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The Perfect 3-Day Sedona Itinerary: Best Things to Do

The Perfect 3-Day Sedona Itinerary: Best Things to Do

Sedona, Arizona is truly a special place. With towering red rock formations, spiritual vortexes, and world-class outdoor activities, Sedona makes for the perfect weekend getaway. In this post, we’ll share with you the perfect 3-day Sedona itinerary for a short, weekend jaunt in Arizona, including the best things to do and eat, when to go, where to stay, and what to bring.

Hold tight! A trip here will make you want to pack your bags and move to the desert.

Getting to and around Sedona, Arizona

First things first. Sedona is located just north of Phoenix, Arizona. You’ll likely fly into Phoenix (PHX), Arizona’s largest airport, and start your journey from there. You will want to have a car to get around since, in typical Arizona fashion, most places are spread out. We recommend using rentalcars.com to snag the best deal since the site lets you compare multiple rental companies at once.

Here are the distances and estimated drive times from major cities in Arizona:

  • Phoenix: 116 miles (2 hours)
  • Prescott: 67 miles (1.5 hours)
  • Flagstaff: 30 miles (1 hour)

From Sedona, you can easily extend your trip to other Arizona landmark destinations, like the Grand Canyon (2-hour drive). Tempting, I know.

Best time to travel to Sedona

Given how hot Arizona can get in the summer months, the best time to travel is spring, fall, and winter (basically, not summer). For the best wildflower views and perfect hiking weather, you’ll want to time your visit between March through May.

The perfect 3-day Sedona itinerary

We’ve compiled a 3-day itinerary featuring what we think are the best things to do in Sedona for a short getaway. We’ve based this itinerary on our own travel experiences and tried to mix in a bit of everything, from sightseeing to relaxing to getting outdoors. Enjoy!

Day 1: Arrive & Explore

Fly into Phoenix, Arizona in the morning, and grab your rental car. Since it’s just a short 2-hour drive, you should be able to make it to Sedona by early afternoon. Once you check in and get settled, it’s time to explore!

Take in the views: The landscape in Sedona is absolutely stunning. Take a moment to just soak it all in: the red rocks, valley views, the wide open roads peppered with cacti.

View from Sedona Hiking
Bell Rock in Sedona, Arizona

Go on a sunset hike: Entering Sedona, you’ll see a few notable rock formations on the horizon. One of the most recognizable is Bell Rock. Bell Rock is the perfect trail for a “travel day” hike: easy-going, short, and very scenic. This hike is best done towards the late afternoon to evening when the crowds peter out, the sun starts to set, and the valley turns an even redder hue.

Grab dinner at Dahl & Di Lucca Ristorante: By the time you finish your short hike at Bell Rock, I’m sure you’ll be hungry. Make your way over to Dahl & Di Lucca. This spot has amazing Italian food and an excellent vibe! When we went, they were playing live jazz (super fun) and had a superb wine list.

Day 2: Get outdoors

When in Sedona, we love an early start. Not only will you find fewer crowds, it’s also the best way to escape the heat which picks up early in Arizona. (Ugh… hiking in hot weather. We just can’t.) For Day 2 of this itinerary, we”ll spend it exploring the natural scenery of Sedona.

Get your hike on early: Hiking is easily one of the best things to do in Sedona, and again, it’s best to start early. For a short trip, we recommend either Cathedral Rock or Devil’s Bridge which are two of the most popular day hikes in the area. Both work perfectly well as sunrise hikes, although as long as you hit the trail before it gets too hot (ideally, by 7 or 8 am), you should be fine.

On either of these hikes, you can expect stunning valley views from atop huge rock formations and unbeatable photo ops. Note that, for parking, you’ll want to pick up a Red Rock parking pass ($5/day) at the trailhead.

For other popular hikes in the area, check out our list of favorite Sedona hikes.

Sedona hiking view
On the way to Cathedral Rock

Grab lunch: After finishing your hike, next stop is lunch! Stop by Hideaway House for pizza, chicken wings, and sandwiches on their open air patio. The food and views here are top-notch.

