Here is my typical preamble: If you are unaware - B of the Nomadic Newlyweds & I have set off on a month full of Girl's Getaways (4 States in 4 Weeks). I'm a huge believer in living like a local, but it's not for the reasons you'd think. It's not because I have some weird grudge about looking or acting like a "tourist". If you're curious about this Keep It Local series --> Click Here. Okay, that's enough links for a first paragraph on a blog about Sedona 🙂 So let's talk.
To continue this long introduction, Sedona was our second stop on this month of Girl's Getaways. San Antonio (--> See Keep It Local | San Antonio, here) was our first. Choosing Sedona as our second trip was easy!
Again, we started by searching flights & flights to Phoenix were more than affordable. We researched the surrounding areas (including Phoenix) via blogs/Pinterest & found that Sedona had a sort of charm that was hard to ignore. Next thing you know - we were off! This time, it wasn't just B & I, we were actually having a little friend reunion this trip. Around a year or so ago we traveled to Hollywood with Jessica of Armoire Answers! Lucky for us, our weekends synced & she was able to join us for this trip of enlightenment. If you are ever in need of a stylist - don't miss working with this insanely talented (affordable) woman!
1 | The Airport
I started my last Keep It Local post with the airport as well. I still find it incredibly humorous, but a lot tends to happen at the airport. So much so, that I've actually decided I'm going to start a series of blogs entitled Airport Eats ! I'm pretty excited for that, actually. Why? Because, food.
Okay, so we got into the airport terribly late & still needed to rent a car. Generally this is something we do beforehand, but a friend was going to drive us to Sedona & we were going to just Uber places. Newsflash! Sedona doesn't have Uber - or if they do, they didn't while we were there...we looked. We decided to rent a car because Sedona was about 2 hours away & we weren't exactly aware of this fun fact (long day, don't ask). Anyways, we didn't feel right asking our friend to drive us that far, so we chose to rent a car.
Don't ever choose to rent a car on the spot around closing time, unless you're going to do so with National. I don't know if this is just Sky Harbor Airport or not, as I don't typically rent a car at the actual airport - I do so beforehand & simply pick it up. Have you ever been to Mexico (bare with me)? Walked down one of those touristy streets & been offered weed? They come at you like they're going to mow you over & then they say they want to smoke you out in the back so you can "try before you buy". Uhm, no sir - I don't want to go into a back room with you, down that there alley, on the streets of Mexico. I don't feel like dying today, I don't want to buy your weed. I don't care that you'll "basically sell it to me for nothing". No Gracias. This is what it felt like trying to rent a car at Sky Harbor. They'd come at you like they were dying to make a sale, then they'd reel you in with a low price. Next thing you know, you're checking out & the price has doubled & they want to run your credit! I guess this is common? I've never had my credit run to rent a freaking car. Oh, then they say something like, "Take it or leave it, we are closing in 5 minutes. Don't miss this amazing deal." We would leave without renting from them, thirty minutes pass, we look over & the fu%#$rs are still open standing around having a grand ol' time. It took B & Jessica to hold me back. We were looking for a good deal, as we all enjoy saving money. This was our mistake, we should have just gone to the one rental car company we know & trust, National. I'm an Emerald member, so it was stupid not to just go to the counter & ask for the best deal they could provide. The associate there asked me what the other guys were promising before they jacked up the price & he matched it. Not only that, but he gave us a beautiful, brand new Ford Explorer. At the other places we were looking at leaving with a Ford Focus. National, you are the bread to my butter, the peanut butter to my jelly.
We were finally off. We made it to Sedona at around 2:30 AM.
2 | Where To Stay
There are so many choices when it comes to lodging in Sedona. It was almost overwhelming, but we stuck to our guns & sought out exactly what we wanted. We knew we wanted a well-rated spa, amazing food, & fresh rooms. We researched spas on Yelp & found the Sedona Rouge Hotel & Spa. A few more clicks & we saw the photos of their amazing restaurant/room service. One phone call later & we found out that they had just finished up with renovations on a large chunk of rooms. Talk about the perfect fit. We looked at photos, but in the end it was the staff that really convinced us that this was where we wanted to stay.
