Top 10 Ways to Play in Winter

Let the content within serve as inspiration for future travel: ​A zealous and fresh approach to the New Year always seems to be at the top of “must do” lists for most people in January.

Escape and invigorate at 7,000 feet altitude in Flagstaff, Arizona. From the Great Pinecone Drop countdown to snowplay in Arizona’s official Winter Wonderland or a hike to get started on those resolutions, Flagstaff has the weather, the attractions, and many activities to say farewell to 2019 and welcome 2020. Get started with 10 ways of winter play to start your New Year Flagstaff-style:

1. The Great Pinecone Drop

The Great Pinecone Drop became Flagstaff’s New Year’s Eve tradition in 1999 when the Weatherford Hotel rang in the new millennium and honored the Hotel’s 100-year anniversary. Since then, thousands gather in the streets for the countdown into the New Year and the lowering of the Pinecone followed by a brief firework display. Join the festive street party atmosphere at the corner of Aspen Avenue and Leroux Street in downtown Flagstaff at either 10 p.m. or 12 a.m. To elevate the Pinecone Drop experience tickets are available from the Weatherford Hotel for their New Year’s Eve Gala in the Zane Grey Ballroom and Bar with access to the balcony during the countdown.

2. Start the Year on The Slopes

Not able to have a white Christmas? Then come for a white New Year’s Day and start the year on the slopes with a day of snowplay or skiing in Flagstaff. For the most up-to-date information on conditions at Flagstaff area winter recreation sites call the snowplay information hotline at 1-844-256-SNOW and find directions and alternate routes to the sites on the free Winter Recreation Map which also can be found at the Flagstaff Visitor Center.

3. New Year’s Fitness Resolutions

Get started on those New Year’s fitness resolutions and take your first hike of the New Year at one of the Flagstaff Area National Monuments. The Island Trail at Walnut Canyon National Monument offers a strenuous one mile hike with more than 200 stairs descending 185 vertical feet into the canyon or for a more leisurely option try the one mile Lava Flow Trail loop at Sunset Crater National Monument.

4. Eight Award-Winning Breweries

Enjoy Flagstaff at 7,000’ with 8 award-winning breweries and a beer tasting adventure to discover locally-brewed craft beer and delicious food in Arizona’s Craft Beer City. Flagstaff breweries have received national recognition from the World Beer Championships and the Great American Beer Festival. Visit craftbeerflg.com to download a free Flagstaff Brewery Trail Passport and start your journey. Cheers!

5. Arizona Nordic Village

Get adventurous with New Year’s Eve lodging and slumber in a yurt at the Arizona Nordic Village. This requires preparation and necessitates packing things from home including a sleeping bag. For those looking for more traditional hotel accommodations, Flagstaff is home to more than 5,000 hotel rooms for any style or budget.

6. Hearty Breakfast at Local Favorites

If breakfast is the most important meal of the day then be sure to start the New Year with a hearty breakfast in Flagstaff at a local favorite including: Martanne’s Burrito Palace, Tourist Home All Day Café, Macy’s European Coffeehouse, Brandy’s Restaurant, Mike and Ronda’s The Place or Northern Pines Restaurant.

7. Grand Canyon

Check it off your bucket list with a Grand Canyon sunrise and sunset to create a memory at Grand Canyon National Park, which is only 80 miles from Flagstaff. The Grand Canyon is often described as Earth’s greatest geological showcase, the breathtaking ensemble of colorful rock layers, impressive buttes and shadowed side canyons sets Grand Canyon apart.

8. Lowell Observatory

Go stargazing in Flagstaff’s spectacular dark skies at Lowell Observatory for heavenly inspiration. Visit the instrument that helped Clyde Tombaugh discover Pluto, and peer through telescopes set up daily and nightly. Tour the observatory and experience the universe through multimedia shows, interactive exhibits and live presentations.

9. Arizona Snowbowl

Grab your skis or snowboard and hit the slopes on New Year’s Day at the Arizona Snowbowl! Enjoy world class skiing at the top of Arizona. Arizona Snowbowl offers lessons and rental packages for individuals, kids and families for all levels. The Grand Canyon Express, Arizona’s first high-speed six person chairlift, opened in 2016-2017 and whisks riders up a 1,500 foot vertical in less than six minutes. The name of the lift is a nod to the fact that Arizona Snowbowl is the only ski area in the United States where riders can see the Grand Canyon in the distance from the chairlift. The addition of a new slopeside restaurant in 2018 doubled the dining capacity at the base area with 300 indoor seats, complete with a patio and a fire pit which is perfect for après ski. There is also a “beach area,” complete with Adirondack chairs and fire pits adjacent to Hart Prairie Lodge to take a break from skiing, have a drink, and take in the views.

10. Get your kicks on Route 66

In Flagstaff, you can still cruise Route 66 and look back in time at iconic buildings some still with their neon signs. There are several of the historic hotels still lining Route 66 in Flagstaff and 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. Now there is even more to explore with the NEW Walk This Talk Route 66 Self-Guided Tour experience. The first stop on the audio tour begins just outside the entry doors on the north side of the Flagstaff Visitor Center and provides an overview of the tour and its path through Southside which terminates at the intersection of Mikes Pike and Milton Road.  The program is introduced by Hollywood actor and Flagstaff’s own, Ted Danson, with the actual tour stops voiced by local writer, Rose Houk. To begin the tour call the toll free number 928-218-2926 for a walk down memory lane.  


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The CVB features travel information for visitors to Flagstaff, Arizona and regional attractions like the Grand Canyon, Sedona, Navajo Nation and Route 66.

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