A few years ago, The Hub (or, the BF at the time) and I took a 5 day trip to Arizona for his 30th birthday. We had a fantastic time hiking in Sedona and touring the Grand Canyon. We went over Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, which may seem like a strange time to take that type of trip, but for us it was perfect! We had a long weekend which allowed us to take less time off of work, the weather was temperate (for the most part) and we were able to sightsee without throngs of tourists. I think this is the perfect post-holiday getaway and I wanted to share our experiences with you so that you can start planning now! This post will focus on all that is Sedona.
I booked us some pretty cheap flights on Southwest and we flew from SFO – PHX. From there we rented a car and started the 2 1/2 hour drive to Sedona. Sedona is a beautiful and idyllic place with some breathtaking scenery and views. The contrast between the cerulean blue sky and flaming red rocks creates a magical backdrop that is a welcome respite in January. There are tons of fun outdoor activities (even in the winter) that include hiking, mountain biking, fishing and horseback riding. If you’re not the adventurous type, there is also lots of shopping and a plethora of high end spas to entertain you.
WHERE TO STAY
As far as accommodations are concerned, there are a wide array of options ranging from super high (like the amazing Enchantment Resort) to rustic camping. I wanted to stay somewhere in the middle, so we chose the Hyatt Pinon Pointe.
For $119/night, we got a very clean and comfortable studio with refrigerator, dishes, microwave, TV, and couch. The hotel is centrally located near lots of food, shops and grocery stores and offers beautiful views. The only downside to our stay was the very aggressive sales staff that kept trying to get us to attend the 90-minute tour of their almost-but-not-quite-finished timeshares in exchange for a free helicopter tour of Old Sedona. After politely declining a few times, the staff continued to pursue us. In the end, we hid out in our room, dodged voicemails, and avoided eye contact with the staff in order to get through our 2 night stay without having to endure a sales pitch. Pushy sales staff aside, the Hyatt Pinon Pointe seemed to be the nicest moderately priced hotel, so I still recommend it. Maybe at this point they have sold all the timeshares…
WHAT TO DO
We stayed 2 days in Sedona and, for the most part, spend most of our time hiking, eating and shopping. The first day we headed over to Sinagua Plaza in Sedona Center where you can find shop after shop of turquoise and silver jewelry, knickknacks, souvenirs, beef jerky, and a never ending supply of healing crystals. I couldn’t go on vacation and not bring back a special gift for my darling Figaro, so we checked out Three Dog Bakery. The bakery is very cute, but pretty expensive. There are many different choices of doggy toys, clothes and treats and they even have adorable made-to-order doggy cakes. I liked the bulk treat center where you could mix and match flavors like cheese, apple-oatmeal and carob chip…yum!! Fig liked the carob chip the best.
There are countless hiking trails and viewpoints throughout Sedona, but here are the ones that we liked the best:
As a sidenote, Sedona is considered to be a place with several power vortexes. According to my 2006 Frommer’s Arizona guidebook, “…a vortex is a site where the earth’s unseen lines of power intersect to form a particularly powerful energy field.” These power vortexes have fueled the New Age movement in Sedona. Boynton Canyon and Airport Mesa are two of the four main power vortexes in Sedona!
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK
Wildflower Bread Company – This is an almost exact replica of Panera Bread Company that is located very close to the Hyatt. The Hub and I came here both mornings for breakfast. The first morning I ordered my usual double shot latte, no foam, and it was made to perfection. I also had a few bites of a pumpkin chocolate chip muffin that looked better than it tasted. The second morning I had my usual latte (this time I’m pretty sure they forget my second shot. I ditched it and fled to Starbucks) and I also ordered the roasted tomato, feta and scrambled egg sandwich on ciabatta bread. I got rid of some of the bread because it was a bit much, but the rest of the sandwich was outstanding. The Hub had the beef vegetable stew that was also quite enjoyable.
Dahl & Diluca Ristorante Italiano – Hands down the best meal we had all vacation – I really can’t say enough about this place. Dahl & Diluca has a very romantic and cozy atmosphere. There was a live jazz ensemble playing, and we were actually seated right next to them. I was a little worried about this from a noise perspective, but it turned out to be a nice treat. Although I found the wine selection to be rather bleak, I found an Italian Chianti that paired nicely with our meal. The bread came with a dipping oil that had waaaay too much garlic for my taste and the bruschetta appetizer was pretty standard.
However, I think I’m still drooling over the Eggplant Parmigiana. It was the best i have ever had in my life. It just melted in my mouth! I could have had 3 orders. The Hub had the Penne con Salciccia, or penne with sausage, peppers and onion. I was reluctant to give up much of my eggplant to get a true sample of this dish, but he seemed very pleased with it.
Finally came the coffee and dessert. We had the ginger-pear cheesecake. OH. MY. GOD. The crust was delicious and the cheesecake creamy and wonderful. I would LOVE to come back here.
Cowboy Club Grille & Spirits – Going into this, everyone should know that I absolutely despise chain restaurants (with the exception of P.F. Chang’s.) I hate the atmosphere, the menu, and the staff. So I was fully prepared for the Cowboy Club Grille & Spirits to be a very cheesy take on a “western” style chain restaurant…and was I right. It was very cheesy, but it could have been worse. After a few tasty Oak Creek Brewery Ambers, our very kind server asked if we’d like to start off with some “cactus fries.” They were…interesting and tasted like fried zucchini. In fact, I’m sort of thinking maybe it was actually fried zucchini and not cactus. Next we had the Buffalo Filet in Peppercorn sauce, which was DELICIOUS, but not necessarily worth the $37 they charged.
Bistro Bella Terra – We came here for drinks after dinner at the Cowboy Club. It is a pretty generic bar with a small draft beer selection; however, it was pretty much the only open bar within walking distance from the Hyatt.
And now, onto the GRAND CANYON!