Sedona is a small desert town in Arizona with some of the most dramatic landscapes in the American Southwest. The entire place feels like a painting come to life! From the ancient red rocks to the cacti-dotted desert, rushing rivers, deep canyons, and glittering constellations at night, Sedona is one of the most beautiful places on earth!
Besides admiring Mother Nature’s artwork, there are so many things to do in Sedona. Walk across the narrow Devil’s Bridge, hike Sedona’s massive rock formations, or camp under the stars at one of the many amazing camping spots. You can also spend a day wine tasting, horseback riding, or visiting a ghost town.
Art is also a huge part of the town’s identity. Uptown Sedona is full of art galleries, while the Sedona Arts Center offers classes and performances. If you’d like to dive into Sedona’s history, there are a number of museums and ruins to explore, including the Palatki Heritage Site, the V-Bar-V Ranch, and the ancient cliff dwellings at the Honanki Heritage Site.
Finally, this is where you can taste some of the best Southwestern food in the US. From Mexican and New Mexican cuisine to cowboy cookouts, there’s something for everyone’s taste buds. Sedona’s oldest and most beloved restaurants should definitely be on your foodie list!
With so many things to see and do in this Arizona gem, you might not know where to begin. So we handpicked some of the best things to do in Sedona for you.
There’s something for everyone on this list, whether you’re looking for outdoor adventure or want to take it easy and enjoy the view. Fill your Sedona bucket list with these 15 amazing things to do for a guaranteed great time!
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15 Fun and Unique Things to Do in Sedona
1. Hike, Climb, and Explore Sedona’s Majestic Rocks Formations
Sedona is world-famous for its towering red rocks and buttes, which were created by millions of years of erosion. They are truly a sight to behold! Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced hiker, there are plenty of trails and routes to explore.
If you only have time for a few hikes, we recommend checking out Devil’s Bridge, a natural sandstone arch that is one of Sedona’s most popular trails. That narrow bridge is a bit scary to cross, but conquer it, and you’ll have an awesome story to tell when you go home!
Another great option is Boynton Canyon, which is beautiful year-round. In the spring, you’ll be greeted by a colorful array of wildflowers. And in the autumn, the leaves change color to create a stunning red rock landscape.
Bell Rock is also a great choice, especially for sunset hikes. As you make your way through the picturesque paths, keep your eyes peeled for some of Sedona’s resident wildlife, like elk, deer, and eagles.
Finally, no Sedona itinerary is complete without a visit to Cathedral Rock. This iconic rock formation is one of the most photographed spots in Arizona. The summit hike is fairly challenging, but it’s worth it for the 360-degree views of Sedona!
2. Tap Into the Spiritual Energy of Sedona’s Vortexes
Sedona’s vortexes are just as famous as its red rocks. These are energy centers that are said to enhance your well-being, creativity, and spiritual connection. We’re not sure if that’s true, even if it seriously feels like it!
There are four main vortexes in Sedona: Bell Rock, Boynton Canyon, Cathedral Rock, and Airport Mesa. You’ll need to do some research beforehand to find the exact locations, as they’re not always easy to spot.
A few clues that you’re in a vortex area are a feeling of peace or energy, tingling sensations, or changes in temperature. If you don’t want to be bothered hunting down the vortexes on your own, you can always join a fun Vortex Jeep Tour to check out these mysterious energy centers.
Some people say that Sedona’s vortexes are more active during the equinox and solstice. So if you’re planning your trip around those dates, keep that in mind. Still, we think they’re magical all year round!
3. Stare in Awe at the Chapel of the Holy Cross
The Chapel of the Holy Cross is one of the most unique buildings in Sedona. It was built into the red rocks in the 1950s and has become one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions.
The chapel is open to visitors of all faiths. It’s a place of quiet reflection and stunning views, no matter what your religion is. The best time to visit is early in the morning or around sunset when the light hits the chapel in just the right way.
Since it’s within the Coconino National Forest, you can add a hike or two to your Chapel of the Holy Cross itinerary. There are trails going to the nearby Twin Buttes, Two Nuns, and Chicken Point.
4. Kayak the Verde River
Sedona’s Verde River is one of the most beautiful waterways in Arizona. It’s the perfect place to cool off during a hot summer day! The waters here are calm but do flow fast in certain places, making it an exciting but not too challenging kayaking trip.
The banks of the Verde River are lined with cottonwood trees, willows, and sycamores. You might even spot some wildlife, like beavers, herons, and super cute otters. Gliding down the river on a kayak or paddleboard is so peaceful and serene that you’ll want to do it again and again.
