Let me start this post off by being blunt: I LOVE Sedona. Combine the beauty of the red rocks with Mexican food, the “zen” vibes, and mother nature, and you’ve got yourself a spiritual, soul-cleansing vacation. If this sounds like your cup of tea (or, shot of tequila), keep reading to discover 10 of the best things to do in Sedona, AZ.
Bonus: If you’re like me, you’ve daydreamed of moving to Sedona a time or two! Recently, I was lucky enough to be mentioned as a local Sedona, AZ expert on the Redfin blog! Check out the article I was featured in: Is Sedona, AZ, a Good Place to Live? Pros and Cons of Calling This City Home
The thing I love most about Sedona is you are able to get that “national park” feeling while still being able to shop or go to a nice dinner. You can lace up your hiking boots (or if you’re me, your tennis shoes 🤷🏼♀️) and explore Cathedral Rock in the morning, and then trade your boots for some heels to eat at Mariposa at night. It’s truly the best of both worlds.
If you’re an avid reader of this blog, you know that despite coming from a small town, I’m a city girl at heart – but Sedona won me over like Jamie wins Landon in A Walk to Remember. It’s that “you’re not my type buuut -“ kind of love. Maybe I’ll buy hiking boots after all…
Where to Stay, How to Get Around, and More Information About Sedona
Website Disclaimer: I most recently visited Sedona in April 2023. Although everything is accurate as of the publication of this post, it is important to keep in mind that prices, attractions, and other things may change with time.
10 Best Things to do in Sedona, AZ
1. Climb to the Top of Cathedral Rock
Cathedral Rock was the first hike I ever did when I was in Sedona and is also one of the most popular hikes in the city. I may be biased, but it’s one of my top favorite hikes I’ve ever done. The view from the top is indescribable. I felt like I was able to climb higher on Cathedral Rock than I was on Bell Rock, so the view from my photos at the top is from a slightly higher elevation perspective.
I found climbing to the top of the Cathedral Rock to be moderately difficult in some areas, but this was also the first time I had ever done a hike like this where you are climbing a rock as opposed to just hiking on a trail. Still, I have talked to other hikers who have said they also found it to be challenging, so that’s what I too will concede with. There were a few spots that I felt like I had to get creative in order to find my way up the rock. My advice here, especially if hiking isn’t something you do often, is to watch other hikers and see how they maneuver up and down the rocks.
Cathedral Rock is also nice because you get epic views all the way up the trail. In other words, you don’t HAVE to go to the top of the rock to have a breathtakingly beautiful hike. There were many people that I saw throughout the hike that did not go all the way to the top. If you find you are brave enough to make it to the top, this is the type of view you’ll get:
- Pro Tip: The worst part about going to Cathedral Rock is finding parking. If you aren’t lucky enough to secure a parking spot at the trailhead on Back O Beyond Road, you can park offsite and take the Sedona Shuttle. But make sure you check the shuttle schedule before you plan your hike – often times, it only runs on Thursday-Sunday.
2. Check Out the Views from Bell Rock
Bell Rock is a popular hike in Sedona that you can do a few different ways. You can take the scenic route around the Courthouse Butte loop, or you can climb Bell Rock itself, similar to Cathedral Rock. When I went to Sedona, I opted for the latter because I love a view.
- Pro Tip: You have 3 parking options when trying to visit Bell Rock. The best place to park is the Courthouse Vista lot, aka “Bell Rock North”. If this lot is full, your other 2 options are the Courthouse Loop South Trailhead lot (aka Bell Rock South), and the Yavapai Vista parking lot.
- If you have to park offsite, the Yavapai Vista parking lot is about a 0.4 miles/9 minute walk to the trailhead. Courthouse Loop South is further – about 0.8 miles/14 minutes.
I found the first half of climbing up Bell Rock to be relatively easy. There were a couple challenging spots here and there, but in my opinion, it did not get more difficult until I got about halfway up the rock. For the record, I did this hike in tennis shoes. Some people had hiking boots on, but I found that I was able to climb in my trusty Brooks.
