Northern Arizona enjoys a climate and atmosphere drastically different from Southern Arizona, the major distinguishing factors being a 4 season climate (including plenty snow in the winter – the city averages over 100 inches per year!) skiing and any other winter recreational activity you can think of, and diverse high desert scenery.
Even if you prefer the warmth, sunshine, and desert landscapes of cities like Phoenix and Tucson, you have to admit that some brisk weather, snow capped mountains, traditional winter activities, and the chance of snow makes the holiday season even more exciting and special. Whether taking a small weekend trip or staying through New Year’s, there’s plenty of festive seasonal fun to be had in small Northern Arizona towns like Flagstaff, Sedona, Williams, and Prescott.
Flagstaff, with endless winter recreational opportunities and an average of 120 inches of snow per year, is know as Arizona’s Winter Wonderland. Prescott was designated with the title of “Arizona’s Christmas City” by Governor Mofford in 1989. This year Sedona is attempting to overtake Prescott’s title with a whole lineup of festive activities and events, so much so that a dedicated website called Holiday Central Sedona was put up to list the many seasonal festivities. Williams is a cute little town along Route 66 with a population of just 3000, most well-known for being the departing location of The Polar Express, a magical holiday train ride based on the classic book.
No matter where you choose to plan your vacation (or maybe you are just lucky enough to be a full or part time resident), you will find more than enough choices for holiday fun and winter recreation. As an added bonus, these towns are not that far of a drive from each other so you can easily mix and match activities in different towns.
Listed below are 14 fun things to do this holiday season in Northern Arizona. Enjoy the list and feel free to share some of your personal favorites!
1. Wild Wonderland at Bearizona
Bearizona, the wonderful drive through wildlife park in Williams offers a fantastic holiday festival known as Wild Wonderland. 2015 marks the first year of what will eventually be a bigger and better event (according to Bearizona, this year is just 20% of what the festive seasonal event will become in future years).
The walk through portion of Bearizona is gorgeously decorated with Christmas trees, lights on the pine trees, and other cute knick knacks. The highlight is a synchronized music and light show, accompanied by holiday tunes both new and old. Some of the selections include Hot Chocolate from The Polar Express, a fitting option as Williams is home to The Polar Express train ride, Let it Snow from the popular Frozen movie, and classic favorites from the Trans Siberian Orchestra.
Bundle up (it gets extremely cold at night!), pick up a hot cocoa at the visitor’s center or bring your own from home), enjoy the beautiful lights, and keep a keen eye out for any animal sightings (most of the park is closed, however, you may see a Black Bear cub or 2!).
Wild Wonderland is a nicely organized, budget-friendly holiday event: one you cannot afford to pass up!
Location: 1500 Historic Rte 66, Williams, AZ 86046
Event Dates: Weekends only November 29th-December 13th from 5-8pm. After the 14th open everyday. Closed Christmas Eve and Day.
Admission: $1o per person