If you’re researching the best day trips from Phoenix, no doubt you see Sedona appear on every list. What makes this iconic area worth your time and effort?
Its natural beauty is unparalleled, from towering red rock formations to quiet canyons with mountain streams. It’s also revered as a place of spiritual healing and natural wellness. It’s no wonder that a New York Times writer coined the phrase, “God created the Grand Canyon, but he lives in Sedona.”
What do you need to know to plan your Sedona day trip? Here’s how to travel from Phoenix to Sedona (and what to do when you get there).
What’s the Best Route From Phoenix to Sedona?
The distance from downtown Phoenix to Sedona is about 116 miles, so plan on spending about two hours on your drive. If you’re traveling from southern Phoenix (Mesa, Gilbert, or Chandler), allow two and a half hours to make the drive.
Sedona lies due north of Phoenix right off of Interstate 17. It’s a scenic route that will take you through forests of saguaro cacti and stunning desert vistas, with views of Flagstaff’s towering San Francisco peaks along the way.
You’ll gain over 3,000 feet in elevation between the two destinations, with plenty of curves and twists along the way. Before you head out from Phoenix, make sure your car’s oil is topped up and your brakes and tires are in good condition.
Once you pass through the Verde Valley, take Exit 298 for AZ-179 N towards Sedona. This road (appropriately called the Red Rock Scenic Byway) will take you through the Village of Oak Creek and, after about 25 minutes, you’ll arrive in beautiful Sedona, Arizona.
The Best Things to Do in Sedona
The truth is that you could spend years exploring the area from Phoenix to Sedona, but time is limited on a Sedona day trip. How can you decide what to do to make the most of your time?
Here are our suggestions for the best tourist attractions and restaurants in Sedona.
1. Tour the Red Rock Formations
You’ll spot some iconic red rock formations long before you drive into town, but there’s nothing like an up-close and personal view. Grab a late breakfast or early lunch (to-go) from Red Rock Cafe and plot a driving route that includes stops at:
- Bell Rock
- Cathedral Rock
- Chimney Rock
- Devil’s Bridge
- Courthouse Butte
- Coffee Pot Rock
You’ll pass some of these formations on the scenic byway on your way into town, but others you’ll have to travel a bit further to reach. If you have the time and energy, step out and do a leisurely hike to admire the unique landscape in detail.
2. Find Your Bliss at a Local Day Spa
Many view Sedona as a place to go for optimal physical and spiritual health. The area is home to powerful energy vortexes that some people believe can enhance meditation and healing.
Regardless of your personal beliefs, you’re sure to find a blissful experience waiting for you at one of Sedona’s world-renowned spas. You’ll find luxury hotels with on-site spas as well as private wellness centers that focus on helping you feel your best.
Sign up for a relaxing massage or a more therapeutic deep tissue massage. Try a signature body scrub or wrap, or combine your bodywork with a yoga or meditation session. Browse a list of Sedona’s best spas and find the one that’s perfect for you.
3. Shop ‘Til You Drop in Uptown Sedona
This is the “old” part of town that’s lined with dozens of boutiques, restaurants, and art galleries. You can find everything under the sun here, from turquoise jewelry and wild west memorabilia to crystal shops and palm readers.
Enjoy a leisurely day of shopping, stop for a beverage at the Spice & Tea Exchange, then make your way down to Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village. Modeled after a traditional Mexican village with stunning sycamore trees, this is the perfect place to finish your shopping experience, buy some locally-made handicrafts, and enjoy a delicious dinner.
Or, if you’d prefer a bird’s eye view of Sedona, book your dinner reservation at the Mesa Grill Sedona. Located on top of Airport Mesa, this is an awesome spot to watch the planes come in while the sun goes down. If you missed breakfast on the way in, this could also be the place to begin your day trip instead!
4. Sign up for a Tour of Sedona
If you want to squeeze as much into your Sedona day trip as possible, your best bet might be to book a tour that matches your interests. That way, you can leave the driving and directions to someone else while you sit back, enjoy the scenery, and learn more about the area.
Here’s just a sampling of the types of tours you can join:
- Pink Jeep tours
- Red rock tours
- Hiking tours
- Horseback riding tours
- Mountain biking tours
- Vortex tours
- Yoga & meditation tours
- Helicopter tours
- Wine tours
No matter what you’re interested in, there’s a tour that’s sure to help you make the most of your Sedona day trip.
Enjoy an Amazing Sedona Day Trip
As you can see, it’s well worth your time and effort to drive from Phoenix to Sedona. Whether you visit some of the famous tourist attractions in Sedona or you simply go for a walk and enjoy the scenery, you’re sure to have an incredible day.
Day trips are good for our soul, but they can take a toll on our vehicles. That’s why it’s important to keep your tires in tip-top shape, whether you’re cruising around town or making an epic cross-country journey.
Have you considered an affordable tire subscription service to give you one less thing to worry about? Click here to learn about our different plans that will give you peace of mind — wherever the road leads you.