An oasis in the dessert, teaming with vibrant rock buttes, surrounding itself with new age art galleries, sophisticated food entries and who can deby the mild weather, setting Sedona a destination for all seeking both inspiration and luxury in the dessert.
This was a perfect getaway for my family and my two young children who are now in school. We explored its outskirt trailheads, the wildlife park, the wonderful architect at the chapel of the Holy Cross, dined in a few local but worth mentioning restaurants, shops, and of course who can forget the donuts and the ice cream!
Out of Africa Wildlife Park
Our first stop, the wonderful interactive wildlife park just minutes away from uptown Sedona. We spent the entire day exploring the private own wildlife park Out of Africa. We had a wonderful intimate encounter with the animals. The kids got to feed Ezekiel the tiger, feed the giraffes riding an open bus within the properties Serengeti plain, learned fun facts about cypress the picky eater grizzly bear, pet a python snake and watched Jabari the lion devour his meal.
On our way to watch Ezekiel interact and play with his trainers as they try to get him to swim in the pool. This will surely bring out giggles from the little ones
Joel and India got up close and personal feeding Ezekiel with his favorite bite of prepared treat. We got to see Ezekiel roam around the many hectares land as we ventured out to see other wonderful friends around the vicinity while the team was out feeding them.
Cypress the bear was hanging around the corner waiting for his treat to arrive. This grizzly bear was able to sense his treat miles away. A wonderful rescued bear full of personality. To stand next to this grizzly feet away as he carefully dissect his meal like a piece of paper is mind boggling.
left: a dazzle (or a group of zebra) coming towards our bus for a treat | right: you can zipline the park to see a birds eye view of the wildlife below
Sedona airport scenic lookout
Heading back to Sedona, we stopped at the vista point at the Sedona airport scenic lookout during sunset. It has a gorgeous view during sunset but can be packed with people just like its pictured here.
A great alternative is early morning during sunrise if you want to enjoy this grandeur site with a lot less crowd and experience the tranquil scene all to yourself. Greet the day with a warm glow of the sun as it gently penetrate the intense red and orange hues in the rocks while you sip your first coffee of the day. This place is truly magical and inspiring.
there were multiple hot air balloons go up during this time of the day giving a wonderful touch to the already mesmerizing scene
I was able to secure a spot for myself at 05:45 in the morning with plenty of space to find a perfect photo opportunity and time for peaceful meditation welcoming the brand new day. Sunrise in late September is 06:21 am. On a clear sky, the rocks glow a good half hour as the ray of sun find its way over the distant mountains and continue to climb to illuminate everything along its path. I had plenty of time to reflect and prepare my camera gear. Parking was plenty during this time of the day as well.
Slide rock Sedona
The next day we headed out to slide rock state park for some water adventure with the kids. At this time of the year, the weather is comfortably warm but the spring water that runs through the canyon can be frigid. Half a day here is plenty of time to enjoy the water and do a small hike. Bring light snacks for the children and extra dry clothes.
Sliding down the natural rocks can be very slippery. Make sure to have the kids wear water shoes. The deepest part of the slide is about two to three feet deep.
Red Rock State Park
We spent our third day exploring and hiking the beautiful scenic red rock state park and spent the last remaining few hour in red rock crescent moon at crescent moon ranch.
This hike was an easy short loop hike the whole family enjoyed. The trail head starts here and you enter through the Miller Visitor center with the panoramic view of the red rocks. You will then cross Oak creek bridge to a few easy hike trails. You can continue on north east and to turkey creek trail east and follow Baldwin trail to get to Cathedral rock and beach access. This is a great alternative going to crescent moon ranch if you are out of luck with the parking there.
The kids did incredibly well on our first hike together as a family without having to use any carriers for my daughter. There are shaded areas, vista points to rest, enjoy the scene, and an easy trail to get around with wonderful nature display of cactus and wildflowers along the way.
Crescent moon park fills up fast with limited parking space. Visit the park early or later before 06:00 pm. The park closes at dusk and will close the entrance gate at 06:00 pm. We got to the park at 04:30 in the afternoon with plenty of parking and plenty of time for the kids to enjoy the waters in afternoon with the beautiful cathedral rock in the backdrop.
The children enjoyed wading through the waters after the hike. Bring a picnic blanket and small snacks for the kids. Don’t forget the extra dry clothes and plenty of water.
Follow Crescent moon Ranch on your GPS to get to the park entrance. From there you have a short and easy hike to get to the beach access. Follow the trail along the beach to get to this wonderful oasis. The next photos are taken on an interval 30 minutes apart at 05:30 pm and one the last photo just a little after sunset.
above: The wonderful colorful fall leaves my daughter collected in a pile fit beautifully on the foreground | below: shot handheld on my trusted fuji x20 camera at 1/15 of a sec. captured this intimate invitation to natures deep and wonderful colors just before sunset
Other places worth mentioning
We joined a sunday worship on our last day at St. John Vianey church. They had a wonderful 08:00 am service we attended to. They have a beautiful inspirational view of the red rocks surrounding the church with an incredible set of choir and musicians. It has plenty of parking space and few vista points around the church to enjoy the view.
After church we headed back to the hotel to pack our things. We bought ice cream for the kids at chocolate tree. We then visited The Chapel of the Holy Cross. The parking here was a little hard to find at around 12 noon. This is another inspirational place to visit with a wonderful architecture that blends in the beautiful backdrop.
Dinning and food
We highly recommend Mesa Grill Sedona for dining with incredible food and view during sunset. Make reservations early if you want to experience the the beautiful view while you dine with the family.
Ice cream at the chocolate tree in Sedona was a very welcoming treat of wonderful organic home made flavors. They have been serving Vegetarian Cuisine Since 2008. Visit the website for more treats to find like chocolates, coffee and gluten free food. Visit them and learn more about their experimental gardener that has grown the family orchard and garden that’s nurtured a vibrant Eatery and marketplace. They have developed a line of live foods distributed online and throughout the country.
Do not miss Sedonuts and coffee on your visit to Sedona. They have great selection of freshly baked donuts everyday. Don’t wait long either. The donuts don’t last long! Be here early morning. I came here after watching sunrise at Sedona airport lookout. It is only a five minute drive from there.
Hyatt Residence Club Sedona, Piñon Pointe is exceptional in every way. It has shops all around and incredible 360 view of Sedona. Wether you want to soak in the pool during the day or enjoy a cup of coffee and smores at night with the kids, the grand view of Sedona is right in front of you.
The kids enjoying the pool all to themselves
We had the best time exploring Sedona from a wonderful easy hike with the kids to dining and enjoying ice cream pampered with Sedona’s beautiful scenic and picturesque backdrop. One thing that sure left an impression on my travel to Sedona with the family is the gesture of wonderful surprise around and the many beautiful shops and art galleries.
Plan your Sedona trip during the off peak season in late September like we did. The beautiful weather will keep you inspired and hike a little further down, and maybe find a beautiful Arizona sky late in the afternoon.
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