I love to travel with my family and while exotic new destinations are fun, it’s also good to remember that any new town can be full of adventure, experiences and opportunities. On our recent spring break travels to the Grand Canyon, my family stopped by to explore some family fun in Flagstaff, Arizona and found some hidden gems in the city you’ll definitely want to try.
When I’m traveling with my family, I’m looking less for outlandish luxury and more for family-friendly features. And the Courtyard Marriott delivers. Families will enjoy the large dual-queen bedrooms or a king suite that includes a sofa bed in a separate living room. Our balcony room gave us a chance to check out the city from above and the in-room mini-fridge ensured our dinner leftovers lasted until morning. My kids immediately hit the pool and jacuzzi to burn off some of their roadtrip energy while I checked out the gorgeous outdoor patio with couches and fire pits.
In addition to an evening bar and morning buffet breakfast, the large lobby has plenty of couches and tables which are perfect for planning your day, Uno tournaments or a pre-dinner drink. The lobby also has an over-sized touchscreen with details about the hotel, weather, and local restaurants and attractions.
Eat (& be entertained!)
First, a warning: The exterior of Black Bart’s Steakhouse place is not easy on the eyes. The property includes both an RV park and an overnight parking for 18-wheelers next door that will have you reconsidering pulling into the driveway. This is literally what you see from the street:
This is not the kind of place you would drive by and decide to try out. Nearly everyone I talked to in the restaurant had heard about Black Bart’s from a friend, family member or travel blog. But believe me… inside the run-down facade, you’ll find an eye-catching, stomach-pleasing, smile-producing steakhouse that features delicious entrees and — wait for it — singing servers.
The first thing you’ll notice is the decor. Layers upon layers of antiques, animal heads and vintage finds cover the walls. You can spend the whole evening just taking in the sights….until you get to the singing waitstaff.
That’s right — from group numbers with props to solos on stage, the evening is dotted with musical performances as varied as Broadway show tunes, Disney favorites, hits from the ’60s, ’70s and more. We heard everything from Aladdin to Elton John, Frozen to Hello Dolly. The staff is hired first on their ability to sing so the talent was good. Many are drama or theater students at the nearby Northern Arizona University.
Finally, and really, most importantly… the food. It’s basic steakhouse fare, but it’s goooood. Juicy ribs, bacon-wrapped tenderloin, salmon and burgers with plenty of sides to round out the meal. Adult meals range from $25-$35, but most kid plates are just $6-9. And, it’s a lot of food for the money. In hindsight, our kids probably could have split a kid’s plate and we certainly didn’t need the apps we ordered which left us with no room for dessert (the horror!). It really is dinner and a show, so we found it quite reasonable and definitely worth the stop. While the Black Bart’s doesn’t require reservations, it was packed on a Monday night so it wouldn’t hurt to make them — especially if you’re coming with a large family or group.
Must-do day trip
About half an hour outside of Flagstaff (and on the way to the Grand Canyon if you’re continuing on), you’ll find Bearizona Wildlife Park, a drive-thru wildlife park. Bearizona has the goal of connecting visitors to animals and the land they inhabit. The design of the park allows you to see the natural behaviors of pack and herd animals. Depending on when you visit, you may even get to see courting rituals, mating or births!
You can either drive your own car through the park or hop on the open-air bus. After a few reminders about keeping your windows closed and driving away if the animals get too close to the car, you’re off! The two-mile drive takes you past big horn sheep and deer, arctic wolves and brown and white bison among other animals. At the end are the much-anticipated bears! I presumed the place would have a couple of bears which would probably be hard to see or find, but I was impressed that we saw six or seven different bears, some of which were eating, resting or playing and many of which were just a few feet away from our car!
There are fences that separate the different animals, but you drive your car right into the fenced areas, giving you an up close and personal view of the animals as they eat, sleep, play and cross the road right in front of you!
After the driving tour, you park your car and can continue to explore the walk-through portion of the park which includes smaller and baby animals, the Bearizona Barnyard petting zoo and a cool Birds of Prey show. Here you can find bobcats, foxes, otters, baby bears and more!
Check out Bearizona’s Instagram page for even more adorable animal pics. A worthwhile outing if your kids are animal lovers!
Heading to Arizona? Visit the Flagstaff Visitor Bureau for even more to see, do, and eat in Flagstaff!
Savvy Sassy Moms was not paid for this post. All opinions expressed are my own. Thanks to the Flagstaff Visitors Bureau for helping to coordinate our visit.
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