Three days in Sedona, Arizona does sound a bit crazy when you think of the amount of activities there are to do and see in the area, but it is all 100% doable with an energetic attitude. The town of Sedona is a hot (as in temperature and business) tourist spot, so we spoke to some locals and took their tips on how to adventure properly. If you haven't been here yet, I encourage you to jump in the car and make a weekend trip of it.
Tips to reading this blog:
Anything highlighted and underlined is a link to somewhere with more information.
There's a "would do next" section in every part. This is to help me for the next time we go and also for YOU to know the extras you can add to your trip!
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NOTE: We experienced Sedona during COVID-19, so not everything was open that we would have loved to see. So, if you are traveling during "the rona" - this is a perfect guide for you!
What to Hike
Ready to see some stunning views that will mesmerize you?
Us too - so that's what we did.
*Some of the hikes require a Red Rock State Park Pass to park... we didn't have one. We may have been lucky to slide under that rule, so be aware and look for signs!
Our first hiking spot was the Long Canyon Trailhead with the intentions to find the Birthing Cave.
Trail Length: 2-miles round trip
Turn off: 34°54'45.2"N 111°49'51.3"W
Exact: 34°54'46.9"N 111°50'10.3"W
Note: Take a screenshot of the directions or download offline google maps. There is no service on this hike. If you miss the unlabeled turn-off you may end up hiking 6 miles to far into the hike... like we did.
There is no parking area designated for this hike. There is a large dirt patch to pull into and some room on the side of the road. Park where you are comfortable! There was a rumor we needed a Red Rock State Park Pass to park here... we didn't have one and there wasn't any signs. Oops if we missed it.
Start down the main path until you come to a wooden fence about 0.6 miles into the hike. You will see to the left a path that looks like the image to the right. Take the path less traveled (duh, always). Take the path all the way up until you see the "butt crack" in the mountain. It's a bit of a steep hike to get to the cave, but well worth the heavy breathing.
Overall the hike would have taken 1.5 hours MAX. However, we walked right passed the turn off and continued for an extra 3 miles. The Long Canyon Trailhead in general is beautiful! If you want to extend your Birthing Cave hike and continue on the Long Canyon Trail, you'll be swallowed by nature.
P.S. The Birthing Cave photo shown is 4 pictures stitched together in photoshop. If you are going, you will need a super wide angle lens. The .5 on the iPhone 11 works as well, it ends up being pixelated due to the lighting.
Next up, Devil's Bridge
Devil's Bridge is an extremely popular hike amongst tourists and locals. Get ready to be up early and ready to move your tush!
You shouldn't run into any issues locating this spot. Due to it's popularity, this spot will be crowded. Parking may be difficult! It is best to get up as early as possible (sunrise is my recommendation). Grab that coffee (or tea), a water, your favorite hiking shoes, and get-to-moving.
This hike is one of the most rewarding we have been on. You will read on other blogs "If you have a 4-wheel drive vehicle, you can drive the first part of the hike" this, my friend, is a lie. If you have a high clearance 4-wheel drive - a Jeep or a Polaris (which are both rentable in Sedona), then you will be able to drive the first half of the hike.
The hike goes like this:
Flat, sandy/rocky path for the first mile (welcome to the start of your sweat)
A parking lot (for those cool-cats with off-roading capability)
Gradual incline to the first viewing spot (where both the selfie above and the picture to the right were taken)
Steep incline with sandy stairs (that you pray your shoes grip to)
The Devil himself (welcome to hell - jk, kinda)
When you reach the bridge there may be a line of people you have to wait behind to get a fabulous selfie. This does depend on the time of day you go. We went at 6:00am and had a line of about 15 people. Later in the day I heard is when the tour groups come through. Best beat them there!
May the odds be ever in your favor.
Shop the look:
Last, but not least, Bell Rock Path
Bell Rock Pathway may be the best small glimpse of what Sedona has to offer. If I could bottle one mountain and sell it as "Sedona" - this would be my mountain of choice.
Trail Length: 3.6 miles round trip
Difficulty: Easy - Moderate
North Trailhead: 34°48'19.8"N 111°46'00.5"W
South Trailhead: 34°47'29.4"N 111°45'42.7"W
There is no need to lie here... I did not want to walk this path. To me, the beauty was from afar. Seeing this signature mountain was a fantastic sight. However, if you want to hike it, I hear the view from the top is beautiful. It is also known to be a night hike, as the Sedona sky is seen so perfectly here.
