Monday, September 5, 2016

A Long Weekend in Sedona, Arizona

Sedona is a breathtakingly beautiful, tranquil city with an air of mystery. We went in February of this year (I can't believe it took me this long to get around to writing this post!) and I am sharing our experience should you be looking for an amazing place to stay and awesome things to do while visiting Sedona. My husband took me here back in 2011 and I was blown away by the little desert city with big, red-rock formations and beautiful pine forests. Visiting again, this time with my cousins and their husbands, Sedona was just as spectacular.

Sedona is about an hour and a half to two hour drive from the Phoenix airport. We stayed at, L'Auberge de Sedona, set on the banks of Oak Creek, this magical little place had my heart from the second we arrived. It's nestled down in somewhat of a small canyon and consists of quaint, modern cottages that come complete with an electric fireplace, your own personal outside deck and...what I've been dreaming of ever since I experienced it...your very own private outdoor shower. The air is crisp and clean, you can hear the babbling of the creek just about anywhere on the property, and the meticulously kept grounds have a nice variety of places to sit and enjoy the nature that surrounds you.

Sedona Day 01

Breakfast at L'Auberge will impress. All six of us were very satisfied with our choices and the service was impeccable. Wanting to keep it pretty relaxed on our first day, we headed to Fay Canyon Trail, an easy, flat ~3 mile, roundtrip hike. You'll enjoy views of the surrounding rock formations along this densely wooded path that runs along the creek, which, as you can tell from the pictures, was dry when we were there in February. This hike is peaceful, shaded and beautiful.

Yes! That's snow melting on the rocks 

That night we headed to Tii Gavo at the Enchantment Resort for dinner. We enjoyed a drink at View 180, soaking in the beautiful red rocks and the sunset on the deck. I highly recommend the Plum Mule-- so unique and delicious! Dinner at Tii Gavo was great, featuring southwestern "foods indigenous to the region."

Sedona Day 02

It was nice to take advantage of not needing to be on the clock! In the morning, we indulged in a little GTL without the L. The gym at the resort is simple yet clean and effective. We also took a dip in the mineral pool sans chlorine which is heated year round.

Pink Jeep Tours is an amazing and adventurous way to enjoy the great Sedona outback and get in a little history. Our tour guide, Jerry, picked us up at the resort and off we headed to the Broken Arrow trail. Check out these incredible views!

Shifts in the rock over time

The red-rock formations are absolutely breathtaking

After our outstanding jeep tour, we changed and headed to dinner at L'Auberge. I had only heard great things about Cress, the restaurant at L'Auberge, but have to say that I was skeptical thinking, "how could this restaurant in Sedona compare to restaurants in San Francisco, New York or Los Angeles?" My skepticism was quickly eradicated and we enjoyed one of my memorable meals. What is there not to love about locally-sourced, seasonal fare enjoyed, literally, next to Oak Creek?!

Sedona Day 03

Who gets up at 5a on vacation?! We do! And you should too if you want to take an incredible, awe-inspiring, fear inducing, spectacular-views-galore filled adventure to the Grand Canyon. We left our hotel at 6a and after zigging and zagging through the mountains in a torturous, nauseating car ride, we made it out to the open road and eventually to the Grand Canyon in about 2 hours.

We took the Xanterra Grand Canyon Mule tour around the south rim of the Grand Canyon-- it is not for the faint of heart. If you are afraid of heights, this may not be the adventure for you. In our experience, the mules were very well trained and after getting familiar with my mule, Tater Tot, I felt pretty safe. The mules will go where they want to go, and there is a lot of foliage that they like to eat, conveniently at the very edge of the cliff. Many of the mules were going right up to the edge to chew on leaves. Luckily, their passengers were not afraid (or at least they didn't show any fear) and my little Tater Tot was cautious, like me, and usually stayed back from the pack, away from the edge. If you do take this tour, make sure you come prepared. Call to get the exact information, but during the time we went in February:

  • it was in the 20's - 30's in the morning, so bring warm clothes for the ride!
  • you can only bring one personal item (camera or phone, etc.) and it needs to be on a strap around your neck (everything needs to fit in your pockets, otherwise they have lockers
  • this was me, and may possibly be you too 
  • bring gloves because of how cold it is
  • it's ok to wear a beanie instead of a wide brimmed hat w/ strap which is for the warmer months

After the tour, we enjoyed a very rewarding lunch at Phantom Ranch-- there's nothing like a big delicious bowl of chili and a cold beer after a 3 hour mule ride out in the cold! This was an unforgettable experience; it was so much fun and the views from along the South Rim are extraordinary. I highly recommend this experience.

 Living on the edge 

Nina getting caught up in a tree. The mules go where the mules want to go!

Tater Tot the friendly mule

Sedona Day 04

On the last day, Nic and I took advantage of L'Auberge's famous Valentine's Day buffet brunch. By no surprise, it was incredible. They had every type of food imaginable and everything was of the best quality. We savored the fresh, delicious food and took in the amazing sights and sounds by Oak Creek. It was sooo relaxing...

This was just my appetizer, I had two more plates after this! 

After all that eating, we took a hike along Huckaby Trail. There is a free shuttle service from L'Auberge that will drop you off here and pick you up when you're ready. The trail is a quick 10 minutes from the resort. It was the perfect way for us to spend our last day, Valentine's Day in Sedona.

Mescal Plant, we took some little branches home, they make an amazing incense

At the top of the trail, we sat and enjoyed the view. If you stare long enough at the rock formations, you'll start to see things. Maybe it was all the fresh air, or the good food and meditation that I was able to get in, or maybe it was the energy vortexes that many claim to experience in Sedona, but for me; the things that I saw gave me insight into my life and I swear I saw things from my future. Time will tell :)

I can't wait to go back to Sedona, it is the perfect place to relax and rejuvenate. There is so much to see and do, I hope you go and experience this magical little city for yourself and that you were able to learn about some places to visits and things to do during your visit!

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