You probably know Sedona for its holistic, New Age vibes, but it also offers countless day trip opportunities. This stunning city is the perfect place to branch out and explore some of Arizona’s fun attractions and historic sites.
What exactly does this region have that you won’t find anywhere else? If you’re intrigued by ancient Indigenous communities, excited by cool desert waters, or ready to relax with a glass of wine, the Sedona area has everything you’re looking for.
Join us as we dig into some of Red Rock Country’s best-kept secrets.
Let’s hit it!
Experience the Magic of Sedona
Sedona, Arizona, wasn’t officially incorporated until the 1980s. The gorgeous, rugged landscape was mostly undeveloped until the 1950s. But for centuries, nearby Indigenous communities regarded this area as a sacred, special place.
The city and surrounding vicinity retain that sacred power today. Many believe Sedona sits within a healing energy hotspot known as a vortex. Considering the natural beauty of the red rock formations and big clear sky, it’s no surprise lots of folks feel this place is magical.
Speaking of the landscape, Red Rock Country is one of the best places in the southwest for all kinds of outdoor activities. You can explore more than 400 miles of trails for hiking, biking, running, and more. Try rafting on the Colorado River to cool off during summer or skiing in the winter months.
Sedona also has a lively arts and culture scene. Choose from dozens of award-winning restaurants and wineries to wake up your taste buds. You can also spend time at the shops and art galleries on Gallery Row, a stretch of State Route 179 buzzing with artisans and makers. And there’s always a show to catch, whether it’s live music, ballet, or an independent film.
Don’t forget to do some hiking around Sedona before you leave: Sedona Hiking Guide.
Best Day Trips Outside of Sedona
The city offers plenty of ways to enjoy yourself. But the arid oasis is also an ideal jump-off point for dozens of mini adventures. Why stay in one place when there’s so much to explore just around the corner?
Here are five of the best day trips just outside Sedona.
Spend a day in Flagstaff, and you’ll fall in love. Located 30 miles from Sedona, you can reach this day trip destination in under an hour. If you’re looking for a spot that offers nearly any activity you can imagine, this is the place for you.
Flagstaff is home to Northern Arizona University, which welcomes over 25,000 students annually. Head downtown to explore the live music and art scene, or grab a beer at one of several local breweries. This city truly has all the benefits of a college town.
If you’re in the mood for outdoor adventure, you’re in luck. In addition to being within driving range of the Grand Canyon, the surrounding area offers year-round fun at the Arizona Snowbowl, the Arboretum at Flagstaff, and the Coconino National Forest. Many athletes, including some US Olympians, head to this outdoor oasis for training and conditioning.
There are also a few unique must-see attractions in the City of Seven Wonders. Check out Riordan Mansion Historic State Park, where the Riordan brothers constructed almost-identical homes in the early 1900s.
You can stargaze at Lowell Observatory or visit the Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument to see the remnants of an ancient explosion. And no visit would be complete without a trip to the Museum of Northern Arizona. Its fascinating exhibits on the area’s earliest Indigenous inhabitants will let you peer into the past.
We’ve got some excellent parking options for you: 11 Magical Sedona Camping Spots.
#2 Slide Rock State Park
One day is plenty of time to explore Slide Rock State Park. However, you might find yourself wanting to stay! This protected area is a quick 15-minute day trip only seven miles outside Sedona city limits.
Apple picking is just one fun activity at Slide Rock. Homesteaders who settled the land in the early 20th century planted over 40 acres of apple trees that still produce fruit today. If you drop by during the annual apple festival, you can take a few of these tasty fruits home.
Oak Creek is another great feature of this park. It’s the home of the famous Slide Rock, an 80-foot natural rock formation that visitors have used as a water slide for years. Bring an inflatable tube and relax in the cool water at one of many nearby swimming holes.
The park offers a few short, moderately easy hiking trails perfect for observing plants and wildlife. See gorgeous canyon vistas on the Pendley Homestead Trail, or look for a 19th-century homesteader’s cabin on Slide Rock Route. The Clifftop Nature Trail leads to a scenic overlook where you can observe the swimming area.
For a truly special adventure, you’ll want to visit Jerome. This former mining town has a fascinating history and an equally mesmerizing present. Best of all, this day trip is just a 45-minute drive from Sedona.
At its peak, Jerome was an early 20th-century copper mining town. Several mines operated in the area, and as the money flowed out, people flowed in. At one point, Jerome had its own school, two churches, and an opera house. But when the markets crashed during the Great Depression, the once-vibrant village became a ghost town.
However, thanks to local artists and historians, Jerome is lively again. The well-preserved buildings serve as mini-museums, exhibits, vintage shops, restaurants, and art galleries. You can even tour the Douglas Mansion, where one of the village’s bigwigs lived.
There are tons of ways to spend a day in Jerome. You can grab a glass of wine at Caduceus Cellars, owned by rock musician Maynard James Keenan. Check out the Mine Museum to learn how the village began, then chow down at Bobby D’s BBQ, the oldest restaurant in Arizona. And don’t forget to partake in a haunted tour to really get that ghost town feel.
#4 Walnut Canyon National Monument
Step back in time with a visit to Walnut Canyon National Monument. This destination offers lessons in history and geology you won’t find anywhere else. And less than an hour from Sedona, it’s the ultimate day trip.
About 800 years ago, Walnut Canyon was home to Indigenous communities like the Sinagua cave dwellers.
The name Sinagua means “without water.” It’s an appropriate moniker for communities that thrived in the often harsh conditions of the Arizona desert. With ingenuity and skill, the Sinagua people created homes that allowed them to stay cool, conserve water, and live comfortably.
Explore the well-preserved cave dwellings up close on the Island Trail. For scenic views, check out the paved and ADA-accessible Rim Trail, which leads up Walnut Canyon for a birds-eye view of the structures. You can also enter the on-site observatory to learn more about Walnut Canyon’s history.
Nature lovers will go wild for the animal life at this national monument. You have a good chance of spotting dozens of creatures like coyotes, deer, and even mountain lions year-round. Birdwatchers can observe more than 120 species here.
Cottonwood is known as the Heart of Arizona Wine Country. As a highlight of the Verde Valley Wine Trail, the town boasts a whopping eight vineyards within city limits. It’s a 25-minute drive from Sedona, making it an excellent day trip option.
Check out a handful of Cottonwood’s wineries, or spend the day crossing the various establishments off your Arizona Wine Trail Passport. Sample the region’s best whites and reds, then buy a couple of bottles to take home. Many of the local vineyards also host live music and other events.
But if wine isn’t your thing, Cottonwood has plenty more to offer. Visit Old Town for a peek into the city’s past and present. Here you’ll find historic buildings, Atomic Age neon signs, and plenty of small-town charm.
There’s tons of great shopping and dining in Cottonwood. The town boasts eight art galleries and dozens of shops where you can find locally made jewelry, clothing, food, and souvenirs.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, you’ll have no trouble finding a place to chow down. Cottonwood has everything from classic burger joints and barbecue to upscale Italian and tapas spots.
Dig into more details. Here’s How to Spend a Day in Cottonwood, Arizona.
Sedona’s Day Trips Will Keep You Coming Back For More
Red Rock Country is a place of wonder and natural beauty. There’s nowhere else in the American Southwest quite like it. But thanks to its ideal location, Sedona is also the perfect home base for all kinds of day trips.
So get out there and maximize the fun! When planning your trip to this magical city, be sure to schedule a side adventure or two.
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