Sedona is easily one of the most beautiful places in the USA. If you only have 5 days in Sedona you won’t be able to see it all but it is a good start to explore downtown, go for a few hikes, eat delicious local fare and even treat yourself to a spa service or two.
Sedona is snonymous with towering red rocks, energy vortexes, and beautiful vistas. Sedona Arizona has a culturally rich art scene also a wine region which makes for a great day trip. Sedona is an amazing area to visit for families, solo travelers and couples. There is so much to see and do in Sedona, wether you are a nature lover, hiker or looking for some R&R you will have a great time visiting this incredibly scenic town.
Three days in Sedona may be all you need if you are coming from the west coast but if you are coming from the east coast, with limited flight availability and longer travel time, at least five days in Sedona is a good choice. I’ve been to Sedona twice, once during low season and once during high season. I had a fantastic time during both stays but loved the low season (December-February). Even though the temps dip into the teens there are fewer crowds and budget-friendly accommodations.
In this 5 days in Sedona planning guide, I’ll be answering all your travel questions about, where to stay, where to eat, the best time to go, where to hike, and what to pack to help you plan an amazing 5 days in Sedona.
Where to Stay?
There are plenty of hotels, motels, B&Bs, campgrounds and RV parks in Sedona and the surrounding towns. I recommend the area around Bell Rock if you appreciate a less touristy atmosphere. Having a car makes it a breeze to travel from place to place and nothing is too far away.
Just make sure you don’t venture too far from West Sedona or Oak Creek. Cottonwood and Flagstaff are definitely too far if you want to make the most out of a week or less in Sedona.
- Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock – I stayed here on points during my 5 days in Sedona and have almost no complaints. It’s a great location close to many trailheads and only a 5 min drive to Bell Rock, which made it a great place for sunrise hikes. Shopping and additional restaurants are a short walk or 3 min drive away. The heart of Sedona town is only about 20 mins away. My only complaint pertains to the on-site restaurant. Staff was friendly but food taste, cost, and service left a bit to be desired.
- Amara Resort. Located close to Uptown Sedona (which is downtown). I haven’t stayed here myself, but I have heard great things about their amenities, location, and staff.
- Sugar Loaf Lodge and Bell Rock Inn are two budget-friendly lodging options that come with excellent reviews if you are looking to cut costs with 5 days in Sedona.
Where to Eat?
I recommend making reservations or at least calling ahead. Even in early January, most restaurants were packed at lunch and dinner time. My tops pics are below.
- Mariposa– Upscale Latin cuisine that comes highly recommend. Apparently not only is the food delicious but the views are too.
- Cucina Rustica– Italian kitchen near Oak Creek/Bell Rock area. Delicious food and A live guitarist was a lovely addition to the incredible atmosphere. Just don’t ask them to spice up your pasta. I love a solid Diavolo sauce but this one was fire!
- Javelina Cantina– For Mexican food lovers everywhere, their classic tacos, margarita menu, freshly made guac, addicting chips, and salsa fast service and a lively atmosphere made it a great place for a yummy dinner. They also have great views of the Red Rocks on their patio if you make it in before sunset.
- The Chocolate Tree– Organic Vegetarian Eatery. This place has a lot of creative dishes guaranteed soy, meat, and grain-free. Many nondairy options and of course homemade chocolate that is worth the $2-$4 apiece price tag.
- The Secret Garden Cafe– Great for grabbing bites and drinks. They have a bar only happy Hour 4-6 pm with 50% select apps wine and beer. They also served me my favorite Chi-tea latte of the whole trip!
- Rene Restaurant– A charming restaurant with a bit of an elegant feel. Rene offers continental cuisine and a lite lunch menu along with wine tastings at their bar from 2:30-5 pm daily. Everything we ordered was delicious!
- Oak Creek Espresso – Stopped here on our way out of town. Passionate coffee makers with a very impressive selection of baked goods.
When to Go?
- To avoid heavy crowds visit mid-December-February. Make sure to pack a coat and layers. I was there in early January and 45 F was the high most days.
- High Season is March-June and Sept- early December. Of course, Spring and Fall have the most enjoyable temps in the 60-80s
- Summers are HOTT. Not a lot of shade on most hiking trails with temps low to mid-90s
- Winter is still usually mild with highs of 50-60s. When I went beginning of January morning temps were low 20s and it warmed up to mid-40s. The sun was shining and I enjoyed the cool weather. Thankfully, there were no rogue storms for us!
What to Pack?
Shop My Favorite Warm Weather Hiking Essentials from Backcountry and Vuori
While apparel depends on what time of year you go below are a few items I recommend carrying year around.
- Head Lamp– in case you do a sunset hike. you will need light on the trek down
- Day Pack– Any kind of small backpack will work. I usually carry snacks, wet wipes, a hand towel, water, and a portable charger in my day pack that is 22-25L or smaller depending on how long the hike is.
- Sunscreen– a must even in winter. That sun is intense!
- Water bottle– Duh! Never go hiking without water! We didn’t sweat much in January but the hiking was exhausting at some points. Water is a savior.
- Snacks– Another must! I usually bring protein bars or dried fruit and nuts when I travel.
- Sturdy hiking boots-I use the Columbia Newton Ridge boot for long or more strenuous hikes and an older version of these Sorel Hiking Boots for shorter and easy hikes. I’d forgo the tennis shoes and invest in a pair of sturdy waterproof boots.
What to See and Do?
While most people come to Sedona for the Red Rock trails there are plenty of other activities to keep you busy if hiking just isn’t your thing. I hiked three+ trails in Sedona during my 4-night stay and did a day trip to the Grand Canyon. We also took a few scenic drives through town and enjoyed some downtime taking in the majestic views and devouring many delicious meals and cozy lattes along the way.
