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First Timer's Weekend Guide to Sedona, Arizona


Visiting Sedona and exploring the Grand Canyon has always been on my bucket-list. We've been talking about heading out there for a while now and finally got to it this past weekend. We departed Los Angeles early Saturday morning and left Tuesday morning for a nice, extended weekend in the desert.

After the one hour flight to Phoenix airport, we rented a car and headed up to Sedona. The drive to Sedona was approximately two hours but a pretty, cacti-filled one at that. We stopped at a tourist trap (they had good pie, though!) about an hour in and continued the trek. Right before arriving to Sedona, we stopped by the Montezuma Castle National Monument, oooh-ed and aaaah-ed at the amazing structure built without technology and finally checked in at the luxurious Sedona Rouge Hotel & Spa.

Now, let me guide you through the hotel, restaurants, leisurely and adventurous activities you can do in an extended weekend in Sedona!

Eat:


Rock Springs Cafe - This is the place I called "tourist trap with good pie" in the introduction and it's true. It's one of the only unique places around the halfway point between Phoenix and Sedona, which explains all the reviews. It's a saloon themed restaurant with a gift shop attached to it. The food is mediocre and overpriced; we had the Meatloaf Sandwich & the Ruben, both were just average. But the pies! The pies were pretty darn good. The Chocolate Cream Pie was divine and the Apple Pie was classic. Make sure you get your fruit pies warmed up!


Saltrock Southwest Kitchen - To be completely honest, we chose this restaurant because of the photos of stunning views of the Red Rocks. The Guacamole Kit is a must as an appetizer! It comes with a tray of toppings (jalapenos, tomatoes, mango and corn nuts) alongside a bowl of seasoned guacamole. We shared the Rabbit Confit Taco & Ancho Braised Short Rib Tacos which were delicious! Try the Tres Leches Cake for dessert and thank me later.


Oak Creek Brewery & Grill - The 30 minute wait for a table at Oak Creek Brewery & Grill was worth it! While I'm not a beer drinker, my fiancè tried a couple of their local brews and enjoyed them quite a bit. We both ended up with the Beer Simmered Bratwurst with Cajun Fries and oh my, it was delicious! My mouth is watering just thinking about it. They are located inside the Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village.

Adventure:


Montezuma Castle National Monument - If you're driving from Phoenix, the Montezuma Castle National Monument Park is conveniently on the way to Sedona. It's a smaller park and will only need an hour or less for the visit. The Montezuma Castle is a grandiose landmark that comes highly recommended. I won't go into too much history (history nerd over here!) but it's a 5 story, 800 year old castle constructed by Native Americans. So impressive!


Guided Tours by Pink Jeep - As soon as you arrive in Sedona, you can't help but notice the several Pink Jeeps that drive by. They're ranked the 4th best Tour companies by TripAdvisor and now I know why! Out of Sedona, they have several different tours whether you want to go on an off-roading, hiking, historic or a scenic tour, they have it. I personally opted for day-long Grand Canyon tour with Pink Jeep but if you want to experience a shorter tour, most of them are between 1.5-3 hours. You can find my Grand Canyon experience on this post!


Crescent Moon Ranch State Park - Want to go on an easy, flat hike, play in the water, picnic...or all of the above? Crescent Moon Ranch State Park is the perfect spot. The second the Red Rocks came into view when approaching Sedona, I knew I had to get close to it. It's an easy hike perfect for families with young children or seniors. We saw a ton of dogs, too! The rocks are a sight to behold. One interesting thing - there were tons of rocks stacked on top of each other! If anyone knows the story behind it if there even is one, let me know!

Leisure:

Uptown Sedona - Consider Uptown as the 'downtown' of Sedona. There's several shops, galleries, restaurants, coffee shops, you get the gist. If it's a nice day or cool evening, it's worth a stroll.


Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village - When we asked the Concierge where we could find local art and crafts, he recommended we visit Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village. It's easy access at just a block south of the Uptown area. The Village boasts Southwestern architecture with verandas, arches and darling florals. We found that the Village mostly consists of art galleries and jewelry shops, along with a handful of eateries. Definitely worth a visit if only for a stroll and a Prickly Pear milkshake from How Sweet It Is!


Spa @ Sedona Rouge - We all love a relaxing spa day, right? Can you imagine how amazing a massage would be after hiking on a hot Arizona day? The Spa at the Sedona Rouge Hotel is a full service spa within the hotel property. With a spa treatment, enjoy the use of their hot tub, steam room, fitness center and pool. I was lucky enough to experience a Custom Facial with Diane and it was heavenly! They have an extensive spa menu so you're bound to find something that you'll love. Treat yo' self!

Stay:

Sedona Rouge Hotel & Spa - The Sedona Rouge Hotel & Spa is conveniently located a few miles from the Uptown area and is a desert oasis. You're immediately welcomed by a beautiful outdoor lobby area and friendly staff. While I don't have a dog yet (coming in June!), the hotel is dog friendly with plenty of walking areas and biscuits to boot!


Room - Our room was in the Almeria section of their property. The room was newly redesigned, spacious and had a patio facing the Almeria Garden. The decor of the room was absolutely charming with shades of neutrals and pops of their signature reds. I was beyond thrilled about the large tub and used it multiple times. The bed was so comfortable and we slept so well; I never get that great of sleep at hotels!


Spa - As I mentioned in the "Leisure" portion above, their spa is the perfect place for tranquility and relaxation. Being able to walk to and from my room made things convenient.



Dining - REDS restaurant is on property and serves dining options all day, including a bar. We had breakfast there each morning (Cornflake Crusted French Toast, anyone?) and loved starting the day off with good food. Later in the evenings, we would stop by for a drink or two! They also have room service.

The Sedona Rouge Hotel is in such an ideal location and is hands down, one of the best hotels we've ever had the pleasure of staying. Aside from the beautiful property, friendly staff and delicious cuisine, they even got the small, yet important things right. The room temperature was perfect, the wifi was consistent, the towels were soft and every spot of the property was pristine. If you're planning a trip to Sedona, consider the Sedona Rouge Hotel, I highly recommend it!

I had the best time in Sedona; the perfect balance of activity and relaxation! We can't wait to go back for more hikes and Southwestern delicacies. Have you been to Sedona before? Where should I go next? Leave a comment below!

Pin for later!

The Sedona Rouge Hotel & Spa graciously hosted us at their beautiful property and Pink Jeep Tours welcomed us on their Grand Canyon tour. However, all opinions are as always, my own.

38 comments

  1. I was DROOLING at all the food pics!! Definitely will be looking into getting a tour when I head out there! xo

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    1. Haha! Hopefully you can make it out to Sedona sometime soon, it's seriously gorgeous!!! xo

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  2. Great blog! I love the content and format. Look forward to reading more!

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    1. Thank you so much!!! Appreciate that! xo

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  3. Your photos are mouthwatering. You write very well and I can always count on you for writing up awesome city guides!

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    1. Aww thanks Cherie, that means a lot! xo

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  4. This is my second time to read about Sedona today. Maybe it's a sign! ;) My husband and I would enjoy the off-road tours! The food is another thing to look forward to. Those looked delicious!

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    1. Haha I think that's a sign! I think it's worth visiting, especially if you've never visited Sedona or the Grand Canyon before! xo

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  5. I would visit just to go to Montezuma Castle National Monument Park. It reminds me of Mesa Verde in SW Colorado, which is amazing. But the food, adventure and accommodations look pretty amazing too.

