The landscape around Sedona is beautiful. The valley and its red rocks are truly incredible.
Sedona, the town, is a tourist town, not that there's anything wrong with that. It seems to be a one-strip business district that follows the highway in, and out of town, regardless of direction. There are far too many "tourist information" offices that are really fronts for real estate and time-share sales centres, which is annoying to no end. There are lots of T-shirt shops, tour agencies, and local artisan stores of dubious integrity. It could easily be something related to Whistler, or Victoria, or Gastown in Vancouver; the Sedona business district is that bad.
However. Tucked away, out of sight of the red rocks, and down by the river, is a retail development that deserves attention. It is Tlaquepaque, and it is well worth a visit.
Tlaquepaque was the idea of Abe Miller (1912 - 1982). Begun in 1971, the idea was to create a Mexican-style village that featured artists and craftspeople of the area. That idea took root in some fashion, evolved, and Tlaquepaque was born.
Today, the village has the feel of something European, but it is actually founded on a Mexican village concept. Over forty shops and galleries, several restaurants and a number of offices make up the complex, and it is delight to walk around the property.
Giant sycamore trees have been left in place and are lovingly protected according to Abe Miller's original promise in 1970. The village was quiet when we were there, but this place might just be the heart of the artistic side of Sedona's mercantile district, and it certainly beats whatever is happening along the main drag.
For casual dining, Rene's offers a menu and presentation that exceeds anything along the main highway. For a truly exceptional dining experience however, the nearby, L'Auberge Restaurant is not to be missed. Elegant, expensive and amazing in every way, L'Auberge provided a near perfect dining experience.
Photos by Jim Murray.