There’s a lot to do in the Grand Canyon State, better known as Arizona. This bustling state is never short on natural wonders and historical landmarks to visit. If you want to fully visit this amazing state, then you’ll have to set aside several weeks of your time just to do so. As such, we find it important to list down some of the most important cities and places that you need to visit so that you can get your time and money’s worth. This time around, we are going to visit Sedona, Arizona. This city between the Coconino and Yavapai counties in the northern Verde Valley region of Arizona may be small, but trust us when we say that is well worth your time to visit this place.
The city is named after Sedona Arabella Miller Schnebly, the wife of Theodore Carlton Schnebly who was the city’s first postmaster. Sedona was celebrated for her hospitality and industriousness and once you visit this city, you’ll see that its people have adopted their city’s namesake’s charming personality.
The biggest attraction in the city is the red sandstone formations which are vast as the eyes could see. These beautiful formations shine a brilliant orange and red when the sun rises and sets and this is certainly something you shouldn’t miss. Luckily, it isn’t very easy to miss as there are no tall structures in the city to obstruct your views.
Aside from serving as a beautiful facade in Sedona, Arizona, these rock formations are also the backdrop of many activities that you can enjoy. These can include hiking and camping trips, spiritual trips, and even biking. Of course, there’s no better activity than to watch the sun set while on top of the rock formations. It’s truly a sight that will make you feel as if you’re on top of the world.
This is just a taste of Sedona, Arizona and you’re going to regret it fully if you don’t visit this place soon. Excitement and eagerness to visit aside, let’s first take a look at some of the important things you should know before you pack your bags and plan for the trip that’s up ahead.
- 1 How to Get to Sedona, Arizona
- 2 Getting Around Sedona
- 3 Best Times to Visit Sedona, Arizona
- 4 Attractions and Things to Do in Sedona AZ
- 4.1 See the Grand Canyon’s smaller cousin at Slide Rock State Park
- 4.2 Go stargazing
- 4.3 See the Palatki Ruins
- 4.4 Hike the Devil’s Bridge Trail
- 4.5 Hike more at the Boynton Canyon
- 4.6 Feel the cosmic forces at the Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park
- 4.7 Sample wines at the Verde Valley Wine Trail
- 4.8 Sign up for more wine tours
- 4.9 Dine at SaltRock Southwest Kitchen, Creekside Sedona, and Dahl and Di Luca Ristorante Italiano
- 4.10 Witness the Northern Light Balloon Expeditions
- 4.11 See the Bell Rock
- 4.12 Marvel at the beauty of Airport Mesa
- 4.13 Have a picnic at the Red Rock Crossing and Crescent Moon Picnic Site
How to Get to Sedona, Arizona
US, including other travelers prefer getting to Sedona via the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. It is the closest major international airport to the city at just over 2 hours of driving. The Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport handles flights from various parts of the U.S., as well as of the world.
Do keep in mind that it is the 11th busiest airports in the world so expect to brush shoulders with other travelers. The airport receives at least 35 million visitors each year and a total of 1500 flights arrive and depart the airport daily. Just to make sure that you have your seats secured, keep in mind to book your flights as early as possible.
Getting Around Sedona
Your best bet at getting around the city and nearby attractions is by renting a car through Sedona’s own Sedona Off-Road Center car rental company. What makes this place unique is that they allow you to rent off-road vehicles that can take you to places where regular cars can’t. This is the perfect way to get around especially if you want to make the most out of your trip to Sedona.
Alternatively, you can rent regular cars instead. There are car rental services available in the Phoenix Sky International Airport that allow you to take the vehicles out to Sedona. This is the cheaper alternative but of course, your trip will be limited to where the regular car can go. We find this the best option however as it will help you get to Sedona from the airport a lot easier.
There are also public transportation options inside the city. The Verde Lynx bus operator will get you to most of the crucial spots in the city. Their schedule is:
- Monday – Saturday 6:00 AM – 7:15 PM
- Sunday: 7:30 AM – 6:00 PM
- Expanded commuter service between Cottonwood and Sedona
- Free Park & Ride facilities at Garrison Park in Cottonwood and the Sedona Municipal Lot in Sedona.
