Sedona is renowned for its red rock canyons, stunning geological formations that tower over the small city (home to 10,000 residents), just begging to be explored. Also famous for its alleged spiritual energy centers called "vortexes", Sedona is one of the most New Agey places I’ve been, with shops selling enormous crystals for several hundred dollars, places to get your chakras squeaky clean, and wheatgrass shots galore. Along with this hippie vibe comes, of course, veg-friendly restaurants and bars. Of the places my husband and I stopped along our road trip around Arizona (including the Grand Canyon and Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon in Page, Arizona), Sedona was by far the best stop for great vegan food. If you're stopping here soon, here are my recommendations of what to see, eat, and do in and around Sedona, Arizona.
Sedona is located about two hours north of Phoenix and about the mid-way point to the Grand Canyon. If you, like us, are instead driving from a location north of Sedona, like Page (two hours to the north), you'll notice, along your drive, the terrain changing from rocky desert to rolling mountains of soaring evergreens- suddenly, it will feel like you’re no longer in Arizona, but in the Pacific Northwest! On your way to Sedona, you'll pass through Flagstaff- one of the most hippie, liberal feeling stops we had made on our trip. Packed with adorable, quirky bookshops, hip juice bars, and yoga studios, I could definitely see myself living in Flagstaff and wish we had time to really explore the area more.
If you want to make a pit stop here, Flagstaff had more than a few veg-friendly offerings (given more time, I would’ve tried Whyld Ass Coffee Shop or Morning Glory Cafe). We chose to try Red Curry Vegan Kitchen, featuring 100% plant-based Thai and Vietnamese dishes (10 N San Francisco St, Flagstaff, AZ 86001; 11 am-8:45 pm Wednesday through Monday).
The intimate, light-filled interior is casual and simple, letting the food be the star of the space. And my goodness, was the food AMAZING. We ordered fresh rolls to start (with crisp lettuce, carrot, cabbage, cucumber,avocado, sunflower sprout, and a hint of mint wrapped in rice paper), which were perfectly complemented by the savory peanut sauce.
I very much miss partaking in Northern Thai soups that are usually off limits (damn you, egg noodles!), but Red Curry made all my soupy dreams come true! Choosing between the soups was a torturous endeavor (the menu boasts tom yum, a hot and sour soup with lemongrass, tofu , shitake mushroom, and vegetables), but ultimately, I selected tom ka (a coconut milk based soup with mixed veggies, tofu , shitake mushroom, lemongrass, and lime). It was SO good- creamy and savory, with meaty mushrooms and tenderly flavorful veggies. Justin’s spicy noodle dish, featuring perfectly cooked flat rice noodles with delightfully chewy tofu and spicy chili garlic sauce, was equally as delicious. Finishing off with a tangy mango and sticky rice dessert, it was an INCREDIBLE meal- fresh, reasonably priced, and amazingly tasty.
Feeling fat and happy, we continued on to Sedona. Make sure to continue your way on Highway 89A and stop at Oak Creek Vista (9 am-4 pm daily), which offers a sweeping view across the Coconino National Forest and down into the gorgeous valley, as well as some Native American artisan shops.
You’ll continue driving through the pinewood forest, traversing a series of switchbacks across the craggy mountains as gorgeous trees tower over you, until eventually, the landscape once again changes to Sedona’s famous red rock canyons. Word of warning, traffic in Sedona is TERRIBLE- we were planning on hiking up Doe Mountain to watch sunset, but instead, crawled for over an hour as we approached the town (I believe congestion is worse driving from the north into Sedona as tourists are returning from day hikes from the Red Rock Ranger district; if you're especially averse to traffic or on a super tight schedule, you may want to consider driving into Sedona from the south),. While sitting in standstill traffic is never my favorite, watching the sun turn the canyon walls crazy shades of rust and scarlet made the maddening wait much more tolerable.
Vegan Eats in Sedona
Creekside Coffee - 251 AZ-179, Sedona, AZ 86336; 6:30 am-5 pm Sunday through Thursday; 6:30 am- 6pm Friday and Sunday
In the morning, we headed to Creekside Coffee. While we only grabbed coffee there, there is several yummy sounding breakfast options, like avocado toast and almond butter-banana toast. The coffee was rich and strong (with almond and soy milk for creamer), but the real draw here, is the patio. The red rock canyon walls twist and curve as far as the eye can see and Creekside has fully embraced it, with literal theater seats where you can sit, sip your coffee, and just drink in the view.
Chocolatree - 1595 West Hwy 89A, Sedona, AZ 86336; 9 am-9 pm, Thursday through Tuesday; 11 am-9 pm, Wednesday
We headed to Chocolatree, a healthy chocolate store (what? They make those?) that also has an outdoor cafe, complete with wind chimes and random silks hanging from a tree so that you can do aerial yoga, if the desire so strikes you.
Focusing on dishes with organic fruits and veggies, our breakfast included a waffle topped with fresh fruit (and lots of maple syrup); a "Go Green" smoothie, an impossibly fresh and creamy drink of almond milk, spirulina, quantum greens, and kale; and a superfood porridge, a thick, satisfying concoction made from chia seeds, goji berries, cacoa nibs, and almond milk. Eating a light, healthy breakfast in the sun-dappled courtyard was an absolutely lovely way to kick off the morning. Make sure you get some chocolates before you go- while many of the chocolates are sweetened by honey (and thus off-limits for some), there are a few options sweetened with maple and other sugar alternatives. Dessert for breakfast, why not?
