From meeting new people to experiencing new sights, sounds, and smells – is there anything more exciting or rejuvenating than a break from the day-to-day mundanity? Traveling is an excellent way to immerse yourself in a new culture, setting, or way-of-life, but the best part is this: you don’t have to venture far from home to enjoy what this world has to offer.
Whether your journey takes you across your own city, to an unexplored part of your state, or even to the other side of the world, there’s no doubt you will still learn a lot about your surroundings – and yourself – along the way.
While the culture an hour away from your home might not be drastically different from what you’re used to, you can still gain a deepened sense of appreciation for where you’ve laid your roots. Plus, traveling locally has a lot of benefits:
More cost-effective. Local travel is certainly a budget-friendly way to explore! Many activities and parks are free or have a low cost of entry. For day trips, you can also pack your own meals to save.
Eco-friendly way to travel. Travel is hard on the environment, but putzing around your area is more sustainable than air travel.
Quick trips. Getting out locally means you can do it more often! Long weekend trips are a lot easier to take when the destination is a short drive away.
Easy to plan. Preparing your itinerary for a local getaway will likely save you some time and stress.
More convenient. Especially if you have little ones, sticking close to home may be much more convenient than far-off destinations. If you forget something, have an emergency, or need to cut the trip short, being closeby definitely has its benefits.
If you’re into outdoor adventure, luxury, or any combination of the two, chances are Sedona is high on your list of must-do places — and fortunately, we’re pretty sure you’re not going to be disappointed by this one-of-a-kind Arizona town. Read on to learn all of our best suggestions for places to explore and things to do in Sedona.
*Note: Some of the suggestions may not be doable due to coronavirus closures, but keep this list handy for when things start opening back up more! Be sure to check individual pages for specific operation details.
One of the coolest things about this part of Arizona is its incredible diversity of preserved green — and, well, red — spaces, just waiting to be explored, discovered and hiked. Here are some of the best state and national parks in and around the Sedona, AZ area… though no matter where you turn, you’re sure to encounter incredible beauty.
Don’t let its morose name fool you: Dead Horse Ranch State Park is actually alive and teeming with local flora and fauna, making it a great spot to enjoy the Arizona countryside. At over 400 acres and streaked with miles of hiking and biking trails, this state park is also a popular destination for fisherfolk, kayakers, bird watchers and more. They’ve also got a great on-site campground, including RV sites with water and electric hookups!
Along with being a great preserved outdoor space, Fort Verde State Historic Park also preserves this area’s fascinating history: you can see what life was like for a frontier soldier when you explore the Apache Wars-era fort that was originally built back in the late 1800s. The park is located alongside the small town of Camp Verde, Arizona, which hosts a variety of festivals and events throughout the year, and it’s all under an hour from Sedona — what are you waiting for?
Less than 20 minutes away from downtown Sedona, Red Rock State Park is relatively small, but mighty: these 286 acres are jam-packed with incredible scenery it’s impossible to find anywhere else, and which make for an uber-popular hiking destination. Along with self-guiding your way through the network of trails, you can also take advantage of the regularly updated exhibits, ranger-led programs and roster of events held on site.
From its humble origins as an apple orchard, Slide Rock State Park has become one of the most beloved landscapes in the Arizona state park system, offering visitors the opportunity to enjoy those same apples that have been growing here for years as well as swimming in Oak Creek and, of course, sliding along the rock that serves as the park’s namesake. Centrally located between Flagstaff and Sedona, this is a great option for a quick pit stop on your way to or from the Grand Canyon (see more details on that below in our “Day Trips” section!).
Sedona is known, among other things, for its ample hiking opportunities — in fact, the great outdoors is one of the main attractions drawing people to the area! Here are a few of the very best hiking trails in Sedona, for every skill and interest level… though as serious adventurers will doubtless know, this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Running just over four miles and seeing about 500 feet in elevation gain, Devils Bridge Trail is an approachable hike for many skill levels, fitting pretty firmly into the “moderately challenging” category. And if you’re willing to take that challenge, you’re in for a treat: thanks to its stunning red rock cliffs, bountiful wildflowers and valley views, this is one of the most popular trails in the entire Sedona area. (And that’s saying something!)
Short but sweet (and fairly steep), Cathedral Rock Trail climbs about 700 feet over the course of a little more than half a mile — so although you’ll only have traveled a mile or so when it’s done, you’ll definitely feel the burn! That said, its abbreviated length means it’s doable for even advanced beginners, and the incredible scenery makes this a workout to remember and revisit.
