This ultimate Sedona, Arizona travel guide covers all the things to do in Sedona including the most epic hikes, where to catch the sunset, the tastiest restaurants, how to explore the Sedona backcountry and more.
This blog covers the following:
- How to get to Sedona (& why the closest airport may not be the best choice)
- Best time to visit Sedona (almost year-round!)
- How many days is enough for Sedona
- Where to stay in Sedona
- Best hikes in Sedona with breathtaking views
- More outdoor adventures in Sedona
- Other unique things to do in Sedona
- Where to shop in Sedona
- Where to eat in Sedona at drool-worthy restaurants
How to get to Sedona
When planning how to get to Sedona by air, the most popular airport option is to fly into Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport (PHX) which is two hours south of Sedona. A closer airport is Flagstaff Pulliam Airport (FLG) which is about a 45 minutes drive from north of Sedona. However, there are fewer flight options to FLG, so I recommend sticking with Phoenix. The two hour drive north to Sedona goes by quickly.
If you're planning a road trip, some other popular nearby destinations include:
- Jerome, Arizona: 30 miles, approx. 45 minutes driving
- Grand Canyon South Rim: 115 miles, approx. 2.25 hours driving
- Page, Arizona: 160 miles, approx. 3 hours driving
- Las Vegas: 280 miles, approx. 4.5 hours driving
Best time to visit Sedona
The best time to visit Sedona will be when the weather is warm, but not too hot. This will be the spring and fall months, including March to May and September to November. The temperatures will range from 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. This is also the most popular time to visit so you will want to book your hotel and flights in advance for better deals. And if you can choose the shoulder seasons to hopefully experience fewer crowds. We visited mid-November and it felt like places were full, but not super crowded.
If you choose to visit during the summer, you'll want to plan for some indoor activities and pool time during the hottest parts of the day as the average high from June to August is high 90's and 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Lows are in the mid to high 60's. For me, as a pale redhead, that is just too hot to enjoy myself. But, you should decide for yourself it that kind of weather would be comfortable. If I were to visit during the summer, I'd enjoy some very early morning hikes and then relax with some shopping, spa treatments and pools. And I'd enjoy the late night stargazing.
During the winter months you can expect an average high temperature of low 60's with the lows in the mid 30's. However, if you don't mind shorter days and the chillier temps, Sedona can make a great trip during the winter. You'll deal with fewer crowds, meaning lower prices, but still get to enjoy blue sunny skies and beautiful hiking. And the city offers many events during the winter like yoga and film festivals and more. Plus, you might just get to see a stunning snowfall against the red rocks. Dreamy!
How many days is enough for Sedona?
If you're visiting Sedona as part of a trip through Arizona, then at the minimum I'd recommend two days in Sedona. However, I think Sedona is worthy of at least a long weekend with three full days. If you love the outdoors and hiking, I'd recommend five days.
Where to stay in Sedona
Sedona has a wide range of accommodations for every kind of traveler whether you're on a big family trip, budget travelers or someone looking for something a bit more luxurious. Below are my top 3 recommendations.
Amara Resort and Spa (Upscale budget)
If you want to indulge, then Amara is the spot. In 2021 the resort won the Wedding Wire's Couples' Choice award meaning it's a great choice for a romantic stay. They recently completed renovations to bring a tree lodge aesthetic to the entire resort so there's a luxurious relaxing vibe in every corner and they have an infinity pool.
Arabella Sedona (Mid-range budget)
Arabella is one of the most popular and most recommended hotels in Sedona. The hotel is well-located just south of Uptown Sedona and even has it's own hiking trail. The larger rooms and suites work well for families and dogs are very welcome as they have their own dog park too.
Element Sedona by Marriott (Mid-range budget)
This Marriott hotel is newer construction and during our visit was very clean, modern and had a friendly staff. The pool and hot tub were great after a day of hiking, plus the muffins from the complimentary buffet were clutch in the morning. Located in the Village of Oak Creek you are just south of Sedona's main area, but you're nearby some great restaurants and the location means prices are a bit lower in comparison.
Best Things to do in Sedona: Get outside!
