48 Hours in Sedona: The Ultimate Itinerary

Sedona Arizona Magic Hour
Curt Apduhan / Getty Images

When Phoenicians want to get away for the weekend, they go to Sedona. Less than a two-hour drive from downtown Phoenix, the central Arizona city of Sedona combines outdoor adventures like hiking and 4x4 excursions with spa treatments, art galleries, and restaurants with views of the area’s red rocks. You can easily shift from an active vacation to a relaxing escape and back again when you visit Sedona.

No matter how active you want to be, you’ll never be at a loss for things to do. In fact, that’s part of the problem when you visit Sedona. There’s so much to do it’s hard to fit it all in, especially if you’ve only got 48 hours. Here’s our guide to how to best use your time on a 48-hour visit to Sedona.

01 of 06

Day 1: Morning

Chapel Holy Cross

 Holger Leue / Getty Images

10 a.m.: As you approach Sedona on the Red Rock Scenic Byway (State Route 179), take time to appreciate the changing landscape. Consider a stop at the Red Rock Visitor Center, just south of the Village of Oak Creek, for your first views of the area. Or continue through the village to the Bell Rock Trailhead. You can hike one of the trails here—the Courthouse Butte Loop Trail is one of the most popular in Sedona—or snap a few photos for social media.

The Chapel of the Holy Cross is a must, though. Watch for it, perched on a butte as you approach the edge of Sedona. Turn right at Chapel Road, and find parking where you can as you near the chapel. From there, you’ll have to walk up the road on an incline to the tiny parking lot and the chapel’s entrance. The views are worth the climb alone, but the beautiful chapel is an architectural marvel. Go before noon to avoid the worst of the crowds.

11:30 a.m.: From the Chape of the Holy Cross, continue on SR 179 to where it veers left and crosses a bridge. On your left side, you’ll see Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village. Stop here for lunch. The Spanish-influenced shopping center has several notable restaurants, but try the Oak Creek Brewery and Grill for a laidback meal. On a sunny day, sit on the patio and sip an award-winning brew with a burger, sandwich, or wood-fired pizza. After lunch, stroll through Tlaquepaque’s art galleries, boutiques, and specialty shops.  

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02 of 06

Day 1: Afternoon

Enchantment Resort

Courtesy of Enchantment Resort

2 p.m.: Check into your hotel. For a luxury resort spa stay, book a room at the Enchantment Resort. Tucked against the red rocks of Boynton Canyon, this 70-acre resort features one of the state’s best spas, Mii Amo, as well as a yoga studio and guided hikes. Its new Trail House offers mountain and electric bike rentals, a store selling outdoor adventure gear, and displays on local geography.

Because it is a 20-minute drive from Uptown Sedona, Enchantment may be a little too secluded for some. If you want more central accommodations, Amara Resort and Spa is probably the better option. Located in the heart of Uptown, it’s steps from some of the area’s best restaurants, art galleries, and boutiques. Once inside the resort, though, you feel like you’re a million miles away. Amara sits on the banks of Oak Creek and offers panoramic views of the red rocks from its courtyard.

4 p.m.: Take advantage of happy hour at The Hudson. A favorite with locals, this restaurant serves wines by the glass and bottle, including Arizona wines, as well as craft beers from around the state. But the cocktails—some with an Arizona twist like The AZ Mule featuring tequila and prickly pear—steal the show. Sample one as you sit on the patio and watch the sunset.    

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03 of 06

Day 1: Evening

Mariposa

Visit Sedona

 

7 p.m.: You could stay for dinner at The Hudson, one of the best restaurants in Sedona, but you won’t want to miss the opportunity to dine at Mariposa Latin Inspired Grill. This stunning restaurant features floor-to-ceiling windows, two glass-enclosed wine vaults holding more than 600 bottles of wine, and a patio with stunning views of the red rocks. However, it’s the Latin-inspired food by chef Lisa Dahl that truly wows. Don’t missed her handmade empanadas, fresh ceviches, and steaks with house-made chimichurri sauce.

