I had never been to Williams, AZ. At least I don’t think I had. Maybe I went through it as a kid with my parents, or drove past it on the I-40, not buckled up in the back of the big Ford van with my siblings sipping on cans of Big K soda and eating generic brand cookies from the grocery store.
It’s a cool looking little town. One of those postcard towns. One of those built in the late 1800s, Old West, railroad kind of towns. The kind of place I like to visit now.
Williams is a last pit stop of reliable lodging and amenities before heading up to the Grand Canyon. The launching point of the Grand Canyon Railroad tours. The last town on historical Route 66 bypassed by the Interstate 40. This is where they get the tourists. This is where almost all of the stores on the main drag celebrate and capitalize on the nostalgia of 1950s America with knick knacks and signs and memorabilia and magnets of the Route 66 Highway sign, or Marilyn Monroe, or Elvis, or John Wayne, or Coca-Cola.
I spent the night there with my friend Eric and his family in a little Route 66 motel. He, his dad, and I went out that night after we got back from the Grand Canyon and had dinner and beer at the Historic Brewing location there. One of the few places that takes advantage of the location and old architecture without being a tourist trap. Plus they have damn good beer, and if you’re ever there, or in Flagstaff, you should stop in.
Walking around that night, everything looked so neat and photogenic. But I didn’t have my camera on me, so I stayed a little longer the next morning to explore and take photos after I said goodbye to Eric and his family after we had breakfast. Mind you, exploring was just walking down and up the main drag and over to the railroad station, soaking in the two industries that keep the town hanging on a little better than some of the other Route 66 stops. It didn’t take long, but Williams is a cool place worth seeing.