- Published: Monday, 31 December 2012 00:00
- Written by Darren Darnborough
By Darren Darnborough
Sedona, Arizona, might not be an obvious choice of American destination for the international traveler, but it's definitely worth a stop of solace and exploration on the route of any cross-country road trip, as a weekend getaway from the big Unites States cities, or as a quick antithesis to Vegas madness (at a picturesque five-hour drive). Whether coming for spirituality, relaxation, outdoor fun, or scenery, Sedona is uniquely positioned for all.
There's every reason to wake early in Sedona to catch the sunrise peeking above the red rock formations that surround you. Whilst the landscape is fairly reminiscent of the Grand Canyon, the horizon feels far closer and varied as you watch the sun rise and dance its highlights off of the texture. As we will get to later on, the city quiets to a slumber after dusk, so "early to bed, early to rise" is your Red Rock mantra. The famed Coffee Pot Restaurant, a quirky breakfast staple, serves its 101 varieties of omelets starting at 6 a.m. so there's no need to wait to fuel for your day ahead either.
From first light the outdoors is yours and begging to be explored so, unless you are exhausted from your travels (in which case I recommend an excellent spa such as Enchantment Resort), dress for the wild and take in some of the hiking trails either on foot or on wheels—your own wheels. Sedona Segway Tours is incredibly good fun, and if you've never been, trust me, you'll be surprised. Something I always looked at as ridiculous and reserved for those too lazy to walk actually took me back to being five years old and on an adventure. Segways are incredibly quick to master, soon just feeling like an extension of your body. If you are lucky enough to have a fun guide like Lora, you'll be whizzing around like "Johnny Number 5" and spotting the shape illusions in the rock faces (such as "the Ship" or "Bill and Monica" ... don't ask!)
By this point, you'll have worked up a suitable appetite, for both lunch and souvenirs; satisfy the lot at the Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village, a beautiful and quaint courtyard maze where local craftspeople and designers showcase their wares in elegant stores. Lunch at one of Sedona's long established restaurants, Rene, offers a classy but eclectic experience, both in decor (the owner's personal choices from throughout the years) and in the menu, where delightful English pea-cakes sit alongside ahi tuna tacos and French escargot in a formal but comfortable environment.
Belly full and shopping list achieved, you might want to check out some of the region's famed vortexes, areas said to be created by spiraling spiritual energy. There is some discussion as to where to find them and the difference between male and female ones so this is a perfect opportunity to engage one of the locals in questions; they are an interesting, insightful (and on occasions loopy) community.
As the sun sets, something you simply cannot miss are the incredible views from one of many vantage points that the Sedona trails offer. If you like being chauffeured, Pink Jeep Tours offers a variety of excursions in its recognizable vehicles, from the more scenic and rough-riding Broken Arrow tour to the educational Ancient Ruins tour, which highlights some of the building and pictograms still visible from the early settlers to the region. These tours are great fun if you are alone and want a guide (although whilst driving the info is hard to hear), however if you have your own off-road vehicle or SUV, which can be rented from Sedona ATV Rentals, or are in a group, it can be fun and more affordable to explore on your own on one of the many trails. Just make sure that as you ascend the sun is setting and you will never run out of photo opportunities.
When dusk hits, it's time to freshen up and head to dinner. Sedona restaurants close early compared to many cities, several with last seating at 8 p.m. So pick somewhere nice such as the impeccably presented creekside dining at L'Auberge. Whether dining al fresco in warmer climates or in the elegant interior (private section available), the food is rich and gourmet with fantastic meat, fish, and game choices and high-class flair on every plate. Savor and relax, as following dinner, it's time to chill. Perhaps watch the stars, snuggle with a loved one, or refresh in the private outdoor shower at L'Auberge's stylish cottages. Or wind down in the home-comforts of centrally located Sedona Rouge Hotel & Spa's courtyard suites, with warm tones and linens, fireplaces, personal touches such as an in-room library, and (the best bit) a hot tub and heated pool beneath the stars and secluding rock that stays open until 10 p.m. The rest will come with ease.
This column is sponsored by Turkish Airlines, flying to more countries than any other airline.