25 Reasons We Love Sedona
How do we love Arizona's New Age nirvana? Rebecca Ascher-Walsh counts the ways, in no particular order
1. Rock stars up close: The breathtaking Red Rocks, which jut from the high desert floor in furious jags, have inspired everyone from the Native Americans who worshipped their energy fields thousands of years ago to the hikers who now worship the views. The setting for hundreds of Westerns--not to mention a bunch of car commercials--the Rocks are fully visible from town, but they're best appreciated from the hiking trails that encircle Sedona. You need a pass to park within the 1.8 million acres of Coconino National Forest; they're widely available, including from the Sedona Chamber of Commerce. 331 Forest Rd., 800/288-7336, sedonachamber.com, $5.
2. Soul innovation system: At the Mago Café, you can check your e-mail and drink a Green Esteem smoothie while strapped to a Brain Innovation System, which is allegedly able to smarten you up. (It looks like Star Trek sunglasses connected to a CD player.) Or simply give your brain the afternoon off and sit for a while by the lovely tearoom's fireplace. You'll leave more serene, if not sharper: In the guest book, one visitor wrote that leading a happy life is easier if you "worrie less." 207 N. Hwy. 89, 928/204-1047, smoothie $4.75.
3. Bacon and The Worm: Michael and Christina Eich--along with their mutt, Bacon--run The Worm, a 44-year-old book and music store. It's open 12 hours a day, 365 days a year, and Michael is happy to give advice on more than his favorite authors. "People ask us about everything," he says, "because we're open more than the chamber of commerce." And there are plenty of interesting titles to page through, from best-selling thrillers to How to Use Sages, Resins, and Herbs in a Wakan-Sacred Way. 207 N. Hwy. 89A, 928/282-3471, sedonaworm.com.
4. Delicious dirt: Inspired by the view of the Rocks, Sedona Fudge Company's Ann Evans created the shop's newest seller, Sedona Red Dirt. It's a heart-stopping concoction of cream cheese, amaretto, raspberry flavoring, and white chocolate. Too much? Try Slide Rock Swirl, made with vanilla cream cheese and a ribbon of chocolate. 257 N. Hwy. 89A, 928/282-1044; one-pound box $16.
5. Even veggies get TLC: Tender asparagus, precious Meyer lemons, and baby artichokes are lovingly arranged by dreadlocked, tie-dyed employees at New Frontiers Natural Marketplace--they earnestly believe the world can be improved one organic meal at a time. A mini-chain, New Frontiers has three outposts in Arizona and two in California. The take-out counter provides an ideal pre-hike lunch, including poached salmon and salads. Old Marketplace shopping center, 1420 W. Hwy. 89A, 928/282-6311.
6. Backward sunsets: In Sedona, the most dramatic "ooh..." moment comes when you face east, as the sun's rays seem to set the Rocks afire. People flock to Airport Vista, but you'll find more solitude paying $7 to park at Red Rock Crossing, which has unobstructed views of Cathedral Rock (where Addicus and Jen Patton, left, got married). Or just hang out in town on the patio of Canyon Breeze. "We have the best fish taco in Arizona," promises bartender Kevin Lefter. "And you can quote me on that." Who knew there was competition? 300 N. Hwy. 89A, 928/282-2112, fish taco $10.
7. The lullaby of a babbling brook: Don Hoel's Cabins are only 10 miles north of town, but you'll suffer delightful culture shock as you head deep into the forested canyon and arrive at what looks like a soundstage for Little House on the Prairie. A cozy cabin for two close to the creek, with quilts, a fireplace, and a full kitchen, is $125. (Cabin 7 is pictured.) For less rustic creekside lodging, the Best Western Arroyo Roble on Sedona's main street has seven two-bedroom villas that sleep six, with a full kitchen, two and a half bathrooms, and two fireplaces. The $330 rate includes breakfast, and the hotel has both an outdoor and indoor/outdoor swimming pool. Don Hoel's Cabins, 9440 N. Hwy. 89A, 928/282-3560, hoels.com; Arroyo Roble Hotel, 400 N. Hwy. 89A, 928/282-4001, bestwesternsedona.com.
8. Cactus as a side dish: Every first-timer to the Southwest should try fried cactus and rattlesnake soup, both of which are available at the Cowboy Club. But it's the restaurant's rib eye steaks and giant salads that draw tour guides at the end of a long day. Sidle up to the bar, which serves a full dinner menu, and leave the skull-and-horn-festooned dining room to the masses. 241 N. Hwy. 89A, 928/282-4200, cowboyclub.com, rib eye $23.