Key to the Good Life: Off to Flagstaff!

We desert-dwellers appreciate an occasional break from the heat. And Flagstaff, a favorite Valley escape, has earned a reputation as an emerging art and culture destination. Try these attractions the next time you travel to the cool pines.

MUSEUM OF NORTHERN ARIZONA

Nestled at the base of the towering San Francisco Peaks, the Museum of Northern Arizona (MNA) is a one-of-a-kind institution dedicated to inspiring an appreciation for the region’s unique geology, history and indigenous cultures. As you walk through its galleries or participate in its educational programs, you become keenly aware of the robust geological and cultural diversity of the Colorado Plateau.

MNA was founded in 1928 by a group of Flagstaff citizens to protect and preserve the rich natural and cultural heritage of northern Arizona. Through the years, the museum has evolved into a regional center of learning with educational programs, publications and research projects that serve thousands of people each year. As a visitor, you can see limited-engagement exhibitions, take part in hands-on classes and participate in workshops, festivals and camps.

One of the exhibitions currently on view is Liberating Landscape: Women Artists in Northern Arizona, 1900–1940. This special exhibition running through December 2021 highlights the drawings, paintings, pottery and photography of six pioneering women who lived in the region and became leaders in their respective fields.

MNA is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. To learn more, go to musnaz.org or call 928.774.5213.

LOWELL OBSERVATORY

Explore our Solar System at the northern Arizona treasure, the Lowell Observatory. Founded in 1894 by astronomer Percival Lowell, Lowell consists of several telescopes located in three sites in the Flagstaff area, including the Lowell Discovery Telescope, the fifth-largest in the contiguous United States. Its mirror was ground and polished into its parabolic shape at the Optical Fabrication & Engineering Facility at the University of Arizona College of Optical Sciences.

It was at Lowell that Pluto, the distant dwarf planet, was discovered in 1930. Later, the rings of Uranus were first seen in 1977; then, the atmosphere of Pluto and two of its rings were identified. Our astronauts studied the surface of the moon at Lowell before their space flights, and Lowell astronomers continue today to research the solar system and related astrophysical phenomena.

Visitors can observe the solar system through multiple telescopes, enjoy several guided tours and visit three major exhibit areas: The Rotunda Museum, The Putnam Collection Center and the Giovale Open Deck Observatory, a plaza with six telescopes. Reservations are currently required.

In 2012, Lowell began offering camps for children. Summer camps are scheduled in June and July, and preschool camps are available all year. Kids have a chance to get hands-on learning about science, technology, engineering and math through a variety of activities that include games, experiments, art, music and more.

Lowell Observatory is an escape to outer space that you can enjoy just two hours from Phoenix. To learn more, go to lowell.edu or call 928.774.3358.

CREATIVE SPIRITS

Discover your inner artist — no training required! If you’re looking for a fun experience for a family gathering, birthday party or long-awaited reunion of friends, consider reserving a painting workshop at Creative Spirits.

Currently offering in-studio sessions, virtual opportunities and experiences at Mother Road Downtown Brewery, Creative Spirits can tailor the experience to your liking. The most popular events are public sessions facilitated by local artists using acrylic on canvas. If you’re interested in a memorable experience for a group larger than three, you can book a private session and select the art for your experience from more than 150 designs. (The adult experiences in-studio can be BYOB.)

Creative Spirits posts group classes on its website on the 15th of the month for the following month. Open Studio sessions offer a unique option for participants who want to do their own thing with no instructor. Kids can enjoy painting at a children’s session one Saturday a month or at a private session booked in advance. Each summer, children can enroll in Creative Kids Summer camps in June and July. To learn more, go to creativespiritsaz.com or call 928.600.9291.

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