Don’t miss our roundup of some of the best things to do in Flagstaff. 

Venturing out west and exploring the rough American terrain should be on the top of everyone’s travel list. This season, if you are planning a trip to the beautiful state of Arizona, then Flagstaff is undoubtedly a location you should consider calling home. There are so many beautiful things to do in Flagstaff, Arizona that you simply cannot miss out on. 

What makes Flagstaff, Arizona so unique is the fact that it is the perfect place to call home base. It is nestled in the northern neck of Arizona. Along with that, it is in close proximity to some of the best national parks in the nations as well as some awesome outdoor activities. If you have ever wanted to visit the Grand Canyon or popular destinations such as Antelope Canyon, then Flagstaff, Arizona is a perfect place to visit. Flagstaff’s proximity to all these popular locations is what makes it so unique. Today, we are going to take an in depth look at some of the best things to do in Flagstaff. From exploring the outdoors to learning about Arizona’s history, there is something for everyone here. Let’s get started. 

1. Arizona Mountain Inn and Cabins

Things to do in Flagstaff - Arizona Mountain

Credit: ​Arizona Mountain Inn and Cabins

One of the best things to do in Flagstaff, Arizona is to get away and relax in the Arizona Mountain Inn and Cabins. The Arizona Inn and Cabins is a quaint little getaway that features Tudor style cabins that are perfect for relaxing in. The history behind these cabins is just as charming as the cabins themselves. 

In 1948, Ray Wanek made a purchase to call 13 acres of Ponderosa Pine his own. Located just near the city of Flagstaff, Wanek had sights of making his modest purchase somewhat of a getaway for himself. He built a cabin, called it home, and it was a wrap. Years later in 1953 Ray married his sweetheart, Pauline. Unlike her husband, Pauline was not to keen on living the secluded life outdoors. To remedy this problem, Ray built another cabin. Over the years, new cabins were built on the property to create what is not the popular Arizona Inn and Cabins. Every year, couples from all over the country flock to this quaint collection of cabins outside of Flagstaff for a romantic getaway. 

What makes these cabins so wonderful is the fact that they offer an experience of nature like no other. Soak in the beautiful views that surround you. Not only that, but while you are here, you can enjoy refreshing breaths of the crisp and clean mountain air. There are plenty of recreational activities to take part in here as well. For example, if you come during the warmer months, you can enjoy a nice day out by grilling in the recreational area. If you are here during the colder winter months, then a stroll around this winter wonderland is something that can be exceptionally beautiful. 

If you plan on staying in Arizona for a couple of days and are looking for a great place to call home, the Arizona Inn and Cabins offers some of the best things to do in Flagstaff. 

2. Take a Helicopter Ride

Things to do in Flagstaff - Helicopter Ride

If you plan on staying in Flagstaff, Arizona, then one of the best things to do in Flagstaff is to see the beautiful scenery from above. One of the best ways to do this is by taking a helicopter ride. Papillon Tours is one of the leading helicopter ride services that offer some great views of the grand canyon. If you are staying in Flagstaff, then this is a ride you should seriously consider taking. 

The tours offered by Papillion differ depending on what it is you want to do. If you are staying in Flagstaff, then we suggest taking a Grand Canyon tour. There is a range of Grand Canyon Tours that you can take part in. One of the best Grand Canyon tours is the Grand Celebration Tour. This tour allows visitors to see amazing aerial views of popular locations in the Grand Canyon. Some of the locations you can expect to see include the Hoover Dam, the Grand Canyon West, and the beautiful Lake Mead. For the cherry on top, you can expect your tour to include a stop at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. This will allow you the opportunity to take a look at the incredible Colorado River.

For a truly exceptional experience that you can not miss out on, one of the best things to do in Flagstaff is to take a helicopter tour. Not only are we sure you will love it, but it will be a moment that you are sure not to forget.

3. Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Course

Things to do in Flagstaff - Extreme Adventure

Credit: Flagstaff Extreme Adventures Course / ​Facebook

If you love a little competition and are a big fan of the outdoors, then one of the best things to do in Flagstaff is to visit the Flagstaff Extreme Adventures Course. When it comes to outdoor adventures, the Flagstaff Extreme Adventures Course is the place to go. It also helps that this course is known as Arizona’s only adventure and zip line course in the whole state. 

One of the best ways to experience this excellent adventures course is by booking a weekend getaway here. By spending an entire weekend, you will truly get the opportunity to experience the course and to see whether or not you are up for the challenge.

