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Known for its breathtaking scenery, stellar stargazing and lively arts community, Sedona, Arizona, is a place you have to see to believe.
What to see and do
Sedona is for nature enthusiasts, whether you like to go out and spend all day hiking the trails (all 400 miles of them) and splashing around in Slide Rock State Park, or prefer taking in the soaring red rocks through the window in your hotel room. There is ample opportunity for exploring, with outdoor activities including fly fishing in Oak Creek, which is always stocked with rainbow trout; off-roading; golfing; and mountain biking.
Sedona feels like a magical place, and many believe that's because it is. Some people say there are metaphysical vortexes in Sedona, and when you go to these special spots, like Bell Rock and Cathedral Rock, you can feel the energy. There are guided tours, but people can also visit these spaces on their own, and do meditation or yoga.
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Tlaquepaque is an arts and shopping village modeled on a Mexican town of the same name. The boutiques offer one-of-a-kind works of art, handmade jewelry, leather goods, and pottery, and the grounds are just as much of an attraction as the shops. There are courtyards with fountains, terraces, statues, sculptures, vibrant tile, archways, and a chapel, adding to the whimsical, old-world feel.
Tlaquepaque has several art galleries, and there are dozens more across Sedona, with many featuring works by local artists. For authentic Native American art, crafts and jewelry, visit The Naja, Kachina House, Hoel's Indian Shop, and Joe Wilcox Indian Den.
Sedona is an International Dark Sky Community, and at night, all you'll want to do is look up. Away from heavy light pollution, the stars shimmer and shine, and there are several notable viewing spots for stargazing, like the Two Trees Observing Area and the Centennial Trail. For a custom experience, book a tour with Sedona Stargazing; led by professional astronomers who use high-power telescopes and laser pointers to identify the constellations and celestial objects, these excursions are fun and informative.
Where to stay
The Enchantment Resort is aptly named. This property has luxurious one- and two-bedroom suites, pool suites and casitas, with the Southwestern decor influenced by the rich colors of Sedona. Guests can stargaze with the hotel's astronomer or take an art class, and kids between the ages of 4-12 can participate in Camp Coyote, with counselors leading the young explorers on fun pursuits like nature walks and scavenger hunts. Stay on the property for meals, as the sweeping canyon views from Che Ah Chi, serving modern American cuisine, and the Southwestern restaurant Tii Gavo can't be beaten.
Tranquility awaits at the charming Inn Above Oak Creek. This boutique property is surrounded by trees and has spectacular views of the red rocks, especially from the spacious outdoor deck. Most rooms have gas fireplaces and jetted bathtubs, and some also have balconies that overlook the creek. A continental breakfast is served every morning, but for those who want more space and to cook their own meals, consider booking the 1,700-square-foot Oak Creek Suite with a gourmet kitchen.
Where to eat
René at Tlaquepaque has been a Sedona staple since 1978, serving lunch and dinner made from organic and locally-sourced ingredients. The Mediterranean-focused menu has several tapas options, including charred Spanish octopus, crab-stuffed piquillo peppers and albondigas, plus pastas, risotto, seafood and beef and lamb dishes. When the weather permits, ask for a table in the courtyard.
Pizza is always a good idea, especially when it's wood-fired and made by a chef who strives to give diners an authentic experience. At Pisa Lisa, the Margherita is a classic, with other hits including the Fra Diavolo, with spicy arrabbiata gulf rock shrimp, and the Funghi Decadente, topped with button mushrooms, caramelized onions, gorgonzola, provolone and mozzarella, and a drizzle of white truffle oil.
Elote Cafe owner and chef Jeff Smedstad is inspired by the markets of Mexico, and that's clear when diners peruse the menu. It features dishes made of fresh, local and sustainable products, like the Tomato & Nopales Salad with cactus paddle, poblano chiles and fresh Oaxaca cheese. The restaurant lives up to its name with several corn appetizers and desserts, including the Pastel de Elote con Cajeta, a Veracruz-style sweet corn cake that is finished with goat milk caramel and vanilla agave ice cream.
The Cress on Oak Creek has a showstopper location — along the banks of Oak Creek, at the L'Auberge de Sedona. Diners feel like they are being enveloped by nature, taking the ambiance to another level. Cress is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch, with a chef's tasting that changes to highlight the best flavors of the season.
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