On November 30, 2012Stacey Wittig answered the question:Seeing the red rock country around Sedona is a must; the only decision you have to make is how to take it all in. We think these are the five best ways to experience Sedona’s red rock country:
1. Glide in a hot air balloon. After a gentle lift-off, enjoy a panoramic, bird’s-eye view of red rock formations and Valle Verde as you slip along the early morning skies. Your early awakening will be rewarded with a champagne picnic after a calm landing. When you make your reservations, be sure your balloon operator has the permits needed to fly over red rock country.
2. Take a Tai Chi class. Tai Chi classes are offered twice a week at Los Abrigados Resort & Spa on the banks of picturesque Oak Creek. Experience the inspiring red rock country through the practice of the Chinese tradition while gaining life-changing benefits. Begun in China, the tradition has been adapted by westerners as a graceful form of exercise.
3. Go for a hike. A favorite Sedona hike, the Bell Rock Pathway is a relatively easy way to get out and among the red rocks. The 3.6-mile trail rewards hikers with breath-taking views of Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte. This is a well-traveled pathway with vault toilets and paved parking. Bring your camera — as the trail climbs higher, you’ll have opportunities for great shots. Be sure to bring a hat and sunscreen too, as there’s no shade on this trail. More adventurous hikers can try out Devil’s Bridge or Vultee Arch trails.
4. Ride a mountain bike. Broken Arrow Trail is a fun and relatively easy mountain bike trail that takes you straight into the heart of red rock country. You’ll ride by Devil’s Dining room, an active sinkhole. Submarine Rock to the east offers a slickrock play area.
5. Tour Red Rocks State Park. This magnificent park affords many stunning vistas from one of the ten hiking trails. Explore the visitor’s center, or watch a film at the park theatre. At 10 a.m. daily, a naturalist bring the outdoors alive on guided nature walks, while at 2 p.m., you can join in an activity led by a guest speaker or park ranger. Ask about special events like bird walks or geology hikes. You can’t get any closer than this to red rock country!
On November 30, 2012Stacey Wittig answered the question:Besides photographs of your visit to the red rock formations around Sedona, we suggest you bring home a souvenir that’s tied to the place. For people who appreciate jewelry, there’s no better souvenir than a piece of turquoise-and-silver jewelry crafted by a local Native American artisan. Sedona’s proximity to many Native American communities including the Zuni, Hopi, Navajo and the Yavapai-Apache reservations make this an ideal spot to find a special treasure. Ask your shopkeeper or concierge to explain how you can tell if the piece is authentically Native made.
Another favorite thing to bring home from Sedona is artwork. With many choices to fit your style, it is easy to enliven your home or office with contemporary painting, modern sculpture, Native American pottery, Western art, masterworks, wearable art of all kinds or framed photography. On the first Friday of the month, don’t miss special art receptions at the First Friday Gallery Tours. Most galleries will pack and ship your selections. Art connects at so many levels, that it will spark memories of your Sedona vacation for years to come.
On November 30, 2012Stacey Wittig answered the question:There are a surprising number of local flavors to experience in Sedona, which has a culinary culture inspired by Mexican, Western and Native American dishes. Here are the five best food experiences in Sedona:
1. Arizona wine. Wine from the highlands of Arizona is surprisingly good. With the wide variety and blends, there’s an Arizona wine for every palate. From the Rhone varietals grown near Sedona to the Spanish whites and reds of southern Arizona, high-desert grapes are producing delicious, full-bodied wines. You’ll spot Arizona wines on many Sedona restaurant menus, discover your favorite along the Verde Valley Wine Trail or do a tasting at a Sedona wine bar.
2. Huevos rancheros. A breakfast egg dish with origins in Mexico, huevos rancheros is a hearty breakfast meal found at many Sedona restaurants. It starts with two fried eggs (huevos) placed on pan-warmed tortillas and topped with cheese and tomato sauce spiced with green chilies, cumin and chili powder. This spicy breakfast meal filled cowboys and their boss men (rancheros) in preparation for a hard day’s work of moving cattle. Today it’s the perfect energizer for hiking or exploring the western landscape.
3. Oak Creek Nut Brown Ale. This Arizona favorite can be found on tap from Tucson to the Grand Canyon, and of course, in Sedona where it’s brewed. The deep copper, nutty-tasting ale is named after the creek that flows through Sedona that helped carve the world-famous Oak Creek Canyon centuries ago. The brew master won a gold medal from the North American Brewers’ Association. Look for the deep copper-colored brew in the glass of the satisfied local sitting next to you.
