Sedona is a picturesque desert town in Arizona about a two hours drive north of Phoenix. Sedona is often called “Red Rock Country” offering incredibly diverse, stunning scenery, ranging from red desert rock formations that give it its name to sweeping canyons and beautiful ponderosa pine forests.
Sedona is a small town with a population of less than 11,000 and is known for its excellent hiking and vibrant arts community. Uptown Sedona is filled with trendy boutiques, spas and art galleries.
On the town’s outskirts, many trailheads access Red Rock State Park, which offers hiking, bird-watching, and picnicking spots.
On my first visit to Sedona, I fell in love with the quiet desert landscape and the wonderful, calming energy it exudes.
To help you make the most of your visit to this magical destination, here’s my ultimate guide to Sedona!
Top 10 Things To Do In Sedona
Sedona has a vibrant downtown but the main attraction is its array of red sandstone rock formations. The formations appear to glow orange and red, illuminated by sunrise or sunset.
These red rocks form a popular backdrop for many activities like meditating, walking, rock climbing, hiking and mountain biking. Here are my tips for the top 10 things to do in Sedona.
1) Go Hiking
Sedona boasts more than 100 different hiking trails, each providing its own unique experience.
Most trails lead into the red rocks, offering breathtaking scenery and incredible photo opportunities. Here’s a list of the best hikes in Sedona.
One of the most popular is the Cathedral Rock Trail, near Red Rock State Park, which starts about 4 miles south of the “Y” intersection. This moderate hike offers great views of one of Sedona’s most notable red rock formations.
Some of the hikes in Sedona allow you to experience a special cyclone of energy called a vortex! Below, I have shared four of the best Sedona hikes where you can feel a particular vortex’s energy. I have also shared many other hikes throughout this guide.
If you are looking for a guided hike in Sedona, you can try this Archeology and Nature Hike.
2) Experience A Vortex
What is a vortex? A vortex is a cyclone of energy that comes from the earth.
People say that Sedona has strong vortex energy and believe the uniquely shaped rock formations emit this vortex energy.
All of Sedona is said to possess strong vortex energy, but there are four primary vortexes in the city, each radiating its own particular energy. Vortexes are described as either “feminine” (energy entering the earth) or “masculine” (energy leaving the earth).
The Cathedral Rock Vortex is said to be feminine fostering feminine aspects like goodness, patience and compassion.
To experience this vortex you can hike the Cathedral Rock Trail which is a short 1.2 mile out and back hike into the saddle points or “gaps” of Cathedral Rock.
The Airport Vortex, along Route 89A just west of the intersection of routes 89A and 179 (the “Y”) is said to produce masculine energy, strengthening one’s self-confidence and motivation. To reach this vortex simple do the Airport Loop Trail which is a moderate 3.2 mile loop hike.
The Boynton Canyon Vortex, northwest of the “Y” along Dry Creek Road, is said to offer a “balance between masculine and feminine energies”. To reach this vortex, you simply park in the Boynton Canyon Trailhead parking lot and follow the Boynton Canyon Trail until you reach the Boynton Canyon Vista Trail. The Vista Trail dead-ends at the vortex site. It is a 6.1 mile moderate out and back hike.
The Bell Rock Vortex, south of the “Y” along Route 179, is said to be stunning and offers a combination of masculinity, femininity and balance. Bell Rock is a moderate 1.1 mile out and back hike.
Sedona: Small-Group Vortex Jeep Tour
Sedona Spiritual Vortex Tour: Connect, Meditate, and Unwind
3) Explore Uptown Sedona
Uptown Sedona, or the Main Street District, is the old part of the city where you will find restaurants, galleries, and boutiques. There are wide sidewalks along the two main roadways and several side streets, with magnificent vistas throughout.
Parking is sometimes hard to come by here on the weekends, so try to visit this Uptown earlier in the day if you aren’t staying in this area.
