Sedona is a relatively small city in north-central Arizona that has become a spiritual and healing destination. The whole area of Sedona, as well as a few special locations where vortexes are located are said to have a special energy. People travel from around the world to Sedona to soak up this energy, and to pray, meditate, or perform other spiritual activities.
On top of this, Sedona has jaw-dropping red rock formations everywhere you look, as well as an abundance of luxury hotels and delectable restaurants. All of these factors combine to make Sedona an extremely popular destination year-round. Here are the top activities to include in your 2 day Sedona itinerary to make most out of your stay in Sedona and experience everything that makes Sedona so special and unique.
Disclosure: We were provided a stay at the El Portal Sedona Hotel for our 2 days in Sedona. All opinions remain our own, as always. Please note that some of the links in the below article are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, we earn a commission if you make a purchase towards making your 2 days in Sedona unforgettable. Click here for the full disclosure statement.
What is Sedona Known For?
Sedona is firstly known for vortexes, which are swirling centers of energy that promote healing, meditation, and self-exploration. When visiting, many people feel inspired, recharged, or uplifted. Everyone’s experience is different though and not everyone experiences something special, so don’t be worried if you don’t think anything is all that different. That being said, almost everyone reports feeling at least a little bit better after visiting Sedona, and we couldn’t agree more!
While the whole Sedona area is considered a vortex, there are four particular sites that are the most well-known for radiating energy. They are located at Airport Mesa, Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock, and Boynton Canyon.
Sedona is also known for it’s beautiful landscapes full of unique red-rock formations. It is a great place to connect with nature, and yourself, and that’s made especially easy by the great energy, access to beautiful nature, and great weather that Sedona offers.
How to Get to Sedona
The closest major international airport to Sedona is Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX), which is about a two-hour drive away, and offers direct flights to most other major cities in the United States and Canada.
While there is shuttle bus service between PHX and Sedona, we don’t recommend it as it takes quite a bit longer to reach Sedona, and if you only have 2 days to spend in Sedona you don’t want to waste any time getting there!
The best option is to rent a car at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, and drive yourself to Sedona. Not only will you get to Sedona the fastest for your 2 day Sedona itinerary, but as Sedona is not very walkable and the trailheads to the major hikes are scattered on all sides of town, you will want to have your own car to get around. We recommend using RentalCars.com to compare rental car companies and prices in order to find the best choice for your trip.
Luckily, the drive from Phoenix to Sedona goes by quickly, and there is some great desert scenery along the way.
Best 2 Day Sedona Itinerary
With so much to do in Sedona and the surrounding area, we have created a 2 day Sedona itinerary of some of the best things to do while in Sedona. With 2 days in Sedona, you will have time to enjoy enough activities to fully understand the beauty of Sedona and why it is so popular and special.
Day 1: Hiking in Sedona
One of the greatest draws of Sedona is just how many accessible hiking trails there are within a 15-20 minute drive from town. As an added bonus, there are many really great hiking trails that are relatively short (think just a handful of miles and a couple hours), meaning you can often complete multiple hikes in one day.
This also means that even if you are not an avid hiker, it is possible to easily get out and enjoy nature and visit some of Sedona’s most famous locations. For a 2 day Sedona itinerary, we recommend starting your first day with two of Sedona’s most famous hikes. We have listed some of our favorite hikes that can be completed in a half-day or less so that you can enjoy more than one.
Devil’s Bridge Hike
Devil’s Bridge is one of the most famous hikes in Sedona, known for the iconic photos of people posing on the bridge for photos with Sedona’s red rock landscape in the background. The “bridge” is actually the largest rock arch in the Sedona area. This is a very popular hike, making it a good choice to start the day with, either for sunrise or just after. This means you may have the bridge almost to yourself, as opposed to having to wait in line for a photo during more popular times of the day.
Length/Time: 4.2 miles (6.8 km) return, takes 1-3 hours. If you have a 4×4 vehicle, you can drive further down Dry Creek Road for a shorter hike, however this distance and the location listed below are for the main trailhead.
Hours: Open 24 hours a day.
Facilities: There are washrooms at the main trailhead.
Cost: A Red Rocks Pass is required for parking, which costs $5 per day. For further information, see the USDA website here. Annual National Park passes are also accepted.
Location: Devil’s Bridge Trailhead
Birthing Cave Hike
The red rocks surrounding Sedona are full of secret caves and alcoves that have been carved out of the rock over thousands of years. One of the more famous and accessible caves is the Birthing Cave.
This is an easy hike along a well-established path for 95% of the journey, with only the last few hundred feet having any meaningful elevation gain. Once at the cave, you are free to climb around the cave, but note that the rock can be slippery, so be careful and don’t stray too far towards the edge!
Length/Time: 2.0 miles (3.2 km) return, takes about 2 hours.
Hours: Open 24 hours a day.