Sedona is one of the most beautiful cities I've ever been to. Photos do not do it justice. As you're driving into Sedona you will see these giant red rocks just surrounding the town and in the distance. And unlike what I imagined in my head, it's also so green and lush. I was so pleasantly surprised and just in awe of the beauty here, so, while there are things you can do inside, I recommend getting the most out of the great outdoors here. Great it is!
The best hikes in Sedona
Any hike in Sedona can really be contender for "best hike" because the views are always gorgeous and they have a wide variety for every type of hiker from novice to the more experienced. Additionally, some of these hikes are incredibly popular, meaning they may be very crowded. Get there early if you want to ensure a spot to park by the trailhead and remember your patience. You can also try to visit the more popular spots on weekdays when there may potentially be fewer visitors or come during the off-season.
Airport Loop Trail
Distance: 3.2 miles | Difficulty: Moderate | Elevation Gain: 416 feet | Time: 1.5 hours
This loop trail is a great easier hike to do on your first day in Sedona. I recommend timing it so that you wrap up before sunrise and then catch the sunrise from Airport Mesa. It is a rocky hike in parts so be sure to take care with your footing to prevent any slips.
Length: 0.8 miles | Difficulty: Moderate | Climb: 234 feet | Time: 1 hour
Plenty of scrambling as you get higher. This hike is also an energy vortex so you can cross off two attractions with one visit.
Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte Loop
Distance: 3.9 miles | Difficulty: Moderate | Elevation Gain: 357 feet | Time: 1.5 hours
A loop trail that combines Bell Rock with Courthouse Butte. This is a popular trail and area for horseback riding and mountain biking so expect to see others while you take in the gorgeous scenery.
The Birthing Cave
Distance: 2 miles | Difficulty: Moderate | Elevation Gain: 291 feet | Time: 1.5 hours
While the distance of this hike isn't that long, the final part of the hike is steep and you can expect some scrambling to make it up into the cave. The viewpoint from here is beautiful as well as the photos you can take. To get the entire "cave opening" in your photo, use a wide angle lens or the panorama setting on your iPhone.
Boynton Canyon Trail
Distance: 6.1 miles | Difficulty: Moderate | Elevation Gain: 826 feet | Time: 2.5 hours
This out-and-back trail is another very popular one in the area. It's well-shaded and was very pretty during the fall when we visited. The hike does start near a hotel and houses, but give it a little bit of time and they'll be out of view and you'll feel immersed in the nature.
My Hiking Must-Haves from Amazon
Crossbody or Belt Bag
This crossbody bag is the perfect dupe for the iconic Lululemon bag that's always out-of-stock and just a fraction of the cost with 100% of the same usefulness! At this price you can grab it in 2 colors and pack your must-haves for the hike, like snacks & sunscreen.
The best dang hiking boot
These are my go-to hiking boots and they come in a wide variety of colors. They break in quickly, are comfortable, and most importantly, keep your ankles safe during hikes! Plus, at under $100 they're a great deal. Order them now to break in before hikes.
I love a sunscreen stick for hikes and Supergoop is one of the best brands out there for all skin types. With the stick it's easy to reapply so keep it handy and apply regularly to the spots that are most exposed like your shoulders, nose and tops of your ears.
Distance: 1.2 miles | Difficulty: Hard | Elevation Gain: 741 feet | Time: 2 hours
This out and back trail offers iconic views with more of a challenging hike to the top.
Distance: 3.9 miles | Difficulty: Moderate | Elevation Gain: 521 feet | Time: 1 to 3 hours
This out-and-back trail is one of the most popular in Sedona. So you'll want to be parking at the trailhead before 7 am or use the free shuttle service offered by the city of Sedona that will take you to the Dry Creek Vista trailhead. Visit SedonaShuttle.com for all the details and schedule, etc.
Devil's Bridge is the largest natural sandstone arch located in Sedona and the unique arch makes for a great photo opp that brings a lot of hikers. The route starts out very easy with a more challenging climb near the end. There is an initial base that you'll climb up where you can catch your breathe, grab some photos and refuel for a moment. I personally have a fear of heights so I took a moment here to refocus before the final climb, but let me tell you it was not that intense!
