Cathedral Rock, Sedona Arizona

Ultimate Sedona Itinerary | What To See In Sedona In One Day

Wondering how to spend the perfect day in Sedona? You’ve come to the right article.

Sedona’s one of the most unique places Arizona has to offer other than the Grand Canyon. With striking red rock mountains and beautiful canyons surrounded by pine forests, the natural beauty attracts millions of tourists each year.

In Sedona’s downtown, you’ll find gift shops, art galleries, and a variety of amazing restaurants with views of the red rocks.  

I visit Sedona many times throughout the year, since it has such a peaceful atmosphere and abundance of natural beauty to explore. 

Whether you enjoy hiking, shopping, or admiring red rock views from the comfort of your hotel, Sedona has something for everyone!

To help you plan the ideal day trip in Sedona, I’ve put together this sample itinerary. If it’s your first time visiting Sedona and you want to fill your day with adventure, this is the itinerary for you.

Ready to find out the best things to do, see and eat within a day in Sedona? Let’s dive in! 

Cathedral Rock, Sedona Arizona
Cathedral Rock, Sedona Arizona

Sedona One Day Itinerary At A Glance

  • Breakfast (Coffee Pot, Red Rock Cafe, Sedonuts)
  • Hike or Slide Rock State Park (3-4 hours)
  • Lunch (Mariposa Latin Grill, The Hudson, Pisa Lisa)
  • Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village (30 min-1hr) 
  • Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park (30 min)
  • Sunset at Airport Mesa Scenic Lookout
  • Dinner (Elote Cafe, Cowboy Club Grille)
Uptown Sedona
Uptown Sedona

Where To Stay In Sedona

If it’s your first time in Sedona, staying in West Sedona is a great option. Here you’ll be within a 10 minute drive from the most popular hikes, restaurants, and shops. 

But if you’re not renting a car, staying in Uptown is the ideal place if you want to be within walking distance to restaurants and shops. 

And if you prefer a quieter atmosphere, Oak Creek Village is the place to stay. It’s right by Cathedral Rock and Bell Rock, and around a 15-20 minute drive from Uptown. 

Check out our article on where to stay in Sedona for a list of the best hotels and vacation rentals. 

Sedona Day Trip Itinerary

Before exploring Sedona, stop by one of the many amazing breakfast restaurants in town.

If you want a hearty breakfast, the Coffee Pot, Red Rock Cafe, and Miley’s Cafe are all excellent choices.

If you’re looking for something quick, Sedonuts makes the best donuts in town, and Layla’s Bakery has delicious pastries and coffee

Best Hikes For A Day Trip

After breakfast, head to one of Sedona’s trailheads for an epic day hike. Not a fan of hiking? Skip down to the best alternative activities by clicking here

If you only have time for one hike in Sedona, I’d recommend Cathedral Rock or Devil’s Bridge

Cathedral Rock is considered Sedona’s most powerful energy vortex, and it’s located in the Village of Oak Creek.

Cathedral Rock
Cathedral Rock

If you’re unfamiliar, Sedona’s known for having “energy vortexes” or sites thought to have increased levels of energy.

These sites are classified as having “upflow” (masculine), or “downflow” (feminine) energy, and many people visit them to relax and meditate.

Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock, Airport Mesa, and Boynton Canyon are some of the most well-known vortex hikes in town.

Although some people believe these vortex sites are a tourist trap, they’re interesting to visit nonetheless!

Cathedral Rock is considered an “upflow vortex”, and it has the best view in town in my opinion.

Cathedral Rock, Sedona Arizona
Cathedral Rock, Sedona Arizona

It’s a 1.4 mile round trip hike that’s moderately difficult, and requires a bit of scrambling to the top.

Cathedral Rock, Sedona Arizona
Cathedral Rock, Sedona Arizona

But the view at the top is unbeatable.