During the spring and fall, Sedona’s high season, you definitely want reservations. Can’t get a table at the time you want?  Try one of Dahl’s other restaurants: Dahl & Di Luca Ristorante Italiano, Cucina Rustica, or Pisa Lisa. 

9 p.m.: Sedona is an International Dark Sky Community, meaning it limits light pollution as much as possible. As a result, the city is ideal for stargazing. Before returning to your hotel, drive to the Two Trees Observing area near the intersection of Forest Roads 525A and 761B, just off State Route 89A. There, you can get out of the car and admire the heavens, no special equipment required.

Want a professional astronomer to set up a telescope and show you galaxies, star clusters, and planets? Sedona Stargazing offers tours throughout the year. 

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04 of 06

Day 2: Morning

Sedona Cow Pie

 Burazin / Getty Images

7 a.m.: You’ll want to hit the trails early to avoid the crowds on Sedona’s trails—and, in the summer, the heat—so opt for a quick breakfast this morning at a coffee shop. Just off SR 179, Creekside Coffee has spacious seating inside and on the patio, both with red rock views. In addition to lattes, cappuccinos, and macchiatos, you can order chai latte and loose-leaf tea. Pair your beverage with avocado toast, muesli, or an organic quiche for a satisfying pre-hike meal.

8 a.m.: Sedona has more than 100 miles of trails. If you’re unsure where to hike, stop by The Hike House when you first arrive for advice on the right hike for your fitness level and expectations. (The Hike House doesn’t open until 9 a.m.) Or, check out our guide to Sedona’s best hikes.

Looking for a memorable hike that most people of average ability can tackle? Devil’s Bridge is one of Sedona’s most Instagrammable hikes. Relatively easy, this in-and-back hike starts flat and becomes a steep climb up a natural rock staircase to the top of a 50-foot-high arch. Get to the top early enough, and you may have the arch nearly to yourself. Wait too long, and you’ll have to queue up for a photo of yourself standing alone on the arch. 

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05 of 06

Day 2: Afternoon

Pink Jeep Adventure Tours

 Teresa Bitler

12 p.m.: Undoubtedly, you’ll work up an appetite, no matter which trail you hike. Drop by the Sedona Memories Bakery Café in Uptown for a gourmet sandwich that will vanquish those hunger pains. Made with fresh, baked bread, these sandwiches are routinely voted the best in Sedona and are big enough to split, depending on how hungry you are. Call in your order and receive a free, fresh-baked cookie with your meal.

2 p.m.: An iconic Sedona experience, Jeep tours actually got their start in Red Rock Country when Don Pratt introduced the concept in the 1960s. Book the Broken Arrow Tour with the company he founded, Pink Jeep Adventure Tours, for views of spires and buttes before carefully descending The Road of No Return. Or, take the Ancient Ruins Tour to a Honanki site with 700-year-old cliff dwellings and petroglyphs.

If you’d rather explore the area on your own, consider renting an ATV or your own Jeep for the afternoon. You can also mountain bike on many of Sedona’s hiking trails. Want to take it easy? This afternoon is a good time to browse Uptown’s art galleries and boutiques, visit a winery in neighboring Cornville, or indulge in a spa treatment. 

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06 of 06

Day 2: Evening

Elote Cafe

Courtesy of Elote Cafe

7 p.m.: Foodies come from around the state to eat at Elote Café, which features dishes inspired by James Beard-nominated chef Jeff Smedstad’s travels through Oaxaca, Veracruz, Puebla, and Arizona. Start with an appetizer of fire-roasted elote or a green corn tamal. For dinner, choose from buffalo mole, lamb adobo, and duck carnitas. End the evening on a sweet note with flan.

Elote also has a full bar featuring margaritas mixed with fresh juices and mixes made in-house. Mezcal cocktails, sangria, and boozy coffees are also a hit.

9 p.m.: Sedona really doesn’t have much of a nightlife scene, but SaltRock Southwest Kitchen & Craft Margaritas at Amara Resort and Spa books live music most evenings. End your trip with a coffee, nightcap, or just one more margarita—Saltrock is known for pouring the best margaritas in Sedona—while kicking back inside or at a firepit on the resort’s patio. 

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