Editor’s note: it gives me immense pleasure to introduce Tamara Parkhurst, our newest writer here at The Royal Tour. Tamara, as our first writer with children, will largely focus on travel with small kids, like this quick getaway to the gorgeous Sedona, Arizona. To read all of her articles here at TRT, click here to visit her index.

One of my favorite trips as a family was to Sedona, Arizona in July 2019. I had a few days off from school (I was in nursing school), and we decided to take a family trip with this rare opportunity. At the time, we were a family of four adventurous people – me, my husband, and two boys ages five and three. We are now blessed with a third boy, making us a family of five, and still just as adventurous as before. Even so, we planned a fun getaway filled with the perfect balance of relaxation and activity.

Living in Phoenix, Sedona is approximately a two hour drive north. It is a popular destination for Phoenicians, especially in the summer months. The heat in the summer can be relentless, and getting away for a few days provides a little relief. Additionally, Sedona is beautiful. I love seeing the scenery change from the browns of the desert to green ponderosa pines set against the red rocks of Sedona. The red rocks are unique to the area, resulting from the high concentration of iron there. No matter the reason, it is a picturesque landscape and a perfect place for a quick family trip.

We began our drive in mid-morning, after both my children had a chance to eat breakfast and play a little bit; after all, no one enjoys their drive when the kids are bouncing with energy but cooped up in the car. While the drive is not terribly long, we decided to make a few stops along the way just to keep it interesting, and truly, we wanted to explore more of our home state with our children. Having grown up in Arizona, my family took many road trips and saw these sights. I learned so much about the history and beauty of Arizona that way, and I wanted to begin sharing that with my children.

Our first stop was at Montezuma’s Well in Verde Valley. If you are not familiar with Montezuma’s Well, it is a naturally occurring sinkhole with vents from an underground spring. It stays filled to some degree, even during droughts, as the well maintains approximately 15 million gallons of water. It is a short hike, maybe ¼ mile each way on a paved path to the well from the ranger station. Once there, we were able to look down upon the well and see the dwellings built into the walls that were made and used by various Native Americans throughout history. We chose to continue down another trail before returning to our car. This trail took us down to the creek beside the well. It was well worth the extra hiking since the area was beautiful and shaded with giant trees.

Montezuma’s Well

When asking my son his favorite activity we have ever done on a trip, he will tell you, “going to catch the fish that we got to cook and eat”. Just a few miles outside Sedona is Sedona’s Trout Farm. This is a fun family friendly fishing experience. The employees were engaging and entertaining for the kids, and showed us everything we needed to catch some fish. They provided bait, rods with hooks, and nets so we could catch our own fish. If you are skilled in fish cleaning, you can clean your own fish; otherwise, if you are like us, you can choose to pay for the staff to clean your fish. Needless to say, that was what we chose. “Did you know that you can feed the fish hearts to the fish in the lake” – just a fun fact my oldest son enjoys sharing. If you are catching fish to feed the whole family, it can really add up; however, in my experience, it was totally worth the cost. It was the most delicious fish, plus we have such fond memories of the experience.

My husband and sons fishing

We stayed at Los Abrigados Resort, which was an ideal location for us. It shared a parking lot with Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village, which has beautiful art displays of all kinds, fountains, and a wide variety of food options. I cannot speak personally to the restaurants, since we keep strictly kosher; however, the restaurants were busy and smelled delicious as we passed by. It was a fun mid-morning activity for us to walk around and see the fountains and shops. More than that, we loved that our resort backed up to Oak Creek. The playground and mini golf course on site was right next to the creek. We got to enjoy the small path along the creek as well as some wildlife on the shore across from us. The resort grounds were beautiful to walk around and the pool was perfect for all ages. One of the best features was that it included marked lanes for lap swimming in addition to an open pool for swimming or playing. Additionally, Los Abrigados is located about a mile from downtown. For those who like to walk, it is totally within walking distance; otherwise, you can quickly drive there, but parking may be a challenge, depending on the time of year.

Oak Creek wildlife

Downtown Sedona is a busy area. It is filled with restaurants, shops, and more. While I could spend pages describing the wonders of downtown, I want to draw your attention to two shops in particular. The first is Sedona Candle Magic. Previously known as the Sedona Candle Company, this shop makes unique candles. When you hold them up to the light, you see beautiful colors previously concealed. In many you will find the scenic view of the Sedona red rocks with a sunset in the hidden background. We all loved looking at the variety of candles made in the shop. The second store is a gem store, Discount Gems and Minerals. The store is not anything out of the ordinary in itself, but rather it is a place for rock lovers of all ages. There are beautiful displays of geodes and quartz. This is the place to go if you want strings of stone beads, small rocks of all kinds, and even some with fossils, or if you have children who love collecting different and special rocks. We were able to satisfy the kids’ souvenir desire for less than $5.

One of my favorite things to do around Sedona, and truthfully, around Arizona in general, is to go hiking. There is an abundance of hiking in Arizona, with some of the more beautiful trails (in my opinion) near Sedona. Normally I would head out to Bell Rock, Cathedral Rock, or one of the more difficult trails leading down to Oak Creek, just north of Sedona’s downtown. We planned to go to Grasshopper Point, since we read that it is a great option for families with children. We ran into a problem, however: we did not have cash to pay for the day pass. Alternatively, we parked in a small parking pullout, Midgely Bridge Picnic Area and Wilson Mountain Trail.

Sedona’s red rocks from the Wilson Mountain Trail

Hiking, shopping, walking around town, and enjoying the resort amenities – it was all a lot of fun. While our trip was only a few days, it was packed with activities and had just enough relaxation time. I loved that it was just our family, and look forward to making a similar trip in Arizona again.

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