4) Drive Redrock Scenic Byway
The Red Rock Scenic Byway is not just a road, it offers a unique introduction to Sedona’s gorgeous Red Rock Country, and a destination unto itself.
You can stop at scenic pullouts along the eight-mile-long highway for photo opportunities to take in the incredible views, and you can walk to a heritage site to see ancient petroglyphs.
5) Go Golfing
Off the scenic byway, you’ll find three golf courses that are open to the public. All three of the courses offer stunning scenic vistas of the red rocks and are some of the most beautiful courses you’ll find anywhere.
- Oak Creek Country Club is a par 72, 18-hole championship golf course where the Sedona Open tournament is held. This course is nestled among the red rocks with stunning views and is a Robert Trent Jones designed course.
- Sedona Golf Resort is a par 71, 18-hole golf course, with unforgettable red rock views. Winding around the emerald green fairways, each hole provides a unique adventure.
- Just 1/2 mile off the Byway is Canyon Mesa Golf Course, a charming garden-style executive course. This par 3, 9-hole course. Its beautiful red rock scenery makes the ideal backdrop for beginners or those who want to brush up on their short game.
6) Explore Oak Creek Canyon Scenic Drive
When in Sedona, another great drive to do is Oak Creek Canyon Scenic Drive that will lead you through dramatic rock formations, towering cliffs, and deep forests along Highway 89A.
The road follows Oak Creek and then juts out of the canyon. This road is beautiful but it has narrow sections and steep drops so it is better to save this drive for the daytime.
There are a number of spectacular hikes off this road including the West Fork Trail.
7) Visit The Chapel of the Holy Cross
This is one of the most iconic sites in Sedona and is a popular place to get married. The chapel sits perched on a small plateau halfway up a dramatic red rock cliff.
The Chapel of the Holy Cross was constructed in 1956 by a pupil of the famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. A 90-foot cross can be seen from the front of the chapel.
8) Take A Hot Air Balloon Ride
Enjoy a truly magical feeling of soaring gently with the wind experiencing an “Aerial Nature Walk” through Sedona’s natural wonders!
Watch the sunrise during the ascent, after a gentle lift-off, you’ll be gliding over gorgeous Red Rock Country taking in Sedona’s breathtaking beauty and wildlife as you float calmly with the air currents.
Red Rock Balloon Adventures is a top-rated tour company that can take you on an unforgettable balloon ride above Sedona! It is $250 per adult and $220 per child (under 12) and they require reservations in advance.
9) Relax At A Day Spa
Sedona is known for having excellent spas! While in Sedona I highly recommend visiting a day spa to relax and unwind after a long day of hiking and exploring.
The 5 top-rated day spas in Sedona are:
- The Spa Of Sedona
- Sedona’s New Day Spa
- A Spa For You Sedona Day Spa
- Sedona Transformation Spa
- Blue Sage Day Spa
10) Visit Devil’s Bridge Rock
Devil’s Bridge Rock is a stunning, natural sandstone bridge that spans 45 feet to a sheer drop. To get here you take Devil’s Bridge Trail which is a 3.9 mile moderate out and back hike.
This hike winds through beautiful desert scenery and sections of the Coconino National Forest, with panoramic views of the red rock mountains in the distance. Coconino National Forest boats 298 different hiking trails!
Where To Stay In Sedona
Staying at a resort on the outskirts of town, with the red rock mountains as your backdrop, provides a wonderful opportunity to relax, unwind and connect with your natural surroundings during your time in Sedona.
Uptown Sedona, the old part of town, is also a great place to stay because you can easily walk to places to eat and shop. Parking is usually hard to come by in this area on the weekends so having a hotel here will guarantee you the plus of parking spot.
Here are 10 of the best hotels in Sedona:
- Hyatt Residence Club – In an excellent location, just 2.4 mi from the Chapel of the Holy Cross.
- Arebella Hotel – This hotel is in a top-rated location next to hillside shops and galleries.
- Sky Rock Inn – Located on a hilltop among Sedona’s Red Rocks!
