To celebrate my girlfriend’s milestone birthday, we went on a three-night trip to Sedona, Arizona. This amazing spa town in the middle of Arizona’s Tonto National Forest is the perfect place to catch up with your best friends, relax, and renew your soul. The beautiful red rock canyons are sure to inspire you and there is so much to do!
The temperature in Sedona was in the low 80s during the day and cooled down nicely overnight, so I packed summer outdoor clothes for the day and fall outfits for the night. And here was my packing list for the trip.
- Petit Blue Original Shoulder Bag in navy (perfect for bringing reading materials for the 4-hour flight from Chicago to Phoenix)
- cropped leggings (great for hiking)
- casual pants that can dressed up or down (lightweight and a bit dressier than workout pants)
- wide-legged pants (super comfy for the long plane ride)
- two casual tops (for hiking and walking around top)
- a pair of jeans (for leisure activities)
- jumpsuit (for fancier dinners)
- sneakers for hiking
- casual slip-on sneakers (for plane ride, goes well with dressier outfits)
- flip flops (for taking showers in hotels)
Sites to See
On your drive from nearby Phoenix airport to Sedona, don’t miss this incredible National Monument where you can walk to breath-taking Native American cliff dwellings built around 800 years ago. The major structure of the “castles” are mostly intact. During the tour, you can’t help but be amazed by why these prehistoric people picked the steep cliffs in which build their dwellings! You will have to imagine how they went about their daily life, and why they eventually abandoned everything and moved on.
Jeep tours are a popular and fun way to see the red rock canyons of Sedona. We chose Pink Jeep Tours for their high reviews on TripAdvisor and you just can’t beat the coolness of riding a pink jeep bouncing through the mountains! There are several routes offered by this company, and we chose the Broken Arrow route. This trip brought us to amazing views of the canyons and jaw-dropping rock formations. Our tour guide, Paul, had incredible knowledge of local geography and a great sense of humor, filling our trip with fun facts and great laughs. If you are ever going to visit Sedona, put this high on your to-do list.
Imagine being carried away on gentle breezes and gliding through the canyons with the sun beaming all around you! This is how you feel when you take a Sunrise hot air balloon ride in the red rock canyons of Sedona. Two companies offer this service; we picked Red Rock Balloons and are so glad we did. The trip requires an early rise, and they provide transportation to drop you off at the launch site. I especially enjoyed it when the balloons brought you up close and you could touch the treetops with your bare hands. If you are lucky, you will see animals roaming through the fields underneath. We saw a rabbit and a few antelopes. After the ride, champagne and muffins were provided for the perfect ending to this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Once we had seen Sedona’s famous red rocks when driving through them and rising over them in a hot air balloon, it was time for a more intimate experience: a hike! In my research, I found the In Between Lattes blog on great local trails to be the most inspirational. We picked the easy and scenic route of West Fork hiking trail.
The trailhead is only a short 15 minutes from downtown Sedona, and the drive itself offers incredible views over Oak Creek Canyon. Unlike the bare red rocks in most of the region, the mountain here is covered with lush vegetation. There is an unbelievable view of the valley at the top, just be careful not to miss the parking lot at the trailhead (like we did).
I had read that the parking lot can fill up quickly during weekends and peak seasons, so plan to get there before 9:30 am, or go in early afternoon to avoid the crowds. Also make sure you don’t get there too late, since the forest is pretty dense on the trail and it can get dark. The thirteen (!) creeks you cross along the trail are a nice change of scenery after a day of dry rocks and dry mountain landscapes. When you cross the fifth creek - a fast running stream - make sure you scoop up a handful of water to try; it is delicious!
Jerome might be Arizona’s most famous ghost town. If you have even half a day free, plan a short ride out to see it. A booming mining town 100 years ago, it has become a tourism hot-spot today. Drive the scenic Route 89A to check out the remains of the old mining town, including buildings like the Bartlett Hotel, abandoned in the 1930s after a landslide buried half of the building’s first floor. Grab a bite at the Asylum Restaurant inside the haunted Grand Hotel. Make sure to pick a window seat and ready to be wowed by the spectacular Verde Valley view. Step inside OJ’s Copper Country Fudge, sample their wide variety of homemade fudge, or even better, pick a few favorites and bring home as souvenirs. Don’t miss the Nellie Bly Kaleidoscope Shop, which claims the world’s largest Kaleidoscopes collection, and be a kid and get lost in their vast collection of this childhood wonder.
Jerome Grand Hotel
Dahl & DiLuca Ristorante. We tried a few great restaurants during our Sedona girls’ weekend, but hands-down, this was our favorite. We enjoyed the linguine with mixed seafood, and the grilled sea bass with green beans. We found their dishes to be exactly what we needed, light and very flavorful.