1. Get cozy at a local coffee house
Various, , 86005
In addition to the standard chains like Starbucks and Dunkin' Donuts, Flagstaff is home to a variety of independent coffee shops, the majority of which line the streets of historic downtown. Enjoying a rich dark roast coffee or creamy mocha is the perfect way to relax after an exhausting morning hiking the high altitude trails.
A few of the best choices include Kickstand Cafe, Late for the Train, and Rendevous. Kickstand serves the most delicious specialty mochas in town, has several cozy couches, and is conveniently located on the way to Snowbowl. Late for the Train roasts their own beans and specialties in organic dark roast coffee. Rendevous is located inside the historic Monte Vista Hotel, and offers comfy couches, along with plenty of fun people watching opportunities from the large windows that overlook the entire downtown.
So, skip the familiar chains in favor of a local shop where you can chat with locals, find out about local events and attractions, and enjoy tastier coffee than you will ever find at a chain.
2. Spend the night in one of America's most haunted hotels
100 N San Francisco St, , 86001
The historic Monte Vista Hotel, the towering centerpiece of Flagstaff's downtown, is known to be one of the most haunted hotels in the US. Since opening its' door to weary Route 66 travelers back in 1926, numerous guests (including celebrity visitors such as John Wayne) have reported the same eerie ghost sightings. A Phantom Bellboy is one of the most frequent ghost sightings.
If you dare, you can specifically request Room 305, one of the most haunted rooms in the entire hotel. So many guests have reported seeing the same vision of a woman on a rocking chair by the window that the room was featured on "Unsolved Mysteries." Aside from the haunted history, this hotel offers a great coffee shop and cocktail bar, and is within walking distance of all the top sights and restaurants downtown.
3. Enjoy summertime patio dining
Various, , 86001
Flagstaff is known for its' unusually mild summer temperatures, due to the high altitude (at 7000 feet, it is one of the highest located cities in the country!). Contrary to most of Arizona, temps rarely go above 90 in the summer, with most days seeing comfortable temps in the 70's. Night temperatures can drop down to the 50's, requiring one to always have a sweater on hand.
Most downtown restaurants offer patios to take advantage of this rare-for-Arizona breezy summer weather. Charly's at the historic Weatherford offers one of the more unique menus consisting of Southwestern style comfort fare (Try the Navajo pizza!) served either in the beautiful historic dining room or outside on the beautiful patio overlooking the downtown!
Other restaurants featuring great patios include The Toasted Owl (a cute cafe serving delicious breakfast dishes including plenty of veg and gf options), Mix (a fresh make your own salad bar & sandwich shop), and Lumberyard Brewing (treat yourself to a local beer and tasty bar style appetizers).
4. Browse unique art galleries
Various, , 86001
Flagstaff's downtown is loaded with numerous art galleries, many selling unique Native American style pottery and crafts which you can only find in the Southwest. You will also find a number of photography studios, where you will find beautiful canvas and prints spotlighting the many gorgeous natural wonders found in this part of the country.
Every First Friday of the month, the popular First Friday Art Walk event is held, allowing both visitors and guests to take part in this special art celebration which includes special exhibitions, live music, and free snacks.
5. Shop for unique gifts and souvenirs at The Old Town Shops
120 N Leroux St, , 86001
The Old Town Shops is a collection of unique boutique stores located in a little plaza adjacent to Heritage Square. Because it is conveniently located in the heart of downtown, it's really hard to miss.
Here you can find almost anything including Flagstaff and Arizona based souvenirs, handmade beauty products and soaps, clothing, unique movie themed knick knacks, and gag gifts. Be sure to stop by p.j. chilcottage for the most amazing & creative handmade soaps - the perfect stocking stuffers!
You will also find a few independent restaurants including Mix, an affordable salad bar/sandwich stop, which makes for the perfect light lunch after a few hours exploring downtown. Flagstaff Chocolate Company offers more sweet treats then you can imagine with creative candy apples, homemade chocolates, and ice cream in many flavors all there to tempt your sweet tooth. More popular dining options include Backyard BBQ, the popular Diablo Burger, and Uptown Pubhouse.
6. Attend annual events
Various, , 86001
The community of Flagstaff puts on a number of festive annual events with each changing season. During Halloween, the city hosts a popular Halloween Harvest festival which includes Trick r' Treating at local businesses, a pumpkin patch, and festive decor and music.
Around Christmas time, the streets are decorated with festive wreaths and a big tree is adorned with white lights in the middle of Heritage Square. A festive holiday lights parade kicks off the start of the season.
7. Shop for fresh produce & local crafts at The Community Market
211 W Aspen Ave, , 86001
The Flagstaff Community Market is held every Sunday morning from May-October in the City Hall parking lot. Here you will find a diverse variety of vendors selling much more than just seasonal produce. Everything from specialty tea, to cupcakes, to fresh dairy products can be found.
Try a sample of prickly pear tea, a homemade cupcake, or some local honey. It's also a great place to pick up a few specialty gifts such as homemade soaps, beauty products, and other hand crafted specialties.
8. Relax in the cool summer air with a classic movie at Heritage Square
120 N Leroux St, , 86001
Every Saturday at dusk during the summer months, Heritage Square hosts a popular "Movies on the Square" event where both new and old classics are screened on a giant inflatable screen. With live music pre-show, lots of food vendors, and numerous other activities within walking distance, you have a whole night out set.
Recent screenings have included timeless classics like "The Wizard of Oz", 80's favorites "The Goonies" and "The Princess Bride", and modern animated favorites like "Frozen" and "Up."
Bring with a soft blanket or comfortable chair, a few snacks, and you are all set for a night of affordable family fun!
9. Check out the Flagstaff Visitor Center
1 E. Rt 66, , 86001
The official Flagstaff Visitor Center is located downtown on Rt 66 in the old Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway depot. It is now a working Amtrak station. Here you can find information and brochures pertaining to Flagstaff, as well as the rest of Arizona. Friendly staff is more than willing to help with trip suggestions or answer any questions that you may have.
Also, there is a large gift shop where you can stock up on Arizona related souvenirs.
10. Stock up on hiking essentials
12 E Aspen Ave, , 86001
Downtown Flagstaff is home to a number of hiking shops, which comes at no surprise considering the abundance of trails found within the region. Babbitts Backcountry is a massive shop which has been around since the late 1800's and stands as one of the oldest buildings downtown.
If you have limited time while in Flagstaff, you must check out the Snowbowl trails, the Inner Basin, or Slate Mountain hike, all of which offer amazing views of the mountains.
Check out Babbitt's, centrally located in the middle of downtown and offering the most diverse range of equipment plus expert advice, or Peace Surplus, which always offers a variety of fantastic deals. A hiking stick and quality shoes always come in handy. For longer hikes, especially in high altitude, dry climates like Flagstaff, a backpack or CamelBak is recommended.