To get to Cathedral Rock, you can park at the N SR-179 Park and Ride parking lot for free, and use the free Sedona shuttle (Thurs-Sun, 7am-5pm) to get to the trailhead.

If you’re visiting Mon-Wed, you’ll park at the Cathedral Rock or Little Horse trailhead. Parking is $5 or covered with a daily Red Rock Pass at these trailheads. 

Other than Cathedral Rock, Devil’s Bridge is another perfect hike for a day trip.

Devil's Bridge, Sedona Arizona
Devil’s Bridge

This is a hike up to a viewpoint of the largest natural rock arch in the area, at an elevation of around 5,000 feet!

The hike is 3.9 miles roundtrip from the Mescal or Dry Creek Vista trailheads, or just 2 miles round trip from the trailhead if you have a 4×4 vehicle.

Devil's Bridge Trail
Devil’s Bridge Hike

At the top, there’s a beautiful view of the bridge, and canyons surrounded by pine forests.

Devil's Bridge, Sedona Arizona
Devil’s Bridge

I hiked this trail on a weekday afternoon, so there were only a handful of people there. The bridge is a lot wider in person, so you can easily walk over it to snap a photo right in front of the arch!

Devil's Bridge, Sedona Arizona
Devil’s Bridge

Keep in mind that this is the most popular Sedona hike, so you may have to wait in a long line to take a picture in front of the arch. 

To get to Devil’s Bridge, you can park for free at the Dry Creek Vista or Mescal trailhead parking lots.

If these lots are full, you can park at the Posse Grounds Park and Ride lot for free, and use the free Sedona shuttle (Thurs-Sun), to get to either of these trailheads. 

For your convenience, I’ve pinned the parking locations for Cathedral Rock and Devil’s Bridge on the itinerary map at the end of this article. 

See our article on the best Sedona hikes for a list of more great hikes with views, including easy and family-friendly hikes. 

Things To Do In Sedona Besides Hiking

Jeep Tours

Safari Jeep Tours, Sedona Arizona
Safari Jeep Tours, Sedona Arizona

Besides hiking, Jeep tours are a great alternative way to explore Sedona’s red rock country. Not only will you get to visit some of Sedona’s most spectacular viewpoints, but you’ll get to learn interesting information from a local guide. 

Slide Rock State Park

Slide Rock State Park
Slide Rock State Park (Photo by: Shane Smithrand)

If it’s just too hot to hike, head to Slide Rock State Park to swim in Sedona’s natural water park.

Slide Rock is a fun, family-friendly state park in the middle of Oak creek canyon with natural waterslides.

It costs $10 per vehicle (1-4 people) in winter, and $20-$30 per vehicle during spring and summer. 

Verde Valley Wine Region, River Kayaking, and Verde Canyon Railroad

Other fun activities besides hiking are wine-tasting tours. Just 30 minutes outside of Sedona, you can go on a wine tour of the Verde Valley in Cottonwood.

Here you can also go kayaking in the Verde River, or ride the famous Verde Canyon railroad if you’re up for an adventure. 

For lunch, Mariposa Latin Grill and the Hudson are great sit-down restaurants with beautiful views of the red rock mountains.

If you’re in the mood for pizza, Pisa Lisa and Gerardo’s pizzeria are some of the best pizza shops in town. 

Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village

After eating, you can stroll around Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village.

Tlaqueplaque Arts & Shopping Village, Sedona Arizona
Tlaqueplaque Arts & Shopping Village

This is a beautiful outdoor shopping plaza with unique architecture, art galleries, and boutique shops.

It’s only open till 5-6pm, so it’s ideal to visit around lunch time. 

Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park

The next place you won’t want to miss visiting while in Sedona is the Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park.

Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park, Sedona Arizona
Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park

This is a small, 24-acre park with a consecrated Buddhist shrine that was filled with sacred offerings when it was built.

Many people come here to meditate or pray since it has such a peaceful atmosphere, and it’s open from dusk till dawn. 

