The fall season doesn’t necessarily mean leaf peeping and apple picking. Instead, think red rocks, stargazing and a walk through a vortex. Follow along as Margot Black seeks out Sedona family fun this fall.
Sedona is home to a vibrant arts community, but what constantly catches your eye are the striking red rocks that fill the sky in every direction. It’s a town that calls out for further exploration.
Number one on our list was something we were looking forward to for weeks: a stargazing session with Sedona Star Gazing Tours, accompanied by their resident astronomer. But when we actually arrived in Sedona, the weather wasn’t cooperating (didn’t Mother Nature get the memo we were coming?) and our outing was canceled. This happened three nights in a row – and was hugely disappointing. But we used my husband’s iPhone app to track the stars, and the hotel concierge at the Sedona Rouge Hotel provided us with a basket of s’mores which we took to the rooftop firepit. It was a lovely consolation prize for not seeing any constellations. Our little boy loved the firepit and we had fun toasting the marshmallows and sharing them with other guests. Utterly memorable.
We decided to get in the mood for our Sedona expedition with a meal at the lively Cowboy Club and Silver Saddle Room. The restaurant is a riot and our son loved the Old West theme, shooting imaginary pistols and doing his best cowboy impersonation. The restaurant is one of the original gathering places for early settlers, so in their honor we decided to try their house specialties, which are not for the fainted-hearted. We delved into cactus fries, rattlesnake meatballs and the best baby back pork ribs my husband had ever eaten. Glad I can now cross “eat rattlesnake meatballs” off my bucket list.
After a breakfast buffet at our hotel’s restaurant Reds (our son, with great pleasure, used their red napkins as a superhero cape each morning), we decided to take a trolley ride which is billed as “the best first thing to do in Sedona’” (after eating cactus, of course). The tour around town lasts just under an hour and is fully narrated. We drove past the famous vortexes (which we promised to explore on foot the next day), and ended up at a viewing point high over the city among the striking red rocks that provide the city with its dramatic and unforgettable backdrop. This was a fantastic introduction to Sedona and so the next day (after yet another fortifying breakfast of eggs and bacon), we took a long hike.
Because we had a tiny one with us, our hike had to be child friendly but if you’re looking for something more challenging, the guides can assist in planning a route with you. There are 15-20 vortexes within a 10-mile radius, and they said to give off energizing powers – some of which I needed after two hours walking! The red rocks and vistas are stunning and although my husband gave me a near panic attack by wandering off the path a few times, we found that it was the perfect way to experience the beauty of the land.
In fact we totally fell under Sedona’s legendary spell, and the next day we left our hotel super early to go on a crazy fun off road adventure Hummer tour with Sedona’s Off Road Adventures. You definitely need to book on a tour early in the day to avoid the searing heat (by this time there’d been a break in the rain), and we enjoyed a drive along the bumpy roads – only the noise from the Hummer broke the silence. Our guide was fascinating – and we were educated about the wildlife of the region, the native American folklore, and the rock formations. Think our son enjoyed my screaming (for real!) on some of the bumpy inclines, this ride did pay off on the promise of adventure.
Back at the hotel I was ready to slow things down for the afternoon, so we spent a lazy few hours around the pool basking in the red rock glow. My husband and I enjoyed a cocktail while our son splashed around in the water and playing Marco Polo with anyone who would join him.
We decided that only an al fresco meal would suit our needs and were recommended the casual Heartline Cafe, where we enjoyed a beautiful meal on the pretty patio. After all that hiking, swimming and sight-seeing, we reckon we were allowed a few extra calories and their menu came up trumps. My husband and I devoured their tomato soup (at the risk of sounding like pure hyperbole, the tomato soup is and was the best I have ever had in my entire life), while our son chose a pizza from the kids’ menu. I noticed an unusual note on their menu “You Hook It, We’ll Cook It,” the restaurant will prepare your freshly caught rainbow trout. I was glad I didn’t have to work that hard for dinner. We dined on pistachio-crusted chicken breast and grilled wild salmon with green chili rice. We all shared a dessert, a mocha mousse pie, which was devoured with three spoons. I’m not sure my husband and son got their share but hey, when it comes to chocolate, it’s every mom for herself. It was splendor under the stars and a divinely creative meal.
Sedona has a reputation for offering solace to those seeking spiritual and alternative therapies and, we found it to be a welcome shot of health and wellness mixed with adventure and breath-taking nature. We may not have seen the stars at night but we left with smiles as big as sunbeams and a renewed spring in our step.
For more family travel ideas, check out:
- Going Off the Tourist Map with Hawaii Travel
- Avoiding Crowds at Major Attractions
- Four Family Friendly Foodie Factory Tours
- G-Rated Family Adventures in Las Vegas
By Margot Black for PeterGreenberg.com