What is it about Sedona? We visit roughly every 2 years, and on every return I kick myself for not visiting more often. It is a two hour drive north of Phoenix, about 15 degrees cooler at an elevation of 4,350 feet, and the scenery with the majestic red rocks is downright stunning. I also feel the extraordinary beauty lends itself to a certain amount of mysticism. It has been 6 years since I last wrote a post on Sedona (find it here), and in this updated Sedona Guide, I compiled a short list of where to eat, drink, sleep and hike while planning your stay. You may find that it is a bit heavy on physical activity, but if there is one thing you’ll learn about me while reading my blog is that if I can find a great hiking trail and a good margarita, I am all in (you can take the girl out of Texas…).
Sedona is in fact well-known for being a spiritual vortex, with four specific energy centers at Airport Mesa, Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock and Boynton Canyon. And whether you believe in the power of energy centers or not, there is no denying that there is something undeniably unique about Sedona.
Happy trails and happy eating! xoM
WHERE TO EAT + DRINK
Because it is a Sedona Classic: Elote
Kicking off my Sedona Guide with one of the best spots in town — it is little wonder Chef Jeff Smedstad of Elote is a James Beard Finalist for 2020 Best Chef of the Southwest (Chef and Restaurant awards will be announced September 25, 2020). After 13 years on SR Highway 179 in the King’s Ransom Hotel, Elote closed on February 22, 2020 to move to 350 Jordan Rd. However, due to COVID, Elote was closed when we visited (UPDATE: Elote opened in new location on July 28, 2020), so I cannot speak of the new location. But I can speak of the food, for we eat there every time we are in Sedona. Chef Smedstad has traveled extensively throughout Oaxaca, Veracruz and Puebla, developing a personal relationship with Mexican cuisine, including how to make mole from scratch – which at 20+ ingredients is a feat in and of itself. He knows real Mexican food and the flavors show it. Don’t forget to check out his cookbook on Amazon (link here) or on the Elote website. I have cooked many recipes like Sopa Azteca, Calabacitas and the signature Elote, and they have all been a hit. Dinner is served Tuesday to Saturday starting at 5 pm. 350 Jordan Road
Sedona, AZ 86336 www.elotecafe.com
Because Chef Lisa Dahl is a Rockstar: Dahl Restaurants
Alongside Jeff Smedstad, Lisa Dahl has come to define the culinary scene in Sedona. Starting 20 years ago with Dahl & Di Luca Ristorante Italiano, Chef Dahl has expanded with 4 more concepts, Cucina Rustica, Pisa Lisa, Mariposa Latin Inspired Grill, and Butterfly Burger. On our most recent stay, we ordered take out pizza and salad from Pisa Lisa which was a few blocks from our rental house. However for my next Sedona guide, my goal is to review a dinner at Mariposa and take in the stunning food and views. Chef Dahl is one of the most successful restauranteurs and female chefs in the state of Arizona, and revered among tourists and Sedona locals alike. www.dahlrestaurantgroup.com
Because it is the most fun post-hike: El Rincon Restaurante Mexicano.
Located in the Tlaquepaque shopping village, El Rincon has been a Sedona institution for over 44 years. I realize not too many people crave margaritas post hike, but this gal does. And El Rincon makes one just like my Mom used to: equal parts tequila, Cointreau and fresh squeezed lime juice. Mix in some of their famous guacamole and crunchy tostadas, and you have found the perfect spot to while away a day. That is until one of the other restaurants that I mentions opens for dinner. And you work it all off with a wonderful hike the next day. It is a vicious cycle. El Rincon is currently open for dine in and take out. 336 AZ-179, Sedona, AZ 86336 www.elrinconrestaurant.com
WHERE TO HIKE
Airport Loop/Airport Mesa Trail
It wouldn’t be a complete Sedona Guide without touching on the best hiking trails. The Sedona airport sits atop a mesa south of town, and the Airport Loop Trail is basically a 3.5 mile trail that loops around the mesa, affording glorious views of the town of Sedona and the Mogollon Rim. It is a great way to get acquainted with the layout of the town and, with an elevation gain of 200 feet, is relatively easy. There is little shade, so the common theme throughout hiking in AZ is to be sure to wear a hat, apply sunscreen, and take lots of water. If you recall, one of the 4 energy centers of Sedona is said to be the Airport Mesa. If you see that the trees are twisted in shape, you know you are close. For more information on vortexes, read this article.
