How to Spend Two Days in Sedona with Kids
When I suggested visiting Sedona on our Las Vegas-Grand Canyon road trip to my French husband, he looked puzzled. After all, Las Vegas and Grand Canyon are world-famous destinations, but Sedona is somehow off the international travel radar. But as soon as we drove into Oak Creek Canyon on highway 89A towards Sedona, the doubts evaporated. We had entered one of the most stunning places on Earth.
There is a saying in Sedona: "God created Grand Canyon, but He lives in Sedona." If you're visiting Grand Canyon, Sedona is absolutely worth a detour. Here's my list of top things to do if you're spending just a short time in Sedona with kids.
Morning: Admire the View along Oak Creek Canyon
Maybe you've just spent some time at the Grand Canyon and have been driving on those desert roads from Vegas to nowhere (I can't help inserting a little tribute to Calling You from Bagdad Cafe). In which case, you've probably seen more rocks than you've ever dreamed of seeing.
Enter Oak Creek Canyon on the road from Flagstaff to Sedona. The road descends towards Oak Creek, and the valley is suddenly filled with green, tall trees. For a moment we thought we were transported from the Arizona desert to somewhere in the Yosemite valley. Drive another 10 minutes or so, you start to see these...
...majestic red rock towers that burst up from the green valley beneath into the wide blue skies above. The contrast in colors is jaw-dropping. The hardest thing is to stop yourself from pulling over to take pictures of the vista at every single turn of the road. It's difficult to resist that inclination, the place casts a spell on you that you become a compulsive picture-taker.
There are many easy trails along the creek with leafy shades. And when your stomach starts to growl from walking around, there is a neat little place, Sedona's Rainbow Trout Farm, right in the curve of the canyon. It's a great place for a picnic with some fresh catch-of-the-day. Fresh trout is naturally delicious grilled en papillote with some butter, drizzled with some freshly-squeezed lemon juice, add a bit of salt and pepper to taste, and voilà you'd have a piece of heaven in your mouth.
Afternoon: Take a Dip at the "Pool"
Slide Rock State Park is always on the top things to do in Sedona for a reason. Set in the picturesque canyon valley, you can slide down the rocks (as the name suggests) and swim in the natural swimming pool. It seems best suited for older kids since it does get quite slippery. So if you're traveling with younger kids or toddlers, the hotel pool may seem like a safer option... Hilton Sedona Resort has a kid-friendly pool with fountains, and Amara Resort has a serene infinity saltwater pool, and both pools have stunning views of the iconic red rocks.
Late Afternoon: Watch the Sunset at the Chapel of the Holy Cross
The Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona looks like it's carved out from the red rock mount. It's very much a visual allegory of Man vs God/Nature. At sunset, the perfectly-lit view of the proud structure melts you with awe. You find yourself surrounded with elements that make it hard not to feel humbled.
And risk-seeking toddlers that only live for adventures.
Evening: Southwest-Chic Dining at SaltRock
Our dining experience with kids at SaltRock Southwest Kitchen at the Amara Resort was one of the best, ever, period. The restaurant opened in late 2014, and it's now just about the hippest dinner spot in town with Southwest flavors and local ingredients.
Get seated outdoors, start the evening right by getting yourself the craft margarita "Bell Rock" made with tequila reposado, agave nectar, orange oil, "bell" pepper, and spiced salt on the glass rim.
Then my favorite part: let the kids run wild on the spacious courtyard lawn complete with fountains, fire pits, lawn games, bright yellow Adirondack chairs, and all that topped with an incredible view of the red rocks.
As you enjoy your dinner under the patio string lights, or indulge in post-dinner cocktails by the fire pit, there is no stress to keep kids seated straight at the table, they can roam free and enjoy the magic in the air.
Morning: Hike to an Energy Vortex
Sedona is famed for the many spots of energy vortex around town. Some say these are special chakra points of the Earth that have mythical powers, some say that there might be some electro-magnetic concentrations due to the high iron oxide and quartz contents in the local geological formations, either way, the hikes to these places provide gorgeous views. Some of the best hikes are Red Rock Crossing, Bell Rock, Boyton Canyon, and Cathedral Rock trails. See my map at the end of the post for locations.
Lunch: Have Some Hearty Wood-Fired Pizza at Pisa Lisa
Ms. Lisa Dahl is the local chef that's transformed the Sedona food scene. She runs four restaurants in town and all of them unique and lovely. Dine at one of her restaurants and you won't be disappointed. For lunch with kids, why not try her wood-fired pizza at Pisa Lisa? For a more romantic and upscale experience, Mariposa serves a Mexican-Southwest fare in a chic space.
Afternoon: Stroll Around Town or Take the Pink Jeep Tour
Sedona is a haven for New Age artists. There are as many aura-reading, crystal-healing places as there are art galleries. Visit Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village which has a lovely collection of stores and it also happens to be an energy vortex. Stroll around the highly walkable town center and find some unique art and crafts to take home.
If you're traveling with older kids, take a fun and wild Pink Jeep Tour on Broken Arrow Trail, it seems like a very popular option for visitors in Sedona. As for us with young toddlers, it'll have to wait until a future visit.
Sedona is a stunning lady, once we get to know her, we want to stay around longer to further understand her. It's a magical place with some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. Reluctantly, we bid farewell, and murmured wishes to return one day.
Where to Stay
My top pick for Sedona. SaltRock restaurant is at this hotel. Chic decor with local colors, saltwater infinity pool, the free morning yoga session is a plus.
Slightly away from the town center, but has a great kid-friendly pool.
Great value for simple rooms, large pools, and a stunning view.
A Word on Hotel Bookings
I personally like to use Booking.com when I book hotels because of the competitive prices and the free-cancellation policy (most of the times) if something comes up. Book using the above hotel links or the Sedona Page to help support TravelChicMom.com ~ I highly appreciate it.
Hotels are overbooked? There's always Airbnb. Use this link to get a $30 credit on me.
And here's my Sedona Map including the places mentioned in this post:
Pin for future reference: