Dear Arizona Travel:
We are visiting Flagstaff with our 2 year-old son in June. Are there any activities or entertainment suitable for toddlers in Flagstaff and the surrounding areas? We know all the usual attractions but nothing specifically designed for young children. Are there playgrounds or indoor play centers? We will be staying with friends and will have our own car.
Hi, Helen. Congratulations on planning a summer trip to Flagstaff. I know from experience that traveling with a 2 year-old can be a wonderful challenge. Your son is a lucky boy!
There is a lot to do in Flagstaff with kids, including toddlers, preschoolers and school-aged children. Here are some summertime ideas that are not only age-appropriate, but many are free or cheap and easy:
Flagstaff Movies on the Square
Starts June 1st. Family-friendly movies are shown outside on Heritage Square each Saturday evening through the summer for FREE. Each event begins at 5pm with entertainment from the community, music, and then movies start at dusk (about 7:30pm) Heritage Square is downtown on Aspen Street between Leroux and San Francisco Streets.
Harkins Summer Movie Fun
Starts June 10. $5 for 10 kid-friendly movies (or pay individually $2/person); kids under 3 are free. Movies start at 9:45 am, and no one cares if there’s crying or you have to get up and walk around. See Harkins’ website for more info. 1959 S Woodlands Village Blvd (928) 774-4700
Summit Gymnastics Open Gym
Kids can run and jump and climb to their hearts’ content. $5 for first child, $3 for additional children. Mondays and Thursdays 10am-noon, ages 5 and under. 1926 N. 4th St, Suite 7 (928) 526-0644
$3/child (under 3 are free with a paid adult), $5/adult. Make a day of fun at the Aquaplex with swimming in the play pool (complete with slides and fountains), relax in the lazy river, race down the fast water slides, sit in the hot tub, or climb the rock wall and play air hockey. Usually less crowded in the morning or evening, but in the summer, it is often closed in the morning due to swim lessons. Childcare is available for $2/hour/child. 1702 N. 4th St (928) 213-2300
Christina’s own “Arizona Toddler” at age 2, hiking in Flagstaff in 2009
City Parks and Rec
Frances Short Pond aka “The Duck Pond” at Thorpe Park
Located just west of the downtown Flagstaff area at the end of Aztec street, this is a great place to get out and enjoy Flagstaff’s stellar summer weather. Children love the duck pond, and the greater park offers two playgrounds and all-important portable and permanent restrooms. 191 N. Thorpe Road
When you want to go outdoors, but need respite from the sun, the best shaded park is Bushmaster Park. Two playgrounds for the younger ones, and a bitchin’ skate park for the tweens and teens. 3150 N Alta Vista Drive
Flagstaff City/Coconino County Public Library
Lego Club, geared toward elementary school kids, is on the second Monday afternoon of every month at East Flagstaff Community Library. 3000 N. Fourth Street, Suite 5 (928) 213-2348
Baby, Toddler and Preschooler Storytimes run throughout the week year-round at both the Main Library and East Flagstaff Community Library. Check the library’s website for days and times, and seasonal changes (e.g. August-May may differ from June/July.) Main Library 300 West Aspen Ave (928) 213-2330
Get hands-on at The Home Depot. The Home Depot offers free workshops for do-it-yourselfers of all ages and experience levels. FREE hands-on workshops designed for children ages 5 – 12 offered the 1st Saturday of every month between 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Register online. Two locations: 1325 W Rte 66 (928) 556-1529 and 5005 E Marketplace Dr (928) 526-1692
Instilling a lifelong love of reading starts early, so Bookman’s created Kids Club, giving kids from birth to 12 years old a 10% discount on anything in its stores. And a $10 gift certificate each year on your birthday. 1520 Riordan Ranch St (928) 774-0005
Wildflower Bread Company
Every Wednesday, Wildflower offers kids Craft and Cookie Day. From 3:30-4:00pm, children who ask to participate are offered a simple kids craft, cookie and milk FREE! Located just south of downtown, off Butler Ave. 530 E. Piccadilly Drive (928) 233-5010
After School Special $1.25 ice cream cones from 2:30-4pm on schooldays. 1104 S Milton Rd (928) 779-1012
Little America Travel Center
$0.50 soft serve ice cream cones in the Little America Grill. 2515 East Butler Ave (928) 779-7900
Mike & Ronda’s The Place
Mike & Ronda’s is widely regarded as Flagstaff’s best breakfast experience, and the kiddos like pretending to serve up their own biscuits and gravy in the play kitchen and miniature tables. 21 S Milton Rd (928) 774-7008
Big Foot BBQ
Located in the Basement Marketplace, Old Town Shops in downtown Flagstaff, this joint is a favorite of locals and visitors large and small because their Kids Corral and chalkboard keep the little piglets busy while you enjoy some serious pulled pork. 120 N Leroux Street Flagstaff, AZ 86001 (928) 226-1677
Crown Railroad Cafe
One word: Trains! A model train runs around the ceiling to delight the kids, and adults won’t be disappointed by the yummy diner food or heralded service. Two locations: West Flagstaff 2700 S Woodlands Village Blvd (Wal-Mart shopping center) and East Flagstaff 3300 East Rte 66 (in front of Howard Johnson) (928) 522-9237
A long-time haunt for college kids, locals and visitors, Granny’s is a family friendly tavern that kids like because the booths feature personal TVs and remotes. Order up some wings, flip on some cartoons, and let the kids zone out while the grownups get their grub on.
