Visit the world’s first International Dark Sky City

Flagstaff, Arizona is a stellar destination with a rich lunar legacy, from discovering Pluto and training astronauts to walk on the moon, to becoming the world’s first International Dark Sky City.

On 24 October 2001, the City of Flagstaff in Arizona became the World’s First International Dark Sky City, a designation awarded by the International Dark Sky Association (IDA). Flagstaff’s low light pollution and commitment to enforcing stargazing-friendly lighting restrictions make it the ideal destination for exploring the night skies. Located in the high country mountains of northern Arizona, there are so many things to do in Flagstaff for astro-tourists and space-enthusiasts.

See the Meteor Crater

A favourite daytime activity is discovering Flagstaff’s Lunar Legacy with a stop at several astrotourism sites. Download a Flagstaff Lunar Landmarks Passport at discoverflagstaff.com or pick one up at the Flagstaff Visitor Center. A unique astrotourism experience includes Meteor Crater – this place has the world’s largest preserved meteor impact site, and it’s another astronaut training location to “moon-boot!”. Barringer Crater, also known as the Meteor Crater, is a 50,000-year-old natural landmark created by a meteorite estimated to be about 150 feet across and weighing several hundred thousand tons, which struck the Earth with a force 150 times greater than an atomic bomb explosion.

Visit the best stargazing spots

Stay and stargaze for a few days at the best astrotourism spots in the US. A stay in Flagstaff, Arizona grants visitors easy access to locations such as Coconino National Forest and Buffalo Park. It takes approximately ten minutes for eyes to adjust to the night skies, then stargazers can enjoy some of the best star bathing in the US while spotting galaxies, star clusters and the Milky Way in the darkness.

Stay at the Little America Hotel Flagstaff

Learn about space at Lowell Observatory

For more than 125 years, Lowell Observatory has connected people to the universe through education, exploration, and discovery. It carved out a niche for many discoveries, including Pluto. Lowell Observatory offers abundant opportunities to experience viewing Flagstaff’s dark skies. The Clark Telescope, Pluto Dome and the Giovale Open Deck Observatory provide unique telescope programs. In November 2024, prepared to be awed by the cosmos and learn about astronomy at the new Astronomy Discovery Center (ADC). At the new ADC, take a stairway to the stars and step into a circular dark sky planetarium where educators will guide you through a live journey among the stars, constellations and planets, all from the comfort of heated seats.

Dark Skies over SF Peaks © Tom Alexander | Lowell Observatory

Attend a star party

Enjoy a star party with the non-profit Flagstaff Dark Skies Coalition. Free star parties offer an opportunity to peer through telescopes and discover constellations with expert astronomers sharing cultural astronomy with the mission to promote and protect dark skies. 

Stop at Grand Canyon National Park

Flagstaff’s beautiful night skies offer exceptional starry nights. Arizona boasts 12 dark sky parks designated by IDA, with Grand Canyon National Park being the most famous along with Flagstaff area national monuments Walnut Canyon, Sunset Crater Volcano, and Wupatki. 

Grand Canyon Mather Point © NPS

Drive Route 66

Plan time to cruise America’s mother road, Route 66, in Flagstaff’s charming historic downtown with shopping, art galleries, events, music, restaurants and nightlife. Flagstaff is uniquely Arizona with four seasons, for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy perfect summer hiking and biking temps, beautiful fall colours, winter sports, and spring wildflowers.

Where to eat and drink in Flagstaff

Visit Dark Sky Brewery (DSB) for original craft brews, delicious pizza and starry skies on the recently expanded patio and restaurant. Did you know Flagstaff is Arizona’s leading craft beer city? Download a Flagstaff Brewery Trail Passport at craftbeerflg.com and trek on the Flagstaff Brewery Trail. Visit all eight award-winning breweries, return a completed passport to the Flagstaff Visitor Center, and be rewarded with a complimentary commemorative pint glass. 

Atria Restaurant

How to get to Flagstaff, Arizona

Flagstaff provides an ideal home base to explore some of the most spectacular scenery in the world, only 90 minutes from Grand Canyon National Park and two hours north of Phoenix at the intersections of Interstate 17 and Interstate 40. Direct daily flights are also available on American Airlines from Phoenix (PHX) and Dallas (DFW.) High country hospitality welcomes visitors to the northland with more than 5,400 rooms and restaurants featuring James Beard-recognised chefs and award-winning breweries. 

Please stay and play responsibly. For more information, visit discoverflagstaff.com

Read more
Discover wild Arizona with this six-day road trip itinerary
Take a hike! The best National Parks in the USA
The ultimate adventure travel bucket list

This article was produced with content supplied by Flagstaff and is a Vacations & Travel digital exclusive. Be the first to see more exclusive online content by subscribing to the enewsletter below.

Looking for more inspiring stories? Try these…


Tags: , ,