The question of where to stay in Flagstaff is not hard to answer. The city is very small and almost geometrically divided between the center, the east, and the south.
There’s no huge difference between the three parts of the city since they’re all close to each other, and you can go from one part of Flagstaff to the other parts in no time.
That being said, there are some differences in terms of accommodation that you should properly look into. And we’ll show you each of them in detail below.
The 3 Best Parts of Flagstaff
However you look at it, Flagstaff is divided into three parts: Downtown, East and South. All of them are close to each other, and you can visit the whole city regardless of which area you choose as your visiting residence.
That being said, there are some important differences that you have to take into account before you choose which part suits you the most.
- Flagstaff Downtown: The best place to stay in Flagstaff — it boasts a magnificent historical district, as well as a bunch of museums, restaurants, and shops.
- East Flagstaff: A calmer and more laid-back part of the city, full of parks and hiking options, and the best place in the city for a family-friendly vacation.
- South Flagstaff (University Heights): Close to the famous North Arizona University and full of students, this is the best part of Flagstaff for budget travelers.
The Best Areas & Hotelsin Flagstaff
Being close to the Grand Canyon and having the reputation of a classical western American town guarantees a constant influx of tourists to Flagstaff.
Taking that into account as the main premises for the city, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this small town is full of accommodation of every kind and type. The situation with the hotels and the motels is pretty constant in Flagstaff, no matter the area.
In each of the three parts, there are a couple of two-star cheap accommodations, a bunch of decent three-star options, and some four and even five-star luxurious options.
Wherever you stay in Flagstaff, you’ll encounter the same situation. However, South Flagstaff is where the students are, and that always means a lot of cheap budget options.
Let’s start Downtown.
1. Flagstaff Downtown
For those who want to be in the heart of things, in a place full of shops, restaurants, and museums, and to stroll amidst beautiful historic buildings, we wholeheartedly recommend the center of the city.
Flagstaff’s Downtown is vibrating with life and history and has that particular charm of a small American town. Also, bikes are the preferred means of transportation here, which means that the center is perfect for strolling.
Thanks to the global makeover and the thorough preservationist policies of the city, the historic downtown of Flagstaff is almost completely preserved. It offers a wide range of buildings that are perfect “bait” for tourists, and rightfully so.
Here’s a short list:
- Visitor center/Train Station: built in 1926, here you can get all the information you need about the city
- Weatherford Hotel: built on January first, 1900, Theodor Roosvelt and the novelist Zane Gray were famous visitors
- The Orpheum Theater: built in 1911, it still holds performance and movie screenings
- Babbitt Ranches: built at the end of the 19th century, it was Flagstaff’s first two-story building
- Monte Vista Hotel: a monument to the prosperity of the city, it has a reputation for being haunted
Aside from the strolling and the beautiful buildings, Flagstaff offers other interesting activities, such as exploring the history of both the city and the region in the Pioneer Museum (early American history) and the Museum of Northern Arizona (archeology and art).
If, on the other hand, you’re more into stars and space, the Lowell Observatory offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Flagstaff is full of different kinds of accommodation.
If you’re looking for a budget option, there are a bunch of two-star hotels and motels, a lot of three-star hotels at modest prices, and some very beautiful and luxurious holiday homes and hotels for those who indulge in the finer things in life.
Things to Do
- If you want to see how living in the 19th century was, take a stroll through the historic center of Flagstaff. Thanks to the preservation policies, everything is fully functional and in the best shape. Aside from the buildings we already mentioned, we recommend that you also visit the McMilan building, the Brannen Buildings, and the 1889 Depot, which was a central transportation and train hub in the past.
- If you’re a huge history buff and visiting old buildings isn’t enough for you, Flagstaff has a couple of museums to offer that will surely satisfy your cravings for the past. The Museum of Northern Arizona offers a global picture of the art and archeological findings not only of Flagstaff but of the wider area around the city. The Pioneer Museum narrates probably the most interesting part of American history — the times when the country was new and when thousands of people were arriving on a daily basis.
