the Coconino National Forest, near Flagstaff.

Photo by Tonia on Adobe Stock

Spawning across nearly two million acres, the Coconino National Forest is among the most diverse national forests in the United States. Off the bat, it boasts an alpine tundra, a ponderosa pine forest, a lowland desert, and several natural lakes. It is also home to the Lava River Cave which is a 700,000-year-old mile-long lava tube, and the Inner Basin Trail which leads to an extinct volcano. You’ll likewise find several mountain bike trails in the area. Wildlife spotting, picnicking, fishing, camping, and skiing during winter are other popular things to do in this diverse landscape. All things considered, Coconino National Forest is an ideal destination for people in search of outdoor recreation activities.

4. Go Boating on Upper Lake Mary

Woman canoeing in a body of water with a mountain range and greenery in the background.

Photo by buenaventura13 on Adobe Stock

Hop on a boat and experience the charm of Upper Lake Mary, one of the best lakes in Arizona. With its sky-blue waters surrounded by ponderosa pine trees and meadows, it’s a picturesque destination near Flagstaff. The lake is popular with enthusiasts of all kinds of water sports, ranging from kayaking to water skiing. Additionally, it’s a great spot for angling plenty of crappie, trout, northern pike, and channel catfish. The area also features shaded picnic areas with barbecue grills where you can cook up and enjoy your catch of the day.

5. Go Cross-Country Skiing at Arizona Snowbowl

People skiing at Arizona Snowbowl, one of the top things to do in Flagstaff during winter.

Photo by Melastmohican on Adobe Stock

Thinking of what to do during your winter getaway? Go skiing at Flagstaff! Arizona Snowbowl is the premier skiing destination located just north of the city. Nestled between the slopes of Humphreys Peak, this ski resort offers gondola rides that will take you up 11,500 feet up in the mountain. The ski resort features 55 trails, ideal for both novice and more experienced skiers. You also get backcountry and uphill access for backcountry and cross-country skiing too, just as long as you obtain a permit beforehand.

 

And if you’re not visiting in the winter, you can still hit the slopes during summer. Arizona Snowbowl offers plenty of summer activities, including a dual-lane tubing hill. Traveling with kids? Then you’ll be glad to know that children aged 12 and under can ski for free! This is a fun family activity that you should not miss.

6. Learn About Space at Lowell Observatory

Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff.

Photo by Gary Peplow on Adobe Stock

As the world’s first International Dark Sky City, Flagstaff is a popular destination among stargazers who want to witness the extraordinary beauty of its night skies. And if you want to learn a little more about space and the universe, make sure to include the Lowell Observatory in your itinerary of things to do in Flagstaff!

 

At the observatory, you can marvel at the telescope that was used to discover Pluto. Or, take a peek through Clark Telescope, a historic telescope that contributed to studies on Mars and the Apollo 11 moon landing. Other highlights of a visit to Lowell include stargazing events, workshops, and film showings.

7. Explore the Walnut Canyon National Monument

Hiking trail along the cliff dwellings at the Walnut Canyon National Monument near Flagstaff.

Photo By traveller70 on Adobe Stock

Come and explore one of the most remarkable historical sites in Arizona. The Walnut Canyon National Monument is home to 25 cliff dwellings dating all the way back to 1100 AD. Traverse through these impressively well-preserved ruins of pueblos and pit-houses that once housed inhabitants of the prehistoric Native American tribes. 

 

Take the Rim Trail and walk along the canyon’s rim until you reach overlooks with scenic views of the canyon and cliff dwellings. Meanwhile, the Island Trail is a loop path that will have you climbing over 200 steps in order to circle the island. Alternatively, you can head over to the visitor’s center where you can delve into exhibits about the area’s history, with the ruins still in sight. 

8. Take a Scenic Drive Along Oak Creek Canyon

Wide shot of a bridge surrounded by red rocks and greenery within Oak Creek Canyon.

Photo by hpbfotos on Adobe Stock

A sightseeing trip to Flagstaff wouldn’t be complete without a scenic drive through Oak Creek Canyon. The smaller cousin of the Grand Canyon, Oak Creek is home to stunning rock formations and lush greenery. Along the drive, you’ll spot oak, sycamore, and walnut trees towering over the roadside, providing plenty of shade during your journey. But Oak Creek Canyon offers more to do than just a leisurely road trip. You can also enjoy a picnic with the family, make a splash at one of the two swimming holes, or go on a hike along the many hiking trails within the canyon.

