Sedona, Arizona, is a mystical and enchanting destination among famous red rocks. With its breathtaking landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and ample opportunities for outdoor adventure, Sedona is the perfect place for a one-day getaway. In this comprehensive guide, I will take you through an unforgettable journey, exploring the hidden gems of Sedona as we unveil its magic, one step at a time. So be ready to experience the best of Sedona, from sunrise to sunset!
All recommendations are based on the countless times I’ve enjoyed Sedona as a local. Let’s dive in!
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Things to Do with One Day in Sedona, AZ
Before we cover what your day trip to Sedona will look like, let’s quickly discuss what you can do when you get there:
Hike: Sedona hikes are some of the best. You can enjoy easy hikes or difficult ones— both usually offer great views!
Enjoy the Arts: Explore unique sites like the Tlaquepaque Art Village in the center of Sedona.
Scenic Drive: Take a scenic drive along the famous Red Rock Loop Road and witness amazing views of Cathedral Rock and more of the famous rock formations.
Dine In: Savor exquisite Latin American cuisine while taking in unobstructed views of Sedona’s red rocks at this fine-dining establishment.
Sedona’s World-Class Spas: Treat yourself to a rejuvenating spa experience at one of Sedona’s many world-class spas, such as Mii Amo, L’Auberge de Sedona, or Sedona Rouge Hotel & Spa, where you can indulge in luxurious treatments inspired by the area’s natural beauty and healing energy.
Yoga and Meditation: Connect with your inner self through yoga and meditation classes offered at various studios and wellness centers around Sedona, like Aumbase Sedona, 7 Centers Yoga Arts, or the Sedona Meditation Center— additionally you can book a meditation tour too!
Chapel of the Holy Cross: Visit this architectural marvel perched high on a hillside for a moment of peaceful reflection and stunning views.
Your one day in Sedona itinerary will include a healthy mix of these. Now let’s, dive into the itinerary!
Fuel Up and Prepare for Adventure
Start your day off right with a hearty breakfast at the Red Rock Café. This local favorite offers a wide range of breakfast options, from classic eggs and bacon to their signature huevos rancheros. Make sure to fuel up as you have an action-packed day ahead.
Morning — Intro To Sedona’s Beauty
Vortex Hike at Airport Mesa
After breakfast, go to Airport Mesa for a truly unique Sedona experience. This moderately easy hike will take you to one of Sedona’s famous vortexes, where swirling energy centers are believed to possess healing and spiritual properties. These vortexes have become renowned worldwide, attracting travelers seeking personal growth, self-reflection, and a deeper connection to nature.
The hike up to Airport Mesa is relatively short, at about 2 miles round trip, with a well-maintained trail leading you to the vortex site. As you make your way up, take in the panoramic views of the city and surrounding red rocks, which are especially stunning during the golden hours of sunrise and sunset.
The Airport Mesa vortex is considered an “upflow” vortex, meaning it is said to enhance feelings of inspiration, rejuvenation, and spiritual awakening. Once you reach the vortex site, take some time to quiet your mind and connect with the energy of this sacred space.
Many visitors like to meditate, practice yoga, or simply sit and absorb the vibrations of the vortex. Some claim to experience physical sensations, such as tingling or warmth, while others report emotional or spiritual shifts.
Whether or not you feel the energy, the breathtaking views and serene atmosphere of Airport Mesa make it a worthwhile stop on your one-day Sedona itinerary. For another easy morning hike, check out Doe Mountain Sedona.
Alternative Hot Air Balloon Tour
Alternatively, you can book a hot air balloon tour and start your one day in Sedona with an incredibly scenic adventure from above. For a unique perspective, Sedona hot air balloon tours will take you high above the red rocks. P.S. You’d like my guide on the most Instagrammable Places in Sedona!
Scenic Red Rock Loop Drive (Optional)
For those looking to experience the beauty of Sedona’s red rock formations from the comfort of their vehicle, consider taking a leisurely drive along the Red Rock Loop. This 13-mile scenic drive offers stunning views of the area’s most iconic landmarks, including Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock, and Courthouse Butte, all set against lush vegetation and azure skies.
Begin your drive by heading west on Highway 89A and turning right onto Upper Red Rock Loop Road. As you meander along the winding route, you’ll be treated to a series of breathtaking panoramas that showcase the rugged beauty of Sedona’s landscape. Several pullouts and viewpoints along the way provide ample opportunities to pause, take photographs, and simply soak in the views.
Halfway through the loop, you’ll come across the Crescent Moon Picnic Site, which offers a picturesque spot to enjoy a packed lunch or a leisurely stroll along Oak Creek. From here, continue on to Lower Red Rock Loop Road, where you’ll encounter additional viewpoints and opportunities for short hikes or picnics before completing the loop and returning to Highway 89A.
The Red Rock Loop drive is an excellent option for those who prefer a more relaxed way to experience the natural beauty of Sedona. This scenic drive can easily be incorporated into your one-day Sedona itinerary and provides a memorable way to explore the area’s stunning red rock formations.
