Sedona is one of the most beautiful places to visit in the United States. With its red hot sunsets, lively downtown atmosphere, and rolling red rock mountains, Sedona has become a popular tourist destination and it’s not hard to see why. Check out these 5 incredible places to visit for your next vacation and 4 other destinations in Arizona that you won’t want to miss!
Slide Rock State Park
Slide Rock is one of the more popular places to visit while in Sedona. It can definitely get crowded pretty quickly, but with as far as the creek stretches out and the size of the park, it’s able to accommodate a large amount of tourists and locals alike. Slide rock features a “natural” water slide in the form of the red rock formation in the creek, which is super fun for both the kids and the kids at heart. True to its name, Slide Rock is very slippery! Take extra care when hiking around the bank of the creek or emerging from the creek when wet. Slipping and sliding (which I did a lot of) is very common, so tread carefully. In addition to the creek, there’s also 3 nature trails from beginner level to moderate level. Definitely pack a nice picnic to enjoy and even if you’re not going to swim, this park is extremely relaxing. We visited in June and the creek was still icy cold, so it may be better to visit in the later summer months. Whether you’re going to cool off, go hiking, or just people watching, you definitely don’t want to skip out on Slide Rock State Park!
Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village
Is it really a vacation if you didn’t bring home souvenirs? Shopping is one of the most touristy things to do, but boy does Tlaquepaque do it good. Don’t be fooled by the abstract name, there’s a lot to do here! This shopping district has tons of shops, restaurants, and live entertainment to keep you socializing and shopping all night. My favorite shop was Natural Wonders that has a collection of the cutest crystal figurines, jewelry and gems.
P.S. it is pronounced “tuh-lock-uh-pock-ee”, don’t let the locals hear you pronounce it otherwise, they will laugh at you…then correct you. All in good fun of course!
Chapel of the Holy Cross & Boynton Canyon
We actually got to go here as part of the Sedona Trolly tours, we purchased the Full City Scenic Combo, which included stops at Boynton Canyon and Chapel of the Holy Cross. This house of worship boasts an impressive architectural design, being built into the red rock mountains itself. Although there is not much to do here, you won’t want to miss out on seeing it with your own eyes. It is absolutely stunning! Surrounded by the red rock mountains full circle, it also has a charming garden and a gift shop. Boynton Canyon has a short scenic trail, passing over a small babbling brook and shaded by plenty of trees. Both Boynton Canyon and Chapel of the Holy Cross are great destinations for a photo op to remember your trip.
V bar V Ranch
Sitting about 45 minutes outside downtown Sedona, V bar V Ranch is rich with culture and indigenous Southern Sinagua tribal history. Being of indigenous descent myself, this was a top attraction for me. This is a great nature walk to get moving for beginner hikers. I won’t go as far as to say this is a hike, it’s a completely flat trail leading up to the petroglyphs. The one mile walk is pleasant, with plenty opportunities to stop and take in scenery. Only thing I did not like about the trail were the gnats and the lack of shade. Fair skinned people be warned, there’s little to no shade on this trail so wear extra sunscreen or coverage. Once you make it to the petroglyphs though, it definitely makes the walk (and bugs) worth it!
The park ranger can be found in a cute little cabin at the head of the trail. He is very knowledgeable about the culture and history surrounding the petroglyphs and Southern Sinagua people. There is a park ranger at the foot of the trail as well explaining the interpretations of the drawings; and also keeping people from adding their own. Please do not be that person that ruins centuries old art and culture!
Amitabha Stupa & Peace Park
Amitabha Stupa & Peace Park is a great place to go if you’re looking for a spiritual experience. This park has lots of Buddhist statues and altars that can be used for a more religious experience (if that’s your religion) but it’s also just a great place to silently exist. I don’t follow the Buddhist religion, but I did spend quite a long time here just listening to the quiet, closing my eyes as I felt the wind blowing and the sun shining. This place is a great place to do some meditation or breathing exercises and has plenty of places you can just be by yourself and find your peace. Be sure to check out the dedication stones near the entrance, alot of them had really powerful and beautiful messages that have restored my faith in the world. I would not recommend bringing children or pets to this park, as everyone that comes here maintains the quiet peaceful atmosphere for a better experience.