When we arrived it was dark, but we could already tell that this was less of a Hotel & more of a Resort. First thing we saw in the morning was a view I'd want to get married in front of. Their decorating team really outdid themselves. White leather, dark woods, bathrooms done in almost all-white stone, photos of succulents adorn the walls & the patio is as wide as the room. The mini-fridge was hidden inside of the television stand - we found it just in time to cool our champagne & OJ (thank God!). The armoire had lights inside of it! Convenience was key in redesigning these rooms & attention to detail was noticeable. I mean, they had outlets everywhere.
Walking out of our room we saw people on a rooftop lounging by a fire, a few pool floaters & two hot tubs in completely separate areas. The landscaping really pulled it all together. There is a gorgeous fountain at the entrance where you'll be greeted with giant smiles and kind greetings everyday. We are walking around & I can't help but plan out our entire vacation, on property. I could've stayed there the entire weekend, but we definitely had things to do elsewhere. I mostly kept imagining watching the sunset from the rooftop fire area in our spa robes!
3 | Where To Eat
Guys, this is my favorite part. Why? Because, food <-- this is becoming my tagline, someone make me a t-shirt. I mean, food should really just be for sustenance, but who are we kidding - I live for trying new things & eating all of the foods. "I eat all of the foods" would make a pretty good t-shirt for me as well. Can I trademark that? I mean, right now, I'm sitting in my indoor hammock sucking down a PB + banana + superfood smoothie & sipping on a dark chocolate, almond milk latte. I have a problem. Is there AA for this? Would it be called FEA (Food Eaters Anonymous)? The Mechanical Engineer in me is giggling because FEA means Finite Element Analysis. Sorry, I just nerded out there. Travel blogger Tasha is back, le'goooo.
B R E A K F A S T
I don't even know where to start with Local Juicery. The ingredients are local, health is at the forefront, taste is not sacrificed. Boom, I could end there. Then I wouldn't get to tell you about the amazing little space with outdoor seating or the grab-and-go options. How about the smoothie that tastes exactly like a mint chocolate chip milkshake? I'm not exaggerating, this is what really hooked me. I kept talking about it & I still do to this day. Don't forget the artisan smoothie bowls that are almost too pretty to eat & the chocolate waffles that melt in your mouth. I feel like I should reiterate that this place is healthy...it just doesn't taste like your stereotypical health food restaurant. It tastes like you're indulging, but you can stick to your diet & feel good about what you've eaten. We actually stopped in here twice & we were only around for the weekend. It makes for a great refuel spot after an amazing Sedona hike. The owner is majorly involved, Summer. She's adorable & the brains behind all of these amazing juices & smoothies. Hey Summer, can we go into business together here in OKC? I would totally invest in a Local Juicery in every city (especially mine...).
Oh REDS, you had me at Chilaquiles. Online, you read about comfort food with an American flare, but my favorite breakfast dishes were American food with a Mexican flare! You truly outdid yourself with a diverse, but easy to navigate menu. We munched on everything from chilaquiles to bagels and lox. It was the perfect breakfast, offered just steps from our hotel room. How convenient is that? I can see where the "comfort food" comes into play because it tastes like you're sitting in your mother's kitchen for breakfast, enjoying every savory bite. Definitely a top pick. Note: feeling lazy? Order room service from REDS!
L U N C H
I'm drooling writing about all of this delicious food. Lunch spots are easy, Chocola Tree & Tamaliza Market. If you miss either of these, you are truly missing a little piece of Sedona. They embody so much of the culture of this amazing town.
Chocola Tree, first of all, is an experience in & of itself. The "hippy" culture, the enlightened feeling of the area, it's very much alive in this little oasis. They offer organic, vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free food. People run around barefoot while someone plays guitar and sings in the corner. The back patio is adorned in dream-catchers, hammocks, & crystals. Living in a big city, being at this restaurant made me feel like I had stepped into a dreamworld where all was well & nothing could bother me. Their menu is large & full of interesting as well as common plates. Their Kale Chips made the trip back to OKC with me as a little souvenir for when I undoubtedly got stressed out & needed a reminder that being care-free is a state of mind. I can't tell you to try one thing because I wanted to try everything. It was all unique & delightful. It's the perfect stop.
