Visiting Arizona can be a remarkable experience and it’s definitely one of the best places I’ve traveled to in the US. Known for its natural beauty, amazing hiking trails, and peaceful ambiance, it also has some of the most delicious food and warm people I’ve ever met. Some of the best destinations in the state are the vibrant red-rock formations of Sedona, the breath-taking Upper and Lower Antelope Canyons and the majestic eastern rim of the Grand Canyon called Horseshoe Bend.
Check out some simple travel tips to make a memorable and unforgettable vacation to Arizona.
How to get there:
The easiest way to get to Sedona is to fly into Phoenix, AZ. From here, Sedona is about a two hour drive to the north and Page is a three hour drive north from Sedona. Visiting both the Upper and Lower Antelope Canyons
When to Travel:
Winter months — Arizona seems to be a popular destination during the summer months, which also means more crowds. My friend and I had visited Sedona during the first week of December, and it turned out to be perfect. The weather was amazing with temperatures in the 50-60s. Mild enough for a great hike. Since it wasn’t the busy time of the year, both Sedona and Page had no traffic and were quiet. No lines or waits in restaurants, and tickets were available for Antelope Canyon. I would highly recommend the winter mo. avoid crowds and for the great weather.
Where to Stay:
Courtyard Sedona — Loved this place. Great location and a great view! This was one of many properties on the main street of Sedona that is available. A bonus for traveling during the off season is that rates will be lower.
Where to Eat:
One thing I love about Sedona is that it’s a veggie friendly town. Considering the fact that I’m a vegetarian, I really appreciated having as many options as I did. Here are a few places that we checked out!
Café— Went for breakfast and tried the Huevos Rancheros. Hands down; one of the best I’ve had. You should not miss out on this place or the Huevos Rancheros. Picazzo’s — Good Italian place. My friend had a Thai dish she really enjoyed. Pisa Lisa— A sit down pizza place with a standard wood oven made pizza. Tasty!
- Sound Bites — I think the ambiance and the view is what you’ll be paying for. Decorated with rock-and-roll memorabilia, there may be live music, depending on what night you go.
- Wildflower Bread Company — This place is like a deli with a wide variety of dishes. It also has a great view to enjoy breakfast or lunch.
Best Places to Hike:
So, I’ll be honest, I’m not the most adventurous or experienced hiker. So, as the saying goes, “If I can do it then ANYONE can do it!”
- Devil’s Bridge — I’d recommend starting this sooner in the day rather than towards the end of the day since it may take a few hours. There were some points that got tricky to climb but not too terrible. I’m not sure if crawling is a hiking technique, but it helped me out!
- Bell Rock — Unfortunately, this one scared the bejeezus out of me so I didn’t get too far. But you can still get halfway up with ease and maybe even more if you’re not afraid of heights.
- Cathedral Rock — This is a beautiful church on a rock. There is no hiking involved to visit this site. You can easily drive up to the church, park, and walk in. Amazing view of the city and homes.
Shopping for Souvenirs:
Outside of Sedona towards Flagstaff (about a mile away), you’ll see Native American women selling their handmade jewelry. It’s neat! They have quite a collection, including earrings, necklaces, rings, bracelets, etc. Stones are native to the area, and again, everything is handmade and the prices are very reasonable. They also accept credit cards. The ladies themselves are so sweet! Since I had bought quite a few things, one of them gave me a bracelet for free. Unfortunately, these ladies are only there for a few hours a day, so you may have to check on availability.
Visiting Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend:
The drive from Sedona to Page is scenic and enjoyable, but windy roads the first hour out may cause some motion sickness. The canyons are on Native American land, so you must purchase tickets in advance for the tours. I would recommend purchasing them as much as a month before.
Lower Canyon — One choice for visiting the lower canyon is with Ken’s Tour. This company is phenomenal. Our tour guide was so fun and had taken pictures throughout the tour with our phones. He was sweet enough to even show us some tricks on how to make our phone pictures look A-MAZING!
Upper Canyon — You’ll have multiple options to purchase a tour ticket. We went with Antelope Canyon Tours. After meeting at their office, the tour guides will drive you in their buses to the sites. We did this tour towards the later afternoon, so it got chilly. Pack a jacket. Best pictures will be in the summer months because of the position of the sun, but you’ll still have a wonderful experience and a great appreciation for the canyon any time of year.
Horseshoe Bend — The hike from the parking lot is less than a mile away and not strenuous at all. It’s a flat dirt pavement. We did this after the canyon tours, so it was later in the day. Our pictures weren’t as bright and vivid since the sun was setting in the opposite direction, but the view is still spectacular. I’d recommend visiting this in the late morning or early afternoon.
What’s amazing about Sedona is that there is so much to appreciate. The food is great; The views are spectacular, and the people and culture are beautiful. You can fit in everything within two days or spread it out over four to five days. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to explore the southern rim of the Grand Canyon, but it’s only just a two-hour drive away. Take a trip and enjoy the state! If you need a sample itinerary, check out mine below with a quick summary.
Sample Travel Itinerary
- Day 1: Fly in to Phoenix and drive to Sedona (1-2 hours).
- Day 2: Drive up to Page, AZ and visit Upper and Lower Antelope Canyons and Horse
- Days 3 and 4: Sedona hikes and visited Flagstaff (one hour away from Sedona). There are two museums there, but nothing I think are worth driving to Flagstaff for. Flagstaff is otherwise just a city and there’s not much else to do there. If you have a free day, then I’d recommend heading over to the south tip of the Grand Canyon, which is only two hours away from Sedona.
- Day 5: Fly out from PHX