4. Anything cactus. From specialty cocktails to gourmet dishes, the prickly pear cactus fruit called tuna and paddles (aka leaves) are a staple in Sedona cuisine. Most often, you’ll find the prickly pear cactus fruit’s sweet fruity nectar in margaritas and mojitos, as well as tea, ice cream and coleslaw. The leaves of the cactus — called nopales — are harvested from the desert with tongs to avoid the sharp needles. Try fried cactus tuna at the Cowboy Club Grille in uptown or nopalitos at Elote, though both are used on many menus around town.
5. Green chilies. Not as hot as its cousin the jalapeño chile, the mild green chile — after being roasted, peeled and chopped —is added to favorites such as green chile and pork stew, huevos rancheros, chiles rellenos (roasted chilies stuffed with cheese, battered and deep fried) and enchiladas. Green chiles add a smoky taste and a hint of spice to any dish. You’ll find green chilies as an important complement to omelets, corn dishes, salads or even pizza at any Sedona restaurant.
On November 30, 2012Stacey Wittig answered the question:There are all kinds of different evening amusements to be found in Sedona, from pubs to poetry and posh restaurants to live music venues. The best nightlife depends on what you enjoy. Here are five different kinds of evening excursion that can all be enjoyed in Sedona:
1. Mary D. Fisher Theatre. From poetry slams to live performances to world film premiers, the Mary D. Fisher Theatre hosts a variety of Sedona nightlife options. Watch Shakespeare in high definition straight from the Globe Theatre in London or operas piped in from Venice. The 100-person theatre is home of the Sedona International Film Festival and the Sedona Performing Arts Alliance. Watch the online calendar for listings of current shows or grab a copy of Kudos, the free entertainment guide at newsstands and hotels.
2. Blazin M Ranch Chuckwagon Supper and Western Stage Show. Located on the banks of the Verde River in Cottonwood, the Blazin M is well worth the drive. Top-notch cowboy music and tomfoolery will have you slapping your knee and your neighbor’s back. Performers are Hall of Famers and the chicken and baby back ribs are good and plentiful. Make sure to arrive at 5 p.m. so you can try riding the tractor pull, petting ponies and other farm animals, shooting an authentic Colt 45 and learning to rope.
3. Cliff Castle Casino Hotel. Invest in a short 30-minute drive to Camp Verde and be rewarded with top-notch entertainment at the popular Cliff Castle Casino. Check the online calendar for a roster of hot national acts at the outdoor Stargazer Pavilion and live music in the Dragonfly Lounge. Play blackjack on the finest tables with professionally trained dealers. Or find some action in the casual poker room away from the slots.
4. Sound Bites Grill. For live music and dancing, check out Sound Bites, which features different performers evenings Wednesday through Sunday. The dance floor, one of the largest in Sedona, draws visitors and locals alike. From roadhouse rockers to fiery Cuban dance orchestras to 70s rock and roll to classic jazz musicians, Sound Bites offers an eclectic mix of entertainment in a venue decorated with celebrity guitars.
5. Hoppy Grape Lounge at Sedona Wine and Beer Company. Mingle with locals and visitors for a laidback evening of sipping wines and beers, including some local Arizona products. Local musicians play on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. This casual, classy lounge has a noshing menu that includes fresh and local ingredients. Sit at the bar in front of colorful beer taps from around the world or grab your spot on leather couches.
On November 30, 2012Stacey Wittig answered the question:If you need to see Sedona’s most memorable sights in one day, get up early and stretch your legs before breakfast on a short hiking trail near your resort or hotel. The concierge will help you find one that best fits your abilities. In Arizona, it’s a good idea to get your hike in before the heat of the day. After your short hike, have a typical breakfast like eggs with green chilies and cheese and then get ready for the Jeep tour guide you asked to swing by the hotel to pick you up.
Since there are so many different flavors of Jeep rides — vortex tours, guided trips to ancient ruins, red rock crawling rides, etc. — a little advance research is in order. It’s a good idea to reserve your trip online before you arrive in Sedona.
After the tour, have lunch in uptown and get a bit of souvenir shopping in. Go back to your hotel to shower the dust off, and then follow up with a relaxing massage. Hopefully your resort offers body treatments in an outdoor cabana for the full-on Sedona experience. Now that you’re fully relaxed, drop into a pub for a Sedona brew or Arizona wine. Then head to one of Sedona’s many fine dining establishments to talk over all the memories you have made in one amazing day.
