By Jill “MamaBug” Frier

Sedona is a one of a kind place for tourists from all over the world, and a favorite weekend trip for both Arizonans and visitors from out of state. Named the “Most Beautiful Place in the U.S.” by USA Today in 2003, the stunning Red Rock views, tall pines, quaint shops, and beautiful creekside venues make it a charming place for a getaway any time of the year.

We often get questions from Arizona newcomers about Sedona, since it is a favorite of so many people and one of the most frequently recommended locations for people to visit. Here are our favorite spots to see when we head north to Red Rock country.

In Town Experience
The town of Sedona is full of arts and culture, with shopping, restaurants and sightseeing tours. Whether you are spiritual, artistic, cultural, an outdoor enthusiast, or just plain laid back, Sedona has something for you. Our first stop is usually Uptown, right at the top of the “Y” – the intersection of Highway 89A and 179. It’s a great spot to find a public parking spot and get out to see the local sights. Walk up and down the block for a taste of the Old West town of Sedona’s origins, mixed with new age hot spots, boutiques, souvenir shops, restaurants, and guided tours.

A good place to start is the Visitor’s Center, where you can get great information to plan your visit around town. One of our favorite in town spots to visit is Tlaquepaque, an outdoor shopping and dining area just south of uptown, with old world charm and an upscale atmosphere. Nestled in the trees on the banks of Oak Creek, the site of Tlaquepaque was once the homestead of Sedona’s original postmaster, Theodore Schnebly. The story goes that Schnebly was tasked with naming the town and, rather than picking his own name, he chose the more beautiful name of his beloved wife, Sedona.

Outdoor Experience and Red Rock Country
The best thing about Sedona has to be its location in Red Rock country. No matter where you go in Sedona, you have a stunning view of fantastic rock formations like nowhere else. Hiking and biking trails are abundant but be sure to pick up a trail guide or talk to a local park ranger or outfitter before you head out. The views and trails are gorgeous, but it is easy to get lost in the Coconino National Forest wilderness.
Some of the most popular outdoor spots include Slide Rock State Park and Oak Creek Canyon, but these are really just the tip of the iceberg. Awesome trails and places to explore are everywhere throughout the town and surrounding area. Our favorite place to hike is in Red Rock State Park, just off Highway 89A as you enter Sedona. It has a visitor’s center with great information about the park, trails, local geology, and wildlife, as well as fantastic hiking trails in the Red Rocks and along the creek.

Spiritual Experiences
One of the things Sedona is best known for is being a spiritual center. From its origins as a spiritual center for the early Sinagua people who lived there, to the more modern ideas of vortexes and new age spiritualism, Sedona is a popular place to seek spiritual healing of all types. Known for being the home of quite a few vortexes, or places on the earth with a special field of energy, Sedona attracts people from across the globe who want to visit these sites. The four most popular vortex locations are Airport Mesa, Bell Rock, Cathedral Rock, and Boynton Canyon.

It’s also home to churches and houses of worship for almost every denomination. The most famous of these churches is another of our favorite places to visit, the Chapel of the Holy Cross. Built on the top of a huge outcropping with a backdrop of Red Rock cliffs, this majestic church was originally commissioned by a local rancher and sculptor, Marguerite Brunswig Staude. The chapel, built on Coconino National Forest land with special permission, was completed in 1956 and remains one of Sedona’s most recognizable landmarks. Legend has it that it is also known for being the location of one of the strongest and most easily felt premier vortexes in Sedona.

Sedona is a great place to visit all year round. It’s cooler than Phoenix in the summer and warmer than Flagstaff in the winter, with beautiful scenery and outdoor adventure in every season. It’s a great place for a day trip or weekend stay, with many unique places to see and experience. Take some time to check out the local favorites, and be sure to check for more ideas for great places to getaway and visit in Arizona!