When your tagline is The Most Beautiful Place on Earth you better be able to back it up. And boy – Sedona not only backs it up – it takes it to a new level!
I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Susan Boehnstedt from the Visit Sedona Tourism Board who gave us a fantastic introduction to stunning Sedona. The best part about this destination is that it is domestic – meaning no passport is needed – and it is within a couple hours flight from most destinations within the US.
If you are looking for a new city to explore, I am certain that this overview will have you heading to Arizona sooner rather than later!
Where Exactly In Arizona Is It? Sedona is pretty much centrally located within the state of Arizona. It is just two hours north of Phoenix by car. If you fly into Flagstaff, you are just about a 45-minute drive away. And then for those that might be coming to the area from Las Vegas it’s around a four hour but very scenic drive. So basically, it is quite easy to get to from three major southwestern US airports. Its also a great drive destination from neighboring states like California, Nevada and Texas.
Sedona itself is kind of spread out and consists of four main areas. They are West Sedona, Uptown Sedona and Gallery Row, the Village of Oak Creek and Oak Creek Canyon – all of which are really comprise the greater Sedona area. Sedona has just over ten thousand residents year-round, but they serve over four million visitors a year!
Tell Me About The Climate. One of the things that I personally love about Sedona is that it truly is a year-round destination, and every season is has its unique feel and flair. They do get snow in the winter – not much – but snow none the less – that would remind you of powdered sugar when it stays on the Red Rocks – although it normally doesn’t stick. But these mild winters really give you an opportunity to experience that cooler, crisper air. You can start out in the morning with the jacket and maybe gloves depending on how thin your blood is and by noon you’re in a long sleeve t-shirt. Then come evening, it cools down but never fear as most of the properties and many of the restaurants have those amazing outdoor fire pits or heat lamps to keep you warm.
So yes, they certainly have four seasons, and one bonus is that the summertime is not as hot as Phoenix. Per Susan it is usually about ten to 15 degrees cooler than the Phoenix Area in Sedona. Typical higher summer temperatures are in the 90’s but it is not unusual that the mornings are cooler so that you can get out early, get your hiking and biking in and then you sit back during the hotter parts of the day and have a nice glass of wine on the patio at your resort.
Mother Nature Sure Has Blessed Sedona. Oh yes – it certainly has the most breathtaking landscapes you will ever see! And oh, those sunrises and sunsets! Thanks to the fact that there is no light pollution, seeing the stars when you are there is bound to be a brand-new experience for you. Especially if you’re coming from a bigger city where there are a lot of lights – hence light pollution – as well as regular pollution. If you are not used to seeing the stars, it’s kind of shocking to go out at night and look up because you kind of forget that they exist, and boy are they ever stunning! For those of you guys who are coming from cities like New York City or even here in Austin or in Atlanta here’s an opportunity where you can actually see Mother Nature and what she has to offer. And Susan advised that they work with several companies that actually will take small groups or families out at night so that you can experience this in a really unique and special way. Then they have monsoon season which runs from mid-June through the end of September. When the rains come in, they are so beautiful to watch. They arrive in big puffy clouds and there’s often lightning as well. Then they end with dramatic rainbows that are magical.
What Kind Of Activities Can I Expect? Sedona has all kinds of outdoor activities including those for true adventurers as well as soft adventures and plenty of wellness opportunities. There are activities for all ages and all physical abilities making it a place that everybody can genuinely enjoy.
For example – there are off roading and ATV adventure options as well as a couple different Jeep tour companies in the area. Or you can opt to do some touring via horseback or even on a trolley car for a less bumpy ride. In addition, there are amazing opportunities via air such as helicopter tours and hot air ballooning. The hot air balloons are not available all year round but pretty much the majority of it. And those helicopters also have tours to the Grand Canyon giving you that birds eye view that is just incredible.
Sedona also has a whole trail system giving you the opportunity to hike and / or bike the area to get up close and personal and be one with nature. And renting a bike is extremely easy to do in Sedona – all you have to do is ask me to include it and when I build your itinerary, we make it happen!