Some companies also offer “water to wine” tours, where you can kayak in the morning and then enjoy a wine tasting at one of Sedona’s vineyards in the afternoon. The river’s banks are also great for picnics and just relaxing by the water, so pack a lunch and make a day of it. Don’t forget to clean up after yourselves and leave no trace!
5. Drive the Red Rock Scenic Byway
If you’re bringing your own car on your trip, one of the best things to do in Sedona is a sightseeing road trip along the Red Rock Scenic Byway! This route going down Highway 179 is also known as the “museum without walls.” It passes through several key Sedona attractions, so you can cross a few things off your Sedona bucket list in one go.
The Red Rock Scenic Byway starts at the south part of Oak Creek Village and winds its way through Sedona. Along the way, you’ll see Cathedral Rock, the Chapel of the Holy Cross, and Bell Rock. You’ll also come across some pullouts where you can park and take in the views. Feel free to stop and continue your trip on foot, as there are numerous hiking and biking trails in the area.
The byway ends at Tlaquepaque, an arts and crafts village with charming Mexican-style buildings. Make sure to leave some time to explore this cute area!
6. Check Out Sedona’s Museums & Heritage Sites
Sedona’s history is just as colorful as its landscape. From early Native American settlements to cowboy outposts, there’s a lot to learn about this part of Arizona. The best way to do that is to visit Sedona’s many museums and heritage sites.
The Sedona Heritage Museum is a terrific place to start. It’s located in Jordan Historical Park, which is also home to several restored buildings from the Jordan Homestead. The Sedona Heritage Museum has exhibits about everything from its movie history to the very first residents in town. You’ll love the restored movie set building and tent house replica!
Step back even further in time with a visit to the Palatki Heritage Site. It’s mindboggling to think that the Palatki people lived in these cliff dwellings 800 years ago, and according to the rock art, even as far back as 5,000 years ago!
Two trails take you through the site, one to the rock art alcoves and one to the Sinagua cliff dwellings. We recommend making a reservation in advance so you can have a volunteer guide lead the way.
After exploring the Palatki Heritage Sight, go to the Honanki cliff dwellings. It’s one of the most fascinating things to see in Sedona! These dwellings were carved right into the red rocks and were occupied by the Sinagua people from 1130 to 1280 AD. Take your time checking out the pictographs and brilliant handcrafted architecture.
7. Spend a Day at Slide Rock State Park
One of the most fun things to do in Sedona is slipping, sliding, and cooling off at Slide Rock State Park. It’s a bit north of Sedona in Oak Creek Canyon along Highway 89A. This park is a natural attraction and historic park, but it’s best known as a place to play in the creek on hot days.
Sedona’s Oak Creek flows over a series of smooth rocks all over the park, creating a series of waterfalls and natural pools. It’s so much fun to slide down the rocks and then cool off in the water! During the summer, the park can get packed, so get there early if you can.
Do note that the rocks here are still hard, so it’s not the safest place for small children. If you have little ones in tow, try one of the other Sedona swimming holes instead. The ones at Wet Beaver Creek, Grasshopper Point, and Crescent Moon Ranch are all excellent options.
8. Sip Your Way Through the Verde Valley Wine Trail
The Verde Valley is one of Arizona’s prime wine country regions. The climate and soil are perfect for grape growing, and there are now more than 20 wineries in the area. The Verde Valley Wine Trail will take you to some of the finest, where you can sip on everything from crisp white wines to full-bodied reds and lovely rosés.
You’ll love how you get a passport to keep track of all the different wineries you visit. You’ll even get a passport stamp at each stop! Complete the required number of stamps to enter the raffle, and you might even win some pretty cool prizes, like a wine weekend for two or a T-shirt.
If you want to sip wine but don’t want to drive, you can book this Jeep and tasting tour. During the tour, you’ll explore beautiful Camp Verde, see ancient ruins, and sample five different wines.
9. Explore Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village
Roaming around Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village is one of the coolest things to do in Sedona. This Mexican-style cobblestone village is the creative heart of the city. It’s packed with craft shops, art galleries, hole-in-the-wall restaurants, clothing stores, and more.
Everything here is created by local artists, so you’re not just browsing through a bunch of touristy trinkets. You’ll find interesting glass sculptures, ceramics, paintings, jewelry, and even spiritual items. Most importantly, you’re also contributing to the Sedona arts community by shopping here.
It’s a super Instagrammable spot, too. Strike a pose at the courtyard fountains, then snap a groupfie at Tlaquepaque’s majestic archways. The vine-covered buildings make a gorgeous background for a photo, especially when they’re all lit up at night!
10. Ride a Hot Air Balloon Over Sedona
If you’re looking for unique things to do in Sedona, how about floating above this desert town in a hot air balloon? It’s an unforgettable adventure, and you’ll get to see Sedona’s natural beauty from a whole new perspective.
