Day 1 Settle Into Sedona
Start your first day off with a trip to the Sedona Visitor Center. Its open from 8:30 am daily and offers a host of useful information that will help you get acquainted with the area.
The staff will be able to direct you to the trailhead for the Cathedral Rock, a 10-minute drive to the South. From here, you can set off on the incredibly beautiful hiking trail and get your first real taste of Red Rock Country.
On the drive back to town, be sure to stop off at the Chapel of the Holy Cross. Its just a couple-minute detour to the East and is a truly spectacular sight. Take a few hours to relax, shower, and get ready for the evening. Then head out to Airport Mesa overlook for an incredible sunset!
More Than Halloween In Sedona: Sedona Fall Colors Tour
Another tour that runs on the Verde Canyon Railroad, the Sedona Fall Colors tour is a pleasant, laid-back experience that runs from October through November. Treat yourself to panoramic window view in comfy seating as the railway tour runs, providing you with a prime viewing experience during what is often considered to be one of the best times of the year to see northern Arizona. This is a great tour to take for anyone looking to snap nature pictures, as well, as the train does have open air cars with a great view. While you take in the sights and snap the perfect photo, enjoy seasonal specialty cocktails on behalf of the on-board bartender. Be sure to reserve your ride, whether youre general boarding, first class, or even a private party aboard the caboose.
Take In The Views At Airport Mesa
These sweeping views are some of the best in the city, especially at sunrise or sunset. Airport Mesa is also a great spot to just sit and take in the landscape.
And theres no hiking required. Airport Mesa is a short, easy drive that ends at 360 views of Sedona. Just drive west on Highway 89A and turn at Airport Drive, then take the short road up the hill.
Familiarise yourself with the local red rock formations and youll be able to spot Thunder Mountain, Coffeepot Rock, Ship Rock and Chimney Rock, among others.
This popular sunset spot is easily accessible from anywhere in town, and theres a large parking area and an overlook where people from around the world gather to watch the sun going down.
Like several other special spots in Sedona, some believe that Airport Mesa along with its brilliant views holds spiritual energy as a powerful vortex.
And while sunsets can get very crowded, sunrises are less in demand and you just might get the site all to yourself.
The views are so good that even the locals love this hike.
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Bring Out Your Inner Musician At Harmony Park
Free Notes Harmony Park is located in the courtyard of the Sedona visitors center. Here you will find a collection of grand chime instruments that are free for anyone to try out, it is especially popular with kids. While your just outside of the visitor center you can stop in to see what is on the local events calendar, grab a hiking trail map to discover hikes you didnt know about, or talk with the friendly staff about other free or little known activities in Sedona. Sedona is an amazing place to visit and live. If you are looking to buy a home in Sedona, we want to help! Contact us anytime!
Pumphouse Wash Dispersed Camping Coconino National Forest
A popular dispersed camping spot hidden in a ponderosa pine forest which sits along SR 89A, halfway between Sedona and Flagstaff.
Nearby areas of interest include the two aforementioned cities, Oak Creek Canyon, Lake Mary, as well as a variety of other recreational sites.
It also offers excellent group camping sites if youre traveling with a larger group.
Why do we love it?
You can visit two amazing Arizona cities from this impressive camping spotSedona and Flagstaff! Either one will hold your interest for 2-3 days, and once you get bored, you can visit one of the many other recreational areas nearby.
Go fishing at Lake Mary, or hiking at Oak Creek Canyon. You cant get bored here so its the perfect place to bring a large, high-energy group!
Distance from Downtown Sedona: 17.5 miles, or roughly 31 minutes of travel time
For more information on camping at Pumphouse Wash Dispersed Camping visit HERE.
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Shopping Costume Parade And Da De Los Muertos At Tlaquepaque
The Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village is an iconic, must-see location for trips during any time of the year in Sedona. It offers a wide variety of unique goods and impressive artwork in addition to hosting all kinds of events, weddings, and more. If youre stopping by for any of the seasonal events, be sure to do some shopping, as you can be certain that youll find goods that are appropriately themed for the holiday, and you might find the perfect, unique piece youve been looking for.
Sponsored by the Humane Society of Sedona, the Howl-O-Ween Costume Parade is an animal friendly event for a great cause. Both costumed people and animals can participate in the parade, as well as some small size floats, and there are three $100 prizes for the costume contest. The parade runs for roughly two hours, and individual entry runs at $10, $20 for groups and/or businesses. All proceeds from the parade go to finding homes for homeless animals.
Running strong for eleven years, the Día de Los Muertos celebration at Tlaquepaque has quickly become one of the most exciting events to attend in Sedona. Festivities run from 4pm 8pm on October 30th, and the event is loaded with all different kinds of cultural attractions. Mural painting, music, traditional foods, jugglers, acrobats, fire dancers, and more all make an appearance for the party, and the festival encourages people of all ages to dress up and bring offerings for the main public altar.
