Come the end of July, I will be headed to Red Rock country with my lovely wife for three days of fun and exhilaration. It's been a few months since I covered my last vacation guide (which was in Denver). This time around, it's about one of the most beautiful and serene places in the West, Sedona.
We've got quite a packed schedule for this trip. It all begins with a short two-hour drive from Phoenix to Sedona (how convenient it is to avoid TSA lines and airport security checks, car rentals and more). But for many of you reading this, it is likely that you'd have to suffer through such agonies, and for that I lament with you.
We're due to arrive in Sedona at 10:00 a.m. sharp (preferable earlier if my wife doesn't force me to lighten up my lead foot). We're staying in a unique boutique called the Bell Rock Inn. It's one of the popular Diamond Resorts and has a three-star rating and mostly raving reviews.
Since the room has a small kitchen, a quick trip to the grocery store can get us all stocked up and ready for what's to come. But driving makes me famished, I've arranged for us to dine at the Heartline Café, a four-star gourmet café that's been awarded the "Certificate of Excellence: by Trip Advisor (which for a foodie like me is a big deal).
After we stuff our tummies good and well, it's off to our first planned event: Arizona ATV Adventures. They pack you up in a large passenger van and haul you eight miles west into the canyon for their exclusive "West Sedona Canyon Tour." It's a three-hour guided ATV tour where you get to drive your own ATV, with planned stops along the way to take pictures and enjoy the panoramic views.
At 4:00 p.m., when the adventure has concluded, we'll head back into town. But our day isn't over just yet. Next stop is the Tlaquepaque Arts And Crafts Village. There we will enjoy a bit of shopping and perhaps grab a late lunch before we head out on our next adventure.
Next on the list: a guided Jeep tour of the natural energy vortexes that dot Sedona and its outlying areas. The tour starts a sunset and takes you off-road to the most popular Sedona vortex anomalies, naturally occurring and unexplained phenomenon where energy comes directly out of the earth.
After the vortex tour, it's off to dinner at the Cowboy Club Steakhouse and Silver Saddle Room. It's a fine dining establishment that brings in fresh steak daily from the nearby ranches, serving them up traditional cowboy style. From the reviews that I have read online, we're in for a treat.
We cap the evening off by enjoying the amazing portraiture of Mother Nature. A company called Evening Sky Tours takes you to a special plot that they own where you can use their state-of-the-art equipment and view the heavens above. It's so awesome in fact, that the New York Times recently voted it as the "Best thing to do in Sedona."
Come Saturday morning, it's time to grab a quick breakfast in our hotel room (It has a kitchen, remember?) before heading out to our next big event: horseback riding at Dead Horse Ranch. A company called Trail Horse Adventures provides several different rides that you can choose from. We've booked the "High Desert Trail." It's a 90-minute ride that takes you through the amazing valleys and hills of Dead Horse Ranch State Park.
A big treat awaits after that, lunch at the renowned Rene Restaurant and Wine Bar in Sedona. It has been routinely voted as the "Best of Sedona" three years in a row and for the past nine years in running has also been awarded the "Award of Excellence Wine Spectator List," as well as receiving raving reviews from the New York Times, Kudos Magazine and AAA.
Once lunch has settled, it's off to take a trip from Sedona to historical Jerome, about a 45-minute drive. This Old West mining town has heaps of history, and is situated atop Cleopatra Hill. It was once called the "Wickedest Town in the West," and is lined with old, abandoned copper mines.
In Jerome we plan on doing some sightseeing until we begin The Ghost Adventure at 8:00 pm. You get to experience the haunted Clubhouse Hospital, several exclusive and haunted locations, and you even get use state-of-the-art ghost detecting equipment and participate in an EVP session during the 90-minute tour. Perhaps we'll see some old souls hanging around and get a good scare.
After that, it's back to Sedona to enjoy the Saturday night festivities at the Oak Creek Brewery. They feature a fine selection of handcrafted and small batch brews that have made them famous. What's more, they have a Tap Room, where you can watch live bands perform in the brewery area (pretty cool).
Come Sunday, it will be, regretfully, time to check out of our hotel room, but not quite time to check back into the real world. Before we hit the road to head back to Phoenix, we'll be stopping by the Sedona Heritage Museum to get a dose of Sedona's historical past.
I'll be sure to document my trip along the way, and report back on any findings.