You can book a ride with one of the many companies offering hot air balloon tours. They’ll pick you up from your Sedona hotel early in the morning, and then it’s off to the skies. Most tours offer a post-flight toast to celebrate your safe landing.
This activity is not for the faint of heart, but it’s also one of the top things to do in Sedona for everyone from couples to families with kids. Just be sure to bring your camera to capture the stunning views!
11. Take a Hike in Red Rock State Park
Wondering what to do in Sedona if you only have a day? You won’t go wrong with Red Rock State Park. It’s a giant slice of Sedona’s natural beauty, and it’s full of buttes for climbing, trails for hiking, and 286 acres of desert landscape for biking, picnicking, and spotting wildlife. Since it passes a section of Oak Creek, you can also go fishing or cool off in a bubbling stream.
Red Rock State Park used to be the home of Smoke Trail Ranch. This famous property was owned by Jack and Helen Frye, a Hollywood couple who hosted celebrities like Clark Gable and Carole Lombard. Today, the Visitor Center tells the story of the Fryes and their connection to Sedona.
Another cool attraction in the park is the historic House of Apache Fire. This stone structure was built in 1947 and sits on top of a hill. There’s a little hike going up, but you’ll be rewarded by spectacular views of the Seven Warriors formation and the rest of the Sedona landscape.
12. Stargaze in Sedona
The unspoiled night sky of Sedona will take your breath away. With no light pollution to speak of, the stars here shine bright and clear. We strongly recommend staying overnight if you can, so you can go stargazing at the best time!
One of the most popular spots for stargazing is Airport Mesa. You can drive all the way up or take a short hike to the top for an even better view. Once you’re there, just lie back on the grass and enjoy the show.
You can also join a UFO stargazing tour and peer through night vision goggles as your UFO guide points out unidentified flying objects and regales you with stories of unexplained phenomena.
For a more private experience, just pitch a tent in the middle of the desert. Sedona has tons of camping sites, some of which allow RVs and have provisions for campfires. You’ll love trying to find the constellations as you gaze up at the blanket of stars above you!
13. Take a Pink Jeep Tour of the Desert
One of the most thrilling Sedona activities is hopping on a Pink Jeep tour and off-roading through the rugged terrain. These Jeeps are specially designed for driving on unpaved roads, so you can go places you wouldn’t be able to reach with a regular car. The open-air Jeeps pass through some of the most iconic landmarks in Sedona, like Cathedral Rock and Bell Rock.
You’ll love listening to the driver’s commentary. They’re full of interesting stories and facts about the area, and they’re more than happy to share their knowledge with you! You can request how rough or mild you want your tour to be, so even if you’re a first-timer, you can still enjoy this Sedona must-do.
14. Visit an Authentic Cowboy Town at Jerome
Located 40 minutes from Sedona, Jerome used to be one of the biggest copper mining towns in Arizona. But when the mines closed down in 1953, the population dwindled to just 50 people. That’s when the ghost town started to attract artists and bohemian types, and it eventually turned into the artsy community it is today.
Nowadays, Jerome is a beloved tourist destination for its quaint Old West feel. Many of the original buildings from the 1890s still stand, and if you look close enough, you may even spot a ghost or two! Fans of the paranormal can also join ghost tours that will take you to the most haunted spots in Jerome.
Besides the creepy factor, Jerome is pure fun to explore. Check out the boutique shops, sit and sip on local vino at the wine bars, and grab lunch at one of the rustic dining spots in town!
15. Taste the Best of Sedona’s Southwestern Cuisine
Last but not least, you can’t go to Sedona and not indulge in some authentic Southwestern cuisine! Go to the Elote Cafe and order smoked pork cheeks or lamb adobo with ancho chile sauce. Mariposa Latin Inspired Grill is another great spot for Latin food, known especially for the wood-fired flatbreads.
For dinner with a view, head over to Mesa Grill! The restaurant is located on top of Airport Mesa and serves Southwest-style favorites like ribeye steak, Maryland blue crab cakes, and blackened salmon. Drop by during Happy Hour and sip on cocktails while you watch helicopters and planes take off and land at the nearby airport!
Besides dining at Sedona’s amazing restaurants, don’t forget to try some of the area’s iconic dishes. Dig into smoked brisket enchiladas and bite into piping hot empanadas. Finish off a bowl of chili and wash it down with a prickly pear margarita.
Exotic dishes like rattlesnake sausage await fearless foodies. Of course, we can’t forget dessert. To top it all off, treat yourself to a luscious Mexican chocolate cake or a deep-fried sopapilla!
There you have it! The 15 best things to do in Sedona. What’s your favorite thing to do in Sedona?
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