Ever since the Cowboy Artists of America organization was founded in Sedona back in 1965 (at what is now the Cowboy Club restaurant), this town has had a reputation as an artists’ community. There are dozens if not scores of galleries in the area. As in many tourist towns, however, a significant percentage of the so-called art leans toward the kitschy. In Sedona you see that phenomenon on steroids; you can find searchingly beautiful Navajo art on display right next to ninja stars “ON SALE SPECIAL TODAY.” And that’s not to mention all the shops purveying vortex paraphernalia, from crystals and exotic stones to aura pictures, chakra balancing, and, um, “sound vibration energy healing.”
The main shopping area, called Uptown, is along Ariz. 89A, just east of the roundabout you hit coming into town from the south on Ariz. 179. there’s another cluster just south of the Ariz. 179 roundabout, at Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village, 336 Ariz. 179 (www.tlaq.com; tel. 928/282-4838). With 40-some stores and restaurants, Tlaquepaque is a calming antidote to the ruckus of Uptown. (It’s actually easy to pronounce—“ta-lacka-packy”—named after a famous arts-and-crafts neighborhood in the suburbs of Guadalajara.) It's designed to resemble a Mexican village, a maze of narrow alleys and courtyards with fountains, a chapel, and a bell tower—it’s worth a visit even if you aren’t in a buying mood. Most of its shops sell high-end art, jewelry, women’s fashions, and unique gifts. All the restaurants and cafes are terrific, too. I’d also recommend a mall called Hozho, on Ariz. 179 just before you cross the Oak Creek bridge; it has a couple of Sedona’s better galleries. Hillside Sedona, just south of Tlaquepaque, is dedicated to art galleries and upscale retail shops, and also has a couple of good restaurants.
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