Looking for a quick weekend getaway? Look no further than Sedona, AZ! We had the best
3-day trip and cannot recommend it enough!
My cousin Krista asked us last year if we wanted to join her and her husband Greg on a bucket list trip to Sedona and we quickly said yes! Unfortunately the pandemic delayed our plans a year but the wait was well worth it. We flew Allegiant direct from Appleton, WI to Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport in Mesa, AZ. Based on the advice of some friends who traveled recently, we booked and paid for our rental car in advance and had no issues getting our Jeep for the weekend from Alamo right after we got off the plane. We heard some horror stories of people waiting hours for a car or not getting them at all!
We decided to stay in the area for the night to experience another city prior to the 2-hour drive to Sedona in the morning so we piled into the Jeep and hit the road to Chandler, AZ. On the way to the hotel, we saw the familiar site of a TopGolf fence in the distance and I said “I’ve heard such good things, that would be so fun!” and just like that, the first spontaneous activity of the weekend was under way! We immediately exited the highway, found TopGolf and headed inside. We were able to get a bay right away and had the best time golfing and enjoying a few drinks and appetizers. It was on the pricey side but so worth it, and not something you do every day. I highly recommend trying it if you haven’t before!
We finished up at TopGolf and continued on to the hotel. After asking a friend who lives in Phoenix for recommendations, we booked the Hilton Garden Inn Chandler Downtown and it ended up being the perfect location. The downtown area is adorable, the hotel was great and there were plenty of restaurants and breweries within walking distance. We ended up walking right across our parking lot to The Stillery which also has a location in Nashville! There was great live music and their menu had us drooling. We started with drinks and couldn’t believe the portion sizes we saw being delivered to the other tables. Our food came and we inhaled it! We were definitely hungry but it was also just that good. Another highly recommend!
We woke up bright and early the next morning and after a quick stop for coffee, we hit the road so we could get our first hike in before it got too hot. The drive was beautiful and the traffic was light. We stopped about 30 minutes out from Sedona to stock up on water, Gatorade, trail mix and gummy candy (the best hiking fuel!). We used the All Trails app to determine which hike we wanted to do and that app ended up being our best friend all weekend! It gives great tips on where to park, the best time to hike certain trails, how to connect to some of the more popular trails, etc. and reading reviews was helpful too. We decided to start with a ‘moderate’, 4 1⁄2 mile hike and went with Soldier Pass. Based on the recommendation of the app, we parked at Jim Thompson Trailhead and had no problem getting a parking spot (bonus: it had a bathroom!). We started at the Cibola Trail which connected to Jordan Pass and eventually, Soldier Pass. It took us past Devil’s Kitchen (a huge sinkhole) and the Seven Sacred Pools which was basically the only water we saw all weekend (they aren’t kidding about the ‘dry heat’ thing!). From there, we continued on to Brins Mesa Trail which eventually looped us back to the trailhead. It was an incredibly peaceful hike but we were very excited to see the parking lot after finishing over 5 miles at high Noon in the Arizona sun!
Friends of ours shared some gift certificates they had for SoundBites Bar & Grill at the Hyatt and we had a little time to kill before we could check-in to our hotel so we decided to stop for a hard earned post-hike beer. We were lucky enough to get a table on the patio and the views were breathtaking! It was a great way to relax after our first hike and the appetizers hit the spot after an active morning fueled by protein bars and Sour Patch Kids.
We were all ready for some pool time so we headed on to our hotel, The Arabella Sedona. We checked in and headed next door to the Circle K (a little quick mart) to stock up on some snacks and beverages. We got to our room, did a quick change and headed down to the pool. The water was chilly but that didn’t stop the boys from diving in! The cool water felt great on our tired feet and we spent the next couple hours soaking up the sun and the rare kid-free time.
After doing some research on Yelp, we knew we wanted to try The Hudson for dinner one night but were not able to get a reservation via the website or by calling. Turns out they are impossible to get a hold of! We decided to take our chances and walk the couple blocks down to see if we were able to get in. There was no wait for inside dining and only 45 minutes for a table on the patio so we opted for the latter and were able to quickly snag 4 seats at the bar for the last few minutes of Happy Hour! #winning. The drinks were delicious, the Fig & Ginger Mule is a must, and the time flew by. Before we knew it, we were heading out to our table on the patio just before sunset. Our server, Ashley, recognized our midwest accents right away and explained that her boyfriend is from Wisconsin too and she recently visited. Needless to say, we hit it off and she was fantastic! We ordered our meals and took in the absolutely stunning views around us as the sun fell behind the mountains. Krista and I shared The Hudson Chopped Salad and the Grilled Portobello Mushroom Sandwich (anyone else love splitting meals??) and they were both incredible. We always seem to be on the same page with our food choices so decided to yolo and get the Deconstructed Banana Cream Pie for dessert. I’m not kidding when I say I dreamt about it that night! It was amazing. Our plan for the next morning included a 5:30 AM alarm so we headed back to the hotel and crashed hard after our first full day in Sedona.
