Are you looking for fun things to do in Flagstaff, Arizona with kids? We just came back from a spring break trip to Flagstaff, and there are a lot of great activities to choose from. We spent a full week here.
Flagstaff is a great destination for families. My kids were ages 14 and 16 at the time of our visit, and we found lots of outstanding activities for teens. Their favorite activities were different from my favorite activities, and I'm so glad that we contacted Discover Flagstaff for ideas and got our teens involved in planning this trip.
We visited Flagstaff in Spring 2021, while many attractions were still limiting access and services due to COVID-19. This affected our experience somewhat, but with masks and distancing, there was still plenty of fun to be had. Flagstaff encourages visitors to “Stay, Play, Distance, and Mask Responsibly.”
Here are our favorite things to do in Flagstaff, Arizona, and the surrounding area.
Grand Canyon South Rim
Flagstaff is the largest city in the vicinity of Grand Canyon National Park. You can stay closer, but Flagstaff has the most lodging options by far. There are also a lot of other fun things to do in Flagstaff, which is why we made it our base for our Arizona vacation.
The Grand Canyon South Rim is the most visited and most developed side of the park, and the views are spectacular. There are a few large, central parking lots and the rest of the South Rim is accessible by shuttle, bike, foot, or private tour for most of the year. One full day will be enough for most families.
We started our day early to beat the crowds and pulled into a parking space near the visitor center around 8:30 AM. After enjoying the views at Mather Point, we moved our car nearer to the Red shuttle (or take the Blue shuttle and transfer to the Red) and rode it all the way to Hermit's Rest. There we enjoyed a picnic lunch and more canyon views. Next, we alternated between walking sections of the Rim Trail (which I highly recommend) and riding the shuttle back to our car.
When we left the park at about 3 PM, we were shocked to see that the line to enter the park was 2+ miles long. At 8 AM, we waited only 5 minutes. It pays to arrive early!
Learn more at https://www.nps.gov/grca/index.htm
Related: Tips for Visiting the Grand Canyon North Rim
Lowell Observatory is a MUST for anyone with an interest in stargazing, space, or history. It's 125+ years old, and Pluto was discovered here! It's also growing, with new telescopes available now, and a new visitor center coming soon.
During the day, you'll get a museum experience. Learn about the history of the observatory, walk through the exhibits, and enjoy the wooded campus with panoramic views of Flagstaff.
Return at night to look through powerful telescopes at the night sky. Observatory staff will be on hand to explain what you're seeing. Your admission covers both a day and night visit on the same day.
Daytime and nighttime admissions are reservation-only right now, due to the pandemic. However, general admission will become available again when conditions improve. This is the place that I most want to visit again on our next trip to Flagstaff.
Learn more at https://lowell.edu/
Related: 10 Fun Things to Do in Sedona, Arizona
The zipline courses at Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Course were my teens' favorite part of our Flagstaff trip. We spent a whole afternoon working our way through three zipline courses – sailing from tree to tree, 20 feet in the air.
This is a GREAT confidence-building activity for teens and adults. We were really nervous on our first few jumps, but then we got comfortable using our equipment and had a lot of fun. My husband and I completed two courses (it's a workout!). My teens finished all three courses – a total of 30+ ziplines.
Flagstaff Extreme is located at Fort Tuthill County Park, just outside the city. Reservations are strongly recommended. Kids need to be age 12+ and tall enough to touch the 5'11” mark on the wall with their palms to use the Zipline Courses or Adventure Courses. A Kids' Adventure Course is available for ages 7-12.
Learn more at https://flagstaffextreme.com/
Related: 10 Fun Things to Do in Phoenix with Kids
I loved our 2-hour Arizona Segway and Pedal Tour. It was my first time on a segway, and I was surprised by how easily I learned how to ride – and by how much fun it was.
Our tour guide, Blake taught us all how to easily and safely ride a segway and gave us time to practice before the tour. He is a Flagstaff native and a good storyteller. He skillfully guided our group through Historic Downtown Flagstaff and the Northern Arizona University campus – which was great for my teens.
This tour is best for adults and older kids. Several different segway, bike, and walking tours are available, and they can fill quickly. Book early for best availability.
Learn more at https://azsegwayandpedaltours.com/
Does anyone in your family love animals? Bearizona Wildlife Park is a great activity for all ages. It's located in Williams, about 25 miles west of Flagstaff.
