Panoramic view of landscape against cloudy sky,Sedona,Arizona,United States,USA

Your Trip to Sedona: The Complete Guide

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Anyone familiar with Sedona immediately associates it with Jeep tours and outdoor adventure in the surrounding red rock formations, but this city of 10,000 residents is much more than that. Art galleries line its main streets, five-star restaurants draw foodies, and romantic resorts make it the perfect in-state getaway. 

While Sedona is popular with Phoenicians looking for an escape from the triple-digit heat in the Valley, it also draws quite a few visitors from Hollywood. Over the years, locals have spotted Nicholas Cage, Johnny Depp, Oprah Winfrey, and Kristen Bell walking in the Uptown district or hitting one of the trails nearby.

Of course, you don’t have to be a celebrity to have a first-class time in Sedona. This comprehensive guide will help you plan a visit tailored to your needs, whether you want to feel adventurous, pampered, or rejuvenated.

Planning Your Trip

  • Best Time to Visit: There really isn’t a bad time to visit Sedona. Most people visit in the shoulder months of April, September, and October when temperatures average in the mid-60s to low 70s, but May isn’t usually much hotter. Because Sedona sits at an elevation of 4,350 feet , the summer months of June, July, and August temperatures can push 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Getting Around: Most visitors drive to Sedona, park, and walk. To see local sites without jumping back in the car, you can take a tour on the Sedona Trolley (it is not a hop-on, hop-off service); use a rideshare service; or rent a Jeep, street legal ATV, or similar vehicle. The only public transportation in the area is the Verde Lynx bus, but with its limited schedule and route, it isn’t a viable option for most tourists.
  • Travel Tip: Sedona makes a great base for exploring the rest of the state. From Sedona, it is just a two-hour drive to the Grand Canyon, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the world, and a 45-minute drive to the ghost-town-turned-art-community of Jerome. The city is also 20 minutes away from several of northern Arizona’s best wineries, located in Cornville.

Things to Do

Sedona is known for its outdoor adventures, but there’s more than one way to experience Red Rock Country. Hiking is the most obvious option, but you can also mountain bike many of the trails or go off-roading on a guided or self-guided tour. For a more relaxing day, soak up the healing energy of a vortex, spend a day getting pampered at a spa, or stroll through boutique shops and art galleries.

  • Hiking: There are more than 100 trails in the Sedona area, many of which are family-friendly. If you’re not sure where to start, staff at the Hike House can suggest the best hikes for you based on what you’re looking for and your physical abilities. For one of the most Instagrammable hikes in Sedona, try the Devil’s Bridge trail to a 50-foot-high natural sandstone arch.
  • Jeep Tour: Local Don Pratt introduced the world to Jeep tours in the 1960s when he offered the first such adventure in Sedona. Today, the Broken Arrow Tour offered by his Pink Jeep Tours is an iconic Sedona experience that takes passengers over boulder-laden trails to scenic vistas. Other providers give similar guided tours; or, you can rent a Jeep or ATV for self-guided exploring.
  • Shopping: Although Uptown Sedona and Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village are the two main shopping areas in Sedona, you’ll also find boutiques and art galleries along SR 179 leading into the city. While Tlaquepaque tends to have more art galleries and specialty stores, Uptown has more souvenir shops selling items like the infamous Original Red Rock Dirt Shirts.

Explore more attractions with our full-length articles on the best things to do in Sedona and best Sedona hikes.

What to Eat and Drink

Dining in Sedona is just as much about the view as it is the food. For most of the year, diners choose to eat on a restaurant’s patio, although some eateries have floor-to-ceiling windows that frame equally impressive views. Because day trippers from Phoenix are common, lunch tends to be the busiest meal, with burgers, sandwiches, and salads dominating Sedona’s menus. In the evenings, fine dining restaurants, such as Mariposa Latin Inspired Grill and Elote Café, serve steaks and Southwestern-influenced dishes.

Resort restaurants are usually your best bet for a glass of premium wine or a craft cocktail, although several upscale establishments, like The Hudson, offer both. More of a beer drinker? Sedona has three craft breweries, including the award-winning Oak Creek Brewing Co.

Learn more about the city’s culinary scene in our article on the best restaurants in Sedona

Where to Stay

For a pampered getaway, resorts like Enchantment Resort, Amara Resort and Spa, and L’Auberge de Sedona feature luxury spas, fine dining, and incredible views for $500-plus a night. If you're looking to save, bed and breakfasts and boutique hotels usually come in at half that much, and vacation rentals are comparatively budget friendly. You can save a little more by staying about 10 miles from Uptown on Highway 179 in the Village of Oak Creek; however, if you want to park your car and walk during your stay, stick to accommodations in Uptown.

Explore our recommendations for the best hotels in Sedona.

Getting There

Driving is the most practical way to get to Sedona. Out-of-state visitors typically fly into Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport or Phoenix Mesa Gateway Airport and rent a car; however, a few airlines fly into Flagstaff Pulliam Airport, a smaller but closer regional airport. Bus and shuttle service from Phoenix to Sedona is also available.

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport: Twenty airlines serve Sky Harbor, one of the nation’s busiest airports, so you’ll most likely land here. Its Rental Car Center is minutes from 1-17, the major interstate leading north to Sedona.

Phoenix Mesa Gateway Airport: This smaller airport in the East Valley has fewer flights and fewer rental cars, but it is much easier to get in and out of. Because it is about 30 miles southeast of Sky Harbor, landing here adds 40 minutes to your drive to Sedona.

Money Saving Tips

  • As you’re planning your trip, check out the Visit Sedona website for discounts on tours, meals, accommodations, and more.
  • Restaurant meals can be pricey in Sedona. For a cheap alternative, pack a lunch and picnic at Slide Rock State Park or other local parks.
  • Book tours and activities before your visit for the best price and to ensure availability.
  • You’ll need a Red Rock Pass ($5) for some area hikes. If you plan to hike more than three days, purchase a weeklong ($15) or annual ($20) pass.
  • Some of Sedona’s best activities are free. Watch the sunset behind the rock formations, spot the Milky Way after dark, or take a scenic drive, like Oak Creek Canyon Scenic Drive (SR 89A).

Our article on how to visit Sedona on a budget shares other ways to save money during your stay.

Article Sources
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  1. US Census Bureau 2020,US/PST045219

  2. Time and Date. "Climate & Weather Averages in Sedona, Arizona, USA."

  3. Sedona Chamber. "Sedona Fun Facts." 2019.