Sedona is one of Arizona's most beautiful destinations and the scenery here is nothing less than stunning, with unbelievable views from every street corner and hiking trail. Also known as a spiritual center, particularly for its energy vortexes, the city has a unique vibe and attracts visitors with a diverse set of interests.
Uptown Sedona is the old town, where you’ll find boutiques, tourist shops, galleries, cafes, and restaurants. This area runs along Highway 89A, beginning where Highway 179 ends. If you are heading up Oak Creek Canyon towards Flagstaff, you will pass right through Uptown Sedona. Establishments here include everything from jewelry and craft stores to crystal sellers and casual cafeteria-style restaurants to fine dining. This is also where Jeep tours start from. This is a convenient location if you plan on staying in Sedona. If you base yourself at a hotel in Uptown, you can walk to dinner, stroll down to Tlaquepaque to browse through galleries, shops, and more restaurants, or sign up for various tours that start from the main street.
Cathedral Rock is the most photographed attraction in Sedona and one of the city’s most impressive sites. You can see the rock from Highway 179 as you drive from Oak Creek Village into Sedona, or from the backside at several locations. The most classic view of Cathedral Rock is from Red Rock Crossing Park, at the Crescent Moon Picnic Site. If you feel an urge to climb this amazing rock formation, a hiking trail leads up to the saddle, where you’re treated to incredible views to the east and west. It’s also the location of an energy vortex.
The Red Rock Scenic Byway is a stunning drive along Highway 179, running from south of the Village of Oak Creek to Sedona. Along here are numerous natural attractions; hiking and biking trails; and pullouts with parking lots, which allow you to stop and appreciate the sights. Near the north end is the Tlaquepaque arts and crafts village. Some of the most popular sights long this route is Bell Rock, Cathedral Rock, and just a short distance off the road, Chapel of the Holy Cross.
One of the best ways to explore the natural beauty around Sedona is to lace up your hiking boots and hit the trails. Many of the hikes are less than three miles and can easily be done in just a couple of hours, but they offer access to some of the most amazing views in the area. Longer and more challenging hikes can also be found around Sedona, leading to mountain tops and up canyons. Canyon hikes offer easy hikes, with spectacular scenery and the huge orange cliff walls surrounding you. Alternatively, you can hike to the top of a mountain or butte for fantastic views out over the landscape. Some of the most popular hikes are to Devil’s Bridge, Cathedral Rock, and Bell Rock.
Jeep tours are one of the most popular things to do in Sedona. These trips allow you to see areas you wouldn’t be able to reach without an off-road vehicle and take you through some areas you wouldn’t think possible in a Jeep. The Broken Arrow Jeep Tour is a two-hour off-roading adventure through rugged terrain and past some of the landmark rock formations in the area. These tours are in open-air Jeeps, which are themselves an iconic sight in Sedona. Be prepared for a bumpy ride. The drivers are knowledgeable and keen to share the local history and geology of the area.
Sedona is one of the best mountain biking destinations in the country. The trails are outstanding and offer a bit of something for all level of abilities, perfect for everyone from families to advanced riders. Apart from a few snowy days here and there in winter, you can pretty well mountain bike in Sedona year-round. Trails wind their way through the spectacular mountain scenery, across dirt, and along areas of slickrock. Some of these trails lead past interesting attractions like Bell Rock, Cathedral Rock, and Doe Mesa. The level of difficulty ranges from easy to extreme but there are really trails here for everyone. Local bike shops offer repairs, bike rentals, information, and maps. The Sedona Mountain Biking Trails map is a must-have item before you head out.
One of the key natural sites around Sedona is the aptly named, Bell Rock. This bell-shaped formation is just south of Sedona in the Village of Oak Creek, along the Red Rock Scenic Byway, and is one of the first sites you will come to as you approach Sedona from the south. Easily accessible just off the road, this is a popular stop for tourists. You can park and have a quick look, walk up to it, do a short and easy hike along the side of the bell, or if you brought your mountain bike, you could do an easy ride here. While the trail will take you around the skirt of the rock, you can also scramble up the rock a short distance.
Boynton Canyon, about eight miles west of central Sedona, is another one of those special places with multiple reasons to visit. The number one reason people come to Boynton Canyon is to do the Boynton Canyon hiking trail. This is a 6.1-mile in-and-out trail below the spectacular canyon walls, through a mix of vegetation, including large pine trees near the far end. Another reason people visit this area is for the vortex found near the start of the Boynton Canyon hiking trail, on a short side spur. This is one of the more accessible vortexes, and it doesn’t require climbing or walking along the edge of a cliff to reach. The vortex, known as a balanced vortex, rests in the saddle between two rock spires.
The first Friday of every month, the galleries of Sedona open their doors in fun fashion, offering snacks and beverages and opportunities to meet some of the artists or chat with other tourists. Rather than the usual quiet gallery settings, the establishments are full of people socializing as they contemplate the art and talk with artists about their pieces and concepts. This is a great introduction to Sedona’s art scene. The 1st Friday in the Galleries runs from 5pm to 8pm and is free. Much of the excitement is focused on the galleries at Tlaquepaque, Uptown Sedona, and Hillside Sedona.
Tlaquepaque is a recreated Mexican-style village with art galleries, craft shops, clothing stores, and restaurants. The original idea behind the village, in the 1970s, was to create an artist’s community. Shoppers can still see artists at work, although most of what you will find is simply interesting retail establishments, many of which showcase glass, ceramics, sculptures, weavings, paintings, decorative arts, photography, jewelry, and décor, among other items. The setting is reminiscent of an older time period, with cobbled streets, courtyard fountains, balconies, majestic archways, and vine-covered buildings. With the addition of Tlaquepaque North, the complex now spans both sides of Highway 179.