I love traveling, exploring and experiencing new places! It's one of the things that makes my heart sing and brings a lot of passion into my life. However, I don't like following the crowds and doing the typical "touristy" things in most of these beautiful locations. Instead, I prefer to do my research before hand, look at maps, do plenty of internet searches, and head out off the beaten path to find my own adventure.
This fall Andy and I took a quick trip out to Sedona to see family. We stayed at a Thousand Trails campground 10 minutes outside of Sedona that was in walking distance of the Alacantra Vineyard and Winery, a definite plus! Before the trip Andy and I did some quick research, checked some maps, and made a general itinerary of things we wanted to do. High on my list, as per usual, was to explore ancient ruins- but away from people. Besides that we both wanted to check out the views, eat good food, and explore Sedona off the beaten path.
With that said, I've put together a list of the 5 best things to experience in Sedona, Arizona- without following the crowds!
Sunrise at Devils Bridge
Devil's bridge is the largest natural bridge in Sedona and is also the epitome of "the touristy" thing to do in the area. On any given day, even weekdays in the off-season, you can count on there being a massive herd of people heading to the arch. HOWEVER, there is a saying (and for good reason) "the early bird gets the worm". If you are willing to get up in the dark, make the drive, and start hiking with a headlamp, you can enjoy one of the most phenomenal sites and phenomenal views in Sedona, and have it mostly to yourself. The hike is roughly 5 miles round-trip and is considered to be pretty mild. Not too strenuous. Sunrise at Devil's Bridge is not only the best time to be up there for crowd-related reasons, but it is also the very best time to photograph the arch, too! The early morning light makes for perfect, dream-like photos. Set up a tripod or kindly ask someone else to take your photo out on the delicate arch. There will certainly be a couple other eager photographers around to enjoy this 5-star view, but you can be sure that this quiet morning will surely be one you will ever forget!
Find the "Heart Rock Guy"
If you head out along the Boynton Canyon Trail at roughly around 9-10am there is a good chance you will meet the "heart rock guy". He handcrafts perfect, fist-sized, heart shaped sandstone rocks, and with a pocket full of these rocks, cruises along the trail finding people to hand over his sentimental works of art to. Along with the heart-shaped rock, you will receive a very warm and very awesome spoken outlook on how love is the greatest thing in the world. That even if you find yourself caught up in world's mumbo jumbo, if you go back to the heart, and go back to love, you will have everything you will ever need. He says it all so much better than I'm able to re-convey here, but if you are willing to listen to this man's lively, heartfelt and enthusiastic words, consider yourself lucky. Whether you're into that sort of thing or not, a run in with the heart rock guy will leave you feeling uplifted leaving a smile on your face for the rest of the day!
Visit Native Cliff Dwelling Sites
Sedona is home to countless spectacular, and often sacred, ancient native cliff-dwelling sites of the Anasazi and Sinagua people. Many of the popular sites are very, very busy; but just like Devil's Bridge, if you are willing to go to those popular sites early, or better yet, willing to go explore nearby-by and less-traveled canyons and trails by yourself, you are sure to find some absolutely spectacular archeological sites that are completely free of people. The forest service has been doing a great job at making sure some of these sites are no longer easy to get to in hopes of keeping herds of people away from the fragile and delicate history, so please keep that in mind if you decide to venture off to these places on your own. These sites are very sacred to the native people. Enjoy them, take only photos, respect them, protect them, keep them secret and leave them as you found them. If they are left as they are found this will help preserve the rich and awesome history that surrounds Sedona.
Pump House Station Urban Eatery & Market
Address: 313 AZ-179 d10 Sedona, AZ 86336
The Pump House was by far the very best breakfast, or food in general, that we had in Sedona! I can not rave about this place enough. It is a cute little rustic and chic eatery at the eastern end of town along Oak Creek serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. We enjoyed their quaint and beautiful back garden patio and ordered two breakfast meals that we could both split. Two breakfasts is better than one! We ordered their urban breakfast burrito, which was the size of a brick, and the BLAT. OMG! Along with their incredible food, we both enjoyed one of the best latte's in town!
Just outside of Sedona, placed high up on a hillside, is a little old copper mining town rich in mining history called Jerome. Today Jerome is home to just over 400 people and is a booming tourist and art hub full of wacky storefronts, rad art and good restaurants like the Haunted Hamburger. We enjoyed a nice dinner on a small back balcony with our family at the Haunted Hamburger. The back balcony is the perfect intimate spot to enjoy a breathtaking sunset over Sedona! Take a walk around the little town full of steep hills and steep stairs and explore the mining museum and ruins scattered about. If you are a fan of the wacky and usual, Jerome is definitely the place for you! Also, keep in mind, if you have a motorcycle the road into Jerome is a FANTASTIC windy road sure to make any motorcycle enthusiast beam with joy.
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