Throughout my experience traveling around the United States, one thing I’ve noticed to be a great addition to my experience is finding places adored by locals. Because who knows their own city better than the people who live there? So when I went to Sedona, going off the stereotypical travel agent schedule was one of my goals. Now then, let’s talk about some fantastic establishments and their most popular beverages for your next trip to this beautiful land of red rocks. Oh, and let’s not forget Sedona’s extensive network of backtrails for our more outdoorsy type!
Before getting into the less pronounced aspects of this city, let’s talk about something more touristy. Elote Cafe has plenty of tourists along with regulars both within Sedona and from the valley –– yes, you heard me right, from the valley! Some people travel hours to come here every now and again, which is a good indicator of a top-quality establishment. The building is a newer location which everyone moved to in July of last year. When you visit, the vibes are more causal. You’ll see some families, hikers and generally people getting back from enjoying their trip.
This is the Tequila Manhattan, a cocktail smoked with applewood. Elote’s drinks have been researched on-site, meaning they went down to the origin of each to learn how to make them. The entire team of bartenders and the store owner, Jeff Smedstad, went down to Mexico and visited the local tequila distilleries. The current mixologists have been here for three years, so they have experience with each ingredient they use. Together, they put extreme effort into both their food and drink, something they’re unambiguously proud of. If they’re confident in their offerings, I’m confident in my recommendation: visit these guys!
Okay, now we’re starting to look into the more locally-focused establishments — Olde Sedona Bar & Grill is the town sports bar. You know how you have a sort of sports-related bar and grill with TVs everywhere in seemingly every town? Yeah, this is the Sedona version of that. And this isn’t a bad thing. I haven’t had a permanent location since 2017, and I’ve gone to many of these types of bars in different locations. There’s one thing consistent with each of them: they have a piece of their locality, and they’re pretty darn good!
Olde Sedona has a great south-western red-desert vibe. It’s like the Prescott cowboy saloons if you’ve ever been to one. I’d imagine some boot struttin’ buckaroo walking in to get themselves a whiskey on the rocks. But once it starts getting busy, it’s filled with the local families and photographers of Sedona. It’s funny how my separation is between families and photographers, but I’ve been staying here for six months, and it really seems half the population is photographers. Regardless, if you’re looking for a high-quality bar & grill to start up some dialogue with the locals, this is your place!
Above are the Spring Sangria, Blue Hawaiian and Grapefruit Strawberry Mimosa. These are Olde Sedona’s most popular mixed drinks. This is what their customers want, and you’ll definitely take a liking to at least one of them. The recipe cards for each are listed below. You have to give them a try when you visit!
Okay, remember when I mentioned hikers? Yeah, well, that’s kind of the whole reason people come here: to hike. But with trails, it’s hard to really find your way, and having only a few days doesn’t help. Lucky for you, I spent a good long time here due to the pandemic, so I know the good ones.
This is an image from along the route to one of my favorite overlooks of the city: teacup. You can find the trailhead by going half a mile down the main street from Olde Sedona going towards Cottonwood. Take a right into some residential areas, and you’ll find it. It’s pretty popular, and there’ll be a lot of cars.
Once you to the trailhead, get off the main path. The main route is quite dull. It’s really just a glorified staircase to the top, which isn’t terrible in and of itself –– the staircase to heaven in O’ahu is crazy fun. But you’re only walking for one mile. This needs some spice. Any other way to get to the top will be fun. Trust me: I’ve done them all! Also, try going to the other, shorter summit in front of the first one if you’re looking for more of a challenge.
Here is a picture from Airport loop: one of my favorite and most frequented trails throughout my time in Sedona. You can get some nice steep inclines without even needing to leave the main path. It’s not too busy, and the payoff is beautiful. At the end, you get an extravagant view of Maroon mountain. On the way back, It has a long descending section that I like to run down. Trail running isn’t the safest, but it’s incredibly enjoyable. The way back is less rocky, so give it a try.
This is the top of Skywalker trail, which stretches from the downtown center all the way to Sedona highschool farther up along the road towards Cottonwood. You also get some nice steeper paths, but in general, it’s one of the plainer walks. If you’re coming in with your family or friends, I’d recommend this one since it’s more agreeable. Towards the end, there’s an outlet to the main road. Sometimes I like walking back that way and stopping by Local Juicery, a local juice place –– also an excellent recommendation if you have a crowd!
Okay, you have some things to do now. But remember, Sedona has so much to offer. This doesn’t nearly cover everything you can do. Try getting some exercise on one of these trails. Enjoying a nice cold cocktail at the end of something that makes you sweat is the best feeling, so save the Elote and Olde Sedona for the end. Enjoy your trip!