Soaring to New Heights: An Arizona Side Trip to Sedona to Find Enchantment

Sedona signA recent culinary-focused weekend in Phoenix set the stage for a side trip to Sedona. I knew this destination would be much less for food (especially with Elote Cafe closed during my stay) than for outdoor fun, but I’d actually find enjoyment in both. One word best describes the experience: Enchantment.

Two nights would be too little time to explore this red-rocked paradise, but leaving Phoenix early, there was time for a slight detour to Jerome. I have a vague recollection of visiting Jerome as a child, remembering it as the real ghost-town it’s billed to be, though then it was a quick drive-thru. Today it’s thriving with tourists who take in the little town of boutiques and other shops. A brief lunchtime stop would allow just enough time to fight for a parking space to eat a “ghostly” burger, and then to peer down a huge hole. (Jerome is where you’ll find the Audrey Headframe Park, where you can walk on glass above a 1,900 foot mine shaft.)

Soon, it was time to speed off to Sedona to make use of as much daylight as possible. The first stop was my host for the stay: Enchantment Resort. Seattleites who’ve been to Canlis know how the restaurant leaves you feeling special with its incredible valet service that has your car ready as you depart. Enchantment provides a similar experience upon arrival. Granted, the gate informs the greeters of your impending pull-up to the parking area, but regardless there’s a warm, welcoming feeling from the outset. That’s if you’re listening. After all, the setting is simply spectacular, and it’s easy to get distracted.

There’s really no need to leave Enchantment during your short stay. I dreamed of playing tennis with the red rocks as a backdrop. A pool and a croquet field provide a similar setting. There’s a spa that’s simply enchanting. And with accessible hiking trails, good dining options, and a calendar of events, there’s little need to leave the property.

But as this was my first-ever visit to Sedona, my traveling companion and I did want to get out and explore a bit. We peeked at the town, but preferred to spend our time hiking some trails. And then we got up in the sky, courtesy of a hot air balloon ride from Northern Light Balloon Expeditions. Of course, we hit a couple of restaurants...

Jerome view

The Phoenix to Sedona drive via detour leads to this view of Jerome.

Jerome burger

Lunch stop in Jerome at The Haunted Hamburger. There’s actually a “Ghostly Burger” (with mushrooms, bacon, and cheddar) on the menu, but I opted for the original with some green chiles added. Not bad. (Or should I say not ghastly?)

Sedona sign

Welcome, indeed!

Enchantment Resort casitas

Here are the casitas at Enchantment Resort.

Enchantment Resort rooms

A look inside the comfortable casitas at Enchantment Resort. The fireplace is cozy on cool nights.

Mii amo Spa

Included in the daily resort fee is complimentary access to Mii amo Spa. Guests get to use all Mii amo facilities including locker rooms, steam, sauna and whirlpool, fitness room, indoor pool with fireplace, outdoor lap pool and spa, as well as participation in all fitness classes, art lessons, cooking demonstrations, programs by visiting experts, and other activities.

Enchantment Mii Amo crystal grotto

Here’s the crystal grotto at Mii amo Spa. There’s daily guided meditation, though the grotto is open any spa hours for personal meditation.

Enchantment resort tennis courts

Dramatic backdrop to the tennis courts at Enchantment Resort.

Che-Ah-Chi restaurant at Enchantment

Enchantment’s Che-Ah-Chi restaurant has stunning views.

Enchantment resort setting

Before dinner at Che-Ah-Chi, my quick hike from the resort enabled me to take this photo of the property.

Che Ah Chi tartare

Che-An-Chi dinner: beef tartare with quail egg, hemp oil, garlic aioli, and caraway lavash.

Che Ah Chi salad

Local Little Gem lettuce with 65-degree egg, eggplant croutons, preserved lemon, and creamy Parmigiano. I especially enjoyed the unique croutons.

Che Ah Chi foie

Foie gras with spiced sour papaya, cinnamon honey toast, and candied garlic. Papaya was a nice pairing with the foie.

Che Ah Chi shrimp

Kauai sweet shrimp with sea beans, spinach, corn puree, crispy prosciutto, and smoked paprika. Generous portion of well-prepared shrimp.

Che Ah Chi beef

New York strip steak with mashed potatoes, root vegetables, and chimichurri with pistachios and mint. Plus an additional of scallops. Solid dish, though I wanted better sear on the scallops. Pricing at Che-Ah-Chi is high (as it is throughout Sedona), but the food was enjoyable.

Balloon basket

We set the alarm ridiculously early the next morning, but with great anticipation as Northern Light Balloon Expeditions invited us on an adventure. Here the workers prepare the balloon basket.

Balloon flat

As the sun rises, the balloon is put in position to be “blown up.”

Balloon blow up

Blowing air into the balloon.

Balloon fire in

Our group watches with wonder as the balloon gets “fired up.”

Balloon almost up

Positioning the balloon for us to enter.

Balloon first shot in air

My first photo once the balloon was above ground. Total exhilaration!

Balloon fire lift

A look upward to the top of the balloon.

Balloon 10000 feet

I looked up to notice we had crossed an altitude of 10,000 feet.

Balloon highest

The view from the highest point of our journey.

Balloon shadow

That’s us…in shadow.

Balloon down

After a smooth landing, the spotters broke down the balloon…

Balloon food

…and fed us breakfast. The food wasn’t anything special, but the experience was. Amazing to see Sedona from this perspective, and all the workers with Northern Light Balloon Expeditions were wonderful in storytelling and taking care of us as riders. Highly recommended!

L'Auberge table

After ballooning, it was time to get our feet on the ground and enjoy lunch at L’Auberge de Sedona. Looks like a nice place to stay, and L’Auberge Restaurant offers an amazing setting for a meal.

L'Auberge pasta

L’Auberge’s lamb bolognese with roasted tomatoes, pearl onion, and shiitake mushrooms. A delicious pasta dish.

L'Auberge crepes

Spinach & leek chicken crepes with cherry tomato salad and Gruyere cheese fondue.

L'Auberge pavlova

And for dessert, this chamomile pavlova with lemon crème, strawberries, pistachios, and honey foam was both beautiful and satisfying.

Airport mesa

Here’s the view from Airport Mesa. LOTS of people there for the sunset, but still a great place to see the changing colors of the sky, red rocks, and the city below.

El Rincon chips and salsaDinner at El Rincon at Tlaquepaque Village starts with chips and salsa.

El Rincon burrito

Green chile with beef burrito, enchilada-style.

El Rincon chile relleno

The texture of this blue corn-crusted green chile relleno made this dish unique and fun to try.

Enchantment morning hike

Pre-breakfast hike out of the gate at Enchantment Resort.

Boynton canyon hike

View from the pre-breakfast hike on the Boynton Canyon Trail.

Enchantment breakfast eggs

Back at Che-Ah-Chi for breakfast, here are eggs Benedict with prosciutto.

Enchantment breakfast chili pork

Green chili pork with poached eggs and warm corn tortillas. In the background: prickly pear juice. A tasty, hearty breakfast.

Cathedral Rock

On the way out of town, we scrambled to a scenic viewpoint up against Cathedral Rock.

Sedona last hike

The last hike in Sedona before driving back to Phoenix was the Little Horse Trail. Gorgeous views, and a fine representation and remembrance of Sedona!

(Thanks to Enchantment Resort for the non-food photos of their property.)