Bearizona is an animal park with a drive-through section and a walk-through section. You'll drive through first, and see black bears, wolves, reindeer, bison, bighorn sheep, and more. Each type of animal wanders freely in its own section – you'll be reminded to keep your windows up and doors locked for safety. It's so exciting to get a guaranteed bear sighting in nature!
After driving through, you'll park outside the walk-through park. It's basically a zoo – just not as large. We loved watching otters, grizzly cubs, jaguars, and other animals. You'll also find a large restaurant, gift shop, and other amenities. My teens have always liked zoos, and they had fun at Bearizona.
Learn more at https://bearizona.com/
Related: Tips for Visiting South Dakota's Bear Country U.S.A.
FlagTag AZ features ax throwing, laser tag, arcade games, and snacks. I was hesitant to add it to our itinerary because (theoretically) we can do ax throwing and laser tag at home, but this was another of my teens' favorite activities in Flagstaff. And I had fun too!
FlagTag AZ is a good place to fill an evening or afternoon, and reservations are recommended. Throwing an ax at a target is harder than it looks, and this activity is recommended for ages 13+. A lesson is included with your ax-throwing session. Be sure to wear closed-toe shoes.
My 16-year-old daughter hit the target on her first throw and got the highest ax-throwing score in our family overall. We also played two games of laser tag and my 14-year-old son dominated both. After a lot of outdoorsy activities, FlagTag AZ added variety to our itinerary and really recharged my family.
Learn more at https://flagtagaz.com/
Walnut Canyon National Monument is located just five miles outside of Flagstaff. Ancient cliff dwellings are the main attraction here, and this was my and my husband's favorite activity.
The Island Trail is 1-mile roundtrip, with about 350 stairs each way. It's strenuous, but most active families should have little trouble with it. I highly recommend this trail because you'll get to see the cliff dwellings up close, and the canyon is beautiful. Wear sturdy shoes, bring plenty of drinking water, and avoid the hottest part of the day.
From the easy and accessible Rim Trail, you can see more cliff dwellings from a distance. There are also a couple of ancient pueblos on the clifftop that you can see up close.
Arrive before 9 AM to beat the heat and get a parking space. The parking lot is not large and it filled quickly on the spring weekday we were there.
Learn more at https://www.nps.gov/waca/
Related: Tips for Visiting Mesa Verde National Park
Sunset Crater Volcano
Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument is located about 15 miles from Flagstaff. It's the home of the youngest volcano on the Colorado Plateau (who knew there were volcanoes here???) The last eruption was about 1,000 years ago.
You'll be able to walk fairly close to the volcano – it's more of a hill than a mountain – and walk through the lava beds that dominate the terrain. It's an easy/moderate 1-mile hike. There is also a paved, accessible trail where you can see the volcano and lava beds from a slight distance.
Sunset Crater Volcano and Wupatki National Monuments share the same loop road and are both included in the fee. You can easily do both in a half-day.
Learn more at https://www.nps.gov/sucr/
Wupatki National Monument
Wupatki National Monument features the remains of several large pueblos – homes of people who lived here 800+ years ago. The climate and vegetation were slightly different then. Sunset Crater Volcano would have still been belching ash and smoke.
It's thrilling to walk inside these homes and imagine what it would have been like to live here. This was another of my favorite places on this trip.
Wupatki Pueblo is located behind the visitor center and it's one of the largest ancient pueblos in the region. Wukoki Pueblo is a few miles' drive from the main road, but worth the side trip. All of the pueblos are just a short walk from their parking areas.
Learn more at https://www.nps.gov/wupa/
Related: Tips for Visiting Four Corners Monument
Meteor Crater is a worthwhile stop on Interstate 40/Route 66 between Flagstaff and Winslow, Arizona. It's the best-preserved meteorite impact site on Earth.
Fifty thousand years ago, a meteorite hit this exact spot at 26,000 miles per hour. A few chunks have been recovered and are on display in museums (Lowell Observatory has one), but scientists believe that the force of the impact caused most of the metal meteorite to vaporize.
You can walk to the edge of the crater on your own or take a guided tour. Inside, learn about meteors at the interactive Discovery Center. Meteor Crater also has a short 4D film experience that is fun for families. It's all included with your admission.