You will likely see a line of people waiting for a photo at the actual bridge. As you walk up to that line it may appear like the bridge is not that wide, but once you actually walk up there you'll see it is plenty wide and hopefully not that intimidating to walk across if you're like me and have a fear of heights. It's wider than I am tall! Grab your photos and move along off of the bridge for others in line. Then I recommend walking around the rest of the area up there to enjoy the views and maybe snap a photo from another angle.
Soldier Pass Trail
Distance: 4.5 miles | Difficulty: Moderate | Elevation Gain: 839 feet | Time: 1.5 to 2.5 hours
This loop trail is a moderate hike with a huge payoff considering you'll be able to experience several natural wonders, including the Seven Sacred Pools, Devil's Kitchen and the Soldier Pass cave. The Devil's Kitchen is a sinkhole that was formed by the collapse of underground caverns and the Seven Sacred Pools are formed into the rock.
Get Your Red Rock Parking Pass You'll want to purchase a Red Rock Pass for parking before visiting any of the trails. They offer daily, weekly and annual passes starting at just $5. The Red Rock Pass is used to support conservation of these beautiful lands for the public for now and into the future. LEARN MORE & ORDER NOW
Other Outdoor Adventures in Sedona
Sedona is a mountain bikers paradise. However, it is not my area of expertise. If you're someone who already has experience with mountain biking, I'm going to recommend the Two-Wheeled Wanderer's Guide to Mountain Biking in Sedona. And if you're a novice like me, I'd recommend a guided mountain bike beginner tour with Hermosa Tours.
Pink Jeep Tours
Pink Jeep Tours are pretty synonymous with Sedona. They are a great thrilling adventure and a way to learn more about Sedona's history and explore the red rocks. Plus, some of the jeep tours take you places that aren't accessible by foot so you'll get a unique advantage. Pink Jeep Tours specifically are highly-rated and they offer a wide variety of options if you want to see it all, take a quicker tour or go on a super rugged adventure.
I recommend the Broken Arrow & Scenic Rim Combo tour that takes you through Sedona's backcountry. You'll climb high for scenic views and then venture down "The Road of No Return" and through the Coconino National Forest.
Nighttime Stargazing and UFO Tours
Sedona and Arizona as a whole are one of the best destinations in the US for stargazing and it's for several reasons. Generally, the weather is good meaning the skies are clear and the geography of mountains can aid blocking lights from cities. And just as important, the communities here work to maintain Dark Skies. Arizona has 19 total Dark Skies communities, including two national parks, which you can read more about on the Visit Arizona site.
At night, you can see Mercury, Mars, Jupiter and the Andromeda Galaxy as well as countless stars and star clusters. While you will need to wake up early for hiking on some days, I recommend setting aside at least one evening for the stars!
In addition to nighttime stargazing, there are tours that have an extraterrestrial twist! Whether or not you believe - these tours can be very fun and make you wonder about what else is really out there!
Explore a Spiritual Vortex
A vortex is thought to be a unique place here on Earth with special uplifting energy, perfect for healing and meditation. Some people claim to feel more inspired and recharged after visiting a vortex. There are tours that will take you to vortexes in Sedona, but you are also free to explore them on your own. The most popular ones are located at Airport Mesa, Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock and Boynton Canyon. While visiting you may see people meditating, doing yoga or other spiritual rituals.
Go on a Hot Air Balloon Ride
Watch the sun rise across Sedona's Red Rocks and natural wonders from the viewpoint of a hot air balloon. There's really no better vantage point than from high above. Within the US, Sedona is certainly one of the best spots for hot air balloons. You'll need to get up before the sun rises and the entire process is typically a few hours with 60-90 minutes actually spent up in the sky. Make sure to wear layers and comfortable shoes for landing. Red Rock Balloons has a perfect safety record and highly-trained pilots.