Lunch and Dinner Options
Oak Creek Brewing Company- 2050 Yavapai Dr, Sedona, AZ 86336; 12-10 pm Tuesday through Sunday; 2-10 pm
Upon our arrival in Sedona, the first thing we did was grab a beer at Oak Creek Brewing Company, which, for such a small facility, had about ten or so great beers on tap (my King Crimson red ale was a nutty, hoppy delight) and an excellent place to people watch and chat with your fellow beer lovers. The bartender was super friendly and regaled us with tales of the weekly drum circle the brewery has hosted for the past twenty plus years (every Tuesday at 8 pm, if that’s your jam!). Although we were saving room for dinner, the brewery location sells vegan tamales (which are allegedly amazing), handmade by the local restaurant Tamaliza. Breweries are one of the best locations to get a good feel for the town and Oak Creek did just that- a little bit hippie, a little bit rustic, with a penchant for a good beer, good food, and good people.
Paleo Brio Healthy Kitchen- 1650 AZ-89A Suite a, Sedona, AZ 86336; 11 am-9 pm
For dinner during our stay in Sedona, we checked out Paleo Brio Healthy Kitchen, a restaurant that proudly offers “something for any eating style.” Living up to its motto, the menu allows you to build your own burger or dinner plate, whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, or even a meat-lover. A restaurant after my own heart, the tongue-in-cheek cave-like interior was a refreshing change of pace from the other, more minimalistically designed restaurants we had visited.
For food, we shared a black bean burger “L.A. style”, with avocado mash, hydroponic butter lettuce and a juicy tomato, with a side of yuca fries (thick and crispy on the outside and soft and pillowy insides). We also ordered a dinner plate with glass noodles, incredibly fresh, local heirloom tomatoes, densely chewy mushrooms, and crisp broccoli. While completely satisfying, the meal still felt healthy, restorative, and just what we needed before heading back to our Airbnb for the night.
Things to Do in and Around Sedona
Sunrise on the Sugarloaf Loop Trail
I woke up around 5 am to do a solo sunrise hike on the Sugarloaf Loop Trail, which happened to be about a 5 minute walk from our Airbnb. On my walk to the trail, I stumbled upon a javelina, a type of pig-like creature native to Sedona’s desert (as an aside, as someone with shockingly bad vision, it is really disarming to see a random, fairly large creature just meandering about in the road towards you); while the javelina I encountered seemed pretty chill, they apparently can become rather aggressive (especially with smaller animals like dogs), so if you happen upon one, I’d be a friendly observer from afar.
Having survived my javelina encounter, I walked on to the Sugarloaf trail, an easy 1.8 mile hike with a mild incline and stunning, 360 views of the red rocks. Quietly watching the sunlight spill over the canyon walls and illuminate the rock formations around you is an otherworldly experience; definitely worth the 5 am wake-up call.
Hiking the Fay Canyon Trail
Justin had hurt his neck the preceding day, so while the famous Devil’s Bridge hike was originally on the itinerary, we chose to go on the much tamer Fay Canyon trail, a 2.2 mile out and back trail. This would be a great hike for people of all ages and abilities; we saw a group of elder hikers, as well as families with strollers. The trail is mostly shaded (absolutely perfect for a blazingly hot day), with peeks here and there of red canyon walls towering over you. The real treat, though, is at the end; you’ll scramble up some steep, craggy rocks and are rewarded with unparalleled panoramic vista views.
Note that none of the trails we went on had water at the trail head, so be sure to fill up your water bottle or camel pack prior to heading out (Looking for other tips on what to pack? Check out my post on what to pack here).
Buy Some Artisan Goods and Get Your Aura Read at Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village
We headed on over to Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village (336 AZ-179, Sedona, AZ 86336; open 10 am-6 pm daily), a gorgeous outdoor mall modeled after a traditional Mexican village, packed with art galleries and wine bars. While we did not eat here, there is another vegan-friendly eatery here called the Secret Garden Cafe (the menu looks a bit pricy, but the vegan breakfast option sounds super yummy!). The mall is also stuffed with New Age shops selling singing bowls and aura photography services. Due to the aforementioned "vortexes", Sedona really embraces the New Age culture. While that stuff is usually not really my jam, I would have loved to try some yoga at one of the spots- there are several tour companies, such as Vortex Yoga Hiking, that combines a hike to a vortex and an hour-long yoga class. Combining two of my favorite things in a completely stunning surrounding? Vortex or not, count me in.
Wine Country in Sedona
On our way back to Phoenix to head to the airport home, we also made a stop at Javelena Leap Winery (1565 N Page Springs Rd, Cornville, AZ 86325; 11 am- 6 pm). Lovingly crafted by a couple of cool guys who decided to open a winery on the side of a mountain overlooking Sedona, I was amazed by the varietals this winery produces in the dry Arizona climate. Coming from Missouri (home to sickeningly sweet wines), Javelina Leap featured robust and dry reds (their cabarnet sauvignon was a standout), as well as a few sweeter whites. While you’re here, pick up a tasting flight (only $12 for 4 wines) or buy a bottle of wine and sit at one of the picnic tables outside, taking in the vineyards snaking up the side of the gorgeous mountains.
Sedona was the last stop on our epic Southwest road trip, a stunning finale to our tour of some of Arizona's most beautiful landscapes. Have you ever visited Sedona and have any recommendations to do, eat, and see? If so, let me know in the comments below!