Sakara Insider's Guide: Sedona, AZ
Excerpts of this guide were originally posted on Vogue.com!
Whitney + Danielle were born and raised in the mystical land of Sedona, Arizona. They like to say that Sakara was created in 7th grade math class when they met — Whitney was the new girl in school and Danielle immediately took her under her wing. The bright red rocks, energetic vortexes, and hippie crystal shops were their playgrounds growing up, and you can see, taste, and feel these bits and pieces of Sedona sprinkled throughout every aspect of the Sakara Life.
So, when the call of Sedona's uniquely healing energy becomes so strong that you finally decide it's time to make the voyage to the spiritual mecca of the USA...where do you shop, eat, stay, hike, sit, and feel? We'll let Whitney + Danielle take it from here.
For everything from sage to tarot cards and turquoise jewelry made by local artisans, “Crystal Magic was my favorite store as a kid and still is now,” DuBoise says. On the way out, take a peek at the shop’s bulletin boards, which often introduce the girls to the area’s most unique healing sessions: “Sedona is full of healers who put up flyers to advertise their services,” DuBoise says. “I love to look at their boards and see what looks exciting.”
“Weird, stoner-y, Sedona art” is the main draw at Tlaquepaque, an arts and crafts village from the ’70s nestled beneath some giant sycamore trees. “The owner’s vision was to re-create some of the sights of old Mexico in the design,” Tingle says. There are tiny art galleries spread throughout that individually feature things like paintings, sculptures, or handmade rugs and home decor, and you may even see some of the artists at work.
One of several worthy stops in the shopping-centric section known as uptown Sedona, The Hangin Tree is a fun spot to pick up some souvenirs or knickknacks before leaving town. Tingle says, “I like to get slogans pressed onto T-shirts there and turn them into crop tops for friends.”
This is the best, most medicinal oil shop in the world. Though a bit outside of Sedona, it's worth the trip. Founder Barry Kapp believes in the "pure, perfect, light lineage of the Plants and Trees," which is why they don't blend their oils. Years ago, Barry received clear guidance from the Plant and Tree Kingdom, which was to "offer only single, pure essences for healing—physically, emotionally and spiritually."
This 100 percent organic, grain-free, non-GMO restaurant is the duo’s favorite place to go for lunch or dinner. Follow DuBoise’s lead and order The Sedona 2012, a spicy tomato wrap with quinoa, stewed potatoes and carrots, and guacamole. Post-lunch you can lounge on a hammock in the backyard garden, where the owners grow some of the food. “I went there a month ago, and this guy was eating lunch just holding a baby goat,” DuBoise says.
This petite, hole-in-the-wall natural foods market has been around for 35 years, and their huge collection of healing oils, flower essences, minerals, and vitamins shows it. Tingle’s favorite recent purchase is a toothpaste made with colloidal silver. “It naturally balances good and bad bacteria in your mouth, which helps do the same for your overall microbiome.” That said, “If you don’t know what you’re looking for, just talk to the person working there.”
Founded by a holistic nutritionist and raw food chef, this fresh-focused shop makes all-organic juices and smoothies with interesting add-ins like prickly pear, pine pollen, and moringa. “It’s right next door to one of our favorite hot yoga places, so we love to go to yoga first and then get a juice,” Tingle says.
One of Sedona’s coolest and most creative new restaurants, this high-end, Latin-inspired grill has an Argentinian parrilla and wood-fired oven. Set on a bluff overlooking Sedona’s red rocks, it offers outdoor seating and amazing 360-degree views, meaning there isn’t a bad seat in the house. “It’s the perfect place for watching the sunset over cocktails and staying for dinner,” says Tingle.
“Once you know Lulu’s brand, you’ll start seeing their raw chocolates everywhere,” DuBoise says, which is amazing, because they’re vegan, certified organic, fair trade, and made locally with coconut sugar. You can go buy chocolates and then just hang out — the lounge-like room is covered in red velvet wallpaper.
