The Grand Canyon and other hot spots …

Travel editors have selected Flagstaff, Ariz., nestled in the world’s largest ponderosa pine forest along historic Route 66 just 80 miles from Grand Canyon National Park, as one of the 10 best places to visit in the nation.

High, Hello

The high-elevation mountain town earned the accolade from CNN partly thanks to its designation as the first international dark-sky city, but CNN’s list of reasons to visit Flagstaff was much longer. Start with the pine forest setting with endless views of the state’s tallest peaks. Combine that with cultural attractions such as Museum of Northern Arizona and national monuments such as Wupatki and Walnut Canyon, and Flagstaff offers plenty of things to do for an extended visit.

“A stark contrast to the desert cities of southern ArizonaFlagstaff offers cooler temperatures, fresh mou, contain air and a growing reputation for outdoor recreation ranging from winter skiing to summertime hiking, biking and trail running,” CNN reported in a news release.

The news organization also gave a nod to Flagstaff’s burgeoning culinary scene, with more than 200 restaurants, pubs, wine bars, and eight award-winning craft breweries.

“The renaissance of downtown Flagstaff brought new life to its old brick buildings in the form of hip new places to eat, drink, and sleep,” CNN continued.

Flagstaff also earned high marks for Lowell Observatory, the hilltop research center where Pluto was discovered in 1930, and the city’s ongoing commitment to protecting the night sky.

CNN videographers captured stunning footage of the clear night sky from Flagstaff’s Bufalo Park and highlighted other attractions including Meteor Crater, east of the city.

Character Counts

CNN editors said they focused on smaller towns for this year’s list, with an emphasis on character.

“They’re spread across the country and serve as a reminder of what’s great about the United States: communities committed to making their towns better,” CNN wrote. “You’ll see that spirit in revitalized neighborhoods and downtowns and in residents who have put all their passion, creativity, and know-how into endeavors that feed souls and bellies.”

The accolade is the second time this year a national publication has given Flagstaff high marks among places to visit, with USA Today recently naming the city the No. 1 most dog-friendly travel destination in the country.

Four-Season Destination

Flagstaff is a four-season destination offering a variety of outdoor activities and serving as the hub to Grand Canyon and seven other national parks and monuments. Summer throoffersall offers a variety of festivals and special events. For more information, visit and order a free visitor guide.

Source: Discover Flagstaff