Two impressions likely come to mind at the mention of Winslow, Arizona. First, there’s the catchy Eagles song Take It Easy that includes a memorable -- and now memorialized -- shout-out to the little town in northeastern Arizona. And then there is La Posada Hotel, the historic railroad hotel that is considered an Arizona treasure.
Both features are delightful. Together, they make Winslow worthy of a visit. As a longtime fan of the Eagles and a lover of railroad hotels, I can never resist a stop in Winslow when I’m in the area. But from my frequent visits, I’ve also learned that the town of about 10,000 people has a lot more to offer than its two most famous attractions.
Along with Winslow’s fun small-town vibe, its fortuitous location adds to its appeal as a destination. Not only is the Interstate 40 town less than an hour’s drive from a spectacular Arizona national park, but it is also a short jaunt from the wonders of the Navajo Nation.
Factor in Winslow’s proximity to a surreal meteor crater, the remains of an ancient Native American village, and a section of an iconic American road, and you have the makings of an exceptionally varied northern Arizona visit.
Here are 11 excellent experiences in Winslow.
1. Saunter Through Standin’ On The Corner Park
Anyone familiar with the pop music of the 1970s probably knows the reference to “standin’ on a corner in Winslow, Arizona.” Winslow has taken its Eagles connection to heart, creating a park in the middle of downtown complete with a bronze statue of a singer, a town mural, and a parked flatbed Ford.
The park is especially popular for photo opportunities, and you’re likely to find crowds of people there, snapping selfies and listening to the Eagles tunes that are piped in day and night. You might just have a deja vu moment of hearing the famous lyric while you’re actually standing on that corner.
2. Soak Up The History At La Posada Hotel
While Standin’ on the Corner Park taps into Winslow’s pop culture, the La Posada Hotel digs a little deeper into the grand railroad travel culture of the early 20th century.
The hotel was designed by famed Fred Harvey Company architect Mary Colter in the late 1920s based on a detailed vision: a hacienda home of a wealthy Spanish landowner who traveled widely and collected art along the way. That concept is evident in the hotel’s decor, which overflows with Mexican and Native American influences.
La Posada offers luxurious accommodations with a historic twist. The hotel was a magnet for celebrities in the 1930s and 1940s, and today you can spend a night in the Gene Autry Room, the Bob Hope Room, or a number of other rooms with famous names. And for unique souvenirs, the La Posada lobby also has a well-stocked gift shop.
3. Drive A Stretch Of Route 66
Conveniently, both La Posada and Standin’ on the Corner Park are located along a stretch of Route 66, so it would be hard to miss the historic road when driving through Winslow.
Still, it pays to branch out a bit from the downtown section. Head east to cross the Little Colorado River and pass classic old motels like Earls Rt 66 Motor Court and the Route 66 Delta Motel.
4. Explore The Historic Downtown
Compact and walkable, Winslow’s downtown is the perfect place to take a leisurely walk, passing by early 20th century architecture, cool street art, and the active railroad scene.
The downtown also features several wonderful spots to stop for a beer or an ice cream cone on a shady sidewalk patio. I especially enjoyed the experience of sipping a fruity State 48 Mango Wheat beer on the patio at the RelicRoad Brewing Company, located just across the street from Standin’ on the Corner Park.
Right next door is the Sipp Shoppe, a retro-style coffee shop and cafe that features a classic soda fountain counter offering a varied menu of ice cream cones, crepes, hot dogs, and sandwiches.
5. Check Out The Little Painted Desert County Park
A bit off the beaten path and slightly run-down looking, the Little Painted Desert County Park is definitely worth the less-than-half-hour drive from Winslow.
I didn’t even know the Little Painted Desert existed until a ranger at the nearby Homolovi State Park told me it was a not-to-be-missed spot. Located about 18 miles northeast of Winslow on Highway 87, the entrance to the county park is barely noticeable. But watch for the graffiti-covered remains of a park sign on the west side of the road just before mile marker 360, and take the short drive in. You will be amazed by the swirling browns, tans, and purples on display in the massive canyon spread before you.
The park was deserted when I visited, and I enjoyed driving along the crumbling overlook road and stopping for unparalleled views of the classic Arizona terrain.
