There are plenty of fantastic things to do in Sedona for all. Whether hiking in the desert, shopping downtown, or riding in a dune buggy through the desert, it’s tough to get bored here.
We spent a fantastic five days in the desert and didn’t even scratch the surface of what Sedona has to offer. We know we will be back one day to dive deeper into all the best things to do in Sedona!
In this Sedona Travel Guide we will cover
- Where is Sedona
- How To Get To Sedona
- Best Things To Do In Sedona
- Where To Stay In Sedona
- Tips To Visit Sedona
- About the Red Rock Pass
- Best Time To Visit Sedona
Where is Sedona?
Before we dig into the best things to do in Sedona, let’s establish its location. Sedona is a beautiful Arizona desert town almost smack dab in the middle of the state, 120 miles north of Phoenix. It’s one of the most popular places to visit in Arizona, and one of the coolest places to visit in the US. Sedona has people traveling from around the country to stand in awe of its beauty.
Sedona is nestled perfectly amidst stunning Red Rocks. The town is famous for its arts scene with nearly 100 art galleries. There are some impressive festivals throughout the year, including the Sedona Jazz Festival and Sedona Arts Festival.
There is something for everyone in Sedona as there are fantastic hiking opportunities, mountain biking experiences, off-road jeep tours, a great shopping scene, and wonderful restaurants.
There are a few main areas of Sedona, including Oak Creek to the south, West Sedona and Uptown Sedona.
How to Get to Sedona?
The nearest major airport to Sedona is Phoenix, about two hours away. If you are coming to Arizona to visit Sedona, it’s best to fly in here and rent a car at the airport to drive-in.
Sedona is also nearby to Flagstaff, reachable by car along the I-17. However, if you opt for this route, we recommend driving the Oak Creek Canyon via Hwy 89A.
The Best Things to do in Sedona – Top Tours
The Best Things to do in Sedona
Hike Devil’s Bridge Trail
One of the best things to do in Sedona is get out on a hike! Devil’s Bridge Trail is an easy, 3.7-mile hike that takes between two and three hours to complete. You’ll see stunning desert scenery along the way, including towering red rocks. Of course, the 54-foot Devil’s Bridge is the top attraction, and it provides an opportunity to capture amazing photos of the area. Many people like to face their fears and walk out on the bridge for a photo.
The best time to hike is at sunrise or after 5 PM when fewer people are around. Plus, this gives the best chance to catch even light on the Devils Bridge if you are into photography.
You can find the Devil’s Bridge Trailhead along highway 89A in the Coconino National Forest. If you decide to park at the Dry Creek Road parking lot, a Red Rock Pass is required, which costs $5.00. A pass isn’t required if you park at the Devil’s Bridge Trailhead.
Drive Along the Oak Creek Canyon Scenic Road
A drive along The Oak Creek Canyon Scenic Road only takes about a half-hour, but there’s so much to see and do along the way you can make an entire day out of it! As you drive through this area of outstanding beauty, you’ll see sandstone canyons and colorful rock formations such as Steam Boat Rock, Bell Rock, and Courthouse Butte.
There are several places to stop for a refreshing swim, including Grasshopper Point and Slide Rock State Park. Before entering the canyon, stop at the Oak Creek Canyon Vista. Admire incredible views and shop for Native American crafts at the on-site displays. This scenic drive is located along Route 89A between Sedona and Flagstaff, and admission to the day-use areas is $8.00 per vehicle.
Visit the Chapel of the Holy Cross
Chapel of the Holy Cross is a Catholic chapel that was built in 1956, and it’s situated on the red rock buttes high above Sedona. It’s a striking structure standing 250 feet against the 1000-foot rock wall. Admire the lovely views and chapel art as you explore the property, you can also catch mass there at certain times.
Take a walk along the Chapel Trail, which starts in the parking lot and runs along the base of the Red Rocks. Eventually, you’ll come to Little Horse Trail, which is a short hike to Chicken Point Overlook. The chapel is located at 780 Chapel Road and it’s free to visit.
Visit the Sedona Heritage Museum
Sedona is steeped in history and the best place to learn about it is at the Sedona Heritage Museum at 735 Jordan Road. The museum, which is run by the Sedona Historical Society, is located in a preserved farmstead in Jordan Historical Park. Also on site are a replica of a tent house and an old movie set.
The exhibits touch on pioneer and cowboy life, local arts, industry and the region’s film production history. Be sure to visit the on-site gift shop where you’ll find unique souvenirs and handcrafted gifts. Admission for $10.00 for an audio tour and $7.00 for a self-guided tour.
