Flagstaff with Kids: A Perfect Family Day
The city of Flagstaff, Ariz., is surrounded by some of the most diverse landscapes in the country. The majestic mountains, lush forests and dry desert terrain, help make Flagstaff a popular destination for year round outdoor activities. However, there is more to this city than just the great outdoors. Planning a vacation day with children under the age of seven will be easy in this laid back college town. There are several museums, educational and cultural exhibits, great shopping and lots of dining options to make a day spent in Flagstaff one your family will cherish for years to come.
Start with breakfast at Macy's European Coffee House and Bakery. This cozy cafe is a coffee house with an extended, mostly vegetarian menu. Don't be put off by the word vegetarian. Trust me, the breakfast offerings and pastries are excellent, even your kids will love them. For the adults, the coffee menu is one of the most extensive and delicious we have seen, with flavors you will not find at your typical coffee house. For breakfast, they offer dishes such as vegan waffles (really good), biscuits and gravy, eggs, homemade granola and breakfast sandwiches. Let your kids pick some yummy pastries (like the chocolate scones) and sip a cup of warm apple cider. They even have some board games available for use. The people that work here are very friendly and there is a wonderful mix of patrons, from locals to tourists. Sit outside while you eat and people watch. Macy's opens daily at 6AM and is located at 14 S Beaver St, Flagstaff, AZ 86001 (928) 774-2243. http://www.macyscoffee.net
If your family is into retro, kitschy roadside attractions, then a visit to Flintstone's Bedrock City is in order. This park has been around since the 70's and is in need of a good paint job, but it's a great place for adults to relive childhood memories and to introduce young kids to one of the old school greats known as the Flintstones. Your children will have a blast running around this prehistoric village. See the homes of Fred and Wilma, Barney and Betty, visit the post office, slide down a huge dinosaur and take a ride in the Fred mobile through a volcano. There is an old theater showing episodes of the Flintstones cartoons. Bring your camera and take pictures next to the large statues of the cartoon characters. Totally cheesy, but your kids will have fun and you will be able to say you have been there! There is a $5.00 entrance fee and children 2 and under are free. They are open daily from 7AM – sunset and are located at St Hwy 64 and US hwy 180, Williams, AZ 86046 (928) 635-2600. http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/11289
Just a few minutes drive from Flintstone's Bedrock City is the Grand Canyon Deer Farm. This small farm contains a variety of animals that your kids can see up close such as pigs, goats, miniature donkeys, wallabies, birds, a camel and of course deer. This is a great place for the little ones to interact with and learn about the animals that live here. Let your kids walk among the deer where they can pet and feed them right from their hands. Stick close to the younger kids as they can sometimes get scared of the approaching deer. There is a great gift shop with lots of souvenir items. Admission prices are $8.00/adults, $7.50/seniors, $5.00/ages 3-13, and kids under 2 are free. There is a small fee for deer food. Check the website for seasonal hours of operation. The farm is located at 6769 E. Deer Farm Road, Williams, AZ 86046 (928) 635-4073. http://www.deerfarm.com
For a cheap, kid-friendly lunch, try a hot dog from Route 66 Dog Haus. You can walk up to the window and place your order or hit the bright red drive thru (you literally drive through the middle of the building). They serve hot dogs, polish dogs, chili dogs and even burgers. The mini corn dogs are the best though. They do not have seating inside, but there are some concrete tables with umbrellas outside. 1302 E Rte 66, Flagstaff, Arizona 86001 (928) 774-3211.
Let your little ones learn about life in the 1900's with a visit to the Pioneer Museum. Housed in what was once a hospital, this museum is a window into some of Flagstaff's history. Your kids will enjoy exhibits relating to logging, transportation and more. They can view "old" artifacts such as farm tools, military wares from the Arizona Rough Riders and auto accessories at the Route 66 display. They will even encounter a large stuffed bear guarding the stairwell. Visit the pioneer gift shop with toys, books and more. Admission prices are adults $5.00, seniors $4.00, Ages 12-18 $4.00, and free for ages 11 and younger. The museum is open Mon–Sat 9AM–5PM and closed on Sunday. 2340 N. Fort Valley Road, Flagstaff, AZ 86001 (928) 774-6272 http://www.arizonahistoricalsociety.org
If you happen to be visiting Flagstaff in the winter months, take the little ones to play in the snow at Wing Mountain Snow Play area. Let your kids do some sledding, build a snowman or engage in a snowball fight all in this safe, organized play area. You may see some cross country skiers here, but there is no downhill skiing or snowboarding to endanger your kids play time. If you don't have a sled, you can purchase one here. They also sell snacks and hot drinks, and there are some bathroom facilities (portable) available. They even have a parking lot. Fees to use the area are $10.00 per vehicle and kids under 16 must be with an adult. Call their information line (602) 923-3555 for open days and hours of operation. From Interstate 40, follow Hwy 180 north 2.8 miles past Snowbowl Road to mile marker 226 (approximate), turn left onto Forest Service Road 222B. The exit is clearly marked as "Wing Mountain Snow Play Area." http://snowplayaz.com
For dinner, try some tasty fare from Bigfoot Bar-B-Q. This restaurant may be in a strange location (the basement of a shopping mall), but the food speaks for itself. Order items like fish & chips, chicken fingers, ribs, and sandwiches (the pulled pork is outstanding) among others. They also have lots of sides like the excellent potato salad and sweet potato fries. The kids menu, for ages 12 and under, offers a choice of corn dog, hot dog, chicken or grilled cheese with fries and a drink, all for just $2.99! The atmosphere here is really casual and fun and includes crayons and paper for the kids. You even get to throw your peanut shells on the floor! Bigfoot Bar-B-Q is open Mon-Sun from 11AM-9PM and is located in the Old Town Shops, 120 N. Leroux, Flagstaff, AZ 86001 (928) 226-1677. http://www.bigfootbbq.com
If your kids have any energy left at all, take them to the Flagstaff Mall. Here they can play at Camp Wannaplay, (a safe, interactive play zone), Zap (a mini video arcade area) or Kiddie Concepts (a small area with some kiddie rides). 4650 N Highway 89, Flagstaff, AZ 86004. If the mall is not appealing, take in a movie at the Harkins Flagstaff 11 theaters. 1959 S. Woodlands Village Blvd., Flagstaff, AZ 86001. After all that, your kids (and you) will definitely be ready for bed!