Four days in Flagstaff, AZ (visit #2)

Bugsy with a gourd on her head
Bugsy and hoodoos at Red Mountain Trail
Bugsy at Red Mountain

Flagstaff was one of our favorite cities on Big Trip #1, and we were excited to return for the many, many hiking and beer drinking opportunities!

Campground

bugsy sleeping in the Airstream
Black Bart's musical revue

Our home base this visit was Black Bart’s RV Park, a big park close to downtown, adjacent to Black Bart’s Steakhouse, Saloon, and Musical Revue. Multiple Uber drivers, upon picking us up at the park, told us Black Bart’s has the best steak in town. We didn’t try the steak, but we couldn’t resist a cocktail at the bar to check out the musical revue. It was an interesting scene: the waitstaff (mostly college students) would take turns on the little stage in the big, brightly-lit dining room and sing a Disney or Broadway tune. They were talented! But the whole thing was a bit bizarre.

Hiking

San Francisco Peaks, Flagstaff
View of the San Francisco Peaks from the O’Leary Trail

We didn’t plan to do all our hiking north of Flagstaff in Coconino National Forest, but that’s how it worked out, and it’s an incredible area for hiking. Our main criteria for hikes were: solitude, not super mountain-bikey, proximity to Flag, and views. All four of these trails were winners!

Coconino National Forest

Bugsy climbing on cinder at Red Mountain Trail

Bugsy hiking Red Mountain Trail

We stopped for a hike at Red Mountain Trail on the way to Flagstaff from the Grand Canyon. It’s a short out-and-back, about 3.5 miles total, and on a cold weekday we had no trouble parking the Airstream in the empty parking area. The trail is an easy stroll to a geological playground: a cinder cone volcano decorated with lava, hoodoos, and stripey slickrock. We had a blast exploring; this would be a great hike for kids.

view of Sunset Crater from O'Leary Trail
O'Leary Trail, Flagstaff

O’Leary Peak Trail is basically a forest road (gated, so no cars, except possibly an occasional forest ranger) leading past wild lava flows, and up, up, up the side of a mountain. Some online commenters complained about hiking along a road, but we found the surface very pleasant. As we climbed, we were treated to phenomenal views of the snowy San Francisco Peaks on one side, and Sunset Crater on the other–impressive views of the crater you can’t get from Sunset Crater National Monument next door. Climb the tower at the end of the trail for views of the Painted Desert. This out-and-back hike is ten miles total.

Bugsy with a gourd on her head
Bugsy hiking Slate Mountain Trail

Slate Mountain Trail is up near Red Mountain, and combining the two would make a fun day of hiking. The trail winds around Slate Mountain with views as you climb, for a total of 4.5 miles. We saw two tarantulas on this hike, the second one a split second before Bugsy STEPPED on it. She didn’t even notice, and after pausing for a second to regroup, the tarantula wobbled on its way.

Bugsy hiking the Kachina Trail

Kachina Trail was a lovely, quiet 11 mile out-and-back through the Kachina Peaks Wilderness. We wound through forests, crossed meadows, passed massive boulders, and enjoyed wide views over Flagstaff. Of the four hikes we did, we saw the most people on this one–but it was the day after Thanksgiving, so I’m sure lots of people were motivated to get some exercise!

Eating

Thanksgiving buffet at Josephine's in Flagstaff

Josephine’s advertised a scrumptious-sounding Thanksgiving buffet and the ad said they weren’t taking reservations, so we got dressed up and headed over in the afternoon for a holiday meal. It turned out they weren’t taking reservations because they were fully booked! The wonderful staff scrambled to take care of us and managed to squeeze us in and we were so glad–the food was fabulous, the atmosphere was cozy, and we’ll go back for a regular dinner our next time in town. Thanks, Josephine’s!

cocktail at Brix, Flagstaff

Our other sophisticated meal was dinner at Brix, a local food- and sustainability-focused restaurant in a renovated carriage house downtown. The highlights for me were the Brussels sprouts and fancy cocktails (no surprises there).

