As we drove towards Sedona through the scorching Arizonan desert in the USA, the looming red hills began to rise up to meet us and little did we know at the time that this town would become our Number 1 place to stay on our road trip through Arizona.
If you are planning a trip to Arizona, don’t miss Sedona. It is a beautiful town nestled into the picturesque, towering red rocks and canyons visible from every point and almost geographically in the middle of Arizona. There are some great family hikes, good places to eat and drink, great lodgings and some awesome ways to build everlasting family memories. The scenery and outdoors activities were certainly the draw card for us.
If you are lucky enough to find yourself in this beautiful town with your kids, here are 5 things to do.
- Hike the Fay Canyon. There are hundreds of trails and hikes for all abilities. For dinner the first night, we went to the local Whole Foods after driving around for a while and I asked the waitress what her favourite hike was and it was Fay Canyon. It was a 2.3 mile hike in and out of the canyon along a winding creek and through the pine forest. At the end of the trail is an easy, natural staircase climb to the top of the canyon. The spectacular view expanded across the valley and the kids had a brilliant time echoing off the canyon walls. It is right next to the Boynton Canyon Trail, which is one of the five Sedona vortexes if you are looking for more adventure afterwards.
Getting there: Head out west of the Sedona township on 89A, turn left on Dry Creek Road, follow Boynton Pass Rd to the left and park at the Fay Canyon parking station on the left. The head of the trail is across the road from the car park.
- Eat at the Blue Moon Café. A family owned, relaxed, laid back restaurant with a great menu on the other side of Sedona is a great place for kids. We ate in a half booth at the front of the restaurant near a big fish tank. The food was reasonably priced in an otherwise pricey town with hot sandwiches, pizzas, burgers and breakfast served all day. There was easy parking, good amenities and some awesome signs around the wall to read while waiting for lunch.
Getting there: Go south on road 179 to the village of Oak Creek. Blue Moon Café is right next to Ace Hardware. Other kid friendly places to eat: Wholefoods, Starbucks, Mesa Grill. There is also a Cowboy Grill, pizza restaurant and Mexican restaurant in Uptown Sedona.
- Swim at Slide Rock State Park. Named one of America’s top 10 swimming holes, kids can slide down Oak Creek on natural, rock water slides and swim in the deep water holes. It was freezing cold with the water coming straight off melting snow in April, but so much fun! The kids entered at one end of the rocks and slid about 15 meters along a rapid through the rocks. Once the kids were done their own sliding, it was fun watching others dare to slide the rocks and exploring the area further up the creek. The advice is get there early as it starts to fill up about 11am and the rocks are slippery so wear appropriate shoes and definitely take a towel.
Getting there: Head north on 89A about 7 miles. The park entry is on the left and it was $10 to enter the park per vehicle ($20 in the Summer months). There is a large car park nestled under a towering cliff face of the Oak Creek Canyon and then an easy 10-minute walk to the natural slides and water holes.
- Watch the sunset or sunrise. The hills and canyons are at their best at sunset or sunrise. The red colours are exuberant and show their complete natural brilliance. There are many places to view the sunrise or sunset from. One of the best is the Airport View point on Airport Road. There is a car park there and across the road, a large enough viewpoint to watch the rocks change colour as the sunsets. There are plenty of other vantage points and definitely a time to enjoy a well-deserved drink at the end of the day of travelling (with kids!).
- Stay at the Sky Ranch Lodge. When I was searching for accommodation in Sedona on booking.com, it was expensive compared to other places in Arizona and now I see why. There is so much to do and the natural beauty is well worth going for. We stayed at the Sky Ranch Lodge near the airport. We had a lovely room with 2 queen beds and roll away and it comfortably fit 2 adults and 3 children. The grounds are pretty to walk around and while it is an older style motel, it is well maintained with spectacular views in most directions. There is also a reasonable grill, Mesa Grill serving breakfast, lunch and dinner 5 minute walk away. There is a small pool for the warmer months and laundry facilities. We were on the 2nd floor (top floor) with balconies on either side of the room to help enjoy the view.
Other activities to do with kids;
- 4WD in the canyons. There are many tour operators that take groups deep into the canyons to see the rocks up close. My parents did the Pink Jeep Tours when they visited a few years ago and loved it. We found it to be expensive for our whole family ($US400) and with only a couple of days in this beautiful place, we were happy to do our own exploring.
- Stargazing. At night the star appears closer than most other places with the Milky Way just out of reach. There are star gazing tours or you can come out at night and look up.
- Visit Montezuma’s Castle. About 30 minutes south of Sedona, there are the ruins of one of the most well preserved cliff dwellings in North America and well worth a look. It is 27 meters up a sandstone cliff and gives some insight into how the people of the area lived between 1100 and 1425AD. The main structure is 5 stories high and has 20 rooms. There is a river running nearby and corn and cotton were their staple crops.
They say Sedona is an energy vortex where the rocks give and suck energy through the many vortexes around the town. One of the vortexes was right near where we stayed and while we didn’t ‘feel’ the pull of energy, our family felt the pull of the town as one of our favourite places visited on our road trip around Arizona. Sedona was a great place to stop between Phoenix and the Grand Canyon and will be fondly remembered for years to come.
Anna Partridge is a parent educator, school teacher and mother. She helps parents raise confident and resilient kids through the positive parenting philosophy. Anna writes about the modern parenting dilemmas on her blog, www.annapartridge.com and is a regular contributor at The Huffington Post. Find her on Facebook here . She loves nothing more than seeing the world through the eyes of her 3 kids aged 12, 10 and 7.