Mid-Morning — Discover Sedona’s Natural Wonders
Cathedral Rock Trail
Next up is the iconic Cathedral Rock, one of Sedona’s most photographed landmarks. This moderately challenging hike rewards you with stunning vistas and a unique view of the famous rock formation. Bring plenty of water and sunscreen, as the Arizona sun can be unforgiving.
Alternative — Devil’s Bridge
Alternatively, consider visiting Devil’s Bridge, one of Sedona’s most iconic landmarks. As the largest natural sandstone arch in the area, Devil’s Bridge is a must-visit destination for outdoor enthusiasts and photographers alike. The hike to the bridge covers approximately 4.2 miles round trip and is accessible via the Devil’s Bridge Trailhead.
While the majority of the hike is relatively easy, traversing well-maintained trails and gentle inclines, the final stretch leading to the arch can be a bit steep and challenging. During this part of the hike, you’ll navigate a series of natural stone steps carved into the hillside. Hikers should exercise caution, especially during wet or icy conditions— be prepared to use your hands for added stability!
Upon reaching the top, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of the majestic Devil’s Bridge arch and the surrounding red rock formations. Take a moment to appreciate this natural marvel’s sheer beauty and geological wonder.
If you want to capture stunning photographs, venture out onto the arch, but remember to be mindful of your surroundings and respect the delicate sandstone. In addition to its awe-inspiring scenery, the Devil’s Bridge hike also offers opportunities to spot local wildlife, such as mule deer, javelinas, and various bird species. Alternatively you can skip this hike and go up Soldier Pass.
Afternoon — Immerse Yourself in Sedona’s Culture and History
Replenish your energy with a well-deserved lunch at Elote Café. This renowned eatery offers a fusion of Mexican and Southwestern cuisine. Make sure to try their signature dish, elote, a delicious grilled corn appetizer.
Explore Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village
After lunch, set aside some time to explore the enchanting Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village. This delightful destination, designed to resemble a traditional Mexican village, is an art lover’s dream, showcasing a diverse array of galleries, boutiques, and handcrafted goods.
As you wander through the village’s narrow cobblestone streets, you’ll be transported to another world, surrounded by stunning Spanish Colonial-style architecture, vibrant ceramic tilework, and lush gardens filled with colorful flowers and trickling fountains. The beautiful courtyards provide a tranquil setting for you to relax, unwind, and soak in the atmosphere.
Tlaquepaque, which translates to the “best of everything” in the ancient Aztec language, is home to over 40 unique shops and galleries, offering a wide range of fine art, jewelry, textiles, ceramics, and more. Many of the galleries showcase the works of local and international artists, giving you the opportunity to learn about their creative processes and inspirations.
In addition to its impressive art offerings, Tlaquepaque also hosts various cultural events throughout the year, such as live music, art demonstrations, and traditional Mexican celebrations like Día de Los Muertos. If your visit coincides with an event, be sure to join in the festivities for an authentic and immersive experience.
Whether you’re an art enthusiast, a shopper on the hunt for one-of-a-kind treasures, or simply looking for a peaceful place to spend a leisurely afternoon, Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village is a must-visit destination during your one-day Sedona itinerary.
Visit the Chapel of the Holy Cross
Perched high on a hillside, the Chapel of the Holy Cross is an architectural marvel and a must-see in Sedona. Designed by Marguerite Brunswig Staude, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright, the chapel offers stunning views and a peaceful atmosphere for reflection!
Completed in 1956, the chapel seamlessly integrates modern architectural elements with the natural beauty of the red rocks, creating a harmonious and striking visual experience—bring your camera to take some pics! Whether you’re seeking spiritual solace or simply an opportunity to appreciate exceptional design and breathtaking scenery, a visit to the Chapel of the Holy Cross will leave a lasting impression on your trip!
Evening — Relax and Unwind
Uptown Sedona Shopping and Dining
As the sun sets, head to Uptown Sedona for some shopping and dining. This vibrant area boasts an array of unique boutiques, art galleries, and restaurants. Don’t miss the opportunity to taste some delicious gelato at Black Cow Café or indulge in a glass of local wine at Vino Zona!
If shopping isn’t your vibe, book a relaxing spa experience in one of Sedona’s world-class spas. Treat yourself to a rejuvenating spa experience, such as Mii Amo, L’Auberge de Sedona, or Sedona Rouge Hotel & Spa, where you can indulge in luxurious treatments inspired by the area’s natural beauty and healing energy.
Sunset at Crescent Moon Picnic Site
Finish your day with a mesmerizing sunset at Crescent Moon Picnic Site. This picturesque location offers a spectacular view of Cathedral Rock, reflecting the golden hues of the setting sun.
So pack a picnic, bring a blanket, and immerse yourself in the serene beauty of this magical spot as the day comes to a close. P.S. This is where the famous Red Rock Crossing is!
