7 Things to do in Sedona, AZ

Sedona, Arizona is a spiritual Mecca. But it’s more than that. The town, nestled among magnificent red rocks, offers more than vortexes and fabulous scenery. Here are seven Sedona tours and other things to keep you busy during your stay in this fabulous area.

Palatke pictograph

Pictographs at Palatki, an archeological site near Sedona, AZ, photo/Steve Collins

Explore Palatki:
Palatki, a Pueblo archeological site, is a gateway to the past. The cliff dwellings here were home to the Sinagua people from around 1150 AD to around 1300 when they mysteriously abandoned the dwellings. Currently the trail up to the dwelling is closed due to a crack in the rocks overhead. You can view them from afar. The site  also offers pictographs (rock pictures) that are credited to diverse peoples passing though the area hundreds and even thousands of years ago. The small Visitor’s Center has lots of information about Palatki including a video presentation. Knowledgeable rangers and docents are on-hand there and throughout the site to answer visitors’ questions. Allow about 2 hours to view the entire site. The area never gets too crowded as parking is limited. It’s advisable to make reservations in advance. If the parking lot is full, you won’t get in. Another way to see this site and others around Sedona is via jeep tour (see below). The sister site, Honaki, is open to visitors, but is relatively undeveloped.

Take a jeep tour:
If riding a bumpy Forest Service road in a topless Jeep or other vehicle appeals to you, book a tour. Guides are fun and knowledgeable. There are several companies offering these. Pink Jeep Tours has been in business over 50 years. You’ll see their vehicles all over town. Among other companies offering tours are Red Rock Jeep Tours, A Day in the West and Sedona Jeep Tours. You can also rent a Jeep from Barlow Jeep Rentals and go exploring on your own.

Airport Vortex, Sedona, AZ

The vortex near the Sedona airport, photo/Steve Collins

Visit a vortex:
The energy from Sedona’s vortexes (or vortices) has been pulling seekers here for a long time. These palpable centers of spiraling energy are scattered around town. There are four main vortexes: Airport Mesa, Bell Rock, Boynton Canyon and Cathedral Rock. Each is said to have its own energy and it’s said, that every visitor, will have a unique experience. If you visit Sedona, don’t leave without going to a vortex; it’s part of the local gestalt. If you want to go to combine a Jeep Tour with the vortex exploration, check out Earth Wisdom Jeep Tours. Their excursion takes you to both Boynton Canyon and Cathedral Rock. It’s a great way to see them. The guide talks about the area, the meaning of vortexes and tour members time to explore and experience the vortex energy at each stop.

Cathedral Rock

Red Rocks Crossing with Cathedral Rock in the background, Sedona, AZ, photo/Elizabeth R. Rose

Red Rocks Crossing:
This unique rock crossing spanning Oak Creek is located in the Crescent Moon Picnic area, part of the Coconino National Forest. The view of Cathedral Rock (one of the vortex places) from here is spectacular. Bring a lunch or stop by to take photos and, of course, cross the creek.

Enjoy the great outdoors Sedona:
Fishing enthusiasts or folks just wanting to be out in nature will enjoy the trout fishing on either Oak or Beaver Creeks. Don’t forget to buy a license. There are a lot of hiking trails and biking trails in and around Sedona. Take your camera (there are great views), water, a hat and sunscreen. The area also offers a number of golfing options.

Tlaquepaque Village

Shop at Tlaquepaque Village in Sesdona, AZ, photo courtesy/Tlaquepaque Village

Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village This unique shopping area with more than 40 upscale boutiques, galleries and restaurants calls itself “the art and soul of Sedona.”  The original owner, Abe Miller, wanted the charming collection of Spanish-style buildings, on the banks of Oak Creek, to serve as an artists’ live/work complex. It did for a short-while after its 1973 opening, but the concept wasn’t viable. Miller had it built to look like its Mexican namesake, a small village near Guadalajara.  For authenticity, he even included a chapel, which today serves as a wedding venue. Stroll down the cobbled walkways, under stone arches and past cottonwood trees and through shady courtyards, a riot of colorful blooms in season. Browse, shop, stop for a cooling drink or a bite to eat.

Stargazing in Sedona, AZ

Sedona's night sky photo courtesy/ Sedona Star Gazing Tours

Night skies in Sedona are beautiful. Because the town has strict light ordinances conditions are perfect for stargazing. Join Evening Sky Tours and watch the stars the way they should be seen; through a high-powered telescope. If you’ve ever looked through a high-powered telescope, you know how amazingly beautiful the heavens are; if you haven’t, you’re in for a memorable experience. There’s nothing like seeing a star-cluster or the rings of Saturn through one of these.