Tucked away into the Red Rock-Secret Mountain Wilderness, West Fork Trail #108 Oak Creek may sound like a mouthful… but it’s actually one of the most straightforward hikes on this list. Running about seven miles out and back and seeing 800 or so feet of elevation gain over that period, it’s relatively flat (given the length) and can easily be turned into a shorter hike if seven miles sounds like too much of a commitment: just turn around early! This hike is particularly prized for its ample shade trees and towering canyon walls, which make it a relatively cool hike even in the blazing Arizona sun. Still, be sure to bring plenty of water and sun protection!
At just over six miles and about 800 feet of elevation gain, Boynton Canyon Trail is another great intermediate option that can be used by hikers of various skill levels. Along with the red rock walls dotted with the low foliage that characterizes this landscape, this trail is also particularly well known for its potential for wildlife spotting — so be sure to keep your eyes peeled!
At about five miles all told but with a towering 2,000 feet in elevation gain — which all occur over two-and-a-half miles, since the five-mile figure is round trip — Bear Mountain Trail is the perfect hike for someone looking for a serious challenge… and a serious payoff for taking it on. With sweeping, 360-degree views of the surrounding landscape at the top, this hike makes for an unforgettable adventure, and one you might even be willing to sign up for twice. Dogs are also welcome on this trail, but be sure to keep Fido leashed the entire time.
With all the hiking and urban exploring there is to do in Sedona, you’re sure to work up a pretty mighty appetite. Here are the very best restaurants in town — no matter what you’re craving.
Sedona is exactly the kind of place vegetarians and vegans love: there’s no shortage of plant-based meals to be found, and many of them are just as delicious, or even moreso, than the traditional omnivore fare. Conscious Meals is considered one of the best restaurants in town by any metric, and is chock full of incredible options for those who like to eat with the environment in mind. You can also take home jars of their fresh-pressed juices!
A small counter-service restaurant that’s family owned and operated, Tamaliza isn’t fancy — but it’s charming, homey, and offers some of the very best and most authentic Mexican eats you can find this side of the border. Their foods are freshly made in-house down to the corn masa used to make the tamales, and Chef Claudia focuses on natural, organic, non-GMO ingredients.
Looking for a date night option? Look no further than Gerardo’s Italian Kitchen, a Sedona mainstay for pastas, pizza, and delicious wines to wash it all down with. Dreamed up by Chef/Owner Gerardo Moceri, this joint features fresh pasta, bread, and pizza dough which is made from scratch and fired to perfection in the wood-burning oven. Casual dine-in or take-out service available.
The word is out: Arizona is definitely landlocked. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some stunningly fresh seafood and Asian eats. Hiro’s Sushi & Japanese Kitchen brings the east all the way out west with traditional hand-rolled sushi, sashimi, and hot plates such as teriyaki and tempura. Open for lunch, dinner and drinks, it’s also a great place to swing by when you’re just in the mood for a few appetizers.
Dishing up traditional Indian fare such as chicken tikka masala, veggie samosas, a variety of curries, tandoori recipes and more, India Palace is the Sedona go-to for those in search of something warm, spicy and satisfying. Patrons can also place an order directly online for express delivery, which is perfect if you’re starving and looking for a simple way to feed yourself at home.
Dining and diving into the great outdoors are just the beginning in Sedona. Here are some of our top picks for things to do in the area, whether you’re hanging with the fam, your significant other, or yourself.
If you’re exploring Sedona with the family, you’re in luck: this town is brimming with fun and adventurous things to do for kids of all ages and adventurousness levels. Here are some options to add to your itinerary.
You might not think of snow when you first think of Arizona — but Sedona is far enough up (by which we mean both elevation-wise and north-wise) that we do see a good amount of snowfall in the winter. The Wing Mountain Snowplay Area is tucked into Coconino National Forest and allows for a perfect spot for families to make snow angels, have snowball fights, and simply enjoy the winter wonderland that emerges during the coldest parts of the year here in Sedona. It’s especially striking when juxtaposed with the beautiful red rock scenery, so don’t miss it.
Ever fantasized about flying high above the ground, zipping along the treetops with the birds? Predator Zip Lines makes that dream possible in real life — and you’ll also be zipping along above exotic wildlife such as lions, tigers, wolves, hyenas, bears and more. Nighttime zipline tours are also available! (Kids must be at least 8 years old to zip, and those between 8-11 must be accompanied by an adult.)