Learn more at https://meteorcrater.com/
Museum of Northern Arizona
The Museum of Northern Arizona is a great place to learn about both the historic and contemporary cultures of the indigenous tribes that live in this region. There are some interactive, hands-on exhibits and an educational section of the museum just for kids.
Flagstaff is just a few miles from the border of the Diné (Navajo) Nation. The Hopi, Havasupai, Hualapai, Zuni, and other nations are also based in this region and I enjoyed learning more about each of them at the Museum of Northern Arizona.
The museum is located in a beautiful historic building set in the ponderosa pine forest on the fringes of Flagstaff. We spent about an hour here. The gift shop is a good place to find high-quality jewelry and crafts from local artisans.
Learn more at https://musnaz.org/
Flagstaff is a ski town! Arizona Snowbowl is one of a small handful of ski resorts in the state, and it's located just a few miles from Flagstaff.
There is only one lodge at the resort, so for most Snowbowl visitors, Flagstaff is the place to stay. We drove past the entrance to Snowbowl on our way to the Grand Canyon and it's a beautiful area.
Snowbowl was still open for skiing at the time of our visit in late March, but we did not visit this time. I'd love to return in the summer or fall to ride the scenic, high-speed gondola to the top of the mountain where you can see the Grand Canyon from a distance.
Learn more at https://www.snowbowl.ski/
My family loves the movie Cars and we own two versions of the “Route 66″ song. We also love road trips, and Route 66 is the American road trip.
Historic Route 66 runs right through Flagstaff. There is a great photo op in the downtown visitor center, next to the train tracks. Look for fun souvenirs inside the visitor center.
You'll find Route 66 landmarks and experiences all over this part of Arizona, and it is classic Americana. We also tried “standin' on a corner in Winslow, Arizona” on our day trip to Meteor Crater. You may recognize that line from the Eagles' classic hit song “Take it Easy.” There is an official photo op in the center of town.
Historic downtown Flagstaff is filled with fun places to shop. It's best to park and walk in this neighborhood since the streets are narrow, parking is limited, and everything is close together. Outside of downtown, we LOVED Bookmans Entertainment Exchange. It's a large used book and media store on Milton Street, near NAU.
Flagstaff also has a mall, supermarkets, and just about any other type of shopping you may want.
Flagstaff has a lot of great local restaurants. My kids are both picky and my son is a vegetarian, so it can be hard to find places that everyone likes. But we found plenty of delicious food in Flagstaff to please everyone – without going anywhere twice.
Here are a handful of the Flagstaff restaurants that we enjoyed.
- Beaver Street Brewery – wood-fired pizza and burgers
- Brandy's Restaurant and Bakery – delicious for breakfast
- Downtown Diner – all-day breakfast or burgers
- Karma Sushi – we loaded up on rolls at Happy Hour
- Sweet Shoppe Candy Store – we loved the gelato here
Where to Stay
Flagstaff has dozens of hotels, campgrounds, and other lodging options. We stayed in two very different hotels, each with distinct advantages.
Little America is located just off of Interstate 40, not far from Downtown. It's comfortable and convenient and it has a long list of on-site amenities including a pool, playground, nature trail, restaurant, gas station, and more. Little America has a few larger suites for families. We stayed in a spacious two-bedroom suite with a full kitchen.
Motel DuBeau is located in Historic Downtown Flagstaff. It's on Route 66 and within an easy walk of Flagstaff's best restaurants, shopping and NAU. It's unpretentious and nearly 100 years old, so it's affordable and loaded with character. We enjoyed the Family Suite, which had one queen bed and a set of bunk beds in small, separate rooms.
Flagstaff is a college town, ski town, and cool summer escape near the Grand Canyon. It's a vibrant, family-friendly destination and we had a great time here.
There are so many fun things to do in Flagstaff that we easily filled an entire week. The weather was a little cool in late March – it had snowed the previous week – but it was sunny and perfect for hiking and other active outdoor adventures during our stay.
Do you have a question about Flagstaff or any of these destinations? Ask in the comments or contact me at [email protected] You can also learn more at the official visitor's bureau website: discoverflagstaff.com.
Disclosure: Our trip was sponsored by Discover Flagstaff and its partners. We received complimentary lodgings and activities for the purpose of review. All opinions are genuinely my own.
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