I have always been drawn to the charm of small towns, and Williams is no exception. With a population of around 3,000, this cozy city nestled in Coconino County, Arizona may seem unassuming at first glance. However, what sets it apart and makes it a significant tourist attraction is its unique location. Williams proudly sits on the historic Route 66, the iconic highway that has captured the imagination of travelers for decades. In addition, it is also a key stop on the Southwest Chief Amtrak train route, further adding to its allure.
As a gateway to the majestic Grand Canyon, Williams receives a steady stream of visitors from all corners of the globe. The town has embraced this influx of tourists, offering a plethora of activities and attractions to cater to their diverse interests. It’s truly a place where locals and travelers alike can find something exciting to do.
Join me as we explore the hidden treasures of Williams, a small town that has carved out a big space on the map of Arizona tourism. Here are 15 best things to do in Williams, Arizona.
1. Take the Grand Canyon Train
If you’re looking for a truly unique and picturesque way to reach the Grand Canyon from Williams, I highly recommend hopping aboard the Grand Canyon train. Sure, you could opt for a conventional drive, but trust me, you’d be missing out on an unforgettable experience.
The journey begins as soon as you step onto the train, pulled by a charming antique locomotive. The staff on board are not only friendly, but they also go the extra mile to keep you entertained throughout the 65-mile ride. And the best part? Drinks are included, so you can sit back, relax, and savor the moment.
What sets this train ride apart is that it’s not about racing to your destination. Instead, it’s a leisurely journey that allows you to soak in the breathtaking scenery that unfolds before your eyes. The train moves at a gentle pace, ensuring that you have ample time to appreciate every captivating vista along the way.
2. Visit the Bearizona Wildlife Park
Welcome to the remarkable wildlife park that goes beyond your typical zoo experience. Here, at this expansive park, you have the incredible opportunity to witness wild animals thriving in their natural habitats and even interact with them. It’s truly an extraordinary place to be.
As you explore the park, you’ll find a mix of areas where you can either drive through or explore on foot. It’s an immersive experience that allows you to get up close and personal with these magnificent creatures. In some sections, the animals are so accustomed to human presence that they casually stroll right past your car, providing you with an up-close encounter like no other.
Prepare to be amazed by the diverse range of species that call this park home. From majestic wolves to mighty bears, agile pumas to graceful deer, cunning foxes to mighty bison, the park is a haven for a wide variety of wildlife. Every step you take and every turn you make will reveal a new and captivating creature.
In addition to observing the animals, you can also enjoy a series of captivating animal shows throughout the day. These shows offer insights into the natural behaviors and remarkable abilities of the park’s residents, providing an educational and entertaining experience for visitors of all ages.
When it’s time for refreshments, you’ll be delighted to find multiple dining options where you can indulge in delicious food and beverages. Don’t forget to browse the souvenir shops, where you can find unique mementos to commemorate your unforgettable visit.
3. Admire the Williams Depot
This charming train station, constructed in 1908, holds a wealth of history and serves as a delightful place to spend your time before the train departs.
Take a moment to appreciate the architectural beauty of this well-preserved structure. Its vintage charm and timeless appeal provide a picturesque backdrop for your leisurely moments. Relax and soak in the ambiance as you await the arrival of the train.
If you have a passion for trains, you’re in for a treat. This station is the perfect spot to capture stunning photographs of the locomotives and railway equipment. Let your creativity flow as you snap memorable shots of these impressive machines that have journeyed through time.
While you’re here, don’t miss the opportunity to explore the gift shop. It’s a treasure trove of souvenirs that capture the essence of Williams and its remarkable depot. Find the perfect memento to commemorate your visit and keep the memories alive.
4. Feed a deer at the Grand Canyon Deer Farm
Welcome to the Deer Farm, a unique facility that offers an up-close encounter with a diverse array of animals. Spread across 10 acres of land, this sanctuary is home to an enchanting mix of wildlife, including deer, bison, llamas, wallabies, and even some unexpected guests like a goat, a camel, and a talkative parrot.
