A Sedona girls weekend can be a lot of things — active, relaxing, insightful — or just a way to take a step back and reconnect.
What did Hayley Ringle and her friend choose?
“Relaxing,” Hayley says. Laughing, her friend Alicja Wierzchowska agrees. The pair saw Sedona, Arizona, as a perfect girls’ getaway idea.
Gathering friends and heading to Sedona is the way to experience Arizona red rock country at the tip of the Verde Valley and the toe of the Colorado Plateau. It’s a land of food, crystals, auras, labyrinths, hiking, and off-roading. More than enough to fill a weekend.
The two friends planned a weekend in the Arizona resort community to escape the heat and bustle of their hometown, Phoenix.
“We planned two nights and two-and-a-half days,” said Hayley. “We wanted to stay away from the typical tourist places.”
Planning that girls weekend getaway breaks down into weekend options—spa and spirit, food and wine, outdoors, or shopping—or a mix and match of any of them.
Sedona is a Girls Getaway Magnet
This mountain-desert gem is nestled between green forests and Roadrunner and Coyote red rock landscapes.
The weather makes for a fantastic weekend destination. Summers are hot but not sizzling; winters are cooler but not frigid with occasional snow; spring and fall are Goldilocks just right.
One of the best places to visit in Arizona, Sedona is located about two hours north of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. One of the larger U.S. airports, Sky Harbor, is served by most major and discount airlines. Fares vary by season, but bargains can be found in the Phoenix area during shoulder seasons – fall, and spring – the prime seasons in Sedona.
Hayley and Alicja drove from Phoenix. It’s an easy two-hour jaunt. Just hop on Interstate 10 west from the airport, and seven miles later, whip north on I-17 for about 90 minutes—exit at Arizona Route 179 west from the freeway.
The last 30 minutes are a scenic swath of towering red rock buttes, brilliant green forests, and plenty of Instagram-worthy scenic selfie stops. The busy road also includes many roundabouts and one-lane segments, so it often takes half an hour to make the 15-minute drive into town.
Various lodging options exist, from economical chain motels to some of Arizona’s best resorts. There are plenty of short-term rentals as well.
The flexibility makes it possible to fit a getaway into any budget and makes Sedona one of the 50 best girlfriend getaways in the U.S. for a recharge, vacation, or bachelorette party. The town also is a popular day trip from Phoenix.
Spa and Spirit
Many women will talk about experiences from Sedona vortexes or the pleasure of unique spa treatments. The majesty of nature tiptoes into the mystical with the spiritual energy generated by these locations.
While there is plenty of anecdotal discussion, there is little science about the energy fields.
However, the spiritual attraction of Sedona—whether it’s the beauty of Devil’s Bridge, Cathedral Rock or Bell Rock, or the solace of Boynton Canyon—is a significant reason many get to this rustic part of Arizona.
For girls’ getaway ideas, Visit Sedona’s travel guide lists numerous resort spas, individual spas, and spirit practitioners.
On the drive into town from I-17, getaway-goers will pass a half dozen storefronts offering aura photography. Many stores sell crystals empowered to channel the power of the sun, moon, or Sedona vortices.
There’s the incredible architecture and spiritual world-renowned Chapel of the Holy Cross.
“We recharged just hanging out at our cabin,” said Alicja, mentioning other ways to energize the spirit. “We hung out in the hammocks and just relaxed.”
They also mixed food and wine and got outdoors in their weekend mix.
Fine Food and Experiences
Sedona has its share of expected fast food joints, offering much more for the palette on your weekend trip.
“The big reason we came up was for the Cloth & Flame dining experience,” Hayley said. “This is a special event.”
Phoenix-based Cloth & Flame puts on an outdoor catered meal. Diners sit at a single long-into-the-sunset table for a chef’s menu of locally sourced and uniquely crafted dinners celebrating Arizona cuisine in unique settings. Paired with area wines, the Cloth & Flame prix fixe dinners sell out far in advance. They’re offered throughout the summer in Sedona.
Several of the resorts have top-tier restaurants that are open to the public. Sitting on a hillside, the Hudson offers an exceptional view of the red rock country across Sedona from its patio and floor-to-ceiling dining room. But the best food in Sedona is definitely from the locals.
The Pumphouse Station Urban Eatery in Sedona is a great stop with organic and healthy lunch options. The Pumphouse has an eclectic design, and like many locally-owned Sedona restaurants, it offers patio dining; two patios, in fact. One looking into the courtyard and the other creekside view overlooking Oak Creek.
For fine dining with a patio view, The Hudson, nestled on a butte-side terrace, is one of the top-rated dining spots in the Verde Valley.
Staying in Oak Creek, a settlement north of Sedona in Oak Creek Canyon—and not to be confused with Oak Creek Village, a town south of Sedona—Hayley and Alicja had meals at The Table at the Junipine Resort off Arizona Route 89A. This funky, rustic dining establishment was just down the road from where they stayed for the weekend.
Wine and Margaritas
Winemaking in the Verde Valley dates to the 1880s. After a long Prohibition-induced hiatus, the art returned to the area with numerous vintners. While individual wineries are short drives from Sedona, the town features tasting rooms offering selections from valley vintners. The Verde Valley is an American Viticultural Area and was cited by USA Today as a Top 10 wine-growing region.