- Earlier, we mentioned the Lowell Observatory, and if you’re a fan of astronomy, you should definitely take a look. Established in the early 1894 and named a National Historic Landmark and one of the 100 most important buildings in the USA, it is famous — among other things — for one special discovery. Namely, in 1930, Clyde Tombaugh was working in this building and discovered the dwarf planet Pluto.
- We already recommended visiting all these places to get some kind of knowledge and to learn something new about the city and the wider region. Everybody knows that the best way to do that is by reading, so our final recommendation will be the best bookshop in the city, namely Bright Side Bookshop.
Where to Eat
- Brix Restaurant & Wine Bar is all about seasonal and farm-contemporary American cuisine. They base all their dishes on fresh and premium ingredients provided by local businesses. Also, it’s an upscale restaurant with a fancy decor, particularly suitable for anniversaries, business lunches, or dinners.
- Josephine’s Modern American Bistro is a contemporary American bistrot that also serves a lot of gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan options. Located in the northern part of Flagstaff’s Downtown in a beautiful house with a fireplace inside it, it was the 2022 Travelers’ Choice.
- Karma Sushi Bar Grill is a Japanese and Asian fusion restaurant that offers a unique and interesting take on the cuisine of the East. The restaurants boast a cozy and relaxed atmosphere in nice surroundings. We recommend the sushi, ramen soup, and gyoza as starters.
Flagstaff Downtown Budget Hotels
- Rodeway Inn Flagstaff-Downtown is a decent two-star hotel located in the utmost center of the city. Its main strengths are its great location and cheap price, but it also offers a flat-screen TV in every room, a microwave, and a mini-refrigerator. In addition, the place is completely pet-friendly.
- Highland Country Inn Flagstaff is another good-enough and very cheap two-star motel located just to the south of Flagstaff Downtown. Again, we are talking about a low-price-good-location option that also offers free parking and free Wi-Fi for every guest, but not much more.
Flagstaff Downtown Mid-Range Hotels
- The Purple House Apt in Downtown Flagstaff is listed as a three-star holiday home in the utmost heart of the city. It offers two bedrooms, a living room, a fully equipped kitchen, and satellite flat-screen TV. Free parking and free Wi-Fi are also available, as well as facilities for disabled guests.
- The Greenlaw Home is also an entire three-star holiday home located in the center of Flagstaff — providing both the comfort of a more isolated place and proximity to all the main attractions of the city. It offers four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a fully equipped kitchen, flat-screen TV, free air conditioning, Wi-Fi, and parking.
Flagstaff Downtown Luxury Hotels
- Residence Inn by Marriott Flagstaff is a luxurious three-star hotel, part of the famous Marriott chain of hotels, is located in the heart of Flagstaff. It offers an indoor pool, a fitness area, and rooms furnished with flat-screen satellite TVs, sitting areas, and fully equipped kitchens. There’s also free Wi-Fi and free parking available for every guest.
- Flagstaff Flora and Fauna Complex , Spa and Views is a very luxurious and expensive four-star holiday home in the center of Flagstaff. It offers no less than 10 bedrooms, seven bathrooms, a living room and a kitchen, as well as free parking, free Wi-Fi throughout the premises, and a 24-hour desk at your service.
2. East Flagstaff
When you start walking or driving to the east from Flagstaff’s Downtown, you’ll reach — quite unsurprisingly — a neighborhood called East Flagstaff or Eastside.
After the relative hustle and bustle of the center (we say relative since Flagstaff is not a metropolis), the eastern parts are more relaxed and laid-back. In place of historical buildings and museums here you’ll find a bunch of parks.
Generally speaking, we recommend this part of town for people with families or those who prefer quieter surroundings. The parks are the biggest attraction in East Flagstaff, and we recommend that you visit at least three of them.
The first and the closest one is Bushmaster Park, which offers a large recreation space where you can do sports or just relax. A little further down south is Foxglenn Park, which is more of a community-gathering place with a lot of local art.
Finally, north-west of Bushmaster Park lies Buffalo Park, which is the more wild and urban in comparison with the previous two. Here you can picnic, hike, or just enjoy the scenic mountain views.
