One of the most popular destinations in the state of Arizona is the beautiful red rocks of Sedona. Growing up here I remember many a scenic car ride into the canyon, especially in the fall. I also remember summer camping trips and playing along the banks of Oak Creek which runs through the center of the canyon and town.
Sedona has grown a lot through the years, becoming ever more popular with both residents and visitors. One place that I had never had a chance to visit but finally did this year was a quaint shopping village of Tlaquepaque which means “place on the hills”. It was the architectural and genius dream of creator: Abe Miller. At first glance I just thought “what a lovely and fairly large shopping experience” which is actually a two part village in the heart of Sedona. What I didn’t realize until stumbling upon a plaque in the built in onsite Chapel is that it was the heartfelt dream of a man to make this experience a reality for others.
According to their website, Abe Miller was a successful businessman from Nevada who had a love of art and beauty. He particularly loved Mexico and the beauty of Sedona and was inspired by the working artisans. He realized that Sedona was a perfect place to blend the charm of Mexico with the livelihood of working artists. His dream truly came alive with the building and development of Tlaquepaque Village.
What we can experiences is a unique encounter with traditional mission and Mexican architecture, trees growing within buildings, fountains, art, and flowers. It literally feels like a step in time is meeting the creativity of today. Tlaquepaque is complete with wonderful restaurants, eclectic boutiques, and art galleries. Here are some high lights of what we found, there is something for everyone.
Restaurants are of variety, from fine dining at Rene’s to the Oak Creek Brewery, to traditional Mexican restaurants, bakeries, fresh ice cream, and where we stopped at- The Secret Garden (a delightful patio side café). There is something for everyone and any taste or occasion. Wander the beautiful courtyards and enjoy live musicians near fountains, flowers, and dine indoors or outdoors. Tlaquepaque is also home to a wine tasting room and balcony seating at some establishments.
Also of note is the custom sweets at Couture Bakery. I enjoyed fresh espresso here and the colorfulness of their confectionary creations. For those who have celebrations such as Sedona weddings, this bakery is a wonderful small boutique that can serve destination weddings.
Perhaps the most interesting and captivating discovery in my time at Tlaquepaque was stumbling across the beautiful intentional Chapel. Being a lover of both art and faith myself, I enjoyed the intricacies of what was created. In a small courtyard patio the quiet and peaceful chapel is present. It has two images of The Virgin Mary on the outside of the chapel, evoking the Catholic faith of many in Mexico and the Arizona region. The chapel itself is simple and small, but a land mark with it’s original painting by Eileen Conn which depicts: St. Augustine, Pope Pius X, St. Bonaventure, Samuel, Peter, and John the Baptist with the inscription: “I am the light of the world. He that followeth shall not walk in darkness but have the light of life.”
The Chapel courtyard also had a grotto with Our Lady of Guadalupe present and this beautiful granite cross. I stumbled upon the grotto as it sits quietly there, unexpected in such a robust marketplace. A beautiful blend of history, cultures, and the present.
Additionally, the marketplace has a delightful diversity in art galleries and stores. From quilting to natural wonders, custom spices, vinegars, and traditional or contemporary paintings and sculptures. It is a restful place to explore creations in a building that seems from another time, connecting us to regional heritage in the heart of the red rocks.
It is also a location perfect for photo sessions and weddings are regularly held here. Plan to spend at least a few hours on site and arrive early for best parking. It is worth the stop!