One of the most popular day trips from Phoenix, Sedona is a beautiful little town in central Arizona. With just over 10,000 people living there, it is a fantastic place for all those who are looking to take things nice and slow and just relax far from the hectic city life. But you can also pump some adrenaline into your visit to this charming place because its numerous hiking trails and trails meant to accommodate mountain biking allow you to spend a day out in the open marveling at the incredible nature all around you. One day in Sedona will therefore surely rejuvenate you.
Plan your trip
1. What’s the best time to visit Sedona?
2. A few facts about Sedona
3. One Day in Sedona Itinerary
3.1. Explore Sedona hiking trails
3.2. Go On A Jeep Tour
3.3. Explore Palatki Heritage Site
3.4. Visit The Chapel Of The Holy Cross
3.5. Sedona Heritage Museum
3.6. Have A Lunch In Sedona
3.7. Check Out Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village
3.8. See The Stars
4. Where to stay in Sedona?
5. Day trips from Sedona
6. Extra tips for visiting Sedona
Sedona is hot! Like, really hot. Temperatures during summer regularly climb beyond 35°C (95°F), so you may want to avoid the period from June to September if the heat causes problems for you. The best time to visit Sedona would be early May and mid-October, when it’s still quite warm, but not unbearably so. Sedona is also a great place to spend the winter since the rest of the year from November to April is quite pleasant, as well.
Sedona Mountain Bike Festival in March is THE place to be for all those who enjoy this kind of activity, while Sedona Arts Festival in October is definitely among the things to see if you like art. Movie lovers may want to visit the Sedona International Film Festival at the end of February, but there are so many other events you can see here that the chances are actually quite high that you’ll stumble on to something when in town.
As previously mentioned, the town has just over 10,000 people. However, signs of settlements were found here dating all the way back to about 11,500 B.C. The place was initially called Camp Garden, but the first postmaster who came here changed it to Sedona, to honor his wife and her widely known kindness in 1902. Thus, Sedona Miller Schnebly became inextricably linked to this little town.
Up until the 1950s, Sedona was quite an underdeveloped town, with some of its parts only receiving electricity in the following decade. However, it was then that the town was starting to be recognized for its touristic potential, and many vacation- and retirement homes were starting to be built, transforming the town into what it is today.
Follow this guide and make the best of your trip even if you’re short on time. These are the top sights and things to do on your one day in Sedona.
Perhaps the best thing to do at the start of your day trip is to hit one of Sedona hiking trails right away, while the heat hasn’t set in yet. There are plenty of fantastic options to choose from, depending on where you are in the town and how far you want to go. Devil’s Bridge is widely regarded as one of the best Sedona hiking trails you can take because of the incredible views it offers, while the difficulty of the hike is not that high and you can complete the trip fairly quickly.
Munds Wagon Trail may take you a whole day to complete, but it brings you close to some fascinating rock formations, and Soldier’s Pass is somewhere in between the two in terms of its length. But these are just a few suggestions – there are many other fantastic Sedona hiking trails to explore. Decide how much time and effort you are willing to invest in them and then make your decision. It’s easy to spend the whole day in mesmerizing nature like this.
However, if you want to save time or you simply don’t feel up like exploring the hiking trails, you can still enjoy the incredible sights around this area has to offer. Simply book a jeep tour and you will be able to cover a much bigger area or move on to the next sight quicker. Either way, exploring the scenery around here is something you shouldn’t miss, and you can rent your own jeep or get a guide to show you around.
No matter how you decide to go about discovering things, though, you really should stop at Palatki, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This place was home to the Sinagua, who created their cliff dwellings in the Red Rock.
Some paintings made by the people who lived here are believed to be thousands of years old, although the dwellings date to the period between 12th and 14th century. In any case, this is a fascinating place well worth your time.
One of the more interesting Sedona hiking trails is the one that leads you to the Chapel of the Holy Cross. This impressive church was built back in the 1950s, and thanks to its unique design and location atop massive red rocks it has become quite an attraction. The best time to visit it is when the sun shines directly on its windows of stained glass, which produces quite a magical effect.
After spending the first part of your one day in Sedona out in the wild, come back to the town and see what Sedona Heritage Museum has to offer. It is a very interesting place showing the essence of the Wild West in a home from the last quarter of the 19th century, which is the period when this part of America was being settled. No wonder so many Western movies were filmed here.
Sedona has a lot of charming and excellent restaurants where you can grab a bite to eat. Coffee Pot is not only a restaurant but also a gift shop, and they are famous for their omelets while also serving some delicious Mexican food. Picazzo’s Healthy Italian Kitchen is another great place, with a healthy twist on Italian classics. For some good steaks, on the other hand, head to Mariposa Latin Inspired Grill.
A great way to spend the afternoon is to visit Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village, about a mile south of Sedona. It is a beautiful and serene little place with loads of greenery that only adds to the experience. Galleries, shops with plenty of unique souvenirs, cobblestone streets, stucco walls and a whole lot of restaurants will provide absolutely everything you need for a pleasant visit.
But first and foremost, Tlaquepaque is an artist community, and you can often see artists creating right in front of you in one of the galleries. It is also a very popular place to host a wedding, so if you’re lucky you may stumble upon a couple of newly-weds. Wish them luck!
