How to Spend One Day in Sedona

Sedona is an Arizona desert town near Phoenix and Flagstaff that’s surrounded by red-rock buttes, steep canyon walls, and pine forests. It’s noted for its mild climate and vibrant arts community. One day in Sedona can help you tap into some of the best things in town.

There’s a lot to do in Sedona, and if you can, I’d recommend a weekend in Sedona or more, you won’t run out of things to do. With just one day in Sedona, here are the things you don’t want to miss.

On my road trip through Arizona, I knew I wanted to visit Sedona. Initially, I wanted to spend at least two days here, but because we ended up going through Las Vegas instead of Phoenix, it was pretty out of the way, but we still wanted to see it, even for a day, before heading to Page and the Wave.

I have friends who went and just loved it, plus the incredible views on hikes made it a priority on the trip. Road trips with limited time don’t lend themselves to having a ton of time in places, though. I’m glad I got to go back on a romantic getaway for a weekend in Sedona!

Table of Contents

Getting to Sedona

Sedona is an easy day trip from Phoenix or Flagstaff. It’s surrounded by red rocks and you have incredible views from all over the city. You can drive in during the morning and drive out in the evening, but I’d recommend staying in Sedona the night before or after your day trip to take advantage of a full one day in Sedona.

You can get to Sedona in just 45 minutes from Flagstaff or 2 hours from Phoenix. The drive from Flagstaff is incredibly scenic. You wind through the pine trees in the mountains, watching the landscape slowly change from forest into red rocks. It’s incredible!

Getting to Sedona from Phoenix is a straight drive along I-17 all the way to AZ-179. This raod becomes the Red Rock Scenic Byway as is snakes north into Sedona and onto the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

Along the drive between Sedona and Phoenix, consider stopping at Montezuma’s Castle. Montezuma Castle National Monument protects a set of well-preserved dwellings located in Camp Verde, Arizona, which were built and used by the Sinagua people, a pre-Columbian culture closely related to the Hohokam and other indigenous peoples of the southwestern United States, between approximately AD 1100 and 1425.

It’s part of the National Park System and if you have a National Park Pass, you will be able to get in for free. After you leave, make sure to stop at the fry bread stand right outside the park for a great local snack!

Traffic in Sedona can be brutal, especially on the weekends during peak times of year. I’d recommend getting there early if you have just a day to spend. You don’t want to spend your precious time in traffic!

You might also consider driving in the night before to start your day as early as possible and take in the amazing red rock views just a little longer on your trip. There are some amazing places to stay in Sedona with a view.

Morning: Hiking

Option 1: Devil’s Bridge, 3 hours, 4.2 miles free

Devil’s Bridge is a really popular hike in Sedona, and for good reason! It’s a free hike, and you can park in the limited parking lot or along the road.

This was an awesome hike because it brought you to a very cool natural bridge at the top of a mountain. The trail is an in-and-out trail and requires climbing a lot of staircases and rocks toward the end. There were some scarier spots along the hike because of the number of people hiking it and the steep steps. The bridge itself is really wide, and you can’t walk all the way across anymore because the other side is broken, so you can walk out onto the bridge and back.

You should plan on bringing plenty of water with you and expect to see lots of people. It gets pretty hot and there is little cover from the trees, especially at the beginning of the trail. I ended up getting a sunburn because I was not prepared for this!

Option 2: Cathedral Rock, 1 1/2 hour, 1.2 miles

Cathedral Rock Trail is a challenging but rewarding hike, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding red rocks and Sedona. The trail is approximately 1.2 miles each way, with an elevation gain of around 608 feet.

At parts of this hike, it’s more of a scramble than hike. Wear sturdy hiking shoes, bring plenty of water, and be prepared for some steep sections. You’ll also be potentially going down by scooting on your own, so don’t wear your cutest outfit for this one.

Cathedral Rock is often considered a vortex site, a place believed to have enhanced spiritual energy. Even if you’re not into the metaphysical aspects, the beauty of the location is undeniable.

The view at the top of this hike is so stunning and worth the climb! You must park in the shuttle area after 7 am to hike here. You can catch the Sedona Shuttle from the SR 179 Park and Ride Lot to Cathedral Rock and Little Horse Trailheads. From there, you can access Cathedral Rock and Little Horse Trailheads.