- Riders can use Verde Lynx’s sister service in Cottonwood (CAT) to connect to Verde Lynx.
Another option is Cottonwood’s CAT bus service that offers routes that connect every 45 minutes at the Cottonwood Library. Here’s their schedule:
- The red, green, and blue routes run from 6:45 AM – 6:30 PM (Mon-Fri)
- The yellow route runs from 8:15 AM – 5:00 PM (Mon-Fri)
- Para-transport service is available for travelers with disabilities. Service is provided to locations that are within 3/4-mile of a fixed route bus stop. The services are shared-ride and require riders to make reservations by 5:00 p.m. the day before.
Best Times to Visit Sedona, Arizona
The best time to visit the city would be from June through September or during the summer season. Summers in Arizona tend to be very hot but in Sedona, the summer season remains warm. During this season, it would be a great time to enjoy activities and attractions such as Slide Rock StatePark and Oak Creek as well. There are also several festivals and events that happen during this season so be sure to watch out for them. In terms of hotel rates, you don’t have to worry too much as the prices remain at their average at this time of the year.
Another great time to visit would be from November to February of during winter. This is the season where tourists are the least abundant. Moreover, you don’t have to expect any heavy snow as the winter in Sedona is relatively weaker. The temperatures are also fairer than usual so you don’t have to bring any thick clothing too.
If you want to avoid a huge crowd, you may want to avoid visiting from March through May or during spring. This is the peak season for tourists in the area. However, if you avoid Sedona at this time, you’ll miss out on enjoying an assortment of activities while basking in the perfect weather and temperatures. As this is peak season for tourists, expect higher room rates than usual.
Attractions and Things to Do in Sedona AZ
Sedona is one of the cities that offers lots of attractions and activities. From museums to good restaurants, it almost has everything that a traveler could ever wish for. However, the city isn’t just famous for the man-made attractions that it has. Rather, people are more drawn to it because of its natural beauty that you will not get to see elsewhere but here. There may be a lot of things to do in Arizona but if you’re one who is looking for a more unique and memorable sightseeing experience, we couldn’t recommend anything but this city. It is also perfect for those who just want to get closer to nature. And so, without further ado, here are some of the attractions and things to do in Sedona AZ in case you are eyeing on visiting this place. We’re sure you’ll love everything.
1See the Grand Canyon’s smaller cousin at Slide Rock State Park
When talking about what’s good in Arizona, a lot of people only think of the Grand Canyon. However, it is located by the Colorado River and it would take you more than four hours to get there. But don’t worry if you can’t make it there as Sedona has Slide Rock State Park that has a canyon that is considered a smaller cousin of the Grand Canyon. Thus, visiting this place is one of the best things to do in Sedona AZ if you want to get a good view of nature.
Here, they have plenty of picnic areas for you to enjoy. And what’s even better is that Slide Rock State Park has a number of swimming holes that are filled with crystal clear water.
Aside from picnic and swimming, the park also offers good hiking trails so you can really get to enjoy nature more. Plus, it as the most picturesque views to offer. In fact, many locals and tourists alike say that it is a must that you hike the trails of Slide Rock State Park as it you can get to see the most stunning views of nature here.
Sedona has more natural attractions to offer compared to other city. That said, the city has little light pollution. And with little to no light pollution, you can surely get to get a good view of the night sky. In fact, the city of Sedona experiences more than 300 days of clear sky at night. Thus, another thing to add to your list of things to do in Sedona AZ is to not forget to look up the sky at night. To get a better view of the sky, the city has Evening Sky Tours so you can get a good opportunity to not just see stars but planets and other galaxies as well. They provide custom built and state of the art telescopes for that. And with this, you can even see Saturn and its rings. The best part of it is that you will be assisted by professional astronomers.
