What to do in Sedona - a 3 day hybrid itinerary for active travelers
Updated: Jan 24
A Perfect choice for a Girlfriend Getaway
Now don't get me wrong. Sedona, Arizona is definitely a destination for any Active Travel or Luxury Travel lover, regardless of gender. But this year it was the chosen destination for our annual Girlfriend Getaway. Each year, a few of my closest friends and I look for places that connect us to the outdoors and keep us active, yet also have a selection of great restaurants and options for some much needed down time and self-care.
This year we selected Sedona because although I had visited before, I had left wanting to return, and I knew my friends would be thrilled. As for the rest of my girl-posse, this trip was their first introduction to the area. So it was that much more enjoyable for me, to see it through their eyes. With temperate climate, a magnetic-spiritual vibe, rugged red rock landscape, accessible hiking trails and of course a multitude of self-care options - it's no wonder that Sedona has rapidly become such a popular Wellness Destination.
We were only in town three nights for this trip, and we had flown in from different cities. But we all left feeling that we could have easily spent a week exploring the countless number of trails and so much more of the mysterious vortex areas. And honestly, can anyone really ever get too many spa treatments? Below are some of the ways we found connection to the outdoors mixed with moments of relaxation, and the delicious restaurants where we celebrated our friendship with incredible meals and vibrant sunsets. I have also included additional recommendations for restaurants or resorts that I had researched as I was planning this trip. So if it is listed in this itinerary, it caught my attention, had great reviews, and is on my list for future visit consideration.
Getting to Sedona
Sedona does have a small airport. But since this diverse artist community is located only 120 miles from the Phoenix Sky Harbor International airport, we opted for a direct flight to Phoenix, rented a four-person SUV for the weekend ($178 through Thrifty) and then drove the easy two hours to Sedona.
TIP - Try to aim for a midday arrival at Phoenix Sky Harbor, so that you can arrive in Sedona, and settle into your room before dinner. So if traveling with a group from different parts of the country, try to coordinate your flights if possible. And to keep it simple, I'd suggest shuttling from each of your respective terminals and meeting your group at the Rental Car center. One other option for anyone traveling long-distance is to arrive a night early, stay at a hotel close to the airport and meet your group the next morning.
Airport hotel suggestion - Aloft Phoenix Airport
Where to Stay in Sedona
On a previous trip with my husband, I had discovered a fantastic luxury bed and breakfast resort called Adobe Grand Villas. On that trip we stayed in The Timbers, a gigantic one bedroom suite, and were blown away by the opulent decor, the above-and-beyond level of service, and attention to so may details that made our stay memorable: fresh-baked bread in our room each day, delicious appetizers every evening, and individually prepared, gourmet breakfast each morning. For this trip, our group of four women rented their largest unit, the Hacienda - a two King bedroom, two bathroom, 2000 SF luxury villa with three fireplaces, a full kitchen, dining area and living room. It was outstanding. Decorated in tasteful, contemporary, southwestern motif, with beds draped in luxurious linens and boasting two private balconies, we all were initially hesitant to leave. The property also has a small pool and hot tub for its guests. But the most distinctive feature of Adobe Grand is their over-sized suites, their focus on the absolute comfort of their guests and a consistent 'nothing-is-a-problem' attitude delivered daily by every staff member. And that's part of why people come to Sedona, right? This luxury accommodation is also very reasonably priced for the area. And with most suites having a full kitchen and often a fireplace, staying in for a quiet evening by the fire, is worth considering.
TIP - You can even get the chef at Adobe Grand Villas to cook dinner for you in your room.
TIP - I use this site frequently as they often don't ask for deposit and have a very lenient cancellation policy
Do you prefer a private home or apartment rental? Check out this gorgeous house with a view that we rented through VRBO!
So...what exactly is a Vortex?
The Sedona Vortex Guide has the easiest-to-understand description:
"A Vortex is a place in nature where the earth is exceptionally alive with energy. The term Vortex in Sedona refers to a place where the earth energy swirls and draws to its center everything that surrounds it like a tornado. At these magical sites, trees often exhibit this swirling or twisting of their trunks due the powerful vortex energy at the core of a Sedona Vortex. Vortexes are all different. Some energies produced flow up some flow down, some are more masculine and others are more feminine. Generally Page Bryant is credited with coining the term vortex to explain the phenomenon people were experiencing in these places. It certainly sounds better than Sedona Electromagnetic places. As for what you may feel when visiting one of Sedona’s Vortexes, that depends on which vortex you visit. Generally speaking the Upflow vortexes such as spires, mountains and vistas deliver positive energy to uplift you and give you a sense of joy and rejuvenation. It’s like getting plugged into the universe and its harmony. Inflow vortexes are located in valleys and canyons and deliver energy that feels more introspective possibly connecting you to past/lost memories or past lives. Many find healing and the ability to overcome from inflow vortexes. Many people also experience flashes of who they were in a past life and this can be a powerful connection which can lead to healing and understanding."
