Sedona – Overview

Discovering culture, seeking adventure, exploring nature

Stunning Sedona. Something about this place makes you want to embrace adventure and seek out every hike or explore every off-road path. At the same time something calls for you to slow down your mind and body, unwind and simply relax. Luckily, you can do all of that and more in Sedona.

Sedona is a relatively small town, with less than 11,000 residents. However, between 2 and 4 million tourists visit Sedona each year, making the area feel sophisticated and cosmopolitan while keeping its quaint charm and natural beauty intact.

Uptown Sedona is always bustling with activity and there’s plenty to explore beyond the town’s center, from the art galleries and craft shops to the south, to the restaurants and local businesses of West Sedona. Of course the national forests and parks surrounding the town provide endless opportunities for outdoor adventure, and the famous spas of Sedona will help you unwind after busy days of exploring it all.

 

Campanas_webTlaquepaque

Tlaquepaque is an arts and crafts village authentically styled after a traditional Mexican village. The village is easily walkable and you’ll find yourself meandering through the winding pedestrian cobblestone streets and losing track of time in the best way possible. The architecture takes you back in time with colorful and detailed tile work found among the vine-covered stucco walls and archways. Many of the giant sycamore trees in the area were left undisturbed when the village was constructed in the 1970s, so there is a harmony with nature that further enhances the atmostphere. The outdoor sculptures, statues and fountains make the whole village feel like a living art gallery.

Oak Creek PubIf you’re in the mood to shop, browse the more than 40 boutique shops featuring clothing, leather, jewelry, pottery, unique gifts and of course plenty of fine art. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, head to one of the village’s four restaurants and choose from French cuisine, modern American or Mexican. The Oak Creek Brewery & Grill is a laid-back pub on the second floor of the village where you can expect stunning views, friendly service and delicious food. The Brew Pub Soft Pretzels cooked in the wood-fired oven are a tasty appetizer to share, and while the selection of gourmet pizzas is tempting, the burgers steal the show here. Any dish you choose is best washed down with one of the house-brewed beers, and be sure to ask about the seasonal brew.

 

Uptown Sedona (15)Uptown Sedona

Uptown Sedona is the heart of the town, with several easily walkable blocks of boutique shopping, art galleries, restaurants and tour options, all against the dramatic backdrop of the surrounding red rocks. It’s perhaps the most scenic tourist district you’ll find.

To get your bearings, take one or both of the Trolley Tours based in the center of town. Trolley Tour A focuses on the art and culture of the area and takes visitors through Tlaquepaque before heading to the Chapel of the Holy Cross. This iconic work of religious architecture is one of the most well-known attractions in the area, and can get extremely

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crowded. The parking area and overflow parking can both get full, and the uphill walk from the overflow parking may not be ideal for everyone. Trolley Tour A helps avoid the hassle and takes you all the way to the chapel. The 15 minutes you’re given there is plenty of time to take a few pictures of yet another stunning view, and even spend a few minutes in quiet contemplation in the non-denominational chapel. Trolley Tour B takes visitors to the area of West Sedona where many of the trails in the Coconino National Forest are located and focuses on the natural history and flora and fauna of the area.

After a tour and some shopping (look for the “Made in Sedona” sticker to ensure the authenticity of your souvenirs), the Wildflower Bread Company is a lively bakery and restaurant open for breakfast and lunch that specializes in a variety of deli and bakery fare including soups, sandwiches, salads, pasta and desserts. If available, grab a table on the deck outside to drink in the view.

 

Day Trips

If you’re visiting Sedona for a few days or more, consider a half or full day adventure outside of town. Chances are, the drive will be scenic and you’ll discover even more to love about the area around Sedona.

 

North of Sedona:

Flagstaff is only about an hour north of Sedona and is halfway to the Grand Canyon. Stop for breakfast at Indian Gardens Oak Creek Market for the best coffee and breakfast sandwich around and enjoy the drive north to the home of Northern Arizona University. Here, in the shadows of the San Francisco Peaks – the highest in the state – you’ll find the hip boutiques and eclectic restaurants that you’d expect in a college town in the easily walkable historic downtown area.

Stop by the visitors’ center located downtown in an historic train station and pick up the map for a self-guided tour of Flagstaff’s Route 66. Eight attractions are on this route that date back as far as 1896. You can still dine at Granny’s Closet if you want to get the full experience of road trip nostalgia.

In addition to the college vibe and Americana history, Flagstaff boasts plenty of outdoor activities and adventure for visitors. The Flagstaff Urban Trails and Bikeways map will help you navigate an active tour of the area, or you can visit Buffalo Park for a scenic stroll. Just a few miles outside of town are the Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument and the Walnut Canyon National Monument, both well worth a visit.

If the Grand Canyon is a high priority on your bucket list, then Flagstaff is the perfect place to grab a tour when you’re staying in Sedona. While there are Grand Canyon tours that depart from Sedona, you’ll pay less per person catching one from Flagstaff, and you may be able to enjoy the park a bit longer. Tours from Angel’s Gate Tours and All-Star Grand Canyon Tours are highly rated and include a picnic lunch.

 

South of Sedona:

On the highway between Sedona and Phoenix, the majority of the route travels through preserved land of national forests and parks, so while the scenery may be great, civilization is sporadic. There are a few spots worth stopping to stretch your legs or grab a bite to eat, or to visit for an easy excursion from Sedona.

The Village of Oak Creek is immediately south of Sedona, and there are several restaurants and shopping options in the area. Check out The Red Rock Café for lunch and dine with locals on sandwiches and soups made from fresh, seasonal ingredients.

Head further south about 30 minutes to Camp Verde, the geographical center of Arizona and the oldest settlement in the Verde Valley. The town’s annual corn festival is held in July each year and includes activities for all ages, live music, craft vendors and, of course, plenty of sweet corn. Other area attractions include Fort Verde, Yavapai Apache Cultural Center, Verde Canyon Railway and Cliff Castle Casino.

The most notable attraction in the area is Montezuma’s Castle National Monument, one of the most well-preserved cliff dwellings in the country that dates back more than 800 years to the Sinagua people. Check out the informative visitors’ center and walk the easily navigable pathways around this ancient structure.

 

East / South of Sedona:

Just 30 minutes on highway 89A brings you to the old-fashioned towns of Cottonwood and Jerome. Cottonwood was once a thriving moonshiners’ town, and today the area is one of the main highlights of the Verde Valley Wine Trail, with several tasting rooms in an old-west setting. Shop for hours in two-acre Larry’s Antiques, and have a cup of coffee inside of the old jailhouse-turned-café.

The town of Jerome, 10 minutes east of Cottonwood, a copper mining town once known as one of the wildest of the wild west, is now a national historic landmark with a thriving artist community. On top of Cleopatra Hill at an elevation of 5,200 feet, the views aren’t too shabby either.

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