Julie United States 10 Comments

There are many different ways to piece together a Sedona itinerary. Your perfect itinerary depends on your traveling style. Whether you are an avid hiker, a family traveling with kids, or someone who wants to experience Sedona without spending time on the hiking trails, we have some great suggestions for you.

How Many Days Do You Need in Sedona?

How many days do you need in Sedona? The answer to this question really depends on how much you like hiking.

Sedona is jam packed with hiking trails. You can literally spend one week here, hiking one to two trails a day, and never run out of new places to explore. We know, because we have done it.

If you are an avid hiker, I recommend spending a minimum of three days in Sedona. This gives you enough time to pick five or six hikes from Sedona’s long list of hiking trails, sample a few restaurants, and catch a few sunsets. Even more time allows you to drive or tour the 4WD roads, go wine tasting, and venture to some off-the-beaten-path destinations.

If you are not an avid hiker, then you can see the best of Sedona in just a day or two. In my opinion, Sedona is really geared to hikers. But with its great restaurants and shopping, scenic drives, and sunset viewpoints, two days is the perfect amount of time to spend in Sedona if you don’t want to go hiking.

One of the great things about Sedona is that many of the hikes are on the shorter, easier side. Adventurous older kids can hike the vast majority of trails in Sedona. So, if your kids fall into this age group, you can spend days and days here and never run out of things to do. For younger kids, there are a handful of hikes that are right up their alley, making Sedona a wonderful place to expose your kids to hiking.

For families, Sedona makes a great weekend getaway. I think 2 to 3 days is the perfect amount for families with young kids, even longer if your kids are older and like to hike.

Cathedral Rock

Cathedral Rock

Best Things to Do in Sedona

I have been going on and on about the hiking trails, but there is a lot more to Sedona than hiking. Here is a list of the best things to do in Sedona. For more information, read our article 15 Best Things to Do in Sedona (it will open in a new browser window so you won’t lose your place here).

  • Drive Red Rock Scenic Byway
  • See the Chapel of the Holy Cross
  • Go Hiking (click here for a list of 12 great hikes in Sedona)
  • Drive or take a tour of the 4WD roads
  • Visit the Sedona Vortex sites
  • Get a Psychic Reading
  • Shop at Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village
  • Visit the Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park
  • Go Mountain Biking
  • Cool off at Slide Rock State Park
  • Visit the Palatki and Honanki Heritage Sites
  • Watch the sunset
  • Go wine tasting on the Verde Valley Wine Trail

Sedona Itinerary Adventure

Broken Arrow 4WD Road

What is the Best Way to Spend One Day in Sedona?

If you only have one day in Sedona, you will have enough time to visit the highlights. Again, how to spend this day really depends on your traveling style.

If you love hiking, here is a one day Sedona itinerary:

MORNING: Go hiking. Start early because the trailhead parking lots fill up fast! Cathedral Rock, the Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte Loop Trail, Boynton Canyon, and Soldier Pass are great hikes to do.
MIDDAY: Lunch in Sedona
EARLY AFTERNOON: Broken Arrow 4WD Road
LATE AFTERNOON: Hike to Devils Bridge
EVENING: Dinner in Sedona

How Many Days in Sedona

The view of Courthouse Butte from Bell Rock

And if you prefer to visit Sedona’s highlights without hitting a hiking trail, here is a great way to spend one day in Sedona:

MORNING: Brunch in Sedona
MID-MORNING: Shopping at Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village
MIDDAY: Lunch
AFTERNOON: Chapel of the Holy Cross, Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park, enjoy the view of Cathedral Rock from the Crescent Moon Picnic Site
EVENING: Dinner in Sedona

Amitabha

Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park

And finally, for families, a one day Sedona itinerary will look something like this:

MORNING: Go hiking…Cathedral Rock, the Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte Loop, Fay Canyon, and Devils Bridge make great options
MIDDAY & EARLY AFTERNOON: Either go to Slide Rock State Park or take a Jeep Tour in Sedona
LATE AFTERNOON & EVENING: Dinner in Sedona and watch the sunset from Airport Mesa

To learn more, read our guide about how to spend one day in Sedona. This guide has full details on each of the itineraries listed above with important planning information.

