Sedona will surround you with awe-inspiring red rocks and memorable sunsets. You can explore by foot on miles of hiking trails and end your active day with delicious local foods and drinks. For a slower pace, enjoy the arts and cultural destinations and spend time looking around the many shopping locations. Relaxing at the end of the day is easy with vibrant sunset views, numerous delicious restaurant options along with luxurious spas to unwind.
When you take the scenic drive on Highway 179 into Sedona, you catch glimpses of red rocks that take your breath away and leave you peering ahead for the next one. The red rock oasis is 116 miles north of Phoenix and showcases a unique vista of towering red rock spires spotted with green plants. The Sedona area has cacti, agave, and prickly pear plants and sits along the banks of Oak Creek. You can experience the high desert while enjoying the creek by kayak or strolling by foot with your camera ready to capture the spectacular views.
Hiking in Sedona
Sedona has many public hiking trails that take you through different types of habitats as you explore the beautiful areas. Grab your hiking trail map and bring along plenty of water, sun protection, and your camera! Going hiking in the morning at sunrise is the coolest time, avoiding overhead sunshine and the late afternoon heat.
You can find hikes for all levels of hiking experience. Boynton Canyon is a well-known area for hiking but can be congested depending on the season and time of day so it is worth considering other less-trafficked hikes if you want to avoid the crowds. Teacup Trail to Coffee Pot Rock is a kid-friendly hike that has spectacular views at the end of the out and back trail. Oak Creek also has a variety of hikes that offer a bit of shade from the steep canyon walls and trees.
You can take tours that focus on specific areas of interest like Vortex Tours, ATV tours (self-driven or guided), or even kayaking or canoeing. Sedona has spiritual energy in specific areas called “vortexes” and you can experience one for yourself. ATV tours provide a fun and adventurous way to explore areas not easily accessible by car and getting out on the river by boat or wading in the water for fishing is another way to enjoy the natural beauty of the area.
For adventurous travelers who want to explore on rough backroads, check out the Pink Adventure Tours. We reserved our slot for the early morning Sedona Pink Jeep Tour to get a head start on the day and stay a little cooler. Reservations are highly recommended (even months ahead for busy tourist season) and the Pink Adventure tours also go to the Grand Canyon and Antelope Canyon for day trips. The Broken Arrow tour is their most extreme off-road adventure tour. Our tour guide provided interesting information about the area and native plants in addition to driving us up, down, and around the extremely steep rocks as part of our tour. Get ready for an adventure!
Where to Eat in Sedona
Sedona has an array of fine and casual restaurants.
For delicious and unique South American-inspired foods and tasty drinks with gorgeous views, head to Mariposa. Mariposa is one of five Sedona restaurants in the Dahl Restaurant Group which follows Chef Lisa Dahl’s mantra “When you cook with love, you feed the soul.” The Macho Supremo Salad at Mariposa combines romaine and arugula with red onions, tomatoes, chipotle Caesar dressing, gorgonzola, grilled filet mignon, and crispy shoestring potatoes for an unbelievable flavor combination. The prickly pear swizzle drink was as pretty as it was an interesting way to try the local cactus.
For American Southwestern food, try the El Rincen Restaurant in the Tlaquepaque Shopping Center. El Rincen has mouthwatering favorites like tacos, tamales, and enchiladas but most memorable was the Navajo pizza which uses a sopapilla crust and refried beans using red or green chile sauce (instead of red tomato sauce) which is then topped with cheese and veggies plus optional meat. It’s the combination of pizza and Mexican (or in this case New Mexican) foods!
For a fun outdoor eating area with a vegan and gluten-free menu, try ChocolaTree in West Sedona. They offer organic, farm-to-table options for dine-in or take-away.
Happy hour at Javelina Cantina included enjoyable margaritas, crispy chicken tenders, and cheesy nachos (plus other wonderful appetizers). Elote Café is a local hotspot for happy hour and dinner and even their own cookbooks!
Arts & Culture in Sedona
Sedona has many local artisans with beautiful artwork and multiple shopping areas where you can find a variety of galleries and shops. You will have plenty of opportunities to buy vacation mementos.
Tlaquepaque is an Arts and Shopping Village with Mexican-inspired architecture featuring shops with local artists and artwork. You will find southwestern fine art paintings, bronze sculptures, and many other crafts here. Across from Tlaquepaque village is the Center for the New Age if you want to get find sparkling crystals, book a psychic reading, or sit quietly by the bubbling creek just behind the building.
Uptown Sedona has many little clothing, jewelry, snack, and souvenir shops tucked into buildings lining the main roadway which leads past the Sedona Arts Center and out to Oak Creek Canyon. It can be challenging to find parking and can be congested at times so plan accordingly.
For visitors interested in unique architecture, the Chapel of the Holy Cross. It’s a Roman Catholic chapel that is built right into the red rock. It is open to all visitors and is a stunning destination.
After your adventures, hopefully, you experience a sunset while you are in Sedona. The red rocks glow with the setting sun and look like they are on fire. You can see from a high vantage point if you drive up to the Sedona airport. Yes, they have their own airport! The Sedona airport has a restaurant or you can pull over and park on the way up if you are lucky enough to find a spot. You can also go for a hike. Regardless of how you choose to take in the sunset, prepare to be spellbound as the sun sinks and the surroundings brighten with a memorable vibrance. Once you go to Sedona, it is just a matter of time until you make plans to return!