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What to Do in Sedona, Arizona: Attractions of Northern Arizona’s Red Rock Country

Cathedral Rock and other rock formations in Sedona, Arizona at sunset.
The Red Rocks of Sedona, Arizona

Recreating, relaxing, reinventing, reflecting—Sedona, Arizona inspires and encourages it all. Celebrities frequent it, healers and seekers gravitate toward it, and outdoors enthusiasts revere it. With its unparalleled red rock formations and green vegetation, mild but distinct four seasons and unique riparian habitats, this bucket list destination will leave you inspired and energized.

Sedona Attractions

What makes Sedona so special? Let’s look at its many offerings and what visitors should consider.

When to Visit

The most popular times to visit Sedona are spring and fall, when temperatures aren’t scorching and the landscape is either in full bloom or a kaleidoscope of changing leaves. Summers are often hot and bustling with vacation crowds but are great for long days and cooling off in the creek. And winters are chilly but calm, just right for hiking and a rare glimpse of the red rocks under a dusting of snow.

Sedona’s Key Areas of Interest

Oak Creek Canyon: A beautiful 12-mile winding drive from the pine forests of Flagstaff to the red rocks of Sedona with stops along the creek for camping and recreating.

Water and rocks of Oak Creek in Oak Creek Canyon in Sedona, Arizona.
Oak Creek Canyon Sedona, Arizona

Uptown Sedona: A compact art and shopping scene with galleries, gift shops and restaurants galore.

West Sedona: Sedona’s highest concentration of locals and businesses with great places to stay, eat and recreate.

Village of Oak Creek: If you’re coming by way of I-17 and along Highway 179, the Village of Oak Creek will be your first taste of Sedona, a fantastic place to shop, play golf, and more.



Around 320 million years have shaped the iconic rocks in Sedona and iron oxides have essentially “rusted” them to create that unforgettable red hue. To say they are stunning is an understatement, and arguably the best way to experience and appreciate them is on foot.


For many, hiking in Sedona is more religion than recreation, and with over 200 trails to choose from, an in-depth look at Sedona’s best hiking options is a post in its own right. But we’ve rounded up a few suggestions for getting started.

View of Cathedral Rock and its reflection in a puddle at sunset.
View of Cathedral Rock at Sunset

Cathedral Rock: 1.2 miles roundtrip | Steep at the top, but oh so worth it for the view.

Devil’s Bridge: An iconic photo opportunity that can be accessed from several trailheads, so distance varies.

Soldier Pass/Seven Sacred Pools: 4.5 miles roundtrip | Pretty flat with some great sights along the way.

Boynton Canyon Trail: 7.2 miles roundtrip | Moderate with some beautiful vegetation and shade.

Airport Mesa Loop: 3.2 miles | No shade but has a breathtaking 360-degree view of Sedona.


For lesser-known gems, look into Turkey Creek Trail or Chimney Rock Loop. If you’re up for a challenge, consider Jacks Canyon Trail.

The Sky is No Limit

Sunrise and sunset are otherworldly in this captivating landscape. You can’t really go wrong choosing a spot for viewing, but Aerie Trailhead is a great option. And the party’s not over when the sun goes down. Sedona was designated a Dark Sky Community in 2014, so stargazing is a must. For a prime spot to ponder the cosmos, consider Centennial Trailhead, Baldwin Trailhead or Beaverhead Flat Scenic Overlook.


Again, anywhere, really, but some great designated picnicking spots are Crescent Moon Ranch or Jordan Historical Park.

Cooling Off

Nothing beats a good swimming hole in a state that regularly reaches triple digits during summer months, and Sedona is home to some of the best of the best. Some are more crowded than others, but all will leave you enchanted and refreshed.


Natural water slide at Slide Rock State Park in Sedona, Arizona.
Slide Rock

Slide Rock: Slippery natural water slides. Very popular, but for good reason.

Grasshopper Point: Stays shaded until midday and is great for cliff jumping (at your own risk, of course).

Red Rock Crossing: Gorgeous views of Cathedral Rock and perfect for families because of the beaches and shallow wading areas.

Buddha Beach: Calm water and gorgeous scenery that’s part of Crescent Moon Ranch and right near Red Rock Crossing.

Bootlegger Swimming Hole: Lesser known and great for catch and release fishing and watching wildlife.

Midgely Bridge: Red rock platform beaches perfect for sunbathing.

Off Roading

Want to explore Red Rock Country with some wheels beneath you? Red Rock Jeep Tours and Pink Jeep (which originated in Sedona and has exclusive access to the Broken Arrow Trail, an extreme off-roading adventure) among other off-roading companies provide up close and personal experiences with Sedona’s rugged terrain. You can book a tour or even rent your own Jeep or ATV for some personalized off-roading fun. And don’t forget mountain biking if you fancy 2 wheels instead of 4.

Red Rock Jeep Tours jeep with rock formations in Sedona, Arizona.
Red Rock Jeep Tours

If you prefer to view the red rocks from above, hot air balloon rides are highly recommended for a grand view of the rock formations as they interact with light throughout the day. And Sedona Trolley Tours will take you through the city and to notable landmarks if heights aren’t your cup of tea.


Wherever you go in the great outdoors, check to see if you’ll need a Red Rock Pass or another permit. And remember to leave the wild as you found it: without a trace of your visit.


Fact: Sedona is home to too many fabulous dining establishments to choose from. But here are a few recommendations to get your mouth watering.


Casual Dining

  • Red Rock Café: Southwestern flavors and delicious brunch.

  • Pisa Lisa: Because no list is complete without a solid pizza option.

