Photography and Text by Terry “Travels with Terry” Zinn [email protected]

The red rocks of Sedona, Arizona have been a fabled attraction for decades. Given the chance to explore a fable is enlightening, surprising, and sometimes disappointing. Upon arrival I was overwhelmed by the traffic and congestion caused by road improvements, which I’m sure have been completed by now. Maybe it was just this weary traveler’s evening arrival that put a haze on first impressions. Where was the red rock spiritually attracting features so often expounded?
Driving a bit out of the main town, one can find amid the building of new residences, a sense of the iconic fable. The natural Arizona desert terrain is appealing, especially when juxtaposed with the Chapel of the Red Rocks, which appears perched half way up a dramatic cliff.
Another side road takes you to a lookout point above the main street, to view the massive red rock backdrop for which Sedona is so famous. The coffee pot outcropping is especially humorous, as it is near the Coffee Pot Restaurant. There you can get your fill of pancakes, and buckwheat waffles with real maple syrup (for an additional price) in place of the common corn-sweetened syrup most people take for maple syrup. A good compliment for any café is returning a second time within a matter of 2 days, which I did.
An early December visit can be flavored with a bit of child-like Christmas lighting displays at the Los Abrigados Resort and Spa With spacious rooms and suites, during the Christmas season, Los Abrigados plays host to the Red Rock Fantasy. The resorts 22 acres are decorated by a variety of lighting displays: traditional secular Christmas characters, sacred displays, and your favorite cartoon characters.
Each evening from Thanksgiving to January, the area is open for visitors to walk and take in the displays provided by a variety of local patrons. Over twenty years ago ILX Resorts Chairman, Joe Martori, wanted to boost the slow tourism during winter months and also support local charity, and the Red Rock Fantasy was born. The cool desert air made the warm taste of hot-chocolate-sipping during the tour a welcomed stimulant to the evening’s stroll.
The resort offers popular dining venues at Stakes and Sticks, the sports bar and Joey Bistro with Italian dining. ILX Resort features a spacious outdoor swimming pool, an active exercise room and extensive locker facilities with a hot tub, sauna and steam room.
With only a brief visit planned, a march through Sedona’s many art and accessory galleries, was mandatory and rewarding. Sculptures of a favorite bronze artist, Joshua Tobey, were abundant at the Exposure Gallery, Hot art glass can be enjoyed at Kuivato, where I met by chance, Liz Freund, the wife of Bruce Freund,, a favorite hot art glass artist.
The glass gallery of Kuivato,, is located in the Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts village, which is adjacent to Los Abrigados. The village is filled with shops and eateries. Of course I had to have a farewell martini at the Oak Creek Brewery and Grill to celebrate the splendor of Sedona’s red rock outcroppings, and toast my purchase of two special art martini glasses reserved for upcoming holiday gifts. Sedona can be magical anytime of year, but even more so during holiday times.

Mr. Terry Zinn – Travel Editor
Past President: International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association