We’ve started a tradition over the last few years that includes destination birthdays for us both. Traveling is a high priority, and we’ve found that the gift of experience makes for an easy excuse to squeeze in an extra trip twice a year. Due to timing (March), Cheryl has always ended up somewhere else in the world for her birthday. It usually works out that we can both get time off pretty easily around then, so we often choose to do our larger trips in sync with her special day. Lucky her! The past couple of years we’ve added my birthday to the roster so that I can join the good luck club with my less timely December day of birth.
This year, with very little rhyme or reason, we decided on Sedona, Arizona.
Where to stay //
L’Auberge de Sedona was basically a slice of all things heaven. This luxury resort and spa was fairly uncharacteristic for us, since we typically don’t mind staying cheap, assuming it’s clean and somewhat attractive (we usually spend VERY little time in our accommodations because we’re out exploring). But Cheryl surprised me with this amazing creekside cabin knowing that we were both in terrible need of some R+R and would likely be spending a bit more time indoors.
The resort: There are a small handful of room types to choose from, including a mainstay lodge with many single-occupancy rooms, stand alone single room cabins, and larger multi-room cabins. The grounds are breathtaking and situated on a gorgeous creek. The resort itself is impeccable and quaint. The service was nothing short of perfect from start to finish. It’s worth mentioning that the dining situation here is also on point. While we only had one meal at the resort, everything looked pretty phenomenal. Next time we’ll certainly carve in a meal on the property.
The accommodations: Our cabin was complete with a wood-burning fireplace and a view of the creek. Somehow I failed to take any photos of the room, so just imagine the coziest, chic-est situation possible — that’s how it looked.
The best part? There was a bin full of duck food near the shore. I got to feed the ducks EVERY morning! We also made friends with the local squirrel. You’ll catch a glimpse of his antics in the video below. He was quite the character!
The spa: The spa. My God. The spa. Small, intimate, and so damn perfect. We both enjoyed 90 minute Swedish massages and ample time in the steam room. Easily one of my top two spa treatments to date (second only to the Raven Spa in Los Angeles — more on that another time).
Where to eat //
We did a lot of snacking (there’s a Whole Foods in the newer part of Sedona), so we didn’t have a ton of meals. But two were exceptionally phenomenal…
ChocolaTree: This is for the hippy crowd, or anyone wanting the cleanest, freshest grub in the city. I’m the first to admit, I don’t always jive with vegan restaurants. I love to eat vegan at home (in between hamburgers) because I can control the ingredients — but sometimes what’s put on your plate out there in the world can be a little dicey. Lunch at ChocolaTree was perfect in all the right ways. I had the raw burrito and the cheezy rice (skip the cheezy rice — it was okay, but left a lot to be desired). The burrito, however, was damn good. Stuffed full of all the right goodness, it definitely hit the spot. We also tried the chili bean uttapamitas which were worth writing home about. You’ll find a huge menu full of juices and elixirs and smoothies and salads. The restaurant itself is somewhat of an oasis and boasts an impressive collection of healthy supplements, essential oils, and other hippy-dippy type stuff. Needless to say, it was right up our alley!
Dahl + Di Luca: And on the COMPLETE opposite end of the dietary spectrum (all things in moderation, my people!) was our dinner at Dahl + Di Luca. This place is quite special. The decor is something you must experience in person — I’d fail to give you an adequate depiction. It’s full of character, to say the least! We both had the lasagna. We both had a 30 minute love affair with our dinners. We both have dreamt about it every night since.
There were a handful of restaurants on our list that we didn’t get to. If you check them out, let us know what you thought!
- Cucina Rustica
- Oak Creek (L’Auberge Restaurant)
- Elote Cafe
- Local Juicery
Where to wander //
Hike it out: One of the few reasons we chose Sedona was because we knew we’d be able to get a couple of great hikes in. It was important to me to welcome 33 in the company of Mother Nature. Cheryl obliged.
We only had time for two of these, but I’ll share my list with you for reference.
Little Horse and Bell Rock Loop were the hikes we tackled (neither were difficult — especially considering what we’re used to here in Washington). You’ll find a few details on those below.
•Brins Mesa: moderate (3mi/600ft) // views of soldier pass and Mormon canyon, secret canyon wilderness
•Soldiers Pass: moderate (4mi/500ft) // backcountry, devils Kitchen sinkhole
•Little Horse: easy (3.5mi/400ft) // views of Cathedral Rock, bell rock, and more (option for side hike to Chicken Point via Broken Arrow Trail)
•Bell Rock Loop: easy (4.2mi/500ft) // take big park loop
•Fay Canyon: easy (2.4mi/100ft)
•Broken Arrow: easy (3.5mi/400ft) // munds wilderness, devils dining room, chicken point, adjacent to other trails for longer hike
•West Fork: easy (6.5mi/200ft) // most iconic, towering cliffs, water, old west history
Chapel of the Holy Cross: Sedona has a worldwide reputation for being a spiritual mecca and global power spot. I’m not an overly spiritual person, but the vibes here are undeniably intense. Take a drive up to this chapel built into the side of the red rock at sunset. It’ll give you the chance to take in the sweeping views in both directions, but you’ll also get to watch the sun set below Cathedral Rock to the west. Between that and the magical glow of the golden sun kissing the red rocks to the east, it’s easy to buy into the alleged spiritual powers of the area.
Sedona Airport Overlook: We popped up here on one of our exploratory drives. The views are pretty incredible. It’s worth a quick look. Directions are easy to find on Google.
Dry Creek Road: Spend an hour or so following Dry Creek Road. It’s gorgeous and offers some great views that you won’t catch in Sedona proper.
While it’s impossible to adequately portray through a lens, this little video gives you a glimpse of the incredible beauty in Sedona…