A bastion of red rock beauty and the gateway to northern Arizona, it’s where New Age pilgrims and outdoorsy types share the trail

If its founder had gotten his way, seekers would now find themselves flocking to the New Age mecca of Schnebly Station, not Sedona. To the relief of marketers and mystics more than a century later, however, the post office rejected the moniker, and T.C. Schnebly named the settlement in the red rocks after his wife. By any name this hamlet, two hours north of Phoenix, would still lure hikers and mountain bikers with its routes among the red rock formations of the Coconino National Forest. There are trails south of town just off State Route 179, like the 4.5-mile loop around Courthouse Butte and Bell Rock between Sedona and the neighboring community of Oak Creek. A collection of galleries, boutiques, and restaurants, with fountains and courtyards and a Mexican pueblo atmosphere, Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village gives Sedona the romantic center it would otherwise lack as you navigate a series of dizzying roundabouts in this high desert crossroads.

Where to stay
In town, El Portal Sedona Hotel ($279-$359) opened in 2003 but feels vintage South-west, with log-beam ceilings, adobe walls, and flagstone floors. Farther out, the more contemporary Enchantment Resort ($276-$1,192) is close by the trailhead for the five-mile round-trip hike into Boynton Canyon, site of one of Sedona’s four power vortexe. Follow it with a prickly pear butter wrap at the hotel’s spa, Mii amo.

Where to eat
Elote Cafe
The wait is unavoidable, partly because chef-owner Jeff Smedstad doesn’t accept reservations but mostly because of his smart variations on regional staples, from lamb adobo to buffalo short ribs in a smoky mole poblano. You’ll need a full belly to soak up the tasting flight of premium tequilas you had before finally getting to your table.

Schoolhouse Restaurant
Nearby Cottonwood’s acclaimed eatery moved to the outskirts of town last year, bringing with it such dishes as a Sonoran white shrimp and white cheddar polenta, plus local craft beers and Arizona wines.