Last month my family and I decided to take on a west coast adventure starting in Arizona and working our way to Los Angeles. We flew into Phoenix from Chicago, rented our car and headed north to our first stop – Sedona.
I have to admit, Sedona has never been on my radar. I’ve been to Phoenix, Tuscan, and Scottsdale many times but never considered areas outside of these cities to explore. It wasn’t until I had a family and rekindled my love of road trips and traveling that Sedona took a spot on the top of our must-go list. For the last four years, we’ve been covering thousands of miles all over the country and we could not wait for this trip.
We flew into Phoenix early in the morning so we could have the whole day as our time was limited in Sedona. The drive was just under 2 hours. Once we arrived we checked into our hotel. We stayed at Arabella, which was a cute little boutique hotel. The room was nice and it served its purpose for the one night we stayed. Two days was plenty of time to explore Sedona with our kids. More of the activities, restaurants, and hiking are for older kids and adults.
Once we arrived, the red mountains were more majestic than I could have imagined. I understand the spiritual aspect of Sedona now. I could’ve sat at a restaurant and stared at the landscape and scenery all day – it was very peaceful.
Now onto my recommendations.
Jeep Tour. Our first activity was a tour of the Broken Arrow trail with Pink Jeep Tours. Everyone told us to do this and they were right! Not only was it a blast for our entire family, but we learned so much about the history of Sedona and got to see spectacular views off the beaten path. The tour took about two hours and felt like minutes as we had so much fun. They have several tours to choose from to fit a wide variety of budgets, time frames, and preferences. If we had more time I would have done the full day one where you go to Antelope Caverns. It’s definitely on the list for next time!
Snoopy Rock. You can see Snoopy taking a nap from many areas of Sedona, but if you want to get a nice view while checking out some great shops or sip a Starbucks coffee and admire the view, head to The Shops at Hyatt Piñon Pointe. You get a panoramic view of the red rocks and Snoopy Rock. His friend, Lucy is looking over too! There are also some great restaurants with balconies facing the rocks. This sunset you can’t beat! Shhh, Snoopy and Lucy are sleeping.
Slide Rock State Park. We didn’t get the chance to make it here, but it was something we really wanted to do and bummed we couldn’t fit it in. We did drive by it and it looked so fun. On our list for next time for sure! Slide State Park is a beautiful state park with hiking, camping, some historical sites and a natural water slide on the rocks. Even if it’s just to take a few rides on the natural slides, it would be worth it.
Chapel of The Holy Cross. Another site to see. Chapel of the Holy Cross, sitting high atop the red rocks, was inspired and commissioned by local rancher and sculptor Marguerite Brunswig Staude. In 1932 she was inspired to build such a church by the construction of the Empire State Building. Parking is limited and so are the tours so check the website if you want to tour the inside. Otherwise, it’s worth the quick drive just to see its beauty up close.
Sky Tours. If you’re really brave, you can take it up to the sky and book a hot air balloon or helicopter tour of the red rocks. I, however, am not that brave – but I was in awe watching the balloons going up. Maybe one day I’ll muster up the courage but for now, I leave it with you.
Restaurants. If you’ve followed me for a while now, you know I’m a foodie. I worked in the luxury hotel industry for many years and food is one of the best parts about traveling. There were so many amazing restaurants to chose from in Sedona. My recommendations are Hudson (the food and the views – incredible!), Mesa Grill, Elote Cafe, Hideaway House, and Creekside Sedona.
If you’re driving and want even more breathtaking views, head up to Flagstaff (or Grand Canyon) from Sedona. The drive north from Sedona was like nothing I’ve ever seen. The mountains reminded me of Colorado and the air was crisp and fresh. I’m so glad we made the drive on to our next stop, the Grand Canyon, as the views were worth it alone. Sharing all my Grand Canyon recommendations in the next post!
Here’s to a summer of adventure.