Slide Rock State Park in Sedona
Source: Arizona State Parks

Slide Rock State Park: Since you worked up a sweat in the AM, spend the afternoon cooling down at Slide Rock State Park. Here, you’ll find a natural water slide that’s been rated one of America’s Top 10 Watering Holes. When it’s 90 degrees outside, swimming and sliding at Slide Rock is THE place to be!

Grab dinner at Mariposa Latin Inspired Grill : For a taste of “finer” dining, make your way over to Mariposa for its Latin-inspired cuisine from Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay. It’s a bit on the upscale side since they do enforce somewhat of a dress code (no tanks or flip flops).

Day 3: Shop and sight-see

On Day 3, enjoy a low-key day in Sedona relaxing, sight-seeing, and casual shopping before heading back to Phoenix for your flight. On our itinerary, we highlight “must see” places that are easy to drive to and walk around when in Sedona.

Catch sunrise at Airport Mesa: You can’t leave Sedona without seeing the sun rise above the rocks. It’s truly out of this world. Airport Mesa, located off Airport Road, is one of the best “drive to” spots to catch sunrise in Sedona. There’s technically a loop trail that you can take to get additional views, but we found that you still get beautiful views just from your car.

Holy Cross in Sedona

Chapel of the Holy Cross: As far as sightseeing goes, one of the premiere sights in Sedona is the Chapel of the Holy Cross, a Romantic Catholic chapel that is built into the buttes. The chapel was built by a student of Frank Lloyd Wright and is worth seeing for its remarkable architecture.

Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village
Source: Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village

Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village: Stop by this cute, cobble-stoned shopping area to find art galleries, local shops, and eateries. You can easily spend a couple of hours meandering here. For eats, try Oak Creek Brewery & Grill (casual) for burgers and brews, El Rincon (casual) for Arizona-style Mexican food, or Rene At Tlaquepaque (upscale).

Other recommended activities

There’s so much to do in Sedona that it’s difficult to pack it all in, especially on such a short trip. Here are a few other activities we love that you can swap into your Sedona itinerary based on your personal preferences:

  • Take a yoga class: Sedona has a reputation of being a very mystical place. As a result, you’ll find people coming from all over the world to practice yoga, meditation, and other spiritual rituals. You may even be able to find trail yoga classes like this 2-hour vinyasa one.
  • Go star-gazing: Sedona is the perfect place for star-gazing. In fact, the entire city is a designated Dark Sky community with a commitment to limit light pollution. You can take a tour with an astronomer, or for an interesting spin, take this star-gazing + UFO tour.
  • Treat yourself with some spa time: Being a big resort town, there are a ton of spas in the area. L’Apothecary Spa and Mii Amo (a spa resort) are two highly recommended spas in the area.
  • Take a Jeep tour: We didn’t get a chance to do this, but we definitely saw a ton of Jeeps! It seems like a fun way to explore the desert, and we’d put it on our bucket list for a future trip. Check out this highly rated tour with over 120+ reviews in particular.

Where to stay in Sedona

Because Sedona is such a popular tourist spot within Arizona, lodging books up quickly. When we planned our first trip, we did so on a moment’s notice and found that a lot of places were already sold out. As a result, we recommend booking as early as possible.

Here are some of our top recommendations for hotels and B&Bs:

We personally love staying at B&Bs when in Sedona, although a resort seems like an equally fun treat. Find more lodging on Booking.com.

View in Sedona, AZ

How much time do you need in Sedona?

2-3 days, at minimum. Sedona makes for a nice weekend getaway, especially given its proximity to Phoenix and Flagstaff, but believe me, you could easily stay for an entire week. Beyond the hiking trails and outdoor activities, the city has a lot to offer by way of relaxation (spas, shopping, resorts).

Tips for visiting Sedona, Arizona

  • Book your lodging early. Sedona is a popular vacation spot, so lodging can book up quickly especially during peak travel times.
  • Pack appropriately for hiking. There are a few items you’ll want to make sure you come prepared with when hiking in Sedona. Check out our essential hiking gear list and our Sedona hiking guide to help you pack.
  • Prepare for hot afternoons and cold nights. Since you’ll be traveling in the desert, expect desert weather. Year-round, it is helpful to have a light jacket with you during the evenings.

Hope you enjoyed our 3-day Sedona itinerary! What else would you add? Let us know in the comments!

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