The Coolest Things to See and Do in Flagstaff, Arizona

The Wupatki National Monument and other Flagstaff attractions offer a window into ancient Native American cultures alongside stunning natural landscapes
The Wupatki National Monument and other Flagstaff attractions offer a window into ancient Native American cultures alongside stunning natural landscapes | © Stephen Saks Photography / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Ross Walker
21 August 2020

Flagstaff, Arizona, is a hotbed for cultural and natural discovery. You will stand in awe of the ancient pueblos at the Wupatki National Monument, and the Riordan Mansion will give you a glimpse into Arizona‘s early days as a US territory. Though Flagstaff is a small city, its attractions are huge, so bring your hiking boots and sense of wonder.

Wupatki National Monument

Map View
Just outside of Flagstaff you’ll find the Wupatki National Monument, which is rich with Native American history. Explore the ancient pueblos that still stand despite only being held together by sandstone blocks and mortar. Here you’ll also find a ball court and a few religious and ceremonial buildings amidst ancient homes. The Wupatki National Monument is a great place to hike while also discovering some Native American history.

Walnut Canyon National Monument

Park, Ruins
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Cliff Dwelling Walnut Canyon National Monument Arizona
© Walnut Canyon National Monument / Alamy
The Walnut Canyon National Monument was the ancient home of the Sinagua people, whose dwelling areas you can still explore. These ruins are not nearly as sophisticated as what you will see at Wupatki, but it is still a marvel of the human spirit that anyone lived in such a dry area. In fact, Sinagua means “without water” in Spanish. If you didn’t get the hint, don’t forget to carry a few water bottles with you when you hike through Walnut Canyon.

Riordan Mansion State Historic Park

Cathedral, Forest, Park
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Explore more recent history at the Riordan Mansion, home of lumber barons Timothy and Michael Riordan. The Riordan brothers built the mansion in 1904, and for a time it housed both of their immediate families, which was no problem because the brothers married two sisters, Caroline and Elizabeth Metz. The house has been left as it was when the Riordan brothers lived there, so there is plenty of antique and handcrafted furniture to explore inside.

Coconino National Forest

Forest, Ruins
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Cathedral Rock, located in the Coconino National Forest; Sedona, Arizona, United States of America
© Design Pics Inc / Alamy Stock Photo
Coconino National Forest is huge, so don’t expect to explore the entirety of its expanse, but do make sure to get to the unique sites within its borders. There are two sites of Native American ruins – one of the Sinagua and the other of the Palatki, the original cliff dwellers in Red Rock Country. Also in Coconino is a large petroglyph site, so if you are an archaeology buff, you’ll have a full and rewarding day at Coconino.

The Arboretum at Flagstaff

Botanical Garden
Map View
The Arboretum at Flagstaff is a truly unique experience, featuring the flora and sometimes fauna that are natural to the high desert biome. Numerous research projects are ongoing at any one time, and you can find out more by joining one of the tours, offered twice daily. The price of admission also gets you into hundreds of gardens in the United States, as well as numerous other countries.
These recommendations were updated on August 21, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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