Sedona, Arizona: Leave Everything Behind and Enjoy

On a high desert road trip taking I-17, we sidetrip onto SR89 near Flagstaff, traversing switchbacks and heading down Oak Creek Canyon to Sedona, Arizona. Where are we? North Carolina to a painted desert in only a few miles! The fun only begins!


Lantern Light Inn

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by sasha1 on October 29, 2005

Incredible. Kris and Ed Varjeen, the hosts and owners of this wonderful find, are beyond gracious. We were lucky enough to be able to stay in the two-bedroom, two-bath accommodations, which not only included a huge private patio with a fireplace, fountain, and everything you could possibly want, but we also peeked into other rooms that were available. From closets full of extras to a huge kitchen and cushioned patio chairs to sink into while gazing at a star-filled sky while listening to the fountain at night or watching the local birds take a morning dip, any stress melts away.

It wasn't just that we were made entirely at home from the moment we arrived by the knowledgeable hosts; the whole atmosphere was created to relax in comfort. Kris had worked her magic in each room we were able to peek into. The beds asked us to sink into them after our forays (more on this), and we felt utterly indulged from the moment we arrived until the moment we regrettably left. Ask Kris or Ed for ideas about what to do while you meet other travelers over a breakfast of fresh fruit, pastry right out of the oven, and eggs benedict. Soft music in the background and red cliffs in the foreground. French doors onto patios.

We have been lucky enough to travel many places, but the Lantern Light Inn has five stars as far as we're concerned. Just far enough from the city center to be able to lay back and see the stars from horizon to horizon, close enough to whatever you need. And when Kris and Ed make a recommendation - take their advice, whether it's for a day of adventure or a night of great dining. Although we weren't looking for a place to hold a meeting, the Lantern Lights even has a meeting room, a music room (with lots of great instruments), and I could only think about what a great place this would be for a group to come to.

If there is a five-star-plus rating, the Lantern Light had it with the agreement of all of our group. We hadn't left before we were planning on coming back.

Price range from $130-$395 but talk to the hosts about their best rate available.
Lantern Light Inn
3085 West Highway 89A
Sedona, Arizona, 86336
(877) 275-4973

Heartline Cafe

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by sasha1 on November 29, 2005

On the main highway just outside the center of town, the Heartline Cafe is an exceptional way to end the evening. Our host Sanyo Shannon was charming and attentive but never overbearing. He gave us excellent recommendations. (Our group of four feasted on warm red cabbage salad with hazelnuts, goat cheese, grilled salmon in tequila lime marinade, pistachio-crusted chicken, and the pasta of the day, which was more than generous in both portion and seafood--only praise from all). Although we chose to dine inside, the large patio was also filled and warm despite the chilly weather, thanks to the outdoor fireplaces.

When I say dressy, I only mean that to say you wouldn't feel out of place if you dressed up but the atmosphere is warm and relaxed. If you decide to go for lunch expect to pay about $10-$12 for a great meal. The food is ala carte, so it depends how much you want to indulge, and you will want to although you won't go away hungry, the portions are more than generous. And if you just want a relaxing drink as the sun goes down over the mountains the patio is a perfect choice. I recommend making reservations, as although it was a weekday, the restaurant was quickly filled to capacity.

Heartline Cafe
1610 West State Route 89A
Sedona, Arizona, 86336
+1 928 282 0785

Picazzo's

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by sasha1 on November 29, 2005

If you love pizza, you can't beat Picasso's. But make reservations or expect a long wait (we waited an hour on a weekday evening). The food was worth the wait but only barely, and we knew that if we left we'd be facing the same in other restaurants. My recommendation for dining is Sedona is to plan ahead or get takeout.

The salads are a meal for two or three in themselves. Split them. We had four in our group and ordered Rick's Special Salad for $8, the Ultimate Pepperoni Pizza (lots of pepperoni and black olives ($17 for the largest)), and a wing platter as an appetizer ($8.50) which we really didn't need. By the time we were seated, we just over-ordered.

