With its red rocks, vortexes, and OOF don’t get me started on those *magical* cotton candy sunsets, Sedona is quite frankly my favorite place in Arizona. If you’re heading there for the first time, 3 days in Sedona is the perfect amount of time to see all the above and then some.
Once you experience Sedona’s magic, you probably won’t want to leave—just warning you! This blog is my suggestion on the most perfect Sedona 3 day itinerary. As an AZ local, I’ve been to Red Rock Country enough to know the musts and must-nots.
We’ll cover all the “musts” and give you a little bit of relaxing time between attractions. When you’re done reading this post, check out some of my other blogs that’ll help you plan your trip:
- Most Instagrammable Places in Sedona
- Phoenix to Sedona to Grand Canyon Trip
- Sedona Travel Guide for First-Timers
With that, let’s start with some helpful planning tips before we jump into the itinerary!
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How to Plan a 3 Day Trip to Sedona, AZ
Here’s a quick rundown of the nitty-gritty details you should be aware of before your 3 day trip to Sedona.
- 🌵Where is Sedona? Northern Arizona in Yavapai County and is about an hour’s drive south of Flagstaff, surrounded by the Coconino National Forest.
- ✈️How to Get to Sedona: Fly into Flagstaff (1hr drive to Sedona) or Phoenix (2hr drive to Sedona). KAYAK can help you find cheap flights!
- 🚙Rental Cars: KAYAK is great for vehicle rentals too!
- 🚐Campervan Rental: Click here to rent a campervan!
- 🌞Best Time to Visit: The best months to visit Sedona, AZ are October through April.
- 🎟Fees: Some trails require a Red Rock Pass ($5)or you can use your America the Beautiful Interagency Pass.
Good to Know —To access the trailhead to some of these hikes, you might need to take the Sedona Shuttle (operates Thursday through Sunday, year round). The parking lots are CLOSED when the shuttle is running. Read more on SedonaShuttle.com.
Where to Stay
The best part about Sedona accommodations is that they’re GORGEOUS and usually located right by all the goodies. Any of these hotels or Sedona vacation rental properties will work for your 3 day itinerary:
Amara Resort and Spa ($$$$) — This place is BOUJEE. I mean, the pool looks like it’s part of the red rocks. Speaking of rocks, one of the first things you’ll notice about this resort are the 360 red rock views. Not to mention, they have a famous spa. Great treat yo self kind of place.
Geo Dome ($$$) — Want to book a unique Sedona AirBnB? Go for the Sedona Dome Home! As a guest, you’ll marvel at how the dome windows make you feel immersed in Sedona’s red rock or like you’re entirely on another planet!
Photo-Worthy Home in Central Sedona ($$$) — This BEAUTIFUL home is located in the heart of Sedona making it easy to go to and from attractions. Not to mention, the floor-to-ceiling dining room windows are a marvel.
Read Next: The Best Boutique Hotels in Sedona, AZ
What to Do in Sedona for 3 Days & Map
Let’s quickly cover what to do with your 3 days in the desert! In the itinerary, I’ve put all of these together for you, but you might want to mix and match activities as you see fit.
Explore a Vortex — Folks travel to Sedona from all over to marvel and enjoy the “vortex” energy unique to this part of the desert. Some of the more popular vortexes include Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock, and Airport Mesa Vortex.
Catch a Sunset — If you head to Sedona, you HAVE to catch a sunset at least one of the nights you’re there! There are plenty of Sedona sunset hikes you can see, but there are lots of vistas too. Be sure to check the weather beforehand because gloomy skies will pretty much erase any chance of seeing a sunset in the area.
Visit a Winery — Sedona is home to vineyards that offer tasting tours. This is the perfect activity for a fun date.
Shop in Uptown — Uptown Sedona is home to fun shopping and desert trinkets (think turquoise jewelry, etc.). If you want souvenirs before you leave, head here.
Find a Cave — During your Sedona itinerary you can explore a cave (oooooo). An easy one to access is Birthing Cave.
Admire the Tlaquepaque Art Village — Tlaquepaque is a small art village where you can shop, eat, walk around, and relax. Inside you can enjoy beautiful art pieces on display in galleries and live music!
Need a map? I got you! You can click here to view a live version of the map!
Now let’s take a peep at your itinerary!
Your Sedona 3 Day Itinerary at a Glance
Here is what the ideal 3 day Sedona itinerary looks like:
- Day 1
- Morning hike
- Swim at Red Rock Crossing
- Sunset at Lover’s Knoll
- Day 2
- Chapel of the Holy Cross
- Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village
- Helicopter Tour
- Sunset at Airport Mesa
- Day 3
- Hike Doe Mountain
- Relax at hotel
To start, we will assume that you flew into Phoenix Sky Harbor (the popular choice) and want to spend a long weekend in Sedona, AZ. Keep in mind that if you fly into Flagstaff or Sedona directly, your driving time will be much shorter.
This itinerary works best if you arrive in AZ early on day 1 or the night before.
