Planned vacations are fun but a spontaneous road trip is the best! Headed out to Arizona for a foodie and hiking trip with plenty of time to explore the local areas and no real time constraint allows you to have fun. That is what we did during the holiday break. We both had some time off and and picked Arizona since we talked about it a while back but now is the time! Sedona is the end spot for us. Camping or Glamping is the question and how cold is it going to be? About 15 degrees at night.. Lets stay in a hotel since I don’t have sub freezing gear. Rooms booked and we are set for the next couple of days and that planning took place in a few minutes!
Our goal was to find some good food and hiking spots out there and we will plan as we go on the road. So excited and hard to sleep that night and we go up early to start the drive.
Taking the 10 freeway out of California to Arizona can be dusty and full of a desert landscape but that is perfect since we love cactus and the nature.
We ended up in Cottonwood just outside of Sedona since all the places were booked for New Years, no worries since we will go find something fun to do!
First stop in the area of quite little Cottonwood will be the 3 Kings since yelp had a review about a stuffed avocado.
The 3 Kings bar was a nice little place right off the main that seems like a happening place and with a “happy hour” when we were there but beat the crowd this time.
To read and see more from the place check out the link below.
REVIEW: 3 Kings…..
Still full of energy we walked a few doors down the wine tasting bar that had good reviews on their flight selection. The main street had Christmas lights strung across and most of the local businesses were lite up, the street was somewhat empty but it looked like a Hallmark movie as a nice little city.
We ended up at Merkin bottles. This place was very cool with several seating options for tall people, groups or a cozy time there.
The wine flights were served with a little history and back story to allow us to really appreciate the local winery and bottles presented to us.
To read and see more about the wine and food here check out the link below.
REVIEW: Merkin bottles
Friday morning we got up and started the three hour drive or so to Horseshoe Bend, thanks Pinterest; but we will stop along the way if we see anything that grabs our attention.
Just a little bit outside and north of Sedona we pulled over for a creek that was along side the road. This creek had ice cold water that was crystal clear. Amazing to wonder along the creekside and get some truly fresh air. One of the great things about this trip is the fact I didn’t have to pack anything really special.
My Voodoo Tactical SRTP is my go to pack for hiking and does jut about everything I need it to do. Check out my video covering the pack and my 1 Year Recap of the Voodoo Tactical SRTP. Along with my pack I have my Gerber Gear Down Range Tomahawk attached to the belt for easy access. To round out my quick and easy ready to hike kit I am wearing my Salamon XP shoes for the perfect traction and comfy fit.
I’m being a gentleman and sharing my tactical gear for hiking and having Christina use the Molle Pack from Next Level Tactical since it is smaller and able to carry her water and other minor hiking essentials it is a perfect fit. After spending almost an hour in the creek bed we had to get back on the road and get to the Horseshoe Bend in time.
Horseshoe Bend was about three hours away in a scenic drive with a crazy hairpin switch back getting out of Sedona area and going up the mountain. Christina was scared but I was reliving my Gran Turismo days and the rest of the drive was flat and gentle. Here we are at a very popular photo spot along the canyons edge and be careful when taking a selfie since there is no railing or safety involved. I’m not concerned but I wonder how many phones are at the bottom of the canyon. The view and scale of the environment gives you a greater perspective on life and as us humans on earth since this has been around long before us. Check out more pictures of the stop check out the link below.
NATURE STOP: Horseshoe Bend
Having packed our lunch we wondered off to the side and ate to take in more of the view and people watch. It was nerve racking to watch young children run around the area not knowing where the edge is and the unruly teens taking selfies on the very edge of the canyon.
Driving back from the Bend the view was similar but totally different seeing the other side of the painted walls and mountains along the way. Seeing purples, reds, whites, browns, greens and yellows mixed in or layered was a sight to see and so beautiful. The painted sides reminded me of the decorated freeway walls in LA but much better.
After a long drive we had time to search on Yelp and find a cool watering hole to stop and grab a bite to eat. The Cowboy Club I reckon is as good as anyplace. Imagine a dinner with cowboys equipped with Colt SAA pistols and the entire outfit for some working behind the bar. Good food and drinks here and we heard some of the story about he place to give it the cowboy name and theme. In the old times this area of Sedona was a meeting spot for the cowboys and traders and started the town long ago. To see more of the food and drinks we got here check out the link below.
