Many travelers are surprised to learn that the world's largest contiguous Ponderosa Pine forest blankets the mountains of Flagstaff in Northern Arizona. Aromatic treetops brush the endless blue sky just outside of town, but this panoramic portrait is more than just breathtaking scenery for hikers, climbers and other outdoor enthusiasts; it's home to wildlife which includes the black bear and American bald eagle. Explore elevations of up to 12,633 feet and watch the flora change from cactus to alpine tundra along the way.
Observe the cosmos from the same spot where Clyde Tombaugh discovered the planetoid Pluto in 1930. In addition to cosmological wonders above, the planetarium has interactive exhibits, live shows, a massive theater and knowledgeable guides that explain the universe from below. The Clark Telescope is the main highlight and throughout the year, the observatory holds viewings of celestial events like meteor showers, comets, etc. A great place to visit for all ages and especially for those interested in astronomy.
Rise above the mundane in sumptuous style in a guided hot-air balloon. Take an early morning ride and float with the wind above incomparable red rock vistas. Do not be surprised to spy wildlife as well as breathtaking scenery. All pilots are licensed through the FAA and possess intimate knowledge of the area. Landing includes a champagne picnic and a certificate for having flown with the group. Included with your reservation is a videotape of the flight to capture your memories.
Rand-McNally named Highway 89's panoramic path through Oak Creek Canyon one of the most beautiful drives in America, designating it Arizona's first scenic route. Towering trees line the beds of Oak Creek, whose natural springs are said to have healing powers. The water winds through mountain shadows to Sedona's famed red rock vistas. Four mild seasons support a canyon kaleidoscope of wildlife, foliage, and fun. Attractions include hiking, biking and trout fishing and be sure to stop at the Slide Rock State Park.
The Indian name of this retreat simply means "the best of everything". This picturesque recreated Mexican Village offers a unique collection of galleries, restaurants, shops and a small chapel. Named for a particularly beautiful suburb of Mexico's Guadalajara, the open-air market built in the '70s exudes the flavor of Mexico. Fine dining is available at several on-site restaurants including El Rincon or Rene at Tlaquepaque. Lovely galleries abound, such as Mountain Trails, with wildlife paintings and sculptures; you can also find spiritual artwork from American Indian artists at Bear Cloud Gallery.
Historic Beaver Street is lined with galleries, shops, breweries, restaurants and stores galore, always a nice place to come when you're in downtown Flagstaff. The Beaver Street Gallery brings a myriad of artwork, from sculpted pieces to oil on canvas, there is always something that piques the intellect and curiosity. The artists are not only locals either, in fact, some artists hail from Japan, China, the Netherlands and from elsewhere around the world.
Most college towns have several coffeehouses and Flagstaff is no exception. Here along historic Route 66, Fireside Creek serves superb java every day of the week from dawn til' dusk. The coffee is organic, delicious and the purveyors are so successful that they also work as wholesalers to other establishments around town. The coffeehouse inside is sleek, elegant and the old-fashioned tin ceiling from the 19th century building adds an archaic touch. Firecreek also has pastries, bagels and other sundries in addition to a performing arts stage which hosts bands, comedy, etc.