It’s magic hour in Sedona. As the sun slowly dips into the horizon, the majestic sandstone buttes and monoliths flare a brilliant orange and fiery crimson. Located 120 miles north of Phoenix, Sedona’s sublime natural landscape provides a stunning backdrop for outdoor activities of all kinds. And for some, even the chance for a spiritual awakening.
Here’s my list of the top 10 things to do in Sedona, Arizona:
1) Go for a hike — Nature is calling! Sedona has trails for every skill level, from casual walks along Oak Creek to steep, more strenuous climbs up to Cathedral Rock. Hiking is free, but you’ll need to buy a Red Rock Pass at the Sedona Visitor Center in order to park your car at the trail-heads. Some popular hikes include, Broken Arrow Trail, Bell Rock, Cathedral Rock, Devil’s Bridge, and Soldier’s Pass. [$5/day or $10/week. The Visitor Center is located at 331 Forest Road in Uptown Sedona. (800) 288-7336]
2) Visit an art gallery — Sedona is famous for its vibrant arts community. The town’s “Main Street,” Route 89A in Uptown, has dozens of galleries specializing in traditional and contemporary paintings, Native American art, sculpture, glass, ceramics, and handmade jewelry. Many of the works were created by local artists inspired by Sedona’s grandeur.
3) Take a jeep tour — One of the best ways to get up close and personal with the rugged landscape is to hop in a specially outfitted jeep. We took one of the town’s popular Pink Jeep Tours. Hold on tight because they drive over impossibly steep and rocky terrain—showing you things you’d definitely never see by regular car. Their knowledgeable guide points out the various surreal rock formations and gives some history of the region too. [Visit their website at pinkjeep.com]
4) Visit a vortex — What’s a vortex you ask? Spirituality and harmony with nature are big in Sedona. Many here believe that there are certain places where the earth’s magnetic force releases psychic energy with special properties. You can take a vortex tour from one of many local guides, or hike to the sites yourself. They are located at Bell Rock, Airport Mesa, Cathedral Rock, Boynton Canyon, and Schnebly Hill. Look for mounds of stones called “cairns” marking the vortex sites.
5) Check out the Chapel of the Holy Cross – A local landmark, this diminutive church was designed by artist Marguerite Brunswig Staude in 1956. Nestled in the crags of a red rock cliff, the chapel affords divine views of the sweeping, painted landscape below. [780 Chapel Rd, off Route 179 (928) 282-4069. Open 9 – 5 daily. Free admittance, although a donation is always nice.]
6) Get pampered at a day spa – Sedona is internationally renowned for its rejuvenating spas and resorts. A hot stone massage, desert mud treatment, or healing body wrap will help revitalize your mind, body and soul. Many of the local spas specialize in treatments that can realign one’s energy in order to maintain balance and inner peace.
7) Go shopping at Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village – Pronounced “Tla-keh-pah-keh,” this charming village was built in a Spanish colonial style with stucco walls, tile roofs, and courtyards with gurgling fountains. Shaded by a grove of sycamore trees alongside Oak Creek, Tlaquepaque features over forty galleries and specialty boutiques, including many New Age metaphysical shops and several lovely restaurants. Sedona’s frequent Roadrunner shuttles take visitors to the Arts & Crafts Village from Uptown, free of charge. [336 Highway 179 Sedona, (928) 282-4838]
8)Go mountain biking — If you want a little more adventure than just hiking, there are several local outfitters that rent mountain bikes. Sedona has an extensive network of bike trails, with varying levels of difficulty. Some popular routes lead you up to Submarine Rock, Dead Man’s Pass or along Arizona State Route 179, also known as the Red Rock Scenic Byway.
9) Take the plunge — Just 7 miles north of Uptown Sedona is the very popular Slide Rock State Park. As Oak Creek snakes through the canyon, it passes over a series of smooth, natural rock water slides, chutes, and pools. The park is great place to refresh yourself on a hot summer’s day. There are also many wide, flat rocks that are perfect for lying back and catching some rays too. [6871 Highway 89A, Sedona (928) 282-3034]
10) Watch the Sunset — The best way I can think of to top off the day is to watch the sun set over the spectacular red rock landscape. One of the most popular locations is up at Airport Mesa, where you can grab a seat on a bench and watch Mother Nature’s show. From this lookout point there’s a trail to one of the famous vortex sites too. [Take Highway 89A South from Uptown Sedona and turn left on Airport Road.]
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Getting To Sedona: The nearest major airport is in Phoenix, approximately 90 minutes away by car. From the north, Sedona can be reached via Flagstaff by taking I-17 to Hwy 89A, a spectacular yet treacherous winding road through Oak Creek Canyon.
Here are additional photos from my visit:
And there you have it, my Top 10 Things To Do in Sedona, Arizona. Have you been there before? What are your recommendations? Feel free to comment below!
Here’s a short video I took on the jeep tour!