Once that glorious Arizona sun sets… the fun isn’t over! Here are some of our favorite thing sto do in Sedona once the daytime hours are done.
An independent cinema supporting and exhibiting independent and local artists, Mary D. Fisher is also the site of the annual Sedona International Film Festival. Along with both big-box and more artsy film attractions, this theater also hosts a variety of events as well as offering private movie parties for those looking to stretch out and have the cinema to themselves.
One of the very best things to do as the sun sets in Sedona… is a find to place to watch it happen. With all the stunning red rock cliff sides rising up along the horizon, there’s no shortage of wonderful spots to watch night take over the day. Just be sure if you hike in you bring a headlamp or flashlight so you can make it back to your car in one piece!
While you certainly can spend an arm and a leg seeing Sedona, the good news is, you don’t have to! Here are some of our favorite low-cost things to do in town.
Hiking is great and all… but what about seeing the countryside not from your own two feet, but with the help of four hooves? There are plenty of horseback riding stables in the area that offer tours fit for riders of all skill levels, including total beginners. A few to check out include M Diamond Ranch and Horsin’ Around Adventures, though there are other outfitters in the surrounding area, too.
Another great way to get out in those Arizona hillsides? On an ATV — or all-terrain vehicle, if you were curious. Take yourself on the off-roading adventure of your dream with an ATV Rental, or benefit from the help and guidance of a professional aboard a guided ATV Adventure Tour. Either way, be sure to hold on tight and wear your helmet… and enjoy the view!
There are plenty of ways to enjoy Sedona without having to even touch your wallet. Here are some cost-free options.
One of the most unique Roman Catholic churches in America, Chapel of the Holy Cross is built into the very red rock landscape that makes this part of the country so unique — and is open to the public to visit, free of charge, seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Even if you’re not religious, it’s truly a spiritual experience to visit.
Otherwise known as Arizona Route 179, Red Rock Scenic Byway is a drive just shy of 15 miles long that starts along I-17 and ends in Sedona — or vice versa, depending on how you take it. Discover all the fun things to stop and see along the way and don’t worry about the cost (other than filling your tank, of course).
If there’s anything other than hiking Sedona is famous for, it’s the world-class resort and day spas that call this town home. Here are the best spots to enjoy some pampering in town.
It’ll feel like a new day indeed once you spend some time at Sedona’s New Day Spa, which offers classic services like massages and facials as well as special desert nature body treatments, using rich southwestern botanicals to help nourish and heal you with the earth’s own secret ingredients.
Along with both beautifying and restorative treatments, from hair and nail care to waxing, facials, and massage, The Spa of Sedona offers intensive wellness retreats as well as colonics to help you feel truly cleansed and refreshed both inside and out.
If you’re gonna tackle those incredible hiking trails, you’ve got to stay in shape! Here are the best spots for cross-training and strengthening in Sedona.
More than just a gym, SedonaFit is a fitness-oriented community where you’ll find empathetic trainers and group classes ready to help motivate you through your workouts and reach your goals in a supportive setting. Offering a wide range of training protocols including programs specifically designed for seniors, this is a great place for everybody — and every body — to get in shape.
Along with physical yoga classes, Aumbase Sedona Yoga also offers sound healing and breathwork to help you access your inner strength in a wide variety of ways and obtain a grounded and enlightened perspective.
You don’t have to go far from town to enjoy the stunning scenery of Arizona… but it’s true that there are some spots that are worth your while. Here are some great day trips and weekend getaways to consider.
As beautiful as Sedona is, you can’t really say you’ve seen Arizona until you’ve been to the Grand Canyon — and we highly recommend at least swinging by (or possibly staying in) Flagstaff along the way. A quaint high desert college town with more than its fair share of dining, shopping and cultural exhibits, it’s an easy place to fall in love with!
A mere half hour from Sedona, the historic town of Cottonwood is a charming getaway for an afternoon or a whole weekend — offering the perfect opportunity to wander around its main street crowded with boutiques, shops, restaurants, theaters and more. It’s a real-life experience of the old west!
As a final reminder, some of these activities may need to wait until businesses fully reopen from coronavirus closures. However, there is still much to see and experience in Sedona that you can enjoy today! What are your favorite spots in Sedona? Send them our way to [email protected] or by tagging us on Instagram @rvshare and using the hashtag #rvsharelocal.