My first weekend in Saint George, Utah was actually not spent there. We left Thursday afternoon to drive to Sedona, Arizona. Sedona is a spot that my parents loved and always talked about when I was growing up. It felt surreal that I had the opportunity to visit.
We initially thought the drive was much closer, but it was worth every minute we spent in the car. Our hotel for the weekend was actually a villa and it was exactly what we needed. Between traveling home and planning upcoming locations, I was exhausted and could not bring myself to plan for Sedona.
Thankfully, Sam loved the idea of planning the weekend for me including an entire date day. He kept all of his plans a secret until it was time for the activity to begin. I felt like we were on a scavenger hunt. We started out early on Friday to fit as much into the weekend as we could.
Day 1 – Friday
Our adventure began at a cute breakfast spot because it is my favorite meal. Unfortunately, I felt the breakfast offerings in Arizona could not compare to those back home. Texas French Toast is not as delicious as Challah French Toast.
Up next we went for a local hike along the Deadman’s Pass Trail. One of the biggest attractions for this trail is the “Birthing Cave”. It offers really great panoramic views and a break from the heat, if we were hiking during the Summer. Keeping true to its desert roots, this trail was surrounded by cacti. I stopped quite a few times just to look at them.
After our hike, it was time to eat again. For lunch, we went to the Tamaliza Cafe for tamales. It was a little hard to find, but once we did, we easily found a table. This spot is really small, so prepare to order takeout. I ordered a Tamale Supreme and was glad that I did. I enjoy all of the extra fix-ins.
Post-tamale, we headed back to our villa to shower and get dressed for the evening. I did not know where we were going, but Sam told me to dress nice. I really enjoyed not knowing exactly what we were going to do next. The little hints kept me on my toes. Sam tried to plan a day that I would thoroughly enjoy, so of course, we spent the afternoon shopping.
Sedona is filled with cute shops that have jewelry and local artisanal gifts. Every few stores, we noticed another candle shop. These shops did not have ordinary candles. They were carved and unlike anything we had seen before. I wanted to make sure we were buying souvenirs throughout our travels, even though nothing more could possibly fit in our car. I do not remember the exact shop we stopped in, but you can order your own candle and have it delivered.
Since a lot of the shops were repetitive, we ended up having too much time before dinner. We stopped into 89 Agave Cantina for a pre-dinner cocktail and both ordered the Mercado Margarita. Usually, I don’t care to note what I ordered, but I remember it being a really memorable cocktail. This specialty margarita had jalapeño infused tequila, passionfruit, and a hibiscus-rosemary foam.
Another great place to shop is the Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village. It is an outdoor shopping area that was created to resemble a traditional Mexican village.
On our way to dinner, Sam told me he made reservations at an Italian restaurant named Cucina Rustica. Our table was cozy in the corner, near the fireplace. The tablecloths were white and the room was dark. We split Lisa’s Luscious Lasagna and a seasonal ravioli.
The bar accidentally made our drink order twice, so we acquired an extra glass of wine. Unfortunately, as I was drinking my free wine, the waiter knocked my glass and my free red wine turned into a free red wine stain. Even ending the evening with a red wine stain on my new white top could not have ruined the wonderful day Sam had planned for me.
Day 2 – Saturday
Time for the Grand Canyon! If you were to mimic our itinerary in the Summer, the Grand Canyon would be much closer to Saint George: the Northern Rim at least. Since it was Winter, the Norther Rim was closed, so we drove to the Southern Rim. Right near the Visitor’s Center there is an accessible walk where you can see a panoramic view of the canyons. I would recommend walking 20 feet in either direction to avoid other people in your picture.
Bright Angel Trailhead
At first sight, we could not contain our excitement. We were eager to figure out which trail the weather-permitted for us to adventure along. When we arrived at the Bright Angel Trailhead, there were people who adventured the trail on horseback which was really cool to see.
There was a moment where we considered not hiking due to the snow. There were so many warnings, but after watching other people start to hike, we decided that with our hiking poles, we would be okay. If we felt unsafe, we’d just turn around. Luckily, the snow was packed down and there was minimal ice. We walked down through the first two parts of the trail before turning back for the car. With our Subway sandwiches waiting for us, we had a lot of motivation to hike back up quickly.
Once we were finished eating our sandwiches, we went exploring into the different buildings that were nearby. I had read about Mary Colter’s “Geologic Fireplace” at Bright Angel Lodge which features all of the rock layers of the Grand Canyon. Also, we spent a good amount of time in the Hopi House looking at their artifacts and jewelry.
Feeling exhausted, yet exhilarated we started the drive back. When we were only 15 minutes away from the villa, we decided to pull over and use our moon-roof to look at the stars. Almost immediately, we saw a shooting star. Being surrounded by so much darkness is something that is taking me time to get used to. The ability to be close to your home, but just look up and see such an amazing sight, is one I would never take for granted. Seeing the stars is a luxury reserved for camping on the East Coast.
Day 3 – Sunday
Not just any Sunday, but Sunday of the World Cup Finals. Unfortunately, our checkout time was exactly when the game was supposed to end. We sat, completely packed up, waiting for a housekeeper to kick us out of the room. If anyone remembers the 2022 World Cup Final game, it went into overtime.
Stressed, we knew we had to leave, but Sam couldn’t bear to look away from the screen. We were going to watch in our car when I decided it was worth asking the front desk if we could watch in the lobby. They kindly agreed and we had a massive TV and comfortable couch for the rest of our viewing. It just goes to show, you truly do miss 100% of the opportunities you don’t take.
I was grateful for the heat because the overtime game lasted a while. I could not imagine having to sit in the cold while watching on our phones. At last, it was time to go back to our Airbnb in Saint George. Driving through different terrains and time zones has consistently given me two blessings on this journey: sunrises and sunsets.
The sunset on our drive home was unreal. In my rearview mirror, the sunset was different hues of blues and purple. In front of me, it was orange and pink and beside me there was nothing for miles. Never before had I had a desire to be captured inside of a sunset. It was an indescribable moment and a perfect end to our long-overdue Sedona trip.
Notice the “special thing” that your region has to offer. It may be something you take for granted now, but the moment you are without it, you’ll realize how incredible it was.