- Sedona Summit – On the Sedona Plateau and offering stunning views of the Arizona desert.
- Sky Ranch Lodge – Located 1 mile from the city center, and 6.2 mi from Chapel of the Holy Cross.
- Sedona Rouge Hotel & Spa – This hotel is 3.1 mi from downtown Sedona and features a full-service spa.
- Amara Resort & Soa – Located along Oak Creek in Uptown, offering beautiful views of the Red Rocks.
- L’Auberge De Sedona – Located in Uptown Sedona, next to a tranquil creek.
- The Ridge On Sedona Golf Course – Situated among red rock formations, with a top-rated golf course.
- Orchards Inn – Located in Uptown Sedona, this 3-star hotel is only 5 minutes’ drive from Indian Ruins.
You can also read our top Airbnbs in Sedona article!
Where To Eat & Drink In Sedona
Sedona is quickly becoming a culinary destination in its own right. A new generation of chefs helped transform Sedona’s dining culture with seasonal, gourmet recipes, locally sourced ingredients, and bold flavors.
Here are 10 of the top-rated restaurants in Sedona and nearby Flagstaff:
- Saltrock Southwest Kitchen – Southwest seasonal cuisine, craft margaritas, outdoor seating.
- Judi’s Restaurant & Lounge – European restaurant that has been a Sedona favorite for 30 years.
- Steakhouse89 – Upscale restaurant that prides itself on being “Backyard Gourmet.”
- Cucina Rustica – Upscale Italian restaurant providing a magical setting for a romantic meal.
- Bella Vita Restorante – Upscale Italian, located in the beautiful Sedona Pines Resort.
- The Clinkscale – Modern American cuisine and craft cocktails, located in the 1989 Clinkscale building.
- Whisk and Whisky – Gastropub in the heart of Flagstaff with hearty food and fine liquor!
- The Table At Junipine – Seasonal comfort food, casual dining experience with a cozy ambiance.
- Taverna Modern Mediterranean – Delicious Mediterranean inspired food in Flagstaff.
- Mariposa – Latin-inspired upscale grill with killer views of the red rock mountains.
What To Wear Hiking In Sedona
A trip to Sedona involves looks of walking and hiking so you want to pack accordingly. Here are some of our top picks for what to bring along with you to hike comfortably in Sedona.
How To Get To Sedona
The closest commercial airport to Sedona is in Flagstaff. The Flagstaff Airport is just around 33 miles from Sedona. From there you can rent a car or get a taxi into Sedona.
Alternatively, you can fly into Phoenix International Airport, rent a car and drive to Sedona, which is a little less than a two-hour drive.
Sedona also has its own tiny private airport, Sedona Airport, so if you are arriving by private plane, you can fly directly into Sedona.
When Should I Visit Sedona?
Sedona is known for its mild desert climate and has great weather and year-round! But I suggest avoiding the summer months of June, July, and August when temperatures creep up into the high 90s Fahrenheit.
The busiest months in Sedona are March through May and September through mid-December. Hikers love to visit in the spring because temperatures are warm, but not too hot, and the area is in full bloom with colorful desert flowers that decorate the mountains and hiking trails.
Lodging rates are slightly lower in July and August, but the cheapest prices are available from the first week of January to mid-February. Spring is Sedona’s busiest visitor season so March-May is usually the most expensive time to visit but worth it to experience beautiful spring hiking and great weather!
Sedona Guide Wrap Up
I hope you found this Sedona guide helpful. If you have questions about Sedona or tips for our readers please leave these in the comments below!
And if you’re interested in visiting other areas in this beautiful state, you can check out all our Arizona articles for inspiration.
We hope that this article has helped inspire you to visit Sedona. If you have any questions about this destination or have your own travel tips to share please leave these in the comments below.
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I went yesterday on a Monday for a day trip. Sedona is overrun with folks mostly from California. Traffic and parking was horrific. I spoke to a shopkeeper who said its like this all the time now. I don’t plan on ever going back.