Sedona Itinerary Suggestions for Hikers

I recommend spending at least three days in Sedona. Each additional day you add on gives you more time for hiking and other unique experiences in Sedona.

Driving the 4WD roads adds another level of adventure to your visit to Sedona. There are a bunch of 4WD trails in and around Sedona, and of these we recommend 5 of them. It takes 2 to 3 days to drive all of these trails.

Jeep Rental Sedona

On the Soldier Pass 4WD Trail

If you don’t own a high-clearance 4×4, you can either rent a Jeep or an ATV to explore these 4WD trails. Renting a Jeep or ATV is not cheap. Prices average about $300 per day for a Jeep, more for an ATV. If you don’t want this added expense, you can take a Pink Jeep Tour and still get the 4WD experience.

Learn more about the 4×4 roads in our Guide to Sedona’s 4WD Roads.

What We Did

On our most recent visit, we spent 6 days in Sedona. We rented a Jeep Rubicon from Barlow Adventures for 3 of these days.

This is how we spent our time with these 3 days: early morning: hiking; late morning and midday: lunch; afternoon: 4WD roads; late afternoon: short hike or chill time; evening: dinner

This worked perfectly, because we could hike early when the trails were less crowded. Midday, when hiking trails were packed, we were on the much less crowded 4×4 roads. Late in the afternoon we went hiking again, once crowds lessened.

On the days without the 4×4, we visited Slide Rock State Park, went shopping, or visited the wineries in the afternoon.

Below is a sample Sedona itinerary. The hikes I list are merely suggestions and you can change these based on your interests.

Day 1

MORNING: Hike the Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte Loop Trail. This is an essential hike to do in Sedona and a great way to see two of Sedona’s most iconic formations.
LATE MORNING: Visit the Chapel of the Holy Cross as you drive into Sedona
MIDDAY: Lunch in Sedona
EARLY AFTERNOON: Broken Arrow 4WD Road
LATE AFTERNOON: Hike to Devils Bridge
EVENING: Dinner in Sedona

Sedona Hiking Itinerary

Devils Bridge

Day 2

MORNING: Hike Boynton Canyon
MIDDAY: Lunch in Sedona
AFTERNOON: Drive the 4WD roads if you rented a Jeep/ATV. Or, visit the Palatki and Honanki ruins.
EVENING: Dinner in Sedona and sunset views from Airport Mesa (the order of these will vary depending on sunset time at the time of your visit)

Boynton Canyon Vista

Trail to the Boynton Canyon Vista

Day 3

MORNING: Hike Soldier Pass or the full Brins Mesa – Soldier Pass Loop
MIDDAY: Lunch in Sedona
AFTERNOON: Drive the 4WD roads if you rented a Jeep/ATV. Or, visit the Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park
LATE AFTERNOON: Hike to the Birthing Cave
EVENING: Dinner in Sedona

Soldier Pass Hike Sedona Itinerary

Seven Sacred Pools on the Soldier Pass Trail

 

Hikes in Sedona

Birthing Cave

Day 4

MORNING: Hike Cathedral Rock
MID-MORNING: Brunch in the Village of Oak Creek or Sedona
LATE-MORNING & MIDDAY: Shopping at the Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Center, get a psychic reading at the Center for the New Age (make a reservation in advance)
EVENING: Dinner in Sedona

Tlaquepaque

Day 5

MORNING: Hike the West Fork Trail
MIDDAY AND AFTERNOON: Relax at Slide Rock State Park
EVENING: Dinner in Sedona

Day 6

MORNING: Hike Bear Mountain
MIDDAY: Lunch in Sedona
AFTERNOON: Either visit Crescent Moon Picnic Site for views of Cathedral Rock. Or, in the late afternoon, hike Fay Canyon.
EVENING: Dinner in Sedona

With more time, add on mountain biking or an afternoon on the Verde Valley Wine Trail. You can also squeeze these in on the days listed above, if you don’t mind having a busier day or two.

