Soaring to New Heights: An Arizona Side Trip to Sedona to Find Enchantment
A 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...
The Phoenix to Sedona drive via detour leads to this view of Jerome.
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?)
Here are the casitas at Enchantment Resort.
A look inside the comfortable casitas at Enchantment Resort. The fireplace is cozy on cool nights.
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.
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.
Dramatic backdrop to the tennis courts at Enchantment Resort.
Enchantment’s Che-Ah-Chi restaurant has stunning views.
Before dinner at Che-Ah-Chi, my quick hike from the resort enabled me to take this photo of the property.
Che-An-Chi dinner: beef tartare with quail egg, hemp oil, garlic aioli, and caraway lavash.
Local Little Gem lettuce with 65-degree egg, eggplant croutons, preserved lemon, and creamy Parmigiano. I especially enjoyed the unique croutons.
Foie gras with spiced sour papaya, cinnamon honey toast, and candied garlic. Papaya was a nice pairing with the foie.
Kauai sweet shrimp with sea beans, spinach, corn puree, crispy prosciutto, and smoked paprika. Generous portion of well-prepared shrimp.
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.
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.
As the sun rises, the balloon is put in position to be “blown up.”
Blowing air into the balloon.
Our group watches with wonder as the balloon gets “fired up.”
Positioning the balloon for us to enter.
My first photo once the balloon was above ground. Total exhilaration!
A look upward to the top of the balloon.
I looked up to notice we had crossed an altitude of 10,000 feet.
The view from the highest point of our journey.
That’s us…in shadow.
After a smooth landing, the spotters broke down the balloon…
…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!
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’s lamb bolognese with roasted tomatoes, pearl onion, and shiitake mushrooms. A delicious pasta dish.
Spinach & leek chicken crepes with cherry tomato salad and Gruyere cheese fondue.
And for dessert, this chamomile pavlova with lemon crème, strawberries, pistachios, and honey foam was both beautiful and satisfying.
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.
Dinner at El Rincon at Tlaquepaque Village starts with chips and salsa.
Green chile with beef burrito, enchilada-style.
The texture of this blue corn-crusted green chile relleno made this dish unique and fun to try.
Pre-breakfast hike out of the gate at Enchantment Resort.
View from the pre-breakfast hike on the Boynton Canyon Trail.
Back at Che-Ah-Chi for breakfast, here are eggs Benedict with prosciutto.
Green chili pork with poached eggs and warm corn tortillas. In the background: prickly pear juice. A tasty, hearty breakfast.
On the way out of town, we scrambled to a scenic viewpoint up against Cathedral Rock.
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.)