Woohoo! You have just landed in PHX (preferably in the morning/ early afternoon), picked up your rental car, and prepared to boogie onto your Sedona 3 day itinerary!
Your first task is to make the 2hr drive to Sedona, AZ. You will most likely be taking the 179 in, which means you will be passing through the Village of Oak Creek.
When you arrive at the Village of Oak Creek, you can stop for gas or use the restroom.
Since Sedona is known for its hiking, I suggest jumping on a Sedona hiking trail to start day 1 with a bang! As a suggestion, I would do Devil’s Bridge or Doe Mountain.
Doe Mountain is an easy hike in Sedona, but if you want to see the iconic Devil’s Bridge, you should really go early. The parking lot AND trail get packed. Below is a list of great alternatives:
- Birthing Cave—Know for its tear-drop shape, and easy to get to, about 1.5 miles RT.
- Soldier Pass to Seven Sacred Pools—Popular photo spot in Sedona that features 7 perfectly aligned pools.
- Boynton Canyon Trail—Features a hidden cave and beautiful vistas, 6 miles round trip.
Make sure you grab a Red Rock Pass at the trailhead or online!
If you’re a national park lover and have your America the Beautiful Interagency Pass, you can hang that on your car, and skip the Red Rock Pass!
Go for an Afternoon Swim
A swim is a MUST in your Sedona 3 day itinerary! What better way to cool off after your hike than a little dip in a creek? Hehehehe.
After your hike, head over to Red Rock Crossing! You can park at the Baldwin Trailhead down Verde Valley Road or park at the Crescent Moon Picnic Site to get here.
Red Rock Crossing vortex is a great vantage point to watch the sunset on Cathedral Rock! If you choose to spend the rest of the day here, maybe stop at Whole Foods for some food and have a little picnic while you wait for the sun to go down.
Grasshopper Point is another option, but parking can be such a hassle! If you want to go to Grasshopper Point, get to the park lot and wait for a spot to open or try to get there early afternoon.
Catch a Sedona Sunset
Ready to end day 1 with a bang? On a clear day, you can get a fantastic sunset at what’s called Lover’s Knoll, and NO HIKING IS REQUIRED… AND IT’S FREE.
I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves:
Stop at the Whole Foods hot bar or head to Picazzo’s Healthy Italian Kitchen Sedona for dinner!
Chapel of the Holy Cross & Tlaquepaque
Day two is your day to explore Sedona’a cultural scene! To start the day, head to Sedona’s Chapel of the Holy Cross.
It’s is considered one of the most popular and sought-after attractions in Sedona, Arizona, and was built in the 1950s, nestled between red rocks. The Chapel is open from 9 am to 5 pm, 7 days a week, free to visit, and an easy Sedona vortex to get to!
If you want to make this more of an adventure, head to The Chapel Trail hike in the Holy Cross parking lot. As an alternative, you can spend the morning in Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village.
Pumphouse Station has a great breakfast menu if you’d like to grab something to eat before your next major activity.
Make sure you take pictures while you’re in the Village!
Ready to see Sedona from a different POV? Get yourself on a Sedona helicopter tour!
This is the perfect Sedona 3 day itinerary activity because it’ll give you the option to admire the red rock views uniquely. You can opt for a 30 minute Sedona helicopter tour or if you want to see more, go with a one hour Sedona helicopter tour.
Either way, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!
Alternatively, you can book a hot air balloon ride for sunrise and spend hours admiring the Sedona red rocks from up above.
Sedona is full of attractions you can enjoy with the help of a guide. Here are some other noteworthy tours to consider:
- Pink Jeep Tours – You’ll see some great parts of Sedona that you wouldn’t be able to explore without the help of massive vehicles. I’m talking about scenic vistas and other hard-to-reach Sedona gems!
- Mountain Bike Tour – Sedona is home to some of the best mountain biking trails you’ll find! This tour will take you on a scenic trail, so you can witness all that red rock magic from two wheels ;).
- Sedona Vortex Energy Tour – Many people come to Sedona to be immersed in the famous Sedona vortexes, which a guide can help you enjoy. You’ll hike to some of the bets vortexes and bask in their energy.
- Sedona Horseback Riding Tour – You’ll spend one-hour touring scenic parts of AZ while feeling like Fabio on a white stallion. Sounds magical!
Want a completely different kind of adventure? You can also opt to do a 12 hour tour to the Grand Canyon departing from Sedona!
Alternative Longer Hike
If you don’t want to book a tour and would rather cross something else off of your Sedona bucket list, I suggest heading to one of Sedona’s famous sunset hikes.
Sunset at a Sedona Vortex
Depending on how your day goes, you can choose to end things off by watching the sunset at Airport Mesa! This is a popular Sedona sunset hike because it’s easy to get to, extremely short, and has 360 views.
Fun fact: Airport Mesa Vortex is famous for its “healing energy”.
