1. Plan a visit to Bearizona
1500 Historic Rte 66, , 86046
Bearizona is one of the country's premier drive-thru wildlife parks. Black bears, bison, wolves, and more can be seen from the comfort of your car. It's amazing to be able to watch these beautiful animals up close roaming in an environment similar to their natural habitat. This park also offers a nice little walk through section which is similar to a zoo, and home to bobcats, baby black bears, and much more.
If you need a break from hiking and all that walking around at the Grand Canyon, a trip to Bearizona makes for a great relaxing addition to your itinerary.
If visiting over the holidays, be sure to check out the wonderful Wild Wonderland holiday event where the grounds are decorated gorgeously and lights are synchronized to a selection of old and new Christmas tunes.
2. Stroll historic Main Street
Main Street, , 86046
Downtown Williams is jam packed with more Rt 66 memorabilia then you could possibly take in. Fans of the historic "Mother Road" will definitely want to stop by the historic downtown for some old-fashioned nostalgia like no other.
Downtown, you will find everything Rt 66 - gift shops, themed cafes, a museum, and even light posts adorned with the classic sign. It's a cute little area to enjoy a short stroll, take some souvenir photos, dine at a cute little retro diner, and shop, either before/after your long day at the Grand Canyon.
3. Drive to the Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon National Park, , 86023
Skip the pricey Grand Canyon Railway in favor of driving yourself. The famous South Rim is just 1 hour away from Williams, making it just a quick morning's drive away. By driving yourself, you can spend as much time at the canyon as you please, plan your arrival way before the crowds begin to hit, and also save on the hefty train ticket.
At the South Rim, you will have endless opportunities for exploration and fun including hiking within the canyon itself (check out the South Kalibab trail), dining at the historic El Tovar Lodge, browsing gift shops and museum, and taking in incredible views via various scenic overlooks. It's a full day activity for sure, so be sure to set out early and plan for an entire day.
4. Hike the Keyhole Sink trail
Keyhole Sink, , 86046
Keyhole Sink is a unique canyon in that it has a keyhole like shape, hence the odd name. The canyon is accessible via a really short trail through a quiet ponderosa pine forest. After enjoying a little nature walk amongst the tall pines, you will come across the canyon. If you visit after a big winter storm or summer monsoon, you will be treated to rare views of a waterfall.
Also be sure to scan the canyon walls for faint traces of ancient petroglyphs. Keyhole Sink is definitely an interesting attraction with a lot of history. Hiking the short trail will not take up much time, so there really is no reason not to incorporate it into your trip.
5. Check out Wild Wonderland at Bearizona
1500 Historic Rte 66, , 86046
Bearizona, the beautiful drive-thru wildlife park, is transformed into a winter wonderland over the holiday season. Visiting during the cold, oftentimes snowy months is a difference experience then visiting the busy, mild summer months, the synchronized light show is pretty fantastic, and by far one of the best in the state.
Although few animals will be seen, the drive-thru portion will be closed, & the temps will be absolutely freezing, it really is a fun experience to take a walk around the festively decorated grounds, with a cup of hot cocoa in hand. If your Williams trip happens to fall during December, I recommend skipping out on the overpriced, overrated Polar Express train ride in favor of this local gem.
6. Treat yourself to a piece of homemade pie at Pine Country
107 N Grand Canyon Blvd, , 86046
Pine Country is an old-fashioned country style local's favorite cafe in downtown Williams. This rustic cafe is a bit different from the rest as it does not feel like a tourist trap and offers that cozy mountain feel which everywhere else seems to lack. The homemade pies, available in dozens of flavors, from traditional apple to fun chocolately S'Mores, makes for a delicious treat like no other in the area.
Lighter and fluffier than traditional pie, you may just have to try out more than one slice! So pick your favorite flavor (or mix and match between 2) and an espresso drink from the Giddy Up and Go bar and soak up all the action downtown from the humongous windows. A slice of old fashioned pie is the perfect comforting treat after an exhausting day at the canyon!
7. Attend the Second Saturday Art Walk
Main Street, , 86046
Williams is home to a thriving arts community which you would not typically expect in such a small community. It's home to the area's best art walk. In comparison to neighboring Flagstaff, this art walk is less congested and a bit more laid-back. During the Second Saturday Art Walk, you will be able to take a look at special exhibits, mingle with gallery owners and locals, and enjoy home baked goodies and wine samples.
8. Browse the Rt 66 Museum
101 E. Route 66, , 86046
Pete's Route 66 Gas Station Museum is a great little free stop for any Rt 66 fanatics. There's lots of interesting old memorabilia to explore and it won't cost you a dime to do so. If you are already planning to head downtown anyways, it's worth a quick look.
9. Enjoy annual events
Various, , 86046
Williams hosts a number of festive community events all year round. Although, nothing really compares to the spirit of the annual holiday parade and Christmas tree lighting. During the holiday season, the downtown looks incredible with a grand tree as the centerpiece and thousands of colorful lights adorned on all the buildings.
The holiday spirit is really in the air with the addition of horse drawn sleigh rides, the seasonal Polar Express train ride, and holiday music to sing along to. After visiting every downtown area in Northern Arizona, I can attest that Williams is definitely the most festive of the bunch!
10. Shop for Grand Canyon souvenirs at the Williams Depot
233 N Grand Canyon Blvd, , 86046
The gift shop at the historic train depot is the best in Williams. They have everything you could possibly think of, at prices much cheaper than at the Canyon shops. It's a great place to pick up souvenirs that you might have forgotten to pick up or simply did not have enough time to get around to since you were too busy enjoying the majestic views - really who can blame you? It's also a great place to pick up a few Christmas souvenirs. The area around the depot keeps up with the holiday spirit and is totally decked out just like the rest of town.