Please note: In order to park at many sites in the area, including Palatki, the vortexes and hiking places, you’ll need a Red Rocks Pass or National Park pass (America The Beautiful Interagency Pass, Golden Age or Golden Access).

If you go:

Lodging suggestions:
The Lodge at Sedona is a luxury B & B catering to discerning travelers. Located in a building dating to the 1940s, it’s been an inn for over 20 years. Their in-town location is quiet and secluded. They are known for romantic getaways and special occasions. Even if you don’t stay with them, you can enjoy their meditation labyrinth. Dogs are welcome.

If you want a rustic retreat with what their website calls the “luxuries of a fine inn”, the Briar Patch Inn is for you. The historic inn dates to the 1940s and was originally opened to accommodate movie stars filming in the area. The 19 cabins (most with wood-burning fireplaces) are set on nine secluded acres adjacent to Oak Creek.  Guests enjoy a peaceful, wooded wonderland.  If you want to hear the roaring creek, opt for one of the four cabin set on its banks. This is a true getaway, no phone in cabins, only a few are equipped with TVs and Internet is only available in the main lodge.

Oak Creek at Sedona's L'Auberge Sedona

Oak Creek from the deck of a Creekside cottage at L'Auberge Sedona, photo/Steve Collins

L’Auberge de Sedona is a luxury, Four Star resort set on the banks of Oak Creek. The roar of water will lull you to sleep in their Creekside Cottages. If you want spectacular red rock views, book a one-bedroom Vista Suites and or one of the Vista Cottages introduced in 2010 or choose something in between. The cottages and suites all have fireplaces (some wood-burning and some gas-fired), private decks. Most have outdoor showers. There is a full-service spa and an accolade-winning restaurant on-site.

Sedona Rouge Hotel, Sedona, AZ

The entry to f Sedona Rouge, Sedona, AZ, photo/Steve Collins

The Four StarSedona Rouge Hotel and Spa is a chic property adjacent to a strip-mall. Don’t let this put you off. The red rock views at the front and back of the hotel are spectacular and rooms facing the back are quiet. The hotel calls the ambiance “Mediterranean” but the feel in both public areas and the guest rooms is very Zen. Make sure to request one of the rain-shower bathrooms. If you want a massage, there is a spa on site. For extra pampering the hotel offers guestrooms in the Spa that feature soaking tubs in the living areas.

Comprehensive lodging information can be found at Visit Sedona.

Dining suggestions:
For breakfast, try the Coffee Pot Restaurant famous for having 101 omelets. They pride themselves for great food, large portions, fast service and affordable prices.

L’Auberge on Oak Creek (at L’Auberge Sedona) is offers a memorable dining experience. The restaurant know for its fine wines, has a seasonally changing Mediterranean-inspired, American menu. In warm weather, opt for their patio on the banks of Oak Creek.

Elote (named for a fire-roasted corn and cheese dish) offers the foods of Mexico prepared by Chef/Owner Jeff Smedstad. This talented chef has a passion for the cuisine of our southern neighbor and has traveled there extensively sampling food in markets, restaurants and homes. If you’re looking for a typical taco/enchilada joint, go elsewhere. If you want to experience authentic foods of Mexico in creative preparations, put this on your list. Smedstad is also a fan of fresh, local and sustainable. Be prepared to wait, they don’t take reservations and it’s a very popular spot.

Dahl & Di Luca Ristorante Italiano offers authentic Italian dining in a large open space and has been a popular Sedona dining spot for over 15 years. They also operate Cucina Rustica, offering the foods Italy and the Mediterranean in stylish Tuscan Villa-inspired ambiance in Oak Creek Village. Chef/owner, Lisa Dahl’s The Elixir of Life Cookbook, won the 2011 Gold Medal IPPY (Independent Publishers) Award for Cookbook of the Year in 2011. Both restaurants use organics and local foods whenever they can.

For more Sedona information, check out Sedona-Arizona-Vacations.

Some of the activities mentioned in this article can be dangerous and you may be asked to sign a waiver. Check the safety records of these companies and make sure they meet your standards. The writer does not endorse these businesses in any way. The information here is intended solely for your reading enjoyment.

Author’s note: We were guests of both L’Auberge Sedona and Sedona Rouge Hotel and Spa. Their generosity has not affected this post in any way.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 Responses to “7 Things to do in Sedona, AZ”

  1. Traveling Ted
    November 8, 2019 at 8:20 am #

    I visited a few areas with pictographs in Quetico. They are always quite the thrill. Great list with awesome suggestions on where to stay and dine.

    • Billie Frank
      November 9, 2019 at 9:21 am #

      I love them and even more so, petroglyphs. They are voices calling from the past. Interesting that there are some in Quetico.

Leave a Reply