Beat the Arizona heat: Take a road trip to Williams
With temperatures hanging around 110 recently, Valley residents have started their weekend pilgrimages to anywhere a bit cooler. This week, we recommend you skip the crowds in Flagstaff and check out the city's quieter neighbor, Williams.
The big picture: Williams is known as the "Gateway to the Grand Canyon" and was the last town on Historic Route 66 bypassed by Interstate 40. It's in Arizona's high country — about 30 miles west of Flagstaff.
Distance from Phoenix: 175 miles. Less than 3 hours if there are no backups on Interstate 17.
Average June temperature: High of 81, low of 49.
What to do:
- 🚞 Train to the Grand Canyon: The Grand Canyon Railway departs daily from Williams to the Grand Canyon. The Western-themed music and characters transport you back in time to Arizona's cowboy days.
- 🚗 Bearizona: Drive through a wildlife park to see bears, wolves, sheep, jaguars and more.
- 🚶Explore Route 66: Grab a malt at one of the '50s-style diners (we suggest Cruiser's), browse the Route 66 knickknack shops and load up on Western gear.
- 🎣 Fishing: Go fishing at one of the nearby lakes or just picnic by the water.
- 🥾 Hiking: Hit one of the trails up Bill Williams Mountain.
- 🎢 Mountain coaster: Try the new adventure park with a mile-long alpine coaster.
What to eat and drink:
- 🍔 Frontier Barbeque & Beer Garden: A great patio, hearty dishes and strong drinks with names like "Stubborn Mule" and "Gunshot Mary." Need we say more?
- 🍺 Grand Canyon Brewery: Try a selection of Arizona-inspired beers and spirits like "Horseshoe Bend Ale" and "Orange Blossom Vodka Mule."
- 🤠 The Long Horn Saloon: It's a bit kitschy (as the name suggests), but we can't resist their gooey cheese curds and affordable beer.
- 🥧 Pine Country Restaurant: Three words: pie for breakfast.
Where to stay:
- 🏨 Most of the hotels are no-frills, side-of-the-road joints (think Days Inn or Ramada). Tripadvisor users rank the Best Western Plus and Grand Canyon Railway Hotel among highest.
- 🏠 Airbnbs are popping up all over town, and we've compiled a list of some of the most promising ones.
You tell us: What other Arizona places should we feature in our summer road trip series? Reach us at [email protected].
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