Fun in Flagstaff, non-Canyon
June 4, 2021 11:32 AM   Subscribe

We are meeting up with friends next weekend now that we are all vaccinated, roughly halfway between us by car, and we decided on Flagstaff as the meeting point just because it's there and the weather is likely to be nice and none of us have ever been there.

On the other hand, we just picked it because it's there and have no idea what's good. This is a very short weekend visit - in on Friday midday, out on Sunday midday - so we're probably mostly going to hang out in our rental, but are there some cool pandemic-ish things we shouldn't miss while we're there?

I have already heard enough about crowds at the Grand Canyon to know that's going to have to be a different trip, but outdoor nature stuff closer to town - especially more on the botanic gardens/shady walking side, rather than hiking - would be of interest, though we realize many of those may be on limited reservations and it's too late to book anything. But we're willing to try. Interesting walking tours (official or self-guided/walking around a recommended area in particular) might be just as good.

A great bonus would be a recommendation for really great vegan food, especially on the fancier side, as our friends are vegan and always end up living in places where that's not much of a thing. Either fully veg*n or a restaurant that happens to have an excellent subset of options will do. We're willing to eat inside if necessary.
posted by Lyn Never to Travel & Transportation around Flagstaff, AZ (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Can't recommend any vegan restaurants, though Flagstaff is a college town, is pretty nice (compared to other I40 cities), and should have something. There's an observatory, the downtown is pretty nice, and I17 south to Sedona and even to Phoenix is a fun and scenic drive. There are also lots of breweries if that's your thing.
posted by The_Vegetables at 11:54 AM on June 4, 2021

The hikes in the close mountains are great. Humphrey's Peak is awesome but more than a moderate hike. There are several around there that are great and more moderate.
In city, I always enjoyed Buffalo Park as a easy hike.
Further out but not far if you have a car, Sunset Crater, Wupatiki Canyon and Walnut Canyon national monuments are excellent.
It's been several years so I don't have restaurant recs. I did go to a Beaver Street Brew pub a bunch but don't know if it is still open.
posted by jclarkin at 12:57 PM on June 4, 2021

There is a drive-through wildlife park nearby called Bearizona!
posted by honeybee413 at 1:27 PM on June 4, 2021

I'm in Flagstaff. Last week the city repealed the mask mandate, so you'll still see a lot of people wearing masks and businesses suggesting masks, but you'll of course also see a lot of people skipping masks now. Because of that, most everything is open. I don't think all of the museums and related places are open, but the businesses that survived should be open.

All that said, Flagstaff itself does not have a lot to do tourist-wise. There are two museums (and a lot of residents forget one of them even exists), an art gallery at the university, an historic mansion, the university itself, an arboretum, and the downtown area. Downtown takes an hour at most to walk and that assumes you go into nearly every business. There's also the Museum Club ("The Zoo")--a restaurant/bar--if you love country music (it's on Route 66 and was a tour stop for a lot of artists before they were famous, such as Willie Nelson). From what you asked about in your post, probably go to the arboretum. It's $10 per adult and there is three miles of dirt road to reach it. More about it here.

As to food, including vegan, there is Morning Glory Cafe and Red Curry Vegan Kitchen, both vegan. I've been to Red Curry before, it's very good. There are more places for "vegan" listed here (Yelp search). I can more or less confirm everything listed is good, or at least has a good reputation in town (meaning in general, not necessarily specific to being a good vegan option). Beaver Street Brewery, and its sister location Lumberyard, are still open. I wouldn't expect much for vegan at either place, though (even though I think Lumberyard is in the Yelp results).

And I agree on the suggestions of Sunset Crater, Wupatki Canyon and Walnut Canyon. There is also Montezuma's Castle but that's a bit down I-17 toward Phoenix.

I think that's about all I have for now.
posted by Meldanthral at 3:31 PM on June 4, 2021 [2 favorites]

I lived in Flag for 5 years, but it was awhile ago. Museum of Northern Arizona is a hidden gem and Macy’s will have vegan food, though not fancy. It’s a great place for a coffee and tempeh blt and is charmingly local.

Sunset crater is super cool. Very recent volcano, super harsh environment that piñon pine are adapting to.
posted by congen at 4:03 PM on June 4, 2021

Public art walking tour
posted by chuke at 4:16 PM on June 4, 2021

The City of Flagstaff holds the distinct honor of being designated by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) as the world's first Dark Sky Community in 2001.

5 Best Stargazing Spots in Flagstaff, AZ, incl. Lowell Observatory: "Lowell Observatory is in Phase 2 of reopening and currently closed for general admission. To book a Guided Tour or Premium Access experience, click here." (Different price points for guided tours, and note that tours are a mix of day and night events.)
posted by Iris Gambol at 5:28 PM on June 4, 2021

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