Heading to the Grand Canyon State? Be sure to spend at least one day in Sedona to soak up the beauty of the surrounding red rock formations and their powerful healing energy. Embraced by rugged red-rock buttes, shadowy canyons, and verdant pine forests, the desert town is a mecca for artists, New Age healers, and outdoor lovers alike.
Even if you only have 24 hours in Sedona, its beautiful landscapes beg to be explored. Take a scenic drive along the Red Rock Scenic Byway or Oak Creek Canyon Roads to take in the breathtaking beauty of Red Rock Country. Hike along the Devil’s Bridge Trail or to one of Sedona’s four energy vortexes for some uplifting vibes.
On any Sedona itinerary, you should head to the famous Bell Rock and Cathedral Rock at sunrise or sunset for Insta-worthy photographs and marvel at the architectural significance of Sedona’s Chapel of the Holy Cross. Indulge in some retail therapy at Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village and pick up some unique artisanal souvenirs.
Not sure where to begin when heading to Sedona for one day? Make the most of your 24-hour visit to the Red Rock Country city with this easy-to-follow Sedona travel plan.
Looking for more ideas for your trip? Check out our other city itineraries and our Arizona Travel Guide for more recommendations and tips on when to visit, where to go & what to do!
Where to go in Sedona in one day: A complete itinerary
Catch the sunrise with a hike on the Bell Rock Loop Trail or Cathedral Rock Trail
What better way to start the day than with a sunrise hike to one of Sedona’s most famous attractions? You’ll need to start your day trip to Sedona rather early, but it’ll be well worth it! Cathedral Rock is a jaw-dropping rock formation that can be explored on several hiking trails.
The closest and easiest route to the rock is the Cathedral Rock Trail. This is a popular hike, so don’t expect solitude, but the panoramic views from the saddle are worth all the jostling. It’s also one of Sedona’s four vortexes, so you’ll hopefully feel the healing power of the Earth. The most challenging part of the hike is getting a parking spot; get there early!
Another fantastic spot to watch the sunrise is from the slopes or summit of Bell Rock. Situated just north of the Village of Oak Creek, this bell-shaped butte is one of the most iconic rock formations in Sedona.
Take a gentle hike along the Bell Rock Trail to a small plateau on the northwest face of the butte and soak up incredible views over the desert. If you’re a summit seeker, you can follow a challenging unmarked trail to the top.
Refuel with breakfast and coffee in the Village of Oak Creek
After all that early morning exercise, it’s time to refuel for the day. From Bell Rock and Cathedral Rock, head down Highway 179 into the Village of Oak Creek in Sedona, where you’ll find plenty of options for a hearty breakfast.
Fresh coffee and a warm pastry sound like heaven? Then try Oak Creek Espresso. This cozy little coffee shop is set on Highway 179 just before the turning circle and serves freshly roasted small-batch coffee with home-baked goodies for breakfast. It’s the perfect pick-me-up after a morning hike.
If you need more than a pastry and coffee, take a short walk south to the Red Rock Café for steaming eggs and bacon. Located in Clarke’s Market & Pharmacy, this charming diner-style café serves traditional Southwestern fare in a laid-back setting.
Fancy a Tex-Mex-style brekkie of burritos or huevos rancheros rather? Slightly further south on Highway 179, you’ll find Miley’s Café and a menu of delicious American and Mexican dishes. The down-to-earth eatery is usually packed with locals – a sure sign that the food is good!
Admire the architectural beauty of the Chapel of the Holy Cross
One of the top Sedona tourist attractions that’s not to be missed is the Chapel of the Holy Cross. This striking architectural masterpiece stands sentry over Sedona just east of Highway 179, forming an extraordinary sight.
You can reach the Chapel on the eponymous Chapel Road, just off Highway 179. Located on the southern side of Twin Buttes, the Chapel juts out of a thousand-foot red rock façade, relying on the symbolic red rock as its foundation. Boasting breathtaking panoramic views of the endless desert, the Chapel of the Holy Cross was designed to afford a humbling and spiritual experience to any visitor.
Inspired by sculptor Marguerite Brunswig Staude, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright, and designed by August K. Strotz, the religious structure is built in the shape of a twin-pinnacled spur. Take note of the giant cross that supports the glass, a significant Catholic symbol of faith.