Day 1 - A meditative walk and fine dining with friends
Once you arrive at your accommodations, take an hour to relax and get settled after your drive. But don't get too comfortable. You never want to miss a sunset in Sedona! So after a quick nap, I'd recommend taking an Uber out to the incredible Enchantment Resort and treating yourselves to a great bottle of wine and a fine dining experience at Che Ah Chi restaurant. With stunning red rock views, floor-to-ceiling windows and one of the best open-air lounges I've ever seen, this is a fabulous way to begin your weekend. But don't forget to take a few minutes before dinner to walk the grounds around the resort, breathe deeply and kick-start your weekend with a silent meditative walk around the labyrinth.
TIP - Another beautiful Labyrinth that is open to the public is at the Lodge of Sedona. Simply drive to the parking lot at the end of Kallof road and walk in. There is a small fee suggested for non-guests.
TIP - Book Sedona restaurants seating several weeks in advance, especially if you are traveling on a weekend or with a group
Day 2 - A beautiful day hike, then dinner by the fire?
To start your day, if you stay at Adobe Grand Villas, a gourmet full breakfast with fresh baked pastries is included with your stay. But if you stay at a different resort, I'd recommend heading out to Indian Gardens Cafe en route to one of the most beautiful and most accessible hiking trails in the area - West Fork trail. Although this 3.5 mile trail (each way) boasts 13 creek crossings, it is one that a hiker of almost any fitness level can accomplish. The water crossings are shallow, the terrain is fairly flat, and since it is not a loop trail, you can stop and turn back at any point. Go here to see a very detailed description of this trail. Expect it to take about 5 hours roundtrip depending on the pace of your group and of course ..... how many photo stops you take.
TIP - if the parking lot is full ($10 parking fee) or if there is a long line of cars to get in, continue past the entrance, up the road about 1/4 mile, park on the shoulder and walk in ($2 per person fee)
Dinner suggestion - If you are tired from a long day of hiking, a shower and a more casual meal in your villa or resort room may be just what's needed. If you are staying at Adobe Grand Villas, you can have Chef Michael cook a three-course meal for you in your room. But if PJs and a movie are more your style tonight, Sedona Takeout can deliver from almost any restaurant in Sedona. So pick up a bottle of wine and order up. We selected Thai food from Thai Spices and it was fantastic.
Day 3 - Spiritual connection, self-care and a final sunset dinner
Are you up for another hike? Or would you rather explore a Vortex site today? If so, get up early and catch the early morning light on Cathedral Rock or Boynton Canyon (and avoid the crowds). If you are looking for an easier day, the airport mesa vortex is a short hike and close to town. But a more unique option is the Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park, a peaceful sanctuary and a beautiful, quiet place to meditate. This area is easily accessed by car and short five minute walk to the central meditation area.
For the afternoon, there are several options for relaxation: spend the rest of the day lounging by the pool, get your chakras and auras interpreted at one of the many Uptown spiritual shops or even better, treat yourself to an indulgent spa treatment.
One option I had interest in but didn't book soon enough, was a Vortex Hiking with Yogi Blair. If this interests you, plan in advance, as he is very popular and time slots fill quickly.
TIP - if you are traveling with a group, make sure to book your appointments at least 3-5 day before arrival if you want them at the same time.
If you stay at Adobe Grand Villas, you won't want to miss one last delicious breakfast before you pack up. If you flew into Phoenix, remember that it's another two hour drive back to that airport. If you have a late afternoon flight like we did, you may still have time to squeeze in some shopping or gallery strolling at Tlaquepaque center before you head out.
Another worthwhile option, as you head out of town, is the Bell Mountain vortex area. Park in the northern lot for the shortest hiking access and follow the trail signs. You don't have to climb to the top! A nice plateau half way up makes for a perfect place to sit and let the natural environmental forces wash over you in one last morning meditation.
TIP - This spot also makes for a romantic sunset location. Pack a bottle of wine, some non-breakable stemware, cheese, crackers and blanket and enjoy nature's show.