With the end of the Earth allegedly coming in December, spiritual journeys are trending up. And Sedona, Arizona has been on everyone's radars for good reason. The Red Rocks lure, self-discovery is inevitable, and according to locals, hiking is the new yoga.
New adventures and attractions have emerged, like the burgeoning wine scene. But as a booming hot spot, crowds amass and local vendors lure with promises. How can one take a serene hike without crowds of tourists tampering with their zen? Given the ubiquity of psychics, which one yields the best (and honest) results? So here is our insider's guide to Sedona, so you can avoid the hordes and experience the desert city like a local.
Wine Tasting in Verde Valley
Wine production has completely taken off in the past two years in nearby Verde Valley, fueling many wine tasting bars in Sedona. Travelers who spend several days here take the scenic, 30-minute drive to the main area of wine production, and locals will always have their heart at popular Page Springs. With a platform deck overlooking Oak Creek (popular for lunches), Page Springs offers great wine varietals with a tasting room in a brand-new lounge (a former storage unit) complete with vinyl sofas, murals by local artisans and some interesting local characters to boot.
Don't Miss: Need to work off those glasses of vino? Take a scenic kayak trip along the Verde Valle River where enthusiastic guide Patrick Reider of Sedona Adventure Tours will give you a comprehensive history of the location.
Word-of-Mouth Psychic, Claudia Coranado
Sedona is a hotbed for psychics, all of whom may or may not admit they had a specific "calling." Many psychics set up shop on the main drag in their own storefronts or occupying a back room in a souvenir shop. Quiet down those second thoughts and book an appointment with Claudia Coronado who's been a psychic since childhood. Claudia works out of her home or can offer readings over the phone, and she reads for clients all over the world, including Europe, Japan, and Australia. Thirty-minute readings start at $75, and she can be booked through her web site.
Don't Miss: Claudia will not only give you detailed insight into your own life (I was floored, twice) but she has a good handle on what's to come for the US in general for the upcoming years, should you want or need to know.
New Cliff Villas at L'Auberge de Sedona Resort
There is no classic, luxury southwestern gem of a resort quite like L'Auberge de Sedona, a favorite for locals and visitors since 1984. Popular for weddings, families, couples, and many girl getaways, L'Auberge has a one-up on other hotels with its boutique spa, streamlined staff, and creek-side restaurant, which recently brought on chef Francois de Melogue, who's so particular about his food he only uses Turbo imported directly from France (a must entree). L'Auberge recently underwent a massive, $25-million renovation that brought 18 brand-new cliff villas that harbor commanding views of the Red Rocks. Each villa is spacious at 610 square feet with Jacuzzi tub, a private balcony, and outdoor shower.
Don't Miss: The quirky, in-house astronomer totes a telescope he built himself. His lecture is both fascinating and hilarious.
Soldier's Pass Trail
Both hardcore and recreational hikers will argue that Sedona has some of the most fascinating trails in the United States. Locals call it "Red Rock Fever." Some trails lead to cliffs with 360-degree desert views, while others will take you to a vortex known to "heal." But then there are trails that are off-the-beaten path. One trail you should surely hit is Soldier's Pass, which comprises the largest sinkhole in the entire state with interesting, indigenous flora and a secluded cave and overhang that harbored breathless views. Get to know the locals if you want to avoid the hordes.
Don't Miss: Go with Mr Sedona private guides. And ask for Jason, an energetic local who's not only a wealth of knowledge but you can't ask for better company.
Cliff Jumping at Grasshopper Point
Located in the desert, Sedona obviously gets hot. Most visitors, after a long trek or even a quick trip to the market, duck for cover at a nearby resort pool, completely missing the number of cliff jumping sites along Oak Creek. A favorite for locals, Grasshopper Point is at one of the deepest parts of Oak Creek, where daredevils can jump twenty-five feet into the chilly water, well worth the plunge in the desert heat. Acrophobic? Grasshopper Point also has four great swimming holes.
Don't Miss: There's a specific ledge that most people cliff jump from. If you're not one-hundred percent confident jumping from that height, there's a smaller ledge just to the side of the main ledge, and it's only 15-feet high.
Sandwiches at Sedona Memories Bakery & Café
There's a reason why Sedona Memories doesn't have a web site. This small sandwich shop is so in demand, it's only open from 10 am to 2 pm, and they usually sell out by 1 pm. The sandwiches are huge, using fresh, local produce, and the bread is doughy and lovely. Don't even get us started on the cookies. (321 Jordan Road, Sedona, AZ. 928-282-0032)
Don't Miss: Speaking of cookies, if you call your order in, you get a free cookie. Don't tell them we sent you.
Thinking of a trip to Sedona?
For up-to-the-minute hotel and restaurant recommendations, as well as the best planning advice, check out our Sedona Travel Guide.
Jimmy Im is a freelance travel writer based in NYC. He's appeared as a travel expert on shows on the Travel Channel and LOGO and teaches travel writing courses. He's also cofounder of OutEscapes.com.