Our family did 5 days in Sedona, Arizona and it did not disappoint. My boys are 7 and 4 and they were the perfect age for this trip. I’m so glad we waited for them to be old enough to do the hikes themselves. We traveled at the end of April and the weather was absolutely perfect. 80s every day, but the dry heat made it comfortable and it was a fabulous escape from the cold Michigan spring we’d been having.
We traveled on Thursday afternoon. Leaving Detroit at 1:30pm EST got us into Phoenix around 2:30pm PST. By the time we rented our car and drove to Sedona, it was 7pm PST, which was 10pm EST….WAY past bedtime. We got burgers to go and the boys went right to bed. Since hiking is best early AM, we knew we’d be in a good position for the boys to wake up early and hit the trails.
Sedona was surreal.
We met the most interesting and friendly people wherever we went. Everyone was so friendly and it was fun getting to know other people’s stories. We met a lady named Misty that has been traveling the US living out of her Suburban. Her work is fully remote which allows her to work anywhere with wifi. We hung out with her for hours at Grasshopper Point just talking about all the cool places she’s been. We also met Harry, a war veteran and retired college professor, who volunteers at the parks so he was able to give us great park recommendations. Everywhere we went we made friends.
Bell Rock – Easy hike to the base of the mountain. From there the trails weren’t 100% clear so we didn’t go up too far, I’d say ¼ the way up. Beautiful views of Sedona from the base. We got to the trailhead around 6:45am PST and there were plenty of spots, but when we left around 7:30 it was pretty full.
Soldier’s Pass (includes Devil’s Kitchen and Seven Sacred Pools) – This was our longest, hardest hike. Round trip from the parking lot (taking shuttle back) took about 5 hours. At the end of the hike we were out of water, tired, and felt amazingly accomplished! At the time, our boys were 4.5 and 7 years old. They did this hike with ease, like champs, however, they are use to long hikes. My youngest needed a little bit of help during the last 15 minute of the hike – the ascent to the top was extremely steep!
- Parking was tricky for this one. When we were there, you could not park at the trailhead. There was designated parking about 1 mile away. There is a shuttle that will pick you up from parking lot and drop you off at the trailhead (and then also take you back to parking lot), but it only runs every 20 or so minutes. We parked and missed the bus so ended up walking the extra mile to the trailhead. At the end of the hike, we were too tired to walk another mile with the kids, so we waited about 20 minutes for the shuttle and it was worth the air conditioned ride.
- The first sight you get to is Devil’s Kitchen, which is a huge sinkhole. This is only a 10 min walk from the trailhead.
- Then you walk on to the Seven Sacred Pools, which is only another 20 or so minutes.
- If you continue to the top of the mountain to see the caves, it’s about another hour, and towards the end it gets tricky. It’s more climbing, some small pases, but totally do-able for my kids.
- When you get to the top, there is a narrow climb that is tricky, that gets you to the caves. My husband and oldest son did it, but I stayed back with Xavier. It was a very small passage way and ledge so my husband was afraid of my 4 year old being up there. However, I saw kids his age get up there so I know it’s possible, just not for us that day.
- We took a small rest at the top and took in the views. Had a snack, drank some water, and then trekked down.
Grasshopper Point – Beautiful spot, with water! The boys were so excited to swim, even if it was really cold! It was $11 to get in without a pass. We got a great spot after breakfast around 9:30am. It was a short walk to the creek that had little mini waterfalls. It was a bit of a rocky walk to get to the creek. Great spot to put down a blanket and picnic. I heard that people also fish there as well but we left our poles in the car.
Chapel of Holy Cross – Not really a hike, but worth checking out! We parked fairly close, only a 5 minute walk up to the Chapel. Beautiful views from the top and you can see the ‘Eagle’ carved into the mountain. We went into the chapel to say a prayer and then made room for others to sit.
Crescent Moon & Buddha beach – This was a beautiful spot in West Sedona. We arrived right when the park opened and it wasn’t that busy, but when we were leaving around noon cars were lined up to get in and park. This is a short walk to the creek and lots to explore. There is a large area of red rock where people were hanging out. We found a few different spots we could walk across the creek in water shoes which the boys thought was a lot of fun. We lounged on a huge red rock and picnicked while the boys explored (within our view).