Prepare to be amazed as you observe these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. The Deer Farm allows you to get closer than ever before, as you can feed the deer right from the palm of your hand. It’s a truly magical experience to witness these graceful animals nibbling away with gentle affection.
But the fun doesn’t stop there! Interact with the resident goat and revel in the joy of petting its soft fur. And yes, you heard it right—you even have the chance to give a friendly kiss to the camel! This unparalleled adventure will create memories that will last a lifetime, especially for the little ones who will be captivated by this extraordinary encounter.
The animals at the Deer Farm have grown accustomed to human presence and are remarkably friendly, particularly when they sense the presence of treats. So don’t forget to bring some food along—it’s the key to winning their hearts and forging connections that will warm your soul.
5. Visit Pete’s Route 66 Gas Station Museum
If you’re a fan of the iconic Route 66, you’re in for a treat at this charming little museum and gift shop. As soon as you step inside, you’ll be transported back in time as you immerse yourself in a collection of antiques, old photographs, and a delightful assortment of quirky items that pay homage to this legendary route.
What makes this place even more special is its unique setting within an old gas station. As you explore the exhibits, you’ll find yourself surrounded by vintage memorabilia, each item telling a story of a bygone era. To add to the ambiance, there’s even a beautifully preserved vintage car parked right here, evoking the spirit of the open road.
The owner of the museum is a friendly and knowledgeable individual who is passionate about Route 66. If you have any questions about the items on display or want to delve deeper into the history of the route, don’t hesitate to strike up a conversation. They’ll be more than happy to share their expertise and enrich your experience.
6. Admire some planes at the Fame Air Museum
Once you’ve soaked in the nostalgia of Route 66 and explored the fascinating world of old trains, it’s time to turn your attention to a different mode of transportation: airplanes. Step into this captivating museum, Planes Of Fame Air Museum, and be greeted by a magnificent collection of over 30 vintage aircraft, ranging from small, nimble planes to massive transport and military models.
As you make your way through the museum, you’ll have the opportunity to marvel at the intricate details and craftsmanship of each aircraft. From one-passenger planes to those that once soared through the skies carrying passengers and cargo, there’s something here to captivate every aviation enthusiast.
What sets this museum apart is the interactive nature of the exhibits. Get up close and personal with the planes as you wander through the displays, and in some cases, you can even climb inside and imagine what it was like to be at the controls. It’s an experience that’s bound to ignite your imagination and create memories that will last a lifetime.
As you explore the museum, keep an eye out for engines and personal items that once belonged to courageous pilots. These artifacts provide a glimpse into the lives and stories of the individuals who took to the skies in these remarkable flying machines.
Before you leave, don’t forget to visit the gift shop, where you’ll find an array of aviation-themed souvenirs to commemorate your visit. Whether you’re looking for a memento to display at home or a gift for a fellow aviation enthusiast, you’re sure to find something that captures the spirit of your experience.
7. Have a beer at the Grand Canyon Brewing Company
After a day filled with exploration and sightseeing, it’s time to kick back, relax, and treat myself to a refreshing beer and a delicious meal. The Grand Canyon Brewing Company is the perfect place to unwind and indulge in the flavors of handcrafted beers brewed right on-site.
As I stepped inside, I was immediately drawn to the rustic charm of the establishment. The warm ambiance created by the wooden and stone décor, complemented by a crackling fireplace and a serene fountain, sets the stage for a truly enjoyable dining experience.
The brewery offers an impressive selection of beers, each crafted with care and expertise. From hoppy ales to smooth lagers and rich stouts, there’s a brew to satisfy every beer lover’s palate. As I sipped on my chosen beer, I appreciate the craftsmanship and attention to detail that goes into each sip.
In addition to their exceptional beer, the brewery also boasts a well-stocked shop. I browsed through a variety of merchandise, including shirts, hats, glasses, and other souvenirs, to find the perfect memento to take home and cherish.
For those who prefer alternatives to beer, the brewery offers a diverse range of other drinks, some of which are produced right on the premises. Whether it’s a handcrafted cocktail or a locally sourced beverage, there’s something to suit every taste.