While in Sedona, please practice the seven principles of Leave No Trace: plan ahead, stay on the trail, pack out what you bring to the hiking trail, properly dispose of waste, leave areas as you found them, minimize campfire impacts, be considerate of other hikers, and do not approach or feed wildlife.

Sedona Itinerary Suggestions for Non-Hikers

Here is a two day Sedona itinerary if you are not a big fan of hiking.

Day 1

MORNING: Brunch in Sedona
MID-MORNING: Shopping at Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village
MIDDAY: Lunch
AFTERNOON: Chapel of the Holy Cross, Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park, enjoy the view of Cathedral Rock from the Crescent Moon Picnic Site
EVENING: Dinner in Sedona and sunset views from Airport Mesa (the order of these will vary depending on sunset time at the time of your visit).

Sedona Chapel

Chapel of the Holy Cross

Day 2

MORNING: Slide Rock State Park. The big attraction here is sliding down the waterfalls. Even if you have no desire to do this, it is still a beautiful place to visit. Or, take a tour in Sedona. You can take a Pink Jeep Tour of the Broken Arrow 4WD road, tour the Honanki and Palatki Heritage Sites, or take a tour of the Vortex sites (some easy walking/hiking is involved).
MIDDAY: Lunch in Sedona
AFTERNOON: Verde Valley Wine Trail
EVENING: Dinner on the Wine Trail, in Cottonwood (we recommend Merkin Vineyards Osteria), or Sedona

Honanki Ruins

Honanki Ruins

 

Verde Valley Wine Trail

Wine flight on the Verde Valley Wine Trail

Sedona Itinerary Suggestions for Families

If you are traveling with kids, the highlights for them will be Slide Rock State Park, the hiking trails, and the 4WD roads. Which hikes you choose to do depends on the ages and ability levels of your kids. I recommend taking a look at our Sedona Hiking Guide for an overview of the trails and to help you pick out which ones you think are appropriate for your family.

Day 1

MORNING: Hike Cathedral Rock
MIDDAY & EARLY AFTERNOON: Slide Rock State Park
LATE AFTERNOON & EVENING: Dinner in Sedona and watch the sunset from Airport Mesa

Slide Rock State Park

Slide Rock State Park

Day 2

MORNING: Hike the Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte Loop Trail
MIDDAY: Lunch
AFTERNOON: Pink Jeep or ATV tour of the 4WD roads
LATE AFTERNOON: Hike to Devils Bridge
EVENING: Dinner

Courthouse Butte

Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte Loop Trail

Day 3

MORNING: Hike Soldier Pass (turn around at the Seven Sacred Pools with young kids; continue to the Soldier Pass Cave and beyond with older kids)
MIDDAY: Lunch
AFTERNOON: Crescent Moon Picnic Site. Kids can play in Oak Creek. Adults will love the views of Cathedral Rock
EVENING: Dinner in Sedona

With more time, add on more hikes and consider renting a Jeep or ATV to explore more of the 4WD roads.

Cathedral Rock Photo

Crescent Moon Picnic Site

Sedona Shuttle

As of spring 2022, there is a brand new shuttle in Sedona. This shuttle is free to ride and runs to several of the most popular trailheads. It has been implemented to easy traffic congestion in Sedona and help eliminate the parking issues at the popular trailheads.

Here is a quick overview of the trailheads and hikes you can get to with the shuttle.

Trailheads/Hikes You Can Get to with the Sedona Shuttle:

The shuttle runs every day until April 17. Past April 17, the shuttle will run from Thursday through Sunday. Buses operate from 8 am to 6:30 pm.