9. Visit the Ruins of Wupatki National Monument

Couple visiting the pueblo ruins at the Wupatki National Monument, one of the top things to do in Flagstaff, AZ.

Photo by TomR on Adobe Stock

The Wupatki National Monument is another national monument in Arizona to visit. Similar to the Walnut Canyon, it houses cliff dwellings of Native American tribes that resided in Northern Arizona. Located in a secluded area in the Colorado Plateau, the Wupatki National Monument offers a glimpse into how people lived nearly a thousand years ago. One of the best ways to explore the area is by going on a two-day backpacking trip where you can visit different prehistoric and historic archeological sites, including pueblo architecture that dates back to the 12th century.

10. Climb Up Humphreys Peak

Hiking trail sign of Humphreys Peak during winter.

Photo by Cavan on Adobe Stock

Undoubtedly, Arizona is among the most beautiful states in the USA and there’s no better way to marvel at its beauty than from the state’s highest point. Part of the San Francisco Peaks mountain range, Humphreys Peak stands over 12,000 feet. Getting here requires a steep and rigorous hike, but the panoramic views from the summit are certainly worth it. You can even see the Grand Canyon from the top!

 

For those who are not ready to take on Humphreys Peak on foot, you can always enjoy a scenic drive up the mountain. Though you won’t reach the peak, this route will greet you with a stunning display of wildflower meadows, pine forests, and aspen groves as you drive around the mountain.

11. Meet Santa During the North Pole Experience

Little girl whispering to Santa while sitting on his lap.

Photo by zamuruev on Adobe Stock

Looking for fun things to do in Flagstaff with kids this winter? Head over to Flagstaff’s Little America Hotel and take part in the North Pole Experience

 

This hands-on experience for kids starts with a trolley ride to the North Pole, deep within 500 acres of private forest that’s decorated with over a million twinkling Christmas lights. There, you’ll find Santa’s massive workshop where you can help elves make toys and Santa’s mail room where you can write personal letters to Father Christmas himself. And at the end of the ride, meet everyone’s favorite red-nosed reindeer and Santa himself at the sleigh hanger. 

12. Explore the Historic Downtown Flagstaff

Low angle shot of the Downtown Flagstaff cityscape.

Photo by Fotoluminate LLC on Adobe Stock

Whether you’re in search of the best places to eat in Flagstaff, top shopping boutiques, or local art galleries, Downtown Flagstaff is the place to be! The historic downtown area offers plenty of things to do in Flagstaff. Go on a culinary tour of the 85 restaurants and bars in the area, or visit the many art galleries and community events at Heritage Square and Wheeler Park. For the venturesome, there are historic haunted tours for you to discover all about the city’s eccentric and dark past. Here, your guides will take you to the darker side of the city while regaling you with tales of tragedies that will definitely spook you. 

13. Take a Stroll Through Buffalo Park

Open field at Buffalo Park with the San Francisco Peaks in the background.

Photo by Bruce Grubbs on Adobe Stock

Looking for free things to do in Flagstaff this weekend? Then you’ll be glad that Buffalo Park in Flagstaff offers free admissions for everyone! The panoramic views of Mount Elden, San Francisco Peaks, and Dry Lake Hills, are sights to behold. The two-acre park also features picnic ramadas, a meadow, and mixed forest vegetation, making it one of the best parks in Flagstaff for families wanting to take a hike or spend a leisurely day out in nature. At nighttime, the park is popular among stargazers who want to witness the unadulterated beauty of the city’s night sky. So, make sure to add it to your list of things to do at night in Flagstaff!

14. See the Grand Falls

People standing at the base of Grand Falls in Arizona, one of the things to do in Flagstaff.

Photo by Pritha_EasyArts on Adobe Stock

Unlike most waterfalls in the world, Grand Falls in Arizona is famous for its extremely muddy flow. For this very reason, locals also call it Chocolate Falls. Make sure to add a trip to Grand Falls to your list of things to do in Flagstaff for spectacular viewing and photography opportunities! The roaring sound of the water is also remarkably mesmerizing for many. Here, you’ll be able to hike along the gully of the waterfalls or enjoy a picnic in one of the picnic areas or gazebos. Make sure to plan ahead, though, since the best time to witness the falls’ cascading waters is in springtime or after summer storms.

15. Take a Day Trip to Mormon Lake

Two women on horseback on a trail, near a body of water.

Photo by peopleimages.com on Adobe Stock

Enjoy a family day out at Arizona’s largest natural lake, just a few miles southeast of Flagstaff. Mormon Lake is an ideal destination for fishing, boating, and even water sports like windsurfing. Although it may occasionally dry up during droughts, there are still plenty of things to do in the area. 