Speaking of mountains, the happiest people in East Flagstaff are probably the hikers since this part of town offers innumerable options where they can test their endurance and strength.
Again, we recommend the most popular options: Campbell Mesa Loop Trails (which also allows dogs), Fatman’s Loop Trail (offering scenic views and volcanic rocks), Sandy Seep Trailhead (located further east), AZT Walnut Canyon Trailhead (located further south), and Fisher Point (even southern).
We have already said that this area is family-friendly, but what do the kids do? If you’re visiting Flagstaff during the winter months, take the North Pole Experience for a one-of-a-kind Christmas adventure.
Lastly, the accommodation options are great.
East Flagstaff has everything: cheap two-star motels and hotels, great mid-range options, and a bunch of luxurious and quite expensive four-star hotels and holiday homes. On top of that, the restaurants are quite good too, with a lot of Travelers’ Choice selections.
Things to Do
- East Flagstaff has no shortage of parks, and in our view, that’s its strongest side. It’s also the most family-friendly part of town. So, if you’re in the mood for a family picnic, check out: Bushmaster Park, the closest and the most famous; Foxglenn Park if you want to try and integrate yourself with the community; finally, go to Buffalo Park if you want to have an interesting Wild West experience and enjoy some nice mountain scenic views.
- Hiking is the second most attractive thing you can do in East Flagstaff since there are more hiking trails in this area than we can enumerate. The short list includes the dog-friendly Campbell Mesa Loop Trails, the scenic and volcanic Fatman’s Loop Trail, the more isolated Sandy Seep Trailhead, and the even more isolated AZT Walnut Canyon Trailhead.
- There are some fairly important places to visit if you want to say that you’ve fully explored the historical and cultural intricacies of Flagstaff. First, there’s Walnut Canyon National Monument, consisting of an intricate system of trails; then, there’s the Elden Pueblo Archaeological Site, which is all about the history of Native Americans; lastly, if you’re up for a really great adventure, visit the biggest natural attraction near Flagstaff (aside from the Grand Canyon) — the Sunset Crater and the Sunset Crater monument.
- If you find yourself in Flagstaff during the winter and if by any chance you have your kids with you, there’s a place that you simply have to visit. The North Pole Experience is a one-of-a-kind place that offers a unique Christmas experience. Take a tour of Santa Claus’ toy factory, Mrs. Claus’ Bakery, Santa’s Sleigh Hanger, the Elf University, and more. The place was voted as the “Best Holiday Experience for Children” by Foothill Magazine five times!
Where to Eat
- The Northern Pines Restaurant is definitely one of the best restaurants in Flagstaff and boasts a completely deserved 2022 Travelers’ Choice. Their menu is an interesting combination of American, Italian, and Mexican cuisines, with a lot of vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options.
- Agave Mexican Restaurant is a fusion of Southwestern and Mexican food and another 2022 Travelers’ Choice. There are great chicken and pork meals, fajitas, burritos, enchiladas, and even some seafood-based choices, like shrimp. You won’t lack choices in terms of food, but the margaritas are something you can’t go without.
- Fat Olives is the third 2022 Travelers’ Choice on our list (there’s a lot of them in this part of Flagstaff), but this time, their delicacies hail from Europe. This Neapolitan-inspired restaurant serves the best pizza and pasta in this part of Flagstaff, but don’t forget the traditional desserts too.
East Flagstaff Budget Hotels
- Mountain View Inn is a decent two-star accommodation located right in the heart of the east side of Flagstaff. The motel offers free Wi-Fi and free air conditioning in every room, rooms furnished with flat-screen TVs, desks, and private bathrooms. Facilities for disabled guests are also installed throughout the premises.
- Americas Best Value Inn and Suites Flagstaff is one more decent but cheap two-star accommodation. It offers — first of all — a great location, right on Route 66 with easy access both to the Downtown of Flagstaff and to the Grand Canyon Railway. All rooms are equipped with free Wi-Fi, TVs with cable and film channels, and a tasty breakfast is served every morning.