What sets this brewery apart is its commitment to providing quality at an affordable price. I’m pleasantly surprised by the reasonable prices, allowing me to savor my favorite brews without breaking the bank.
8. Camp at the White Horse Lake Campground
After the breathtaking train ride from Williams to the Grand Canyon, I’m ready to immerse myself even further in the beauty of nature. The White Horse Lake Campground awaits, offering a serene and picturesque setting that promises an unforgettable camping experience.
As I arrived at the campground, I was immediately captivated by its natural charm. The tranquil atmosphere and stunning surroundings make it the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. With its family-friendly environment, there are plenty of camping spots available to accommodate everyone’s needs.
One of the highlights of this campground is its proximity to the glistening fishing lake. It’s a haven for fishing enthusiasts, providing ample opportunities to cast a line and reel in some impressive catches. Whether I’m an experienced angler or a novice eager to try my hand at fishing, the lake offers a tranquil backdrop for this enjoyable pastime.
The campground itself is well-maintained and boasts clean facilities, including restrooms, ensuring a comfortable stay for all campers. The attention to detail in maintaining the grounds is evident, creating a pleasant environment that enhances the camping experience.
What truly takes my breath away are the stunning sunrises and sunsets that grace the horizon. The vibrant colors painting the sky create a captivating spectacle that feels almost surreal. It’s moments like these that remind me of the sheer beauty and wonder of the natural world.
While exploring the campground, be mindful of the mischievous raccoons that inhabit the area. These curious creatures are known for their resourcefulness and may attempt to snatch any unattended food. Taking precautions to secure my provisions, you can fully enjoy the camping experience without any unwelcome surprises.
As night falls, embrace the tranquility of the campground, gazing at the star-studded sky that seems to stretch on endlessly. The peacefulness of the surroundings allows me to disconnect from the noise of daily life and connect with nature on a deeper level.
9. Visit the Sycamore Canyon
As I set out on my journey to Sycamore Canyon, I couldn’t help but anticipate the awe-inspiring landscapes that awaited me. Although it may not rival the sheer size of the Grand Canyon, this hidden gem promises its own unique and breathtaking beauty.
Driving along the roads that wind through the canyon, I’m aware of their slightly rough and narrow nature. Nevertheless, they remain manageable, allowing me to traverse the stunning terrain with ease. For those seeking a more adventurous approach, hiking offers an opportunity to fully immerse oneself in the natural wonders of Sycamore Canyon.
As I ventured deeper into the canyon, I was surrounded by an impressive array of trees, plants, and vibrant wildlife. The diversity of flora and fauna adds to the enchanting atmosphere, painting a vivid tapestry of nature’s splendor. It’s a sanctuary that embraces both serenity and vitality.
One of the highlights of Sycamore Canyon is the abundance of picnic spots scattered throughout the area. These inviting locations provide the perfect setting to relax, enjoy a delicious meal, and soak in the breathtaking surroundings. The tranquility of the canyon allows for a peaceful escape, creating an idyllic atmosphere for shared moments with loved ones.
For those seeking a closer connection with nature, camping options abound within Sycamore Canyon. Camping in this serene setting offers an opportunity to disconnect from the world and truly immerse myself in the beauty of the natural world.
Sycamore Canyon has often been referred to as a “mini Grand Canyon with no crowds,” and it’s easy to understand why. The absence of large crowds allows for a more intimate and personal experience with this hidden treasure. It’s a chance to explore a majestic landscape that feels untouched and preserved, offering a sense of tranquility that can be hard to find in more popular destinations.
From its breathtaking landscapes to its diverse flora and fauna, this natural wonder captures the essence of untouched wilderness. It’s a testament to the power and grandeur of nature, reminding me of the countless hidden gems waiting to be discovered.
10. Have dinner at the Wild West Junction
As I ventured along Route 66, I stumbled upon a captivating place known as the Wild West Junction. This charming establishment combines a hotel, a restaurant, and a lively pub, all nestled in the heart of the Old West. Intrigued by its unique allure, I decided to explore what this hidden gem has to offer.
