The great Chicago Cub Ernie Banks used to say, “It’s a beautiful day for a ballgame…let’s play two.”

That same sense of bubbling joy permeates the Cactus League. It’s the time of year filled with promise and possibility. During Spring Training, every team is in the thick of the pennant race. Budding young stars learn from seasoned veterans and fans are practically on the field for the action.
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Before they become the “Boys of Summer,” they’re just boys in spring, playing a game that is a beautiful blend of skill, drama and poetry. One that is utterly timeless. Until we’re reminded, we forget how baseball forever connects us to our youth.

Best of all, under balmy blue Arizona skies it’s always a beautiful day for a ballgame. Let’s play two.

Better yet, why not make the second half of that doubleheader a road trip? You’ve been trapped inside all winter, now it’s time to get back in the game yourself. Take off and explore some of the best of what Arizona has to offer. That means making a trip to Sedona.

Sedona Has It All

Sedona exists at an impossible intersection of soul-nourishing wilderness and pampered luxury – where soaring red rock monoliths cradle an array of resorts, spas, art galleries and boutique wineries. In short, it has something for everyone.
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Start with scenery that drops your jaw and squeezes your heart. Sedona is nestled among a geological wonderland. Multi-hued stone formations jut upward from the high desert floor, creating a mesmerizing landscape that changes hourly with the light. When USA Weekend compiled their Most Beautiful Places in America list, Sedona claimed the top spot.

Regarded by American Indians as sacred, Sedona continues to be recognized as a place of healing and spiritual renewal. Many visitors come to experience the vortex energy centers of Sedona. Others want to prowl the 40-plus art galleries lining the streets, or to receive soothing treatments from the dozens of spa facilities. Most recently, Sedona, with its nearby vineyards and tasting rooms, has emerged as a destination for wine enthusiasts.

But so much of Sedona’s delicious charm stems simply from its setting. Surrounded by 1.8 million acres of national forest land, visitors have instant access to recreational activities. This is where Arizona vacations. More than 100 miles of trails make Sedona a paradise for outdoorsy types. It is hard to imagine a locale that offers such scenic rewards for so little effort, but the sandstone buttes, sculpted formations and erosion-gnawed canyon walls are right there. So close you can touch them. The red rocks are the oversized patio furniture of Sedona.

Hike, Bike, Fly, Explore

You can find plenty of challenging trails, ones that will get your blood pumping and your soul jumping. But there are also just as many short, easy hikes as well. West Fork, Bell Rock Pathway and Little Horse are excellent examples of gentle strolls that deliver big payoffs, the kind of memories that stay with you for a lifetime.
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Mountain bikers don’t need a sales pitch because that secret is out. Sedona has emerged as a primo destination for spoke-jockeys. A wide range of fun, swoopy routes for all skill levels, from the beginner to the seriously deranged adrenaline junkie, weave among the bristling forest of pinnacles, spires and domes. Local bike shops can provide the info and the equipment in case you get the urge to saddle up and ride.
 
If you prefer being a passenger, choose between Jeep tours, hot air balloon rides, helicopter rides and horseback outings. This sun-splashed red rock landscape is a playground like no other on Earth. Silver streams tumble down canyons, shady woodlands line the slopes and soaring sandstone monoliths define a skyline beloved by artists, movie-makers and vacationers alike. If you can’t find adventure in Sedona, better have a doctor check your pulse. Yet all the while, you’re never far from the indulgences of town. Sedona is equal parts rugged, equal parts resort.

Tee It Up

8th-Seven-Canyons-Golf_Sedona_400px.jpgOf course, if you develop a yearning to play a game where you hit a ball, schedule a tee time. The best thing about golfing in Sedona is you have an irrefutable excuse in case you have a lousy round. You couldn’t concentrate because of the breath-snatching scenery, simple as that.

Hey, it’s a beautiful day for a round of golf. Let’s play two.

(Brought to you by the Sedona Chamber of Commerce, (928) 204-1123 or (800) 288-7336, www.sedonachamber.com.)