The Most Beautiful Place on Earth: Sedona, Arizona

In an effort to explore as much of the west coast as we can, during the spring of 2021 I surprised my partner with a weekend road trip to what he calls one of his favorite places in the world: Sedona, Arizona. Sedona is about a 4.5 hour drive from Las Vegas, Nevada and the home stretch of the drive into Sedona coming from the north is beautiful! 

Sedona is a desert town in Arizona located near Flagstaff, known as a vibrant arts community surrounded by steep canyons and red rocks. Uptown Sedona is filled with spas, wine bars, art galleries and jewelry shops. On the edges of Sedona you’ll find countless hikes (with limited parking) that offer beautiful mountain views filled with red canyons clashing with green pine forests. 

Exploring downtown Sedona

If you visit Sedona you should be sure to spend some time walking around downtown. It is quaint and filled with rustic charm, offering ample (free and paid) parking options to visit the local arts and crafts stores, cafes, boutiques, and shops filled with gems and crystals.

Mescal Mountain Trail

Out side of downtown, Sedona presents an abundance of hikes that vary in length and intensity. If hiking is your jam, you could certainly go to Sedona with a focus solely on hiking. On our weekend in Sedona we took it pretty easy and focused more on delicious meals with epic views, cute wineries, star gazing and sleeping in, than we did on hiking. A quick search on All Trails will show you the wide variety of hiking options the area has to offer. The hikes we considered were Devils Bridge, Montezuma’s Castle, Birthing Cave, Mescal trail and Soldiers pass trail.

The difficult vs extreme split on Mescal Trail seemed to apply to mountain bikers more than hikers

Following the recommendation of our airbnb hosts, we hiked Mescal Trail our first morning in town. This ended up being the only hike we did in Sedona and we loved it. Mescal Trail is listed on All Trails as “moderately trafficked,” but we were there in peak season, on the weekend, around 9:00 am, and saw less than 10 other hikers on trail with us. It is an out and back trail, so you can really make it any distance you’d like, but if you do the full trail it’s just shy of 6 miles long. Most of the trail is easy but there are a few areas I would call moderate, and if you decide to go off trail and explore, you have the option to get into more technical inclines. Along the trail you find wild flowers and plenty of those beautiful red rock views that Sedona has become known for.

You can catch this view if you’re willing to climb off trail and hike up a bit towards the end of Mescal Trail

Accommodations in Sedona range from luxurious hotels to budget motels and of course there are plenty of airbnbs. Whatever your accommodation style preference may be, I recommend booking far in advance. After exploring our options I decided to book us at an airbnb. I can not stress enough how much we LOVED our airbnb. It was tucked into a quiet neighborhood in West Sedona, but still close to everything. The king bed suite where we stayed is attached to a larger house but it is on a separate level from the rest of the home, has a private entrance, a parking space, and a patio to sit on and enjoy the beautiful cactus garden sprawling across the front yard. Our hosts, Janice & Drew, live in the main house and were home when we visited but they were not a bother at all- they were lovely, and as 25 year Sedona locals they were extremely helpful with local knowledge and recs!

A beautiful cactus flower that blooms at night, only once. We were lucky enough to catch this timing perfectly in the garden at our airbnb.

Dining out in Sedona is a special treat! Similar to my accommodation advice above, the same applies to dining out. Make your reservations as soon as possible once you start planning your visit. I was seeking reservations to some of the hottest restaurants in town three months in advance and wasn’t able to get into a couple of them because the reservations were already full for the entire weekend!

Celebrating my partner’s birthday with dinner at The Hudson

We were able to enjoy two of the well known popular restaurants in town, The Hideaway House and The Hudson. At each of these restaurants I strongly recommend eating on the patio, as they both boast stunning mountain views.

The Hideaway House is a classic Sedona restaurant- this down to earth cafe is full of happy vibes with sun flowers on the walls, an Italian focused kitchen, a full bar and an open air patio. They have an online wait list on their website- use it! We were enjoying the food & views so much that we didn’t capture any photos at The Hideaway House so you’ll just have to check it out for yourself!

The patio view from dinner at The Hudson just before sunset
I’m always happiest on a patio with an epic view (@ The Hudson)

The Hudson is another well known neighborhood restaurant- this contemporary restaurant serves up creative cocktails in a chic setting with a chef driven menu of New American fare. They claim to have the best patio deck in town, and I don’t disagree. I recommend going in the evening because if you plan your timing perfectly to catch sunset from the patio deck, you wont regret it.

The wineries in Cornville are so charming!

About 15 minutes from Sedona you will find Cornville, a small town worth checking out if you enjoy rustic creek side vineyards. Don’t get me wrong, it’s no Nappa Valley, but it is fun, affordable, and cute. Local wineries offer tours where you can learn about the wine making process and sample a variety of authentic Arizona wines.

We started our Cornville day at The Old Corral Bar, which is described online as a “casual bar/restaurant.” By my standards I would absolutely call this a “dive bar,” but I don’t mean that in a negative way at all. They had a couple great pool tables and were setting up for live music when we stopped by around 1pm. While it was obvious we were not local, (aka I was glad I was wearing converse sneakers with my dress vs heels, in a minor attempt to not completely stand out like a sore thumb), the drinks were cheap, their pool tables were good and they had live music. These three things earn major bar points in my book, thanks to my father who taught me the things to seek when defining a good hometown bar.

Quick shot on the tour of Page Springs Vineyard & Cellars

If you want the skip the local dive bar and go straight to adorable wineries then I would suggest booking a tour/tasting at Page Springs Vineyard & Cellars. They serve food, have creek side views, outdoor games, yoga sessions, and massage treatments. Their tour was educational and worth the cost. Reservations recommended for booking a tour! I noticed that others without a tour booked, had extremely long wait times for drinks or food.

Javelina Leap Vineyard

Next we visited Javelina Leap Vineyard– this was a cute local Vineyard that doesn’t have tours but offers good local wines that you can sip on relaxing in their large outdoor area surrounded by beautiful vines and outdoor games like corn hole and horseshoe.

The sweetest on site dog at DA Ranch who just wanted snacks and cuddles

Before heading back to our cozy airbnb we made a quick stop by the tranquil DA Ranch. This property was so much fun- there is a beautiful patio and plentiful outdoor seating options on the grounds from swings, to picnic tables, to Adirondack chairs. It is a large, family friendly estate with social on site dogs, kind tasting room hosts and a home-style feel.

Photo of the beautiful flowers in our airbnb garden

All in all, Sedona has so much to offer, year round, regardless of your age and what you’re seeking. If you’re searching for a solo adventure focused on connection with the earth, to center your energy for healing & meditation- Sedona has it! If you are hoping to sleep in, relax at wineries all day and star gaze at night- Sedona has it! If you’re wanting an adventure packed weekend of hiking, running and mountain biking- Sedona has it!

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