Downtown Flagstaff, Photo: Flickr, Ken Lund

Downtown Flagstaff: The Perfect Escape

Looking for an affordable vacation in an area far cooler than Phoenix, I took a trip with my boyfriend, Travis, to see the sites of Flagstaff — especially Downtown Flagstaff. As we drove north, appreciating the differences in the landscape as we moved through the mountains, we knew this was a fantastic decision.

Lumberyard Brewing Company

When we arrived to Flagstaff, we met up with Travis’ grandparents Lally and Lynn. Because it was around dinnertime, we decided to venture out to Lumberyard Brewing Company. Travis and I were more than enthused to give a local brewery a try, rather than head to one of the commercial restaurants. Walking up to the restaurant, we noticed the fenced in patio with umbrellas at each table, as well as the seating inside comprised of booths, tables and stools at the bar.

We waited about 10 minutes before we were seated in a booth in the back of the restaurant, which had a perfect view of the clear, glass window displaying the area where the beers are made.

The menu provided a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, but I stuck with water. I noticed Lumberyard offered tons of different types of burgers, sandwiches and mac ‘n’ cheese; I went with the latter. The portions are large and even the mac ‘n’ cheese I ordered became a little daunting after a few bites. Everyone else in my group stuck to finger foods in the form of different variations of burgers, which were thick and meaty. Their entrees came with a side of fries or onion rings, and they smelled delicious. With so much food, dessert just didn’t cross our minds.

Eager to walk off our meals, we decided to visit the shops on other side of Downtown Flagstaff, just across the railroad tracks.

Downtown Flagstaff shopping

Street performer in Flagstaff singing popular songs.The sense of community in Flagstaff is evident. People seemed to know one another, and bumping into a friend or two was very common. For instance, as we were waiting for the light to change to cross the street, Lally a woman and her husband passed by; she immediately waved and greeted Travis’ grandmother Lally. After saying their goodbyes, Lally told me that this is quite common. Although it might not sound that unusual, I was dumbstruck at the idea of running into friends or acquaintances from school or other events. Living in Goodyear, Ariz., this is something that doesn’t usually happen to me.

Once the light had changed, we ventured down various streets, enjoying the cool weather. It was an overcast day, but you could still feel the warm sun brushing against your skin; and combined with the gentle breeze, the weather felt heavenly.

Inside the bar at Weatherford Hotel in Flagstaff.A quite popular stop we made was to the historic Weatherford Hotel, which was built in 1897. The hotel was offering free tacos that day, so we decided to head inside. As we entered the old-style building, the rickety stairs covered in a patterned carpet creaked under our feet. This was clearly different than a stay in a Hilton. A patio surrounds the building with small tables and just enough walking space to move around. From the second story, we were able to see the other businesses, and although I was enjoying taking in the sites, I was glad to be staying in the comforts of Travis’ grandparents’ home rather than a hotel like this. Making our way back down the rickety old stairs and past an old telephone booth, we made our way back out into the sunshine hoping to find something else that would blow us away.

Inside The Sweet Shoppe & Nuthouse in Flagstaff.What caught my eye next was Sweet Shoppe & Nuthouse. This shop had everything — and I mean everything. The variety of tasty treats that would take enormous willpower to ignore included flavored popcorn, different types of fudge, candy apples, flavored almonds, peanut butter buckets and gelato. For the adventurous, there were jars of cactus jelly and jalapeño jelly, which I have never tried in my life. As tempting as they sounded, I decided to avoid these interesting treats on this trip, but I won’t rule it out in the future. We all left with at least one treat to munch on, and that is saying something considering we each had such a large meal earlier.

Tired from the fresh air and shopping, we headed home to settle in before our big plans for the next day, the Sky Ride! When we returned to Lally and Lynn’s house, Travis and I were overwhelmed by the desire to sit outside on the back porch. It was so dark, you could see the stars and the moon. With the occasional train horn, it was fairly quiet, and it gave me time to think and appreciate the outdoors, something I feel many of us don’t take the time to do.

Flag Folk Festival

Music sold at the Flag Folk Festival.The next day we headed to the San Francisco Peaks for the Sky Ride, but as we pulled up, we found it to be closed. It would not open again until the day after we would be leaving Flagstaff. We left disappointed, but we remembered on our way to the Peaks that we had passed the Flag Folk Festival. With our initial plans ruined, we decided to give the festival a try instead.

This festival allowed its visitors to experience music and food with a colorful environment. We had even passed a Civil War reenactment as we made our way in to the festival. With so much to see and the talent constantly changing, it was hard to choose where you wanted to be or how long to stay in fear you might miss something unforgettable.

Artist singing outside by food vendors at the Flag Folk Festival.First, we stopped at the Pioneer Museum Barn. Built in 1910, it featured a trio playing various instruments and singing a variety of genres. The small, red building surprisingly had great acoustics, and it was amazing to see people share their love for music with the community. After listening to a few songs, we ventured out to the next available area.

Hungrier than expected, Travis and I shared a hot dog and a large pickle — and then Italian shaved ice, which was fluffy rather than the usual crunchy, crushed shaved ice which I’m used to. After almost two hours of wandering around walking, it was time to leave. But the eating wasn’t over yet! We headed straight to Lally and Lynn’s house to grill some steaks before the sun went down.

Macy’s European Coffeehouse

Travis' Cappuccino a la San Francisco and a bag of Macy's Coffee.On our third day in Flagstaff, Travis and I decided we needed to visit Macy’s European Coffeehouse. This unique coffee shop does not have a commercial feel but its own diverse style — and amazing beverages. I ordered an organic smoothie that was fruity and filling. Travis ordered a Cappuccino a la San Francisco with chocolate sprinkled on top. Macy’s also serves breakfast and lunch with sweet treats that you are sure to love.

After having a delicious drink at Macy’s, we said our goodbyes and headed home to the heat. Flagstaff served as the perfect, in-state getaway. Whether you’re a local or from out of state, there is sure to be something truly breathtaking to observe during your stay in Flagstaff.

For more information about Lumberyard, Sky Ride and/or Macy’s:

5 S. San Francisco St.
Flagstaff, AZ 86001
(928) 779-2739

Sky Ride
9300 N. Snowbowl Rd.
Flagstaff, AZ
(928) 779-1951

Macy’s European Coffeehouse
14 S. Beaver St.
Flagstaff, AZ
(928) 774-2243