Site Seeing Recommendations:
- Hiking, Hiking, did I mention Hiking? I used the free account option at Alltrails.com to gain insight into trails, look at maps and read reviews from fellow hikers. It’s a great resource for all things hiking in locations across the globe.
- Mountain Biking– many trails are good for biking
- 4×4 off-roading– you can rent dune buggies for a self-drive tour of the backcountry
- Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village– food, coffee shops, and art galleries. A great way to enjoy some downtime.
- Spa: Why not have a relaxing self-care day at one of the many world-renowned Sedona spas? Come on, you deserve it!
- Vortexes: Experience the energy of the earth at one of these widely popular sights. No guarantees here, I’m still working on my earth energy feeling skills.
- Wineries: Tour a winery and go to a tasting. Most wineries are about 30 mins outside of Sedona.
- Grand Canyon: The perfect day trip. Only a 2-hour drive from Sedona and $35 entrance fee
- Chapel of the Holy Cross– The chapel in the rocks. You can drive up the access road to a small parking lot between 9-5 pm otherwise the gate allowing access to the road will be locked.
- Pink Jeep Tours– We saw this tour company advertised all around town and heard good things about their guides and overall experiences. Check them out for guided adventure tours of the vortexes, hiking trails, off-roading, and more.
Sample Itinerary for 5 Days in Sedona
Day 1: Arrival Day – drive from PHX to Sedona
Most travelers fly into Phoneix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX). Try to arrive in the am to get the most out of your stay. Renting a car is a must so make sure you book a rental in advance.
- Drive about 2 hours (120 miles) from PHX to Sedona via I-17 N to exit 298 towards Sedona
- Check in to your hotel and grab lunch
- Hit up a grocery store in town for snacks, water, and breakfast items to save time (and $$) on your full days
- If you feel up to it a short hike before sunset is do-able
- You can also drive around the area to take in the sights, visit art galleries, or grab a drink.
- Chapel of the Holy Cross is a lovely stop to make. We attempted to drive up to it but the driveway’s gate was locked (closes at 5 pm)
Traveler’s Tip: Originally when I booked a rental car through the Avis app the cost was quoted $100 more than the quoted price on their website. I called Avis and they adjusted the price immediately without any hassle. Definitely a call worth making!
Day 2: Full day in Sedona
- Time for a full day of hiking
- If you are an early riser and close to a trailhead opt for a short hike in the am for sunrise. You will love the atmosphere and appreciate the quiet trails.
- However, if sleeping in sounds better that is an option too. Just know parking may be a little tight after 9am
- I hiked around Bell Rock & Courthouse Butte each morning between 7-9 am. Sunrise was around 7:00 am. I enjoyed seeing the sandstone light up when it was touched by the morning sun and no kids screaming!
- Plan a 3-4 hour hike. We opted for Cathedral Rock via Baldwin/ Templeton route off of Verde Vally School road
- We headed to Chocolate Tree Cafe for a late lunch and strolled around a few art galleries in town after.
- Watch the sunset from Airport Mesa lookout. If the main (but very small) parking lot is full, a nearby $3 lot should do the trick. You will see it on the left a short distance past the small lot. If you can’t get there early enough for parking at either lot, a drive up the hill to the airport and nearby hotel will suffice. You will still get to enjoy the sunset views.
Day 3: Full day in Sedona
- If you are not too sore from the day before gear up for another day of hiking
- If you rather, check out an off-road jeep tour or make it a winery day. Or better yet, why not kick back with a relaxing and rejuvenating spa treatment?
- We opted to hike Devil’s Bridge. The hike to and from the parking lot took us about 3 hours to complete. It’s around 4 miles. It was a busy trail and we did stop to enjoy the scenery quite often.
- After hiking a much-needed re-fuel is in order. We stopped at the popular Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village for wine, lattes, and small bites.
- Grab a lite lunch and local wine at Rene’s Restaurant or take advantage of Happy Hour at the bar in Secret Garden
- If you are into nightlife, well you came to the wrong place! There are a few dive bars around town but we opted for a nightcap at our hotel bar with some live music.
Day 4: Day trip to the Grand Canyon
- It’s definitely worth the 2-hour drive and $35 entrance fee per car to see the beauty of the Grand Canyon.
- We headed to the South Rim (North Rim is closed during winter) arriving by 9 am and found parking at the Visitor Center easily
- You can hike Rim Trail along the canyon and ride the buses to avoid parking multiple times.
- If you are feeling adventurous you can hike down into the Grand Canyon from the popular Bright Angel Trailhead just past the Village near Hermit road. In winter it’s a bit icy- so be careful!
- Watching the sunset on the scenic drive back to Sedona was a great way to end a bucket list day!
Day 5: Departure Day
- Your 5 days in Sedona are almost up
- Wake up early for one last sunrise hike-If you haven’t done it yet this is the day!
- As you head out of town stop at a few galleries or shops for some handcrafted souvenirs.
- If coffee is your thing Oak Creek Espresso was a good find on the way out of town
- Plan for a two-hour drive back to PHX and extra time to get gas and return the car
- Start planning your next trip back!
I hope you got some useful information out of this 5-days in Sedona itinerary. Sedona is a beautiful place with friendly people and stunning scenery that can be enjoyed all year long.
I loved my experience in Sedona and can’t wait to explore more in the future. If you have any recommendations for the best hiking trails, restaurants, or unique things to do in Sedona, please let me know in the comments below.
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