Before your visit, I recommend getting updates on the hours of operation and routes of the Sedona Shuttle on the official website. I do my best to keep this post updated, but since this shuttle is new and the schedule is evolving, hours and routes may change. On the official website, you can also get real time updates on when the next shuttle will arrive. Here is a link to the Sedona Shuttle guide.

Best Time to Visit Sedona

The best time to visit Sedona is during the spring and fall months, when the weather is warm. Daily temperatures range from 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

This is also the busiest time to visit Sedona, so expect big crowds, higher hotel prices, and difficulty finding a parking space at the trailheads. Make your dinner reservations several weeks in advance.

In the summer, temperatures can be sweltering. Limit your hikes to the early morning and the end of the day. Midday, visit Slide Rock State Park, Oak Creek Canyon, or stay at a hotel that has a pool. August is the wettest month to visit Sedona since this is “monsoon season,” when rain falls during short, intense thunderstorms.

In the winter, temperatures are chilly. The average daily high is in the mid-50’s (Fahrenheit) getting down to the 30’s at night. Snow is unusual but Sedona did get some snow in 2021.

Airport Mesa View

The view from Airport Mesa

Where to Eat in Sedona

Here is a list of the top restaurants in Sedona, either from our experience or from recommendations we got before our visit.

Mariposa. This beautiful restaurant offers big views of the red rocks of Sedona. The food is fantastic too…this Latin-inspired grill serves steak, fish, and chicken dishes and one of the best burgers we have ever eaten. The yucca fries are delicious!

Cucina Rustica. Located in the Village of Oak Creek, this restaurant is also run by Lisa Dahl, owner of Mariposa. Dine on Italian food in a beautifully decorated restaurant. When the weather is warm, make a reservation for the outdoor patio.

Elote Café. This restaurant came highly recommended by our Facebook fans. It must be good because we could not get a reservation during our visit…so it’s still on our to-do list. Elote Café serves Mexican and southwestern dishes and the desserts look amazing.

The Hudson. This is a favorite of the locals and tourists. The food is amazing and the view from their outdoor patio is stunning. We had lunch here, walking here from Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village.

Vino Di Sedona. Tim and I loved this place. Live music, wine, small plates of food, all in an outdoor setting. This is a fun place to spend the afternoon or evening.

Picazzo’s Healthy Italian Kitchen. This is one of my favorite Sedona restaurants,especially for lunch. My go-to is the Spicy Thai Peanut Quinoa Bowl but I have also read great reviews about their pizzas.

Saltrock Southwest Kitchen. Located in Uptown Sedona, dine at an outdoor terrace that overlooks Oak Creek. The food is great but the real reason to go here, in my opinion, is for the margaritas. I highly recommend the spicy, smoky West Fork Margarita.

Molé. This underrated restaurant serves great street food tacos and sangria. I think it makes a great lunch spot.

Sedona Travel Guide

Where to Stay in Sedona

On our most recent visit we stayed at the Courtyard by Marriott Sedona. This is located in West Sedona. It is a beautiful property and from our room we had sunset views of Cathedral Rock.

A Sunset Chateau is a smaller boutique style property. We stayed here two years ago and had a wonderful experience.

For many more recommendations, read our article Where to Stay in Sedona: Best Hotels for Your Budget.

Sedona Hotel

Courtyard by Marriott


If you have any questions about this Sedona itinerary, let us know in the comment section below.

Where are You Going Next?

If your visit is part of a bigger road trip through Arizona or the American Southwest, here is more information to help you plan your trip.

We have LOTS more information in our United States Travel Guide.

 

Sedona Arizona Itinerary Travel Guide

 

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Comments 10

  1. Avatar for Zulkeira Stefchak
    Zulkeira Stefchak

    Hi there! Love your site and all of the info!