Phoenician Elaina Verhoff and three of her friends hit the wine trail in kayaks.
“We signed up for the ‘Water to Wine Experience’ on the Verde River,” she said. “We had a fantastic buffet at Alcantara.”
Putting in at the Alcantara Vineyards launching point on the river, Elaina and her friends paddled downstream to other wineries for tastings. Wineries are located west of Sedona on Arizona Route 89A around Cornville, Clarkdale, and Cottonwood. The furthest vineyards are about 45 minutes from Sedona.
“We’re having a bachelorette party,” said Sue, wearing a fluorescent pink shirt and a rainbow wool cap–as were the other six members in the group of women waiting for their margaritas in Uptown Sedona.
The group was from Denver, flew into PHX, rented a van, and headed north to Sedona.
“We’re having a great time!” she laughed elbowing her friend to move forward towards the ultra-busy bartender. A cheer from the group went up as the last margarita was passed down the line. “It’s party-some-more-time!”
Red Rock Outdoor Adventures
You can walk, hike, pedal, or Jeep the trails around Sedona. The Red Rock region in the Coconino National Forest requires a Red Rock Pass. The area is known for its stunning views. Available at trailheads or throughout the city, the revenue generated goes to trail maintenance and regional protection. The Forest Service publishes a guide to trails, permits, and rules to ensure a great experience.
If mountain or canyon hiking is not on the agenda, organized Jeep tours, like Pink Jeep Tours, take visitors deep into the red rock canyons and craggy butte landscapes.
Hayley and Alicja didn’t do a Jeep tour on this trip. A couple of other women, Michelle and Ashley hitched on with a group organized by Courtesy Jeep out of Mesa, Arizona, for a four-Jeep group on a two-hour, four-mile adventure on the Broken Arrow Jeep Trail.
“This was just incredible,” said Michelle. “I had a lot of fun, but some drops were a little nerve-wracking.”
While the Courtesy Jeep program is for its customers, Pink Jeep Tours also takes on that trail, and four of their bright pink vehicles were encountered during the drive to Submarine Rock, Chicken Point, and plunging down the Devil’s Staircase after photos at Christianity Spire.
Hiking in Red Rock Country
The Red Rock Guide and other hiking apps list dozens of hiking trails in and around Sedona, from the Oak Creek Village to West Sedona and into Oak Creek Canyon. There are two state parks in the Sedona area, Red Rock and Slide Rock state parks. Nearby are the ancestral pueblos at Tuzigoot and Montezuma’s Castle national monuments.
“We hiked the West Fork Trail on Saturday morning,” said Hayley. “We were there by 8:30 a.m., and the parking lot was already full, so we had to park about half a mile down the road.”
Following West Fork Oak Creek, the 3.2-mile trail is level, with just 184 feet of elevation gain.
“We had to cross over and through the creek 13 times,” Hayley said. “You’ll definitely be getting into the water on this hike, so make sure to wear good shoes that you don’t mind getting wet.”
Despite the packed parking lot, the women said the trail was open. They enjoyed its shade, greenery, and solitude deep in the canyon.
Depending on how much activity or driving time is planned for an extended girls’ getaway weekend, Grand Canyon National Park is just over two hours north of Sedona. Closer are Walnut Canyon, Sunrise Crater, and Wupatki national monuments.
Galleries, Artisans, Shopping
Sedona is a nationally recognized center for original arts and crafts. The Navajo Nation, Hopi, Yavapai-Apache, Hualapai, Havasupai, and other Indian tribes are in the area. Their works are offered in the various galleries in Sedona, at the Indian Market by the Dairy Queen, and from roadside stands.
Sedona is known for its boutique storefronts and shopping villages. Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village (pronounced “Tuh-LAH-kuh-pah-kee”; practice it multiple times, a well-known craft village, and it’ll flow off the tongue in no time) looks like it was dropped into town from Old Mexico.
The Visit Sedona Guide lists almost an entire page of galleries in the town.
Places to Stay
“We wanted something relaxing and stayed at the Oak Creek Terrace Resort,” said Alicja. “We chose a cabin with a hammock and a spot right on the creek.”
Oak Creek Terrace Resort, 15 minutes from Uptown Sedona, offers girlfriend getaway packages and the solace of being out of the bustle of town.
Sedona is home to Conde Nast Traveler’s top-rated hotels like L’Auberge de Sedona, Amara Resort and Spa, and one of the top hotels in the U.S., the Enchantment Resort in Boynton Canyon. Often, hotels will offer getaway weekend packages. There are also AirBnB options, although Sedona is in the process of regulating their number. Most mid- to upscale lodging also offers outdoor hot tubs.
Planning the Weekend
Heading to Visit Sedona for its guide is a good starting point to learn what’s available and the many short road trips to sights nearby. For the best Sedona girls weekend, don’t pack in too much to save time to be spontaneous. There’s much to see and do once you arrive in town.
Reservations are necessary for lodging; many better restaurants may need reservations before coming to town. The Jeep tours are small, and reservations are highly recommended before arriving.
Other than that, leave time for hiking, trekking in and out of galleries, and just some downtime taking in the landscape and magical environment associated with Sedona’s famous energy.