Sedona in a Weekend

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In this season of life, one of the ways we are traveling is maximizing long weekends. Living in Washington D.C., almost everyone has federal holidays off. Did you know there are seven federal holidays a year!? And, that doesn’t include Thanksgiving or Christmas! Thanks to our Southwest Companion Pass, it’s easy for us to get two free tickets anywhere in the country. I use reward points for my flight and Ben flies for free as my “companion.” To learn more about the pass, check out this post.

Over Labor Day weekend, we visited Sedona, Arizona! Since our trip out West last year, we have been anxious to return. The more I travel within the U.S., the more I realize just how many beautiful places there are to be explored that don’t require a long flight, time changes, language barriers, several days off work, etc.!

Friday

8:00pm | Arrival in Phoenix

We left D.C. at 6pm. On the way there, the time change works to your advantage. Nonstop flights are essential for pulling off these types of trips! We picked up our rental car and stayed near the airport at Hampton Inn & Suites Tempe. Not a fancy hotel by any means but for our very short stay, it was fine.

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Saturday

8:00-10:00am | Drive to Sedona

We stayed at Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock since I wanted to use points for the trip. I would give it 3.8 stars. It’s a clean, nice hotel. Pros: good location, onsite pools, spa, restaurant, bar. Cons: Seemed more like a hotel for families rather than a couples getaway. But, that could have been because it was a holiday weekend? Overall, a good redemption of Hilton points.

11:00am-1:00pm | Cathedral Rock Hike

This hike is one of the most popular hikes in the area. It’s short (about 1 mile) and rated moderate. While there are no steep drop offs, in some sections there really isn’t a trail… you are more hoisting yourself up/down the rock. I think this review of the hike is pretty accurate.

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1:00-2:00pm | Lunch at The Hudson

The restaurant has a terrace with beautiful views! The food was delicious. The Hudson was my favorite restaurant we visited in Sedona.  If you want to go for dinner, definitely make reservations in advance.

2:00-6:00pm | Enjoyed the hotel pool and a nap!

6:00-7:00pm | Watched the sunset at the Sedona airport

I researched places to watch the sunset and Sedona airport kept popping up as a popular spot. It is a great spot to watch the sunset but definitely not a secret! You will want to get there early to get a parking spot. We actually came both evenings we were in Sedona to watch the sunset.

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7:00-9:00pm | Dinner at SaltRock

I found this spot through another blog. The ambiance is nice — there’s a large terrace with a view of the red rocks. I thought the food was good but overpriced. I probably wouldn’t return here.

Sunday

7:00-10:00am | Devil’s Bridge Hike

The trailhead to this hike was about a 30 minute drive from the hotel. We started early to avoid the heat and crowds… and I’m so glad we did. The amount of people we saw on the return was crazy. The interesting thing about this hike is the actual trailhead is 1 mile walk from the parking lot… unless you have a 4x4 vehicle. The total distance of the hike is 4.2 miles and is rated moderate. We thought it was easier than Cathedral Rock. Most people go out on the bridge for a photo... but we didn’t. :)

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10:00-11:00am | Drove around Sedona including Red Rock Scenic Byway

11:00am-12:00pm | Walk around Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village

Tlaquepaque is cute little area with several shops and restaurants. We didn't do any shopping but enjoyed walking around for an hour or so.

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12:00-1:00pm | Lunch at Oak Creek Brewery

The restaurant/brewery is located within Tlaquepaque village. We had a good meal but I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to the restaurant unless you were already in the area.

1:00-6:00pm | Enjoyed down time at the hotel.

6:00-7:00pm | Returned to the airport to try and catch sunset again. It was storming… but we did see a beautiful rainbow!

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Monday

6:30-8:30am | Little Horse Trail/Hike

We wanted to do one more hike so we got up early on our final morning. We choose Little Horse trail because it was close to the hotel. The total distance is 3.5 miles and rated easy. This was the easiest hike we did and the least crowded. We only saw a few other people on the trail. The views were surprisingly good for such an easy hike!

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8:30-9:30am | Visited Church of the Holy Cross

9:30-10:30am | Brunch at the hotel

11:30am-1:30pm | Drove to the Phoenix airport

5:00pm | Flight to D.C.

*This is where I would normally wrap a pretty little bow on the trip and call it a success! However, the ending of the trip didn’t go as planned. The traffic from Sedona to Phoenix on Labor Day was horrible. The worst traffic we’ve ever seen anywhere. A drive that was supposed to take 1.5 hours took 3.5 hours. Once we were about 45 minutes from Phoenix, we began receiving notifications that our flight was delayed. And, it continued getting delayed. We finally made it home at 4:00am. When our alarms went off 2 hours later to get ready for work, it was rough. Would I do it all again even knowing the rough ending? YES. A few weeks later, that part of the trip is a distant memory.

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We found Sedona to be a great destination for a weekend trip! It was the perfect combination of activity and relaxation. The town itself is fairy small so it’s easy to see it all quickly. We used Southwest points (and the companion pass) for our flights and Hilton points for all three nights. The only costs were the rental car/fuel and food. In total, the weekend cost around $350. Without the points, it would have cost around $1,600 so quite a savings!

Other recommendations that I found during my research:

  • Pink Jeep Tours - great reviews on TripAdvisor and we saw them all over the Sedona area!

  • Mariposa - upscale restaurant with amazing views.

  • Elote - highly recommended dinner spot. Unfortunately, they don’t take reservations..

  • Hikes - helpful website for determining which hike is best for you.

Now, any suggestions for where should we go next year for our annual hiking trip???

Emily KenneyComment