Arizona Finds: Three Inspiring Days in Flagstaff


By Linda Kissam, “Food, Wine & Shopping Diva”

Update: Since the publishing of this article, sadly, the greater Flagstaff area and some of the National Monuments were affected by the Tunnel Wildfire. Please visit park/monument websites and before visiting and to make your travel plans.

ON BIG BLEND RADIO: Focusing on Flagstaff in Northern Arizona, this episode of Big Blend Radio features travel writer Linda Kissam “Food, Wine & Travel Diva,” Meg Roederer – Communications Specialist for Discover Flagstaff & Flagstaff Film Commissioner, and Park Ranger Owen Ellis – National Park Service. NOTE: This interview was recorded before the Tunnel Fire, so some of the attractions like Sunset Crater and Wupatki National Monuments may have restricted access). Watch here in the YouTube player or download the podcast on Spreaker, PodBean, or SoundCloud.

Those who live in or visit Flagstaff, Arizona often, call it “Flag.” Flag is a four-season destination with a 7,000-foot elevation. Whatever your pleasure, be it snow activities, leaf-peeping, visiting local parks, restaurant and bar hopping, or shopping, Flag is a great place to relax and unwind.  I was eager to try many of the Flagstaff restaurants, museums, parks, and walking tours during my three-day early springtime visit.  Honestly, three days isn’t enough, but I managed to pack in a lot.

Flagstaff is also nicknamed “The City of Seven Wonders” due to its close proximity to a number of fascinating natural wonders. The seven wonders surrounding Flag are the Grand Canyon, Oak Creek Canyon, Walnut Canyon National Monument, Wupatki National Monument, the San Francisco Peaks, Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, and the Coconino National Forest.

The Coconino National Forest surrounds Flag and is a massive forest home to the largest stand of ponderosa pine trees in the world. This makes the high-altitude Arizona college town vastly different from its close neighboring cities in the lower Sonoran Desert of Southern Arizona. All of these magnificent natural attractions are located within an hour and a half drive from Phoenix and are directly on the path to the Grand Canyon.

Route 66 aficionados can cruise Route 66 and look back in time at iconic buildings and neon signs. There are several historic hotels still lining Route 66 in Flag, like the Motel du Beau. The world-famous Museum Club that turned from a Route 66 roadhouse and taxidermy shop into a country-western nightclub where you can go to line dance and hear live music. There are also ghost towns and thriving businesses along the route.

Built along the railroad track and Route 66, the Historic Downtown and Railroad District is a pedestrian-friendly area filled with historic 1900s-era buildings that have been converted to shops, restaurants, galleries, breweries, and other watering holes. The downtown district plays hosts to regular events like a farmers’ market, a monthly art walk, movie nights, and more.

I’ve selected a range of activities to share with you. Regardless of how much time you have to spend, you are going to like this place. It’s one of those travel gems that hasn’t been tarnished yet. It has just enough hometown attitude to exceed your expectations and leave you wanting for more, more, more.

Just a reminder, all trips should begin at the Flagstaff Visitor Center. Located on Route 66 in the historic downtown train station, the Flagstaff Visitor Center is a wonderful resource for personalized travel information, free guides, maps, and brochures.


Riordan Mansion State Historic Park
This park features a 1904 Arts and Crafts home owned by the Riordan brothers, from a prominent Arizona logging family. Admire the architecture of the 100-year-old mansion and learn the history of the Riordan family, who is credited with developing Flagstaff at the turn of the century. Along with the guided tour of the mansions, recent visitors also recommend taking advantage of a self-guided tour of the grounds.

The Riordan Mansion State Historic Park is located about a mile southwest from the center of Flagstaff. Adult admission costs $10, while admission for children from ages 7 to 13 costs $5. Kids ages 6 and younger can enter for free. The park is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the months of May through October. From November to April, the park is open from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tours are offered on the hour from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; the park strongly recommends you call ahead to make reservations. For more information, visit the Riordan Mansion State Historic Park’s website.

Museum of Northern Arizona
The Museum of Northern Arizona is an homage to the culture and nature of Northern Arizona’s Colorado Plateau. Founded in 1928, the museum has permanent exhibits that range from the contemporary art of the Hopi Tribe to a gallery that delves into the geologic features of the 130,000 square miles that form the Colorado Plateau. Temporary exhibits are featured throughout the museum.

The Museum of Northern Arizona is located about 3 miles north of downtown Flagstaff. It welcomes visitors from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Adult admission to the museum costs $12; admission for kids, students and Native Americans is $8; and children younger than 10 get in free. For more information, visit the Museum of Northern Arizona’s website.