The sky above Arizona is magical in the evening and there are plenty of things to see if you look up. A great (and romantic) way to end your one day in Sedona is to head slightly out of town, to Oak Creek, and go on a stargazing tour.
Local astronomers will show you everything you need to know about Arizona’s sky, so you just sit down on a blanket and relax. Take a peek at the heavens through a powerful telescope and you will quite literally see new worlds. Or you can just sit somewhere, look up and marvel at everything you see. Truly a special way to end your trip.
Southwest Inn at Sedona
3250 West State Route 89A, West, Sedona
The rooms at the Southwest Inn at Sedona come with a gas fireplace for an awesome atmosphere. They also have a fridge and a coffee machine. On top of that, the hotel is equipped with an outdoor pool. The warm colors of the rooms will instantly make you feel comfortable, and the view of the hills from your balcony is nothing short of spectacular.
Adobe Village Inn
150 Canyon Circle Drive, Sedona
Although it’s not exactly in the town’s centre, Adobe Village Inn more than makes up for that with its offer. Wood dominates the lovely interior, and the view of Bell Rock is just incredible – you literally feel like you can reach it from your balcony. Enjoy an absolutely sensational breakfast (three courses!) before you go hiking or rent a bike out from the hotel and you will have the time of your life here.
Arabella Hotel Sedona
725 Highway 179, Sedona
With the incredible red rocks overlooking this great hotel, you will feel like you’re in a different world. Arabella Hotel Sedona is perfectly located, regardless of what you want to do – you can go hiking, check out some sights or visit the nearby Tlaquepaque Village. With its huge pool and year-round hot tub, as well as great and comfortable rooms and a fantastic sitting area outside, you can just relax and enjoy your surroundings.
Sedona Summit by Diamond Resorts
4055 Navoti Drive, West, Sedona
The views you get from Sedona Summit by Diamond Resorts are nothing short of breathtaking. And you can enjoy them to the fullest from one of the heated pools outside or simply jump into one of the hot tubs. You will choose between studios and suites here, all with at least a kitchenette and some very comfortable beds, and the gym is very well equipped, too. But honestly, watching the sunset from one of the pools is what coming here is all about.
Although Sedona is one of the most popular day trips from Phoenix, there are places you can go to from this little town, as well. As a matter of fact, you’ll be surprised by the number of choices you have if you want to set up a nice little day trip from Sedona. These are some of the most popular choices.
The first option is quite obvious because day trips from Phoenix to Sedona and vice versa are quite common. And spending one day in Phoenix certainly seems like a great idea – there is a lot to see in this big city and plenty of great food to taste. Roosevelt Row is a great place to visit because of its art scene, but there are plenty of great museums all over the city. Honestly, you can’t go wrong with this one.
Okay, this probably wasn’t too hard to guess either. Grand Canyon is only about two hours away, so missing out on the experience of visiting this incredible feat of nature on a day trip from Sedona would be a real shame. Amazing views of places like Sunset Crater Volcano and Painted Desert will stay with you for the rest of your life, and the fascinating Wupatki Ruins also have an intriguing story to tell. Take a railway ride to Grand Canyon and explore the wonders!
Antelope Canyon is another breathtaking place. This incredibly narrow passage in the earth itself provides some spectacular light effects among the warm colors of the surrounding rock. It will feel like you dove straight to the centre of the earth and you will be able to get up close and personal with the power the elements have. On top of all that, this is located in Navajo Nation, so with a bit of luck you can get one of the locals to guide you. In case you want to book a guided tour, this is a perfect option!
Monument Valley will leave you speechless with its mesmerizingly beautiful landscape. Towering formations of red sandstone give this place an incredible vibe, and everywhere you look it will feels like you’re in another world. Monument Valley is also largely a part of the aforementioned Navajo Nation, so you will be able to see traditional Navajo homes, maybe eat traditional Navajo dishes in one of the local restaurants and get to know these incredible people just a bit better.
- If you’re visiting during the warmer part of the year (which may not be the best time to visit Sedona), be mindful of the heat. Things can get really hot here, so you may want to stay indoors during the hottest hours. And if you find yourself outside during this part of the day, remember to keep a bottle of water nearby to help you stay hydrated.
- Sedona is a small town with not too many choices when it comes to public transport. Getting yourself a car while you’re here is highly recommended. And if you rent one out BE CAREFUL. If you plan on going off-road (which is a pretty good idea) take a strong durable off-road vehicle with you. Regular cars will easily get damaged on this terrain, and you as the renter will pay for their repairs.
- Travel light! Sedona is quite a casual and laid-back town, so the chances you’ll have to dress up for something are very low. Your everyday clothes will work just fine.
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Anca is a travel writer and the founder of One Day Itinerary - the biggest collection of travel itineraries for those who are time-limited or just want to maximize their time while traveling. Although she easily becomes homesick for Croatia, she thinks travel is essential to her happiness. She has traveled to more countries than she is years old and doesn’t plan on changing that fact. In her travel guides she aims to inspire people to travel whenever they have a spare day (or two).