Main advice: Make reservations ahead of time. Like, way ahead of time. Months! I didn’t because I wasn’t sure what time we’d be eating dinner (wasn’t sure if we’d stay close to EST schedule), so a few restaurants we showed up right at opening and snuck in, and got a few meals to go to eat on our balcony. I tried to sneak in a reservation at Elote Cafe and they were booking out two months ahead.
Here are the places we tried….
Butterfly Burger – OMG so good. We ate here twice. This is not a Burger King burger. These delicious gourmet burgers are so good and huge. Also recommend their sweet potato fries. Lisa Dahl is a famous chef who owns a few restaurants in the area.
Cucina Rustica – Another Lisa Dahl restaurant. This is upscale Italian (husband was asked to remove his hat in the dining room). The food was great. My boys split the seafood pasta and dominated it. I can’t believe they ate the clams and mussels!
Elote Cafe – We got this to go. Highly recommend trying to get a dining reservation. The Elote dip was delicious. I may try to recreate it at home.
Creekside American Bistro – We had an awesome brunch here. We got a spot on the patio with an epic view! Highly recommend their homemade croissants as an appetizer.
Sedona Crepes – Delicious sweet and savory crepes and delicious coffee! Boys tried crepes and they were a hit. I had the breakfast tacos and they were delicious!
Red Rock Cafe – This was walking distance from our condo. My boys loved the banana bread french toast, and I heard their cinnamon rolls are awesome.
Coffee Pot – This restaurant is known for their 101 omelet options. Their enclosed patio is really pretty. Great coffee and fun mugs (I tried to buy one, but they are no longer making new ones).
Rocky’s Ice Cream – This was the treat for the boys complete Soldier’s Pass with almost no complaints.
Oak Creek Espresso – STRONG iced coffee if you need a jolt!
I did not visit Sedona to shop, however, I love a cute downtown with souvenir and jewelry shops. Uptown Sedona has two separate shopping areas, Tlaquepaque (pronounced T-la-keh-pah-keh), is Sedona Arts & Crafts Village, and then about a half mile up A89 there are several clusters of shopping areas.. There are several crystals/rocks, jewelry and t-shirt souvenir shops. This is also where you can sign up Pink Jeep and Trolley tours.
The boys were given souvenir money from their Nonni, so they were excited to shop. I was also on a mission to get a fun souvenir mug (I collect them from our vacations). The souvenir stores mostly carry the same things. I did enjoy visiting Red Rock Apothecary. Their prickly pear perfume oil is my new favorite sweet scent for summer.
- If you are from EST, stay on CST timing for an easy transition back with kids, especially if you will be in Sedona for less than a week.
- We used the AllTrails.com app to keep a pulse on the crowds, parking situations and research difficulty levels. It’s free!
- Water shoes came in handy for walking across creeks, playing in the water, etc. I bought the boys their first pair of Keens and they didn’t disappoint. I was surprised they didn’t have issues with rocks getting inside them.
- Don’t bring your ‘good’ sneakers- my beige New Balance shoes are now tinted mauve from the red rocks. I don’t care one bit, but just a warning 🙂
- Bring a cooler backpack for hikes! This is similar to the one we used. It kept our water water cold during our longest hikes.
- If you think you have enough water packed for a hike, pack more. We fell short on our 5 hour hike so please learn a lesson from my failure.
- If your kids like to fish, check out these travel fishing poles. These were easy to pack in our suitcases. Grasshopper Point and Crescent Moon Beach would be great spots to fish.
- The views are absolutely breathtaking and make for amazing photo opportunities (but please, be careful while taking photos and selfies)! I packed the boys matching shirts and a few coordinating shirts for all 4 of us just to make the photos that much cuter. Check out this retailer with an amazing cause, Keep Nature Wild. Their products are designed in Arizona and ‘made for the wild.’ For every apparel product sold they pick up one pound of trash via nationwide community cleanups. They have dedicated Wild Keeper Ambassadors that spend time tiding up their community and when you purchase an item they will include a biodegradable trash bag so you can pick up in your own neighborhood.
Have you been to Sedona yet? If so, please share your favorite hike or adventure in the comments! Or better yet, let me know of another awesome hiking spot for our family to adventure to!