East Flagstaff Mid-Range Hotels
- Cozy Flagstaff Home in Cool Pines – Country Club is a three-star holiday home that offers two bedrooms, two bathrooms (both of them equipped with showers), a sitting room, and a fully equipped kitchen. Wi-Fi is free on the premises, and free parking is also provided.
- Super 8 by Wyndham Flagstaff I-40 Ex 198 Lucky Lane is a great and relatively cheap (considering the offer) three-star motel. It has a seasonal outdoor swimming pool, an on-site restaurant, free Wi-Fi, facilities for disabled people, and a light breakfast every morning.
East Flagstaff Luxury Hotels
- Little America Hotel Flagstaff is a very luxurious four-star hotel located right next to the Purple Heart Trail, surrounded by 500 acres of Ponderosa Pine forest. It has a great seasonal outdoor swimming pool, a restaurant, and a bar on the premises. There’s an airport shuttle available, free parking, and free Wi-Fi.
- Twin Arrows Navajo Casino Resort is another very expensive and upscale resort, but this time, it is located on the utmost eastside borders of Flagstaff. Thirty minutes away from the airport, it offers three swimming pools on the premises, a restaurant, a bar, and a fitness center. Obviously, the central activity in the resort is the casino.
3. South Flagstaff (University Heights)
Just south of Flagstaff’s Downtown and very close to iconic Route 66 lies the area called South Flagstaff. In some guides and travelers, you’ll find the name “University Heights” since the neighborhood is very close to Northern Arizona University.
A tree-laden and student-filled area (because of the university) is probably the obvious choice if you prefer to stay in Flagstaff on a budget. Again, a park is one of the biggest attractions in this neighborhood.
We are talking about Riordan Mansion State Historic Park, which is both a conventional park and a monument. The huge arts and crafts house, which was built in 1904, is the main attraction, though, boasting a museum and guided tours.
To put it shortly, it offers a nice glimpse into the past, which is connected to the historic Downtown. The Arboretum at Flagstaff is also located in this part of the town, and it’s another great place for lovers of nature.
It’s basically an interconnected matrix of gardens and landscapes, full of a variety of different plants collected from all around the world.
The interesting part is that the Arboretum is always changing: depending on the season you are visiting, you’ll see different types of plants. Finally, there’s the Fort Tuthill Military Museum, a treat for lovers of history and culture.
A 2023 Travelers’ Choice Selection, it offers a nice glimpse into the military past of this part of America. Photographs, artifacts, items — they have it all. The museum is very cheap (entry costs only 5$), and there’s no fee for children.
Just remember one thing: it only works over the weekend and in the summer, so make sure you call upfront to check if it’s the right time for your visit. The accommodation situation in South Flagstaff is simply great.
There’s a bunch of options for every kind of hotel or motel, and most of them (even the luxurious ones) are cheaper than in the rest of the city. As we mentioned earlier, it’s the obvious choice if you’re planning a budget trip.
Things to Do
- Staying in South Flagstaff is a convenient way to enjoy the downtown without actually staying in the center of the city and paying extra. The accommodations here are quite cheap, and the area is very close to the most famous attractions of the city, such as the beautiful historical center and its important buildings, the observatory, and the museums of Arizona and of the Pioneers.
- If you love nature and enjoy strolling in gardens full of plants from all around the world, you should definitely visit The Arboretum at Flagstaff. Depending on the season, you’ll see various species of flora since the Arboretum is completely natural.
- You simply can’t miss the biggest attraction of South Flagstaff — the Riordan Mansion State Historic Park. The park in itself is very beautiful, but the mansion built in 1904 is the prize in the middle of the garden. Obviously, it should be seen in the context of the historical district of downtown and the other buildings that were built there. If you want to learn even more about the history of Arizona, make sure you visit Fort Tuthill Military Museum.
- If you don’t mind traveling a few extra miles and leaving the comforts of the city, you should probably go to the Meteor Crater Natural Landmark, which is located approximately 45 miles from the city — about 45 minutes by car. 50,000 years ago a meteor collided with earth and left a huge crater in the ground. Today, the place is a major tourist attraction, featuring an educational facility, a museum, and a gift shop.