There are a couple of activities that are waiting for you here at the course. One of the most popular courses that you can sign up for is the Adventure Course. The Adventure Course includes hours of tree to tree adventure. You can expect to find exciting obstacles such as rope climbing and rope ladders that will really test your limits. If you are not too afraid of heights, then another package that you might be interested in is the Adventure Zip Lines. The zip lines will allow you to experience thrilling adventures high above the ground as you zip through the air.

If you want a more private experience, then the Private Guiding package might be the best one for you. The Private Guiding package will allow you to get a hands on experience of the adventure park. Better yet, your experience here will be specifically tailored to your needs.

Finally, if you are traveling with a big group, the adventure park is one of the best things to do in Flagstaff. There are awesome perks like discounted rates for groups of eight travelers or more. If you are looking for a fun time that is full of plenty of activity, scheduling some time in Arizona’s only adventure and zip line course is easily one of the best things to do in Flagstaff.

4. Coconino National Forest

Things to do in Flagstaff - Coconino National Forest

If you are an outdoors lover, then Flagstaff has plenty of awesome adventures for you to participate in. One of the best things to do in Flagstaff is to visit the fantastic Coconino National Forest. This underrated national forest is easily one of the best national parks in Arizona and the United States as a whole. 

What makes Coconino National Forest one of the best places to discover is the fact that it is so eclectic. It features stunning landscapes. Here, you can expect to find the beautiful and iconic red rocks of Sedona. There are also the beautiful Ponderosa pine forests to get lost in as well. If you are looking for some unique topography, then the southwestern desert and the alpine tundra are just as stunning as well.

There is a range of outdoor activities that you can participate in here. For example, There are plenty of small lakes to go fishing in if you have a love for fishing. If you find yourself in Flagstaff during the hot summer months, then Coconino National Forest is the place to be. You can bring out your inflatables and wade in the water. There are plenty of lazy rivers and streams that are found here for you to cool off in.

Finally, camp lovers, this is the place for you. There are are a range of campsites that will allow you to pinch up a tent and call home for a couple of days. Kick back and enjoy the beautiful nature that surrounds you in this iconic location.

Some of the other top highlights that you should include on your visit here are going on a scenic drive. There are certainly plenty for you to choose from. For starters, there is the famous Oak Creek Canyon Scenic Drive. This scenic drive will offer stunning views that will leave you in awe. To get a glimpse of this beautiful scenic drive, be sure to stop by Oak Creek Canyon Vista. Here you will get a bird’s eye view of the beautiful scenery you will get to soo. If you love collecting trinkets from your travels on the road, then the gift shop here is a perfect place to visit too. Here, you can get your hands on some beautiful Native American jewelry and other handmade gems. 

Lastly, there are other trail looks including the Rim Road General Crook Trail Loop and the lovely Peaks Loop to take advantage off. These trails offer equally stunning views that are simply too beautiful to miss out on.

For a relaxing getaway, ask any local or traveler and they will tell you the same thing. Without a doubt, spending some time in Coconino National Park is easily one of the best things to do in Flagstaff.

5. Ski and Snowboard in the Arizona Snowbowl 

Things to do in Flagstaff -  Arizona Snowbowl

Credit: Arizona Snowbowl

If you are an avid winter sports enthusiast, then this next location is for you. One of the best things to do in Flagstaff, Arizona is to pay a visit to the popular Arizona Snowbowl. The Arizona Snowbowl is one of the best places to go to if you are looking for some excellent skiing and snowboarding. Not only that, but the Arizona Snowbowl offers a range of activities for all types of ability levels. This versatility makes it one of the best things to do in Arizona

The location of the Arizona Snowbowl is simply stunning. It is located high in the San Francisco Peaks at just under nine thousand five hundred feet. At this altitude, not only will you get some stunning views, but you will get to explore the Arizona wilderness. The Arizona Snowbowl offers a refreshing crisp and clear atmosphere that is simply wonderful.

When it comes to the activities offered at the Arizona Snowbowl, we love that it is versatile and can accommodate a range of travelers. For example, you will find different parks that vary based on the skill level. There is the Prairie Dawg start park for less experienced athletes.  The Southern Belle intermediate parks are more geared towards athletes who know what they’re doing but could use a little more practice. And finally, the Sunset Terrain park features a range of tracks for more advanced skiers.

What makes the Arizona Snowbowl so wonderful is the fact that it is not simply only for winter. If you come to the Arizona Snowbowl during the warmer months, then there is plenty of hiking for you to take advantage of. And of course, the chairlift is another beautiful way to soak in the scenic beauty of mountains that surround you. Whether you are a winter enthusiast or not, the Arizona Snowbowl has something to accommodate everyone. For that reason, it is easily one of the best things to do in Flagstaff. Do not forget to put it on your itinerary list this travel season.

