Romantic Getaways: Sedona, Arizona
By Sarah Crosland
Just two hours outside Phoenix, picturesque Sedona is tucked among the area’s vivid red rock buttes and mesas. Streets lined with boutique hotels, art galleries, and restaurants wind through this valley town known for its gorgeous sunsets and mystical crystals. With Sedona’s abundance of scenic trails and outdoor activities, it’s the perfect destination for a couple seeking adventure. But the town also draws those intrigued by its New Age spiritualism, and many travel here on a quest for guidance and inspiration. Whether you believe in Sedona’s supernatural draw or not, anyone can appreciate the numerous spas the town offers for those looking for healing and peace. One of the most tranquil spots in Sedona is the sycamore-tree-shaded L’Auberge de Sedona (cottages from $430 per night, lauberge.com), where you and your new spouse can relax in a romantic cottage facing the rushing Oak Creek. Your expansive terrace overlooking the stream is perfect for sharing a bottle of wine in the evening after a day of exploring, and the cozy wood-burning fireplace in front of your bed covered in luxurious Italian linens will be hard to leave in the morning. But with cedar outdoor showers, sunrise yoga classes, and complimentary coffee and fresh-baked pastries, L’Auberge offers plenty to tempt you up to begin your day in this unforgettable town.
Many of the rooms at the luxurious L’Auberge de Sedona offer stunning views of the town’s famous red rocks.
There are plenty of ways to take in Sedona’s natural wonders. Many photogenic spots are easily reachable by car—just make sure to bring a map, because the area’s streets wind through wooded hills and eventually all those red rocks and ponderosa pines begin to look the same. One of the most popular ways to explore the mountains is through Pink Jeep Tours (pinkjeep.com). Hop in one of these off-road, open-air, pastel-colored Jeeps and hit the terrain’s rugged trails as your driver shares facts about the area and you soak in panoramic views.
For the most beautiful vistas and hidden valleys, you’ll have to hike, and luckily there’s no shortage of well-traveled trails around Sedona. While the hotel’s concierge can provide you with suggestions depending on your experience level, one of the most picturesque trails is Soldier’s Pass, which loops up desert paths between two of the town’s tallest buttes and eventually ends in a shady canyon. From there, on your drive back toward town, stop in Judi’s Restaurant and Lounge (sedonarestaurants.com) for lunch next to the fountain on the sunlit patio. A favorite among locals, there’s no better way to take advantage of your morning calorie burn than by indulging posthike in one of the juicy burgers like the Sedona, topped with guacamole, bacon, and melted Swiss cheese.
For those less inclined to hike, Sedona offers a plethora of shops and galleries where you can spend your days. Tlaquepaque (tlaq.com), an arts-and-crafts area designed to look like a traditional Mexican village, is on the banks of Oak Creek. With its red tile roofs, vine-covered stucco walls, cobblestone paths, and courtyard tile fountains, this quaint village feels like it belongs beyond U.S. borders. On most days you’ll find artists in the gardens and shops creating works of bronze and blown glass. Several upscale restaurants can be found here, but one of the best spots to dine is the Oak Creek Brewery and Grill (oakcreekpub.com), where craft beers are brewed on site and the menu includes creative pizzas cooked in a wood-fired oven.
In Sedona, you’ll have no trouble finding a massage for sore muscles at the end of a busy day. Whether you’re looking for an invigorating treatment or something designed to help you find your spiritual center, massage therapists abound in this energy-focused town. At L’Auberge Spa (lauberge.com/Sedona-spa), massages can be given creekside, adding an extra-soothing touch to any treatment. And while the spa offers traditional Swedish or deep-tissue options, to really absorb the culture of Sedona, you’ll want to try the energy healing or holistic massages, both designed to create balance in your body and mind.
While massages are offered on seemingly every block in Sedona, L’Auberge Spa provides one of the town’s most relaxing environments and best selection of treatments.
Restaurants offering Southwestern fare dot the main street, and for those in search of authentic Mexican cuisine there’s no shortage here. One of the best dining locations in town is just steps outside your door at the L’Auberge Restaurant on Oak Creek (lauberge.com/Sedona-fine-dining). Reserve one of the candlelit, creekside tables on a stone patio beneath a canopy of trees covered in twinkling white lights. The seasonal menu features locally grown ingredients and wild game served with a Mediterranean twist. To truly indulge in the chef’s talents, try the nightly tasting menu, featuring five courses paired with one of the restaurant’s more than 1,000 wine selections.
While its wide sidewalks are often packed during the day, Sedona tends to be quiet in the evenings as visitors return to their balconies to take in the starry skies. To get a close-up view of those stars, make the half-hour drive into the nearby town of Flagstaff and head to the famous Lowell Observatory (lowell.edu). At this historic hillside facility, which was established in 1894, you’ll find several working telescopes including the Pluto Discovery Telescope, which was used to discover the dwarf planet in 1930. A walk around the facility, lit only by moonlight, offers a chance to use some of the world’s best equipment to glimpse the stars.