Wondering what to do in Sedona if you only have a day? Let me take you through some of the best things to do in Sedona to really make the most of the time you have.
The magical desert town of Sedona in Arizona is totally underrated, especially among Brits. Do you know anyone who’s been? Well, I have. Sedona is stunning and totally unique. The town is surrounded by incredible canyon walls and pine forests, making ventures out great fun, but also, there’s plenty to do in the town of Sedona too.
Whether you’re looking for a calm getaway or an active adventure here’s the best of what to do in Sedona to help you plan your trip.
1. Explore Sedona’s vortexes
You might be confused at first – what in the world are vortexes?
As it turns out – Sedona is filled with areas, holding energy that is helpful for healing and spiritual enlightenment. These areas are located all around the beautiful town, but be sure to visit Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock, Boynton Canyon and Airport Mesa, which are considered the most powerful places.
Whether or not you’re interested in spirituality, they’re unique sites to see and, who knows, maybe experience something magical.
2. Have a fun day at Slide Rock
What to do in Sedona for adventure lovers?
Head to Slide Rock State Park and try to slide down their natural ‘slide’. If sliding doesn’t seem to compel you, you can enjoy a relaxing swim at one of the natural pools. Those who love a little adrenaline rush will be excited to jump or dive off one of the enormous rocks. It’s a lovely place to cool off during summer, but it can get quite crowded, so paying a visit in the morning might be the best idea.
Bring some towels, sun cream and some snacks to enjoy a picnic near the water.
3. Shop for local art
One of the best things to do in Sedona is to shop for local art.
To get your hands on exclusive art pieces, head to Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village, which is one of the best places to explore Sedona’s art culture. For a yummy treat, stop by Secret Garden Cafe, and enjoy its vine-covered walls and cobblestone paths.
How about doing a road trip from Phoenix to Sedona to get here?! Or, Phoenix to Vegas?
4. Go on a Pink Jeep Tour
If you’re looking for some adventure, you must experience the Pink Jeep Tours. It’s a great way of seeing Sedona and its famous red rock formations up close. Prepare for a bumpy ride!
Choose the Broken Arrow tour to have an all-jeep drive or the Wrangler Roundup to experience a horseback ride as well.
5. Enjoy the Sedona Trolley tour
If you want to learn more about Sedona, go on the trolley tour, which takes only a couple of hours but gives a good perspective on how the city has changed throughout the years. What’s more – the buses are driven by locals, so they have a lot of fun and exciting stories to share, which you might not get to hear anywhere else.
6. Have a look at the Palatki Pictographs
In the Coconino Forest Near Sedona, you’ll find a UNESCO World Heritage Site with Palatki Pictographs drawn on. It’s a fantastic opportunity to have a glimpse at what life was like from the mid 12th to mid 14th centuries. The ancient cliff dwellings used to be the home of the Hopi tribe, but nowadays it is open to the public.
End the day with some activity on the three hiking trails nearby.
7. Fly in a hot air balloon
One of the most epic things to do in Sedona is to jump in a hot air balloon and overlook the magical city as the sun begins to rise. If you’re a night owl, have the ride during sunset and finish it with a tasty picnic and great champagne. You won’t regret it!
If you’re wondering what to do in Sedona for a special occasion, then this is the adventure for you.
8. Visit Cathedral Rock
If there’s one thing you must see during your visit, it is the Cathedral Rock. Thanks to its massive size and central location, it can be seen through all over town, but if you want to have a look at it up close, there are many hikes you can take. One of the most famous views is quite easily accessible at the Red Rock State Park. If you decide to take the path, plan at least a couple of hours.
Another great alternative – the Baldwin trail, is just less than two miles away.
9. Glimpse at the Chapel of the Holy Cross
Sedona is full of excellent trails, but one of the most interesting ones leads you to the Chapel of the Holy Cross, which was built already in the 1950s. Due to its authentic design and unique surroundings, nowadays it has become a tourist favourite. For an even more magical experience, try to plan your visit during a time when the sun shines directly on its windows.
10. Indulge in a yummy lunch in Sedona
Sedona is a ‘must’ for any foodie visiting Arizona. In the beautiful city, you’ll find a lot of charming cafes and excellent restaurants. Whether you’re looking to grab a bite while having fun with your friends or craving a fine dining experience, this is the right place to be.
Head to Coffee Pot – not only a restaurant but also a gift shop. Be sure to try one of their excellent omelettes. For some Italian classics, try Picazzo’s Healthy Italian Kitchen. If you’re looking for a juicy steak, visit Mariposa Latin Inspired Grill.
11. Drive the Red Rock Scenic Byway – SR 179
To understand all the beauty of Sedona, you simply must take the 7.5-mile scenic drive along State Route 179, which is known as the Red Rock Scenic Byway. Sedona’s incredible rocks get their colour from deposits of iron oxide, and you get to see them in full display during the ride.
This is without a doubt one of the best things to do in Sedona so to soak in all the magic, it’s worth doing the drive twice – along both sides of the road.
12. Make music in Harmony Park
To connect to your inner musician, make sure to visit the Sedona Visitor’s Center, which is filled with friendly people who’ll be happy to help plan your trip. This is also a great place to get brochures for local attractions, for example, the famous trolley. Outside the Visitor’s centre, you’ll find a collection of grand chime instruments – a fun site for both kids and adults.
If you’re wondering what to do in Sedona to just chill out, then this is the park for you.
13. Look into the stars
When the sun goes down, you’re in for a treat. Sedona is officially designated as the Dark Sky community, which means it’s a great place to go stargazing. Even if you’re not interested in astronomy, you’ll most likely be able to recognise some of the most famous constellations. Nowadays, many apps can help navigate the experience, such as SkyView or Star Walk.
Set up a picnic, have a glass of wine and look into the magical carpet of stars.
Could there be anything better?
14. Visit the Sedona Heritage Museum
For a dose of culture, head to the Sedona Heritage Museum, which focuses on the period when settlers began to arrive (the mid-1870s). What makes it more interesting, the museum is located in a home that dates back to that specific time. Nowadays, it’s considered an important part of Sedona’s modern history.
15. Walk through the Devil’s Bridge Trail
The natural sandstone arch of the Devil’s Bridge is a truly remarkable sight. Luckily, it’s only a 1.8-mile hike to get there and back, so the walk is neither long nor steep. Despite that, you should still have a decent fitness level since it is pretty challenging to get to the top. Once you get there, you’ll be awarded some fantastic views.
This is one of the top Sedona things to do.
16. Taste some wine in Verde Valley Wine Trail
You’ve probably heard tales about Napa’s incredible wine, but don’t forget about Arizona – it doesn’t get the credit it deserves for its amazing wine production. If you decide to visit Verde Valley Wine trail, make sure to bring a driver along with you!
The trail covers a number of towns in the valley, including Sedona, so you’ll be able to compare and taste the differences between all the wines. This is one of the best things to do in Sedona when you need a rest from all that hiking.
17. Explore the Amitabha Stupa & Peach Park
Without a doubt, Sedona is a unique place to visit. Every now and then, you will stumble upon unique sites and locations that simply take your breath away. One of these places is the Amitabha Stupa & Peach Park, a tourist favourite since 2004. Similar stupas are found in Asia, built over 2500 years ago.
The best thing – entry is free, though if you have the means – donations are welcome.
What to do in Sedona
Hope you’ve enjoyed these must dos in Sedona to add to your list for your day in Sedona. As you can see, you’re going to have to be pretty choosey to style your perfect Sedona itinerary – there’s a lot to do there!
If you want to visit Sedona as part of a wider tour, check out my LA to the Bay Tour review.