Fall Weekend in Flagstaff with Kids
We love weekend trips to Flagstaff! It’s not as crazy busy as Sedona, and has the mountain air that refreshes the soul. One of our favorite times to visit is in the fall, to hike among the falling leaves. The colors are always gorgeous!!
A few things to note:
- to visit Flagstaff at the peak of color time, keep tabs on their popular LEAF-ometer. It will help you know where to go to see the best colors, whether at the Snowbowl or walking around downtown.
- that said, usually the second or third weekend of October is the peak of colors!
- plan ahead if possible. You can definitely make a day trip to Flagstaff! But it’s fun to spend a night or two, and lodging fills up fast. Or if there is last minute availability, expect to pay twice as much (over $200) per night at most hotels.
- there are now parking meters in downtown Flagstaff. Some times are free, see here for details. We find this slightly inconvenient for quick stops to get coffee. We’ve found you can park for free for 15 minutes at the train station visitor’s center, or head south of downtown 4-5 blocks and find free street parking.
- Flagstaff is about 3 hours from Phoenix, a straight shot up Interstate 17. But keep in mind that weekends can often gain more traffic, especially on Friday evenings, Saturday mornings, and Sunday evenings. Check traffic conditions before leaving, or plan a trip during the week.
With those little details in mind, here’s a summary of what we enjoyed during our fall Flagstaff trip in October 2017.
Take a hike: We explored at two new places this year, Hart’s Prairie and Aspen Loop Trail. Hart’s Prairie quickly because our top favorite hike ever! Take Hwy 180 north of Flagstaff, then turn right on FR 151 (Hart Prairie Road) around 4.5 miles; it’s a dirt road, but fine for all vehicles. There are numerous groves of beautiful yellow aspen trees to wander around. The kids even found huge forts made out of logs! We stayed here for a couple hours and took so many photos. Aspen Loop Trail is part of the Arizona Snowbowl, which is popular in the winter for skiing, but also has great hiking trails year round. At 1.6 miles this is the perfect kid friendly hike to enjoy the fields and trees. You can also ride the ski lift for a gorgeous birds eye view of the fall colors! Read all about our experience here.
Kid friendly restaurants: We tried two new to us restaurants this weekend, Beaver Street Brewery, and The Toasted Owl Cafe. Both were very kid friendly, and have patios if the weather is agreeable. We really liked the kids menu at the brewery (you have the option for veggies/dip or salad). Also The Toasted Owl Cafe has, true to its name, has the cutest owl themed decor! Both of these are worth visiting with your family the next time you’re in Flagstaff.
Stop for coffee: we love coffee shops! Arizona Coffee has some great suggestions for coffee shops all over the state. In particular we like Firecreek Coffee in Flagstaff. They have a hip and chill vibe, with great tea and coffee options. Our kids love sitting on the stools by the large front window and watching the trains pass. (And pssst, if you need a java fix on the way out Phoenix, try Elevate Coffee in North Phoenix, it’s right off the 117!)
Other activities with kids: For all train lovers, stopping by the Flagstaff Visitor’s Center is a must. It’s part of the operating Amtrack station, so not only do trains come by regularly, but there’s a model train the runs around the ceiling in the main room! If parks are on the agenda, try Thorpe Park (see our review here – they also recently remodeled their play equipment, it’s great!) or Bushmaster Park. Bushmaster has two playgrounds, a skate park, restrooms and pavilions. This is one of our favorite stops in Flagstaff! Also, if you time your weekend trip with Oktoberfest, you can get a fall festival experience of brats, beer (for adults, of course), vendors, activities, contests, music, and more! Check their website for more details. Kids 12 and under are free! More kid friendly activities in Flagstaff can be found here.
For more ideas about fall weekends to Flagstaff, check out our October 2016 getaway itinerary, including some options for bike rides and kid friendly shops.