Gateway to Grand Canyon: 24 Hours in Flagstaff, AZ
If seeing the Grand Canyon is on your bucket list, then it’s likely you’ll find yourself in Flagstaff, Arizona at some point. And that’s not a bad thing.
Just 80 miles away from Grand Canyon National Park’s south rim entrance, the historic and outdoorsy town of Flagstaff is worth the trip in its own right. At an elevation of 7,000-feet, Flagstaff dominates with recreational opportunities, plus great breweries, plenty of good eats, and even a bustling arts district. The fact that it’s the jumping off point for many Grand Canyon adventures too, just makes a visit here that much sweeter. But if you’ve only got 24 hours, say before hiking the Bright Angel Trail or setting out on a Grand Canyon rafting trip, here’s how to make the most of your time in Flagstaff…
How to Do Flagstaff in a Day
Start your day like a local and grab a booth at Brandy’s Restaurant for a made-from-scratch breakfast that even celebrity chef Guy Fieri thinks is worth the wait (he featured this Flagstaff gem on his Food Network show, Diners, Drive-ins and Dives).
After breakfast, warm up for your big adventure at Lava River Cave, a short 14-mile drive from Flagstaff in the Coconino National Forest. Wear long pants and bring a headlamp so you can fully enjoy scrambling through this mile-long lava tube that’s 700,000-years-old. Or, opt for a visit to Walnut Canyon National Monument about 10 miles outside of town where a moderate hike into the scenic canyon offers a chance to see 25 Sinagua cliff dwelling sites.
Then, head to Flagstaff’s Historic Downtown & Southside District where you can pick up last-minute gear at a number of outdoor outfitters, peruse unique boutiques and art galleries, or…hop on the district’s newest trail—the Flagstaff-Grand Canyon Ale Trail—a self-guided craft beer tasting adventure.
When it’s time to refuel, assuming you opted for the beer trail (come on, you know you want to), make your way to Beaver Street Brewery or Lumberyard Brewing Company, both breweries serve up tasty grub all day long.
Still going? Before you hit the pillow for some sweet dreams, head over to the old Weatherford Hotel and grab a spot on the upstairs balcony of Charly’s Pub where you can kick back and take in one of the best views of Flagstaff.