Flagstaff may be known for snow, skiing and various other winter activities but what really makes the city unique is the atmosphere. It has a cozy, relaxed feel and the people are nothing but welcoming.
I first experienced Flagstaff last October when a friend invited me on a weekend trip to check out the third annual Oktoberfest. I had previously heard of Oktoberfest but only about the festival held in Tempe. And let me tell you I’ve heard some wild stories.
I debated going because I didn’t want to go to another wild boozefest, especially outside. Too many drunken college kids can make a field very gross, very fast. But to my surprise my experience in Flagstaff was very pleasant and relaxed.
I was unaware of the diversity of climate and culture in Arizona because I recently moved here from Massachusetts. Can you say culture shock one more time! The Arizona I knew consisted of desert, cactus and year-round sun. I knew it could snow in Flagstaff but I guess you could say I didn’t really believe it. I was amazed the city reminded me of a ski town in Vermont.
I was fascinated on the drive when the mountains began to morph from desert sand and a few scattered cacti to being covered in pine trees. I was in awe much like a child that saw a plane takeoff for the first time. It ‘s something that is normal to people who have grown up with it but it was completely new to me. I was amazed the climate could change so drastically so quickly.
As we walked to Oktoberfest the first thing I said was, “grass, it’s been months since I walked across a patch of grass.” Flagstaff not only looked like New England but it felt like it too. It was brisk, overcast and a perfect day to zip-up in a hooded sweatshirt.
The festival itself was not what I was expecting. It was small and laidback, which was very refreshing. There was beer, wine and music as with every Oktoberfest but it had more of a feeling of enjoying a couple of casual drinks with close friends opposed to a rambunctious college party.
The Flagstaff Oktoberfest was intimate and hosted several local artists and companies that set up in tents for festival-goers to peruse at their leisure. But the icing on the cake was the Flagstaff natives. They were friendly, laid-back and happy to share the best of their town with visitors.
I would recommend Flagstaff to anyone who wants to get out of the desert for a weekend or even a couple weeks. It’s a great way to experience a cooler climate right here in Arizona. And be sure to visit Flagstaff’s Fourth Annual Oktoberfest at Wheeler Park on Saturday, Oct. 6 from 11a.m. to 8p.m.