Day Trip: Williams aka The Gateway to the Grand Canyon

Angel GonzalezNovember 4, 2021
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You may know Williams as a small town just west of Flagstaff, or you may not have heard about it at all – nestled in the beautiful Northern Arizona forests, it often flies under the radar. But it’s worth getting to know this great little town, which embodies the spirit of early pioneer days and the Wild West, in person. Folks from all parts of the globe pass through on their way to various destinations, namely the Grand Canyon.

Text and Photography by Angel Gonzalez

3 Things To Do

A Bill Williams Mountain

This is your chance to feel like a real wilderness explorer. Walk through the Williams forest while ascending to the peak of the town’s historical lookout post, where you’ll be able to see the city and its surroundings from above. Make sure to set aside at least four to five hours for going up and down the mountain on this medium-difficulty trek.
742 S. Clover Rd.
928-635-5600, fs.usda.gov/kaibab

B Grand Canyon Railway

While the drive to the Grand Canyon is scenic in its own respect, nothing beats the train ride through nature from Williams’ train depot to the Grand Canyon’s beautiful South Rim. Twists, turns and other surprises await you on this journey to one of the world’s greatest natural wonders.
233 N. Grand Canyon Blvd.
800-843-8724, thetrain.com

Bill Williams Mountain
Bill Williams Mountain
https://www.phoenixmag.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/PHM1221EX05.jpg

C Bar-Hop Like a Local

There’s no better place to socialize and learn about the town’s culture than the bars of Williams, specifically at The World Famous Sultana Bar (301 W. Route 66, 928-635-2021) and The Canyon Club (132 W. Route 66, 928-635-2582). These small-town establishments serve as the hubs for local nightlife, so stop in for a cold beer or a mixed drink and have a chat with the friendly bartenders and locals.

3 Places To Eat

D Red Raven Restaurant 

Locals enjoy coming here for a bit of that higher-end, big-city dining feel. Choose from global entrées including chicken Parmigiana, tempura-style shrimp or a lamb sirloin steak. Beer and wine enthusiasts will also enjoy the selection at this casual fine-dining spot.
135 W. Route 66
928-635-4980, redravenrestaurant.com

Fiesta Mexican Grill
Fiesta Mexican Grill

E Dara Thai Twisters

Craving even more variety? Originally two separate establishments – Dara Thai and Twisters – this unique restaurant serves Thai cuisine and classic American choices like cheeseburgers, Philly cheesesteaks and patty melts.
417 E. Route 66
928-635-0266

F Fiesta Mexican Grill

Even in the pine-filled Northern Arizona landscape, you can find delicious Mexican food. Tasty enchiladas, burritos, tacos and more are on the menu at this Williams institution, located on the town’s main street – the historic Route 66.
122 W. Route 66
928-635-1134, fiestamexicangrill66.com

PHOTO OP

William Sherley “Old Bill” Williams still resides in the town that was named after him – well, kind of. At Monument Park on the western end of Williams (the corner of South Ninth Street and West Route 66), you can find a statue and plaque dedicated to the mountain man himself. Stop by and take a quick photo with this frontiersman, who served as an interpreter for the U.S. government. williamsaz.gov

William Sherley “Old Bill” Williams
William Sherley “Old Bill” Williams

Overnight Option!

Perched on the elevated streets of southern Williams, The Sheridan House Inn has an outdoorsy feel and great views overlooking the town. Be sure to check online for vacancy, as rooms go quickly.
460 E. Sheridan Ave., 928-635-8991, sheridanhouseinn.com

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