3See the Palatki Ruins
The Palatki Ruins is one of the most stunning places that you can get to see in Sedona. It is not just designated as one of the World Heritage Sites but it is also the largest cliff dwellings in Red Rock Country. What’s even better is that it will give you a unique perspective on the city’s ancient inhabitants’ culture. To give you an idea of what awaits you, the Palatki Ruins is filled with pictographs, cliff dwellings, and petroglyphs that were all created by the Southern Sinagua people. Experts believe that this ancient tribe settled here from 500 AD to approximately 1425 AF. But to see these gems, you need to prepare yourself to do some hiking first as the place has three trails that are a mile long: one takes you to the alcoves that houses the painted symbols, the other one to the Sinagua cliff dwellings, and the third is to another dwellings.
4Hike the Devil’s Bridge Trail
If you’re traveling to Sedona, better gear up and never skip leg day before your trip as hiking is one of the main things to do in Sedona AZ. In fact, it has a lot of hiking trails to offer. One of which is the Devil’s Bridge Trail, the largest natural sandstone arch in the city and it is one of the most recommended too. This is because it is suitable for casual hikers (the beginners or those who are concerned that they might not be fit enough for the most challenging hikes). But what makes it so popular is that it has options for the more adventurous visitors too. Don’t worry if the hiking part can get exhausting as you will be rewarded with the best views that are even more breath-taking than the climb.
5Hike more at the Boynton Canyon
Speaking of hiking, Boynton Canyon is also a nice hiking trail and hiking it is also one of the best things to do in Sedona AZ that you need to try. Here, you can get to enjoy more than 6 miles of in-and-out trail below the canyon walls and see a mix of vegetation, including huge pine trees located near the far end. But hiking and the views that it has to offer are just a few reasons people, both local and tourists, come back time and again. Apparently, people also visit this area for te energy vortex that it has that is found near the start of the trail.
6Feel the cosmic forces at the Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park
And speaking of vortex, if you travel to Sedona, you will hear a lot about spiritual energy and vortexes. For starters, here’s a bit of a background: Sedona has long been regarded as a place that is both powerful and sacred. In short, it’s like a cathedral but without walls. And for that reason, a lot of people travel here to experience the cosmic energy or forces that are said to be emanating from the red rocks and search for the vortexes that are believed to be conducive to healing, self-exploration, and meditation. But there are a lot of spots here in the city that gives off such energy. However, Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park is one of the most visited. This is because aside from the good energy and sacrecy that it has, it also has a rare stupa that was built to inspire prosperity and peace.
7Sample wines at the Verde Valley Wine Trail
If you’re a wine lover, visiting the Verde Valley Wine Trail is one of the best things to do in Sedona AZ that we can recommend. But make sure to bring someone who is willing to drive you home or to your accommodation because as its name suggests, it is a trail that is lined with a number of wineries and tasting rooms: Jerome, Cottonwood, Sedona, Cornville, and Clarkdale. And each of them is unique and they produce their own distinct wines that are not to be missed. And the best part is that you can get to drive through the magnificent canyon that the city has that is full of lush greenery and history and see the wonderful views of nature that it has to offer.
8Sign up for more wine tours
If you want other wine tasting tours or if you have already tried sampling wines at the Verde Valley Wine Trail, Sedona has more tours of such kind to offer. And you are rest assured that it would me much more private. Plus, you can customize your tour more. You can choose where you want to go and you will have a guide, who knows the area, its wines, as well as its history like the palm of their hand, to accompany you. The best part of it is that you can even visit a restaurant or have a picnic along the way. And like the Verde Valley Wine Trail, what makes this activity a must-add to your list of things to do in Sedona AZ is that you can also get a good view of the natural beauty that the city has as you go on wine tasting tours.
9Dine at SaltRock Southwest Kitchen, Creekside Sedona, and Dahl and Di Luca Ristorante Italiano
You might wonder what restaurants are doing in this list that makes it worth the visit. Apparently, dining at the SaltRock Southwest Kitchen and Dahl and Di Luca Ristorante Italiano is one of the best things to do in Sedona AZ because it doesn’t just give you the most delicious dishes to your table but it also helps you see the best views that the city has to offer.