6. Visit the Historic Downtown and Railroad District

Things to do in Flagstaff - Historic Downtown

Credit: ​Roderick Eime

One of the best things to do in Flagstaff, Arizona is to visit the historic downtown and railroad district. This historic district is popular for several reasons. For starters, it was built along the railroad track and the same location that would later become the popular Route 66. When you come to this historic downtown district, you will immediately see why it is so popular. The downtown strip is lined with historic buildings that date back to the 1900s. A quick glimpse at these buildings will offer you the illusion that you have transported back in time. 

When it comes to these buildings, you will be pleased to know that many of them have been converted into some of the best shops, galleries, restaurants, and breweries that Flagstaff has to offer. There are some fantastic locations to pop into to enjoy a nice cup of coffee or sweet treat. 

If you are not in the mood for shopping, there is plenty more for you to take advantage of here. For starters, you can enjoy strolling around the sidewalks that offer a charming atmosphere for exploring. Along with that, if you come to the historic downtown and railroad district during the warmer months, you will be in for a treat. There are plenty of festivities including outside entertainment that goes on regularly as well.

If your travels offer you an extra day for relaxing, then exploring the historic downtown and railroad district is easily one of the best things to do in Flagstaff. Our tip? Try to book your trip here during time periods where college kids are offseason. Many locals have complained that the atmosphere changes a bit when college kids are still in town. However, for some, the presence of the college kids only adds to the liveliness that the downtown district has to offer.

7. Observe the Sky at the Lowell Observatory

Things to do in Flagstaff -  Lowell Observatory

Credit: ​Lowell Observatory

If you are a lover of all things revolving around the sky, then this place is for you. The Lowell Observatory is easily one of the best things to do in Flagstaff. The Lowell Observatory was found it in 1894. During this time, Percival Lowell who also happened to be a Harvard graduate and a mathematician founded the observatory. His main goal was to get a better understanding of the sky. His creation of the observatory was well worth it. Because of the observatory, some groundbreaking research has happened here. For example, it was at the Lowell Observatory where the discovery of Pluto was first made.

Of course, the best time to visit the Lowell Observatory would be during the evening hours. At night, you are sure to get an experience that you are not going to forget. For starters, the staff offers an impressive amount of knowledge to share about the world that we live in. You definitely want to book enough time so that you can hear the presentation that they have to offer. Along with that, there are some fantastic telescopes available at the Lowell Observatory for you to use. You can get an amazing visual understanding of the sky in real time by looking through the telescopes here.

The timeframe for visiting the museum is pretty wonderful too. The Lowell Observatory is open on Mondays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. If you are coming on a Sunday, then you can expect to find hours from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admissions for adults starts at $12. However, there are some discounted rates available. For example, there are discounted rates available for children, seniors, and college students. If you are a AAA member or are a member of the military, then you can take advantage of these discounted rates as well.

The best time to schedule your visit to the Lowell Observatory is anytime that there is no full moon. When there is a full moon, light pollution can potentially obstruct your view of the sky. To get the best view of the stars with telescopes here, it is best to come when conditions are at the most favorable for you to view the sky.

Whenever you do decide to come, one thing is absolutely certain. Visiting the Lowell Observatory is easily one of the best things to do in Flagstaff. If you ask any local that has been here, they will surely tell you the same. 

8. Hike the Wupatki National Monument

Things to do in Flagstaff - Wupatki National Monument

Credit: ​Ken Lund

If you ask any local, they will tell you that one of the best things to do in Flagstaff is to visit the Wupatki National Monument. This National Monument was established in 1924. It is currently identified as part of the collective of the Flagstaff area national monuments. Other national monuments that you can find in this collection include the Sunset Crater Volcano and Walnut Canyon.

What makes the Wupatki National Monument so fantastic is the rich history that lies here. The Wupatki National Monument used to be the location were the native ancient people called home. When they left the area, they left behind pueblos and villages. These remains not only left an influential impact on this area’s landscape but it has helped mark the territory of this area’s past.

Another aspect that makes this national monument so unique is the fact that you can travel into the past and explorer what once was a home to many natives. You can explore the famous red rocks that litter the area. Along with that, you can hike through the many beautiful trails littered here. Not only that, but you will get the opportunity to get a first hand experience of the villages at once were established here.

One of the best things to do before you go out exploring the Wupatki National Monument is to learn the backstory first. Visitors are often encouraged to stop by the Visitor Center. It is at the Visitor’s Center where you can pick up information on the park and what you will be able to experience there. Not only that, but you can get relevant information about the people who lived here. This wealth of knowledge will help you better understand the backstory behind the remains that you will come in contact with here.