Cool Down at Slide Rock State Park
Slide Rock State Park is a natural landmark that is open for sunbathing and swimming and there are natural "chutes" that lead into a pool area. It's a great spot to visit after a morning hiking to cool down and hang out for a few hours. I recommend keeping a pair of Tevas handy for your post-hike visit so you don't have to worry about your bare feet getting scratched by anything and you'll have some extra grip on slippery rocks.
Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park
Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park is another unique adventure to take in Sedona. It's a gorgeous and tranquil outdoor space and a destination for spiritual prayer, meditation and the experience of peace. It was built for people of all faiths so anyone should feel welcome to visit and respectfully enjoy the Park. On the property you'll find a 36-foot tall Amitabha Stupa as well as a shorter Stupa and a large Buddha statue.
Crescent Moon Ranch
Crescent Moon Ranch was first settled in 1880 by a local cattle owner and it was once an apple orchard. The views of Cathedral Rock are stunning here and many people visit just for the nature photography. However, you can also enjoy hiking, swimming and picnicking in the area. Plus, also at the ranch is an historic cabin that's open for overnight stays. It was restored to its original glory by volunteers who preserved its original pine floors, window and kitchen. So cool!
Oak Creek Canyon Scenic Drive
If you're heading north to the Grand Canyon, you can take this scenic route via Oak Creek Canyon for some stunning scenery. You'll drive along the canyon where there are many overlooks, picnic spots etc. where you can stretch your legs and take in the views. You'll drive up many switchbacks along AZ State Route 89A as you gain elevation. I do recommend stopping at the top at Oak Creek Canyon Vista. For me, I just needed to catch my breathe after the drive because I am actually afraid of heights.
You'll be rewarded with an amazing viewpoint of the green, lush canyon and some walking paths, plus you can shop a selection of Native American jewelry and other crafts directly from folks who set up displays along the pathways. I do not like spiders, however, if you choose to walk through the grassy paths you might get the chance to see some tarantulas like we did. It was pretty cool to see one small one!
Unless you're heading north for other reasons or just really love a scenic drive, I wouldn't recommend going out of your way to visit Oak Creek Canyon Vista. But if you're heading this way, know it's gorgeous and worth visiting.
Remember to Leave No Trace! Take a moment before visiting Sedona and it's beautiful outdoors to learn or review the 7 LNT principles. In short, you'll want to Plan Ahead & Prepare, Stick to Trails, Dispose of Waste Properly, Check Campfire Restrictions, Leave What You Find, Respect Wildlife and Share the Outdoors. READ NOW
More unique things to do in Sedona
Visit Chapel of the Holy Cross
The Chapel of the Holy Cross is a stunning architectural monument in Sedona and one of its most popular and recognizable attractions. The landmark is built into a red-rock mountainside and the spire climbs up 250 feet tall. The chapel's design was commissioned by sculptor Marguerite Brunswig Staude, and created by architects Richard Hein and August K. Strotz. And the design was deeply influenced by the work of Frank Lloyd Wright. The chapel offers an amazing view with floor-to-ceiling windows. You can visit and admire the architecture or even attend a service. The Chapel of the Holy Cross website shares details on its schedule.
Frank Lloyd Wright Fan?! Then you should also check out Taliesin West in the Scottsdale, Arizona area. It was formerly Frank LLoyd Wright's winter home and is now a national historic landmark open for tours of the home, facilities and grounds. READ MORE IN MY SCOTTSDALE GUIDE
Verde Valley Wine Trail
The Verde Valley Wine Trail is the official guide to the wines, vineyards and tasting rooms in the northern Arizona area of Clarkdale, Cottonwood, Jerome and, of course, Sedona. The list of wineries included in the Verde Valley Wine Trail is always growing and each one has something unique to offer and nothing much is better than enjoying a glass of wine while admiring the views of the red rocks.
If you visit 10 stops of the Verde Valley Wine Trail you can even be entered to win prizes! Download a trail passport here or get the app to track your visits.
Winery 1912 is currently the only winery located within Sedona while the others are a short drive away. Winery 1912 features Spanish varietals and they offer $15 tastings featuring 6 wines of both red and white options. Plus, they have live music on weekends!
If you'd like to visit the stops outside of Sedona, I suggest staying locally or joining a guided tour that provides transportation.
