going from tucson to sedona
Seeing friends off, on their way away for a month-
we were going to drive from tucson to sedona on Dec 30th or 31st-
any suggestions about great things to do or places to stay
we're quirky, like history, magnificent sights-
Also looking for how to spend New Years in Sedona, or nearby-
If the weather is good and the roads dry + other suggestions
If you've never done so, take Schnebley Hill Road from Sedona. Its junction with 89A in Sedona is at the bridge where the highway turns to cross Oak Creek, just before you get to Tlaquepaque; you continue straight instead of turning with the highway to cross the bridge. Schnebley Hill Road climbs out of Oak Creek Canyon to the east (it's a dirt and rock road), and once on top goes through the forest and joins with I-17. The views are spectacular. It is a rough road, and narrow, but can be done in a passenger car when the road is in good condition -- don't try it in snow or icy conditions. This is a "cling to the side of the cliff" kind of road, and is breath-taking to one degree or another for everyone except the most jaded among us. Allow the better part of an afternoon for the round trip -- it is 15 or 20 miles or so. You can return via Flagstaff or SR179 on paved roads.
In Sedona, if you need a place to eat, try Shugrue's Grill -- the food is excellent (although expensive) and the views from the dining room are great. It sits in an upscale shopping area on the side of a hill along 89A in the south end of Sedona (coming from the south, it'll be on your right before you get to the bridge across the creek; same bridge as above in Schnebley Hill Road directions).
Locals can give you directions if you cannot find it (also true for Schnebley Hill Rd).
Finally, cap your evening with a walk through the Christmas lights competition at Los Abrigados Resort (by Tlaquepaque). It'll be cold -- dress warm. Different individuals and groups compete to decorate an assigned area of the resort, with prizes to the winners -- all for charity. It's beautiful and magical. There is an admission charge, but it is worth it, and for a good cause or two.
Another daytime option is to stop at Slide Rock State Park, (if it is open; I'm not sure what their winter schedule is). Obviously, this is not the time of year to ruin a pair of shorts on slide rock itself (those who have been to Slide Rock will know what I mean about the shorts), but the site is located at a pioneer farmstead and some fruit orchards. You can discover a little about the human history of the area! And you can LOOK at the pretty creek. I wouldn't get IN it this time of year, but you can LOOK at it. :)
If there's lots of snow, drive almost to Flagstaff and stop at the County Fairgrounds south of town (again, on 89A) to play in the snow.
Finally, if you have an extra day (or even an afternoon), you could extend the journey and take in the Grand Canyon in winter. It is at its most beautiful if there is a blanket of snow on it. The Canyon is only about an additional 95 miles (approx) from Sedona.