Go on a Night Sky Tour
During a Night Sky Tour, You’ll join expert astronomers on an incredible stargazing adventure that’s both entertaining and enlightening. During the tour, you’ll look through large, high-tech telescopes to get a better look at celestial wonders including The Milky Way, planets, star clusters, Apollo moon-landing sites and faraway galaxies.
The guides are super knowledgeable so ask lots of questions about what you’re seeing and the significance they have to ancient civilizations.
This tour takes place in the International Dark Sky Community of Sedona and Big Park and costs $117.00 per adult.
Photograph Cathedral Rock From Crescent Moon Picnic Site
You’ll likely recognize Cathedral Rock the moment you see it because it’s one of the most famous natural landmarks in Sedona. The sandstone butte is set to the backdrop of the town’s skyline is best viewed from the Crescent Moon Picnic Site.
There’s a path along Oak Creek where you can get a better view or you can hike to the top of the hill via the trail near the entrance of the park. You’ll get the best photos in the afternoon when the west side of Cathedral Rock is illuminated or in the evening when the setting sun envelops it in spectacular colors.
You’ll find the parking area on Red Rock Crossing Road and it costs $11.00 per vehicle to park.
Check out the Palatki Heritage Site
As you explore the Palatki Heritage Site, you’ll see many fascinating things of archaeological importance. Ancient indigenous rock art dating back 6,000 years and the ruins of cliff dwellings are some of the incredible things you’ll see.
Get the most out of your visit by starting at the visitor’s center where you’ll get an introduction to the site and use the three easy walking trails to best explore the area. This site can be found on North Forest Service Road. The site itself is free to explore, but if you park a vehicle, you’ll need a Red Rock Pass, which costs $5.00.
Tackle Sedona’s Mountain Bike Trails
Sedona is renowned for its superb mountain biking trails. An impressive network of trails works away around the region and offers some thrilling descents and challenging climbs. It’s a bucket-list destination for any mountain biker in the world. It benefits from exceptional trails, unique riding features, gorgeous scenery, and great weather. Everyone from pro-level riders to beginners can find something in Sedona.
There are a number of famous trails in Sedona as we were family I only slipped away one day to tackle the infamous Hangover Trail. It offers everything you could want from the region lots of technical features, slabs, off-camber slick rock, flowy descent, white knuckle exposure, rock gardens, and gorgeous scenery.
Mountain Bike Details
- Trail Network Map: Trailforks
- Mountain Bike Rental Shop: Thunder Mountain Bikes
- Must Ride Trails: The Hangover, Slim Shady, Hi Line, Mescal, High On The Hog, Chuckwagon, Javelina, Abobe Jack
Watch the Sunset from Airport Mesa
There are many places in Sedona to watch the sunset, but Airport Mesa, which is a short drive away from Sedona on Airport Road, is among the best.
The loop trail from the parking area to the best sunset viewing area is three miles and passes by Table Top Mountain to reveal spectacular vistas. Stick around after the sun sets and catch a beautiful moonrise too. It costs $3.00 to park.
Take a Drive on the Red Rock Scenic Byway
The Red Rock Scenic Byway highlights the stunning desert landscape of Sedona. The byway starts after you take exit 298 from the I17, and as you drive along this 12-mile route, you’ll find look-offs where you can admire the red rocks, buttes, and colorful landscapes.
There are many hiking trails, golf courses, restaurants, and galleries along this route. Although it only takes about 20 minutes to drive this route, it’s recommended you take a few hours to enjoy it. Some of the day-use parks along the way charge $5.00.
Explore the 4X4 Roads
If you want to get off the beaten path in Sedona, the best way to do it is with a vehicle with 4X4 capabilities, the most popular tour in all of Sedona is the Scenic Pink Jeep Tour. Many 4X4 roads take you to places that many people don’t get to see. Some of the trails include Schnebly Hill Road, Broken Arrow, Outlaw Trail, DiamondBack Gulch, and Dry Creek.
Watch for wildlife because it’s in these remote places where you’ll likely see deer, coyotes, bobcats, and many species of birds.
Hike to Cathedral Rock
Although the four-mile trail from the Baldwin Trailhead on Back O’ Beyond Road to Cathedral Rock can be a challenging one, the views at the top make it worthwhile! Situated in the heart of Red Rock Country, you’ll see stunning vistas with unique rock formations.
Start the hike a few hours before sunset for the ultimate Cathedral Rock experience. You’ll see more scenery if you start at the Baldwin Trailhead, but there’s a shorter 1.2-mile hike that begins at the Cathedral Rock Trailhead that’s beautiful too.
