Where to Eat, Sleep and Play at the HOG Rally

July 9, 2014
J.Joshua Placa
J. Joshua Placa
Contributing Editor|Articles|Articles RSS

J. Joshua Placa is the former editor of Cruising Rider magazine. He freelances for a number of moto publications and has contributed to national travel and adventure magazines, as well as major dailies. Whereabouts unknown, Placa is rumored to be holing up in a clapboard desert shack, chopper chained to his pet coyote, Stinky, and comfortably hiding from the Vatican.

Best Western Plus of Williams is a good place to stay while at the HOG Rally.
Best Western Plus of Williams is a good place to stay while at the HOG Rally.


Best Western Plus Inn of Williams
2600 W. Rt. 66
Williams, AZ 86046

During the HOG Rally you will be with your asphalt ribbon lovin’ kind at this Best Western in Williams. The front entrance looked like a shiny, impromptu Harley Bike Show the nights we were there. The enthusiasts only parted with their leathers long enough for a soak in the hot tub or dip in the refreshing pool.

When you book a reservation, apprise the booking agent of your Best Western Ride Rewards membership number for an advantageous discount and other perks of the program. See website for comprehensive list of hotel amenities. Notable are the complimentary full breakfast buffet, tidy and comfortable rooms, the quietness of this end of town and the beautiful forested setting.

If you are of the B&B frequenting ilk, we highly recommend:

The Sheridan House Inn
460 E. Sheridan Ave.
Williams, AZ 86046

Inquire about their motorcyclist discount offerings.

What to Do

Think a herd of bikers is the wildest things in Williams? Take a stroll through the 158-acre wildlife preserve, Bearizona, just on the outskirts of Williams, and see if you don’t change your mind.

This is a drive-through wild animal preserve featuring not only eponymous black bears but also arctic and tundra wolves, American bison, white buffalo, burros, bighorn sheep, mountain goats and Dall sheep, and maybe a rare white sasquatch or two.

Motorcycles are dissuaded from the wild animal drive-through portion since the inhabitants have a strictly controlled diet and don’t digest leather very well. A courtesy car and GPS audio tour is provided free of charge. The drive takes about 30 minutes, although there is no time limit.

Bearizona is open everyday from 8:00 a.m.; last vehicle admitted at 6:00 p.m. Closing hours vary with season and weather. Adults cost $20; seniors 62 and older, $18. For more information, call 928-955; visit www.bearizona.com.

Horsin’ Around Williams
For a different kind of ride, and a guided ride into the ponderosa pine hills around town, Horsin’ Around Williams offers trail rides from novice to expert, lasting 1.5 hours to all day.

The Cowpoke Ride leaves the Horsin’ Around Ranch, which is just north of Williams off Cooper Ranch Road, daily from Memorial Day though Labor Day. Cowpoke Rides depart 10 a.m., 2 p.m., and 4 p.m. The ride costs $98 per person.

The Private Ride takes your motorcycle club or pack thereof on its own ride, features a professional wrangler and travels at your pace and experience level. It costs $195 pp for the first 1.5 hours, and $130 for each additional hour pp up to a full day.

I rode Smokey, a fine horse of good temperament. My guide, Cal, was a 13-time reined cowhorse world champion, a patient and amiable man far better with a horse than I was with a bike. It was fun to step back in time for a few hours, imagine some of my favorite old TV westerns, and enjoy being on a ranch and in the fresh air and stillness of the mountains. Owner Christa Brunori was a most gracious and attentive host.

Horsin Around Williams is located at 581 Cooper Ranch Rd., Williams, AZ. Call 800-403-1690; visit http://www.horsinaroundsedona.com

Open Road Cowboy
What could be more appropriate for bikers than a place called Open Road Cowboy? If you can appreciate world-class leather and metal work, then a visit to this small shop on Historic Route 66 is a must. Proprietor Jay Redfeather looks like he just walked in from 1880. He is a throwback craftsman of the first order.

Open Road Cowboy is attached to the old Sultana Theater, easy to miss if you’re in a hurry. But don’t. It is a rich feast for those who enjoy the artful expression of hand-tooled leather, bone, silver and steel of the highest quality, forming them into beautiful motorcycle seats, knives, sheaths and other items.

The old school Redfeather also does custom work to order. For more information, call 928-310-8143; email jayredfeather@gmail.com.

Dining Out

Grand Canyon Coffee & Cafe
125 West Route 66
Williams, AZ 86046

I raised an eyebrow when I saw the online menu touted Chinese, Mexican, and American cuisine. As Route 66 draws a veritable United Nations of travelers, their offerings seemed oddly appropriate, however. Appealing to curiosities of travelers from afar, their fare is tasty and rife with honored family recipes.

We found the staff warm and gracious. The Fish n’ Chips and Burger we ordered were satisfying and cooked to our liking. Williams has four seasons and if you arrive during a temperate spell, you can appreciate the truncated picnic benches out front and watch the world go by. This charming venue exemplifies the feel of old timey breakfast, lunch, and dinner noshery, a part of the Route 66 experience.

Head to Ponchos for some delicious Mexican fare.
Head to Poncho’s for some great Mexican fare.

Pancho McGillicuddy’s
Southwestern Bar and Grill

141Railroad Ave.
Williams, AZ 86046

Yes, you can get very good fish tacos in Arizona. The founding Route 66ers probably never would have conceived of this, but kudos, Pancho McGillicuddy’s fish tacos made me very happy.

The Dos Enchiladas—chicken was our choice—was equally pleasing. This venue is centrally located, and during the HOG Rally their live music draws revelers to enjoy the Chips, Guac, Tequila, and other scrumptious offerings. Starters, salads, southwestern inspired burgers, house specialties, and Mexican fare round out the menu. A bar is on premises, as is interior and patio dining. Barbecued ribs are available seasonally. The service is friendly, ambiance comfortable, and everyone we spoke to on our trip agreed it is a great bet for a fine meal.

South Rims Wine & Beer Garage
514 East Route 66
Williams, AZ 86046

Open from 11 a.m. – 9 p.m., this gas and service station-cum-tasting room and lounge is the new kid on the block on the Mother Road. Former aerospace professionals are taking on the learning curve of restaurant ownership GTO style. A newly refurbished 1967 jet-black Pontiac is the attraction inside. Outside, there is an al fresco lounge vibe. Either is great for kickin’ back to enjoy AZ craft beers and wine on tap. Salads, soup, apps, pizza, sandwiches, desserts and specials are offered.

We tried both the Submarine and the Chicken Bacon Ranch Sandwiches. They are worth a revisit. Quality gift items, such as knives, flutes, photography, and jewelry are also for sale on the premises.