Say Hello To Michael Russell, The Voice Behind @VisitFlagstaff

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Michael RussellTwice a month, Say Hello To America will be showcasing the voices behind official Twitter accounts of destinations all across the United States and the city they represent. This week, say hello to Michael Russell, the voice behind @VisitFlagstaff. Michael is a native to Flagstaff having only left briefly to gain his graphic design degree. He has been involved in tourism for the last seven years at the Flagstaff Convention and Visitors Bureau. While his background is graphic design, Michael had an early interest in social media and was asked to maintain, at first, the Flagstaff Tourism Youtube site — and then Twitter, Instagram, and the city’s very own Geocaching program as well.

Sunflowers Hike1. What time of the year is best to travel to Flagstaff?

Of course there is a lot happening in the summer time and the temps for Arizona are outstanding, but my favorite time in Flagstaff is by far the fall in late September when the leaves start to change. You can’t beat the view up on the San Francisco Peaks with the changing aspens.

2. How would you describe the people of Flagstaff?

The people of Flagstaff are eclectic. Flagstaff is the gateway to the Grand Canyon and people from all over the world come through here on their way to visit the natural wonder. Many aren’t expecting Flagstaff when they come through and end up staying awhile. Despite my own lack of travel, I’ve met and worked with people from all over the world here in this small town.

3. What is your favorite and least favorite thing about Flagstaff?

My favorite thing about Flagstaff is the amount of great things there are to do in and around Flagstaff. As an outdoors person, I feel there is an abundance of activities to do year-round. My least favorite thing would be the wind in the springtime.

Downtown Flagstaff during Art Walk4. What is Flagstaff’s most famous landmark or attraction?

Of course it’s hard to top the Grand Canyon just 81 miles north, but I think as far as a true Flagstaff landmark you can’t miss the San Francisco Peaks. The majestic set of peaks is a prominent landmark and the highest point in Arizona at 12,633 ft. It can be seen from miles away in any direction and is a welcoming site to visitors and residents alike.

5. Name one “secret” location that a traveler must visit.

I’ve lived in Flagstaff all my life and just recently discovered Red Mountain on the way to the Grand Canyon on Hwy 180. It’s definitely worth a visit. It is a 1.5-mile hike into a volcanic cinder cone that collapsed upon itself about 740,000 years ago. Flagstaff is full of geological wonders like this, but this one is really out of this world.

6. What is the best/easiest mode of transportation to get around the city?

Flagstaff is small and easily drivable but the streets can be confusing if you are not familiar, so using the local city bus transit is advised. The Mountain Line bus service is very accessible with several routes through town.

Route 66 Days7. Is there any festival or event in Flagstaff that a traveler should specifically plan a trip around?

I am partial to the Route 66 Festival held in early September. Flagstaff has its own historic stretch of the Mother Road running through town and hosts an annual festival featuring at last count 450 customs, classics, hot rods, muscle cars, sports cars and special interest vehicles parked in historic downtown Flagstaff.

8. What are the best family-friendly attractions that Flagstaff has to offer?

Movies on the Square in the summer time, along with Concerts in the Park events are perfect outdoor events under the Flagstaff summer nights. Movies are held every Saturday night downtown in Heritage Square and musical performances are held in the various parks around town on Wednesdays in June and July.

9. What is Flagstaff’s signature food that every visitor has to try?

Since Flagstaff is a widely eclectic town of various tastes it is hard to pinpoint any one food but I love to recommend Diablo Burger as a fun and local foods-based burger stand based in Arizona.

10. If I only had one day to explore Flagstaff, what MUST I see or do?

With only one day I would suggest a trip out to Sunset Crater (15 miles from Flagstaff) and Wupatki (39 miles from Flagstaff) a perfect round trip loop that connects Wupatki Pueblo a 100-room four-story Indian ruin built about 900 years ago and Sunset Crater Volcano national monument sitting among the high-desert plains and volcanic fields northeast of Flagstaff.


Connect with Visit Flagstaff
Twitter: @VisitFlagstaff
Facebook: Visit Flagstaff
Youtube: Flagstaff Convention & Visitors Bureau
Instagram: VisitFlagstaff
Geocaching: HistoricAZ66