If you are spiritual or want to have an open-mind: This hike is also a well-known vortex, amongst others in the area (and Sedona as a whole, really). Any of the vortex locations are a great place to meditate or do yoga to experience self exploration and healing.
All in all - be ready to sparkle with sweat + stay hydrated!
Shop the look:
What Hikes We Would Do Next:
We had less time in Sedona than we would have liked leaving us with more of a need to go back and experience the other bucket list destinations Sedona has to offer. Next time we hope to hit one or all of the following:
Cathedral Rock - Get the birds eye view of Sedona!
Trail Length: 1.2 miles round trip
Trailhead: 34°49'30.7"N 111°47'18.3"W
Soldiers Pass - Interesting and adventurous where you can see Devils Kitchen, Seven Sacred Pools, and end with a magnificent cave.
Trail Length: 4.1 miles round trip
Trailhead: 34°53'03.4"N 111°47'01.8"W
West Fork Trail - beautiful creek crossings and canyon walls! Fee of $11 per car.
Trail Length: 7.2 miles round trip
Trailhead: 34°59'26.5"N 111°44'34.6"W
Where to Eat
If I'm a foodie - you're a foodie... welcome to the foodie life (;
Sedona was not my favorite spot in the world for eats. We ate good, but I feel like a lot of the places were overpriced just because of the area. Don't get me wrong though, there are still places I'd love to try in that area! However, this time, we traveled out of Sedona to eat too (e.g. Jerome and Cottonwood)!
Red Rock Cafe in Sedona, AZ
Home to the 3 lb. Cinnamon Roll (that is bigger than my head) & amazing Ranchero Sauce!
We ordered the Steak and Egg Special, Huevos Rancheros with Home Fries, and a Giant Cinnamon Roll! If we were to go again, I would get the Steak and Eggs with Home Fries. Basically anything you get here should involve the Ranchero sauce. Hit this spot + Bell Rock to kill two birds with one stone!
The Hudson in Sedona, AZ
This place is worth every penny spent. Beautiful views and amazing food in a great central location! The corn chowder is to die for...
We ordered Chef Jeff's Famous Corn Chowder, the Fresh Mozzarella and the Funghi Bruschetta, Thai Scallops, and the Hudson Mushroom Burger. The whole menu is great. A great spot for lunch or dinner with a bomb happy hour too.
Haunted Hamburger in Jerome, AZ
This local favorite was recommended to us by a friend from Las Vegas, Bryan (and every local in town). They are known for their fantastic burgers and their haunted story.
We ate only what the locals recommended while here. Their favorites were the Onion Rings, Southwest Sourdough Burger, Ghirardelli Caramel & Sea Salt shake, and a fresh, locally juiced Prickly Pear Margarita - so that is exactly what we got!
Merkin Tasting Room & Osteria in Cottonwood, AZ
A farm to table Arizona experience serving phenomenal salads, pasta, wine, and gelato!
We ordered the Gnocchi, Tagliolini e Ragu, Milanese Bruschetta, Daily Salad, and Pomegranate Sorbet. The Gnocchi and the fresh taste of all the food is unmatched!
STORY TIME BY CHARLIE, MY BOYFRIEND (so skip this part if you don't care) - While walking around Jerome, we stumble into a wine bar, Four Eight Wineworks (which has a fantastic view). Codi loses her mind because she finds pomegranate gelato (HUGE DEAL: she had it once before and hasn't had it since. SIX YEARS. Home girl has been on this mission). She finds out she can buy it from the Merkin Tasting Room in Scottsdale, so we move on. While chatting up the bartender, we hear him telling another guest where the best places to eat are. He starts talking about how he’s from Chicago and how theres this place in Cottonwood,AZ that has pasta that blows everything in Chicago out of the water. The bartender confirms it's a winery called Merkin, where everything is farm to table.
Codi is interested, but not interested enough to double back to Cottonwood, AZ to eat for dinner that night - plus, there’s a Merkin in Scottsdale. So if she isn't interested, I’m shrugging it off. This is Friday.
We go into the Merkin in Scottsdale (Scottsdale Itinerary to come soon) on Saturday night and the first thing the waitress tells us is that they “don’t have the pasta”. At this point I feel Codi perk up because we didn't even ask about the pasta, Codi just showed up for Gelato. The waitress proceeds to tell us that its so good, even Italians come here and say it's better than home. Codi entertains the idea, but not really begging yet. She’s not freaking out. Again I shrug it off.
