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1 Best Kept but Emerging Secret You Want to Know: Northern Arizona

When you imagine the state of Arizona, do you think of fields of flowers and evergreens? If not, I have to let you in on 1 best kept, but emerging secret you want to know: Northern Arizona. It has a vastly different topography than the state’s southern side and it feels like an entirely different place.

In winter months, Arizona is a phenomenon where you can ski in the snow-covered northern mountains and be back in the desert warmth in just a couple hours by car. I visited the Phoenix, East Valley (click here to read my 3 favorite things about that portion of my trip) and the mountains of Northern Arizona in the summertime, traveling low to high elevation. This took me from triple digits on the thermometer to cool and breezy low eighties temperatures on a short stretch of highway.

I experienced three main highlights which completely convinced me that Northern Arizona is the 1 best kept, but emerging secret you may want to know.

1. Summer Flowers

Northern Arizona is bursting with life and color! The evergreen trees already provide a surprising year-around hue for what is known as a desert state, but the summer flowers are on a whole other level! Northern Arizona is anything but dusty and dry.

‘Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.

Luke 12:27

The mild, breezy weather and the summer colors of blue sky and vibrant foliage made Northern Arizona ripe for exploration. And explore we did! This brings me to the 2nd reason why I am convinced that this area is 1 of the best kept, but emerging secrets you want to know.

2. Nostalgia

Historic Route 66 runs through the mountains of Northern Arizona. The museums, shops, and restaurants cater heavily to the theme of nostalgic transportation and adventure. Have you heard the famous song “Get Your Kicks on Route 66” song by the Nat King Cole Trio? Everywhere we looked, we saw nods to this idea, but my silly self got a good chuckle out of this one.

Firewood on Route 66: 1 Best Kept but Emerging Secret You Want to Know: Northern Arizona
Get your Sticks on Route 66, Firewood Pile

Here are more photos I took along the few miles we experienced of Route 66.

We got our kicks, even just on this small portion of Route 66, and wow, did we work up an appetite! The third reason I think you should consider Northern Arizona the 1 best kept, but emerging secret you want to know is my favorite of them all.

3. The Food

In Phoenix, we got spoiled with amazing home-cooked meals. On this part of the trip, we had to rely on local restaurants. We found some favorites in the Northern Arizona city of Flagstaff. I just couldn’t keep them a secret. Here are 4 places I simply have to highlight, because… well you’ll see why.

Mexican appetizer platter: 1 Best Kept but Emerging Secret You Want to Know: Northern Arizona
El Tapatio’s Mexican Food

El Tapatio Mexican Restaurant: We’ve been really trying to eat healthy lately, so this appetizer platter was such a decadent treat! Cheesy goodness upon cheesy goodness! This was more than enough to be my meal. You can see my husband’s taco and chili relleno in the background there. Every inch of this restaurant was decorated in native prints, Mexican style art, and authentic textures, even the backs of the chairs! I hope I get to eat there again someday!

Matty G's Steakburgers: 1 Best Kept but Emerging Secret You Want to Know: Northern Arizona
Matty G’s in Flagstaff

Matty G’s Steakburgers: This was the best burger I’ve had in a long time. Ok, to be fair, it is the only burger I’ve had in a while, but even if that were not the case, this place, Matty G’s, would have made my list. I have to say this was a moment of discovery for me.

I expected to receive Matty G’s sauce for my burger (the orange one in the photos) and ranch for my sweet potato fries. When I opened my ranch, it was super sticky! I licked my finger, and it was sweet…?

“Eww!”, I said out loud. “Is this marshmallow cream?” And then I felt my facial expression change from repulsion to curiosity as my mind thought of the possibilities. I cautiously dipped a fry into the white, clingy fluff. I put it in my mouth with some concern, which quickly turned into happy revelation. Boy, was that good! I ate way more of my fries than I had otherwise intended. Have you ever tried this combination? If not, do it – I triple dog dare you!!

Wildflower: This cozy spot had an amazing atmosphere. From the loaves of fresh baked bread to the imaginative menu and indoor and outdoor fireplaces, Wildflower willed us to linger. We savored the delicious cuisine. My husband ordered salmon toast and fried eggs. My entrée was greens and pepitas with sweet potatoes and fresh veggies under fried eggs and a drizzle of sriracha. I want to return to Wildflower again and again until I’ve tried everything on their menu. If you’re nearby, I highly recommend stopping in for a bite.

Tourist Home All Day Cafe: I’m sorry if I’m belaboring the point with the food I ate in Northern Arizona, but Tourist Home Cafe begs to be mentioned. This was the tallest quiche I’ve ever seen, full of spinach, sun dried tomatoes, and roasted bell peppers. You can’t tell from the way it is hidden behind the greens in the photo, but it was at least 4 inches tall, like a majestic cheesecake. My husband enjoyed eggs benedict (look how small it looks next to my quiche!) with homestyle potatoes, which were also scrumptious.

The last thing I want to share is a photo of a sign I found on a wall at a Route 66 gift shop. It seemed a bit out of place where it was, and I resisted the urge to bring it home with me. It would, however, have fit in very nicely above the desk where I write this blog, which I call Mama Lava’s Back Porch.

Life is Better on the Porch sign: 1 Best Kept but Emerging Secret You Want to Know: Northern Arizona
Life is Better on the Porch! I’m so thankful to all who join me here!

Well, are you convinced? I’ve told you about the perfect temperatures and summer flowers. I’ve invited you to surround yourself with nostalgia on Route 66, and I’ve tempted you with photos of amazing food. Could Northern Arizona be the 1 best kept, but emerging secret you want to know? Are you interested in visiting there some day? Have you already been? Do you have any suggestions for rival best kept secret places?

6 replies on “1 Best Kept but Emerging Secret You Want to Know: Northern Arizona”

Oh good! I’m glad the tips will be helpful to your brother in law! 😃 Route 66 is very fun. I’d like to explore more of it. If you get to it before me, be sure to tell me all about it!

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