I would say Sedona is a unique mix of hispanic heritage & old school hippy. Some may not agree, but that's just the vibe I got. Hitting up an enlightening place like Chocola Tree wouldn't fully encompass the feel of Sedona. You've got to even it out, you have to eat at Tamaliza Market. Tamaliza keeps with the healthful vibe & makes homemade, large tamales. They use non-GMO organic corn flour masa, zero lard, & zero processed foods. The tamales are never frozen & are actually made fresh each morning. There is only one table with two chairs, but there is a nice patch of grass out front. If we were to do it again, we'd bring a blanket & picnic out front while we enjoyed our tamales. Claudia grew up in Mexico & the recipe she uses for her tamales extends beyond three generations. To say they melt in your mouth would be an understatement, you savor each & every bite. She offers 4 or 5 different tamales each day, if I could've, I'd have tried each recipe. Of the ones I did try, the spinach/mushroom was my favorite.
D I N N E R
Lisa Dahl. That's it. That's all I have to say. Lisa. Freaking. Dahl. Okay, we can move on now right? You'll just take my word? I suppose I should probably tell you a bit more, but if you don't like reading... you can stop here.
Lisa Dahl: Renowned Chef, Restaurant Owner, Author, but most of all - a kind soul. This is a woman with a story I could never do justice telling. She's been set on fire so many times I can't even try to count, but she always seems to emerge without a single burn (obviously I'm speaking figuratively). I can't tell you about her restaurants without this intro though because so much of her is in each menu. She may as well have lived the life of 100 people. She's more knowledgeable than you can imagine because of it.
Mariposa - Latin Inspired Grill is my number one pick for dinner. Not to say you shouldn't go to her other restaurants, but if you only have time for one stop, this is it. This place is popular for good reason, the view is unbeatable. It's on a stretch of Highway 89 all by itself. From what I've read, they had to fight to build in this location & it was worth the fight. Before I forget, make a reservation & ask for a table with a view. If it's nice, sit on their large patio & watch the sunset then enjoy the stars. The restaurant courtyard hosts multiple herb gardens that are tended to daily. Chances are you'll taste some of these fresh herbs in your meal. Don't miss the handmade empanadas or the steak & lobster. If you stay late enough, you may just get lucky & see a little magic as a member of the staff is skilled in this arena. It's what you dream about when you think of vacation, you will not be disappointed.
Looking for a bit of a more laid back atmosphere? Pisa Lisa is the way to go. Soup, salad, artisan pizza, & gelato - never disappoints. Lisa has managed to make every bite count at this pizzeria. What's the one thing I couldn't go without at this pisa heaven (see what I did there)? The Tuscan Tomato Bisque. I can't even explain how savory this soup is. As far as pizza goes, they have red sauce & white sauce, unique & simple. There is truly something for everyone.
Have more time in Sedona, try one of Lisa's other restaurants. You cannot go wrong.
4 | Where to Drink
Again, I don't even know where to start. This is one of my favorite places for nightlife because of how diverse this place is. The people are just so carefree so you can imagine the nightlife is as well. We didn't go out one of the nights because honestly, it seemed as though Sedona went to sleep & we couldn't find a single place open after 9. We drove all over & thought we were the only people in the entire town awake. Boy, were we wrong. It's like we happened upon some big local secret on night #2.
The girls were tired so I basically had to drag them out of our room. We were not excited because night #1 seemed like such a bummer. I couldn't accept that Sedona didn't know how to have a good time, I just couldn't. After some research I found Vino di Sedona was open until midnight on the weekend & that they served wine & cheese plates. It even looked close enough to walk to. After lots of bargaining, I convinced the girls we had to at least go enjoy a low key evening with wine & cheese, then we could turn in. So we walked. When we arrived there were a few people outside, but the parking lot out back wasn't visible so it looked as though there were only 4 or 5 car loads of people there. A little discouraged, we entered... holy $h*t. This place was the craziest place I've ever been. I'm not talking mosh pit crazy, I'm talking twilight zone crazy. The walls were lined in wine bottles like a liquor store, the place was packed with people & there was a live band playing up front. There were 20 year old's dancing with 70 year old's. People were smoking cigars (outside) while others danced alone in the corner. Some were simply sitting and drinking wine, enjoying their cheese plates among the dancers. We found a table, right up front & began the fun task of people watching. You can purchase a bottle of wine from the wall & drink it on-site, no corking fee. So we chose a local bottle & got to drinkin'.
