In 1966, Chuck Mabery bought a cattle ranch that dated back to the late 19th century, planting the seeds of the Blazin' M Ranch. After stints herding and growing vegetables, the flood of 1993 forced the Mabery family to start over, inspiring them to show off their musical talents at a traditional chuck-wagon dinner staged on the property. Fully renovated in 2010, the ranch now hosts an authentic Arizona frontier town where visitors can experience the cowboy life through such activities as lassoing mechanical steers, shooting wax bullets out of a real Colt .45, and learning how to easily covert ten-gallon hats into metric. A selection of shops fits customers out in Western-themed apparel, the copper Spur Saloon serves local wines and microbrews, and a museum delves into the history of the ranch, pioneer-era Arizona, and the Yavapai-Apache Nation. An old-time photo studio, "Pistols and Petticoats", allows groups to have their likeness captured while wearing Victorian costumes. At the museum, the unique Wood'n West Gallery enthralls visitors with moving dioramas of Western life, hand carved over 30 years by a master whittler.
Flagstaff nature trails feature scenic cross country skiing and hiking, set in the wilderness of Coconino National Forest. Unlike a jaunt around the world's largest Cheerio, the facility features 40 km of nonredundant trails, all traversable by classic and skating skis, or a pair of snowshoes. There are trail passes for adults, children, and students/seniors. Flagstaff's equipment rentals include pulk sleds and ski packages.
Although tumbleweeds don't breeze down its street and there's no hitching post on which to secure your horse, Brix Wine Spot swaps the valley for the Old West while helping visitors earn their sommelier spurs. A 20-foot copper bar corrals patrons as they stampede through the door, surrounding them with country tunes and over 500 of the bar's vintages.
Weekly tastings introduce palates to new bouquets, and every day a minimum of 18 wines are available by the glass, each served at an optimal temperature and right after naptime to ensure cooperation. When stomachs begin to rumble, guests can snack on artisan cheeses, salami platters, and handcrafted cheesecakes, or even bring in their own food—a practice Brix encourages as long as a glass of one of their wines is incorporated.
Cellar 13's owner, Mike Hightower, is no triskaidekaphobian. That is, he's not afraid of the number 13. Rather, he embraces it. He even themed his whole business around the superstitious number: it's no coincidence that Cellar 13 offers 13 red wines, 13 white wines, and 13 menu items. Guests can choose to explore either of the two outdoor patios, dine along the wine bar, or descend—yes, 13 steps—down to the cellar, where a cozy lounge with leather armchairs and dark wood tables welcomes guests and anything served in a bottle or stemmed glassware. No matter where you sit, you will encounter a variety of fine wines, gourmet sandwiches, and a friendly staff.
Harold's Corral gussies up mealtime with an eclectic menu of western-inspired eats, two full bars, patio seating, and live entertainment. Round up hungry herds for dinner with dishes of chicken, fried to a golden finish and side-kicked by yellow-bellied mashed potatoes ($9.99 for 4 pieces, $15.99 for 8 pieces). Southwestern penne pasta ($14.99) brings new meaning to spaghetti westerns with poblano cream sauce and Cajun chicken. Barbecue barons smoke slabs of ribs and brisket ($11.99–$24.99) on-site daily, crafting nuanced flavors with mesquite wood chips. Dig into classic Mexican dishes such as the chicken enchiladas ($9.99), or light off meat-based fireworks with a juicy light show of burgers, strip steaks, and a grand finale of the Meatball Bomber ($8.99), dripping with sauce, cheese, and glory.
Since its founding in 1934 by archetypal cowboy Roy Rogers and a group of like-minded cowpeople, the Sons of the Pioneers have sung classic compositions chronicling life in the Old West to audiences worldwide—earning them entry into the Country Music Hall of Fame and National Cowboy Hall of Fame. A veritable Supreme Court of country music, the sextet's rotating lineup of members perform for several decades before retiring, and a mandatory majority vote from the Senate is required for new cowboy singers. The venerable current roster still burns through fiddle and guitar strings like undomesticated flames fanned by the mellifluous breeze of six-part harmonies. In keeping with the authentic music and Western themes, the Sons of the Pioneers encourages audiences to applaud the performance with hearty "yee-haws," but asks them to refrain from firing six-shooters wildly into the air.