Last time in Flagstaff, we had a drool-worthy dinner at Diablo Burger. I’m particular about the meat I’ll eat, and Diablo Burger is serious about its local, chemical-free, grass-fed beef: “100% local, grass-fed, open range-raised, antibiotic-free and growth-hormone-free beef from the ranches of the diablo trust.” We loved our burgers and fries slightly less this time, but still love the focus on local food.

UVA basketball was on TV one night, and we thought it would be fun to get carryout sushi to eat in the Airstream while cheering on our team. The sushi we got from Karma was not great. But we won the game!

Drinking

I’ll start with the non-beer establishment we visited: Single Speed Coffee Cafe was a cool spot to do some computer work and caffeinate. We almost went twice, but we had too many breweries to squeeze into our schedule.

And here is J with some beer advice!

Beer

Between this trip and our last trip (read our brewery write-up from our last trip here), we visited all of the Flagstaff breweries, most of them more than once. Thus we feel confident presenting a ranking of the best, or, at least, our favorites:

lamps made of old maps at Mother Road Brewing

#1. Mother Road Brewing

Largely on the strength of its flagship IPA “Tower Station,” Mother Road was one of our favorite breweries amongst the 90+ we visited on our first long, cross-country Airstream trip. Mother Road has two locations: (1) a cool, divey little downtown spot with a big outdoor patio, just south of historic Route 66; and, (2) a larger location east of town (and really close to our campground), where they do their actual brewing. For atmosphere, we prefer the downtown location. In addition to the solid IPA, they also had a really good session IPA this time. Unfortunately, Mother Road’s beers are not available outside of the state of Arizona.

#2. Rickety Cricket Brewing

This one may deserve an asterisk among the Flagstaff breweries list as technically Rickety Cricket is brewed about 150 miles west of the city in Kingman, Arizona. That said (and because we aren’t getting to Kingman anytime soon), they had just opened a tasting room in downtown Flagstaff. The tasting room itself resembles a traditional old-school strip mall sort of bar, but it was livened up – when we were there, at least – with 80s and 90s music videos. 

Their flagship IPA, going by the moniker “Anaconda Squeeze,” was solid, but the real star was their “Hazers Gonna Haze New England IPA.” Also amongst their 25 (!) beers on draft was a New England milkshake IPA that L liked, but J found too sweet. 

Interestingly, the beertender told us that Anaconda Squeeze is their best seller in Kingman, but Hazers Gonna Haze wins out in Flagstaff. Yep, we’ll stick to Flagstaff.

menu at Historic Brewing

#3. Historic Brewing Barrel and Bottle House

We probably prefer the atmosphere in Historic‘s south downtown location (they also have brewing location in neighboring Williams, AZ) to the beer. But, we’ve been there on both of our recent Flagstaff trips and just really enjoyed ourselves and their cool downtown Flagstaff vibe. Needless to say, they don’t seem to specialize in IPAs, but they do brew with variety and seem to constantly change up their beers. The highlight on this trip was a cucumber blonde ale.

Honorable Mention #1. Dark Sky Brewing Co

We enjoyed hanging out at Dark Sky in downtown Flagstaff on both of our trips. Both times, the place was almost inundated–in a good way–with pets. Nice people, and a decent looking taco menu. The highlight for us was their interesting tasting “Field Beer,” which is brewed with yams, ginger and carrots.

Honorable Mention #2. Lumberyard Brewing Co

We couldn’t stomach the massive restaurant that is the Lumberyard Brewery (also downtown), but we did really enjoy their “Hazy Angel” IPA when we were at the Yavapai Tavern in Grand Canyon National Park. My advice: plan a quick stop at their bar for a flight or a pint of the Hazy Angel and then find somewhere cooler to hang out. 

2 Replies to “Four days in Flagstaff, AZ (visit #2)

  1. Last time I visited Flagstaff there was a train station, couple of fast food places and the Little America Hotel… Things have apparently changed a bit. That might be a good place to meet next time you’re out there… I’ll take you over to the Rez and visit the Hubbell Trading Post (in case you missed that little jewel).

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