Top Things To Do In Williams AZ
Nestled just about 36 miles west of Flagstaff is Williams, a quaint little town in Coconino County, AZ. The town lies on the route of Historic Route 66 and attracts many visitors each year. Known as the gateway to The Grand Canyon, Williams has an abundance of activities ranging from experiencing Route 66 to outdoor activities.
We have been visiting Williams for many years now. It all started with The Polar Express train that leaves Williams Depot every winter and heads off to the North Pole. When the children were younger, they were thrilled to take The Polar express. It’s a magical nighttime train adventure filled with hot chocolate, holiday songs and read along of The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg.
Over the years, the children have grown older and have lost their interest in The Polar Express. But the great thing about Williams is that it has many other fun activities for all ages. It retains a small town atmosphere and brings a certain feeling of nostalgia transporting you to another era.
A stretch of Route 66 runs right through Williams, AZ along with a variety of dining, shopping, and lodging. I love going through the many stores along Route 66 and checking out all the fun souvenirs. Every year many visitors come to Williams to experience the famous “mother road” that has inspired authors such as John Steinbeck in Grapes of Wrath and songs such as Bobby Troup’s “get your kicks on Route 66.”
The main stretch of Route 66 is filled with great dining options as well as a variety of novelty shops. I love the Native American jewelry stores with beautiful turquoise pieces nicely displayed on their windows.
The boys just love checking out the different stores in town and taking pictures with some of the local statues.
When it is time for a sweet treat, we like going to Pine Country Restaurant. It has an extensive selection of over 35 delicious homemade pies including sugar-free options. It is definitely a must every time we visit Williams.
Williams and forest service visitor center welcome you with Smokey Bear educating us about the dangers of wildfires. The visitor center has a lot of great information about Williams in addition to maps, hiking trails, and general information about The Grand Canyon.
Inside the visitor center, there is a replica of an old phone booth and the boys had a blast playing with it. Neither one has any memories of ever seeing a public phone booth. In a world of technology, it is hard for these millenniums to imagine an era without cell phones and iPads.
Another thing that keeps bringing us back to Williams is the Grand Canyon Railway and Hotel. It is an extremely comfortable hotel with great offers and packages for every budget. We first stayed at the hotel when we boarded The Polar Express train years ago. This spring, we decided to go back to Williams and experience another great train attraction.
The hotel’s lobby is beautiful and grandiose. It has a beautiful fireplace to keep you warm during chilly nights. It has comfortable leather seats, and it’s a great place to meet other families and socialize.
We booked the Canyon Discovery package, which included 2 nights at the Grand Canyon Railway and Hotel, a Wild West show before the train departed from Williams Depot, a round trip train from Williams, AZ to the Grand Canyon, a guide narrated 1.5 hour scenic tour along the South Rim, as well as breakfast and dinner at the Grand Depot Café, next to the hotel.
The ride from Williams Depot to The Grand Canyon is a little over 2 hours of beautiful scenery. I love riding trains; It’s such a unique experience. Most of our lives are spent driving cars and commuting in traffic that it is a relief to be able just to seat, relax and enjoy the ride.
The ride on the train was awesome. The kids had a blast with the entertainment in the train, which included food service, music, cowboys, and marshals.
We upgraded to first class and got to ride on a train cart called Coconino, just like the county. The train was quite spacious, and the seats were very comfortable.
If you enjoy trains, you must visit Williams Depot and check out all the replicas of their Grand Canyon Railway fleet. It was truly magical to hear the tales and folklore of the Old West.
The train stops at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, and we are quickly greeted with amazing, breath taking views of the canyon. We stayed mainly in the South Rim but took the opportunity to hike and admire the wonderful views. The Grand Canyon is absolutely majestic, and this entire trip to Williams was a blast. It was a great family trip.