Before we knew it, we had run into John, the Maître d' from Mariposa. He was there with a friend & they joined us with a large cheese plate & another bottle of wine. Praise Jesus, we were in for a great night. We met lots of locals, enjoyed the warm weather on the patio, & ate lots of cheese! After that we tried to get into another bar we didn't know existed, but were turned away because they didn't like the photo of B's driver's license...apparently they wanted to see the real thing....
Side Note: You can fly without a license or passport. I wouldn't suggest it, but it's possible. We got to find out personally as B left her license in Kansas City & only had a picture of it....
We ended up at Mooney's Irish Pub, drinking all the drinks & playing all the darts! Thank the Lord for John for showing us what Sedona is really like at nighttime. Friendships were made into the wee hours of the morning.
Second Side Note: No there isn't Uber, but there are taxi services. Don't drink & drive.
5 | What To Do
There is a plethora of hikes, shops, & points of interest. Choosing where you'd like to visit on your trip can be hard. We chose easy-to-get-to locale, to save time. One thing I won't talk about below are the Razor Rentals. We called multiple shops looking to rent a Razor to save time & hit multiple hikes that you couldn't reach via vehicle. In my personal opinion, the pricing is outrageous. I have rented ATVs & Razors in different places & Sedona is double the cost. If you have money to blow, this would be a great way to see a lot in a short period of time. For us, it wasn't worth the cost of a two night stay in a luxury resort. ($325 for 4 hours or $500 for 8 hours).
D E V I L ' S B R I D G E H I K E
So worth it. No matter your other plans, make this a priority. Ask a local about the second parking lot. Bypass the first lot, packed full of people & cut time off your hike. There's cacti & red rock as far as the eye can see. The views are breathtaking & the hike isn't super strenuous. It's about 2-4 miles round trip depending on where you park. There are ample opportunities for some fantastic photos. My personal favorite, "Invisible Bike Riding on the Bridge", which can be seen above. We even heard a rattlesnake!
T A L A Q U E P A Q U E
Known as the "Art & Soul of Sedona", this is a stop for the shoppers. That or you can ride a giant bronze bear (please see below). Lots of local art & small shoppes. Lots of stops for food, wine & beer. Beautifully put together, with loads of fauna & fountains. You could walk around Talaquepaque all day! Or as I like to call it - Talackypacky.
C H A P E L O F T H E H O L Y C R O S S
This is a drive-able tourist destination. Not a lot of walking needed. This church is set at a high elevation (200 ft) in among the red rocks. The church was built in 1956 & the cross that adorns the front of the cathedral is 90 ft tall. It's the perfect view from the ground or from the sky. If you visit the cathedral, you'll see a panoramic view that is sure to stun. The wind may blow you to your death, but at least you'll die staring at a holy view.
A I R P O R T O V E R L O O K
Hope you don't mind crowds. You will not be alone at this perfect sunset viewing spot! There is a large parking lot for a reason. No hiking necessary, just park & walk across the street. Chill out here, or return to Sedona Rouge & enjoy the view from their rooftop terrace. Make sure you pay attention to the weather, it's chillier at that higher elevation. Bring a jacket to be safe.
S E D O N A R O U G E S P A
Now, this is a can't miss. You should always plan a spa visit on vacation, after all, that's what vacation is all about - relaxation. From the moment you step foot in this award-winning spa, you will feel relief & welcome. They have a steam room & sauna, as well as a private jacuzzi. This is all in the privacy of your locker room area. You will wait for your masseuse in a well adorned sitting area, sipping lemon water & tea. With there being three of us, we all had a different masseuse & separate experience, but we all give them 5 stars. You just cannot go wrong here. Unless you're me & you somehow manage to fold your contact in half and lose it in your upper eyelid in the middle of your massage....
Note: They will allow you to bring in a bottle of wine to enjoy.