‘Tis the time of the year when everyone wants a quick staycation for the holidays. One great thing about Arizona is that you can drive two hours in any direction and end up somewhere completely different. Sometimes you might think you’re in a different state because the scene is so different from the metropolitan area. Here are a few places to stay during the holidays.
Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock
If you want to stay at a beautiful resort surrounded by red rocks, The Hilton Sedona Resort is perfect. This place is ideal for the holidays with daily family events like live music, stargazing, s’mores, yoga with Rudolph, creating your own body scrub and more. (Check out the holiday season events and activities calendar for the scoop.) For those who don’t want to miss a workout, there’s an athletic club and an outdoor fitness area. If you want to relax, feel free to take a step into the relaxing Eforea Spa and get a massage. One of the best perks about this resort is that it’s pet-friendly – no need to get a dog sitter during this staycation.
Where to eat:
- Shadowrock Tap + Table: If you don’t want to drive somewhere else, enjoy the food at the hotel. Must-try: the Lollipop Chicken Wings with T&T hot sauce, bacon ranch and heirloom carrot slaw. The Cast Iron Chili Bowl is also really tasty and perfect for cold weather. Grab a seat by one of the fire pits and enjoy some delicious chili, made with short rib, chorizo, local corn, poblano and tomato and topped with cotija cheese, cilantro and avocado slices. hiltonsedonaresort.com/dine/shadowrock
- Rocky Rd. Ice Cream Co.: This mom-and-pop shop purveys delicious homemade ice cream and is within walking distance from the hotel. There are 16 flavors including seasonal, vegan, low-sugar and gently infused flavors. Must-try: Apple Pie with a scoop of Roasted Strawberry Buttermilk. rockyrdicecream.com
- The Hudson: Prepare yourself for the best dinner view in Sedona. This restaurant is upscale, yet casual with a breathtaking patio. Must-try: Salmon, brown sugar fennel butter, a sensational rice blend and seasonal veggies. thehudsonsedona.co
Things to do:
- Pink Jeep tour: For some excitement and sightseeing, the Pink Jeep tour is a must! There are over 10 tours to pick from, so everyone will find their niche. Bring your hiking shoes, water, snacks and a camera with plenty of memory. Get ready to witness what Sedona is all about! There are videos on each tour, so you can get a feel for what best suits you. pinkadventuretours.com
- The Chapel of the Holy Cross: On your drive to town, you can’t miss this place. The view from this church is amazing – you can see all the wonderful red rocks, which look like a painting. chapeloftheholycross.com
- Shops at Tlaquepaque: Take a quick drive to this adorable arts and shopping center, which includes restaurants that stay open late. It’s like a little village with a ton of character. Bring your furry friends along because this place is pet-friendly. Be sure to check online for events. tlaq.com
Bonus: A new cocktail menu, which includes two alcohol drinks and two mocktails. I’d call it a win-win. These cocktails are set to launch in January 2020, so be on the lookout. My favorite drink is the Cafe Cognac, which is a twist of the classic old-fashioned, but made with Cognac. This drink is very smooth and the right amount of sweetness.
Price Range: $228-$491 per night
90 Ridge Trail Dr., Sedona, 928-284-4040, hiltonsedonaresort.com
Hotel Monte Vista
Located right off Route 66, this place will give you the best experience during your stay in Flagstaff. Hotel Monte Vista is a sky-high, historical hotel on the corner of Aspen and San Francisco Streets. This hotel is in high demand as a nightlife establishment, which can be quite noisy for those staying here. All the rooms are on the second and third floor, so there is some distance from all the fun happening on the main floor. Fun fact: Hotel Monte Vista is home to the Cocktail Lounge, Flagstaff’s first speakeasy, which opened in 1935. The hotel is pet-friendly.
