15 Budget Friendly Spring Vacation Destinations
15. Flagstaff, Arizona
When one thinks of Arizona, the thought of palm trees, dry desert scenery, and insanely hot temperatures often comes to mind. But pine trees, 4 season weather, and some of the highest snowfall totals in the country? Look no further than Northern Arizona’s Flagstaff for a drastically different setting than that found in Southern Arizona. It’s hard to believe that this pine tree covered oasis is just a short 2 hour drive away. Flagstaff is home to the world’s largest ponderosa forest, endless hiking trails, Northern Arizona University, and some of the best skiing in the Southwest at Snowbowl.
The city is located within a half day’s drive of so many interesting attractions including the Grand Canyon, Sedona, Las Vegas, Walnut Canyon and Sunset Crater National Monuments, the Petrified National Forest, and many, many other spectacular places. It is a popular rest area for those traveling to and from different magnificent places all over Arizona and Nevada.
The town itself offers many amenities including a historic downtown lined with local shops and restaurants, miles and miles of hiking trails within the Cococino National Forest, and Lowell Observatory (famous for being the location of the discovery of Pluto).
The summer is typically the busy tourist season, however, if you visit during late spring the crowds and traffic will be less intense. In addition to the absence of summer travelers, this is when the majority of college students are leaving for the end of the semester.
Budget friendly fun in the area
*Trying out local restaurants and coffee shops in historic downtown Flagstaff – Flagstaff’s historic downtown neighborhood is home to dozens of individual restaurants, coffee shops, pubs, wine bars, and galleries.
*Getting out in nature to enjoy the wonderful hiking trails – Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy the 4 season climate and many opportunities for outdoor recreation all year long. The city, which sits at a 7000 foot elevation, is surrounded by views of the beautiful San Francisco peaks (at 12,633 feet they are the highest in Arizona). There are tons of hiking trails within and surrounding Flagstaff. Although very short and easy, one of the best for outstanding mountain views is a simple 2 mile loop around Buffalo park (amazing views of the San Francisco peaks).
A few must-do trails while in town include Fat Man’s Loop, Red Mountain, Aspen Nature Loop, and Veit Springs.
*Taking the short drive to Sedona for breathtaking red rock mountain views & amazing hiking trails – Sedona, with its’ towering red rock formations, is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Spring is an ideal time to visit as the weather is generally pretty mild, not too hot, nor too cold. And, it is nowhere near as crowded as the prime summer season.
Here you will find miles and miles of hiking trails with dramatic views of the incredible landscapes found in the area. One of the best hiking options in the area is Devil’s Bridge. You will not be dissapointed with the outstanding panoramic views from the summit. If you only have time for one hike, this is definitely the way to go! Simply amazing views! Other great hikes include Boynton Canyon, Little Horse, and Fay Canyon.
*Scenic driving through Oak Creek Canyon – Oak Creek Canyon is one of Arizona’s most scenic drives. Located just south of Flagstaff along Hwy 89a lies this beautiful stretch of drive which is lined with forest views and colorful rock formations. Along the way, you will find scenic overlooks, hiking trails, and picnic areas. Fall is a particularly scenic time to visit. Be sure to plan for a hike along the West Fork Trail!
Have you visited any of the destinations listed above? What are some of your favorite budget friendly vacation areas?