The interior of the Chapel of the Holy Cross is just as magnificent. Designed to be a place of reflection and meditation, the inside is simple and stark, with just an altar and a few pews. The focus is the large glass panel and structural cross that forms a dark and symbolic shape against the bright sky.
Indulge in some retail therapy at Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village
Take a break from sightseeing and enjoy some retail therapy at the internationally renowned Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village. Nestled in the shade of giant sycamore trees on the banks of Oak Creek, Tlaquepaque promises a one-of-a-kind shopping experience.
Designed to emulate a traditional Mexican village, Tlaquepaque has vine-covered walls with glorious archways, quaint cobblestone pathways, and tinkling water features. Wander along shady walkways and browse the charming shops, eclectic art galleries, and quaint gift shops. Relax in the timeless beauty of the grounds beneath the broad leafy branches of ancient sycamore trees.
Founded as an artist community, Tlaquepaque is a haven for arts & crafts lovers. Spend some time watching gifted artisans displaying their skills and plying their trade in one of the Tlaquepaque galleries. Admire beautiful blown glass creations, decorative arts, traditional ceramics, and bold bronze sculptures dotted around the village.
Enjoy lunch in Uptown Sedona
All that sightseeing and shopping worked up an appetite? Uptown Sedona is a great spot for lunch, with plenty of eateries, cafés, and restaurants.
If you want to lunch with a view, then The Vault Uptown is a winner. Set on Forest Road in the heart of Uptown Sedona, The Vault Uptown boasts breathtaking views of the surrounding red rock buttes. Dine on modern Southwestern fare against a backdrop of spectacular vistas.
A few blocks north on North State Route 89, the Outlaw Grille is a classic burger joint with a cowboy theme. Tuck into hefty hamburgers, smoked ribs, and beef brisket sandwiches in a laid-back atmosphere. Grab a sarmie and a cold drink and head across the North State Route 89 to enjoy a picnic-style lunch on the banks of Oak Creek.
Why not take in some art after lunch? Wander up North State Route 89 and browse the many art galleries highlighting local artists’ works.
The Bearcloud Art Gallery & Native Cultural Center is set in a rustic cottage and features surreal landscapes painted by the namesake artist. The Sedona Arts Center is a haven for local arts and crafts and the perfect place to shop for unique gifts and souvenirs for loved ones.
Marvel at a sunset at Sedona Airport Scenic Lookout
As the day wanes, head up to the Sedona Airport Scenic Lookout to watch the sun cast its last rays on the surrounding red rock formations. Just a short drive from downtown Sedona, the Sedona Airport Scenic Lookout is situated at the end of Airport Road, with a small gravel area as the lookout.
From this viewpoint, you’ll enjoy panoramic views over the western section of the city and majestic rouge-hued rock formations like Capitol Butte and Coffee Pot Rock.
The setting sun illuminates the rock and creates an ethereal, other-worldly effect. Find a protected spot away from the sunset seekers and soak up the magic of the moment.
Savor wine tasting and dinner in the Verde Valley
End your adventure in Sedona with some wine tasting and a delicious dinner at one of the wineries in the beautiful Verde Valley. Just south of Sedona, the Verde Valley is extraordinarily beautiful, with lush green landscapes set against the red rock of the mountains and multi-colored sands and skies.
Nourished by the Verde River, Sedona’s Verde Valley is famous for producing some of the country’s top wines. Enjoy a scenic drive through the valley and stop off at one of the wine estates to sample some of Arizona’s award-winning vino.
D.A. Ranch Estate Vineyards is a boutique, family-owned estate vineyard in Cornville that produces small-batch wines. It has a stunning setting on Dancing Apple Apache Road, where you can unwind over a glass of Petit Sirah. The winery doesn’t serve food, so it’s a good spot for a quick tasting before moving on to the next winery.
Head south past the Bubbling Ponds Hatchery to Oak Creek Vineyards & Winery, another charming family-owned boutique winery that offers a variety of wines for all palates. Its location on the banks of Oak Creek allows the winery to specialize in crisp, clean white wines and smooth velvety reds. Grab a seat on the patio overlooking the vineyards and enjoy a glass of wine and some light snacks.