Where to Eat:
- Fat Olives: Great ambiance and great food. There is an outdoor seating area if you want to take in the crisp air. Must-try: The adovada pizza made with San Marzano tomatoes D.O.P, spicy pork tenderloin, adovada, wood-roasted onion and mozzarella. This pizza was the 5th place winner at the International Pizza Expo in 2015. fatolivesflagstaff.com
- Delhi Palace Cuisine of India: The food is flavorful and the service is amazing. There is a lunch buffet, which includes vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options. Must-try: Chicken Tikka Masala, boneless Tandoori chicken with tomato and butter gravy. Top your meal off with a side of garlic naan. delhipalaceflagstaff.com
- The Northern Pines Restaurant: Must-try: Northern Pines Cobb, blended house salad mix with fresh grilled chicken breast, bacon, crumbled blue cheese, sliced olives, boiled egg, diced tomatoes and avocado slices with blue cheese dressing. You’ll never want to have a cobb salad from any other place. thenorthernpines.com
Things to Do:
- Arizona Snowbowl: The main reason why people drive to Flagstaff is for the snow, am I right? You have to take a drive up to Arizona Snowbowl if you want some serious snow fun. You can ski, snowboard or sled down some mountains. snowbowl.ski
- Flagstaff Snowpark: If you have little ones and you want more of a family setting, this place is for you. It has fire pits, restrooms, food and drinks, including hot cocoa. Adults will have fun as well – there are high hills to go sledding down, along with smaller ones for kids. flagstaffsnowpark.com
- Grand Canyon: You’re already halfway there, plus nothing is better than seeing the expansive gorge with snow. Be sure to wear hiking boots or non-slip shoes. nps.gov
Bonus: For those seeking a good ghost story, Hotel Monte Vista is said to be haunted. Even if you don’t experience any paranormal activity, it’s always fun to explore. Don’t miss the trivia, free live music throughout the week and karaoke on Thursdays.
Price Range: $70-$145 per night
100 N. San Francisco St., Flagstaff , 928-779-6971, hotelmontevista.com
This hotel was built in 1919, and is a historical centerpiece of downtown Tucson. In an attempt to preserve the hotel’s original ambiance, there are no TVs in the rooms and the lobby’s beautiful high ceilings and decor will make you feel like you’ve walked back in time. There is also a vintage switchboard right next to an old telephone box. Hotel Comgress also has great food and drinks and is within walking distance from many attractions.
Where to Eat:
- Cup Cafe: Nothing like a great place to have breakfast to start the day. Must-try: The Cast Iron Baked Eggs includes two poached eggs, ham, leeks, shallots, gruyère cheese, cream, fine herbs, hotel potatoes and toast. For those who are gluten-free, this dish is perfect. There are vegetarian and vegan options on the menu as well. hotelcongress.com/family/the-cup/
- Reilly Craft Pizza and Drink: Enjoy the beer garden with some great food. All the pasta is made in-house, with gluten-free options available upon request. Must-try: The tagliatelle, beef bolognese and grana is mouthwatering . reillypizza.com
- Za’atar Mediterranean Restaurant: Looking for a causal place with a cute outdoor patio and fresh desserts? Za’atar is your spot. Must-try: beef kabob plate, served with rice and a light salad with hummus. Another item you must try is the garlic sauce – it’s out of this world. zaatar-mediterranean–restaurant.business.site
Things to do:
- Southern Arizona Transportation Museum: If you can’t get enough history, you’ll definitely want to stop at this place. See the locomotive No. 1673 along with sculptures of Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp. The lobby on the first floor is still a running depot for train passengers and is open to the public. tucsonhistoricdepot.org
- Arts & Shopping: Be sure to check out all the shops north of 4th and Stevens Avenues. Anything you need you can find on this street, from murals to shopping to places to eat. Pro tip: Coronado Apartments will take you exactly where you need to be if you enter the address in your phone: 402 E. 9th St., Tucson.
- Rialto Theatre: Catch a concert at the historical vaudeville theater built in 1919, which is now restored. If you’re interested in seeing the Instagram-famous Prince mural, it’s on the the side of the building. rialtotheatre.com
Bonus: Check out the Christmas Eve performance with Joe Novelli and Joe Pena, and the New Years Eve celebration, which will bring Times Square to Arizona with a midnight taco drop.
Price Range: $99-$149 per night
311 Congress St., Tucson, 520-622-8848, hotelcongress.com