  • Butterfly Burger: A “couture burger lounge.” Definitely try the Street Tots.


Mexican Food

  • Elote Café: It’s called Elote for a reason—don’t miss their roasted corn with spicy mayo, lime and cotija cheese.

  • 89Agave Cantina: Specialty drinks and authentic Mexican flavors.

  • Tamaliza Café: Tamales, tamales, tamales!


American Fare

Fine Dining


South of Sedona you’ll find Oak Creek Factory Outlet Stores and other retail centers in the Village of Oak Creek, and Uptown Sedona has many a clothing boutique, gift shop and gallery at the Shops at Hyatt Pinon Point. But if you’re looking for a truly unique and authentic Sedona experience, look no further than the attraction known as the “Art and Soul” of Sedona: Tlaquepaque Arts and Shopping Village.


Open entrance gate to Tlaquepaque Arts and Shopping Village in Sedona, Arizona.
Entrance to Tlaquepaque Arts and Shopping Village


Successful businessman Abe Miller came to Sedona in the 1970s and saw the potential for a living arts village nestled in a sycamore grove near Oak Creek. Together with architect Bob McIntyre he brought the feel of Old Mexico to Sedona with an arts and crafts village named Tlaquepaque, a Nahuatl word for “best of everything.” Indeed you will find the best of everything in this vibrant village carefully constructed around the existing trees with stucco, wrought iron and beautiful landscaping. Located between Uptown and the Village of Oak Creek, it is the perfect place to shop, dine, peruse exceptional creations of local artisans and enjoy special events and holiday festivities.

Other Things to Do

Hiking, eating and shopping alone justify a trip to this vibrant and cultural hub of Northern Arizona. But if you’re looking to learn some history or experience some local color, Sedona has you covered.


The people of Sedona share their local spirit and love of the earth, culture and history through a variety of annual gatherings. Notable events include:

  • Solstice Festivals

  • Sedona Hummingbird Festival

  • Sedona Food Truck Festival

  • St. Patrick’s Day Parade

  • RunSedona events

  • …and wine, mountain biking, film, art and music festivals


State Parks

The obvious draw: the 80-foot-long natural sandstone waterslide we mentioned above. The not so obvious: apple picking! Visit Slide Rock’s orchard for apples at the end of summer and Fall Fest in October.

View of trees and the creek of Slide Rock State Park.
Slide Rock State Park along SR89A

Red Rock State Park has a 5-mile network of trail loops great for all ages and skill levels that provides a perfect path for exploring Sedona’s unique topography. This nature preserve focuses on environmental education and offers geologic and wildlife learning opportunities and events.




Wellness and Mindfulness

Sedona is known for and home to a number of great spas and wellness providers. You can attend a mindfulness retreat, do yoga or tai chi among the red rocks, or seek the guidance of Reiki masters and the benefits of Qigong healing. Amitabha Stupa Park is the perfect place to visit for spiritual reflection and meditation, as is the labyrinth at Alma de Sedona.


Chapel of the Holy Cross

A must-see landmark as well as spiritual center is the Chapel of the Holy Cross. In 1932, Sedona local, rancher and sculptor Marguerite Brunswig Staude was inspired by the Empire State Building project and sought to commission her own unique structure in Budapest, Hungary in partnership with Lloyd Wright (yep, Frank Lloyd Wright’s son). But the outbreak of WWII rendered the project impossible, so Staude transferred her vision to the red rocks.

Chapel of the Holy Cross in the red rocks of Sedona, Arizona with blue sky and white clouds.
Chapel of the Holy Cross

The project was completed in 1956 with Richard Hein and August K. Strotz as architects and is an operational Roman Catholic church. The unique iron and concrete cross in front of the giant glass windows serves as both artwork and structural fortification. Whether you visit to worship or to enjoy the stunning views and architecture, this iconic and remarkable structure is not to be missed.



A vortex is an area that facilitates any number of variations on meditation, reflection, healing, prayer, and mind-body connection through a high concentration of energy. For many, the word vortex brings to mind its literal definition: something resembling a whirlpool. In the context of energy vortexes, the concept is similar in the sense that they emit a sort of energy in that shape. Vortexes are, symbolically, either magnetic/upflow (uplifting or stimulating energy emitted upwards), electric/inflow (grounding or focused energy spiraling downward), or electromagnetic (some combination of both).


While some consider all of Sedona to be one big vortex, there are certain spots that are said to have the highest concentration of energy and yield the greatest benefits. Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock, Airport Mesa, and Boynton Canyon are the most popular, but a vortex map will direct you to others. Some people have reported miraculous results from visiting these special areas. Others have reported feeling nothing. Still others report a peaceful serenity accompaniment to their self-reflection. Is it the energy they’re feeling or, perhaps, simply the benefits we all know go hand in hand with quiet experiences in nature? You’ll have to decide for yourself.

Woman meditating in yoga pose on red rock in Sedona, Arizona.
Meditating in the red rocks

A guided vortex tour might include yoga, meditation, smudging or other ceremonial elements, and various outfits provide them. Or you can try to explore or find a vortex on your own.


Experience the Wonder

Transcendence may find you at a vortex, in a hot air balloon, in a quiet moment on a sandstone cliff or while eating the best meal of your life. Wherever you go in Sedona, rest assured this natural wonderland will leave you breathless and elevated to a heightened definition of magic.


Beautiful red rocks of Sedona at sunset with rainbow.



Consider Backland's Luxury Glamping Resort to complement your red rock adventures. We’ll put you in the heart of Northern Arizona for easy access to Sedona and dozens of other attractions and experiences.


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