There are two amazing state parks and one of them has something that I think everybody should do – a natural water slide! It is called – appropriately enough – Slide Rock State Park and thanks to the way the water comes in, it smooths the rocks making them like a slide. It is a super fun place to go and have a picnic or you can ride too or hike there as well. In addition to being family friendly there are places that are a little bit more flat and not as rugged so that people that might have mobility issues can still enjoy the park. Red Rock State Park is also awesome and to me I liken it to a Japanese feel thanks to the horsetail that resembles thin bamboo and the red rock that gives you that zen feeling.
Tell Me About These Vortex Spots. Sedona has a lot of different vortex sites – there’s a very holistic, spiritual and wellness aspect to Sedona that has been there for years and has only been developed more and more by some of the companies that are in Sedona. A lot of international and domestic travelers come to experience these vortexes. Four of the most well-known ones include Cathedral Rock, Airport Mesa, Boynton Canyon and Bell Rock. For those of you who aren’t familiar – a vortex area is a place where you kind of slow down and really listen to what’s going on internally, connect one on one with your environment, the atmosphere and earth. It’s a very zen, calming, peaceful experience. They are also known for their healing properties and many people who have health issues report healing that came as a result of spending time in these vortex sites. Not to mention that they are all stunning and all unique! If you prefer, we can book you a guide to help you through this and show you what you can experience.
Speaking of Wellness…So you’re always surrounded by red rocks wherever you are in Sedona and to most – including me – that is a natural wellness opportunity like no other. Of course, there are plenty of other wellness experiences to be had there and they include the calming spas, meditation and yoga programs and so much more. Mother earth will help us heal in the vortexes we talked about above and of course there’s also that spiritual piece of life and as we know, wellness is mind, body and spirit. Sedona is one of those destinations that really gives you an opportunity to get to all of those different levels and get down to that core of what is inside of us and how we can do better and be well. There are also a lot of medical spas here that we can talk about if you are interested in having that conversation.
Sedona As A Home Base. So not only can you make a whole vacation out of Sedona, but you can also make it your hub – or home base – and do day trips from there. The average stay in Sedona is three and a half to four nights which is great because you can explore Sedona and then just do day trips to some or all of the surrounding areas such as Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend, Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Grand Canyon National Park, Monument Valley, Jerome, Clarkdale, Cottonwood and Camp Verde – with the furthest point out of all these about four hours away. Many of these spots are famous and well known in the Arizona area but there are some that may not be so well known such as Jerome and Camp Verde. These are smaller communities along the Verde River that have amazing attractions and a little bit of a different climate then Sedona – not much – but because it’s along the River it’s a different altitude and a different slightly all within a 30-minute drive. And if you like wine that means you don’t have to go very far to get some because Arizona has an amazing wine country there. The Verde Valley River that comes through this area has the same kind of soil and texture and the clays and the dirt are very similar to what you might find in southern France. People don’t associate Arizona with winemaking but there are some pretty amazing wines. You can even kayak to some of these places and do wine day trips or have a driver take you. There are also wine tasting rooms within Sedona proper that you can visit.
Now Jerome is a funky little town with its own unique personality that also happens to be a ghost town. It is lots of fun and a great place to spend a day. Besides the ghosts they also have many awesome jewelry shops that you can frequent and since it is kind of built on a hill you get some really unique views from this city.
Right next to Jerome is the Verde Canyon Railroad which has a train that runs year-round. The entire trip takes about four hours. Throughout the year they will also run themed train rides. For instance, during harvest season they’ll do a special wine train or they’ll do a chocolate train or during Oktoberfest they’ll do a beer tour. Either way – theme or not – it is a really relaxing and fun four-hour round-trip adventure!