Sunday afternoon we start heading home from Scottsdale. Codi has some idea of a plan she wants to execute that takes us an hour out of our way. I’m supportive. I’m down. We realize that we are 30 mins from cottonwood. Codi says “wanna drink some wine and head home?” Again. Down. Turned 30mins for Cottonwood with the plan to taste one winery and head home.
One winery turns into an hour and a half of drinking with the guys working in this place (name redacted to protect them from on the job drinking story). They tell us that the pasta at Merkin is bomb. Codi finally has to try it.
At Merkin. Kinda intoxicated, 8:30pm (we were suppose to be home by now). First bite of salad, Codi goes “this is really great salad. Like the freshest Ive ever had”. Good warm up.
Gnocchi shows up. She smells it and sees it, her eyes light up. First bite.... she foodgasms all over the booth.
This pasta was so good she felt the need to spend $170 on an unplanned night in Sedona AGAIN because she felt we just couldn't go home after that. Moral of the story - get the damn pasta.
Coppertown Coffee & Gelato in Jerome, AZ
An adorable small shop at the end of Main Street in Jerome. This spot had homemade gelato, danishes, and specialty drinks. We got a Cinnamon Roll and Chai Tea Vanilla Latte with Almond Milk (yes, that is a basic a** drink & if you haven't ordered it somewhere, you should).
Walk across the street to get a beautiful view of the Jerome State Historic Park and the town of Cottonwood!
McDonalds in Sedona, AZ
Before you leave my guide because you think I'm crazy for putting McDonalds on my eating list - you must know that Arizona is the only place in the world with a turquoise McDonald's arch! So, grab a large fry (or whatever your guilty McDonalds pleasure is) and snap a pic.
Where to wine-down (or booze up)
It's hot out. Stay hydrated - Drink Wine.
Arizona is home to over 110 wineries. Just in the Sedona area there are around 25 wineries within the Valley Verde Wine Trail to stop at! All tasting rooms range from $9-&15 per tasting.
Merkin Tasting Room & Osteria in Cottonwood, AZ
You know enough about them from the food section. Just know, A++!
Arizona Stronghold in Cottonwood, AZ
We walked into every tasting room on Main St. and the staff here was by far the nicest and most welcoming. Great wines! Out of the 3 wineries, these were by far my favorite wines we tried. + You get to keep the tasting glass!
Page Spring Cellars in Cornville, AZ
Running river, open vineyard, beautiful property, winery tours... this place has got it all!
By far my favorite of the three we went to. Tons of photo opportunities, great lighting, beautiful seating areas, and fantastic wine selection. There are 5 options for wine tastings and a large bistro menu. + You get to keep the tasting glass!
Eats and Drinks We Would Do Next:
There is a ton we would love to check-out. Visit my Yelp Collection for AZ to have a closer look.
Elote - Hope they reopen*
Where to Stay in Sedona
You need a place that feels like home, but cleaner (;
This hotel was amazing, 10/10. So comfortable, clean, affordable, and well located. It has a bar with fresh margaritas and decent late-night eats. The secret is to grab your snacks and drinks, head to the third floor and go to their viewing area. The stars were so bright, it was a hidden gem to find! We will most likely make this our go-to hotel in Sedona.
Where we would also stay:
Airbnb: Use this link and get $35 off of your first trip!
*NOTE: We booked the Andante Inn of Sedona and asked for an immediate refund after walking into the room. Ripped and stained sheets, dirty cups, holes in the ceiling, stained furniture, and dirty bathrooms. So - book them at your own risk.
A tucked away, 100 year old orchard that is so hidden, only a lucky few actually stumble on it. Located near Oak Creek, numerous cabins and a beautiful restaurant sit (closed during COVID-19).
Jerome, AZ - just go!
You will not regret walking the 3 streets the town is made of, speaking to the locals, entering local shops and restaurants, and seeing the insane views almost every part of the town has. The locals say to eat at any of the restaurants, they apparently are all "the best." If anyone I know goes to the Copper Country Fudge store, bring me back some caramel dark chocolate fudge, please.
This 800 year old castle built with 20 + rooms and 4100 square feet sits 90 feet above ground. Usually the cost is $10 per person to enter the National Monument park. During COVID-19 it was free.