Walk Around Downtown Sedona
The cheapest thing you can do in Sedona is just stroll down its main streets. Uptown Sedona is relatively small, and, even in the 100-degree heat of summer, is very walkable.
Most of the souvenir and clothing shops have misters outside their doors to help you cool off, and there’s plenty to look at without spending any money. Sedona is in a beautiful spot, too, so even just sitting outside a shaded cafe can be a great activity here.
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Things To Do In Sedona Arizona: Creekside Sedona
Creekside Sedona is an American bistro-style restaurant with two patios and a charming, well-lit dining room. Nearby, a picturesque creek runs through the magnificent Oak Creek Canyon, providing guests with a spectacular vista. The view is only matched by Chef Mercer Mohrs delicious fare. He sources his ingredients locally, using organic produce and products whenever possible.
The menu changes weekly, but popular signature dishes are always available. Most of the fare is comfort food that has been infused with the Chef Mohrs personal touches. Breakfasts at Creekside are also legendary. You can also enjoy one of their special cocktails on a separate patio by the creek.
Creekside Plaza, 251 Arizona 179 B7, Sedona, Arizona, Phone: 928-282-1705
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Drive The Red Rock Scenic Byway Sr 179
Possibly the best free thing to do in Sedona is to take the 7.5 mile scenic drive along State Route 179, also known as the Red Rock Scenic Byway. Even if youre just passing through, its an easy detour off of Interstate 17 for travelers heading to and from Flagstaff, Phoenix, Prescott, and the Grand Canyon.
Sedonas iconic red rocks get their color from deposits of iron oxide. Their beauty is on full display along the Red Rock Scenic Byway which is broken up by traffic calming roundabouts. There are a number of exits for scenic vistas. I recommend doing the drive twice, in both directions, so you can appreciate the views along both sides of the road. And switch drivers, so everyone gets a chance to gawk. I was traveling solo, so I stopped often to take in the view.
Another popular drive is along Arizona State Route 89A. The Sedona section is uninteresting its the citys main business drag and traffic is terrible most of the time. But drive south for stunning Verde Valley vistas as you enter and exit Jerome, Arizona. And definitely twist and turn your way through Oak Creek Canyon to the north.
TravelingMom Tip: Many popular trailheads in Sedona require a Red Rock Pass for parking, but the ones along SR 179 do not. Win!
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Visit Amitabha Stupa And Peace Park
The Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park is a natural reserve and Buddhist religious site that receives tons of travelers every year. Adventurers from around the world visit the park and get a sense of Buddhist spiritual belief. Maintained by practitioners who believe in its spiritual properties, its a unique location in Sedona that you can visit for free! If youre looking to expand your worldview and see what life is like on the other side, consider giving this trip a go.
Yavapai Apache Fry Bread & Jewelry
As one Google reviewer put it Go for the fry bread, stay for the jokes and I would add that you should shop for authentic souvenirs too! Beadwork, sand paintings, jewelry, all hand made.
Fry bread selection includes sweet to savory with your choice of honey, cinnamon & sugar, or beans with cheese and salsa.
I enjoyed the fry bread with cinnamon and sugar and bought a beaded dream catcher. The guy running this outdoor eatery and shop has a got a sense of humor. I didnt get to meet his mom but he told me that she made the dream catcher that I bought.
Enjoy the food, jewelry, and jokes!
Visit Yavapai Apache Fry Bread and Jewelry at West Middle Verde Rd at Montezuma Castle Rd. Perfect stop on your way to Montezuma Castle!
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Hiking The Red Rocks Of Sedona
There is a wide variety of outdoor activities that you can choose from when in Sedona biking, camping, climbing, horseback riding, birdwatching, and wildlife viewing to name a few.
But perhaps the most popular activity in Sedona is hiking. Thanks to its location, the small desert city is perfect for walking around and enjoying the beauty of nature.
Sedona has over 30 trails that are under 12 miles in distance. Among some of the best trails in Sedona are:
- Devils Bridge Trail
Sedona And Oak Creek Canyon Camping And Fishing
Camping in the Oak Creek Canyon is the most enjoyable in Arizona. Relax in lush vegetation with the convenience of cooking grills and easy parking. Hike and fish along Oak Creek and enjoy the incredible views of red rock cliffs. There are several campgrounds and most do not take reservations. So get there early to claim your camping spot. in cool country where the spring and summer temperatures are ideal. Pitch your tent or take your RV and get in touch with nature. There are nominal camping fees, but the enjoyment is worth the very small price. See our list of Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon campgrounds.
AZ State Parks in and Around Sedona
Perhaps the most popular state park is Slide Rock State Park where Oak Creek Canyon features the famous Slide Rock which is a water-slide chute on the slick boulders of Oak Creek. Swimmers have hours of fun jumping from tall boulders into deep pools of water. Red Rock State Park is a 266 acre nature preserve that features hiking trails, picnic areas and a visitor center with a theater and gift shop. Dead Horse Ranch State Park is a 423 acre park in nearby Cottonwood AZ. The Verde River runs through the park creating a great environment for camping, canoeing, fishing and day picnicking. Note that Arizona State Parks require nominal entrance fees.
