Not For Tourists (NFT), Flagstaff Edition, 2015

by Stacy Murison

Venturing North of the Tracks 

Over 100 whistle-less trains blow through Flagstaff every day.  You’ll be spending most of your time at the conference on the “south side” of the tracks at the very edge of NAU’s campus.  In Flagstaff, both sides of the track are the “right” side, and these gems are worth the extra 10-15 minute walk across the train tracks.

We’d love to tell you some great locations to visit as a tourist, but you already may know them—the Grand Canyon, Sunset Crater and Wupatki, Sedona…but really, we’re foodies and star lovers here.  So eat, drink, and enjoy the night sky.

Here are a few of our favorite places:  

Coffee/Poetry/Readings/Live Music/Big Tables…and Pastries!  Firecreek Coffee Company. Listen, everyone will tell you to go to Macy’s (the coffee shop, not the department store!) for coffee and, yes, they do have the best egg sandwiches in town.  But there are so many delicious local coffee places, all just a few more blocks away, you might want to check them out when you have some downtime.  One of our favorites is Firecreek (22 Historic Rte. 66 ). They have our hearts with the smoothest cold-brew in town.  Ample seating and plugs for all your electronic devices, free wi-fi, and long, long tables for writing.  Sit at one of the large windows that overlook Rt 66 and the train station.  A great place to watch the sun turn in for the night, grab a homemade pastry, and wait for one of the eclectic NfN Readings to happen.  Also serving beer, (try Wanderlust, a local brewing company), tea, and espresso done right (lemon peel and a splash of seltzer water on the side).  Home of many artists, writers, and musicians, Firecreek hosts a weekly Poetry Slam (Wednesdays) and live bands Friday and Saturday evenings, and of course, our NfN Readings.  Tell John Q and Chloe that we sent you!

A Vegan Restaurant in Flagstaff (it’s true!): Red Curry.You will hear all of the local jokes about the number of Thai restaurants in Flagstaff (six at last count), but no one is really complaining and, somehow, they all manage to stay open.   If you’re looking for something other than a multitude of our burger and beer joints, try Red Curry, 8-10 North San Francisco Street, our only vegan restaurant in town.  Curries rich with coconut milk and many great egg-less noodle dishes make this a stand-out in our great western beef town.   

Sky watching: the best places. Although Flagstaff is the first international “Dark Skies” city, we are slowly losing our battle against light pollution.  That being said, the night skies here are still incredible.  You’ll want to climb up Mars Hill to Lowell Observatory (, whose claim-to-fame is the discovery of demoted planet, Pluto (still a planet here in Flagstaff!) and now the Discovery Channel Telescope (off site from Mars Hill).  Lowell offers evening tours—check out the telescopes up close and personal and ask about the cast iron frying pan attached to the Clark Telescope.  You’ll get bonus points from the friendly docents. It’s a steep 20 minute hike up-hill, but the overlook at night is worth the hike.  Or I’m sure we can rustle up some friends to drive you up the hill. 

If you have a car (or know someone with a car) you may want to stroll Buffalo Park at sunset.  A beautiful prairie with up-close views of the San Francisco Peaks (without driving out to the peaks themselves), its wide-open vistas and relative darkness offer some great night sky views. See the Milky Way?  Yeah, you do. 

You’re almost ready to move here, but you sense you might be missing one more thing..

Oh yes.  Here it is…

The House that Chilequiles Built – MartAnne’s Burrito Palace, aka You Really Ate the Whole Thing (and probably licked your plate—we won’t tell!).  Martanne’s is a Flagstaff institution.  It started out as a tiny breakfast place with the best hangover cure in town.  The restaurant recently moved to a bigger space on Rte 66 and, if you see a line, don’t be discouraged.  It’s worth the wait and you’ll get to view Emma Gardner’s colorful Dios de los Muertos paintings through the windows.  Wait ‘til you see them up close! Although we know you won’t need any hangover cures, we’re sure that MartAnne’s salsa will cure anything that ails you!  Plus, you can sample their very own house-distilled vodka.  Recommended: anything on the menu.  Seriously.  It’s that good. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner now, you can visit Annie and the crew at 112 E Route 66.

One more thing…sometimes, the locals know what they’re talking about…

Everyone will tell you to drink a lot of water when you’re here.  Please do.  Usually by the second day, visitors find themselves exhausted, thirsty, grumpy with sinus pain, and wondering what is wrong.  Water.  The good news is, you’ll be saving some money at the bar.  One drink will suit you well on the first night.  Okay, maybe two…

Not For Tourists (NFT), Flagstaff Edition, 2015

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