Tips for a Long Weekend in
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Sedona, Arizona is the perfect destination for a long weekend. But, after visiting I felt that I wanted to go back sooner rather than later. It’s just such a fun place for so many reasons! Especially if you like hiking & being outdoors. This was the second time that we’ve traveled by airplane during the corona-virus pandemic, so we knew what to expect. Read more about my first experience here.
Working a corporate job full time, I feel like I have become the queen of long weekends. Especially if I can score some reasonable flights, leave late on a Thursday or Friday night and come back on a Monday or Tuesday to me that’s a nice little get away with using minimal PTO (paid time off). Which is a bonus, so I can stretch my PTO farther, take more adventures & ultimately travel more. (Then of course, tell you alllllll about it!)
When to visit Sedona for a Long Weekend
I had really been wanting to experience Sedona so we visited for a long weekend at the beginning of January. (It was over New Years Eve & my birthday weekend.) During this time of year, evenings & mornings were cool (30-40 degrees F) but it was great weather in the middle of the day for hiking & being outdoors (mid 50-60 degrees F). Many say the best time to visit is in the spring. (From March to May when the temperature is a little warmer but not extreme desert heat and the vegetation in the area is in bloom.) It does depend on your comfortability with cool weather. Don’t underestimate how cool it can get in the desert over night! To my surprise, it actually does snow there.
Getting to Sedona
Step one to a perfect long weekend is getting there! To get to Sedona you can fly into Phoenix, rent a car and then drive to Sedona. (Phoenix is the closest International airport to Sedona.) Which is only a 2 hour drive so it’s not too aggressive. The drive to Sedona from Phoenix went quite quick and it was also very beautiful. You can also choose to book a Sedona shuttle transportation directly from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport to Sedona if you don’t feel like driving. Or, you can choose to fly into Flagstaff which is just under 20 miles from Sedona.
Staying in Sedona for a Long Weekend
There are an abundance of places to stay in Sedona, some very high end and others more economy. But, I wouldn’t necessarily say that Sedona is a budget destination, accommodations can be on the pricier side. When determining where to stay in Sedona, think of what your main activities will be and how long you will be there for. Another option is staying in nearby Flagstaff depending on your budget. Flagstaff is more of a college town vs. Sedona where it caters more to tourists. Especially if you’re there for a long weekend, I didn’t want to waste time driving back and forth due to a majority of the things I wanted to do and see being in Sedona.
We were extremely happy with where we stayed at Sky Ranch Lodge as there were amazing red rocks views out over Sedona every sunrise & sunset. Just down the road, there was a crowd during these times at the airport lookout trying to get amazing pictures during peak golden hours. For that reason alone we were very happy we had a private terrace with the same views, sans crowd.
Things to do during your long weekend in Sedona
Take an off-roading Tour
I had heard from so many people how amazing the Pink Jeep Tours were so we booked the Broken Arrow off roading tour. It lasted two hours and was definitely a bumpy ride.
It was nice that we were able to explore some areas of Sedona with such a small group. The history and information the guide shared was really fun. The company also did a great job with pandemic protocols. There was a barrier between the other family on the tour with us. I would definitely recommend it if it’s your first time to Sedona. Just a disclaimer though: you will get dusty! I wore mostly black and it contrasted with the red rock dust.
One of the things Sedona is the most well known for is their red rocks and gorgeous views. Most of the views are seen by hiking. Sadly, we only had time to do two hikes. The hikes we went on were Devil’s Bridge & Cathedral Rock. My friend recently went to Sedona and hiked a ton, she has a very detailed blog post about all of the hikes that you should definitely check out.
Be wary that Devil’s Bridge can take awhile. It’s actually a lot shorter than it seems (1.8 miles one way.) But, due to the availability of parking if you park along the road and have to travel a considerable distance to the trail head like we did, it actually ends up being closer to 4-5 miles total trip. Don’t let that deter you. It’s one of Sedona’s most popular hikes due to the famous bridge formation.
