Filled with the clickety-clack, whistles and rumbles of freight trains, pine-forested Flagstaff and its red-brick railroad era downtown are a reminder of the early twentieth century Old West before Interstate 40 (I-40) eclipsed Route 66. Roughly 2 hours north of Phoenix and at a much cooler 7,000-foot altitude, Flagstaff merges into the Coconino National Forest, sacred Hopi mountains, and the ski slopes of the Arizona Snowbowl and Flagstaff Nordic Center. Flag, as the locals call it, is perfectly situated for a round of golf or family day trips, being almost equidistant between Sedona, Grand Canyon National Park, Sunset Crater, and Native American sites like Walnut Canyon and Wupatki National Monument.
Flagstaff’s money-saving vacation rental cabins, chalets, condos, townhouses, homes, and apartments are immeasurably more comfortable than the local crop of roadside motels and hotels. Plus, if you are not enamored by trains, you have the option of seeking quiet away from the 24-hour railroad sounds bedeviling Flagstaff’s roadside lodgings. Having a kitchen in your vacation rental for home-cooking will make life easier, saving restaurant commuting time and money for family sightseeing and shopping needs.
Educate the family in local history with a visit to Riordan Mansion State Historic Park, an Arts and Crafts style architectural mix of logs, volcanic stone, and wooden shingles. Ponderosa pine forests await around Flagstaff for hiking, fishing, mountain biking, snowboarding, sledding, snowshoeing, and cross-country and downhill skiing. Fitness buffs can get strenuous hiking Arizona’s highest mountain, 12,633-foot Humphrey’s Peak in the San Francisco Mountain range where sacred Hopi spirits are said to dwell. South of Flagstaff is a volcanic plateau with lakes. Take the family boating, fishing, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, or snowmobiling at Mormon Lake or Lower or Upper Lake Mary.
Flagstaff is a Dark-Sky City. Light pollution control ordinances allow Lowell Observatory and the U.S. Naval Observatory Flagstaff Station to have the best possible viewing conditions. Take the whole family to Lowell’s Steele Visitors Center for daytime tours and nighttime telescope viewing. In 1930 Clyde Tombaugh used the Lowell telescope to discover Pluto, whose status as a planet is still an astronomical controversy. Indulge your family’s artistic inclinations at the Northern Arizona University Art Museum. Whatever you do, do not leave your Flagstaff vacation rental without taking the family to the Museum of Northern Arizona, one of the region’s best displays of Colorado Plateau natural history and Native American arts and crafts. More than the money-savings will be memorable if you time your vacation rental to coincide with one of the museum’s cultural festivals.