An iconic landmark in Sedona, and another one of the four vortexes, is Cathedral Rock. It is a natural sandstone butte that is one of the most photographed sites in Arizona. You can hike to the saddle on a trail that is roughly 1.2 miles out and back with an elevation gain of 550 feet.
Hubby has taken me twice now on this trail, and I feel it is aptly named as it is a “bear” of a hike. As hiking trails go, it is not that long at 4.3 miles round trip. However, the elevation gain is almost 2,000 feet, so you are pretty much ascending most of the time. Note to self (and to readers), do not indulge in margaritas the night before this hike…wait until afterwards and trust me, you will feel much better! The views of the San Francisco Peaks, Jerome and the airport mesa are worth every painful step.
Want to keep exploring? There’s an app you can download specifically for Sedona hikes and trails! If you’re planning an upcoming trip, it might be a great resource to have on hand. Download it here.
WHERE TO SLEEP
Because you are a spa lover: Enchantment Resort
Enchantment is located on 80 spectacular acres at the mouth of Boynton Canyon, said to be the birthplace of the Yavapai Tribe and one of the 4 aforementioned energy centers. People flock to Enchantment to book treatments at their world-class Mii Amo Spa. 525 Boynton Canyon Rd, Sedona, AZ 86336 www.enchantmentresort.com
Because you want a romantic creekside locale: L’Auberge de Sedona
L’Auberge, like Enchantment, is all about location. However, it is a very different vibe as it is situated in the heart of Sedona along Oak Creek. There are 87 beautifully appointed guest rooms and cottages spread across 11 acres fronting the idyllic setting of Oak Creek. Hubby and I stayed there once for a late anniversary celebration, and enjoyed the creekside dining at Cress -where you can almost dunk your feet in the creek – and the early morning outdoor yoga classes. 301 Little Ln, Sedona, AZ 86336 www.lauberge.com
Because you want budget and pet friendly: Arroyo PInion Sedona
So to be fair, all three of these places are dog friendly, but if you want to economize and bring your dog, then check out the Arroyo Pinion Sedona. Reviews of Arroyo Pinion point out the patios and the large rooms that have amenities such as coffee makers, microwaves, and refrigerators. The location on the west side of town lends itself to a quieter feel and is convenient if you wanted to take day trips to Cottonwood and Jerome. 3119 AZ-89A, Sedona, AZ 86336 www.arroyopinion.com
Because you are with a large group and prefer to rent: Red Sedona Vacation Rentals
With over 10 in our party , it made sense for us to rent and I found Red Sedona Vacation Rentals online. The house we rented backed up to the Airport Loop trail and every evening the kids would wander out onto the trails and climb the lookout points to watch the sunset. It was magical, and I cannot wait to return. www.redsedona.com
HOT SUMMER DEALS IN PHOENIX
If staying in Phoenix is more in your comfort zone, then here are a few deals not to be missed:
Hotel Valley Ho
Enjoy a welcoming escape this summer at Hotel Valley Ho, the colorful, mid-century modern hideaway in Old Town Scottsdale. Enjoy inventive dishes, craft cocktails, and the famed “Show Stopper” Shake at ZuZu; private cabanas at OH Pool; and reopening July 30 VH Spa, for a menu of treatments inspired by exotic locales around the globe. Hotel Valley Ho’s new Pristine Clean program ensures a safe and welcoming stay, with everything from socially distanced dining to team members wearing proper PPE and enhanced cleaning and sanitizing throughout the hotel. Reserve a guestroom starting at $159, or choose the Sip + Splash Package starting at $189. It comes with a round of cocktails at the OH Pool, breakfast for two at ZuZu, and a stylish room upgrade (based on availability at check-in). Stay between now and September 3, and reserve your stay at hotelvalleyho.com with code SPLASH.
Enjoy a welcoming escape away from it all at Mountain Shadows in Paradise Valley. From poolside lounging and fitness classes at The Citizens Club to 18 holes of par-3 golf and oven-cooked dishes at Hearth ’61, there is plenty to enjoy. Mountain Shadows’ new Pristine Clean program ensures a safe and welcoming retreat, from socially distanced dining to team members wearing proper PPE and enhanced cleaning and sanitizing throughout the resort. Take advantage of rates starting at $159, or choose the Fee-Free Staycation starting at $169 that includes a waived resort fee and complimentary parking for Arizona residents. Reserve your stay at mountainshadows.com with the code AZRFF.
I hope you enjoyed my updated Sedona Guide! I invite you to get out of the heat for a weekend this summer and check out some of my favorite spots!