Best Things To Do in Sedona
Travelers come here to enjoy the famous red rocks. Hundreds of hiking trails and Jeep tours will lead you to some fantastic vistas, while a trip to Red Rock State Park will fully immerse you in crimson. But there's more to Sedona than geology; get a taste for the town's history by visiting the Palatki Heritage Site. And for a glimpse of the area's New Age culture, stop in at one of the many crystal-toting shops or art galleries at the Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village (many of these stores also offer maps to the infamous vortexes).
Updated August 21, 2019
- #1View all Photos#1 in Sedona0.3 miles to city centerHikingTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND0.3 miles to city centerHikingTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
The region boasts more than 100 different trails, each offering its own unique experience. Most lead into the red rocks, offering intrepid explorers plenty of postcard-worthy photo ops. Travelers are enthralled with many of Sedona's trails, but one of the most popular is the Cathedral Rock Trail, which starts about 4 miles south of the "Y" intersection. Though it isn't the easiest trek, the trail does offer great views of one of Sedona's most notable red rock formations. Recent visitors said the effort is definitely worth the views. For a less strenuous journey that still promises Cathedral Rock panoramas, try the Airport Mesa Loop, an easy path located near the Sedona Airport. Other popular hiking trails include the Bell Rock Pathway, the Devil's Bridge Trail, Boynton Canyon and Palatki Ruins, which features several ancient Native American ruins and cave paintings.
When making your way to a trailhead, consider stopping at The Hike House, where recent visitors rave about the helpful and knowledgeable staff. This facility – located across the street from Tlaquepaque – is devoted to preparing Sedona hikers. Using their unique Trail Finder database, the staff members at The Hike House can help determine which trail is right for you based on your time frame and skill level. This facility also houses a shop specializing in hiking gear and a cafe chock-full of healthy treats. After stopping here, you'll be well dressed and energized to hit the trails. The Hike House also offers guided hikes; reservations can be made on the center's website.
- #2View all Photos#2 in Sedona0.2 miles to city centerSightseeing, ToursTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND0.2 miles to city centerSightseeing, ToursTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
If your legs need a break from all the hiking, but you haven't had your fill of Sedona's stunning landscape yet, sign up for a Jeep tour. A popular activity for Sedona visitors, these tours are usually led by a guide and vary by theme or activity level. For instance, the Ancient Ruins Tour offered by Pink Jeep Tours is popular among history buffs because it visits a Honanki Heritage site, among other highlights. Meanwhile, the Soldiers Pass Trail offered by Red Rock Western Jeep Tours is a hit with those looking for a break from the crowds as it traveses a trail rarely used by other commercial groups. If you'd prefer to get behind the wheel yourself, some companies, such as Barlow Adventures, allow you to rent Jeeps and explore the surrounding red rocks independently (with some driving tips and trail maps provided before your drive).
There are a variety of companies and tours to choose from, but Pink Jeep Tours and Red Rock Western Jeep Tours are two of the most popular with recent visitors thanks to their friendly and knowledgeable guides.
- #3View all PhotosfreeThe Vortexes#3 in Sedona3.6 miles to city centerHiking, Natural Wonders, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND3.6 miles to city centerHiking, Natural Wonders, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
Sedona's visitors often hear talk of vortexes – cyclones of energy that come directly from the earth that can be felt by those in their presence. These vortexes are represented by the uniquely shaped rock formations believed to emit energy.
Although all of Sedona is believed to be a vortex, there are four primary vortexes in the city, each radiating its own particular energy. Vortexes are categorized as either "feminine" (energy entering the earth) or "masculine" (energy leaving the earth). The Airport Vortex, along Route 89A just west of the intersection of routes 89A and 179 (the "Y") is said to produce a masculine energy, strengthening one's self-confidence and motivation. Meanwhile, the Cathedral Rock Vortex near Red Rock State Park fosters feminine aspects like goodness, patience and compassion. The Boynton Canyon Vortex, northwest of the "Y" along Dry Creek Road, offers a balance between masculine and feminine energies. And the Bell Rock Vortex, south of the "Y" along Route 179, offers a combination of the three: masculinity, femininity and balance. Many recent visitors can't say enough about Bell Rock's beauty, but there are also many smaller, more subtle vortexes found throughout the area.
- #4View all Photos#4 in Sedona7.5 miles to city centerSightseeing, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND7.5 miles to city centerSightseeing, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
The 7.5-mile Red Rock Scenic Byway, which starts after you take exit 298 off Interstate 17, has plenty to see and do. In fact, it's often referred to as a "museum without walls." Highlights include sightseeing, hiking, biking and even golfing. There are also two vortexes to check out, Bell Rock and Cathedral Rock in the Village of Oak Creek (also called Big Park). The village also offers restaurants, galleries and other shops to visit. Coconino National Forest is another popular place to stop, with many scenic overlooks.
You can stop off at the Red Rock Ranger District Visitor Center to pick up maps and get advice on trails and other activities in the region. Recent byway visitors gush about how beautiful the scenery is and can't recommend it enough. Others warn that you may get distracted by the gorgeous scenery, so plan to make use of the many lookout points to safely admire the byway.
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If you only have time for one cultural site, the Chapel of the Holy Cross should be it. This stunning church – designed by sculptor Marguerite Brunswig Staude (a student of architect Frank Lloyd Wright) in the 1950s – protrudes from the red cliffs less than 4 miles south of Sedona's "Y" intersection. The main stained-glass window is held together by a giant cross and overlooks the Verde Valley.
