Living in Arizona, I am fortunate to be surrounded by some beautiful country and I’m not sure it gets more beautiful than Sedona. The red rock surroundings and Oak Creek Canyon are what make this area regularly mentioned as a top scenic spot in the country. I had always thought of it as more of an adult area, though, between the scenic drive, which many kids don’t care about, the luxury hotels and spas, and the numerous psychic shops surrounding the vortex (for those who are in to that sort of thing). This past weekend, though, I went there for a conference and took my husband and son with me and discovered that not only are there great things to do for kids in and around Sedona, we didn’t have enough time to get to them all!
One of my son’s favorites is Out of Africa Wildlife Park. Actually located near Camp Verde, a short drive from Arizona, if you love animals, this is THE place. You can take a safari with giraffes, zebras, ostriches, and other wildlife and they even provide a treat so you can feed them. I dare you to stick the treat in your mouth and let the giraffe’s long black tongue take it from you! You can watch a show where humans interact with tigers, playing with them and enticing them to jump into a pool (hence the name of the show, Tiger Splash). You can even feed the tigers after. You can also watch them feed the animals on certain days if you’re not too squeamish. It’s really fun to hear the hyenas laugh when they’re being fed. Recently, they also added a zipline.
How could my son resist a jeep tour? We didn’t do it this trip, but we have in the past. Once he got over the fact that it was pink, he loved it. The Pink Jeep Tours take you on a heartpounding, off-road adventure so you can get up close and personal with the beautiful country. They offer several different tours including one to see ancient ruins and one to maximize the off-roading.
Know any kid that isn’t fascinated by trains? We had dinner on the Verde Canyon Railroad. I can’t wait to go back to experience the full train ride. I know my son will love going on a train ride and I will enjoy the spectacular scenery. The Verde Canyon certainly is one of the more lush areas of Arizona.
We are going to take a trip back simply to visit Slide Rock State Park. Unfortunately due to the large fire there earlier this year, the swim area was closed while we were there, but it seems like it would be so much fun! From their website, “The park is named after the famous Slide Rock, a stretch of slippery creek bottom adjacent to the homestead. Visitors may slide down a slick natural water chute or wade and sun along the creek. The swim area is located on National Forest land which is jointly managed by Arizona State Parks and the U.S. Forest Service. Together these areas have seen the making of many Hollywood movies such as ‘Broken Arrow’ (1950) with James Stewart, ‘Drum Beat’ (1954) with Alan Ladd and Charles Bronson, ‘Gun Fury’ (1953) with Rock Hudson and Donna Reed, and a scene from ‘Angel and the Badman’ (1946) with John Wayne.” I can’t wait to see my son experiencing a “natural” water park!
One other thing my son thought was cool are the many different rocks available for sale in Sedona. As a huge Minecraft fan, he uses obsidian, lapis lazuli and other minerals in the game, but hadn’t seen them in person. We came home with a bag of various rocks, which made for a relatively inexpensive souvenir.
I would be remiss in this article if I didn’t thank our hosts for the weekend. As part of the conference (which I did pay for), our hotel rooms were complimentary, but I was so happy at both properties, I would have been willing to pay for our rooms. The Hilton Sedona Resort has rooms that are perfect for families. The room we had was a suite with a living area with a sofa bed and a bedroom with two double beds plus a kitchenette. The second night we had a typical double/double room at the Poco Diablo Resort. My son loved hanging out in the pool that wasn’t too crowded in spite of the hotel being full and my husband loved the short, par 3 golf course right on the hotel property. I loved the fact that the staff at both places were extremely helpful and it was easy to keep my family happy.
I truly can’t wait to head back to Sedona. In fact, I think we’re going to take that train ride and revisit the area in August!