My mom and I went to Arizona during the week of Thanksgiving, and we had such an amazing time. I had never been to a place with a desert climate, so there was definitely an adjustment period to the lack of humidity and high altitude. I have never been so thirsty in my life!
We flew from Boston Logan to Phoenix Sky Harbor, and took a shuttle to pick up our car at Enterprise. The process was smooth, and the person at Enterprise upgraded our car! I know you can get more affordable rentals with other companies, but I always use Enterprise because they have great customer service. After we picked up the car, we drove from Phoenix to Sedona, where we were staying at the Kimpton Amara Resort & Spa.
I used to work for Kimpton, so I’m partial to staying at their properties. They focus on giving authentic customer service, and all hotels have a free hour long wine reception every night! The best. The drive from Phoenix to Sedona is fairly short at about two hours, but I was not prepared for how scary the ride would be for me. I am incredibly afraid of heights, so I was white-knuckling the steering wheel while driving on the highway because of the insane cliffs on the other side of the guardrails. When we arrived in Sedona our jaws DROPPED. It is so incredibly beautiful there, pictures do not do it justice!Our room wasn’t ready when we checked in, so we ended up walking around the downtown area and getting some lunch. The shops in downtown Sedona are pretty gimmicky and many of them are definitely trying to capitalize on the spiritual nature of Sedona. Not really my style, but definitely worth a walk around. We got pizza at Sedona Pizza and Pasta Company, which was a touristy spot, but we were starving and they had GF pizza, so it worked for us. After our lunch/dinner, we checked in to our room and unpacked. I didn’t take a picture of our room at the Amara, but it was nicely decorated and spacious. They also sent us a complementary bottle of wine!
At 5 pm we went to wine hour and then sat outside at a fire pit. I am shy so I usually don’t initiate conversations with people I don’t know, but my Mom is the complete opposite. A lot of the time this irritates me (sorry, Mom!), but my Mom initiated a conversation with a couple during wine hour, and we ended up basing the rest of our trip off a lot of their recommendations. After wine hour, we ended up getting dinner at Amara’s restaurant, SaltRock Kitchen, and it was really good! They also have GF options!
We woke up early to run outside and see the sunrise, but it was a cloudy morning so it didn’t end up being as majestic as we had hoped. Afterwards, we went to a free yoga class at Amara’s spa, which was very relaxing. I am used to vinyasa flow classes, but this class was mainly focused on stretching and breathing. Then we had breakfast at SaltRock Kitchen, which was, once again, delicious! The concierge at the Amara had booked us a Jeep tour for the day, which ended up being one of the best experiences of our trip. I choose the Vortex Jeep Tour with Safari Jeep Tours because I was genuinely intrigued about what a vortex was, and I knew my Mom would be into it. It ended up working out perfectly because my Mom and I were the only people on the tour with our guide, Skip.
We instantly connected with Skip and he brought us to some of the most amazing places I’ve ever been. He also told us a lot about Native American History, and what the Sedona Vortexes, or Votices, are.
He also explained the science behind them, which helped the skeptic in me. It’s hard to explain, but it was a very spiritual experience, and I would definitely recommend that jeep company and tour.
We hung around the hotel after the tour, and then attended wine hour before going to Creekside for dinner, which had great service and GF options noted on the menu.
Our next day started with another yoga class at Amara’s spa, but this time it was more of a vinyasa flow class. We also enjoyed their eucalyptus steam room afterwards! If we had stayed longer, we definitely would have gotten some treatments at the spa. After yoga, we got ready for a hike, and stopped at Tamaliza Cafe on our way. Tamaliza was SO GOOD. It also helped that the entire menu was GF, and they had plenty of vegan and vegetarian options. It’s not fancy, but the food was great and everyone that worked there was helpful and very nice.
We chose to do the Fay Canyon Trail for our hike because Skip told us that it’s more of a stroll than a hike, which was ideal because my Mom was recovering from a knee injury. Skip was right – the hike wasn’t strenuous, but we thoroughly enjoyed being surrounded by trees and red sandstone walls. If you go on the hike, definitely climb up the rocks at the end in order to see some breathtaking views.
We hung out at the hotel after our hike, and then headed to Elote Cafe for dinner. Some tips for Elote – there is always a long wait, but it’s worth it. We ended up waiting almost two hours (1 hour to get on the wait list, and 1 hour to get a table), which sounds crazy but we kept busy. You have to wait in line to put your name on the wait list (no reservations), and then you wait in another line to get drinks while you wait. Their wait is always so long that they have a bar area thats sole purpose is to provide drinks for those waiting for tables. My mom and I ended up splitting the lines – I waited to get on the wait list, and she waited for drinks, so that cut down the wait time for a margarita! After we got our margaritas we hung out at a table on the porch, and played corn hole with some friends we (aka my Mom) made. We ended up talking with the family the entire night, and they gave us a bunch of recommendations for our next Arizona trip, which I will share in another post.
One of the coolest parts about our Elote experience was the fact that Michelle Branch and Patrick Carney (drummer for The Black Keys) were there! Though, I think I was the only person in the restaurant who knew who they were. When we finally got seats, they food and service were amazing, and they were super accommodating to my GF and vegetarian diet.
Our time in Sedona was absolutely amazing! We headed to Scottsdale after leaving Sedona, and I’ll be sharing more about that in my next post!
Some places I want to go & things I want to do during my next trip to Sedona:
Drive out to the Grand Canyon (though that may be its own trip
Drive to Flagstaff
Boynton Canyon Trail
Cockscomb Loop Trail
Either stay or have a meal at L’Auberge de Sedona, a fancy resort that’s right next to the Amara
The Secret Garden Cafe – lots of GF & veggie options
Cafe Paleo Brio – lots of GF and veggie options