Flagstaff, Arizona is a beautiful and exciting place to visit all year round, but I was really excited to be taking a trip there in the heart of autumn when the weather would be crisp and fresh and the views incredible. This gateway to the Grand Canyon is a great destination for enjoying nature, Route 66 culture and a vibrant downtown lifestyle.
Sunrise at Coconino National Forest
When it was suggested that I get up at 5 a.m. to head to the Coconino National Forest, I wasn’t particularly thrilled. But it was worth it, once I reached one of the spectacular scenic overlooks just as the sun came up. The Aspen trees glowed in their vibrant fall colours of greens and yellows, and in the distance, I could see red rocks under a sky that seemed to be a hundred shades all at once. Behind me, mountains with snow-capped peaks looked simply majestic. After a short hike on the Aspen Loop Trail, one of many the trails you can take, I spent about an hour relaxing and enjoying the natural beauty of the forest.
Route 66 Motorcycle Tour
After a great morning, I was ready to see more of the gems Flagstaff has to offer, and what better way than via a motorcycle tour on Route 66? After climbing on the back of a gorgeous silver Harley, with my tour guide Harry driving, we set off to tour downtown Flagstaff and specifically the iconic Route 66. We made several pit stops at some of the Route 66 hot spots, including a classic diner and a very cool bar. What a wonderful way to see a new city! Next time I go, I plan to do another motorbike tour with the same guys, but instead, go up to the Grand Canyon.
Exploring Downtown by Foot
After the thrill of the motorbike ride, I began my walking tour of downtown Flagstaff with lunch at the beautifully renovated Weatherford Hotel. Following a delicious French dip sandwich and chips, I was ready to have a wander around the five blocks that make up downtown. The area is chock-o-block with gorgeous boutiques, delectable sweet shops and art galleries, as well as seven breweries that make up part of the Flagstaff Ale Trail.
Walking onto the deck of Mother Road Brewing Company, I had an immediate sense that I would like the place. When I see that almost every patron outside is joined by his or her pet, I know this is my kind of place. After sampling a couple of the craft beers – the Roadside American Ale and the Gold Road Kolsch – I was even more in awe of the laid-back pub. If only I could move the entire establishment, customers and all, back to my home town!
Moon Viewing at the Lowell Observatory
Next, the time had come to check out the Lowell Observatory, which sits at the top of a hill with an incredible view over Flagstaff. It is here that Pluto was discovered in 1930 from a cramped room in the pitch black. It was the Clark Refractor telescope that really blew my mind. As the roof opened up and the telescope was adjusted, I had no idea how closely I would be able to see the moon. Looking through the lens, I was blown away by details I could see – incredible.
I finished off my first day in Flagstaff with a lovely meal at the Little America Hotel and then off to bed ready for my next fun-filled day.