Eat Local for Lunch

Sedona has a ton of amazing Mexican food and if you’ve only got a day there, this is some food you should try! We went to Tamaliza, which was very authentic Mexican food, family-owned and operated. There are also lots of fresh, organic, and healthy places to eat all throughout Sedona.

Early Afternoon: Visit a Spa

Sedona, Arizona, is known for its luxurious spas offering a range of wellness and relaxation services. Here are some well-regarded spas in Sedona:

    1. Mii amo at Enchantment Resort: Mii amo is a destination spa located at Enchantment Resort, offering a variety of spa treatments, wellness programs, and luxurious accommodations.
    2. L’Apothecary Spa at L’Auberge de Sedona: This spa focuses on creating personalized treatments using local botanicals. The setting along Oak Creek adds to the serene atmosphere.
    3. Amara Resort and Spa: Amara Spa is known for its relaxing treatments and beautiful outdoor setting with views of Sedona’s red rocks.
    4. Sedona Rouge Hotel and Spa: The spa at Sedona Rouge offers a range of treatments, including massages, facials, and body wraps. The Moroccan-inspired decor adds to the unique experience.
    5. Aumara Spa at Sedona Summit Resort: Aumara Spa provides a tranquil environment for relaxation and rejuvenation. The spa menu includes massages, facials, and body treatments.
    6. New Day Spa: New Day Spa is a locally owned and operated spa offering a variety of massage therapies, facials, and body treatments.
    7. Sedona’s New Day Spa: This spa offers a range of services, including massages, facials, and spa packages. The focus is on providing a peaceful and nurturing environment.
    8. Sedona Spa at Poco Diablo Resort: The Sedona Spa at Poco Diablo Resort offers a selection of spa treatments in a tranquil setting surrounded by gardens and golf course views.

Before planning your spa visit, it’s a good idea to check the latest reviews, inquire about current services and offerings, and make reservations in advance, especially if you have specific treatments in mind. Additionally, spa offerings may have changed since my last update, so it’s recommended to visit the official websites of the spas for the most up-to-date information.

Afternoon: Shop at Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village

Originally conceived as an artist community, Tlaquepaque is a perfect setting to witness Sedona arts in their work. With over 50 specialty shops and exclusive art galleries, shopping becomes a joyful revelation of fabulous art treasures and distinctive gifts around every corner. The whole area has been fashioned as a traditional Mexican village and it’s been around since the 1970s.

Many of the items are very expensive (original art usually is!) and the buildings themselves are so fun to walk around. There are fountains, restaurants, and tons of beautiful Western artists pieces on display. We had fun walking around with tea and shopping as we were relaxing after a lot of hiking for the day.

This is a really pretty area and one of the many unique things to do in Sedona!

Alternative Experiences:

1. Photography Workshops: Join a photography workshop to learn how to capture the stunning beauty of Cathedral Rock.

2. Guided Tours: Consider a guided hiking or Jeep tour to explore Cathedral Rock and other notable landmarks in the area.

3. Meditation and Yoga: Some visitors choose to practice meditation or yoga, drawn by the supposed spiritual energy of the site.

4. Hot Air Balloon Ride: Consider taking a hot air balloon ride for a unique perspective of the red rocks. This is done only at sunrise so would mean a suuuper early morning.

5. Pink Jeep Tour: Explore off-road trails with a jeep tour for a more adventurous experience.

Evening in Sedona

Finish off your day in Sedona with one last great view of the red rocks with drinks and dinner. Sedona has awesome restaurants and we were really happy with all the places we ate on our latest weekend trip. Here are a few places I’d suggest (photos in the same order as the list).

    1. The Hudson: Neighborhood restaurant serving New American fare & cocktails in chic, contemporary surroundings. Great views on the terrace!
    2. Mariposa Latin Grill: Upscale restaurant & bar with South American-inspired cuisine, a patio & panoramic views.
    3. The Vault: Chill restaurant with sandstone rock views crafting steaks, seafood & burgers, plus cocktails. The trash can nachos here are HUGE and delicious.

Pro-tip: Many places in Sedona require a reservation. Book ahead of your trip for popular spots.

How do you spend one day in Sedona? Explore the best this city has to offer from incredible hikes to shopping and food.
How do you spend one day in Sedona? Explore the best this city has to offer from incredible hikes to shopping and food.

While I do recommend more than a day in Sedona, you can definitely get a taste of what Sedona has to offer. I’m glad I was able to share what I did while there after a few different trips. Know anything else awesome to do in Sedona? Let me know below!


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