Take a behind-the-scenes tour of a winery at Javelina Leap Winery to see how each bottle is produced and enjoy a personalized pairing with chocolate truffles and organic cheese. Relax in the beautiful tasting room and sample some of the winery’s unique wines, including the famous Javelina Sangria. When you’re feeling peckish, tuck into artisan cheese platters, pizza, and deli meats at the Arizona Room Bistro and Secret Garden.
If you prefer eco-friendly, organic wines, venture south of Cornville to the small, family-owned Alcantara Vineyards and Winery. Boasting a beautiful setting, the winery offers tours and tastings, as well as fun activities like kayaking in the Verde River.
Where to stay with 24 hours in Sedona
For travelers with a short layover, the most popular places to stay in Sedona fall within bustling Uptown and quieter areas like West Sedona. In these areas, you’ll find a great selection of top-notch accommodations, including everything from hotels and resorts to vacation rentals.
The Inn at Thunder Mountain
Enjoy a refined stay with a Southwest vibe in a lovely setting at this elegant boutique-style inn. End your sightseeing adventure with a soaking in a spa tub or a hot beverage next to a crackling fire. The hotel also offers a gourmet breakfast to get your day off to a roaring start.
Whispering Creek Bed & Breakfast
Located steps from the heart of Uptown, this quiet bed & breakfast offers bright, comfortable rooms with rich furnishings and Southwest accents. Get into chill mode by relaxing on the patio and soaking in the desert scenery.
El Portal Sedona Hotel
Located next to the Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village, El Portal is the perfect escape for culture seekers. The adobe property features a classic Southwestern courtyard and garden to unwind in. Get the rest of your dreams in the rustic-chic rooms, fitted with luxurious extras like Egyptian linens, fireplaces, and jacuzzi tubs. Before heading out into town, fuel up with a delicious breakfast in the hotel’s cozy lounge.
When to visit Sedona
The best time to visit Sedona is in the spring months, between late March and May. Spring is the most comfortable time of year in the desert town as the temperatures are warm without ascending into the dreaded summer heat and humidity. Keep in mind, however: The spring also falls within the tourist high season, meaning denser crowds and higher prices.
If visiting in spring isn’t in the cards, fall is another great option. In fall, you’ll still experience mild to warm temperatures but its a tad wetter than in April and May. As a bonus, an autumn trip should come with a discount as the tourist crowds are lower than in spring.
More Sedona itinerary ideas
To fit all of Sedona’s fantastic attractions and activities into a day trip is challenging. If you have some spare time on your visit, why not check out one of these stunning state parks?
Slide Rock State Park
One of the most popular day trips from Sedona is to beat the heat with some slipping and sliding fun at Slide Rock State Park. Named after a natural water slide formed by the slippery bed of Oak Creek, Slide Rock State Park promises tons of fun. Situated in Oak Creek Canyon, just seven miles north of Sedona, the park is ideal for a few hours of fun in the sun.
Once a vast apple plantation owned by Frank L. Pendley, Slide Rock State Park still features several historic buildings that can be visited as well as over 300 apple trees dotting the grounds.
Hike along the Pendley Homestead Trail to view the family homestead, historic farm equipment, and the apple-picking shed. Enjoy the fruits of the apple harvest in late summer and fall.
Slide Rock State Park’s main attraction is the exhilarating 80-foot-long red-rock slide in Oak Creek. Fly or float down the slide on a tube or find a swimming hole to cool off in.
You’ll find picnic areas with barbecue grills and two large pavilions for group gatherings. Take a pair of water shoes as the rocks can be very slippery!
Red Rock State Park
Soak up the spectacular natural beauty that surrounds Sedona in the Red Rock State Park. Just a 20-minute drive from Sedona, Red Rock State Park is a haven of natural beauty, wildlife, and recreational activities.
Make your first stop at the Miller Visitor Center. Watch two films and check out some excellent hands-on exhibits highlighting the park and its diverse habitats. When you’re done, grab a map and hit the trails.
Wind your way through Sedona’s iconic red rock formations on hiking, biking, and horseback riding tracks. Over five miles of paths cater to all levels of fitness. The top hikes include Apache Fire Loop, Coyote Ridge Trail, and Eagles Nest Loop.
Join a guided morning walk with a naturalist to learn about the fascinating geology and local wildlife in the park. Meander through the riparian habitat along the banks of Oak Creek to spot a variety of bird and wildlife species. Relax with a picnic and soak up the scenic beauty of the buttes, pinnacles, and peaks that surround you.