SaltRock Southwest Kitchen
SaltRock Southwest Kitchen offers the magnificent views of Sedona red rocks – all thanks to the outdoor patio that it has. You don’t have to worry if it rains or snows during your visit as the restaurant offers a room that features understated and contemporary décor that will still give you a nice view outside as you indulge yourself with the delicious food that they serve. Their drinks menu are worth talking about as well.
Creekside Sedona also has a patio. But unlike SaltRock Southwest Kitchen, this restaurant has two patios to offer for diners who want to enjoy their food as they fill their eyes with good views of the picturesque Oak Creek Canyon and the creek that runs through it. Of course, the restaurant’s dishes are worth the buzz too as they are really delicious. In fact, the restaurant receives a lot of positive reviews for it. And what’s even better is that, the restaurant sources its ingredients locally and uses organic products and produce as much as possible. The best part of visiting this restaurant is that you can get to taste different dishes as its menu changes every week. The restaurant’s popular signature dises are always available, though. Breakfast, lunch, or dinner, this place is worth visiting.
Dahl and Di Luca Ristorante Italiano
Dahl and Di Luca Ristorante Italiano, on the other hand, is located in a beautiful Italianate villa that is surrounded by a luscious garden that gives off an old world and elegant charm that also makes you appreciate the natural beauty of the city. In fact it is a kind of place that you’ll want to wear your best tie or dress even if the restaurant doesn’t specifically require it. What’s even better is that your eyes will not be filled with good views that it offers but your tummy will be filled with delicious traditional Italian food as well plus good Italian wines. And have we mentioned that they use the freshest ingredients for their dishes too? Also, Dahl and Di Luca Ristorante Italiano also features live music provided by a pianist on a grand piano to add to the intimate ambiance that the restaurant has. It is definitely worth stopping by after a long day of exploring the city’s attractions.
10Witness the Northern Light Balloon Expeditions
What do you get from colorful hot air balloons with gorgeous canyons as its background as the sun rises? An amazing experience and the most picturesque view. Luckily, you can get to witness such view at the Northern Light Balloon Expeditions so never miss a chance to add this to your list of things to do in Sedona AZ. This event lets you see the majestic natural formations that are made even more jaw-dropping by the colorful hot air balloons. For an even more unique experience, you can tour the sky via these hot air balloons and see the city as the birds see it for an hour or three. The best part of it is that the tour ends with a delicious champagne breakfast picnic.
11See the Bell Rock
Visiting the Bell Rock is one of the activities that many people never forget to add to their list of things to do in Sedona AZ and you should too. This is because it is one of the key natural sites that the city has. Named for its bell shape, it is one of the first sites that you will come to if you are approaching from the south as it is located in the southern part of the city in the Village of Oak Creek. Here, you can take photos and are all the more welcome to hike it. You can even go biking.
12Marvel at the beauty of Airport Mesa
Airport Mesa is a table top mountain that also offers a nice view. It also has an airport located on a flat field on the top of the mesa hence the name. Thus, from afar or below it, you can get to see planes that add more beauty to every picture that you take.
But it is not just a beautiful place to see. If you go for a hike, you can also get to witness a nice view of the city from it. If you will go farther up the Airport Road on the right side, you can even get to see the Uptown Sedona from above. And if you’re feeling more adventurous, you can hike the Airport Mesa Loop Trail and see more fascinating views of nature. And what makes people add this to their list of things to do in Sedona AZ frequently is because it is also a good location of an energy vortex.
13Have a picnic at the Red Rock Crossing and Crescent Moon Picnic Site
The Red Rock Crossing and Crescent Moon Picnic Site also offer the nicest natural view that the city has to offer and it is also one of the most popular sites in Sedona. In fact, it is so picturesque that it is even popular among many photographers, especially as the sun sets. But the place also welcomes visitors who want to have a picnic, relax, and even wade in the creek. The best part of it is that you can all do it for free as it is open to the public.