Facilities: There are no facilities. There is a parking lot at the main trailhead for the hike to Birth Cave, called the Long Canyon trailhead, but there is also lots of additional parking on the side of the street.
Location: Birthing Cave Trailhead
Airport Mesa Hike
The Airport Mesa Hike is another popular hike, and is one of the closest to Sedona. The trail is generally completed in a loop, allowing for new scenery during the full hike. As you might expect from the name, this hike takes you on a loop around the airport, and has stunning 360-degree views of Sedona. It is also a location for one of the vortexes in Sedona, and so is common to see people meditating, performing yoga, or other spiritual acts at the vortex. Please be quiet and respect others in this peaceful place.
Length/Time: 3.3 miles (5.3 km) loop, takes 1-2 hours.
Hours: Open 24 hours a day.
Facilities: No facilities.
Cost: No cost, however the trailhead parking lot is extremely small. Alternatively, there is parking available near the airport for $3.
Location: Airport Mesa Trailhead
Cathedral Rock Hike
Cathedral Rock is probably the most iconic Sedona hike to take in a sunset. This is again, not surprisingly, a very popular hike, however it is also one of the more difficult ones for those not used to hiking or rock scrambling.
The hike is quite steep and is over a large area of slick-rock. In places, you are climbing up narrow cracks in the rock where there is only room for one person to pass. It is a totally doable hike for anyone active and willing to get a bit adventurous, and has a truly rewarding view at the end, but just be sure to know what you are getting into! If staying for sunset, note that once the sun goes down it gets dark very quickly and it is advisable to bring a headlamp to help you safely get back down to your car.
Length/Time: 1.2 miles (1.9 km) return, takes 1-2 hours.
Hours: Open 24 hours a day.
Facilities: There are washrooms at the trailhead.
Cost: No cost.
Location: Cathedral Rock Trailhead
Day 2: Sedona’s Best Shopping and Eating
If you hadn’t already heard of Sedona for it’s great hiking trails, then surely you’ve heard of the great restaurant and shopping scene. Enjoying these aspects of Sedona is absolutely part of the 2 day Sedona itinerary experience.
Start your day off with a delicious breakfast or brunch at the Red Rock Café. Located in the southern, Oak Creek area of Sedona, this café is known for being one of the best places for brunch, serving up delicious southwestern cuisine. Plus, if you sleep in a little too late, it’s not a problem as they serve breakfast all day long!
Tlaquepaque Arts and Shopping Village claims to be the “Art and Soul” of Sedona. We were a bit skeptical at first, thinking this was no more than a glorified shopping mall, however once you arrive and begin to explore its meandering streets and alleyways, you immediately feel transported back to Old Mexico. This shopping area was passionately designed in 1970, making it an incredible 50 years old.
However, as you walk on the cobble-stone walkways through arched entryways, you may think that it has been here for hundreds of years! The design is reflective of the Mexican city of Guadalajara, and the whole area was originally conceived as just a thriving artist community.
Today it still features over 50 art galleries, but also countless other shops and number of Sedona’s best restaurants.
The best way to get a sense of the grandeur and size of Tlaquepaque is to just get out and explore. It’s not overly huge, but large enough to walk through and feel like you have been transported somewhere else. Walk through the beautifully designed courtyards with fountains, trees, and authentic tiles and designs. There is even a small chapel hidden amongst the outdoor shops.
While wandering through the shops, check out The Chai Spot for a delicious hot or iced beverage.
Tlaquepaque Arts and Shopping Village:
Hours: Open daily from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM Monday to Thursday, and to 6:00 PM Friday to Sunday
Facilities: There is a large parking lot, shops, restaurants.
Cost: Exploring Tlaquepaque is free, but be sure to support some of the local artists and businesses.
Location: Tlaquepaque Arts and Shopping Village
After visiting Tlaquepaque, perhaps you have time to squeeze in another one of Sedona’s great hikes during the morning or afternoon, before returning to Sedona for a relaxing evening. Sedona has a great mix of restaurants, with many focusing on southwestern cuisine, or mixing French or Italian with a southwestern flair.
For high-end outdoor dining where you can enjoy Sedona’s fabulous weather and views of the red-rocks, try SaltRock, located within the Amara Resort. SaltRock defines Sedona cuisine, with a focus on traditional Southwest fare and local ingredients.
If some delicious Italian comfort food is what you are looking for, look no further than Hideaway House Sedona, which has amazing pizza among other creations.
Finally, if you really just want to dive into a delicious Mexican inspired meal, the freshly revamped Elote Café is the place to be. All meals come packed with flavor and are nicely accompanied by a diverse cocktail menu.
Where to Stay in Sedona?
Sedona is all about connecting with nature, yourself, and relaxation. If you are looking for a local boutique hotel for a luxurious and relaxing stay, look no further than El Portal Sedona. Your stay at this hotel will feel like you are staying with friends.
