Sedona lures visitors to a land of sun-washed red rocks, where the landscape appears to change under an ever-shifting lens of natural light, particularly at sunset. A small and distinctive city spanning 18 square miles in northeast Arizona, Sedona has drawn movie types and artists to film, paint and find inspiration in its mesmerizing surroundings. The area is also home to many New Age practitioners attracted to spiritual energy centers—vortexes—that are said to exist in the area.
The bulk of Sedona tourist attractions stem from the Coconino National Forest, a nearly 2-million-acre span covering half of the city’s total land mass. Countless trails leading into the forest are accessible from points throughout the city, including hotels. A smaller collection of trails exist at Posse Grounds Park, a 78-acre open area that includes a dog park and short loop linking to longer trails, notably the Sunrise Trail, which meanders near Soldiers Pass Road.
Composed of florid sandstone, the red rocks of Sedona are a striking sight, and arguably the city’s biggest attraction. Given the number of things to do in Sedona associated with the rocks, a good first stop is Red Rock State Park. The 286-acre preserve has a visitor center and a well-defined network of trails highlighting different perspectives of the rocks. Trails emphasize local vegetation and wildlife and lead to the waters of Oak Creek, which winds through the park.
Sedona is located at the mouth of Oak Creek Canyon, a scenic river gorge that can be experienced via the curving pathways of Oak Creek Scenic Drive or explored on foot. Swimming and cliff jumping are popular at points along the canyon, and one of Sedona’s most popular recreation spots is found at Slide Rock State Park. The 43-acre park includes the preserved remnants of an early 20th-century homestead and apple farm, and plenty of places along the creek to slide, swim and lounge.
Visitors interested in local history can head to the Sedona Heritage Museum, set amidst the quiet charm of Uptown Sedona. Operated by the Sedona Historical Society, the museum traces the history of the area with artifacts and exhibits, including farm equipment and the city’s first fire truck, a red 1942 Ford Maxim. Flower gardens, a trail and picnic areas enhance the picturesque museum, situated at Jordan Historical Park.
Integrate shopping, dining and performing arts into your list of things to do in Sedona. Shopping is clustered in uptown, with a collection of specialty shops focused on handcrafted Southwestern souvenirs, from Native American arts and crafts to gemstone jewelry and Western wear. Dining establishments are generally moderately priced to upscale venues serving dressed-up versions of Western classics, from homemade beef stew and chili to Angus burgers and steak.
There are many cultural attractions in Sedona. Notable among them are the performances of Chamber Music Sedona and exhibits at the longstanding Sedona Arts Center. Annual events include the Sedona Bluegrass Festival and Sedona International Film Festival.