Flagstaff is a beautiful mountain town in Northern Arizona. Something that many don’t think of when they think of Arizona- mountains. Not only is it home to one of the Universities in Arizona, but it is a stop when headed to the Grand Canyon. It is a a destination town and many people enjoy exploring Flagstaff, Arizona every year. However, there is much more to see and do when coming to Flagstaff.
When we first considered Arizona as our next home, all I could think of were the hot deserts. I was extremely excited when we discovered the beautiful White Mountains, an area that we soon called home. However, after exploring our area far and wide, we decided that it was time to expand our adventures.
We decided to begin exploring Flagstaff, Arizona.
We always try to keep things exciting for our family and get out of the house at any opportunity possible, so we ended up taking this semi-spontaneous trip. In the beginning, before the trip was set in stone, we thought about checking out the Museum of Northern Arizona because they offer some great printouts to work into the visit and it would allow me to claim this as a field trip. For our second day, we would make a stop in Williams, Arizona at Bearizona before heading home.
But these plans would quickly change.
Our first order of business once we said “Let’s do this!” was to secure a hotel. This part is always a bit stressful for me. As a mom who is constantly buying supplies for homeschool, having extra money for a hotel with a good rating and one that fits us all is a difficult thing to make happen. Luckily, we ended up finding a gem of a hotel! We booked a room at the Springhill Suites by Marriott at $104 after tax. This would have been $83 if I would have booked 4 days earlier when we first considered taking a trip. This room seemed perfect for our family of 6 because it was affordable, looked nice, had over 8.0 guest rating, and it had 2 queen beds and a sofa bed (which I have never been lucky to find for a great price, if even find this offered at all)
This hotel couldn’t have been any more perfect!
It was easy to find and the location was great. The hotel was also right across the street from Walmart and the access was easy; no crossing a big street and battling traffic necessary. The staff was extremely friendly and helpful in pointing us towards some delicious delivery pizza. She was even so kind to offer us some water bottles for the kids since we hadn’t had a chance to grab some supplies from the store.
The room smelled like strawberries when we walked in. It was so unique and fun. The room itself was gorgeous; it had a modern look and decor. The kids instantly bounced on the beds (which were the perfect balance between firmness but still being soft) and ran around checking out all of the features. For reasons unknown to me, they were excited that the door to the bathroom was sliding and the extremely large “closet” area quickly became the “let me throw all of my clothes and shoes everywhere” spot. The room itself was extremely spacey, giving the boys a lot of room to roll around. It came with a desk, which Aimee deemed as her work space, but the boys quickly took over since the glass windows slid open and closed. In fact, the only thing that the kids enjoyed more than bouncing on beds was the well-heated indoor pool!
Included in this booking was a mini-fridge, microwave, awesome working air conditioner, free breakfast, and my favorite… Make up removing towelettes! Small things excite me.
On to the food!
Where we live now, we don’t have any authentic taco spots and since we are from Southern California, good tacos are something that we miss being able to go out and grab. So when preparing for this trip, the first thing my husband found was a taco spot with great reviews. Now I will admit, California tacos are still the best (I am a biased California native), but these were delicious. Los Altos also had a yummy salsa bar with more than just a variety of salsas. We ate ourselves into what comes right before a food coma so we decided on an activity that would allow us to walk off the fullness.
Sunset Crater National Monument
I love yelp. It never disappoints. We found a combination of activities that started with the Sunset Crater. I am still always amazed to know that Arizona has dormant volcanoes. This one was described as having small hiking paths with some accessible for disabled individuals. This was a plus since my husband has been wearing a boot due to an injury, but he was a big sweetheart and we went off the cement paths anyways.
This trail is a must! We began at the visitor’s center which had some amazing things to see and experience. The kids really enjoyed the “Make your own earthquake” simulator. It is here that you pay your $20 vehicle entrance fee. Unless you have an Access Pass, then it is free to enter. There are a few trails to experience but we were short on time and the Rangers recommended the Lava Flow Trail. The first loop is paved and then there is the gravel path loop, which is not difficult at all and provides a wonderfully fun and educational experience.
We purchased the Lava Flow trail book for $1.50 at the ranger station and this paired perfect with the numbered stops along the trail. There are 13 posts and each describes something different; from the little “hornitos”, lava caves, and much more. This 1 mile easy hike (to moderate if you count the little bits of hardened lava flow you walk over) was the perfect frugal activity.
Melvin was probably the most excited.
He was the first to spot the volcano after reading the placard (photo one) and was full of excitement to head to the base of it after the rangers answered all of his questions and he learned that it would not erupt; saving us from what he claimed would be a horrible death. The walk provided enough for the kids to climb on while staying on the path and there were so many photo opportunities (it need its own photo album). We even spotted Sid from Ice Age towards the end of our hike (photo eight).
We experienced why it is called Sunset Crater
I do suggest doing this earlier in the day because after this stop, the 20 mile (or so) drive further down the road takes you to the Wupatki National Monument where you can take numerous small hikes to view some pueblos and Native American ruins up close. We were worn out and running out of day light by the time we got done at Sunset Crater. Some of the kids had even fallen asleep so we decided that this experience would have to wait for another day.
Day 2- The Last Day
We slept in. Like REALLY slept in. And we missed breakfast, but had left over pizza (the best!). Since checkout was noon, we decided that a trip to Bearizona was not going to happen. The kids remembered something that we had passed by while driving around town the previous day- A MALL! We don’t have a mall in our small town and we haven’t been to one in a few years. So we decided we just had to stop and check it out. This was what changed everyone’s mind on where we should call home next because as the kids stated “We can shop here every week!” (In their little dreams- Ha!)
We ended up checking out more of the town before heading home and although we didn’t stop to see the main destination of the area (A.K.A. The Grand Canyon), our trip to Flagstaff was something I would, and have, been recommending to everyone. From the food, the environment, and the many things to see and do, I would call this mini vacation a huge success and it is a must-do-again for this family.
I do have to say that my favorite thing of all was the scenery. It is something that I wish I had captured more of instead of staring out the car window in awe.
One Final Stop
On our way home we pass through the city of Holbrook, Arizona. We didn’t stay long but there is this must see place to take a few minutes and stop by, especially if you have kids. Historic Route 66 passes through Holbrook and there is a motel called the Wigwam Motel. It has the most adorable teepee rooms and some really awesome classic cars. In fact, this motel inspired the Cozy Cone Motel in the Disney movie Cars. You know, the one in Radiator Springs? The best part is, you get to see some of the characters from Cars up close! Aside from some unique classic cars, there is Doc, The Hippie Van, and Mader! It is a great stop for kids and the perfect end to a wonderful mini vacation!