If you’re not familiar with Arizona, it’s easy to envision an endless desert, a vast landscape of sand, rocks and spiky plants. But nestled among ponderosa pine trees at the edge of the Colorado Plateau, Flagstaff provides a breath of exceedingly fresh air. At an elevation of nearly 7,000 feet, dry desert air blends with a cool mountain climate to provide visitors with mild conditions throughout most of the year. Check out this little mountain oasis for a refreshing stop as you cross the southwest.
With recently paved roads and large pull-through sites, this KOA campsite makes a good first impression. There’s something for everyone, with banana-seat bike rentals and a jumping pillow for the kids, complimentary coffee for adults, and full onsite recycling capabilities for the good of the world. The Kamp Kitchen trailer provides breakfast, even for early-risers, and there’s cable TV access at select sites (but the kiddos don’t have to know). We have it on good authority that the WiFi is surprisingly strong, but the scenery is rustic and so beautiful, we wouldn’t be surprised if you forget about the internet altogether.
Book a spot here.
Are you yearning to get up close and personal with wildlife but not willing to risk your safety? Perfect, as Bearizona makes it simple to cozy up to bears, buffalo and birds of prey from the safety of your vehicle. The drive-through tour is three miles long, with a self-guided walking tour at the end to view enclosed and more benign beasts. Take your RV on a leisurely drive through the park—or, if bad luck plagues you, leave the RV in the parking lot and take the complimentary bus tour through the open animal habitats. Tickets are $25 per adult and $15 per child, with a maximum charge of $120 per vehicle, so it pays to carpool. You can even bring along your dog, cat or fish (hey, no judgment) as long as they stay within the vehicle and you pick up after them if you walk them in the parking lot.
Throughout the park, you’ll encounter animals like black bears, wolves, big cats, buffalo, otters, goats, bighorn sheep, hawks, falcons, baby bears and human children. Please remember, no touching.
Wood-fired, Neapolitan-style pizzas are a welcome treat wherever you visit, but Pizzacletta is one of the best around. They make generous, crispy-crust pizzas that serve one to two people each, pour a variety of wines and beers from Dark Sky Brewery next door, and can even finish your evening off right with a scoop of authentic gelato. The pizzas, they claim, cook in 90 seconds, which makes it the perfect stop for a sit-down dinner or carry-out alike.
There are even vegetarian and vegan options, the kind that fly under the radar because they taste amazing to everyone. Much of the seating is community-style, so bring your most outgoing self. Dogs welcome on the back patio; kids may be happier eating carry-out pizza back at the RV.
Whether bathed in sun or swathed in snow, Snowbowl Trails have options to delight any kind of camper. Winter ski runs give way to summer hiking trails, and the scenic chairlift gives you a bird’s-eye view of golden aspens changing in fall and spring awakenings alike. You can even catch a glimpse of the Grand Canyon and the red rocks of Sedona from the 11,500-foot chairlift elevation.
Tire yourself out with hiking, mountain biking or disc golf; tire your kids out with summer tubing, bungee trampolines, the mini ropes course or FREE barrel rolling. (It’s a big ole human hamster wheel.) And just in case you don’t have a parental figure with you on your trip, we’ll offer you this advice: take a jacket. It gets chilly on the mountain.
Though a controversial figure now, Pluto’s waffling status as a planet, dwarf planet and punchline wouldn’t exist without the Lowell Observatory. Percival Lowell’s conviction of a planet beyond Neptune led to the founding of the Lowell Observatory, and later, to the discovery of Pluto in 1930 by observatory employee Clyde Tombaugh.
Come wonder at the heavens and peruse astronomical exhibits, attend live presentations and explore the interactive 3D globe. For obvious reasons, the observatory dazzles at night, with opportunities to view stars, constellations and planets in their natural habitat. Evening programming runs every day but Sunday. Lots of kid-friendly activities throughout the day.
Admission for adults, $17; seniors, $16; and kids (5 to 17 years old) $10 admission. Kids under five are free.