What truly sets it apart are the walls and ceiling adorned with a colorful tapestry of dollar bills. This quirky tradition allows visitors like myself to leave a lasting mark by adding our own currency to the eclectic display.
As I ventured outside, the exterior of the Wild West Junction revealed itself as a delightful homage to an old southwest town. The attention to detail in its design and construction transports me to a bygone era, where cowboys and outlaws roamed the dusty streets. It’s a testament to the dedication and creativity of those who brought this Wild West vision to life.
The restaurant, though better suited for smaller groups, holds its own in terms of culinary delights. The food served is not only satisfying but also boasts flavors that pay homage to the Southwest. Each bite is a savory journey, leaving me fully satiated and eager for more. On special occasions, the air is filled with the sounds of live bands, creating an inviting atmosphere where everyone is encouraged to kick up their heels and dance with abandon.
11. Hike the Bill Williams Mountain
If you’re seeking a thrilling adventure in the midst of nature, I highly recommend embarking on a hiking expedition to the majestic Bill Williams Mountain. This towering peak, named after the legendary Old Bill Williams, a renowned scout, guide, and mountain man, holds both historical significance and breathtaking beauty. As the founder of the city, Old Bill Williams left an indelible mark on this land, and now it’s our turn to explore his namesake mountain.
While it’s possible to drive to the lookout point, I encouraged you to lace up your hiking boots and immerse yourself in the natural splendor that surrounds you. As you traverse the trails, be prepared for varying levels of difficulty, as the climb can become steep at certain points. Dressing appropriately for the hike ensures your comfort and safety throughout the journey.
With a maximum elevation of 9,259 feet, Bill Williams Mountain rewards hikers with awe-inspiring panoramic views. As you ascend, the captivating vistas unfold before your eyes, showcasing the remarkable beauty of the surrounding landscapes. Each step brings you closer to a sense of accomplishment and an intimate connection with the wilderness.
The true allure of Bill Williams Mountain lies not only in reaching the summit but also in the enchanting journey along the way. The trail winds through picturesque forests and meadows, revealing the vibrant tapestry of nature. Take a moment to breathe in the crisp mountain air, listen to the rustling leaves, and appreciate the harmony of the natural world.
12. Sample some wine at the Grand Canyon Wine Company
If you’re a wine enthusiast seeking a delightful tasting experience, look no further than the Grand Canyon Wine Company. Nestled in the heart of the city, this establishment offers an impressive array of wines that are sure to please even the most discerning palate. What sets them apart is their distinction as the sole winery in Arizona that crafts its own exquisite selection of craft beers.
For the best experience, I recommend timing your visit between 2 PM and 6 PM. During this window, they host their renowned “happy hour,” where you can indulge in special offers and irresistible discounts. It’s the perfect opportunity to sample a diverse range of wines and discover new favorites.
As you step inside, you’ll be welcomed by a warm and inviting ambiance. The cozy interior exudes an air of relaxation, providing the ideal setting to unwind and savor a glass of wine. Soft, melodic tunes fill the air, enhancing the soothing atmosphere and setting the stage for an unforgettable experience.
The knowledgeable staff is eager to guide you through their extensive wine collection, ensuring you find the perfect selection to suit your taste. They will gladly share their expertise, offering insights into each wine’s distinct characteristics and flavor profiles. Whether you prefer a rich and robust red or a crisp and refreshing white, you’re sure to find something that delights your senses.
Take a moment to immerse yourself in the ambiance as you swirl, sniff, and sip your chosen wines. Allow the flavors to dance on your palate, revealing their intricate nuances and subtle complexities. Indulge in the artistry and craftsmanship that goes into every bottle, appreciating the passion and dedication that creates these remarkable libations.
As you savor your wine, you’ll discover that this place is more than just a tasting room—it’s a sanctuary for wine enthusiasts seeking a respite from the outside world. 13. Have a picnic at Bill Williams Monument Park
As I explore Williams, I stumble upon a charming gem known as Bill Williams Monument Park. This delightful little park offers a range of amenities for visitors to enjoy. Whether you’re in the mood for a leisurely picnic, a pleasant stroll with your furry friend, or simply seeking a moment of tranquility, this park has something for everyone.
