I had heard whispers of the magic that Sedona possesses, but it wasn't until I stepped foot in this idyllic southwestern town that I truly believed it. Located two hours north from Phoenix, Arizona, this small town — with a population of about 11,000 — is a destination not just for those who want a bit of rest and relaxation or views and vistas but for those in search of a natural spiritual boost.
As soon as you arrive in town, you're struck by the intense beauty of the legendary red rock buttes that surround the town. There are forests filled with pine trees, junipers, and cacti, as well as a stunning canyon and peaceful creek. The sights are jaw-droppingly gorgeous. It's no wonder that it routinely tops the "most beautiful places in America list," not just for the sights but the general feeling you get when you are there. While Sedona is known for its natural beauty, it's also a hotbed of activity. There are hikes, bike rides, wild jeep tours, spa treatments, spiritual readings, and a delicious assortment of restaurants. Here’s how to get the most out of a quick trip to one of the most beautiful places in America.
Where to Stay
L'Auberge de Sedona: Celebrating their 30th year, the legendary L'Auberge de Sedona is an ideal place to call home while you explore the area. Centrally located on the banks of Oak Creek, the L'Auberge de Sedona offers a wide range of luxurious accommodations from well-appointed rooms in their lodge to spacious Creekside cottages. These cottages are particularly alluring; nestled under Sycamore trees, they feature private decks, incredibly comfortable beds with fluffy down bedding, wood-burning fireplaces, and outdoor showers stocked with L'OCCITANE products.
While it would be tempting to never leave the L'Auberge — there are enough offerings to keep you at the hotel for a big chunk of the time— there is plenty to do outside of the resort. L'Auberge is nestled between both of Sedona's main shopping areas, which are a short walk away. If you'd rather keep your steps for the hikes, they do have a shuttle that will take you anywhere within a mile radius.
What to do
One of the big draws of Sedona is the glory of those gorgeous red rocks. There are miles and miles of hiking trails ranging from a casual stroll to a hardcore trek. The Hike House—located right up the hill from L'Auberge—can match you with the ideal type of hike for you based on your wants and abilities, they also have in-house guides who can take you on a guided adventure.
If you'd like a bit more adrenalin with your sightseeing, the Pink Jeep Adventure Tour will take you on an epic journey to a variety of Sedona hot spots. The Broken Arrow tour is a great introduction to Sedona and a way to get up close and personal with the red rocks of the region. The two-hour adventure takes you through rough terrain and delivers you right in the middle of all grandeur. During the tour, they make a couple of stops for those all-important photo ops. If you'd like to make a full day of it, they also do tours to the Grand Canyon and Antelope Canyon.
It's not all hiking and jeep rides, Sedona is also a place to relax. The L'Apothecary Spa at the L'Auberge offers an eclectic menu of wellness experiences. You can visit the Blending Station and create your own custom bath salt or body scrub using ingredients like herbs, oils, and a collection of local botanicals.
One of the signature massage experiences at the spa is the Quiet Mind — inspired by the Quiet Mind flower essence blend of Geranium, Bird of Paradise and Passion Flower from Lotus Wei. Along with the soothing scents, you get an even more soothing massage allowing you to reach a physical and mental place of relaxation. Another of their popular spa options is the unique Feet in the Creek session, where you have a guided meditation session while standing in the creek that runs through the resort. Afterwards you receive a head, neck, and shoulder massage along with a foot reflexology treatment using L'Apothecary flower essence serum. The combination of the sounds of the creek, the fresh air, and the massage is a slice of spa heaven.
Beyond the more typical spa fare of facials and massages, the L'Apothecary Spa also offers yoga and meditation classes. The Vortex Treehouse Session is a phenomenal experience for both novice and seasoned meditation practitioners. With a stunning view of the red rocks, you are guided through a virtual visit through Sedona’s four main vortexes. You will leave centered, relaxed, and with a deeper appreciation of the power of the areas vortexes.
If you opt for the Vortex Treehouse session or not, visiting the area's most powerful vortexes is a must. The main vortex sites in Sedona are the Airport Mesa, Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock, and Boynton Canyon. The Airport Mesa is just minutes from the L'Auberge, and offers expansive views of all of Sedona, but the big thing beside the beauty is the energy that emanates from the vortexes. Some come to mediate, to do yoga, or to merely see if they are touched by the power of these mystical places. If you'd like to go deeper into the powers that reside in Sedona, there are many opportunities to get spiritual guidance from a tarot session to an aura reading at places such as the Center for the New Age. If you'd not up for someone examining your being, you can pick up a crystal for every occasion from their shop or peruse their large collection of books on the subject of spirituality.
What to eat
If you stay at the L'Auberge, you're in luck. They just so happen to house one of the area's finest restaurants, the Cress on Oak Creek. This romantic creekside restaurant offers a chance to dine under the stars. The Prix fixe experience features three to six dishes that range from Sedona's Rainbow Trout Farm Tartare to Butter Poached Maine Lobster to Maple Leaf Farm Seared Duck Breast. Each course is carefully crafted and presented in an Instagram worthy way.
For a more casual dining option, Etch cooks ups dishes like their L' Au-Burger de Sedona and Foraged Mushrooms Quiche for lunch and Oak Creek Beer Braised Corned Beef Hash or Brown Butter Challah French Toast for breakfast.
About ten minutes away from Sedona, you'll find Indian Gardens Café and Market. Opened back in 1947, they serve up some of the most delicious sandwiches in the area. The long line to order is so worth the wait. Warning: It will be hard to choose between their sandwiches like the Bacon and Brie Melt, Steak Sammie, or their Dan the Man, made with Mesquite smoked turkey, bacon, and house-roasted green chiles.
Another dinner option in the area is the always popular Elote Cafe, which is worth eating early for. This hot spot—that serves up elevated Mexican cuisine— is only open from 5 to 9, so there's only a four-hour window to get a chance to dine on dishes like Buffalo Mole Poblano, Smoked Chicken Enchiladas, or Corn Crusted Scallops.
If you have a sweet tooth, swing by Cream and Cake Couture for homemade ice cream, over the top milkshakes or one of their beautiful mini cakes. We love their regional offerings – cakes covered in carefully crafted cacti and succulents.
Sedona truly does have it all and we can't wait to go back for the sights, the sounds, and for our souls.
Have you been to Sedona? Tag us in fave spots on Instagram @BritandCo.
(Photos via Sunny Chanel)