    Is West Fork Oak Creek Trail nearby? I didn’t see you mention it and we are planning to hike there in the morning then lunch at The Hudson so I wanted to make sure it’s in the area. Our itinerary is going to be Hike (west fork), lunch at the Hudson, maybe shop a little at the Arts & Crafts village, and finally the wine trail before heading to dinner. I just wanted to make sure all of these things are near one another and we aren’t driving all over the place! It’ll be the last weekend of August, I just moved to AZ so I’m getting used to the heat but my friends are flying in from FL so not sure how they’ll take it haha Also one will be around 4 months pregnant. We figured we hike as much as we could and not really have any crazy expectations. We are all in our mid 30s and active but definitely rookies to hiking (again we are all from FL so we are used to beaches not mountains!) I appreciate any input, Thanks!

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      That hike is just to the north of Sedona (I think about a 15 minute drive, if I remember correctly), so it’s not too far away. We did that full hike and I didn’t mention it, simply because it was our least favorite hike in Sedona. I’m not trying to discourage you, because it is a good hike to do in the summer, since it is shaded and cooler than the other hikes in Sedona. If you are moving there, you have so many great places to explore. The West Fork Trail takes 3 to 5 hours, so start early to beat the heat and make your lunch at the Hudson (great choice!). If you are quick at the Arts and Crafts Village, you can do a small part of the wine trail. It will be a busy day but a good one! For more hikes, and a little more info on the West Fork Trail, check out our Sedona Hiking Guide. Cheers, Julie

  2. Avatar for Sarah
    Sarah

    Our family will be traveling to Scottsdale, Sedona, Grand Canyon, and Flagstaff 3/5-3/11. I had thumb surgery in January and will be getting my cast off this week. I love hiking but I probably should take it easy as I wouldn’t want to injure myself. I will have to go through several weeks of therapy to get the thumb moving again. I was hoping you could recommend some trails that will allow us to see as much as possible since this is our first visit to AZ without having to do and hand climbing. Thank you! Love your website.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      Hello Sarah. In Sedona, stay away from Cathedral Rock and the hike up Bell Rock, as these require rock scrambling. Soldiers Pass Cave also requires some rock scrambling. You should be OK on Devils Bridge, Airport Loop, and hiking around Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte (skipping the climb up Bell Rock), and hiking Fay Canyon. You might be OK hiking in Boynton Canyon, but there is a little bit of rock scrambling to get up into the Subway Cave. In the Grand Canyon, you can hike both the Bright Angel Trail and the South Kaibab Trail as these are basic hiking trails with no rock scrambling required. That should give you a nice intro into hiking in the area. I hope you get well soon! Cheers, Julie

  3. Avatar for Dawn Ristau
    Dawn Ristau

    I love your plans and insight! What wonderful information.
    I would like feedback on my ideas. The comment box wont allow me to copy my itinerary. Can I email you?

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      Sure, I’d love to help. You should be able to paste your itinerary into the comment box by highlighting the text and then inserting it by pressing CTRL+V (or Command+V on a mac). You could try that before emailing us. But if it doesn’t work, our email address is info@earthtrekkers.com. We get A LOT of emails every day so it takes a few days to get to those but I do my best to answer comments within 24 hours (so for a faster response, use the comment section at the end of our posts). Cheers, Julie

  4. Avatar for Rosmary Pimentel
    Rosmary Pimentel

    Hello, I loved your guide for Sedona and just made made me want to go . I have a question, we would be traveling from Houston and we’d visit Sedona and Hrand Canyon, is there an airport in Sedona?, where do you recommend to flight to?thanks!!!

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      The best place to fly into is Phoenix, since it is a large airport and just a 2 hour drive from Sedona. There is also an airport in Flagstaff, but it’s a lot smaller with a limited flight schedule. However, if you can get a flight into here (Flagstaff), you would be about halfway between Sedona and the Grand Canyon. We live in Maryland and fly into Phoenix when we visit Arizona. Cheers, Julie

  5. Avatar for Richie
    1. Avatar for Julie Post
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