Alternative — Lover’s Knoll
On your way to Crescent Moon Picnic Site, you’ll pass the viewpoint known as Lover’s Knoll. This is a great, free alternative for watching the sunset.
While there, you can witness a fantastic golden sunset cascading over Cathedral Rock. Parking is limited to about two spaces, so you’ll have to get there early to ensure you have a spot!
Night — Savor Sedona’s Culinary Delights
Dinner at Mariposa Latin Inspired Grill
After soaking in the beauty of the Sedona sunset, treat yourself to a memorable dinner at Mariposa Latin Inspired Grill. This fine-dining establishment, helmed by renowned Chef Lisa Dahl, offers an exquisite menu highlighting Latin American flavors with a focus on fresh, local ingredients. In addition, the floor-to-ceiling windows provide unobstructed views of the red rocks, making for a truly unforgettable dining experience!
Stargazing with Sedona Stargazing Tours
Cap off your incredible day in Sedona with a stargazing tour. Sedona’s low light pollution and clear skies make it ideal for admiring the cosmos.
Led by professional astronomers, Sedona Stargazing Tours will guide you through the constellations, planets, and other celestial wonders. This awe-inspiring experience is perfect for ending your magical day in Sedona. And that’s a wrap on your trip!
Sedona Tours: Explore the Best of Sedona with Expert Guides
If you have limited time in Sedona, taking a guided tour can be a great way to make the most of your visit. Here are some suggested tours that will help you discover the beauty and history of Sedona in just one day— feel free to add these to your itinerary as you see fit!:
Pink Jeep Tours: Experience the thrill of off-roading in a custom-built Pink Jeep while exploring the area’s stunning red rock formations and learning about Sedona’s geology, history, and Native American culture from knowledgeable guides. Click here to see jeep tour availability >>
Sedona Red Rock Adventure Tours: Enjoy a personalized, private tour with Sedona Red Rock Adventure Tours, where experienced guides will tailor the itinerary to your interests, whether it’s hiking, photography, or exploring ancient ruins. Click here to see bike tour availability >>
Sedona UFO & Vortex Tours: Delve into the mysteries of Sedona’s vortexes and the possibility of extraterrestrial life with a UFO & Vortex tour, led by experts in the field who will share fascinating information about the area’s energy centers and sightings of unexplained phenomena. Click here to see availability >>
Sedona Wine Tours: Sip and savor the flavors of Arizona’s burgeoning wine scene with a guided tour of local wineries and tasting rooms, such as those in the nearby Verde Valley Wine Trail, where you’ll learn about winemaking in the region and sample delicious local wines. Check availability >>
Sedona Trolley Tours: Hop aboard the charming Sedona Trolley for a narrated tour that covers the city’s highlights, including the Chapel of the Holy Cross, Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village, and breathtaking viewpoints of the red rocks. Check availability >>
You can maximize your time, learn from local experts, and gain a deeper appreciation for this enchanting destination by including a guided tour in your one-day Sedona itinerary.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is One Day in Sedona Enough?
While one day in Sedona allows you to experience some of the area’s top attractions and natural beauty, there may need more time to fully explore everything Sedona offers. With its numerous hiking trails, vortex sites, art galleries, and wellness experiences, many visitors find that spending multiple days in Sedona allows for a more relaxed and comprehensive exploration of the area.
In fact, if you want more time check out my guide on how to spend 3 days in Sedona, AZ. However, if you only have one day, the itinerary provided in this blog will help you make the most of your time, showcasing some of the best that Sedona has to offer.
How to visit Sedona in one day?
To make the most of your one day in Sedona, follow our suggested itinerary and tips:
Start early: Begin your day at sunrise to maximize your time and experience the breathtaking beauty of Sedona’s red rocks in the early morning light.
Prioritize your interests: Choose activities and attractions that align with your interests, whether that’s outdoor adventure, art and culture, or wellness, and relaxation.
Opt for a guided tour: Consider taking a guided tour, like a Pink Jeep Tour or Sedona Trolley Tour, to cover more ground and gain expert insight into the area’s history and attractions.
Plan your route: Plan your day ahead of time, grouping nearby attractions together to minimize driving time and ensure a smooth, enjoyable experience.
Be mindful of time: Allocate sufficient time for each activity and account for travel time between locations. Keep an eye on the clock to ensure you can experience as many highlights as possible during your day in Sedona.
Planning ahead and following the suggested itinerary allows you to have an unforgettable day in Sedona, even if your time is limited.
Final Thoughts on Spending One Day in Sedona, AZ
Sedona is a treasure trove of hidden gems waiting to be discovered, from its majestic red rock formations to its vibrant art scene. With our ultimate one-day Sedona itinerary, you can experience the best of Sedona in a whirlwind of adventure, culture, and relaxation. Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or new to the Southwest, Sedona will leave you with memories that will last a lifetime.
Check out my other guides for an amazing trip: