Sedona is truly one of the prettiest and best cities in Arizona, and I thought that since the first time I stepped foot in the city in 2016. It’s no wonder why Sedona is one of the most popular cities in Arizona visited by tourists. And there’s no better way to show what Sedona is about than to write a guide on how to explore Sedona with the best 10 unique things to do here. There are so many reasons why I continue to come back and travel here and my Sedona blog posts are actually one of the more popular ones on my blog.
First off, what is special about Sedona and why should I go there?
Sedona is located in Northern Arizona and it is 2 hours north of Phoenix. You’ve probably seen many pictures of red rock formations on social media located in Arizona and indeed, Sedona is most likely that place that has those features. The red rocks are sensational in Sedona and I have written about them here in detail about what makes Sedona special.
Why should you visit Sedona? Because it’s the city where you can go explore nature by foot, get some shopping done, soak into its water, and use a car (or a jeep) to get you exploring through a thrilling ride. In fact, if it’s well planned and all planned early then you can get all of this done in a day. The scenery of Sedona is insanely amazing, no matter what corner of the city you end up at and many even claim to feel calming effects simply by visiting Sedona. Mainly because of vortexes, but also because there’s something truly magnetic about Sedona’s red rocks.
Here are the 10 best unique things I recommend you do in Sedona.
1. Creekside American Bistro Restaurant
Creekside American Bistro Restaurant is definitely a must to stop by if you’re looking for somewhere to eat and if you want to also have gorgeous scenery to eat by, especially if you’re sitting on the outdoor patio as you’ll be graced with trees and red rock mountains. The views are just as delicious as the food here. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, happy hour, and dinner.
Their Sourdough Smash Burger (with cheddar cheese, avocado, caramelized onion, bacon on panini bread, topped with Cotija cheese and with a side of fries) and Creekside Famous Peach Cobbler are SO good and I highly recommend ordering them.
2. Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park
Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park is a place that I would’ve never explored if it wasn’t suggested by my friend’s mom and I really liked it. If you’re into spirituality, then you might like visiting this place. This 14-acre park features a 36-foot stupa and it’s astonishing! A stupa is considered sacred architecture and is prominent in Buddhism.
They say if you walk around the stupa a few times and meditate, it can help you find healing and clarity. A short hike requires you to get to the park to see this architecture and other Buddhism displays. The backdrop of this park is beautiful with red rock mountains surrounding the whole area.
Watch my YouTube video on this place!
3. Check Out A Vortex Through A Hike
Vortexes are something you don’t want to miss experiencing in Sedona and they’re abundant here. What exactly is a vortex? A vortex is a swirling center of emanated energy and they are a location on Earth where there is the most energy and are thought to provide healing and meditation. Vortexes are essential for people who are feeling confused, uninspired, unhealthy, and unstable because they can reverse the effects of those by helping those who find clarity, inspiration, stability, and better health.
So, how do you get to a vortex? You can experience them through hiking in the four main vortexes and those are: Bell Rock Trail, Cathedral Rock Trail, Boynton Canyon Trail, and Airport Mesa. Pictures shown above are from Boynton Canyon Trail.
4. Sedona Airport Lookout
Speaking of Airport Mesa, nearby and above it is the Sedona Airport Lookout, which is worth checking out too. Sedona Airport Lookout is full of glorious panoramic views over the city of Sedona from a short drive. You don’t need to hike to get there, but a simple drive up to it will do.
Check out my blog post on Sedona Airport Lookout to get more information on how to get there and when it’s the best time to go there.
5. Chapel of the Holy Cross
This Roman-Catholic chapel called Chapel of the Holy Cross is embedded in between red rocks and it is located up top from 200 feet. Although it is small, it’s still a place worth seeing because its architecture is just unique and it’s an awe-inspiring landmark in Sedona. Rumor has it too that you can find a vortex here too so you may want to bring a few prayers up here.
6. Slide Rock State Park
If you ever want to cool off from the heat of Sedona, Arizona, taking a day trip to Slide Rock State Park might just help you. This park is known for its 80-foot natural rock slippery slide and you can even swim here. It’s kind of like nature’s water park, plus you can find short trails around here too. Because it is very popular and can fill up soon, there is an admission fee for cars that varies during the time of the year as you can see on their website.
7. Oak Creek Canyon
Right where Slide Rock State Park is, you are required to enter through that park driving through Oak Creek Canyon. Oak Creek Canyon is seriously one of the most beautiful places to see in Sedona. It’s a river gorge where its cliff views overtower you as you drive through the highway. The cliffs of the canyon range as tall as 800 to 2,000 feet high. There will be a number of hairpin turns, so it makes it thrilling too.
Come here during the fall time and the leaves of the trees are orange and yellow and you can watch them fall off as you drive by. A hike I seriously recommend doing here is the West Fork Trail because it is gorgeous!
8. Do a Jeep or ATV adventure
Do you like off-roading? Then, you’ll have to try it in Sedona! The famous Jeep Tours in Sedona is a guided tour that is driven by trained guides who will drive the jeep to crawl over red rock formations. There are a couple of jeep companies in Sedona and that’s Pink Adventure Tours, Red Rock Western Jeep Tours, and Safari Jeep Tours. If riding ATVs are more of your thing, you can find some rentals in Sedona for that too and they’ll give you an opportunity to explore the beautiful terrains of the Sedona desert.
9. Shop at Sedona’s few shopping areas
Shopping is abundant in Sedona! You will find a lot of shops of all sorts here, from jewelry, antiques, collectibles, beauty and health products, Native American/ethic products, Sedona travel merchandise, and new age/metaphysical items. Sedona Uptown Mall Plaza has a courtyard lined with small businesses. You’ll find a variety of shops (including good food) at Sinagua Plaza and Hillside Sedona Shopping Center has a lot of stores and restaurants too, but their restaurants are rewarded with some of the best red rock views.
10. Tlaquepaque Arts and Shopping Village
Want to do more shopping but focus on the artsy scene? Then you need to visit Tlaquepaque Arts and Shopping Village. The area here is enticing with its cobblestone features and village-like arches that will almost remind you of Europe.
There are art galleries here and shops selling crafts and art. You can also find food here like ice cream (try Cream and Cake Couture, their ice cream is SO good!), wine, beer, sandwiches, and cocktails. This spot is also very good to take photos at because it has a lot of picturesque spots.