Just a two-hour drive from Phoenix, the 19-square-mile city of Sedona is surrounded by scenic red rock formations and nearly 2 million acres of national forest. On a visit, you can immerse yourself in outdoor adventures like off-roading, browse art galleries, kick back at a resort, and so much more. Sedona also makes a great base for exploring the greater Verde Valley, including Arizona’s northernmost wine region.
Hike to the Devil’s Bridge
There are more than 100 trails in the Sedona area, but for a hike with Instagrammable views that most fit hikers can tackle, look no further than Devil’s Bridge. From the trailhead, the first 3/4- mile to the trail’s namesake, a 50-foot-high arch, is relatively flat, but the steep, natural rock staircase to its top can be heart-pounding. You’ll be rewarded with outstanding views of the red rocks, though, and the chance to pose on the arch’s top.
Want to avoid the crowded trail to the Devil’s Bridge? Stop by the Hike House in Sedona, where their Sedona Trail Finder can recommend hikes based on your preferred distance, changes in elevation, difficulty, and time. Or visit the Sedona Red Rock Trails website for information on hiking, mountain biking, and equestrian trails in the area.
Feel the Mystical Energy of a Vortex
Technically, all of Sedona is considered a vortex—a pocket of spiritual energy that facilitates prayer, mediation, and healing—but some sites in the area, such as Bell Rock and Airport Mesa, allegedly have more concentrated spiritual energy. You can visit these and other vortex sites on your own using a map from the city’s visitor center or one found online. Or, hire a guide who can lead you in mediation, yoga, or healing rituals while you’re at the site.
Indulge in a Spa Day
Some of the state’s best spas are in Sedona. For the ultimate spa experience, book a room at Enchantment Resort. Its spa, Mii Amo, is only open to resort guests, but trust me, you won’t want to go anywhere after your treatment and visit the spa’s relaxing Crystal Grotto. Or, indulge in a Native American-inspired treatment at Sedona’s New Day Spa.
Looking for something even more unique? The Spa at Sedona Rouge specializes in treatments incorporating a Moroccan-style steam room, while True Rest Float Spa provides an anti-gravity experience as you float in saltwater for an hour.
Gaze Into the Night Sky
Stargazers worldwide come to set up telescopes along the forest roads outside of Sedona, a designated International Dark Sky Community, and peer into the dark sky looking for planets, stars, and other celestial wonders. You can see the Milky Way with your naked eye and even more with a pair of binoculars at Two Trees Observing Area, Boynton Canyon Trailhead, Merry-Go-Round Rock, and other sites on your own. Or, sign up for a stargazing tour through Sedona Stargazing or Sedona UFO Tours to glimpse the heavens through a telescope.
Soar Over Sedona’s Red Rocks in a Hot Air Balloon
For a different perspective, take flight. Hot air balloons give a bird’s eye view of landmarks such as Cathedral Rock, Oak Creek, Bell Rock, and even as far north as the San Francisco Peaks, and because they can float slightly above the ground, it’s not uncommon to spot deer and other critters you wouldn’t normally on the ground. Consider booking with Northern Light Balloon Expeditions or Red Rock Balloons, the only two companies that can take off in the Sedona area; other companies take off near Cottonwood.
If the thought of an open-air balloon ride makes you uneasy, a helicopter tour gives a similar perspective.
Ride in an Iconic Pink Jeep
Chances are, at some point in your travels, you’ve probably taken a Jeep tour, and if that’s the case, you have Don Pratt to thank. Pratt began offering tours of the Sedona area in 1960 using a Jeep he painted pink, and the concept took off. Today, Pink Jeep Tours is the premier Jeep tour operator in the area.
Book the Broken Arrow Tour for a breathtaking ride over rugged terrain, including a steep descent down The Road of No Return. Or, opt for the Ancient Ruins tour to 700-year-old cliff dwellings. Pink Jeep also offers vortex, wildlife, and winery tours, as well as a roundtrip journey to the Grand Canyon.
Go On an Off-roading Adventure
Unlike the popular Jeep tours, you can go where you want when you rent an ATV for the day (or half-day) through companies such as Red Rock ATV Rentals and Sedona Off-Road Center. These street-legal vehicles come with a map so that you can navigate from the rental company’s parking lot to an ATV-friendly trail and back on your own. (If you’re more comfortable driving a 4x4 on the city’s streets, Barlow Adventures Sedona rents Jeeps.)