 

Wildlife spotting and bird watching are highly popular activities. You can go horseback riding and mountain biking during summer, while snowmobiling and cross-country skiing are just some of the winter activities possible. Don’t forget to drop by the Mormon Lake Lodge, a steakhouse and saloon famous for its tasty grilled meats.

16. Party at Oktoberfest in Wheeler Park

Group of female friends enjoying beer at a park, one of the best things to do in Flagstaff in fall.

Photo by Astarot on Adobe Stock

Attending Flagstaff’s Oktoberfest celebration is the best way to kick off fall in the city. Head over to Wheeler Park in the historic downtown area for traditional German food, live entertainment, fun games, bounce houses for kids, and, of course, delicious beer. This annual event welcomes guests of all ages, with kids aged 12 and below getting in for free! For furry owners, this is among the best things to do in Flagstaff with dogs too, since leashed pets are welcome at Wheelers Park.

17. Go Ziplining at Flagstaff Extreme

Little boy ziplining through an adventure course, one of the best things to do in Flagstaff.

Photo by Natali on Adobe Stock

On the hunt for exciting things to do in Flagstaff with kids? Create thrilling memories at Flagstaff Extreme with the whole family. This outdoor experience features an adventure course with rope swings, hanging nets, and swinging bridges. If that doesn’t satisfy your adrenaline needs, soar alongside the canopies of Flagstaff’s landscape on zip lines that reach up to 80 feet in the air! As one of the cool places in Arizona, Flagstaff Extreme guarantees an exhilarating time.

18. Learn About Flagstaff History at Pioneer Museum

Vintage locomotive on display on the grounds of Pioneer Museum in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Photo from Pioneer Museum – Arizona Historical Society Flagstaff official Facebook page

Head over to the Pioneer Museum if you’re looking for things to do in Flagstaff that will teach you more about the city’s past. It houses several exhibits on anthropology, biology, geology, and even fine art. All of these allow visitors to take a step back in time and discover not only Flagstaff’s rich history and culture but also that of Northern Arizona.

 

Other popular activities here include walking through the heirloom gardens and marveling at historic automobiles and farm equipment from the 1910s. The Pioneer Museum is also where you’ll find a lung ventilator that saved the lives of polio victims during the 1950s.

19. Enjoy a Cold One at Flagstaff Brewery

Close-up of bartender pouring beer from a tap.

Photo by chika_milan on Adobe Stock

Looking for more laid-back things to do in Downtown Flagstaff with friends or a partner? After a day of outdoor adventure, enjoy a cold glass of beer and delicious food at the courtyard patio of Flagstaff Brewery. This brewing company and pub offers an impressive selection of hand-crafted beers, including local ales and German-style beers — all of which you can pair with burgers, fritters, wings, and other pub food staples.

20. Marvel at Sunset Crater Volcano

Drone shot of the Sunset Crater Volcano in Flagstaff, AZ.

Photo by Hakan Ozturk on Adobe Stock

Another geological wonder you won’t want to miss during your trip to Flagstaff is the Sunset Crater Volcano. Tucked within the Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, this cinder cone was formed over a thousand years ago. Today, visitors from across the state and country travel to the area to marvel at its jagged landscape. Walking along areas that once were flooded by lava and ash clouds is a great way of getting a closer look at remnants of the past volcanic eruption. Some of these include the base of the volcano, the field of cinders, or even the rough terrain of basalt.

21. Catch a Show at Orpheum Theater Flagstaff

Concert crowd at the Orpheum Theater Flagstaff

Photo by goumbik on Adobe Stock

Visiting Orpheum Theater is one of the best couple activities to do within the city. Be it operas, film premiers, comedy shows, concerts, or theatrical performances, the Orpheum Theater Flagstaff is the place to be if you want to catch the best entertainment shows in the city. A local landmark in the heart of downtown, this theater has been the city’s premier entertainment venue since its establishment in 1911. 

22. Visit Riordan Mansion State Historic Park

Exterior of the Riordan Mansion, one of the top Flagstaff attractions.

Photo from Riordan Mansion State Historic Park official Facebook page

Looking for things to do in Arizona’s Flagstaff that are set indoors? Explore the halls of the Riordan Mansion, a historical site located right next door to Northern Arizona University. It’s one of the must-visit state parks in Arizona. Boasting an Arts & Crafts-style architecture, it served as the home of the Riordans, a local, prominent family that was involved in almost all ways of life in Arizona. Visitors can tour the historic home and its grounds which still houses artifacts, furniture, and other personal items belonging to the family.