Where to Eat
- Simply Delicious Cafe Daily Fare is a contemporary American restaurant that was selected as the 2023 Travelers’ Choice. The homemade soups and the sandwiches (like the turkey sandwich and the Portobello sandwich) are great and the desserts are very popular. There are vegan, gluten-free, and vegetarian options available.
- Delhi Palace cuisine of India is a traditional Indian restaurant that was selected as the 2023 Travelers’ Choice. It’s definitely the best Indian restaurant in Flagstaff, offering great service, nice surroundings, and very spicy dishes. We recommend the Tandoori chicken.
- Tinderbox Kitchen is another very popular American restaurant with vegetarian and vegan options, located south of Flagstaff’s Downtown. The menu is eclectic, offering a wide range of vegetables, meat, and seafood, with a lot of very interesting and tasty desserts, like the Lemon Madeleines.
South Flagstaff (University Heights) Budget Hotels
- Super 8 by Wyndham NAU/Downtown Conference Center is a cheap two-star hotel located just ten minutes from Northern Arizona University. It offers an indoor swimming pool, free Wi-Fi, free parking, and rooms with satellite TV and private bathrooms.
- The L Motel Downtown/NAU Conference Center is another cheap two-star hotel, this time located near the historic Route 66. It offers free parking, free Wi-Fi, and a 24-hour front desk. The rooms have satellite TV, a private bathroom, and a desk. The rooms also have facilities for disabled people, which is always a nice touch.
South Flagstaff (University Heights) Mid-Range Hotels
- Drury Inn & Suites Flagstaff is a decent pet-friendly three-star hotel with an outdoor swimming pool. The hotel also offers a free fitness center and business center, a hot tub, free parking, and free Wi-Fi. The rooms are equipped with air conditioning, cable TV, a microwave, and a small refrigerator.
- DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Flagstaff is a three-star hotel, part of the famous Hilton chain. It offers an outdoor swimming pool, a restaurant, and a bar on the completely pet-friendly premises. There’s also a tasty breakfast every morning, and an airport shuttle is available too.
South Flagstaff (University Heights) Luxury Hotels
- CASTLE ROCK is an expensive and upscale five-star accommodation located in an area popular for hiking and skiing. The large, brand-new, family-friendly rooms are equipped with all the amenities, and there’s also free Wi-Fi throughout the premises, as well as free parking for every guest.
- Drury Inn & Suites Flagstaff is a luxurious four-star hotel located just ten minutes away from Flagstaff Pulliam Airport. It offers an outdoor swimming pool and a fitness center on the premises. Free Wi-Fi and free parking are available too, and there’s also facilities for disabled people.
So, Where Should You Stay in Flagstaff?
|🏛️ Home to the Most Museums||Flagstaff Downtown|
|🥾 Best Area for Hiking||East Flagstaff|
|💲 Most Budget-Friendly Area||South Flagstaff (University Heights)|
As we said in the beginning, the question about where to stay in Flagstaff is not a difficult one. The city is quite small, and its parts are very close to each other. That being said, let’s do a quick recap of the differences between the areas that we managed to establish.
- Downtown Flagstaff is the obvious best choice for every tourist or visitor. The historical downtown, the shops, the observatory and the museums are all here, and it offers a hundred different opportunities to learn something new and to have fun.
- East Flagstaff is the most family-friendly part of the city since it’s less loud, more relaxed, and full of parks and hiking options. If you come to visit Flagstaff with your kids or you prefer a more laid-back atmosphere, this is the right area for you.
- Finally, South Flagstaff is distinctive for being close to North Arizona University. It is full of students, with a couple of interesting institutions and museums, it is mostly different from the other parts of the city for offering the cheapest accommodations in Flagstaff. It should be an obvious choice for budget travelers.
So, with so much to see and do, and no bad place to stay, what are you waiting for — book your trip to Flagstaff and see all the city has to offer today!