Top 5 Reasons Why You Live in Flagstaff, Arizona (2019)

A Small City with an Active Cultural Scene

While some folks aren’t always thrilled about the plethora of college students wandering, driving, and sometimes partying around town, there are definitely benefits to having a university in the community, not the least of which is the variety of additional cultural activities, entertainment, athletic events, and extra-curricular educational opportunities that institutions of higher learning provide.

Here in Flagstaff, we have both Northern Arizona University (NAU) and Coconino Community College (CCC), offering everything from plays to concerts and symphonies to interesting lectures, contra dancing, film series, and other special events.

Live in Flagstaff, Arizona

Also, especially during the late spring, summer, and early fall, you’ll often find a themed festival going on downtown or at one of several area parks. There are free concerts, movies, and Dancing on the Square. You can enjoy community theater at Theatrikos and a variety of live bands at local venues. There are special events featuring Native American cultures, downtown streets lined with vintage cars during Route 66 Days, multiple art shows at Wheeler Park throughout the summer, the free 10-day Flagstaff Festival of Science with exhibits, guided hikes, star parties, presentations, and other scheduled activities, tours and lectures at Lowell Observatory, and First Friday Art Walks every month. And the list goes on, year-round.

So, pick up a free Flag Live, available in many locations around town including Bookman’s for one, or check out their online calendar, look through the Arizona Daily Sun’s Calendar of Events, or check Flagstaff 365 and choose “Art,” “Music,” “Seasonal,” or “Festivals” to see what’s going on around town. You can also check the University Events Calendar for even more options.

A Community Surrounded by National Forest

Flagstaff is a city surrounded by lots of open space and breathing room, where you can get away from it all for a quiet walk or hike, a picnic, camping, hunting, fishing, or just relaxing and enjoying the fresh air and beautiful views.

Unlike where I grew up back east, where one town seems to run right into the next, Flagstaff is more “buffered,” separated from other communities by expanses of National Forest lands, wilderness areas, mountain peaks and canyons, BLM land, and other areas where you’re free to wander, to play, to pitch a tent, and, within some limits in place for the good of the land and all of those who use it, otherwise enjoy to your heart’s content.

I like knowing that, even though there may be lots of people and traffic and activity going on in town, the solitude of the backcountry is just a short drive or walk away.

Flagstaff is surrounded by the 1.86-million-acre Coconino National Forest, which is part of the largest contiguous ponderosa pine forest in the world. It’s also one of the most diverse national forests, with a very wide range in landscape from it’s high peaks to deep canyons, and its flora and fauna. And several other national forests surround the Coconino, for nearly endless opportunity for exploring and solitude.

Flagstaff is a city surrounded by lots of open space and breathing room, where you can get away from it all for a quiet walk or hike, a picnic, camping, hunting, fishing, or just relaxing and enjoying the fresh air and beautiful views.

Unlike where I grew up back east, where one town seems to run right into the next, Flagstaff is more “buffered,” separated from other communities by expanses of National Forest lands, wilderness areas, mountain peaks and canyons, BLM land, and other areas where you’re free to wander, to play, to pitch a tent, and, within some limits in place for the good of the land and all of those who use it, otherwise enjoy to your heart’s content.

I like knowing that, even though there may be lots of people and traffic and activity going on in town, the solitude of the backcountry is just a short drive or walk away.

A High Desert Home with All Four Seasons

I’ve run into many people who think warm and hot when they think of Arizona, but here in our little city at 7,000 feet, we have plenty cold and snowy days too. In fact, Flagstaff experiences four distinct seasons, sometimes with a lot of white stuff in town and even more up on the San Francisco Peaks, where you’ll find the Arizona Snowbowl ski area and the Nordic Center. While it can get very cold in the winter, we’re treated to lots of blue skies between snowfalls, making this a truly stunning winter wonderland.

On the flip side, Flagstaff has beautiful summers with often warm but usually not extremely hot days, which is why so many Phoenicians come “up the hill” to cool off when the mercury climbs well over 100 degrees down there in the valley.

And that’s another cool thing about living in Flagstaff. If it’s a bit too cold for you here, drive just an hour and you can peel off some layers when you get to Sedona, which is a couple thousand feet lower. Another hour south, and you might be very comfortable in shorts. So, you can go skiing in a down jacket and then swim in an outdoor pool in the same day without getting on a plane.

By the same token, you can go from a scorching 115 F. to a very comfortable 80-something degrees in that same couple of hours if you come up to Flag from the city or other lower elevations not far from here. And there’s a big difference between the tops of the San Francisco Peaks here in Flagstaff and the bottom of the Grand Canyon, with an elevation span of 10,000 feet. (Check out David Loome’s 130-mile hike between the two points: Grand Canyon to Mt. Humphreys). There are actually six different life zones, or altitudinal vegetation zones, between the summit and the bottom of the canyon, which are much closer as the crow flies. There’s also a route between the two points that’s about 80 to 90 miles long, which some folks actually run.

Lots of Community and Neighborhood Parks

In Flagstaff, you don’t have to leave the city limits to find a good amount of open space to play, picnic and barbecue, and exercise and relax in, with a number of community and neighborhood parks available to the public. Among them are 413-acre Ft. Tuthill County Park with its multi-use trails, fair grounds, picnic ramadas, campground, horse arena, and athletic courts, as well as the Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Course and Pine Mountain Amphitheater, where outdoor concerts and festivals are held throughout the spring, summer and fall.

Another large area of public space is Buffalo Park, with a beautiful view of the San Francisco Peaks, a two-mile loop trail for walkers, runners, and bikers, with fitness stations along the way, picnic areas, and access to a network of backcountry trails that lead into and around the peaks.

A Mountain “Town” with Lots of Great Places to Eat

If there’s one thing you can do a lot of around here, it’s eat out. With a wide variety of cuisines to choose from, Flagstaff offers everything from sushi — at five restaurants as of my latest count — to barbecue to Thai and Himalayan dishes within just a few miles. (After all, Flagstaff really isn’t that big from one end to another.)

There are plenty of eateries serving southwestern and Mexican food, of course, along with a lot of Chinese, some Greek, Italian and Mediterranean, and good old American-style meals. There are also a number of chain restaurants around, from fast food joints to familiar restaurants like Olive Garden, Chilis, and Red Lobster, along with lots of mom and pop places and gourmet restaurants too.

And there’s plenty of pizza to be had, from your basic cheese and pepperoni types of pies to wood-fired, speciality pizzas with all kinds of interesting toppings. Then, when you’re done with your main meal, you can choose from several frozen   and ice cream shops around town to top it all off.

Yep, there’s a plethora of places to dine in Flagstaff. But regardless whether it’s burgers and fries or gourmet you’re going for, you can pretty much always go casual and comfortable around here.

Dennis M. Piper
 

I was graduation from New York University in Hospitality management. My partner Mary and two kids, Ron and Regan. I always available on Twitter, Facebook and Google plus also you can mail me.

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