4 other destinations in Arizona you won’t want to miss
Out of Africa Wildlife Park
I’d have to say that this place definitely takes the cake for my favorite place we went on our trip to Arizona. While it’s a bit of a drive from Sedona, resting in Camp Verde, there’s this park that some might call a zoo, although it’s anything but. This place has a lot to do! They have multiple guided tours, plenty of exhibits and encounters throughout the park. The best thing about the Out of Africa Wildlife Park was that the animals here had alot of room and they all seemed well taken care of and happy! We planned ahead and booked both the SuperMog Adventure Tour and the Sloth Encounter. The SuperMog tour was really cool; we got to get up close and personal with water buffalos, feed giraffes, and see a bunch of other animals that aren’t in their normal enclosures. My absolute favorite part of the trip though was definitely our encounter with Bart, their two-toed sloth. We got to hang out with Bart for a whole 15 minutes. While we pet him and fed him, he kept trying to steal my husband’s hat and glasses! He really is the sweetest little guy there and he loves making friends…especially the ones that have food or other various shiny objects. If we ever make it back out to Arizona again, this place will definitely be at the top of our itinerary.
Bonus points: We actually got lost on the way, made the wrong turn and ended up at the local prison for Camp Verde (you just can’t make this stuff up) but located literally right next to the prison was this awesome gun range where my husband got to fulfull his Red Dawn dreams of shooting the valmet.
Tuzigoot National Monument
As mentioned above, the Indiginous cultural sites were high up on my itinerary, and Tuzigoot National Monument did not disappoint. Built and previously inhabited by the Sinagua tribe in southern Arizona, these long standing ruins are truly a marvel to witness. It is a little bit of a climb, but still a very easy hike to overtake. The historical site also has a small museum-type visitor’s center that has a beautiful display of artifacts made by the Sinagua people. Although we didn’t spend that long here, the feeling of reaching the top of the ruins is very satisfying and the view from the top is absolutely stunning.
Montezuma Castle & Well
Unfortunately, I don’t have much to say about Montezuma Castle because we were not able to go inside. Due to the increasing vandalism and ruin taking place at Montezuma Castle, and the National Park Service’s dedication to maintain this historical site, visitors are no longer allowed inside the monument. The outside is definitely stunning, and while I support their decision in protecting the culture and history, I was disappointed in not being able to fully witness it. It’s crazy how the insensitive actions of a few can impact so many. However, we were able to visit Montezuma Well and it was a sight to behold. This trail is anything but flat; lots of curves, hills, and dips so wear your best shoes! The well is beautiful and the pueblos built into the limestone rock is breathtaking as well. After you make your way past the well, there’s a small pathway off the trail (down the stairs) that leads to a creek. I spent so much time just sitting here and listening to the rushing water and being at peace with the world. I would definitely recommend this place for outdoor lovers who love to be one with nature.
Grand Canyon National Park
I know I said that the Out of Africa Wildlife Park was my favorite place on this trip, but it’s so hard to choose between that and the Grand Canyon! Now the Grand Canyon is a good 2 hour drive from Sedona, but it was well worth it! We actually started out our trip at the Grand Canyon and then made our way down to Sedona. I had never been before, and my husband who had been to the north rim before (and was not impressed) was dragging his feet at first. By the end of our visit to the south rim though, we were both in awe of how amazingly beautiful this place is. Honestly, no amount of photography can do this place justice. Not even the best photographer in the world can capture the same beauty as seeing it in person. It is literally so beautiful and perfect, that you might think it must be fake because there’s no way! But it is very real friends, and it is 100% worth it to make the trip. Of course, I took the stereotypical “top of the world” photo while my husband took the stereotypical “hey look at me on the edge” photo (which I would NOT recommend for safety reasons) but if there’s something I remember most about my trip, it is the pure beauty of the Grand Canyon. I still think about it all the time and can’t wait to go back, you definitely don’t want to leave Arizona without visiting!
So there you have it! Whether you’re a local or a tourist, there is SO much to do out in Arizona, specifically Sedona. It’s a breathtakingingly beautiful place to visit, and honestly I hope to retire there someday.
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