What Are My Accommodation Options? There are tons of lodging options so whatever kind of accommodation you’re looking for you’re definitely going to find it in Sedona! Among those options are some incredibly unique resorts in West Sedona. Uptown there are a couple different properties that are actually located on the Creek which are stunning. And through out there are both smaller, boutique properties as well as larger resort properties. Sedona is a great destination for meetings, events, weddings, family reunions – you name it – and they have properties to fit every need and budget.
And Food Options? With over 50 restaurants you are certainly going to find one that suits your pallet and your budget. One of the things that I love though is that they have some celebrity chefs and probably one of the most famous in Sedona right now is Chef Lisa Dahl. Her newest luxury venue –Mariposa – which means the butterfly – features fabulous sunset views. She also has a couple different pizza shops as well as a lovely Italian venue in the Village of Oak Creek. Her food is quite popular – think very organic and natural – and she’s been written up in all kinds of magazines as well as featured on cooking shows. In addition to Chef Dahl there are many other organic and healthy food options and choices – many that are tied into the spas that are so popular in Sedona. How great is it that you can book a spa room, have that full spa experience and also enjoy cuisine that’s detoxifying and healthy – making it a full complement to your overall wellbeing.
Can I Get My Shopping On? Oh boy can you ever! They not only have the name brand stores but they also have a lot of local, amazingly talented artists that have shops. The artwork and the craftsmanship in Sedona is really unique and the pieces are one of a kind. Here you can have a piece of jewelry made with local stones such as turquoise or perhaps some handcrafted fabric goods or even beaded work. There are over 20 galleries and over 80 shops for you to choose from. You can even take classes like art or pottery in some of the studios and workshops. So, if you would like to add some art and culture and this is something that you’d like to do we can easily add this to your itinerary as we plan it. What a great opportunity for cultural immersion to get to know another American through art!
What Types of Travelers Would Be A Good Fit? As we already alluded to Sedona is a great destination to do if you are looking for a spot for a girlfriend or guys trips or a bachelor or bachelorette trip. It is also a perfect spot for multi-generational family get togethers as well as corporate offsites and retreats. And for those of you who are homeschooling it is the perfect opportunity for travel as a living classroom. You can incorporate those art classes we told you about as well as history class because you’ve got so many well preserved Native American heritage sites to explore such as Tuzigoot National Monument as well as Montezuma Castle National Monument. You can literally cover a number of different classes in real life so there is no need to worry about the digital learning piece of things because you’re living it and sometimes nature is the best classroom.
Safety, Sustainability and Such. So, in 2019 Sedona created the sustainable tourism plan that is not just about a healthy economy but also the resident’s quality of life as well as the visitor experience in the environment. And of course, your Travel Guru totally loves this since it’s a very similar mission to Book Here, Give Here which is all about socially responsible travel.
And as per Susan they are profoundly serious about it – not only for the four million guests that come to visit them during the year but also in keeping Sedona pristine for their community of just ten thousand. They are very protective of their beautiful environment and want to keep it keep it that way for the residents. However, they also want those tourists that are coming to visit to capture that same mindset and embrace the values that they are trying to maintain and be sustainable for the long term. And honestly you will see that all throughout the city when you’re there.
Sedona also asks that you take the Sedona Cares Pledge when you are there as it is all about making sure that Sedona stays safe and sustainable. And personally, I like the part that says, “I’ll make my own memories but not my own trails.” And as Susan said – with the 400 miles of trails that they have you’re never going to be running into anyone, but they also want you to stay on those trails so that they can keep the trails well preserved and safe for everyone who enjoys them – but also being respectful of the environment that you’re in.
Updated COVID-19 Information: As of this writing Arizona is open to visitors!
And that my friends is your Sedona summary. If you went only to see the scenery it would still be worth it but as you can see there is so much else to do there as well. As Susan said come visit them because you won’t be disappointed, and it won’t be your only trip – that we both promise!
For more details on things to see and do in Sedona, where to stay, it’s price points and more – contact your Travel Guru! Oh, and if you need a payment plan to fund your travel adventure – we got those too!