Let’s be honest. There are those among us who would go Colorado River rafting year-round if we could. The majesty of the canyon is so affecting, that it can be hard to get on that helicopter and fly away from it.

But, there’s good news!

When you can’t be on the river, you can be visiting one of the amazing Southwestern cities around it. Need tips on where to go and what to do? Hatch is here to help!

First on our Grand Canyon cities tour: FLAGSTAFF

Flagstaff, Arizona Snowbowl

Arizona Snowbowl (Photo Credit: Nick Ray Clark)

Only 80 miles from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and 130 from Lee’s Ferry, Flagstaff is the perfect stop on your tour of the Grand Canyon area. The Hatch River Expeditions office is located here, so it’s no surprise that this is a place many of our guides and staff members call home.

As locals, we’re happy to fill you in on some of the best parts about our city.

The Views – No matter where you go in Flagstaff or what time of year it is, look out your window and what you’ll see is likely to be nothing short of spectacular. Flagstaff is in the mountains of Northern Arizona at a 7,000 foot elevation, so we experience a full four seasons. Come back again and again to watch the San Francisco Peaks and Mt. Elden change colors.

The GREAT Outdoors – Like to hike? Bike? Backpack? Climb? Fish? Ski? Flagstaff has you covered. Take a day to summit Humphrey’s Peak at 12,633 feet and behold all of Northern Arizona below you. Spend a weekend on the slopes of Arizona Snowbowl. Go bouldering on Mt. Elden. No matter the season, you won’t run out of things to do outside in Flagstaff.

The Arts – Flagstaff has a thriving, and constantly growing, arts community. Plays, art shows, music festivals, literary festivals – we’ve got it all. Year round, you can check out Coconino Center for the Arts for unique fine art exhibitions, Theatrikos Theatre Company for compelling plays, Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra for melodious classical music, and of course the Orpheum Theater (originally built in 1911!) for concerts and other events. Annually, the Northern Arizona Book Festival draws authors and literary enthusiasts from all over Arizona. And, if poetry is your thing, Flagstaff will be host to the 2016 Individual World Poetry Slam.

Downtown – Historic downtown Flagstaff is a mecca of great shopping, food, drinks, and events. Filled with buildings that date back to Flagstaff’s birth (many constructed in the late 1800s or early 1900s), this portion of town comes alive on nights and weekends. Bars and coffee shops double as art galleries and venues for local comedians, poets, and musicians to show their skills. Trivia nights, dancing, karaoke, and themed parties are also easy to find in these blocks. And, Heritage Square hosts a number of outdoor community events from swing dance lessons to family-friendly movies.

One Day in Flagstaff:

Just like in the Grand Canyon, you’ll find there’s never enough time to see EVERYTHING you want to see, so we thought it appropriate to provide you with a sample itinerary of a single day spent well in Flagstaff.

Stay: At the Grand Canyon International Hostel (if you’re on a budget) OR the Weatherford or Monte Vista hotels (if you can spend a little cash) to get that historic downtown experience.

Buffalo Park Flagstaff Arizona

Buffalo Park (Photo Credit: Nick Ray Clark)

Breakfast: Walk to MartAnne’s (every local’s favorite breakfast restaurant) for Mexican style breakfast, mix for sizable plates of classic American breakfast foods, or Grand Canyon Café if you want to keep the canyon theme going.

Morning: Walk or bike some of Flagstaff’s Urban Trail System. Over 60 miles of maintained trails thread themselves through the city of Flagstaff and its forests. Buffalo Park is a popular destination with beautiful views and a hike that won’t wear you out.

If you’re looking for a challenge, swap it for one of the more intensive hikes on the San Francisco Peaks or Mount Elden.

Lunch: Check out one of Flagstaff’s amazing pizza restaurants for lunch. NiMarcos, Fratelli, and Pizzicletta are all downtown favorites.

Afternoon: Grab some coffee or tea from Firecreek Coffee Company and browse the shops and galleries downtown. Clothing stores, outdoor gear, imports, artisan crafts, and fine art abound here.

Stop by the newly opened Barefoot Cowgirl Books to pick up the Grand Canyon themed books you’ve been meaning to check out—they have a whole section dedicated to Grand Canyon history, stories, guides, and even children’s books.

Grand Canyon Books at Barefoot Cowgirl Books

Barefoot Cowgirl Books has a great selection of Grand Canyon literature.

Dinner: Try out some of Flagstaff’s international cuisine. Pato Thai and Crillo’s Latin Kitchen are local hits. If international isn’t your thing, Tinderbox Kitchen serves upscale American classics.

Evening: Visit the local bars for evening entertainment and drinks. Flagstaff residents are especially proud of their local craft beers from breweries like Historic, Wanderlust, and Mother Road.

Uptown Pubhouse has an expansive Scotch list as well as pool tables, shuffle board, and a number of weekly events including literary readings and trivia.

The State Bar serves beers and wines made right here in our home state, entertains its guests with comedy, poetry, and performances by blues musicians, AND displays local artists’ Grand Canyon photos and paintings.

Under 21? Check out what’s happening at the Orpheum Theater or head back to Firecreek for all ages events and musical performances.

Best of Grand Canyon Area Cities (to visit when you’re not Colorado River rafting!) – FLAGSTAFF was last modified: November 10th, 2015 by Jessica Clark

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