Photo: Hotel in Flagstaff

A city bus streaks in front of the historic Hotel Weatherford in downtown Flagstaff, Arizona.

Photograph by Bradley Mihalik, My Shot

Pop. 60,222
GPS: 35°11'N 111°37'W

A mountain retreat for Phoenix's gentry and a haven for eco-conscious students at Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff is an alpine sanctuary in the middle of the Southwest's finest desert landscapes. The Grand Canyon is 90 minutes north; Sedona's red rocks are an hour south.

PLAY

The tower of the Mace at Sedona's red rocks to the south, the Anasazi ruins of Wupatki National Monument to the east, the San Francisco Mountains to the west and the Grand Canyon to the north—Flagstaff is the ultimate city for climbing, riding, rafting, hiking, and camping. In love yet? Astronauts of the Apollo trained for their moonwalk in nearby but otherworldly Sunset Crater. Battle the white water of the Colorado on a raft through the Grand Canyon with Arizona Raft Adventures (www.azraft.com).

EAT

When locals are willing to wait 45 minutes for a table, you need to get in line at the Beaver Street Brewery and Whistle Stop Café. Try a pint of Rail Head Red and the wood-fired Enchanted Forest pizza (www.beaverstreetbrewery.com).

SLEEP

The owner of Shooting Star Inn is an astrophotographer, meaning he takes pictures of outer space, and lets you use his giant binoculars and telescopes to view the galaxy at night (doubles from $175; www.shootingstarinn.com).

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