Dinner at a chef-driven downtown eatery. A morning at a championship golf course nestled in the pines. Hiking and biking along stunning trails. A day wandering a fine arts and crafts festival. Wine-tasting in a scenic mountain valley.
Whether you’re looking to relocate to the region full-time or dreaming of a second vacation home “up north,” you’ll find a year-round, calendar-filling roster of amenities and attractions in the Flagstaff, Payson and Prescott areas. Indeed, from the truly grand (the breathtaking Grand Canyon) to lively (world-famous rodeos) to meditative (quiet stargazing), the region offers something for homebuyers of all ages and stages.
Cool and friendly
Slogans attached to the area tell the story from “The destination for all seasons” to “Adventure where we live.” Robert Coombs, visitor information manager at the Prescott Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Information Center, offers another one.
“‘Everybody’s Hometown’ is our slogan and it certainly fits,” he said. “I hear all the time ‘Wow, people are so friendly here!’ Walking down the historic street in the downtown area, folks actually smile at you and say hello.”
Here are the three things potential homebuyers need to know about life in Northern Arizona:
1. Fabulous four seasons
Unlike their warmer counterparts to the south, communities in this region enjoy a true four seasons. These communities are the go-to spots in the state to see changing leaves in the fall with plenty of opportunities for leisurely drives to take in golden aspens and red-hued oak trees.
These cities and towns can also claim winter playground status. Flagstaff and Payson boast a range of snow-centric activities including skiing, snowmobiling and snowshoeing, while Prescott bills itself as “Arizona’s Christmas City” —beckoning winter visitors to enjoy the city’s main square sparkling in snow and twinkling lights.
Perhaps most importantly, northern communities get bragging rights for considerably cooler temperatures in the summer, especially at night when temps dip what feels like dozens of degrees below those in the Valley.
2. Abundant outdoor amenities
Each community offers a full slate of outdoor fun. In fact, Rim Country — which includes Payson and surrounding communities — includes three national forests with plenty of camping, hiking, mountain biking and hunting opportunities. Rim Country is also an angler’s dream, with lakes and streams throughout the area stocked with various trout species. “It is an outdoor lover’s paradise,” said Chris Bertone, membership manager and director of the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Surrounded by the Prescott National Forest in the Bradshaw Mountains, Prescott is a mile-high city with four mild seasons. This means year-round outdoor opportunities including more than 400 miles of trails to enjoy on foot, mountain bike or horse, Coombs said. The area is also a draw for campers, with family campgrounds, an equestrian campground and an ATV camping area featuring numerous trails.
At an elevation of 7,000 feet, Flagstaff sits amid the world’s largest Ponderosa pine forest and draws hikers and bikers of all skill levels to explore the San Francisco Peaks. Beyond that, outdoor lovers will find a diverse mix of activities, whether visiting The Arboretum in Flagstaff to learn more about native plants and animals or having fun at popular 18-hole disc golf courses in the pines.
3. Entertainment and activities
Homeowners can take their pick of an eclectic mix of year-round activities and entertainment in the region from enjoying live music under the huge American Elm tree in Prescott’s historic Courthouse Plaza to soaking up Route 66 nostalgia in Flagstaff to sampling treats and touring the Fossil Creek Creamery in Rim Country.
The region is also home to a host of one-of-a-kind attractions, big and small, man-made and nature-made.
For example, the south rim of the Grand Canyon is open year-round and is just a 1.5-hour drive from Flagstaff. From a [relatively] easy hike down the Bright Angel Trail to scenic lookouts to tours of historical sites, Northern Arizona residents can plan a day-trip or overnighter with ease.
Flagstaff’s Lowell Observatory is world-renowned for its many discoveries including the discovery of Pluto. The observatory is open to the public for a range of activities.
Payson boasts the World’s Oldest Continuous Rodeo every August, which draws competitors and spectators from around the world. The city is also home to the historic Tonto Natural Bridge which is believed to be the largest natural travertine bridge in the world. Named one of the “Top 25 Urban Places to Visit,” Whiskey Row in Prescott is steeped in history — it’s more than a century old — and is the perfect place to grab a bite and step back in time at one of the Row’s many saloons.