Finally, because the Wupatki National Monument requires a bit of hiking to get to and explore, it is necessary that you bring along the right equipment. Not only do you want the best hiking shoes for your travels here, but you also want to bring along your favorite insulated water bottle. Depending on the time of year, temperatures can get really hot. Be sure to stay properly hydrated throughout your travels so that you do not fall ill.

The Wupatki National Monument is open every day from sunrise to sunset. There are a couple ways that you can enter the park however there are associated fees. If you are driving, then the park will charge you a $20 fee for your vehicle. If you plan on walking or bringing a bicycle, then the fee is only $10. The good news is that once you have paid the fee, entrance is valid for a whole week. Not only that but once you pay the entrance fee, it will allow you to get into other monuments. Such monuments include the popular Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument.  For outdoor enthusiasts everywhere, the Wupatki National Monument is easily one of the best things to do in Flagstaff.

9. Stroll through the Riordan Mansion State Historic Park 

Things to do in Flagstaff - Riordan Mansion

Credit: ​Riordan Mansion

Another one of the coolest things to do in Flagstaff is to visit the Riordan Mansion State Historic Park. The Riordan Mansion State Historic Park is popular for so many reasons. For starters, the Riordan Mansion has a very historical background that revolved around a rather prominent family. The State Historic Park consists of two nearly identical mansions that were commissioned by the two brothers, Michael and Timothy Riordan. These two mansions are now connected by a rendezvous room and are the focal point of the Riordan Mansion State Historic Park.

What makes the Riordan family so prominent is the fact that they are credited with establishing the town of Flagstaff. When you visit the Riordan Mansion State Historic Park, you will get an opportunity to dive into the family’s history. Not only that, but you will get to see how this family has shaped Flagstaff to what it is today.

The mansions that are housed here are over a hundred years old and tell a story that will literally go down in the history books. Currently, you can book a guided tour that will allow you to experience the mansion first hand. However, many locals and travelers recommend taking the self-guided tour. The self-guided tour will allow you the opportunity to take your time and move at your own pace.

The admission hours for the Riordan Mansion  State Historic Park are pretty standard. You can experience the park daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. However, the times do change throughout the year. From November to April, the Park is open from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. If you want to do a guided tour, then know that the guided tours are offered on the hour from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. To get the best time slot for your travels, the park encourage that you call ahead to book your tour.

You can easily spend a couple of hours getting lost in this beautiful mansion. To best experience this historic location, we recommend setting off the morning and afternoon to soak in all that it has to offer. Whenever you choose to visit the Riordan Mansion State Historic Park,  we are sure you will love it. Without a doubt, it is easily one of the best things to do in Flagstaff

10. Explore the Museum of Northern Arizona

Things to do in Flagstaff - Museum

Credit: ​Museum of Northern Arizona 

When it comes to traveling, one of the best things you can do on any adventure is to learn all that there is to know about your location. To accommodate that learning, visiting museums is easily one of the best things that you can do in any location you travel to. Flagstaff is no different. One of the best things to do in  Flagstaff is to visit the Museum of Northern Arizona.

The Museum of Northern Arizona does a fantastic job of offering visitors an in depth understanding northern Arizona’s Colorado Plateau. The Museum of Northern Arizona has been in operation since 1928. Since then, visitors have enjoyed a range of exhibits. Some of the popular exhibits over the years have been the exhibits that highlight the contemporary art of the Hopi tribe. There is also a fabulous exhibit that goes into everything you need to know about the geological features that formed the Colorado Plateau. Along with their permanent exhibits, there are certainly plenty of temporary exhibits that have had the fortune of calling the museum home.

Although the museum is a rather small space, there are plenty of exhibits for you to experience here. Plenty of visitors and locals who have gone through The Museum of Northern Arizona say that this is a wonderful experience that broadens one’s understanding of this unique region. Finally, many locals and visitors encouraged that before you head out to the local monuments, you head out to the Museum of Northern Arizona first. By going to the museum first, you get to understand a lot more about the sites that you will go out and explore. For an in depth understanding of about the beautiful Northern Arizona, visiting the Museum of Northern Arizona is easily one of the best things to do in Flagstaff.

Final Thoughts

Flagstaff, Arizona might be a rather underrated location. However, many locals and travelers will tell you that they want to keep it that way. There is so much to do and discover in Flagstaff, Arizona that you absolutely have to visit it. Before you head out on your trek, be sure to include some of these top things to do in Flagstaff while you are here.

Related Article: 9 Things to Do in Arizona for Your Bucket List

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Nadia El-Yaouti is a mother, English language arts middle school teacher, writer, and photographer. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and two little girls. Although she considers herself a workaholic, Nadia’s greatest pride is being a mom. When she’s not juggling work, you can be sure to find her traveling the world with her little family.

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