The actual hike to the bridge itself didn’t take that much time, but once we got there there was a significant line of people waiting to take their picture. I would definitely leave early (before sunrise even) to start this hike and be some of the first people to get there to avoid wasting time in this manner. If I had to do this hike again, I 100% would bring a headlamp and get my booty up early and trek to the bridge at sunrise. It would be absolutely worth it!
We almost didn’t hike this as we had limited time. But we wanted to get in another hike so we hustled. This hike is not for the faint of heart, there are definitely some spots that are quite challenging. Be sure that you are able to use both hands & are wearing shoes that have a lot of grip. I will say, at one point, we almost turned around and didn’t finish the hike.
There was a whole incident where I was trying to crouch down and shimmy and I almost sat on part of a cactus… but that’s a different story in and of itself! One tip so you can avoid what ended up being a dramatic incident, definitely don’t have anything that could possibly snag or catch on cacti as you will be at some points crouching low.
Places to Eat in Sedona
Since we weren’t there for a very long time, I feel like my recommendations in terms of food aren’t extremely extensive. We ate on our way out of Phoenix enroute to Sedona at In-N-Out (of course!) We don’t have those in Minnesota so if we can get it, it’s a real treat!
A few places we ate were subpar at best, but one recommendation that I have is Hideaway House. Everything we had there was amazing! The beer selection was pretty good and all of the food was delicious. We ended up grabbing a late lunch there one day and sat out on a patio with views of Red Rocks, it was perfect!
I’ve heard great things about Mariposa & The Cowboy Club but can’t personally vouch as we didn’t go to either of them. I will definitely be trying out those spots once I return.
Breweries in Sedona
We only visited a few breweries actually in Sedona. Out of them, our favorite was Sedona Beer Company. They have indoor & outdoor space as well as a restaurant. We were just there to sample the sweet nectar that is craft beer, but the menu looked amazing! It would be a great place to fuel up after a day of hiking. If beer isn’t your thing, they also offer wine, cider and kombucha. There’s truly something for everyone!
Day Trip to the Grand Canyon
I’m not going to lie, this was the highlight of our trip. We woke up extremely early and left at 7 AM to drive the two hours to the park. We arrived by 9 AM, and I’m so glad we did!
I had wanted to see the Grand Canyon for a long time. It was all I ever hoped for (and more!) Truly stunning in person.
Because we visited in January, it was snow capped & in some spots extremely icy! Definitely, walk with caution if you visit during this time of year. We visited the South Rim, which is the only part of the Grand Canyon that is open year round. The North Rim is only typically open from December to May. Check with the National Park Service on specific dates prior to your trip to be sure.
We left just before 3 PM and when we were leaving, the line to get into the park stretched all the way to the last traffic circle in Tusayan. (The distance from the Grand Canyon Entrance and Tusayan is about 10 miles!)
On the way back from our day in the Grand Canyon, we stopped in Flagstaff at a few breweries. (Are you even a little surprised?) Travel always includes great beer (in my opinion!)
We ended up eating dinner at Grand Canyon Brewing & Distillery at the Flagstaff Brewpub location. Then ventured on to Wanderlust Brewing, I mean WanderLust in Real Life….it was an easy choice! Our last stop before heading back to Sedona was Historic Brewing Company. We went to the east side brewery, but they also have the barrel house which is more of a pub with food as well.
Don’t get sidetracked! High tail it to Sedona
This was one thing about our long weekend to Sedona that I really regret. We spent a little too much time in Phoenix before actually heading to Sedona. I got a wild hair, and we went on a small mural wall hunting expedition. (Insert face palm here!)
Long story short, it was disappointing. A few of the murals had graffiti on them and the one I wanted to find the most was in a shopping mall and we ended up giving up before we found it. I wish we would have left earlier and truly maximized our time in Sedona!
We have family that lives in Scottsdale, so we definitely will be back and will explore more of that area and I should have saved my mural hunting for that trip. Oh well! Hindsight, am I right? At that point, I didn’t know how truly beautiful Sedona was and how obsessed I would be.