Alternatively, you can skip the mini hike and have dinner in Uptown at Canyon Breeze—they have an amazing outdoor patio that’s perfect for sunset viewing.
If you choose the dinner route, take time to explore the Uptown Sedona area, which features more cute shops and is surrounded by red rocks!
Day 3 (Ending Your 3 Days in Sedona)
Sunrise or Mid-Morning Hike
To cap off your 3 days in Sedona, you can start day 3 with a super easy sunrise hike (it’ll take less than 30 minutes to complete).
Doe Mountain trail is a 1.7mi round trip hike with a 400ft elevation gain. So it shouldn’t take you more than an hour to reach the top—and that’s if you’re going pretty slow!
If you already did Doe Mountain, a favorite of mine is Sugar Loaf Trail. You can make this a loop hike or head to the top of Sugar Loaf and turn around. If you go this route, I 100% suggest grabbing breakfast afterwards.
Need a breakfast suggestion? Head to the famous Coffee Pot Restaurant!
Eat & Shop (The Best Way to End 3 Days in Sedona, AZ)
There’s a good chance you’ll be a little tired after hiking and since we want to make sure you’re not leaving Sedona EXHAUSTED, day 3 is a great day to finish up souvenir shopping or enjoy a great lunch!
Head to Uptown for gifts and trinkets. If you want a nice dining experience, you can make lunch reservations at the award-winning Rene Restaurant for a “southwestern flare” on Mediterranean food.
Sedona Itinerary Add-Ons
Want to swap out some things in our itineraries? Here’s a list of activities you can add to your Sedona itinerary!
Sedona Spa Day
Want a real treat-yo-self-experience? Book a spa day!
The best part about having 3 days in Sedona is that you have plenty of time to relax in-between adventures. Scott and I visited the Amara Resort and LOVED our experience at their spa. If there were a way to live at this place secretly, I would HAHA.
Visit a State Park
Did you know there are some amazing state parks in the Sedona area? let’s talk about them!
- Red Rock State Park – Full of beautiful hikes and other attractions! You can check out an entire list of Red Rock State Park Sedona activities by visiting their website!
- Slide Rock State Park – Known for its swimming, Slide Rock is a desert gem about 15 minutes outside of Sedona. Depending on the day of the week you go, expect to pay $20 to $30 per vehicle to enter the park. You can see all the fees and park information on the Slide Rock State Park website.
Oak Creek Canyon – West Fork Trail
Hiking Oak Creek Canyon is a must! West Fork Trail is about a 20min drive from Sedona. There is no service on the way up there, so answer your calls beforehand and make sure you download a Google map of the area.
Once you arrive at the West Fork Trail, you will need to pay a $10 vehicle fee. Red Rock passes don’t apply here!
See More of Arizona
Since you’re already in Northern Arizona, I think it makes sense to tack on one of these to your Sedona 3 day itinerary for an extended Southwest trip.
Flagstaff is a great destination to visit after you complete your trip! You can do some hiking here, mountain biking, shopping, eating, or book a stay at a cozy cottage.
After that, it’s entirely up to you. Scott and I have a coffee shop we LOVE in this area, so we always make the trek to go there once we’ve explored Sedona.
I have an entire blog on things to do in Flagstaff, AZ, you can check out too!
Grand Canyon National Park
Of course, I have to mention that the Grand Canyon National Park is up this way. A Phoenix to Sedona to Grand Canyon trip is the best way to do it!
An itinerary like that will have you seeing multiple Arizona gems for the ultimate bucket list type trip. In the Grand Canyon there are copious amounts of trails up there—it’s a hiker’s dream park!
While you’re up this way, you can book an Antelope Canyon tour too!
Camp in Havasupai
You need permits to camp in Havasupai, but if you have them, you can totally make a trip to Sedona before or after your trip! Havasupai is where you will find epic waterfalls that are in the most unreal turquoise color.
You’ll feel like you just walked onto another planet!
Explore Phoenix, AZ
In the Phoenix area, we have Downtown Phoenix and drives from Scottsdale that offer some fantastic things to do, restaurants, and hiking (believe it or not). So if you have extra time to explore the valley, I highly recommend it! You’d also like my post on things to do in Scottsdale, AZ!
Final Thoughts on 3 Days in Sedona, AZ
And that’s all she wrote! Well, folks, I hope you enjoyed this blog and my recommendations for a Sedona 3 day itinerary! If you don’t want to do everything I recommended, I say at the least do one Sedona hike and one “big” activity like a tour of sorts.
This will ensure you see just about everything Sedona has to offer.
Regardless of what you decide to do, you’ll enjoy your trip—it’s hard not to in a gorgeous place like this! If you need more help planning your vacay, or just want some inspo on what an epic Southwest vacay could look like, I suggest you read these next:
- The Best Sedona Vacation Rentals
- Best Sedona Hikes for Sunset and Sunrise
- Sedona Travel Guide for First Timers
- Phoenix to Sedona to Grand Canyon itinerary
Happy exploring :)!