Tuesday, January 26, 2016

How to visit Flagstaff on less than two hundred bones

By: Ron Valderrama/Tragically Hip Living

Flagstaff, Arizona
Photo: Tragically Hip Living
This past weekend brought me to beautiful Flagstaff, Arizona for a project I'm working on, and a little recreation time too. Like so many Arizona travel destinations, Flagstaff has become an expensive place to visit and if traveling cheap is your goal, this may be an option for you to do so. First, I belong to Wyndham Rewards, a program that allows you an option to visit any of the Wyndham Hotels within it's network of hotels. Ramada, Super 8, Days Inn just to name a few are part of the Wyndham family. But let's step back shall we? Before using my Wyndham option, I checked online at the hotel options for Flagstaff. A stay at the Hampton Inn from Sat., checking out Monday (Jan. 23-25) ran $201 for Sat. and $139 for Sun., hardly a deal for a place to lay your head at night. I then checked La Quinta and found a rate of $97 per night ($214 total) for a stay with the same dates. Frustrated, I called to see why it was so much due to the fact it is usually cheaper in the winter and if they could offer a better deal. 

Days Inn I-40 Flagstaff
Photo: Tragically Hip Living
The guy at the front desk told me that the rates increased due to the demand for rooms, a result of the recent snow amounts at Snow Bowl and people wanting to ski. I could feel my panties wadding up with anger but quickly calmed myself down by humming the "Soft Kitty" song from Big Bang Theory. I asked the guy how he can sleep at night? Telling him that if paying $214, you better respect me in the morning and it better include a breakfast, perhaps a nice parting gift would be nice too! With no inexpensive rooms to be had in Flagstaff for the weekend, I decided to use some of my Wyndham points for a deal. 

The constant train traffic in Flagstaff
Photo: Tragically Hip Living
So, logged into my account and searched Flagstaff for rooms and to my surprise, found a room at Days Inn Flagstaff I-40 as you come into town and away from the train tracks. I was offered a low rate just for being a member, didn't even have to use my points, even better, I used my AARP membership to obtain a deeper discount! So, what was my total for the two-night stay including taxes? How about $77.13 for the entire stay! Was pleased to know when the front desk informed me that the room was very clean and they pride themselves on cleanliness. The room also had a fridge, microwave, and a coffeemaker. The stay also included a breakfast, which included among many things, waffles, pastries, and fruit. I was as "happy as a queer in a dick tree," (No disrespect to anyone gay intended, I have some gay friends and they know my sense of humor) and quickly sealed the deal. 

Photo: Tragically Hip Living
Arriving in Flagstaff around noonish on Saturday, a few hours would have to be burnt before my 3 p.m. check-in at the hotel, so hit the streets for some thrift store shopping. A little investigating and talking to some locals, all signs pointed towards the Full Circle Trade & Thrift, a local favorite. It's located on Beaver Street, a block South of Route 66 in the historic downtown area. Although nothing was purchased, they did have some good prices on quality clothing and some tragically hip antiques in the furniture section. The Full Circle Trade & Thrift is a definite must visit when traveling to Flagstaff. After browsing the area, it was time to check-in at the hotel and proceeded to settle in my comfy room before grabbing a bite to eat. After having my freshly brewed Peet's French Roast Coffee, I decided to head over to Bun Huggers, one of the best places in Flagstaff to have a stellar burger for a good price. I ordered the "Little Hugger," a 1/4 pound burger cooked well done and an order of their natural cut fries and a water for a drink. What I like about this place is that you order what you want, they cook it, and let you add the condiments yourself at the condiment station near the register. Everything is fresh and well maintained, the total cost for this beef bonanza was $7.84, well within my intended budget.

Macy's European Coffeehouse
Photo: Tragically Hip Living
After a peaceful night, I step outside to witness the cool sunrise that is before me and sip on my tasty coffee. It's Sunday morning and the views of the snow capped mountains only add to this blessing. I have a meeting in a few hours so I head back to my room to get ready. Wanting a little something to eat and remembering what the locals told me, I make my way to Macy's European Coffee House for a sample of the many baked goods they offer. Macy's is just down the street from Full Circle Thrift and is quite a hip little joint. The walls are adorned with paintings and photos, it's like a little gallery. Anyhoo, the place is packed, so I already know the place is good. I make my way up the line to place my order. I decide to order a hot chocolate, made from scratch and with real milk if you can believe that, and a pecan sticky bun. Right away, I notice my hot chocolate being prepared with the utmost pride and care, the cashier steps over to the baked goods counter and asked if I had any particular pecan sticky bun in mind? I signal no preference and she packages the tasty treat in a bag. An opening at the bar is available and I quickly snag a spot before it's gone. Well, simply said, this was the best hot chocolate and pecan sticky bun I have ever had. Imagine driving in the HOV lane with only you in the car, or ripping off one of those warning labels on a mattress that state "Warning Do Not Remove This Tag Under Penalty of Law," yeah, it's that kind of feeling, total cost was $9.58, again well within my planned budget.

Flagstaff, Arizona
Photo: Tragically Hip Living
After my meeting I head out to explore the downtown shops, if it's been awhile since your last visit, the place has changed, many new shops with local owners, and that's a good thing to see. One of my stops brought me to The Old Town Shops located on Birch and Leroux Streets. What's cool about this place is that it has a bunch of shops in one building, mostly geared for women, but some dude stuff too.

Big Foot BBQ
Photo: Tragically Hip Living
What caught my attention was the Big Foot Barbeque located downstairs, the aroma forces one to stop and eat. So, I did just that, ordering a pulled pork sandwich, onion rings, and beans, topped off with a sweet tea to drink. Not the best I have ever had, but certainly well worth the $13.78 spent for this above average meal that could easily feed two. Feeling tired, I head back to my room for a little relaxation and a little work. Later that evening for dinner, a short drive to Cracker Barrel tops off the day and a reflection of my time in Flagstaff, the tab at Cracker Barrel ends up being $17.34, not bad for a home cooked meal.
The following morning I check out at 11 a.m. and decide to hit Sedona on the way home via Hwy 89A out of Flagstaff. I highly recommend this drive because it is one of the most beautiful stretches of highway in the country. So, what did my weekend excursion cost? Well, here's the breakdown:
$20.00 Gas
$77.13 Hotel
$48.54 Restaurants
Total: $145.67
Snow in Flagstaff
Photo: Tragically Hip Living
If you have a family it would obviously cost more and I did purchase items at the grocery store, but the point is, deals are out there with a little research and investigating. Sometimes there are no deals on certain dates, but utilize things like loyalty programs, or online deals to get the best price. I planned this trip two days prior, I often avoided visiting much of Arizona because to be quite honest, I could go to San Diego for what was being charged for a hotel in Arizona. It's not that I can't afford to pay more, I just learned from the past and know how much money was wasted on inflated fees, I just simply refuse to pay more.
Until next time, have a tragically hip day!
Ron Valderrama can be contacted by email: tragicallyhipliving@gmail.com

1 comment:

  1. Nice read Ron. I felt like I was right there with you.