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Your guide to Williams
Welcome to Williams
The mountain town of Williams leans hard into its status as a classic Western destination. Historic Route 66 runs through downtown, and local businesses maintain the atmosphere of a mid-century road trip with twinkling neon signage and classic soda fountains. At night, actors dressed as cowboys recreate gun fights in the street, and travelers pour forth from the Grand Canyon Railway, whose terminus is in town. Located just an hour from the Grand Canyon, Williams is a popular destination for travelers looking to explore the natural wonder. The town is surrounded by a bevy of outdoor enticements, including the Kaibab National Forest, whose lake-dotted, ponderosa pine-enrobed acres are home to elks, bobcats, and owls. In the winter, Williams makes for a cozy retreat — and if you tire of snowgazing over a mug of hot chocolate, Flagstaff’s bustling ski resort is just half an hour away.
The best time to stay in a vacation rental in Williams
Spring and fall in Williams offer moderate, warm weather, while in the summer temperatures can soar and rain showers arrive, especially in the month of August. Expect crowds throughout the sunny months, as visitors course through Williams on their way to the Grand Canyon. In the winter, the town slows down and you can enjoy the seasonal idyll cozying up inside or exploring the breathtaking scenery of the surrounding wilderness transformed by snow. In June, sparkling vintage cars line the street during the annual Williams Historic Route 66 Car Show.
Top things to do in Williams
Grand Canyon Railway
The trip to the Grand Canyon rivals the actual destination aboard this train. Accommodations range from bench seating in a circa-1923 train car to a two-story luxury lounge with a private bar, downstairs lounge, and glass viewing dome up top. As if the view weren’t enough — you’ll travel through desert, prairie, and pine forests — musicians dressed as cowboys roam the cars, serenading passengers with guitar and banjo ballads.
Pete’s Gas Station Museum
This pleasingly cluttered homegrown museum inside a restored gas station showcases vintage gas station paraphernalia, road signage, telephones, cash registers, and other relics of the golden age of car travel. Snap a few photos with the vintage automobile with whitewall tires parked next to a pair of old-fashioned glass bulb gas pumps, and grab a souvenir in the kitschy gift shop.
Kaibab National Forest
Although the nearby Grand Canyon tends to get most of the fanfare, Kaibab National forest is a worthy stop for any nature lover. In addition to more than 300 miles of scenic hiking trails, the forest is also home to 1,000-year-old petroglyphs and creek-carved gorges that have been naturally shaped into otherworldly forms. The forest’s relatively secluded atmosphere may be a welcome comedown from Grand Canyon crowds.