When you think of Arizona and summer - you might cringe. But while the southern part of the state is almost unbearably hot, northern Arizona holds a summer treasure of beautiful weather and family fun: Flagstaff, Arizona.
Flag, as the locals call it, is a four seasons town with activities for the whole family year round. In the summer the temperatures are generally cool in the 80s making it a perfect home base for exploring the Grand Canyon and other natural wonders in the area. Here's a look at ten family-friendly fun things to do in the Flagstaff area in the summer...
1. The Grand Canyon is a must see for everyone of all ages. It is one of the seven wonders of the world, after all. And it will impress! You can drive there or take the train or a tour bus. It's about 1.5 hours drive northwest of Flagstaff.
2. Oak Creek Canyon and Sedona are another must visit in the area. Drive through the scenic Oak Creek Canyon on your way from Flagstaff to Sedona, about a 30 minute trip without stops. You can take a swim at Slide Rock State Park, climb the red rocks, even take an adventurous pink jeep tour of the area for some out of the way guided exploring.
3. Arizona Snowbowl in the summer from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day you can take a slow and relaxing ride on the skyride to the top of Arizona. The skyride is open for all ages, but should be avoided with squirmy little ones, as there's no seat belts and it goes high in the air. I've taken my kids starting around age four. They love soaring high above the trees and looking at what's around for miles and miles. After Labor Day, the skyride operates Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays through mid-October. When there's no snow on the ground you can also hike or play disc golf.
4. Flagstaff Extreme Adventure Course is a must do adventure for family with children 7 and up. There's a kids course for ages 7-11 that builds their pride and confidence in every step. This is my 8-year-old daughter's favorite thing to do in Flagstaff! And for everyone 12 and up (and they mean & up - I've seen 70+ year olds on this course with me!), there are five courses to explore and test your mental and physical abilities. The silver course is brand new this year. Read more about my experience here.
5. Lowell Observatory offers a museum for learning about the skies as well as telescope observation for checking out the stars and planets for yourself. Kids will delight at seeing the moon up close as well as learning about what's out there in the sky. Sometimes they even offer daytime viewings of the sun. Lowell is right in town and still offers spectacular viewing because Flagstaff is an International Dark Sky City.
6. Museum of Northern Arizona has everything from dinosaurs and volcanos to Kachina dolls and other Native American things of interest. You'll learn a lot here about the area's anthropology, biology and geology. The second Saturday of every month features a learning activity, complete with field trip around the museum's grounds perfect for the whole family to enjoy exploring together. That's all included with the price of admission and kids under 10 are free everyday!
7. Meteor Crater is a famous giant hole in the ground. It is one of the best-preserved meteorite craters on Earth. Meteor Crater was an official training site for Apollo astronauts. Kids will have fun using the viewing scopes to look at the bottom of the crater as well as exploring many of the hands on activities in the museum.
8. Wupatki National Monument and Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument are located just northeast of Flagstaff. One fee gets the whole car into both areas. The Lava Flow Trail is a must stop here. It even has a paved portion to make pushing the stroller around easy. Kids will like walking where lava once flowed. About 20 minutes further from Flagstaff along loop that both monuments sit on is Wupatki National Monument where you can learn about people that lived in the area just before Sunset Crater Volcano last exploded. You'll be able to get up close to several pueblos here.
9. Heritage Square offers free fun to enjoy year round from carnivals to activities just for kids to music to movies. Most of the free fun takes place in the summer months with movies every Saturday, live music on Thursdays, and kids fun every weekday.
10. The Flagstaff Aquaplex is perfect for indoor fun, whether you're escaping the rain or snow. This year round facility charges a small fee for daily entrance and features a pool with small kids play area, slides and a lazy river to float around plus an indoor rock climbing wall. Kids as young as three can learn how to rock climb here right along side adults.
Bonus: 11. The Arboretum at Flagstaff has a birds of prey show sure to delight raptor lovers. The creatures fly close above the heads of the audience, so little ones that might be afraid should avoid the show. The Arb also has a wooden maze to explore that leads to a little fort kids will like to rest in. There's also lots of trails to explore here.