Hotel Monte Vista. What to make of the Monte Vista? The latest Lonely Planet guide gives it a glowing endorsement — but 30% of TripAdvisor critics call it "terrible." The 43 rooms, an eccentric collection (most priced $75-$130) with tiny bathrooms, are suitable for the collegiate and the unfussy, not-so-suited for families. But I wouldn't want to miss the Monte Vista's bustling Rendezvous coffee shop and martini bar, adjoining the lobby. 100 N. San Francisco St., Flagstaff; (800) 545-3068, http://www.hotelmontevista.com

Little America Hotel. Compared to the quirky Monte Vista, this place has no character at all. It sits behind a vast parking lot just off Interstate 40. But wait. There are safe outdoors space for kids to run around in, a big pool, generously sized rooms and very good prices. With an Auto Club discount, I paid $89, and got excellent service at the desk. Families, this is a winner. 2515 E. Butler Ave. Flagstaff; (800) 865-1401, http://www.littleamerica.com/flagstaff. CR

Macy's European Coffee House & Gallery. This place is a merry mix of local students, backpackers and tourists. Tasty food, intriguing art on the walls. 14 S. Beaver St., Flagstaff; (928) 774-2243; http://www.macyscoffee.net. Menu tops off at about $8.

Beaver Street Brewery. This spacious place, known for good grub (wood-fired pizza), stands amid the atmospheric old roadside signs in Flagstaff's Southside district. 11 S. Beaver St. No. 1, Flagstaff; (928) 779-0079, http://www.beaverstreetbrewery.com. Dinner main dishes $9-$17.

The Museum Club. Come here to drink up and commune with the ghosts of the old Route 66, which runs right out front. The Zoo (as locals call it) is a log-cabin roadhouse full of neon signage, ample taxidermy, a big flag, juke box, dance floor and history dating to 1931. 3403 E. Route 66, Flagstaff; (928) 526-9434; http://www.themuseumclub.com.

Brix Restaurant & Wine Bar. Here is the place to spend a few bucks extra on a romantic dinner. It's on the edge of downtown with about eight tables and a dozen seats at the bar, and much more space on the patio when the weather allows. Many locally sourced ingredients. 413 N. San Francisco St., Flagstaff; (928) 213-1021; brixflagstaff.com. Dinner main dishes, $23-$34.

Starrlight Books. You can't visit Arizona without a tattered volume of Edward Abbey in your backpack, and Starrlight books is just the place to pick one up. Inventory is mostly used, with a lot of regional nonfiction. 15 N. LeRoux St., Flagstaff; (928) 774-6813.

Lowell Observatory. Among its many successes is the discovery of Pluto in 1930. Guided by scientists, visitors are welcome to look through the massive telescope at night. There's also a small museum, where guests can see the original moon maps as well as a guest book signed by Neil Armstrong in 1963. 1400 W. Mars Hill Road, Flagstaff; (928) 774-3358, http://www.lowell.edu.


Route 66 and the Grand Canyon Railway. The longest still-drivable stretch of Historic Route 66 begins west of Williams in Ash Fork and continues for about 150 miles to the Colorado River at Topock. Williams is also the southern terminus of the railway, which makes the trip to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon in a little over two hours. http://www.thetrain.com


La Posada. This landmark Spanish-Colonial-Revival hotel, adjacent to the trim adobe train depot, has a handsome lobby, lounges, restaurant and guest rooms that are redolent of the past. The design is by Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter, who from 1902 to 1949 created hotels, restaurants, shops and depots for the Harvey/Santa Fe team. 303 E. 2nd St., Winslow; (928) 289-4366, http://www.laposada.org. Doubles from $99.

Central Arizona


Overlook Point. Here's your epic, red-rock view, easy to reach. From Arizona 89A, head south on Airport Road, park in the lot at left, and brave the short, steep trail to the Overlook. (Or take the adjoining Yavapai Trail, go farther and see more.) For details on this and a dozen other hikes, go to http://www.sedona.net/webpage.php/swmc/webpagesandarticles/sedonadrivingtourbestviews.

Slide Rock State Park. This place is jammed in summer, because kids can splash and swim in a narrow stretch of red-rock creek bed. In winter, it can be nearly deserted … and spectacular. http://www.azstateparks.com/Parks/SLRO/index.html. Cost is $20 per vehicle in summer, $10 the rest of the year.

Pink Jeep Tours. Thrill-seekers can take a bone-rattling Jeep tour to explore the Broken Arrow Trail as it winds through sandstone monoliths in Coconino National Forest, outside Sedona. 204 N. Highway 89A, Sedona; (800) 873-3662, http://www.pinkjeep.com. Two-hour Broken Arrow tour, $79 for adults, $56 for children.

Enchantment Resort. This 70-acre property backs up to the ruggedly beautiful peaks of the Red Rock/Secret Mountain Wilderness. Rooms are plush; some have beehive fireplaces and many have panoramic red rock views. Two restaurants, spa, clubhouse. Doubles from $295, with $22 per night resort fee. 525 Boynton Canyon Road, Sedona; (928) 282.2900, http://www.enchantmentresort.com.

Montezuma Castle National Monument. This cave dwelling, attributed to the Sinagua people, seems to have been built in the 13th century, about the time the French were building Notre Dame Cathedral. But by 1425, the Sinagua had vanished, and scientists are still trying to sort that out. Camp Verde; (928) 567-3322; http://www.nps.gov/moca. Admission $5 for adults, free for children younger than 16. CR