I did not feel like I was able to climb as high on Bell Rock as I was on Cathedral Rock. Rest assured though, the views from Bell Rock are absolutely stunning.
- I had an employee at the Sedona Info Center tell me that one of the most beautiful views he’s ever seen is sitting on Bell Rock from dusk to dark when the stars come out. I climbed Bell Rock later in the day and was able to stay at the top long enough to see the sunset and a few stars. Being a solo hiker, I did not stay late enough to see it get completely dark, but if I was hiking with a friend, I would not have been opposed to hanging around just a tad bit longer!
3. Find The Secret Caves
I might be biased, but you NEED to find them. Seriously. They’re stunning.
Soldier’s Pass Trail and Boynton Canyon are beautiful hikes within themselves, but making it a mission to experience these secret caves just takes the experience up a notch. If you’re up for the challenge, I wrote 2 blog posts on how to find and hike each of these caves. Click the Soldier’s Pass/Boynton Canyon links at the beginning of this section to start planning your hike!
4. Explore Uptown Sedona
Uptown Sedona is what most locals refer to as the “touristy” area of town. It is covered in souvenir shops and restaurants with amazing red rocks views in the background. You are able to park and walk to a lot of the shops while admiring the intricacy of the buildings. The way some of the shops and buildings are laid out reminds me of hole-in-the-wall bars with small nooks and hidden sections just waiting to be explored.
Many locals will tell you to avoid this area, saying that the souvenirs tend to be overpriced and the food is better in West Sedona. While this could very well be true, this area of town is STILL adorable to walk through if you have extra time, and a lot of the restaurants have good ratings. I personally did not have a lot of time to spend in this area when I visited, but I would love to explore it more if I went back.
5. Shop at Tlaquepaque Village
Tlaquepaque Village is a large shopping center near Uptown Sedona where you can buy gifts, souvenirs, jewelry, clothes…the list goes on and on. Styled like a village in Old Mexico, the vibes perfectly compliment the energy and charm of Arizona. You could easily spend half a day here roaming around the shops. There are also various restaurants throughout the premises, so you are able to stop and take a break to eat without leaving Tlaquepaque.
It’s important to note that while most of the shops close around 6, the restaurants tend to stay open later. Check out their website for a store directory and exact opening hours, along with upcoming events. Oh, and btw – you can even get married here!
6. Grab Breakfast at The Coffee Pot
The Coffee Pot is an adorable little restaurant located on the main drag of Route 89 towards West Sedona. It is named because you get a great view of Coffee Pot Rock in the background – and, who doesn’t love coffee? Seriously. I’d probably show up just for the name.
P.S. – Ask to sit outside on their back patio!
The Coffee Pot’s claim to fame is that they are home to 101 different kinds of omelettes. If you think this sounds impossible, apparently it isn’t. Pull up their menu. They’re all there – all 101 creations. Now you’re probably expecting me to tell you if their omelettes are good, and my answer is: I got pancakes.
I know. I’m equally disappointed in me. But I was doing a long hike that day and I had to carb load. *shrug.* On the bright side, I CAN vouch that their pancakes are amazing.
- Pro Tip: The Coffee Pot is open from 6am-2pm every day, making this the perfect place to grab an early breakfast before your hike. According to their website, they do NOT take reservations. If you get there during peak morning hours, expect to have to wait for a table.
7. Take a Jeep Tour
One of Sedona’s most popular attractions are their Jeep tours. You can go with a guide in a Jeep Wrangler (or similar vehicle) to explore the trails and mountains of Red Rock Country. The best part is you can essentially find a Jeep tour for whatever adventure you’re looking to go on. Some companies have everything from Vortex tours and night tours to extreme off-road tours.
The first time I went to Sedona, my friends and I did a Jeep tour through a company called A Day in the West. We did the Diamondback Gulch Jeep Tour which is rated as their most popular but also had a rating of “rugged/extreme” as far as your off-roading experience. We accepted the challenge. How bad could it be, right?
Fast forward to the end of the tour. I’m pretty sure we all 3 had a concussion. We were also airborne more times in the Jeep than I care to remember, despite wearing a seatbelt. The takeaway? If you’re not pregnant, sensitive to motion sickness, or opposed to getting your shit absolutely rocked up and back down a mountain, this could be the tour for you. As for me, I think I’ll do the Jeep Tour w/ Wine Tasting combo next time.
- If you want a less extreme (but still rugged) off-roading Jeep Tour experience, the Colorado Plateau and Red Rock West Jeep Tour done through A Day in the West are both rated as “moderately rugged.”
- Additionally, Lil’ Rattler is rated as moderately rugged but a more mild ride and therefore more family-friendly.
- Other popular Jeep tour companies that I saw in Sedona were Pink Adventure Tours and Sedona Jeep Tours. I don’t have any personal experience with either of these tours, but I saw their Jeeps everyyyywhere.
8. Get Your Aura Read
Sedona is all about wellness, chakras, spirituality, inner peace…you know what I’m saying. Essentially, the beauty of finding balance between your physical, mental, and spiritual health. In other words, there are a LOT of psychics, tarot card readers, yoga/meditation practices, and aura readings all throughout this town.
Think of your aura as your vibe or your energy. If someone has ever complimented your energy, they are essentially complimenting your aura. TBH, I prefer the term “energy” myself. But that’s not the point. The point is that people who do aura readings believe that the colors that show up on a reading can tell you a lot about someone’s personality, along with their mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health.
There are SO many places to get your aura read in Sedona. Many places will do aura photos, which is where you place your hands on this machine and it reads your aura and displays your results on a computer screen. This will show you your aura colors, along with your energy levels and balance of activity vs. relaxation. When you’re done, you will be able to take this photo with you.
If you’re reading this and thinking “that’s all BS,” well, you may be right. I’m no aura professional. But even if it is BS, it’s still kinda cool. Depending on what your results say, you could use them as a self-confidence booster to embrace the positives about yourself as you navigate your way through life.
- When I got my aura read in Sedona, my colors were red, orange, and yellow. Later, when reading up on the colors, one website mentioned yellow represents being into communication, and people with this aura could be great conversationalists or prolific writers. Maybe this whole thing isn’t BS after all. 😉
9. Eat Dinner at Mariposa
Mariposa is an upscale Latin-inspired grill restaurant located on the main drag of Route 89. Once glance at the photo below, and you already know I’m going to rave about the moody-yet-romantic aesthetic. This is truly one of the most gorgeous restaurants I have ever been to, and the food is every bit as good as the vibe.
When I hear the words “Latin-inspired,” I think of tacos and chips & guac – but their menu is largely centered around more meat and seafood dishes than what you would typically expect when you hear those words. Think non-traditional Latin. I tried the diver sea scallops and the grilled octopus off of the tapas menu and loved both. Oh – and their signature Mariposa drink – essentially a spicy marg – is amaaaaazing.
Reservations are required, and need to be made in advance, especially during peak season. Seriously, if you treat yo’self to one meal in Sedona, make sure it’s here.
10. Check out Page Springs Winery
Page Springs Winery is located in Cornville, AZ, which is about 15 minutes outside of Sedona. They host tours, private events, and even have an area to do yoga & massages. They have unique packages for guests and couples that combine massages with wine and food before or after, and can be booked on their website.
When I was there, I visited the tasting room and tried their mixed red & white wine flight. There is a patio that you can sit on outside and look at the river while relaxing and sipping your wine. This is the perfect thing to do after a morning/afternoon of hiking to wind down.
Reservation are NOT required, but if you have a big party, it’s recommended. If you aren’t able to be seated right away, guests are allowed to take a stroll through the grounds or relax on the veranda out front. At the time of this post, the winery is open 7 days a week, 365 days a year, so there’s no excuse NOT to check it out!