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    1. Ooohh I'll have to check out the Mesa Verde if I ever get to Colorado (I want to!). Thanks for stopping by Liana! xo

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  6. That bath! lol. I've not visited this part of the states, but looks like it's got a lot to offer. I've heard good things about Pink Jeep Tours from several people now too! #FlyAwayFriday

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    1. Haha right?! You'll have to visit too, it's worth it! xo

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  7. Looks like you had an amazing time! The Grand Canyon is definitely on my bucket list... I'm so desperate to go! #FlyAwayFriday

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    1. You should goooooo! It's SO worth it and pretty much life-changing! :) xo

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  8. I should not have read this on an empty stomach. That chocolate cream pie looks so yummy! I think I've driven through that part of Arizona about 10 years ago. But I have a terrible memory. I just love the cacti-lined streets. #flyawayfriday

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    1. Omg YES I couldn't BELIEVE the cacti everywhere....and I mean EVERYWHERE right? Haha! I thought it was a stereotype but nope! xo

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  9. The food looks amazing Kana! I have put on 2 kgs just LOOKING at that food! I would have had to try it but then spend all weekend working it off before it glued itself to my hips! Looks like a fab place to visit - the more I see of the USA the more I want to see (I have been to all the big cities on both coasts but I have lots more to see!! #flyawayfriday

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    1. Haha the food was SO good! Gotta love Southwestern deliciousness :) You'll have to visit us over on the west coast soon :) xo

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  10. I have been to Sedona many times but never tried the Pink Jeep tours. It looks so much fun! Did you visit the vortex ? It is next to the Bell Rock.

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    1. Isn't Sedona amazing? I think we did visit the vortex? Our tour guide kept saying anywhere near the rocks were vortexes....if that's even true, haha! xo

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  11. I'm all for tourist traps as long as they have good pie! haha. The crescent moon ranch hike looks really pretty and the pink jeep tours sounds like a lot of fun! I'll definitely be keeping those in mind when I get out there later this year!
    #flyawayfriday

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    1. Hahaha you'er hilarious! Oh you're headed out there this year? YAY! You're going to loveeee it! xo

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  12. Thanks for a great post Kana. The food all looks absolutely delicious and the views from the hotel were stunning! I would definitely love to visit the Montezuma Castle park, as I'm a bit of history nerd too! Happy #FlyAwayFriday

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    1. Yes, another history nerd! :) It was fascinating. We have technology but those people have some serious physical talent!!! xo

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  13. Thanks for sharing this as I didn't know anything about Sedona! That photo of the guacamole at Saltrock won me over to be honest :P The spa tub at the hotel looks fabulous! Just need a glass of bubbly to match. Random about all the rocks stacked up - hope you get to the bottom of it!

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    1. Haha the guacamole kit was amazing :D You'll have to visit Sedona sometime, I think you would love it since you're so adventurous!!! xo

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  14. Wow! Look at that place! Gorgeous! We LOVED Sedona and lived in Arizona for about six months. Such a unique place to go. I would go back! #flyawayfriday

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    1. You did?? I had no idea! Whereabouts in AZ were you? It really is a beautiful place! xo

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  15. Wow! That looks great! I'm looking forward to seeing your post about your Grand Canyon tour since that's been on my bucket list for ages. :D

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    1. Yay! It really is amazing, the Grand Canyon was life-changing!!! xo

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  16. I haven't really been tempted by Sedona... until now. It really looks amazing. Great post - it's on my list now! #flyawayfriday

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    1. You should visit! It's such a quick trip from California and it's absolutely stunning! VERY different from Cali! xo

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  17. Tourist trap with good pie - haha! I'd happily get sucked in for good pie!

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    1. Hahaha yup! Total tourist trap..never again :D xo

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  18. I could dive into that tub any day! It looked so inviting. The food looks incredible. Even though you said the sandwiches were mediocre, I would seriously love a piece of that cream pie!

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  19. Love this!! And all that food looks amazing, especially the cereal crusted french toast looks soooooo good haha!!

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  20. Hello Kana: the pile of stacked stones is called Cairns, and typically is used to mark the trail along hiking trails, roads or paths!

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