A very nice touch are the revolving pizza pedestal servers, which make grabbing a piece easier and create more table space. We managed to duck around and still talk. Talking isn't the easiest when the restaurant is full, but by the time we were done, the crowd had lessened and we had plenty of time to enjoy our dinner and relax. It's a chain, although a limited one, in Sedona, Tempe, and Scottsdale. See www.picazzos.com.

Pizza Picazzo
1855 W. Highway 89A
Sedona, Arizona
928/282-4140

Pink Jeep Tours

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by sasha1 on November 29, 2005

Get ready for a ride that will leave you thrilled and your chiropractor thrilled. Seriously great fun but I wouldn't recommend it for someone who had back problems as despite the belting in and hanging on you will get some major jolts as you go up and down the canyons at some angles that will make you wonder when the jeep is going to tip. We took the Broken Arrow tour and in fairness there are less rigorous ones available. We went all out and came back feeling like we'd been horseback riding. The guides are knowledgable and humorous, and the more you actively take part in the tour, the more fun you'll have.

About two hours, $65 for adults. Four-wheel-drive pink jeeps take you up and over the magnificent canyon. There are some moments where you will hold your breath and I'm not going to spoil them for you it's part of the fun. Hold onto your hats though! One member of our party lost his. The guide insisted on going back to get it..but not before another jeep had run it over. You won't have too many photo ops because it's a fast paced trip but the guide will make stops and even take some group photos so everyone gets in the picture. You'll see the canyons intimately, learn about the history of the peoples of this land and geology of the rock formations while having a terrific time. I had to laugh as we were leaving as a little boy said, "Daddy, can we go again?". Daddy looked about as done as could be. Pink Jeeps are located in the center of Sedona, and there are pick-ups at hotels.

Pink Jeep Tours
204 North State Route 89A
Sedona, Arizona, 86339
(928) 282-5000

Sedona Arts Festival

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by sasha1 on November 30, 2005

Over 100 nationally and internationally known artists participated in this juried art show. Held at the local high school (Oct. 8-9th). The parking was a bit chaotic, but the staff did their best as one of our party who had difficulty getting around--they drove him right down to the show in a volunteer vehicle. One of the best things about traveling to me is participating in local activities. We paid $7 to enter, and it was worth every penny. The exhibits surprised us in their quality, and although we were determined to go away without buying, we couldn't resist the wonderful pottery of award-winning R.

Diane Martinez, who spent so much time explaining the authentic Native American symbols in her work, was by no means the only artist who had outstanding arts and crafts to exhibit. A warm and welcoming atmosphere had us spending time talking with artists and not only learning about their art work but also more about Sedona and its history. Sometimes off the beaten track is right in the neighborhood. One of the things that our hosts at the Lantern Light warned us about is that the art community is so strong in Sedona that there are many competing events in the local community that are happening at the same time. It's worth asking the locals about what's happening.

Sedona Arts Festival
Sedona Red Rock High School Grounds
Sedona, Arizona

Tlaqepaque Sedona's Arts and Crafts Village

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by sasha1 on November 30, 2005

Spend a day at Tlaquepaque after a day of hiking, jeeping and enjoying the strenuous activites that Sedona offers. Tlaquepaque is an artist village and landmark since the 1970s, the dream come true of Abe Miller. As you twist and turn through the four courtyards (you will swear there were more), there are fountains, flowers, scupture, restaurants and stopping places you won't want to resist.

Named for a suburb of Guadalajara, within a short time, more than 40 shops filled the niches. Wander around, sit by the fountains, peek in the shops, nibble on the great food. Tlaquepaque is a place to relax. The artists have brought their work outside for you to enjoy whether wondering at the wind scuptures or posing in the funky metal art work chairs. A shortcut down Canyon Road, easily accessible although the parking lot can be a bit hair raising.

The Sedona Trolleys might be a better choice if you want to maintain that wonderful feeling of tranquility. There are also several festivals like the Cinco de Mayo Ballet, the Fiesta, and the Luniminaras but don't worry if you miss an event. This is a place for languid relaxations, smiles at the surprises around the corners and a day of relaxation that will make you come back.

Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village
336 State Route 179
Sedona, Arizona, 85339
(928) 282-4838

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