One of the park’s highlights is a magnificent statue paying homage to the city’s founder, Bill Williams. It stands as a testament to his contributions and serves as a reminder of the rich history that shaped this vibrant community.
A visit to the park wouldn’t be complete without taking a moment to appreciate the monument dedicated to the fallen soldiers. It stands tall and proud, honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country. It serves as a poignant reminder of the bravery and selflessness displayed by these courageous individuals.
Take a break from your exploration of Williams and find a comfortable spot in the park. Settle down, savor the picturesque surroundings, and indulge in a leisurely lunch or a steaming cup of coffee. As you bask in the serenity of the park, let the scenic beauty captivate your senses and provide a moment of respite.
Once you’ve replenished your energy and soaked up the tranquil atmosphere, resume your journey through Williams. With its quaint charm and welcoming ambiance, the park serves as a perfect pit stop, offering a brief escape from the bustling streets and a chance to connect with the city’s history.
14. Buy some souvenirs from the Valle Travel Stop
As I step into the Valle Travel Shop, I am immediately struck by its unique charm. What sets this shop apart is the captivating display of antique cars adorning the exterior, evoking a sense of nostalgia and fascination. These vintage automobiles stand as a testament to the rich history of the area and add a touch of character to the shop’s surroundings.
But the wonders don’t stop there. As I explore further, I notice the presence of statues depicting wild animals, adding an element of natural beauty to the scene. These lifelike sculptures pay homage to the diverse wildlife that graces this region, inviting a sense of connection to the surrounding landscape.
Inside the shop, I am greeted by a treasure trove of delights. The shelves are adorned with a plethora of items, each one telling a story of the area or Route 66. From sturdy boots that beckon adventure to stylish clothes that capture the spirit of the Southwest, there is something for everyone. I am particularly captivated by the intricately crafted metal art, showcasing the craftsmanship and creativity of local artisans. The collection of rocks and minerals also catches my eye, a testament to the geological wonders that define this region.
As I peruse the shop’s offerings, I can’t help but feel a sense of excitement and curiosity. Every item holds the potential to become a cherished memento, a tangible reminder of my journey through this remarkable place. Whether I’m seeking a unique souvenir or simply enjoying the visual feast of artifacts, the Valle Travel Shop offers a delightful shopping experience unlike any other.
In this captivating space, history, art, and culture converge. The antique cars, statues of wild animals, and the array of carefully curated merchandise create an atmosphere of wonder and discovery. It’s a place where I can immerse myself in the essence of the area, finding a piece of its soul to take home with me.
So, as I continue my exploration of this vibrant region, I encourage you to step into the Valle Travel Shop. Allow yourself to be enchanted by the outdoor display of antique cars and wildlife statues, and lose yourself amidst the shelves of unique treasures within. Whether you’re searching for a special keepsake or simply indulging in the joy of discovery, this shop promises an unforgettable experience.
15. Get more info from the Williams and Forest Service Visitor Center
When it comes to discovering the hidden gems of Northern Arizona, the Williams and Forest Service Visitor Center is an invaluable resource. As I stepped inside, I was immediately greeted by a warm and welcoming atmosphere. The staff, with their friendly smiles, are eager to assist me in planning my adventure and ensuring that I have an unforgettable experience.
With their wealth of knowledge and expertise, the staff members are well-equipped to guide you through the myriad of attractions and activities that awaits you in this captivating region. Whether you’re seeking recommendations for must-visit destinations or seeking advice on making reservations, they are more than willing to lend a helping hand.
Maps, both detailed and interactive, adorn the walls, providing a visual guide to the wonders that lie beyond. The shelves are lined with books that delve deep into the history, culture, and natural beauty of Williams, the Grand Canyon, and the surrounding area. These informative resources serve as a gateway to a wealth of knowledge, allowing you to gain a deeper appreciation for the places you’reabout to explore.
In addition to the maps and books, the center offers a range of educational items that pique my curiosity. From informative displays to interactive exhibits, there is no shortage of opportunities to immerse myself in the fascinating stories and natural wonders that define this region.