On November 30, 2012Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question:Thanks to the world-class resort hotels found in Sedona, the desert city is blessed with a sophisticated dining scene that ranges from the casual to the sublime. Here are the five best places to eat in Sedona:
1. L’Auberge Restaurant on Oak Creek. Consistently named a top Arizona restaurant, the elegant dining room situated near the rippling creek, attentive servers and innovative cuisine make this a memorable experience. The restaurant balances sophistication with its rustic setting while the seasonal menu focuses on locally grown ingredients. Dine inside or out on tables splendidly set with linens and fresh-cut flowers while ordering from the full bar or the wine list, which received a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence.
2. Cucina Rustica. When you step into Cucina Rustica, you’re entering another world: a culinary experience set in the hills of the Tuscan countryside. The restaurant’s earthy colors envelop you and servers are eager to please. Whether visit the small bar for drinks and appetizers or head to one of the stunning dining rooms, the relaxing atmosphere enhances each exquisite dish. The farm-to-table practice delivers fresh and seasonal flavors. For a really romantic dinner, visit Cucina Rustica’s sister restaurant, Dahl & Di Luca Ristorante Italiano.
3. Che-Ah-Chi at Enchantment Resort. Whether you dine inside or outside on the wine bar terrace, incredible views of the pinnacles and spires of Boynton Canyon will permeate your fine dining experience. Sublime dishes that showcase contemporary American cuisine, with a pinch of the Southwest, is paired with an award-winning wine list. The resorts’ recent $25 million renovation bedazzled the already distinctive restaurant.
4. Silver Saddle at the Cowboy Club. Enjoy the romantic-yet-rustic decor of the Silver Saddle at the Cowboy Club in uptown Sedona. Sit back in a comfortable suede booth in front of a beautifully appointed table. The floor-to-ceiling rock fireplace is like you’d find in the Old West. Chef Chris Dobrowolski, a Le Cordon Bleu graduate, specializes in creating and executing high desert and American Southwest fare. To get a flavor of the cuisine, try his nopalitos cactus fries served with prickly pear sauce, rattlesnake meatballs in green chilies or elk chops.
5. Elote Café. Sedona locals and visitors will stand in line for up to an hour to get a table at Sedona’s favorite modern Mexican restaurant. While you wait, order sangria, a cocktail or Blood Orange limeade and some popcorn and sit by the pool. Former Scottsdale star chef Jeff Smedstad starts with local and organic ingredients to create delicacies such as huitlacoche soup made with corn truffle, lamb adobo and smoked pork cheeks. It is no wonder the loyal fans are lining up!
On November 30, 2012Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question:Despite its earthy image, Sedona has a luxurious side too that emerges when you step into one of the world-class hotels nestled among the red rocks. These are the five best places to stay in Sedona:
1. Enchantment Resort. Peacefully situated at the end of a pristine canyon, world-renowned Enchantment Resort charms couples, families and business traveler. Wrapped inside Mother Earth herself, the sophisticated resort is designed to capture the most breathtaking views of the surrounding red rock pinnacles. The magic that radiates from romantic suites and restaurants decorated in high Arizona style could come from the Boynton Canyon vortex that has drawn worshipers since ancient times. Or the enchanting magnetism could simply be the result of the fine cuisine, impeccable service and highly lauded spa. Whatever its origin, the resort’s satisfying alchemy will invite your return.
2. L'Auberge de Sedona. Renew your spirits at L'Auberge de Sedona where Oak Creek splashes and burbles its way past your luxurious creek side cabin or linen-clad dining table in the restaurant. Under the canopy of tall oaks and cottonwoods, you’ll find a tranquil setting for a romantic weekend, family reunion or special event in your life. Many a proposal has been made under the creek side arbor. You’ll be charmed by the guest-focused experience that balances refined elegance with the boutique hotel’s rustic setting. Schedule your body treatments in the top-ranked spa or in a private cabana next to the melodious creek.
3. Amara Resort Spa. Located near uptown, but buffered by red rock escarpments and leafy scapes, Amara Resort Spa is the best of both worlds: close to the action but a retreat unto itself. Amara’s urban vibe is complemented by live music at Hundred Rox Restaurant, where you’re encouraged to dine outdoors. Sip cocktails like the Vortex Martini on the terrace where water features flow downward towards the majestic infinity pool near the creek while the red rock views stun from above. The contemporary Amara might just have the most picturesque swimming pool in Sedona.
