Set amid beautiful red rock mountains, buttes, and canyons, Sedona is one of Arizona's most beautiful destinations. The scenery here is nothing less than stunning, with unbelievable views from every street corner and hiking trail. Also known as a spiritual center, particularly for its energy vortexes, the city has a unique vibe and attracts visitors with a diverse set of interests. Attractions range from the spectacular natural areas and scenic drives to Native American ruins, architecture, galleries, and sacred sites. Many of the best things to do in Sedona are free, including hiking, mountain biking, or stargazing. The city is a designated Dark Sky Community.
ATTRACTIONS TO VISIT IN Sedona
1. Cathedral Rock
Cathedral Rock is the most photographed attraction in Sedona and one of the city's most impressive sites. You can see the rock from Highway 179 as you drive from Oak Creek Village into Sedona, or from the backside at several locations.
The most classic view of Cathedral Rock is from Red Rock Crossing Park, at the Crescent Moon Picnic Site.
2. Uptown Sedona
Uptown Sedona is the old town, where you'll find boutiques, tourist shops, galleries, cafes, and restaurants. This area runs along Highway 89A, beginning where Highway 179 ends. If you are heading up Oak Creek Canyon towards Flagstaff, you will pass right through Uptown Sedona.
Establishments here include everything from jewelry and craft stores to crystal sellers and casual cafeteria-style restaurants to fine dining. This is also where Jeep tours start from.
3. Red Rock Scenic Byway
The Red Rock Scenic Byway is a stunning drive along Highway 179, running from south of the Village of Oak Creek to Sedona. Along here are numerous natural attractions; hiking and biking trails; and pullouts with parking lots, which allow you to stop and appreciate the sights. Near the north end is the Tlaquepaque arts and crafts village.
Some of the most popular sights long this route are Bell Rock, Cathedral Rock, and, just a short distance off the road, Chapel of the Holy Cross.
4. Oak Creek Canyon Scenic Drive
Stunning Oak Creek Canyon is just upstream from Sedona, on the way to Flagstaff. Rock formations, cliff walls, and forests line the scenic road, Highway 89A, which follows Oak Creek before climbing up the canyon along a dramatic stretch of twisting road with switchbacks.
The sharp corners and steep hills make this a road you will want to drive during the day and try to avoid after dark.
5. Hiking Trails
One of the best ways to explore the natural beauty around Sedona is to lace up your hiking boots and hit the trails. Many of the hikes are less than three miles and can easily be done in just a couple of hours, but they offer access to some of the most amazing views in the area. Longer and more challenging hikes can also be found around Sedona, leading to mountain tops and up canyons.
Canyon hikes offer easy hikes, with spectacular scenery and the huge orange cliff walls surrounding you. Alternatively, you can hike to the top of a mountain or butte for fantastic views out over the landscape.
6. Jeep Tours
Jeep tours are one of the most popular things to do in Sedona. These trips allow you to see areas you wouldn't be able to reach without an off-road vehicle and take you through some areas you wouldn't think possible in a Jeep.
The Broken Arrow Jeep Tour is a two-hour off-roading adventure through rugged terrain and past some of the landmark rock formations in the area. These tours are in open-air Jeeps, which are themselves an iconic sight in Sedona. Be prepared for a bumpy ride. The drivers are knowledgeable and keen to share the local history and geology of the area.
7. Chapel of the Holy Cross
The Chapel of the Holy Cross sits perched on a small red rock plateau below a multi-hued sandstone ridge, creating one of the most impressive architectural sites in Sedona.
It was built in 1956 by Marguerite Brunswig Staude, a pupil of famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
This breathtaking landmark building incorporates a 90-foot cross that dominates the structure, and the front face of the chapel is all windows. The modern appearance, with sharp lines and angles, contrasts with the rounded red rocks but fits in beautifully with the surroundings.
8. Mountain Biking Trails
Sedona is one of the best mountain biking destinations in the country. The trails are outstanding and offer a bit of something for all level of abilities, perfect for everyone from families to advanced riders.
Trails wind their way through the spectacular mountain scenery, across dirt, and along areas of slickrock. Some of these trails lead past interesting attractions like Bell Rock, Cathedral Rock, and Doe Mesa. The level of difficulty ranges from easy to extreme but there are really trails here for everyone.
One of the more unique attractions in Sedona are the vortexes, found in natural locations around the area. What is a vortex? These are said to be centers of energy in the earth that can inspire healing, self-awareness, and spirituality.
Vortexes have different properties. Some are masculine vortexes, feminine vortexes, or balanced vortexes, and some of these go by different names, such as electrical, magnetic, or combination vortexes.
Some of the most common and accessible energy vortexes are found in Boynton Canyon, near the start of the Boynton Canyon hike and Enchantment Resort; on Airport Mesa, near an overlook at the side of the road; and on Cathedral Rock.
Boynton Canyon and Airport Mesa are the two easiest locations to reach, both of which are just a short distance from the parking lot. Cathedral Rock requires a short but intense hike. However, if you are up for it, the Cathedral Rock hike is one of the best in Sedona.
10. Bell Rock
One of the key natural sites around Sedona is the aptly named, Bell Rock. This bell-shaped formation is just south of Sedona in the Village of Oak Creek, along the Red Rock Scenic Byway, and is one of the first sites you will come to as you approach Sedona from the south.
Easily accessible just off the road, this is a popular stop for tourists. You can park and have a quick look, walk up to it, do a short and easy hike along the side of the bell, or if you brought your mountain bike, you can do an easy ride here.