Some popular, well-rated tour options include Taste of the Valley Tours and Sedona Wine Adventures.
Aura Photography & Psychic Reading
There are quite a few places to have your aura photographed and analyzed in Sedona, but Heartlight Healing Metaphysical Store has some of the best reviews and prices. For $25 you can get your aura photo and summary reading. They also offer crystals, psychic readings and energy healing.
Spa Treatments & Salt Therapy
Salt therapy, also known as, Halotherapy, involves breathing in air with salt particles with the goal of relaxation and improving your breathing. The therapy may help with skin conditions, allergies, asthma and even a cough, however, trust your doctor (not me!) for real health advice. What I do know, however, is that the Halotherapy/salt therapy rooms are very relaxing and soothing. In Sedona, you will find salt therapy sessions offered as various spas. And the rooms or salt caves are often beautiful with the glowing, pink salt rocks.
Sedona Infinity Spa offers individual and two people sessions for 30-45 minutes. And you can also book group packages.
Sacred Elements of Sedona offers a variety of treatments including Halotherapy ($55/person for a 45-minute session), and also sound healing, crystal light therapy, psychic readings and more.
Where to Shop in Sedona
Main Street (aka Uptown Sedona)
This area may be more of a tourist location, but that doesn't mean it's not worth checking out. They have a nice variety of shops and there are amazing views while you stroll along.
Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village
This is an outdoor adobe mall with a wide variety of local shops, art galleries, antiques, jewelry shops and some restaurants. I picked up a few souvenirs here from our trip. Additionally, the Chai Spot is a must for me as a chai lover, and I would also check out Cream for homemade ice cream.
Garland's Navajo Rugs
Just across Tlaquepaque in the red rock Garland Building, you can find Garland's Navajo Rugs. All of the rugs here are woven by Navajo weavers, most of whom live on the nearby Navajo Reservation across Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. According to Garland's website: This is the largest American Indian Reservation in the country, some 16 million acres with more than 350,000 Navajos. These Navajo rugs are made in the weaver's home or hogan on vertical looms using the same methods they have used for the past three hundred years.
Given the handcrafted nature of the rugs, the prices can range from several hundred to several thousand. However, you can also find other Native American goods such as jewelry, pottery, baskets and more available for purchase at the store in a wide range of prices.
Where to Eat in Sedona
Some of my favorite restaurants and cafes include:
Sedonuts & Coffee
I could have finished a baker's dozen of the donuts here myself. I recommend picking some up earlier in your trip so you can have extras for dessert or breakfast the next day. They offer yeast donuts (my favorite) as well as cake donuts, fritters, turnovers and even some gluten-free options. You can try The Vortex which is their version of a cinnamon roll. My favorite, as always, was the Maple!
Coffee Pot Restaurant
Great spot for a hearty post-hike brunch. There may be a wait (they do not take reservations), but it's worth it. I recommend a table on the outdoor back patio. They offer 101 omelettes, but I had my eyes set on the very popular huevos rancheros and they sure didn't disappoint.
One of the most popular restaurants in Sedona, Elote Cafe, offers cuisine inspired by the chef's 20-plus years of travel across Oaxaca, Veracruz, Puebla and Arizona. The menu features seasonal, locally-grown ingredients, plus a handpicked cocktail menu.
As soon as you've decided to visit Sedona, start checking reservation details for Elote - they open reservations 60 days out. At this point, they are reservation only and no walk-ins. However, you can call at the start of the dinner shift for a take-out order, but have back-up options in mind if you can't get through.
Mesa Grill Sedona
A southwest style grill with amazing views that is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The restaurant offers indoor and outdoor dining with stunning views. Try to time your meal with the sunset for an extra special experience.
25+ Sedona Restaurants that Locals Love Visiting Sedona? Then you need this deep-dive of 25+ delicious restaurants in Sedona that the locals love from the ones with the best views, the more romantic spots and where to go during a girls trip! READ NOW
I hope this Sedona, Arizona travel guide inspires you to take a trip to Sedona. Just know that you'll want to return again and again for the breathtaking views and stunning red rocks.