The sun sets fast out here and when we finished and went outside it was already dark and the streets were covered in Christmas lights so Christina had to get a picture of herself in a giant Christmas ornament.
Walking around the area seeing the little shops with the western and jewelry theme there sure were paying tribute to the old days and the shops were all filled with tourists and locals. First time ever having cactus for us at the Cowboy Club in the form of “french fries” we searched on Yelp for more cactus things. We found a place called Kactus Kates and we set a course for it.
Looking online at Kactus Kates it was stated that it was the worse and best “dive bar” in the area and this isn’t always a bad thing. Going inside we could see it was a locals bar with chairs for comedy night and a mini stage along with a large bar top.
The place was clean and no odd smells but being a dive bar it’s not a fancy place a tourist would be excited about going to if that makes sense. People come here to drink and hang out and just relax, no point on making it a fancy place. It was cool and the bartender was really helpful on deciding drinks based on what he liked and the use of certain whiskeys for the drinks. Nice and chill place here and an older couple from Wisconsin sat next to us and we had a great convo about the area, the bartender and his cute little puppy and the local hiking trails. There were snow birds and have been out here for the last 2 weeks. This was a great stop for the night. To see more about the place check out the link below.
Saturday morning we woke up early to add a detour to our main day adventure. We heard about the Montazuma castle that was carved into the cliff wall by Native Americans long ago. We went to the the park and walked the short loop to see the structures and spent about twenty minutes here.
The main castle is huge and actually five stories or levels high and consisting of several rooms. Was it the first apartment building of its time? Maybe but it took over 300 years to complete it so what a long waiting list for the new residents.
An artist model of the inside shows what it looks like and the public is not allowed inside since people would ruin it.
Along the other cliff wall is more buildings but not as grand but more hidden.
Reading some of the information in the visitor center the creek made this a perfect spot for the people and was on a trade route as well. There is a lot of history here but we only had a little time here.
Back in the road and headed to Sedona for the Fay Canyon hiking trail. There are so many trails to choose from but we took the advice from the couple at the bar last night and checked it out, easy to moderate hike and a good sampling of the environment so it sounds and looks great online.
The trail start out easy and is a winding trail in the canyon bottom and slowly working its way up and to the back of the box canyon. The views of the rock cliffs jutting up out of the enclosed tree line was amazing with the contrast of green and red. Snapping pictures as I went and if you want to see all the pictures from the Fay Canyon click on the link below.
HIKING: Fay Canyon Sedona, AZ
Making it to the end area and large cliff ledge we had a breathtaking view of the canyon overlooking the trees and canyon layered walls all the way out to the other mountains. We finished by mid afternoon and had to head back which wasn’t far but we had a table with a view for us.
Getting seated at the Creekside Cafe is an amazing sight during the day but for the sunset is the best. There is a bar and dinning room option here in case the weather is bad but this weekend was our lucky time! The outdoor seating gave us a panoramic view that was constantly changing as the sun was setting, bringing out the red tones even more on the rocks.
Besides the wonderful view the food was great. We didn’t know what to order so we get the recommendation from the waiter and went from that. Sharing of course to try and sample, all great food and tastes for us. To see more about the food here at the cafe click on the link below.
REVIEW: Creekside Cafe Sedona, AZ
After dinner we parked on the street and walked around in the gift shops and found an olive oil place that had maybe one hundred different options with samplings. Second time in the little area called Sedona and we kept on finding more great things to round out our last night in Sedona.
Sunday morning waking up to a beautiful sunrise in the clouds followed by some donuts for the road. Sedonuts is a punny little place just across from where we were staying so we stopped by. Their Vortex Roll was a super sized cinnamon bun covered in pecans and caramel. I got that and some others for us. Funny how the “vortex” term is everywhere here. A vortex in Sedona is all about crystals and energy and nothing like the vortex just south of Portland which distorts time and light in real time.
Bye Sedona! We will miss you but coming back for sure to see more of the sights and hike more of the trails! Overall this was a perfect long weekend getaway for us. Out of the city and spending time together on an adventure in a new place and this is definitely a place we would recommend others to go check it out and find their own fun out there.
Thanks again for checking out this adventure blog we put together and make sure you bookmark this website for more Foodie and Nature blogs.
Written by Brian Holt