Family-Friendly Hikes and Swimmin’ Holes
Located off of Lake Mary Road, the trail leads you along the rim of Sandy’s Canyon with great views of a large lava field with Mount Elden in the distance. The first 1.5 miles is mostly shaded and takes hikers down into Sandy’s Canyon where the trail joins the Arizona Trail, which is a good turn-around point when hiking with kids.
Buffalo Park Trails
Buffalo Park is part of the the Flagstaff Urban Trails System (FUTS, pronounced “foots”) as a non-motorized hike-bike-run-accessible recreation area. Its two short loop trails are flat, wide and ringed with Ponderosa pines and mountain views. Suitable for strollers. Take Fort Valley Road (US 180) to Forest Ave; turn right and go to the turnoff for the park at Gemini Drive; turn left and follow the signs to the park entrance.
Griffith’s Spring is a shaded and peaceful one-mile loop trail that’s wide and flat, and terminates at its namesake spring, with small exploratory trails leading to greenery, wildflowers and (watch out) poison ivy.
Wet Beaver Creek
This clear, cool brook remains pleasantly secluded in the deep red rock canyon it has cut into the southern rim of the Colorado Plateau. The stream’s pools and riffles are a popular place to fish, hike, swim, and birdwatch. The waters of the stream are stocked with trout. 45 miles south of Flagstaff on graveled Forest Roads. Drive south from Flagstaff on I-17 and exit onto AZ Highway 179; drive 2 miles east on Forest Road 618 to the campground.
Slide Rock State Park
Likely the most popular spot in Oak Creek Canyon (between Flagstaff and Sedona), Slide Rock State Park is an extremely busy picnicking spot and swimming hole. The littlest children will enjoy playing “Pooh sticks” under footbridges, doing some shallow wading or dipping their feet into the cold mountain run-off, while older children can try out the natural water slides and swimming. On US 89A through Oak Creek Canyon, drive 21 miles south from Flagstaff, or 6 miles north from Sedona. You can’t miss it. $20.00 Daily Entrance From the Friday before Memorial Day through the end of Labor Day: Per Vehicle (1-4 Adults) Off Season: $10.00 per day (1-4 Adults) (This is a STATE PARK and does not honor the Federal Recreation Pass or the Red Rock Pass.)
A large cliff side swimming hole, this day use site is popular with swimmers and picnickers alike. The swimming hole is shaded and cool, a good respite from the summer heat. You can also access the Allens Bend trailhead from the Grasshopper Point parking lot. Drive south from Flagstaff about 26 miles or north from Sedona for about 2 miles on US 89A. Grasshopper Point will be approximately 2 miles south of Encinoso Picnic Area on the east side of US 89A. $8 per vehicle per day (up to 5 people) in addition to the required Red Rock Pass.
Allens Bend Trail
This short, half-mile walk is one of the best easy day hikes in the Sedona area because it’s one of the only paths along the banks of Oak Creek. A Red Rock Pass is required (available at many outlets and online found here: http://www.redrockcountry.org/passes-and-permits/where-to-purchase.shtml).
Tell us, Arizona Travel fans: did we miss anything? What are your favorite kid-friendly things to do in Flagstaff and the surrounding area? Leave us your comments!