4. Sedona Rouge Hotel and Spa. The relaxing sound of water greets you at the Andalusian-styled Sedona Rouge. The three-story, entry courtyard beckons you to relax next to the fountains and water features. This is a natural gathering spot for locals and visitors who come to check out early evening entertainment at REDS Restaurant. For a perfect Sedona sunset, ask the friendly front desk staff to turn on the open pit fireplace and head upstairs to the observation terrace. After dinner at REDS, stop back to gaze at the stars before snuggling into luxury bedding for peaceful slumber.
5. Hilton Sedona Resort & Spa. High above a red rock-studded landscape, the Hilton Sedona is bejeweled with original paintings and sculpture from renowned Southwestern artists. Step out of the hotel and onto the championship Sedona Golf Resort. Or take in a rejuvenating body treatment at efores: Spa at Hilton Sedona, one of Sedona’s largest spa and fitness facilities. Swim in the heated lap pool or enjoy the outdoor hot spa and wading pool in one of the most incredibly beautiful places on earth. Later, cozy up to the gas fireplace in your southwest-inspired guest room.
On November 30, 2012Stacey Wittig answered the question:Though Sedona is known for its scenic beauty, the city has a luxurious side too. Here are the five best places to shop in Sedona:
1. Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village. Regarded as the “art and soul of Sedona,” Tlaquepaque is a Spanish Colonial-style village where you can get lost in the past exploring narrow cobbled streets and corridors linking small plazas and patios lined with more than 40 specialty shops and galleries. Browse for wearable art including up market jewelry and handmade clothing, Western and contemporary art, fabulous fashions and curios.
2. Hillside Sedona. Sitting high above Sedona resplendent in red rock views, Hillside Sedona offers three levels of galleries, and stores carrying home décor, jewelry and clothing by local artisans. Search diverse galleries for a masterful bronze, oil or glasswork. Specialty shops offer home décor made of local stone; fine rugs; and minerals, fossils and crystals from around the world. Find fashion, furnishings and photography powerful enough to take your eyes off the panoramic views.
3. Uptown Sedona. You’ll find a vibrant blend of Americana — think candied apples, flags and cowboy shops — alongside upscale art galleries. Established Native American jewelry shops with long-standing ties to artisan families on nearby Indian reservations are tucked among newer art galleries and souvenir shops.
4. Hozho Distinctive Shops and Galleries. Eye-catching sculpture lines the pathway in front of Hozho. The Santa Fe-style building is home to three galleries featuring high-end bronzes, sculptures, Native American art, contemporary oils and ceramics by local and world-renown artists. A favorite stop on First Friday Art Walks, Hozho, which is the Navajo word for beauty, balance, happiness and harmony. It’s also home to the Hike House, an upscale hiking gear store that offers on- and off-trail apparel, free Sedona trail-finder services, hiking tours and the Energy Café where you can make your own trail mix.
5. Shops at Hyatt Piñon Pointe. One of the newest shopping areas in Sedona, Shops at Hyatt Piñon Pointe is perched above uptown. View the red rocks from one of the three open courtyards in between shopping for the latest fashions and jewelry in the unique boutiques or stopping into the fine art galleries for a peek at their amazing collections.
On November 30, 2012Stacey Wittig answered the question:Young visitors to Sedona will find all sorts of outdoor adventures and cool places to see. Here are the five best things to do with kids in Sedona:
1. Slide into Oak Creek. With its slippery natural waterslides worn into the red rock, Slide Rock State Park is a favorite swimming hole for Arizona families. Join the fun and frolic on Oak Creek where the water gushes through an 80-foot groove in the crimson sandstone. There are other kid-friendly places to wade and swim along this half-mile section of the picturesque creek. Please be aware that there is no lifeguard on duty.
2. Feed a giraffe. Take a bush safari through habitats full of wild animals at Out of Africa Wildlife Park. Children will delight in seeing zebras and ostriches up close and feeding carrots to the giraffes. As you ride in a safari vehicle, park guides narrate. After the tour, explore the aviary or Wildlife Preserve via narrated trolley or tram for photo ops of lions, tigers, wolves and hyenas. Expect wide eyes during the Tiger Splash, Wonders of Wildlife and Giant Snake shows.
3. Ride the Sedona Trolley. See the sights and get your local bearings with a ride on the trolley that passes local attractions, historic sites and humorously named rock formations. Children love the local nature stories. The narrative is a relaxing way for busy parents to learn more about the area without having to read lots of tour books or websites. Stops allow for taking photos of your children in front of some of the best red rock vistas. The driver will point out attractions and restaurants that will make your family vacation more enjoyable.