First-time off-roaders fare well on Forest Road 525 and Schnebly Hill Road. More experienced drivers can tackle the Broken Arrow Trail, the same route offered by Pink Jeep Tours.
Shop for Keepsakes at Tlaquepaque
Inspired by the Tlaquepaque shopping district on Guadalajara's outskirts, Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village resembles a Mexican village with Spanish colonial architecture, stone-paved plazas, and sycamore trees overhead. Come to soak in the atmosphere or to look for the perfect gift. The village has more than 50 boutiques, art galleries, and specialty shops, selling everything from gourmet food to handmade Christmas decorations. When you need a break, dine in one of the village’s five restaurants, such as the renowned Oak Creek Brewery & Grill.
Marvel at the Chapel of the Holy Cross
Originally intended to be built in Budapest under the direction of Frank Lloyd Wright’s son, Lloyd Wright, this eye-catching chapel overlooks the valley below from its perch on the red rocks just off SR 179. Drop by any day of the week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to admire the architecture, inside and out. While admission is free, parking at the 45-space lot can be an ordeal. Most visitors have to park on the road below and walk up the winding drive to the church’s entrance. It’s well worth it, though, for the view.
Cool Off at Slide Rock State Park
Located in Oak Creek Canyon, just north of Sedona, this state park features an 80-foot-long natural water slide made slick with algae and a half-mile long swimming area perfect for splashing in on hot summer days. Arrive early to make sure you can get in the park, especially on weekends or during warm-weather school breaks, and plan to spend the day. Between swims, hike the easy 1/4-mile trail to the Pendley Homestead, where you’ll see the house, apple packing barn, various farming implements.
Stroll Through Sedona’s Art Galleries
Art galleries line State Routes 179 and 89A and populate shopping plazas, including Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village and The Shops at Hyatt Pinon. You’ll find a good mix of mediums represented, everything from watercolors to metalwork and Native American art in the galleries. Come on the first Friday of the month for First Friday in the Galleries when galleries open their doors after hours with drinks, small bites, and live music. You may even meet an artist or two.
Create Your Own Masterpiece
Sedona’s natural beauty inspires creativity. Unleash yours during a glass-blowing class at The Melting Point. No experience is necessary, although instructors are on hand to help you pick the right project for your skill level and walk you through the process. Projects range from a simple glass flower ($80) to a cactus or large, floppy bowl ($200).
Looking for other ways to get creative? The Sedona Arts Center offers workshops on everything from acrylic painting to plein air, ceramics, photography, and writing. Although the workshops typically run three days, some are just one day. Check the calendar and register before you visit.
Dine With a View
Sedona boasts some of the state’s most incredible scenery and some of its best restaurants, so dining at an exceptional restaurant with a postcard-worthy view is a must when visiting. For a meal and panoramic view you won’t forget, make a reservation at Mariposa Latin Inspired Grill.
Whether you dine inside, where floor-to-ceiling windows frame the red rocks, or on the patio, chef Lisa Dahl dazzles with fish dishes, perfectly cooked steaks, handmade empanadas, and similar Latin American fare. Pair your meal with a glass of wine from the restaurant’s 600-bottle vault.
Explore Sinagua Ruins and Petroglyphs
The Sinagua people lived in the Sedona area from roughly 1150 to 1400 A.D., and although no one knows exactly why they left, their ruins and petroglyphs dot the landscape. You can visit the largest cliff dwellings in the region at Palatki Heritage Site, tour more ruins at Honanki Heritage Site, and see petroglyphs at V Bar V Heritage Site.
All three sites are managed by the U.S. Forest Service and require a Red Rock Pass, purchased from an onsite vending machine, to visit. Uncomfortable navigating the forest roads? Several Sedona tour companies offer guides to the sites.
Tour Arizona Wine Country
Sedona is a short drive to one of Arizona’s premier wine regions, the Verde Valley. Most of the wineries and tasting rooms are in nearby Cornville, Clarkdale, Cottonwood, and Jerome, making it easy to download the Verde Valley Wine Trail map and visit on your own. If you’d rather leave the driving to someone else, Sedona Wine Adventures offers all-inclusive wine tours, or you can kayak the Verde River to Alcantara Vineyard for a tasting on the company’s Water to Wine tour.