Just four miles north of Sedona, this old-school general store is a stop along the Oak Creek Canyon National Scenic Byway — one of the most famous and photographed drives in not only Arizona but all of the U.S. “The café and market are a gathering place for locals,” Tingle says, “and it’s a great place for picking up picnic provisions before or after a hike.” (For more on those hikes, see below..)
“This is a very Sedona experience,” says DuBoise, who loves to revisit the Western memorabilia, saloon decor, and splurge on a basket of cactus fries at this locals’ favorite. Rattlesnake skewers and buffalo burgers make up a few of the novelty items on the menu. Afterward, take a three-minute walk to Sound Bites Showroom to see Anthony Mazzella, their favorite local guitarist, if he’s playing — “the room will be packed with hippies.”
Visits to the Vortexes
“The energy feels different in Sedona,” says Tingle, but especially in the vortexes — which are areas of nature, typically in the rock formations, which are said to have heightened or concentrated energy that you can palpably feel. Guided vortex tours or maps of the vortexes are available, or you could simply start with one or more of the most famous ones: Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock, Boynton Canyon, and Airport Mesa. “For people who have a closed heart, you take them out into nature there, and they can have a heart-opening experience,” Tingle says.
“Danielle and I ride in my four-wheel-drive truck when we’re in town, but if you don’t have your own, then doing a pink jeep tour is the way to go off-roading.” Soak in views of the red rocks, learn about native plants and animals, and see the ancient ruins, with optional horseback rides to explore the trails even more deeply.
Take advantage of the clear skies and lack of bright city lights, and go stargazing in the Sedona desert. "We go back to Sedona to clear our heads. Being there brings whatever you have going on to the surface, so that you have to face it. It can be hard, but the healing that happens there can run super deep." Stargazing is one of Whitney and Danielle's favorite grounding forces during this healing.
Hiking up the Doe Mountain is an incredible, soul-healing experience. It's best to take the hike in the morning, when the west side that you'll be stepping along is a bit shadier. And that way, you'll have the rest of the afternoon to adventure out elsewhere. And keep an eye out for wildlife...you're likely to spot some sweet deer.
The hike to Cathedral Rock is short — less than one mile — yet not all that simple. The quick elevation is always worth the adventure to this super sacred rock, and the view is breathtaking. This hike is a can't-miss in Sedona!
The trip up and through Bear Mountain is rich in texture, color, depth and height. Pay attention to the mud colors, and the swirling rock formations as you pass by. Once you reach the top of the mountain (an amazing workout, no doubt), you may feel like you're alone on a tiny deserted island. The landscape becomes scraggly and more sparse, with slabs of ancient limestone. Your view the entire way will never get boring.
Whitney says that this resort "has one of the best spas in the whole wide world! Mii Amo is world renown, and you have to be staying there to be able to book spa services, so definitely plan in advance!" Not only that, but it is one of THE most beautiful sleeping spots in the whole wide world; nestled in the Boynton Canyon surrounded in a canopy of red rocks and soaring spirit eagles.
DuBoise’s favorite resort in the area, L’Auberge has it all, from summer music series to a “hike house,” which helps you plan nearby excursions along Oak Creek (the hotel is nestled right in the banks of the creek). “I love renting the little cabins down by the water in particular,” says DuBoise, who stayed there when she got engaged.
If you’re looking for quiet and that feeling of being away from it all, this private residence flanked with bamboo hedges and rock walls is available for rent through VRBO. Set on an acre of land with access to a wilderness preserve right on the property, it books up months in advance.
It wouldn’t feel like a desert sleepover without the howls of coyotes and hyenas in the background; a little rustic cabin at Briar Patch Inn is the place to be. “Sedona has a dark sky policy — meaning all of the street lights face downward to keep the sky dark — and this is a great place to see all the stars,” Tingle says.