Sedona Area Ancient Indian Ruins
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Take A Slippery Swim At The Slide Rock State Park
When the sun beats down in the Arizona summer, this state park makes for some hilarious fun in the cold water. Just grab a seat on one of the smooth rocks and push yourself off for a wild ride downstream.
Slide Rock State Park was originally a historic 43-acre apple farm that used an innovative irrigation system to make its orchard blossom at Oak Creek Canyon. But vacationers began coming more into the canyon, and rustic cabins were built in 1933 . Today, the cabins are available for viewing and the site still contains a working apple farm.
But the parks main attraction is the slippery bed of Oak Creek. The canyon bed makes a natural water slide thats hilarious fun for adults and children alike. Slide Rock is a natural waterpark thats surrounded by nature. And USA Today ranks it the fifth best swimming hole in the country.
The rock slide area measures 80 feet long with a 7 percent decline from start to finish. Algae growing along the rocks propel you down the slide as the scenery whizzes past.
Red rock formations surround the park and there are three hiking trails to explore and picnic ramadas for lunch.
Explore Jerome The Wickedest Town In The West
The copper mine , gambling dens and brothels are long gone, but this not-quite-a-ghost-town is still a window into its days as the wickedest town in the West. The winding road to the cliffside village of Jerome atop Cleopatra Hill leads to an enclave of historic buildings occupied by local art boutiques, restaurants, and wine-tasting rooms. Plus theres a museum and the quirky Sliding Jail, the remains of a concrete cell block that seemingly made a run for it.
Not surprisingly, this ghost town is reputed to have its share of paranormal activity, especially at the Jerome Grand Hotel, which was once the United Verde Hospital in the 1920s. Drop by the hotels Asylum Restaurant for lunch and views of the valley below.
How to get to Jerome: This journey is a two-hour drive north on I-17, via state routes 260 and 89A.
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Which Month To Visit Sedona In Winter
So now that weve covered a number of the things you need to know before heading to Sedona in the winter season, lets discuss which month would be best to visit if you happen to be travelling in the colder time of the year.
Winter temperatures in Sedona tend to span from December through February and things begin to warm up and get incredibly pleasant again come March.
As mentioned in the weather section, the difference between the high temperature and the low temperature in the winter can be quite drastic and, though the high may look warm, its worth noting that the peak temperature only lasts for an hour or two.
One of the most popular months for visiting Sedona in the winter is December, and understandably so. The holiday season means that the city itself is decked out in lovely decorations and it is also a time of year when many people take some time off for exploring. The average high temperature in Sedona in December is 59°F and the average low in December is about 34°F .
Sedona in January isnt as popular to visit as in December, but youre going to get very similar weather conditions. Expect the average highs and lows to be pretty much the same in January with an average precipitation of 4 days.
Watch A Movie In Posse Grounds Pavilion
The best thing about Sedona is that you can go there without paying a dime to see the sights.
However, it is essential to know the meaning of the word “free,” meaning that free things are not accessible in the true sense of the word.
When watching a movie in the park, you should expect to pay for parking, gas, food, and souvenirs.
Seeing a Movie in Posse Grounds Pavilion in Sedona primarily focuses on the outdoors, emphasizing the natural beauty of Sedona’s red rock landscape.
It also offers some free treats in the middle of the movie, wherein you can be rewarded with how you dress during this fun event.
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Cozy Up At A Southwestern Hotel
There are enough outdoor adventures in Sedona for a longer trip. And staying overnight makes it easier to catch those spectacular sunrises and sunsets.
But make reservations in the winter. Many snowbird visitors flock from colder states to the Arizona sunshine and rooms fill up fast.
A beautiful hotel in an atmospheric setting lets you appreciate Sedona beyond the rushed day trip.
The El Portal hotel is known for boutique elegance and rustic Southwestern decor. Andrew Harpers Hideaway Report named it one of Americas eight best hotels.
El Portal is a small and charming luxury inn and Sedonas only arts & crafts adobe hotel. Its a short walk from Tlaquepaque, nestled amid leafy trees. Theres a vine-covered garden courtyard where guests gather around a fire pit.
Inside, hand-sculpted walls and windows framed in 200-year-old recycled wood create a rustic elegance. Each of the twelve guest suites is unique. Gorgeous details like adobe fireplaces, worn leather armchairs, juniper beams and Navajo rugs give the rooms personality. Many rooms have a private terrace and unique decor made by Southwestern artists.
After a day of hiking the rugged Sedona valley, you can snuggle into a cozy lounge chair by an outdoor fireplace. The embers echo the glow of the red rocks still fresh in your mind.