Having grown up in Los Angeles and then lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for several years, I have always considered myself an urbanite. Needless to say, when I made the decision to move to Arizona, I chose Phoenix, the sixth most populous city in the country. With an ever-expanding selection of local restaurants and bars, and the opportunity to meet people from all over the country, Phoenix offers the variety I need to feel at home.

But as every true urbanite knows, sometimes you just need to get out of the city and experience a more relaxed and peaceful vibe. And while there are many spots in Arizona that fit those criteria, Flagstaff is my go-to for a weekend getaway that frees the mind and refreshes the spirit. 

Located “up North” (the phrase virtually every Phoenix resident uses to describe the city), Flagstaff combines the simplicity of a mountain haven with the vibrancy of a college town. Surrounded by breathtaking scenery – from snow-capped mountains in the winter to lush greenery in the spring – the picturesque town is worlds away and visions apart from the bustling metropolis of Phoenix. Every time I am there, I take a deep breath of fresh air, look around and literally feel the stresses melt away.

It’s not just visual appeal that makes Flagstaff my ideal weekend getaway though. The downtown area offers unique local eateries, bars and lodging options that bring real character to the city. Here are just a few of my favorite spots:Charlys_Pub_Grill[1]- Flagstaff- edited with frame.jpg

• The Weatherford Hotel – Established in 1897, this historic hotel offers a lively scene in the downstairs bar (Charly’s Pub & Grill) and people watching from the wrap-around balcony on the second floor. 

• Pato Thai – On a cold Flagstaff night, there is nothing more satisfying than hearty curries and savory soups. This always-bustling restaurant serves excellent variations of both.

• Monte Vista Cocktail Lounge – Located in the ground floor of the Monte Vista Hotel, this cocktail lounge serves well-mixed drinks and live music up to locals and visitors alike.

• DuBeau Hostel – Choose from group and private rooms and get an affordable – yet comfortable – stay in this quaint hostel with free breakfast and a welcoming staff. The very short walk downtown is an added bonus.

From the lush mountain scenery to the intimate small-town vibe, Flagstaff is the perfect reprise from big-city life. But perhaps most important to urban dwellers like me is the vibrant mix of eating and drinking destinations – all located walking distance from each other. And what could be more urban than that?

Christine Olivas moved to Phoenix in 2008 and has made it her mission then to try as many restaurants in Arizona, as quickly as possible. A self-proclaimed foodie, she appreciates great cuisine and cocktails, even more so when they can be enjoyed outdoors in Arizona's gorgeous weather.