4. Discover arrowheads and potsherds. Kids will be looking for Indiana Jones around every corner of the Verde Valley Archaeology Center in Camp Verde. The center displays arrowheads, large jars and other prehistoric household items unearthed locally Friendly and knowledgeable staff will answer questions about the lives of ancient Native Americans. Learn about the Yavapai-Apache that still live in the area with a “In their Own Words” display. Make sure to get a Sinagua Circle self-guided road tour of local archaeological parks including Tuzigoot National Monument, Montezuma’s Castle, Montezuma’s Well, and Palatki and Honanki Heritage Sites.
5. Cowboy up! In the Kids Korral at Sedona Historical Society and Heritage Museum, children choose from a trunk load of costumes for old-fashioned dress up. Take photos of your child against colorful backdrops of Sedona frontier life. And just like ranchers of the Old West, kids can design their stamp like the ones used to brand cattle. Then explore the museum with illustrated scavenger hunt sheets or museum activity books of puzzles, mazes and art projects. The audio tour shares personal stories of Sedona’s early settlers while you view displays about pioneers, cowboys and movies made in Sedona.
On November 30, 2012Stacey Wittig answered the question:Sedona is richly endowed when it comes to amazing things to see and do. Since the town is surrounded by so much unique natural beauty, it makes sense to get out and explore it. Here are the five best things to see and do in Sedona:
1. Explore Oak Creek Canyon. Named one of the top 50 Scenic Drives by National Geographic Traveler, Sedona-Oak Creek Canyon Scenic Road begins north of uptown Sedona and continues 14.5 miles to Oak Creek Viewpoint. Visit the Native American Crafts Market to browse authentic native jewelry directly from the artisans. On the return, hike one of the mysterious side canyons, take photos of the magnificent rock formations, swim in the creek at Slide Rock State Park or go fishing at Rainbow Trout Farm that provides gear and even cleans your fish.
2. Visit Sedona's sacred sites. Sedona’s fame as a spiritual power center draws seekers of all beliefs. Explore the legendary vortices — places where Sedona’s energy is felt most strongly — at Airport Mesa, Bell Rock, Boynton Canyon and Cathedral Rock. Visit Chapel of the Holy Cross wedged into high, red cliffs. Its architecture is reminiscent of the work of Frank Lloyd Wright — he once taught the chapel’s commissioner. Sweet scents of burning candles greet you at the door and although the Roman Catholic Church maintains the chapel, all are welcome to meditate. Trek up short trails to the peaceful Amitabha Stupa — a significant Tibetan Buddhist site — or journey along one the many rock labyrinths.
3. Photograph Red Rock Crossing. One of the world’s most-photographed monoliths, Cathedral Rock is reflected in a wide, calm portion of Oak Creek called Red Rock Crossing that’s seven miles southwest of uptown. Have your hotel pack a gourmet picnic lunch and head out for spectacular setting at nearby Crescent Moon Picnic Site. Wade in the creek, listen to the birds darting overhead and let the views mesmerize. After lunch, take a leisurely quarter-mile hike to Buddha Beach — it’s full of stacked rock “sculptures” — to capture your own shot of the glorious cathedral of rock.
4. Take a Jeep tour. Back-road excursions have been the quintessential Sedona activity since the 1960s when Pink Jeep Tours originated the expeditions. Today you’ll find 4x4 tours to fit every interest. Journey to remote ancient ruins built into the red rock cliffs. Choose the heart-pounding ride over slick rock and straight up formations at Broken Arrow Canyon so picturesque that the 1950 Jimmy Stewart movie Broken Arrow was filmed there. Hire a guide to help experience the vortices. Or participate in the convergence of myth, meditation and native plants with Earth Wisdom Jeep Tours. You have countless choices.
5. Follow the Verde Valley Wine Trail. For an introduction to Arizona wines, experience the four wineries and six tasting rooms hidden in the red rock countryside and quiet canyons surrounding Sedona, Cottonwood and Jerome. Arizona’s Verde Valley has similarities to other distinguished grape-growing areas of the world. Sedona Adventure Tours offers leisurely wine excursions including the Water to Wine Tour. Float the Verde River on a Ducky kayak to a Tuscan-style farmhouse at Alcantara Vineyards. Celebrate your journey with wine tastings and hear stories about nearby ancient petroglyphs.