While many recent visitors rave about the spectacular views, most say the site's peaceful atmosphere is the central reason to stop by. Reviewers also warned of limited parking and heavy midday crowds – plan a morning visit for a more tranquil experience. Others said it makes for a nice stop along the Red Rock Scenic Byway (the chapel is located at the byway's north end).
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Although Sedona is surrounded by towering red rock formations, many recent visitors recommend a trip to the official Red Rock State Park specifically to see Cathedral Rock – one of Arizona's most famous landmarks. This 286-acre nature preserve – located about 10 miles southwest of the "Y" (the intersection of routes 89A and 179) along Oak Creek – boasts great views of Sedona's more famous formations. The park offers a 5-mile trail network that is composed of interconnecting looped trails. The Eagle's Nest Loop leads to the highest point in the park with an elevation gain of 300 feet. Stop in at the visitor center to learn about the area's history, guided nature walks and moonlit hikes.
Reviewers raved about the natural beauty of the park and many go as far as saying it is their favorite place in all of Sedona. The park is popular with people of all ages as hiking trails vary in difficulty and length; it even offers a Junior Ranger program for children ages 6 to 12.
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When you need a break from the trails, swap out those hiking boots for something more fetching and head to the Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village (pronounced Tel-AH-ki-PAH-ki). Perched at the intersection of routes 89A and 179, this sizable outdoor shopping center was designed in the style of a traditional Mexican village. The complex was built on a former sycamore grove, and special care was given to maintain the existing trees. As a result many of the village's structures are built around the sycamores, making way for interesting architecture and forgiving shade. The stucco walls house a variety of art galleries, New Age shops selling modern art and glassware, and restaurants, while the cobblestone streets and mosaic fountains provide a charming, old-fashioned atmosphere.
Many travelers highly recommend spending a few hours perusing Tlaquepaque and checking out the local handmade jewelry, food, music and especially the art. Though many felt the wares sold here were too high-priced, reviewers still suggested a visit for the restaurants and architecture.
- #8View all Photos#8 in Sedona16.9 miles to city centerSightseeing, Wineries/BreweriesTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND16.9 miles to city centerSightseeing, Wineries/BreweriesTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND
When it comes to wine country, Arizona doesn't usually come to mind. But the Verde Valley near Sedona offers the dry climate and access to water that grapes need to thrive. If you're a lover of vino, consider taking a day to follow the Verde Valley Wine Trail; this self-guided tour takes you to several of the area's most popular wineries, including Alcantara Vineyards, Page Springs Cellars, Oak Creek Vineyards and Javelina Leap Vineyard, as well as several tasting rooms. Most stops allows you to tour the grounds and sample locally made wine.
Recent trail followers praised the vineyards for their beautiful atmosphere and diverse selection. You can download a passport on the trail's website, which once you get it stamped, allows you to earn special offers and prizes.
- #9View all Photos#9 in Sedona5.9 miles to city centerSpasTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND5.9 miles to city centerSpasTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
It should come as no surprise that this city of spiritual healing has no shortage of spas. You'll come across your basic massages and salt scrubs, but many of Sedona's spas also add some local flair to their treatments. For example, the Mii Amo spa at the Enchantment Resort offers a special wrap infused with Sedona clay, along with Native American-inspired therapies. For a New Age experience, A Spa For You helps balance your chakra by introducing polarizing gemstones to its deep-tissue massages. Recent Sedona visitors also recommend Inner Journeys and Sedona's New Day Spa for their soothing atmospheres and variety of treatments. Customers claim to have left feeling nothing short of relaxed and rejuvenated.
Before deciding on your treatment, you should note that some resort spas only offer treatments for hotel guests, so it's a good idea to call ahead and check. Hours and prices vary depending on the facility and the desired treatment. For more information, visit the Sedona Tourism Board website's spa page.
- #10View all Photos#10 in Sedona8.6 miles to city centerParks and Gardens, SightseeingTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND8.6 miles to city centerParks and Gardens, SightseeingTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
For a glimpse of what life was like in the red rocks between A.D. 1150 and 1350, take a drive to the Palatki Heritage Site. These ancient cliff dwellings were once the home of the Hopi tribe and are now among the largest cave dwellings in the area. The pictographs that cover the walls of the site impress many visitors. Recent travelers also praised the informative and enthusiastic staff.
There are three hiking trails at the Palatki Heritage Site – one that will take you directly to the Sinagua cliff dwellings, one that leads you to a view of the dwellings and another to the pictographs. Each of these trails measures about 1/4 of a mile one-way and all are widely recommended by visitors.
- #11View all Photos#11 in Sedona3.9 miles to city centerParks and Gardens, Recreation, Swimming/PoolsTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND3.9 miles to city centerParks and Gardens, Recreation, Swimming/PoolsTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND
For those of you visiting Sedona during the hot summer months, a few hours at Slide Rock State Park is a must. Housed on land that formerly grew apple trees, the park earned its name from the stretch of its slippery creek bed near the original homestead that now acts as a natural waterslide. Visitors can cruise down the creek on a tube or on their own, or simply enjoy the sun along the rock bed. Beyond the natural waterslide, the park is home to numerous natural swimming pools. The farm's old homestead is also open to exploration.
Some travelers lament over the sometimes crowded conditions, but still, many say the park is definitely worth visiting, especially with kids. Visitors often bring their families and spend the entire day at the park soaking up the sun and swimming in the water. Others caution that water shoes with good grip are a must as you'll be slipping and sliding any time you're near the wet rocks. To avoid the crowds (and snag a parking spot), heed the advice of reviewers and arrive early. And if you are feeling brave, consider cliff jumping.
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