23. Experience Nomad Living at Arizona Nordic Village

Exterior of one of the yurt camping sites at Arizona Nordic Village, Flagstaff. 

Photo from Arizona Nordic Village official Facebook page

The Arizona Nordic Village is the ultimate outdoor destination in Flagstaff, Arizona. Be it camping, hiking, horseback riding, or skiing, you can do plenty of activities here! The summer season welcomes hikers, cyclists, and horseback riders to the village grounds. Meanwhile, the winter months turn the area into a paradise for cross-country skiers and snowshoers. The village even offers lessons for novice skiers who want to include learning a new skill on their list of winter vacation ideas. On the whole, Arizona Nordic Village is a great camping destination, offering rustic yurts and cabins for guests (and their pets)!

24. Make a Splash at Flagstaff Aquaplex

Giant mural at the indoor pool of Flagstaff Aquaplex.

Photo from City of Flagstaff official website

On the hunt for things to do in Flagstaff, AZ in summer? Visit the Flagstaff Aquaplex, a recreation center that’s extremely popular among locals who want to beat the summer heat. This is among the fun places to go in Arizona while on a budget. Here you’ll find plenty of residents taking a refreshing lap around the indoor pool. Meanwhile, young ones can go down waterslides or practice their free throw moves at the poolside basketball hoops. On top of everything, the Aquaplex offers a number of activities, including water aerobic classes and aqua boot camps. The Aquaplex is open year-round, so you can still add a visit to the center to your itinerary of things to do in Flagstaff regardless of the seasons

25. Stop by the Flagstaff Visitor Center

Train track next to the Flagstaff Visitor Center.

Photo by giumas on Adobe Stock

Located along the city’s historic railroad station, the Flagstaff Visitor Center should be at the top of your must-visit places while in Flagstaff. It provides tourists with everything they need to know about the city! From the best places to eat to local events, and things to do in Flagstaff, the knowledgeable staff will help you make the most out of your getaway. What’s more, the Tudor-style building also houses a gift shop with a wide variety of Flagstaff souvenirs. This includes the likes of railroad-themed memorabilia and books about local history. If you’re lucky, you might get the chance to take part in special events hosted by the center, like art exhibits and book readings, and signings.

26. Discover More About Arizona at Northern Arizona Museum

musuem in northen arizona

Photo from Visit Arizona official  website 

Step back in time when you visit the Northern Arizona MuseumEstablished in the late 1920s, this museum’s halls and exhibits showcase the Native American culture that helped establish not just Flagstaff, but also the rest of Northern Arizona. They put out nine permanent exhibits on the region’s geology, anthropology and culture. Dinosaur skeletons, fossil footprints, ancient pottery, and native jewelry are only some of the artifacts displayed here. On top of these, the museum also hosts different rotating exhibits and annual events.

27. Follow the Mars Hill Trail 

Adult man and small child walking along a paved path surrounded by greenery.

Photo by dusanpetkovic1 on Adobe Stock

A hike along the Mars Hill Trail is among the best things to do in Flagstaff for many nature lovers. This hiking trail starts at Thorpe Park, located at the west end of downtown Flagstaff, and continues through the ponderosa pine forest up on the slopes of Mars Hill. Though relatively short (under two miles), this trail is tagged as an intermediate trail due to its steep elevations. Back at Thorpe Park, there is also a tennis court near the trail with direct access to the Observatory Mesa Natural Area, a 2,000-acre forest ecosystem.

28. Grab a Bite at Dark Sky Brewing Company

Waiter serving food to a table at a brewpub.

Photo by Drazen on Adobe Stock

Another pub that’s worth checking out is Dark Sky Brewing Company. This micro-brewing company boasts a menu of craft beers made from exotic ingredients like kiwi, black tea, and even jalapenos. And with a forever rotating beer list, you’ll be surprised with what they have to offer at each given moment. Enjoy bar classic dishes such as pizzas, tacos, sausages, and fish and chips with your beer. 

Fun Things to Do in Flagstaff Today

What is Flagstaff best known for? Answers will typically revolve around the city’s rich history, thriving culture, and many natural wonders. But besides these, the city’s bustling downtown scene is also one of the best features of Flagstaff. Regardless if you’re looking for exhilarating outdoor adventure or more relaxed activities for short day trips, this city has it all for you. 

 

So, if you’re wondering, is Flagstaff worth visiting? The answer is definitely a yes! Start planning your itinerary of things to do in Flagstaff now.