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Northern AZ – Flagstaff, Grand Canyon, Route 66

I think anything can be a good reason to take time away from work to travel. Driving out of town for a wedding, for example, can be turned into a three day weekend to explore a town. I recently went to a wedding in Flagstaff for two friends that I’ve had the pleasure to watch meet, befriend, engage and wed. It’s beautiful to see two people who are so genuine and full of life commit themselves to one another. The ceremony was in an adorable country chapel, and the reception to follow was outdoors in the forest at sunset. It was all too adorable to even capture, so here’s the only shot that a new friend captured that I love.

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So this is my roommate from Italy that I reunited with at the wedding. Having not seen her since Italy nine months before, made the wedding all the more special, especially since we had planned on spending the weekend together in flagstaff.

FRIDAY

So coming up early for the wedding, I spent the day in Downtown Flagstaff at some spots that I had been recommended to. Since I’m not much of a breakfast person, I arrived around noon starving. I didn’t have any plans, so my plans became to find a good breakfast spot. I decided on La Bellavia. They are known for their eggs Benedict, of which there were about 10 options for on the menu, so naturally that’s what I went for, going with the artichoke and avocado Benedict. The sauce definitely proved that La Bellavia knew what they were doing with their Benedict’s, but honestly, my favorite thing about this place was sitting outside on their mini patio on the breezy day that was perfect for people watching.

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La Bellavia is located right by Macy’s European Coffee House which is like tourist central, that being the only reason I would try them, and having heard they were over-rated, they were too packed on the weekend for me to go in and form my own opinion.

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I’m a firm believer that coffee, especially black, is great for digestion and increasing the metabolism – though some would tease me for thinking so – so after my heavy brunch, I moved to Firecreek Coffee Co.

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Not knowing the area well, I reparked closer to the Downtown Flagstaff area, but I could have easily walked. It was never hard to find a spot or two, but most places are marked for two hours or with specifications, so just be sure to be aware.

Firecreek Coffee Co. is an adorable space with friendly baristas and in the know for what they are doing with their coffee. I got a Papua New Guinea cold brew.

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Afterward I acquainted myself with the Downtown Flagstaff area. It was an easy town to navigate.

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I found the Basement Marketplace which was recommended to me and which I would pass on the recommendation. Here you will find the famous Diablo Burger, and other boutiques and gift shops, but my favorite is the actual Basement: an underground local shop in the style of Urban Outfitters.

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The workers were extremely friendly, including this girl that I took a portrait of, who listed out places for me to try. I always appreciate what locals recommend because they know what they are talking about. She was another to affirm the need for me to try Diablo Burger. She was the sweetest. And really, the best part of travel is meeting new people: there is something special about a stranger showing hospitality and welcoming you to their town.

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I also stumbled on The Sweet Shoppe. Another spot with extremely friendly and kind staff.

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The girl helping me recommended the Oreos dipped in mint chocolate, and it was just as great as she said they were. I also got a white chocolate and sprinkle pretzel which was great. They let me know a little about their shop, including that they house make their caramel for the chocolates, and that they have a location in the Phoenix area.

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SATURDAY

The following day, my friends wanted to visit the Grand Canyon. I, needing coffee to start my day, drove us out to Williams on the way. We drove past an outdoor flea market, then returned to browse around. Such a fun stumble upon! We found some great items that were so cheap, and eventually figured out that we were on historic Route 66.

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My find was an Italian Moka Pot. I’ve been hunting for one for months since returning from Italy, and they never come cheap or easy to find, so I was pretty excited. The couple selling it to me weren’t even sure how it was supposed to be used, so we got to show and interact with them, and they were so glad that they could sell it to someone who would use and appreciate it. All for only $5! And while taking a photo with my new Moka Pot in front of a blue Ford, a little old man came out joking, “It costs $5 to take pictures with my truck.” His name was Clide and he told us about his service in the Air Force in Okinawa and other life details. He was so cute that I had to ask if I could take his portrait.

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The drive up to the Grand Canyon is so pretty. The landscape changing constantly. Most of the drive was deserted, but we made a stop at Bedrock and to buy jerky from a car parked by the side of the road.

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We spent a few hours at the Grand Canyon having time enough for  a few various view points, and stopping to picnic at one of them.

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Most of the look out points have too many tourists for anyone to get a good view or to feel close to nature, so our last stop was definitely my favorite: Yaki Point.

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There weren’t many people there, and even so there was a rock plateau within walking distance where there was no one. We climbed up it and had the best view of the canyon. And we were at the top of the canyon so we had the rush of the constant wind. And though we were there in early evening, it seemed like a perfect place to watch the sunset, which having experienced the Grand Canyon at sunset once before, I totally recommend putting in your plans when you visit.

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We drove back to Route 66 for the evening. We got ice cream and looked through the shops, but there really wasn’t much else to do, unless you want to eat.

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I’d say it’s a good spot to walk through and see and grab food, but don’t plan on being there longer than a few hours, unless you go earlier on a summer weekend when the flea market is open or you hear of an event.

SUNDAY

The following day I took a more relaxed approach and revisited Downtown Flagstaff.

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Went back to Firecreek Coffee Co. and tried an Orange Lavender Iced Latte. It was unique and totally worth trying. Being obsessed with orange in my coffee, and lavender in general lately, I completely loved his latte. Plus, having been to so many coffee shops in my travels, this coffee shop is the only place I’ve ever seen this flavor. They also have a spicy cardamom syrup that is unique, but I wasn’t as crazy about it.

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I went in and out of shops, including Earthbound which was recommended to me by a local. So cute for sure.

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Also found a small bookstore, a vintage costume shop, and other boutiques. There’s definitely enough to stumble upon.

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Then I tried Diablo Burger since multiple people had told me about it. The most obvious quality was how kind the staff was in dealing with all the hangry people waiting in a very long line. I had plenty of time to look through the menu, but I quickly knew what I would order: Señor Smoke of ancho grilled onions, grilled avocado, bacon, cilantro and Sriracha mayo. It was delish and I loved that it was a local spot in Flagstaff and Tucson.  There’s definitely enough to do in northern AZ for locals looking to get out of town a few days, or for those traveling from out of state for a Grand Canyon vacation.

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