Arizona Paradise: Sedona, Arizona

Sunset in Sedona

Sunset in Sedona

Arizona
may be known as a land of desert, to the uninformed, but to the wise traveler,
Arizona is a resort getaway. The diversity in the landscape and the feel of
different regions of the state create an unequaled vacation spot with all the
beauty, history, relaxation, recreation, and exploration you want.

As a
local to Sedona, Arizona, one of the prime vacation spots for the Arizona
traveler, I have an inside view of the town which is known to some as the most
beautiful place in the country.

If you
come to Arizona by air, you will most likely fly into Phoenix Sky Harbor
Airport, and the trip up to Sedona is about an hour and a half to two hours.
You can find a hotel on the cheap end for maybe $80 at best, and you can find a
lot of expensive (and fancy) resorts almost everywhere in the town.

Some of the
favorites are Los Abrigados, medium range, and L’Auberge ($200-$500 a night). Choices
like these are for the person or couple or family who is serious about indulging
in a nice retreat without worrying about cost. Both offer a creekside village,
and you will feel the peace and royalty all in one. If you’re like me, however,
you may just want to look for the more affordable room, such as at the hotel on
Airport Road, or the Hampton, or another more simple stay. It won’t ruin your
vacation, I promise, because the true experience is outside.

Come
ready to hike, because the paths of Sedona will be some of the most scenic and
memorable you will ever experience. There are the trails for the rugged, more
hardcore hikers, like Bear Mountain, but there are many accessible trails for
anyone who is able to walk a bit. Some good and painless ones I like to go to
are Thunder Mountain and Sugarloaf Trails (1.5 -5 miles), Soldier’s Pass (2.5
miles), and anywhere in Oak Creek Canyon. Just grab a map and head out with
lots of drinking water, or possibly talk to someone who can point you in the
direction of a trailhead. Bring a camera.

Another
note on Oak Creek Canyon – this is my favorite place in the world. It is
beautiful year-round with a canopy of trees over the gorgeous creek, but it is
especially fantastic in spring and fall. The Oak Creek runs through it,
parallel with highway 89A, and it offers many areas to swim or bask or hike
around. Carve out a good chunk of time to spend here – it’s a real paradise.

Another
favorite spot of mine in Sedona is Tlaquepaque, an “arts and craft village,”
which means it consists of shops (many southwestern art galleries, clothing
boutiques, and my favorite – the bead shop) and restaurants (including the
delicious Mexican food at El Rincon). But the attraction is its beautiful
Spanish style buildings and gardens, giving a quaint old-time feel. I just love
to go there for some peaceful time.

A couple
of warnings: A lot of people who come as tourists anywhere get sucked into
tourist traps, and one of the biggies in Sedona is the” Vortex,” which,
depending on who you talk to, is likely just a good marketing scheme. There is
an elaborate market for these New Age power centers, but don’t be too easily
persuaded.

Also,
Slide Rock, a natural water slide going into Oak Creek, might be fun – I’ve
never gone there – and it is one of the most popular attractions. Go if you
wish, but just be aware that is closed at least once a year for ecoli!

There
are lots of friendly people who live in Sedona, and if you ask around you’ll
get the insider’s recommendations free of cost. Don’t just follow all of the
marketing. And a final word to the tourist who wishes to be informed; Sedona
residents hate it when tourists drive beneath the speed limit or even stop in
the middle of the road to view or take photos of the scenery. Yes, it’s
beautiful; pull over!

photo by philipbouchard on Flickr

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