El Portal Sedona is conveniently located in the heart of Sedona, next door to the popular Tlaquepaque Art and Shopping Village, making it within easy walking distance of many of Sedona’s best restaurants and cafés.
You will immediately notice the hotels beautiful adobe design with a grand and welcoming great room, where reception is located, as well as complimentary snacks and drinks throughout the day. Rooms are located in the main building upstairs, or surrounding the open courtyard. As the evenings in Sedona were a bit chilly when we were there, El Portal Sedona kept a nice warming fire going in the courtyard for guests to enjoy.
The rooms are all well-equipped, with more touches to make it feel like you are staying as a guest of the owner, rather than a paying customer of a major chain hotel. El Portal Sedona is a great choice for your 2 day itinerary in Sedona, and it also makes a great choice for an even longer stay. Check out rates and availability at El Portal Sedona for your trip to Sedona!
How Many Days Do You Need in Sedona?
Sedona is one of those places that you could return to again and again, maybe there’s something in the air, or perhaps the energy vortexes really do have a lasting effect on you when you visit Sedona. That being said, while we would all love to visit Sedona for weeks on end, in reality our schedules are usually a bit tighter.
The ideal timing to visit Sedona would probably be for a 3-day long weekend to both experience the sights of Sedona, but also relax. That being said, Sedona is a very manageable size, and you can easily gain a true feeling for the city and surrounding area with a 2 day Sedona itinerary.
When Is the Best Time to Visit Sedona?
The temperatures in Sedona can vary wildly throughout the year, from scorching heat in the summer to temperatures around freezing during the winter. The most popular time to visit Sedona is from March to May, and it’s not hard to see why. Temperatures during this time are warm, but not extremely hot, and the desert wildflowers are in full bloom.
During the summer months, temperatures can commonly reach 100 F (38 C) or more in the afternoon. This intense heat, combined with the extremely dry climate and little shade provided on hiking trails can make it dangerous to be out hiking in the summer months. In addition to Spring, the Fall temperatures are pleasant and ideal for hiking and exploring Sedona.
The one downside of traveling to Sedona in Spring or Fall is that these are the most popular times to visit, so hotel prices will be highest and restaurant reservation availability lowest. If you don’t mind cooler temperatures, and the possibility of a dusting of snow, visiting during winter is a great alternative for a more affordable visit with fewer other travelers competing for parking spots at trailheads and reservations at popular restaurants.
The Next Trip Top 5 Tips for a 2 Day Sedona Itinerary
If you are heading to Sedona for the first time, check out our top 5 tips to make the most out of your 2 day Sedona itinerary. Although these tips will do you well no matter how long you plan to visit Sedona!
1. Prepare for the Heat
Sedona is located at the heart of the Arizona desert, and while it isn’t overwhelmingly hot year-round you still need to prepare for the desert heat in the Spring and Fall months, and definitely throughout the Summer! That means bringing lots of water to drink, wearing sunscreen and covering up, and starting your hikes very early in the day.
2. Wear Good Hiking Shoes
While we were hiking in Sedona we saw people wearing all sorts of footwear on hikes, but for your own safety and enjoyment of the hikes, prepare to at least wear some decent hiking shoes with good tread. You don’t need big bulky hiking boots, but something that will give you traction on the slick-rock surfaces like Cathedral Rock or the Birthing Cave.
3. Bring Your Own Car
If you don’t already live within driving distance of Sedona, that’s no problem as it’s easy to rent a car and drive yourself to Sedona. Check out RentalCars.com for some of the best rates and to comparison shop the big rental car companies. Having your own transportation is crucial to get the most out of your 2 day Sedona itinerary so that you can easily get yourself between your favorite hikes that are scattered all around the town.
4. Absorb the Energy
Sedona is primarily known for it’s vortexes and the unique energy that these special places bring. Even if you are not spiritual or don’t want to meditate, do yourself a favor and make an effort to go to one of the Sedona vortexes and a few moments of quiet contemplation. Soak up the energy and relax, you may be surprised how rejuvenated you fell after!
5. Plan Out Your Hikes
Sedona hikes can be incredibly busy during peak seasons, and even during other times of the year. With so many people jockeying for parking spots and photograph spots, this can take away from some of the magic of the area. You also don’t want to waste any time waiting around on your 2 day Sedona itinerary. The best advice we can give is to plan which hikes you want to do and when you want to do them before you arrive in Sedona.
This means deciding which hike you think will be most special to you, and trying to do that at sunrise or just after, so you can take in the beauty of the location with as few other people as possible. Likewise, if you are looking to complete a hike for sunset, know when sunset is, and allow sufficient time to find parking and complete the hike so that you are still able to sit and watch the sunset.
Best 2 Day Sedona Itinerary
Have you been to Sedona and experienced the vortexes and some of these hikes? Did you complete a 2 day Sedona itinerary or have a longer stay? Let us know in the comments below!
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