Our Sedona research and the All Trails app highly recommended the Devil’s Bridge hike. When they say you need to get there early because it gets crowded, they aren’t kidding! We were up before our alarms thanks to the 2 hour time change and got moving right away. Parking at the trailhead was already full by the time we arrived at about 6:15 AM so, per the All Trails app recommendation, we headed just another mile down the road and parked at the Mezcal Trailhead. This turned out to be a great choice! Instead of walking a mile down a boring, sandy road to get to the start of the Devil’s Bridge trail, we were able to take the Mezcal Trail to Chuckwagon Trail before meeting up with Devil’s Bridge. The majority of the Devil’s Bridge hike itself was pretty boring until the end. We climbed our way up to the top and were met with the infamous line of people waiting to walk out onto the bridge to take pictures. We took it in and realized it wasn’t worth it to any of us to wait the 45ish minutes to snap a picture on the bridge and headed back down. Was it cool to see? Sure. Would I do it again? Nope. Would I recommend it to others? Maybe, if you’re able to get there early enough to avoid the lines. It ended up being our least favorite hike of the trip because of the amount of people.
Our hike ended after about a 4 mile round trip so we headed to The Pump House for breakfast based on the recommendation of our waitress/BFF Ashley from the night before. We grabbed a table on the patio and started with their Cold Brew coffee with Oatmilk and their homemade vanilla syrup – it was delicious! I ordered the Fruit & Yogurt Bowl that came with fresh fruit, their homemade granola, plain greek yogurt and a drizzle of honey. It hit the spot and I still find myself thinking about that meal. Greg’s Avocado Toast also looked amazing and he said it was. We finished up and realized it was still only 9 AM! We decided to find another hike so we pulled out the trusty All Trails app, chose a 3 mile hike called Airport Loop, and headed out.
After a quick 5 minute drive, we arrived at the parking lot near the top of Table Top Mountain and the Sedona Airport. We walked toward the trail and came across a vortex which is said to be charged with powerful positive energy so people are drawn to them for healing, meditation and self-exploration. It was a very cool, peaceful experience so I can see why they say that! We started the Airport Loop trail which essentially circles the entire mesa and offers the best views of every formation in Sedona. Some of the trails were a little narrow and steep but we took our time and stopped a lot to take in the sites. Because the airport was right there, we literally had planes flying right over our heads to land at one point of our hike! It was a great trail, although the guys may disagree since we did take a wrong turn at one point which resulted in our hike being 5 miles vs. the 3 miles we promised… in the blazing sun, with little shade… but we survived!
We headed back to the hotel for another dip in the chilly pool since it was 88 degrees and we had 9 miles in for the day! After some relaxation, we got ready and walked a block down to grab a drink at Mooney’s Irish Pub while playing some cards. The drinks were great and the service was too! Because we had such a great experience at The Hudson the night before, we decided to go back for Happy Hour so we could try some of the delicious bruschetta on the menu and get back to our hotel for live music on the patio. We grabbed spots at the bar again, ordered some appetizers and chatted with the bartenders. The Funghi Bruschetta was to die for! We finished up and headed back to the hotel pool where the guys swam before we started up another card game while listening to the live music. The stars came out and it ended up being such a gorgeous evening.
We were up early again and weren’t sure we’d get the guys out hiking again after our 9 miles the day before but since there was a trailhead right behind our hotel that offered an ‘easy’ 4 mile hike, we ventured out. We started on Marg’s Draw Trail but decided to split off on the Snoopy’s Rock trail which ended up being a ‘moderate’ 2.5 mile hike up the mesa to a rock formation that apparently looked like Snoopy (I beg to differ…). What we thought would be our easiest hike of the trip turned out to be the steepest climb, but most exciting! We made it up to the top and could not believe the views. We ventured on a little bit further to a split in the mesa where we could see through to the other side. It was truly incredible. We cannot recommend this hike enough. Even if you do not stay at the Arabella, there is plenty of parking for this trail right behind the hotel.
We got back to the hotel by 8:30, just in time to head in to check out the continental breakfast that ended at 9:00. They had such good, healthy, fresh options! We grabbed some fruit, yogurt, granola, hard boiled eggs and some amazing muffins and headed back to the room to shower and get ready before hitting the road back to Mesa. We were on the road by 10:00, stopped at Oak Creek Espresso for some Cold Brew on our way out of town, and made it back to Mesa by 12:30. The traffic heading north into Sedona was insane! We are so glad we went Wednesday – Saturday, getting out before the long holiday weekend.
We dropped our rental car off across from the airport and walked a block down to Barrio Brewing. We were all sweating from the 5 minute walk, it was 104 degrees outside, but the beer and food were great! We finished our game of Rummy 500 (I won!) and walked back to the airport to catch our flight back home.
It was truly an incredible trip and I cannot recommend it enough. The pictures do not do it justice! We cannot wait to go back again someday, Sedona has so much to offer!
Quick Travel Tips:
- Book and pay for your rental car in advance so you are guaranteed one upon arrival
- Download the All Trails app if you are traveling somewhere that has hiking trails. We
used it so much to plan our hikes and also while on the hikes – the GPS/map feature
saved us many times!
- Check out your hotel fitness center for a place to refill water bottles!
- Bring plenty of water, Gatorade and snacks for your hike. It gets hot quickly and you
want to make sure you take breaks and hydrate often!
- Bring a plastic bag for your dusty clothes/shoes for your trip back home – you’ll find that
red dust everywhere
- Running/tennis shoes worked just fine for hiking for us but we can see why people wear
hiking boots for some of the rockier trails.
- Don’t forget sunscreen and chapstick with SPF, reapply often
- If you are prone to allergies, the dry air definitely makes them flare a bit – bring some
allergy medication and eye drops along
- We packed for the entire trip in just a backpack so we were able to save money on
checked bags. We packed 3 hiking outfits, pajamas, a swimsuit, 2 dinner outfits and 1
travel outfit for the way home.
- If you’re traveling with others and want to share expenses, have one person pay for
everything and then split it at the end… it saves a lot of fighting over the bills when they