Hike the Bell Rock Area
Bell Rock is a tapered natural sandstone structure that can be explored via a system of trails. It’s 4,919 feet high so the trail is steep and moderately difficult. Even if you don’t make it to the top, the views are fantastic anyway! Not many make it to the summit so this should be an encouragement to keep going!
It takes about 2.5 hours, but the views of Courthouse Butte and the Sedona Valley make the challenge worth it. To find the trailhead, take Highway 179 for five miles. Parking is at the Scenic View Sign.
Visit the Sedona Vortex Sites
Mysterious forces radiate from the red rocks around Sedona. This energy can be found in higher concentrations in several areas known as Sedona Vortexes. Boynton Canyon Vortex is the most powerful, but Airport Mesa, Cathedral Rock, and Bell Rock are also top vortex sites.
You’ll likely see people meditating or performing rituals as you explore these magical places. Vortex tours are available through several local companies, but the sites are easily accessible if you wish to explore on your own.
Get a Psychic Reading
Because Sedona is a place of such high energy, it makes sense that if you were ever to have a psychic reading, this would be the place to do it! The serenity of this desert sanctuary is perfect for connecting with psychic energy.
Some companies offering these services include Sedona Intuitive Astrology, Sedona Crystal Vortex, Sedona Metaphysical Spiritual Association, and Sedona Healing and Hypnotherapy. Some companies provide readings over the phone, so you can receive one while visiting one of the powerful energy vortex areas.
Go Shopping At Tlaquepaque Arts And Crafts Village
In the ancient Aztec language of Nahuatl, Tlaquepaque means “the best of everything,” and that’s what you’ll find at the Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village. This outdoor market has more than 40 galleries, shops, and eateries.
As you walk the cobblestone paths, you’ll find handcrafted jewelry, crafts, clothing, and unique gifts. Various events take place throughout the year including special galleries and Cinco de Mayo Celebrations.
Visit Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park
Whether you’re seeking a spiritual experience or not, the Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park, which is located on Pueblo Drive, is a popular outdoor gathering place. Within this park are two Buddhist Stupas, including the enlightenment stupa that stands 36 feet. Also on site is a Native American Medicine Wheel.
The park mainly serves as a sanctuary for meditation, but many come to experience the peaceful ambiance that shrouds it. Group presentations that teach The Inside Story of the Amitabha Stupa can be arranged in advance.
Relax at Slide Rock State Park
There’s so much to do in Slide Rock State Park on State Route 89A, but the most popular attraction is the 80-foot natural water slide that you can slide down. To do this, you climb some red rocks and slide back down on the slippery algae that turns the smooth rock into a natural slide.
Also on site is a swimming hole with several cliffs to jump off and several trails, including Pendley Homestead Trail and Clifftop Nature Trail. Be sure to check the park’s historical features, including the informative exhibits and the old Pendley Homestead. Access to the park is $20.00 per vehicle or $5.00 per individual.
Visit the Wineries on The Verde Valley Wine Trail
Sedona is home to some of the best wineries in Arizona, and many of them are found on The Verde Valley Wine Trail along highway 89A. The wineries along this scenic route highlight the unique wines of the region.
Along the way, you’ll pass through the towns of Cottonwood and Jerome and find 25 wineries including Burning Tree Cellars, Winery 101, Echo Canyon, Chateau Tumbleweed and Javelina Leap. Passports are available and after you fill yours with stamps, you can win prizes. Guided Sedona Vineyard Tour are also available and costs around $110.00.
Take a Day Trip to Flagstaff
The city of Flagstaff is only 27 miles away from Sedona and is the perfect destination for those on an Arizona road trip. Along the way, you’ll enjoy spectacular mountain and desert scenery. Once in the city, you’ll find many attractions, including Riordan Mansion, Lowell Observatory, Museum of Northern Arizona, Wupatki National Monument and The Arboretum.
Explore historic downtown Flagstaff where you’ll find quaint little cafes, unique shops, and many restaurants.
Explore the Town of Jerome
Back when Jerome was a mining center, it earned the nickname” The Wickedest Town in the West.” These days, Jerome, a 40-minute drive from Sedona, is a ghost town compared to those wild days, but there’s still plenty to see and do.
The town’s history can be explored at The Mine Museum, Douglas Mansion in Jerome State Historic Park, Gold King Mine and Jerome’s Sliding Jail. Downtown you’ll find vintage shops, wineries, and art galleries. Check out the glass viewing platform that looks out over an old mine shaft in Audrey Headframe Park.
Dine at Sedona’s Best Restaurants
There are many restaurants in Sedona to suit every taste and budget. You’ll find fast-food joints and fine dining establishments serving everything, including traditional Mexican cuisine, pizza, and vegan dishes.