Where To Watch The Sunset

As the sun begins to set, head to Sedona Airport’s Scenic Lookout. This is an amazing sunset viewpoint.

There’s a large parking lot here with a $3 parking fee (no Red Rock Pass accepted). 

Sedona Airport Scenic Lookout
Sedona Airport Scenic Lookout (Photo by: Bryce Perry)

From here, you can also visit the Airport Mesa vortex, by hiking the “Sedona View trail” (1.4 miles roundtrip.

Sedona Airport Loop Trail
Sedona Airport Lookout
Airport View Trail, Sedona Arizona
Sedona View Trail

The viewpoint at the vortex is even more beautiful, and less crowded, than the lookout across from the parking lot. 

For dinner, Elote Cafe is a definite must try for foodies. They serve incredible Mexican and southwestern cuisine, with dishes like beef brisket enchiladas, lamb adobo, homemade dulce de leche ice cream, and more.

They’re dine in by reservation only, so make sure to book your reservation in advance. 

If you can’t make a reservation at Elote Cafe, the Cowboy Club Grille is another excellent restaurant for first time visitors to Sedona.

They serve unique dishes like cactus fries, rattlesnake sausage, buffalo and elk, and don’t require a reservation. 

Where To Eat In Sedona: Overview

  • Southwestern breakfast spots: Coffee Pot, Red Rock Cafe, Miley’s Cafe
  • Quick breakfast : Sedonuts or Layla’s Bakery 
  • Restaurants with a view: Mariposa Latin Grill or The Hudson
  • Best pizza shops: Pisa Lisa or Gerardo’s pizzeria
  • Best dinner restaurants: Elote Cafe (reservations only) or Cowboy Club Grille

Sedona Itinerary Map

Sedona Itinerary FAQs

How many days should you spend in Sedona?

If you want to explore all of Sedona, I’d recommend 2-3 days. This will give you enough time to spend in different areas (West Sedona, the Village of Oak creek, and Oak Creek Canyon). 

West Sedona is within a 10 minute drive of some of the most popular hikes (Devil’s Bridge, Boynton Canyon, Fay Canyon), the Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park, and shops in downtown.

The Village of Oak Creek has the popular hiking trails Cathedral Rock and Bell Rock, off of highway-179.

And Slide Rock State Park is located in Oak Creek Canyon, around a 20-30 minute drive from everything. 

In a day, you’ll have enough time for 1-2 hikes, and to visit a few sites. But two days is the ideal amount of time, so you can go on different hikes, and have enough time to visit places before they close.

Many places close early at 5pm, including Slide Rock State Park, Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village, and the Chapel of the Holy Cross. 

Additionally, if you want to tour wineries, go kayaking in the Verde river, or ride the Verde Canyon railroad, these activities are located in Cottonwood, which is 30 minutes outside of Sedona. 

What can you see in one day?

In a day, you’ll have time for 1-2 hikes, and to visit a few sites like Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park and the shops downtown.

Since many places close at 5pm, I highly recommend waking up early so you have enough to hike, eat, and visit sites.

If you want to visit Slide Rock State Park on a day trip, I’d recommend choosing a shorter hike beforehand, or skipping the hikes altogether.

Slide Rock closes at 5pm, and can be up to $20-$30 to enter the park during peak season, so you’ll want to spend at least an hour at the park to make it worth it! 

What are the best hikes for a day trip in Sedona?

If you only have time for one hike in Sedona, I’d recommend Cathedral Rock or Devil’s Bridge.

Cathedral Rock is a vortex hike that has a spectacular view of the red rocks, and takes around 1.5 hours to hike.

Devil’s Bridge has an amazing view of a large natural rock arch, and canyons surrounded by pine trees, that takes around 2 hours to hike. 

Another interesting hike is Boynton Canyon Trail, which has a subway cave, ancient cliff dwellings, and a trail that leads to a vortex. However, it takes around 3 hours to hike so it may not be suitable for a day hike. 

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