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When the temperatures in Phoenix settle into the triple digits and you have had more than enough of the heat, it may be time to plan a road trip to Flagstaff.

Fortunately, a few days of cooler temperatures and lovely mountain scenery don’t have to be a huge drain on your finances. There are quite a few free and cheap things to do in Flagstaff so you can enjoy being out of the house and out of town.

As vaccination rates increase and guidance on COVID-19 precautions evolves, check websites or call ahead to learn about mask requirements and other safety information. And then get ready to enjoy your trip to the high country.

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Start at the Flagstaff Visitor Center

One of your first stops should be the Flagstaff Visitor Center. You’ll find plenty of free info and goodies, including “I Heart Flagstaff” postcards, Sister Cities stickers, “I’m Fire Aware, How About You?” stickers and informational brochures. If you are staying overnight and you have your pup with you, your four-legged friend will receive a free doggie bowl.

Details: 1 E. Route 66, Flagstaff. 928-213-2951,

Walk the original alignment of Route 66

Here’s a fun fact: In the 1930s, travelers on Route 66 caused so many traffic jams in downtown Flagstaff that an underpass was built to reroute the highway from the south side of the railroad tracks to the north, where it remains today. Hear about this and more Flagstaff history on the free self-guided “Walk This Talk” audio tour that traces the original alignment of Route 66. The tour begins on the north side entrance of the Flagstaff Visitor Center.


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Public art tour

Flagstaff has a robust public art program with more than 40 visuals including murals, steel installations and more. Download the Public Art Map at the link below for information on each piece and where to find it. Then, set off on foot or bike and check out the artwork — some of which is inspired by the local culture and natural surroundings.


More public art: Here’s where to see the best public art in Phoenix

Hiking trails aplenty

Fans of hiking will find lots of options in the Flagstaff Urban Trails System, which includes in-town trails ranging from about 0.3 mile to over 5 miles. The link below lists the names of the trails, the distance of each and a short description; click on each name for more detailed information. 


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Historic downtown walking tour

Many buildings that are important to Flagstaff’s history have been restored in the downtown area. If you are looking for a leisurely stroll after enjoying a nice lunch, the link below gives information on how to do a free self-guided walking tour and get a history lesson at the same time. Stops include the Visitor Center/Amtrak station, the McMillan building and the Weatherford Hotel.


Green Book tour

For almost three decades, The Travelers’ Green Book advised African-Americans on safe places to eat and sleep as they traveled during the Jim Crow era. The many editions of the book mentioned various locations in Flagstaff, which you can see during a free self-guided tour by car, bike or on foot. By car, expect to take about 30 minutes and if you walk, it will be about 90 minutes. Start at the Flagstaff Visitor Center as it’s the most central spot and then head to places like Roseberry Hall, Golden Drumstick and Park Plaza.


Haunted Flagstaff

Flagstaff is known for its paranormal past, and it’s said ghosts still hang out in some of the buildings. If you visit in October, you can take a free guided walking tour that starts from the Flagstaff Visitor Center. Learn about hotel guests who checked in but never checked out, bank robbers who didn’t get away, a departed brakeman who may still be at the railroad station and others. The link below describes the places on the tour, so no matter when you visit you can check them out on your own … if you dare.


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Visit a dog park

If your pooch has patiently padded along on a walking tour of downtown, now it’s time to let her off-leash at a dog park. Flagstaff has two: at Bushmaster Park and Thorpe Park. Both have restrooms and other amenities.


Explore the NAU campus

The Northern Arizona University campus is a pleasant place to walk; you could stroll along the thoroughfares, stop for a cup of coffee or snack and relax on a bench for a while or check out one of the three NAU Arboretum’s tree walks that are each a half-mile or less in length.

Details: /,

Fill your Flagstaff Brewery Trail passport

When a craft beer calls your name, pick up free brewery trail maps and passports at the Flagstaff Visitor Center or download them at the link below. You can buy yourself a round of beer or simply visit each location to collect stickers from all eight brewpubs, no purchase necessary. When your passport is full, exchange it for a free commemorative pint glass back at the Visitor Center.


Look for wildlife

If you love the idea of watching animals in their natural habitats, Arizona’s Watchable Wildlife Experience has a great way to make that happen. For $5 a day, you can rent a backpack that includes maps and guides to wildlife and bird watching locations, binoculars, a first aid kit and a notebook and pen. Pick up the packs at Peace Surplus; info is in the link below.

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Sip a beer, support wildlife

The Flagstaff area is home to all sorts of wildlife including elk, deer, bald eagles and migratory birds. Mother Road Brewery supports the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s conservation work by donating a portion of proceeds from sales of its Conserve and Protect Golden Ale. Wet your whistle with the tasty beer, which is currently being served in person or to-go, and support wildlife at the same time.

Details: 2-8 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays, noon-8 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays. Mother Road Brewery, 7 S. Mikes Pike, Flagstaff.

Indulge your sweet tooth

While you’re downtown, visit the Sweet Shoppe for a free sample or two and then buy your favorite tasty treats for $5 to $10. You can burn off the sugary calories during a walking or biking tour or enjoy the goodies on the drive home.

Details: Sweet Shoppe, 15 E. Aspen Ave., Flagstaff. 928-213-9000,

More free and cheap things to do in Flagstaff

These ideas are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to affordable ways to have fun in Flagstaff. For additional inspiration, bookmark this link on your phone before hitting the road:

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