Some of the town’s best restaurants are Elote Cafe, Dahl and Di Luca, Mariposa Restaurant and The Hudson. Head to the Cowboy Club and try rattlesnake sausage for an authentic American Southwestern experience.
20 BEST Sedona Restaurants to Eat At
Play a Round of Golf
There are many scenic 9-hole and 18-hole golf courses in Sedona and every course is unique. Coyote Trails, Seven Canyons, Oak Creek, and Canyon Mesa are just a few of the courses around Sedona. Sedona Golf Course is a popular choice located at 35 Ridge Trail and some courses offer afternoon rates for $50.00 if you’re seeking a deal.
Take a Yoga or Meditation Class
One of the unique things to do in Sedona is have a mediation session in the middle of the desert. Yoga and meditation are popular in Sedona, and you can take indoor or outdoor classes or retreats through many local businesses. Work with a professional alone or in a group setting and learn how to tap into the region’s unique healing power.
For a truly unique experience, take a course that’s offered outdoors near one of the four powerful vortexes. Popular experiences are offered by Sedona Meditation Experiences at 203 Sunset Drive.
Go Horseback Riding
One of the best things to do in Sedona with kids is enjoy the desert from on top of a horse. A guided tour through the backcountry of Sedona is one of the best ways to take a relaxing journey around some of the most scenic areas of the town. You’ll experience Sedona in Old West-style and see beautiful places including Red Rock Country, Mogollon Rim and Verde Valley.
Horsin’ Around Adventures on Dancing Apache Road offers some of the best riding tours around. Join one of their full-day excursions that include a traditional western cookout for the ultimate adventure. Tours cost 119.00 to $459.00 depending on the type of tour you choose.
Kayak Down the Verde River
Floating down the Verde River in a Kayak is a popular activity offered by several companies, including Verde Adventures, located about 25 minutes from Sedona. No experience is necessary, and you get professional guidance to ensure your safety on the river.
Take the five-mile, self-guided tour in an inflatable kayak so you can take your time and stop to enjoy the natural wonders. This tour costs $71.00 per adult.
Where to Stay in Sedona?
Tips to Visit Sedona
- How long to spend in Sedona? We spent 4 days in Sedona, which was way too short for me to do all the best things to do in Sedona. In an ideal world, I would have loved an entire week. Some people only have one day. I think 3 days is the bare minimum if you want to do lots of hiking and outdoor activities.
- Plan ahead: Sedona can get quite busy, especially during peak tourist season. Plan your trip well in advance and make reservations for accommodations, tours, and activities.
- Dress in layers: Although you’re in the desert, Sedona’s weather can change quickly. It’s typical to be hot under the midday sun, but then freeze at night after the sun goes down. It’s important to dress in layers if you’re going to be out all day. We traveled to Sedona with our Arcteryx Cerium, which were perfect for nighttime.
- Bring sturdy shoes: Sedona is known for its beautiful red rock formations and hiking trails, so make sure to bring good hiking shoes so you can get out and experience them!
- Bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat: Being a desert destination, it gets hot and sunny with very little shade. Pack appropriate items.
- Be respectful of the land: Sedona is a unique and fragile environment. Be mindful of your impact, pick up after yourself, and always follow Leave No Trace principles when visiting.
Red Rock Pass
A Red Rock Pass is a permit required for certain recreational activities on certain lands in Red Rock Country (it is different than the America The Beautiful Pass). The pass must be displayed in the windshield of the vehicle or purchased online here. The Red Rock Day Pass is required for vehicle access to use 19 specific day-use sites on the Red Rock Ranger District. You can see those here.
The pass can be purchased at ranger stations and visitor centers throughout Sedona, as well as online. Prices are:
- Daily: $5
- Weekly: $15
- Annually: $20
When is the Best Time to Visit Sedona?
The best time to visit Sedona is between March and May, when the temperatures are ideal (we are talking 70s). Earlier and the temperature may be a bit chilly, while June to September may be too scorching hot for you.
March-May is ideal for hikers and those looking to get outside as much as possible. June to August is the hottest time of the year; Sedona also experiences 18 inches of precipitation per year, with most of it falling during the summer monsoon season.
The great news is you can often score a deal on accommodation during this time. September-November sees pleasant temperatures and is a popular time to visit, while December-February is winter in Sedona, and although it doesn’t get too cold, you will still want a jacket!
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I hope you enjoyed this guide on what to do in Sedona! Hopefully you found it useful. Here are a few relevant articles for more travel around the American Southwest.