6. Peruse The Old Trails Museum
Over the centuries, Winslow has been on the route of many iconic trails -- starting with the trails of the early inhabitants of the Colorado Plateau, and continuing with the routes across the Little Colorado River Valley, the Santa Fe Railroad, and the historic Route 66. The downtown Old Trails Museum offers a fascinating look into that varied history.
The museum’s collections include objects, documents, photographs, textiles, and oral histories. They start with the region’s prehistoric treasures and continue through the area’s ranching and trading history.
7. Wander Homolovi State Park
For in-person insight into one of Winslow’s first historic pathways, head about 10 minutes northeast of downtown Winslow to Homolovi State Park. There, spread along a rugged hillside, you will find the remains of what was once a 1,200-room village of people known to archaeologists as the Anasazi, and known today as the Hopi people.
The state park’s website notes that Homolovi serves as the center of research for the late migration period of the Hopi from the 1200s to the late 1300s. Park visitors can wander along wide sidewalks through Homolovi II, the largest of the ruins, to see not just the prehistoric pit houses, but also the village’s impressive view of the surrounding Little Colorado River Valley.
8. Be Amazed At Meteor Crater
Going back eons further is the Meteor Crater & Barringer Space Museum located about a half-hour west and south of Winslow. The world-famous attraction features a crater 2.4 miles in circumference and more than 550 feet deep. The crater is said to date back 50,000 years to when a meteor collided with the Earth.
A visitor center and interactive educational experience is situated on the rim of the crater. The center features an indoor crater-viewing area, access to the Crater Trail, a discovery center, artifacts and exhibits, and a gift and mineral shop. A visit to the Meteor Crater is among Arizona’s truly unique experiences.
9. Moonwalk At Petrified Forest National Park
For another otherworldly experience, head about an hour east and south of Winslow to the moonscape-like terrain of Petrified Forest National Park.
You’ll pass by a scenic stretch of the Painted Desert’s badlands and drive along a road that takes in a portion of the historic Route 66, as well as numerous spots at which to view the park’s plentiful examples of petrified wood. The park’s website says that the petrified wood fossils date back more than 200 million years to when logs washed into an old river system and were buried beneath massive amounts of sediment and debris.
My favorite spot to take in the petrified scene is the Blue Mesa Trail, which offers a surreal walk through time. A look at how to spend a day at Petrified Forest National Park is available in this article.
10. Make The Trek To Grand Falls
If you are lucky enough to be in the Winslow area during the spring snowmelt or the late summer monsoon season, you might want to head about an hour northwest through the Navajo Nation to the phenomenon of Grand Falls.
Owing to its milk-chocolate hue, the waterfall is also known as Chocolate Falls. At 185 feet high, Grand Falls exceeds Niagara Falls’ 167-foot height. The flow is seasonal, but when Grand Falls is running, it is a sight to see -- a churning rush of muddy water cascading over a sheer rock wall.
Grand Falls is located about 47 miles northwest of Winslow. The drive traverses remote Navajo Nation roads and includes about 10 miles over a rough dirt road. Handicap accessibility is extremely limited at the site. Before you go, be sure to check the Navajo Nation’s Leupp Chapter House website to see if the falls are running and open to the public.
11. Sample Southwestern Cuisine
From authentic Mexican food at various small cafes to the elevated contemporary Southwestern cuisine at La Posada’s exceptional Turquoise Room, Winslow has a surprisingly robust food scene.
During my recent stay at La Posada, I had dinner and breakfast in the Turquoise Room and loved the stuffed squash-blossom appetizer -- a seasonal offering featuring a Mexican cheese filling and a subtly spicy corn salsa -- for dinner, and the spicy green chile breakfast potatoes for breakfast.
The dinner menu also includes inspired Southwestern choices such as grilled chicken breast with tomatillo sauce and tamales and a churro lamb sampler platter. The breakfast choices include warm prickly pear cactus bread pudding and Arizona green chile eggs.
Authentic Mexican cuisine is available at a number of small cafes in Winslow, including the downtown-area Mi Pueblo and Las Marias.
Pro Tip: The best months to visit Winslow are September, October, April, and May, when the average high temperatures are in the 70s and 80s. The summer months tend to be hot, with highs well into the 90s. The winter months are chilly, but still comfortable, with average highs in the 40s and 50s.