Flagstaff Area National Monuments
Wupatki, Sunset Crater Volcano, and Walnut Canyon National Monuments are managed collectively as the Flagstaff Area National Monuments. Together, they protect more than 40,000 acres and 3,000 archeological sites, in a landscape of expansive high deserts, canyons, mountains, mesas, and volcanic features.

Each park has a flavor all its own. They are close enough together that visitors can see all three in one day. Check at the visitor center to see if guided tours are available. Bring your own food and drinks. These national monuments are open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. All have a visitor center, bookstore, museum exhibits, walking trails, and picnic areas. Pets are permitted on some trails at Walnut Canyon and Sunset Crater. Call the monuments ahead of time or check at the visitor center for details.


Motel du Beau
“Du Beau’s Motel Inn” opened its doors in 1929 as one of the first motels in America. The motel is centrally located in the historic downtown area, and everything else you will want to do. Check-in is at 4 pm. Motel du Beau is just one of the many locally-owned mom & pop entities on Route 66. The prices are affordable, a continental breakfast is included, and the rooms are well-appointed and spacious. Leave your car parked at the “Mo Du Beau” as you stroll around town, and use it as a home base for outdoor excursions to the Grand Canyon (80 miles), Arizona Snowbowl, Wupatki, Walnut Canyon, and museums.


Altitudes Bar and Grill
Before or after you arrive and check-in, park your car at the hotel, and walk half a block to Altitudes Bar and Grill for a drink and appetizer. Altitudes is right next to active train tracks. You’ll find indoor and outdoor seating, great service, and fun traditions to be part of like the “Train Shots on a Ski.” Family and dog friendly.

Annex Cocktail Lounge
Established in 2010, Annex is just an easy block away from the hotel, providing trendy and delicious appetizers, cocktails, beer, and wine in a very hip setting. It’s a great nightspot south of the train tracks in Downtown Flagstaff with indoor and outdoor seating. The Basque Handball Court and the Shed offer a unique, but a relaxed setting for drinks, and a unique venue for Flagstaff music groups with attentive service.


MartAnne’s Burrito Palace (Breakfast)
This is one of those breakfast places you might not discover on your own. Located on Route 66, you’re going to love this Mexican food. The place is best known for its interesting combinations and lip-smacking flavors that leave your taste buds asking for more. Affordable, large portions and sunny service, makes this place a must-stop!

Macy’s European Coffeehouse & Bakery (Breakfast)
Expect great food and a delightful focus on espresso-style coffee drinks. Take your time to read the many coffee choices posted on the blackboard. Macy’s is an all-vegetarian restaurant. Their food menu ranges from flaky croissant and egg breakfast sandwiches to organic spinach salads, to a BLT made on homemade whole wheat, to a mouth-watering burrito smothered in melted cheddar cheese and enchilada sauce.

Flagstaff Station Market Café (Lunch)
Located inside a vintage 1962 Texaco gas station, this is a great find for all tastes. Serving locally roasted coffee, fresh homemade Panini sandwiches, soups, and baked goods. Take out for a picnic in the parks, dine in or enjoy sitting outside. Breakfast and lunch are served seven days a week, and they offer a full menu, including gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian options. They are nut allergy, celiac, and kid friendly. An important part of your outdoor adventures starts here.

Brix (Dinner)
What shows up at this small bistro, plate after beautifully presented plate, is a representation of executive chef, Logan Webbers command of technique, wide-ranging imagination, and true respect for ingredients. It’s a real opportunity to eat at a restaurant where the owners and Chef source from nearby farms, and are committed to sustainability and conservation, creating and maintaining the conditions under which they can exist with nature in productive harmony. Everything on the carefully curated food and cocktail menu is worth a try. Reservations encouraged.

Atria (Dinner)
Chef Rochelle Daniel showcases a magical seasonal menu that references modern American cooking. Located in the heart of historic downtown, Atria is Flagstaff’s home to unique farm-fresh fare and craft cocktails. This restaurant appeals to foodies looking for a dinner experience. Truly excellent, upscale dishes, and well-trained staff. Reservations recommended.

Linda Kissam ‘Food, Wine & Shopping Diva’ is a professional travel, food, and wine writer who specializes in easy, breezy destination stories sharing her favorite things about the places she visits. Visit


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About the Author:

Linda Kissam ‘Food, Wine & Shopping Diva’ is a professional travel, food, and wine writer who specializes in easy, breezy destination stories sharing her favorite things about the places she visits.

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