Last Updated: September 2021
I first visited Sedona nearly 20 years ago and holy cow that makes me feel old AF, but I was a kid and it triggered my love for traveling. It was my family’s first summer vacation in our RV together and we were spending 7 weeks traveling the country. It was one of those places that stuck out in my mind because of it’s unique and breathtaking beauty. As a Florida girl, I had never seen anything like it in my life. I’ve wanted to go back ever since then so it just made sense for it to be the first stop on my first big solo travel trip.
Something about Sedona captured my heart. As much as I’m an ocean girl, I felt peaceful in Sedona. My mind was clear and I loved the energy. While I have repeatedly said I wish I had spent an entire week in Sedona, I think I got a lot out of my time there. I stayed for 4 nights, but I think it helped me pull together a solid guide for 3 days in Sedona.
**My boyfriend, Nick, and I visited in September 2021 for two nights and had the best time. The biggest difference was the number of crowds. My biggest tip: book in advance and make reservations for dinner!
Where to Stay in Sedona:
Arabella Hotel Sedona ($$$)
Sedona has a variety of accommodation options. I’m a fan of luxury, but L’Auburge wasn’t in my budget for my trip. I’m a fan of AirBnB’s, but wanted to be around more people. Arabella Sedona kind of fell into my lap and would make the perfect spot for anyone spending 3 days in Sedona. I booked the trip just a few weeks before going and after staying at Arabella, I feel really lucky that they had availability for my dates.
Located a short drive from Uptown, Arabella felt like a boutique hotel but featured 144 rooms. Spread among several buildings no higher than 2 stories, the rooms were charming and comfortable. The style was a sweet little mix of southwestern and contemporary.
Arabella has two swimming pools, two hot tubs, fire pits, a bicycle pavilion, and an on-site restaurant. The complimentary breakfast that was included in my stay was much appreciated as I wake up hungry every single morning, but it was kind of mediocre.
I booked a Trailhead King Room, so I had views of the red rocks from my balcony. During my stay, I loved sitting outside, even on the warmest days, in the cozy swing chair. I loved being minutes from Uptown, but more than anything, I loved the miles and miles of trails that were steps away from my hotel room.
Orchards Inn ($$$)
I would highly recommend this hotel for first-timers or anyone that really enjoys being able to walk to shops and restaurants. Located right in the middle of Uptown, we stayed at Orchards Inn during our September trip. The views of the red rocks were stunning. Our King room was extra large with a kitchenette, fireplace, and spacious balcony. It was the perfect spot for a short stay in Sedona.
Other Popular Hotels:
Things To Do in Sedona
You won’t be able to do all of these activities during your 3 days in Sedona, but scroll through and pick your favorites! There’s literally something for everyone. Sedona is such a diverse and family-friendly destination.
Must-Do in Sedona: Hiking, Hiking, and More Hiking
You can’t go to Sedona and not go hiking through the red rocks. It’s one of the most unique and soul-satisfying places to get outdoors.
I didn’t do every hike during my 3 days in Sedona, but I did quite a few! Devil’s Bridge was totally a highlight. A little over 4 miles round trip, it’s a pretty easy hike the majority of the way. Right before you get to Devil’s Bridge there’s a little more climbing, but I’d still rate this as a beginner level. I passed families with kids under 10 along the hike. Just remember to bring plenty of water and take your time. You can, quite literally, stop and smell the energy around you along the way.
I went for a trail run behind my hotel the following day along Marg’s Draw Trail. It’s an easy hike and I felt wrapped up in the beauty of the red rocks.
Explore the Shops & Restaurants in Uptown
Uptown is Sedona’s “downtown” filled with touristy shops, restaurants, galleries, and more. While I’ve been told the locals usually avoid Uptown, I thought it was a charming and laid-back area. It actually started to rain while I was walking Uptown so I slid into a bar for a beer while it passed. You don’t need a ton of time exploring the Uptown shops, but it’s worth the stop.
Go Mountain Biking
If you’re tired of just walking the trails, rent yourself a mountain bike from OTE Sedona. I was lucky enough to have a guy guide me my first time out which also meant I got a heads up when I should walk the bike up or down the steeper parts of the trail. It was totally out of my comfort zone but it was one of the best things I did in Sedona. If you’re heading out on your own, the guys at OTE will give you trail suggestions for every level of experience.
Experience a Vortex
Honestly, all I really wanted to do in Sedona was get away so it kind of slipped past me that vortexes are a thing. But people go to Sedona just to experience a vortex. The energy of Sedona lifted my spirits. I can’t really explain it, but within hours of being there, I was unusually calm. I didn’t experience anxiety or jittery feels at all, I was just at peace. So I can only imagine how an actual vortex site would leave me.
I’ve read that you can visit them on your own or with tour guides. Sedona is, overall, a very spiritual and balanced destination. Vortex visitors will probably be meditating, doing yoga, or other forms of healing. Whether or not you think it’s your “thing”, I say give it a try with an open heart and mind.
You can knock out two birds with one stone when you visit Cathedral Rock, which is also an upward vortex.
Visit Slide Rock State Park in the Summer
I’m pretty sure there’s a homemade video floating around somewhere at my parent’s house of me busting my butt at Slide Rock nearly 20 years ago. So naturally, I had to go back. Looking for a little family-friendly adventure during your 3 days in Sedona? Slide Rock State Park was the perfect place to cool off in the water, people watch, and yep… slide down rocks.
You can bring food and drinks, but leave any glass in the car. Set yourself up under a shaded area and then explore the area, but be careful. It’s called “Slide Rock” for a reason. The rocks can get slippery enough that your feet will slide right out from under you. Bring water shoes if you have them!
Go on a Pink Jeep Tour
You’ll see pink Jeeps driving all around the Sedona area. They offer guided tours to all of the hot spots near and far. If you’re looking to go to the famous Antelope Canyon from Sedona, a Pink Tour might be for you. Their tours can be adventurous, educational, and fun for a whole family. I didn’t go on a tour, but I had a friend that did an all-day Grand Canyon tour with Pink Adventure Tours.
Visit the Chapel of the Holy Cross & Ancient Ruins
I didn’t get to check out either of the above, but they were on my list. These are both really neat sites that you can swap out if you’re not doing something on the list that I did. The Chapel of the Holy Cross is nestled into the side of red rocks and is open 9:00 – 5:00 seven days a week. You can also check out Ancient Ruins on a Pink Jeep Tour.
Ride through the trails on a RZR
This one is for the adrenaline junkies. Getting behind the wheel of a RZR is a totally different way to see Sedona. It’s an absolute blast. We rented a RZR for 4 hours and giggled our way through the rocky terrain while also stopping to take in the beauty.
See the Sunrise in a Hot Air Ballon
A hot air balloon ride should be on everyone’s bucket list! It’s been a long time since I’ve done it, but it’s a pretty magical experience. I’d say Sedona has to be a top place in the States to go up in one. If staying on the ground is more your thing, be sure to get in a sunrise hike to see them floating through the sky!
Where to Eat in Sedona:
When I visited Sedona in June 2019, I could walk right into the best restaurants without a reservation. In September 2021, we couldn’t get a reservation for my favorite spots even 5 days out. So, make a reservation! Sedona is filled with delicious spots for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. With just 3 days in Sedona, here’s a handful of my “must try” places.
Coffee Pot Restaurant ($$)
Home to 101 different omelets and Southwestern dishes, this breakfast and lunch spot is located next to Coffee Pot Rock and a delicious morning delight. Coffee Pot Restaurant is family-owned and operated. It’s casual vibes are perfect for a quick breakfast or a laid-back morning break.
Mariposa Latin Inspired Grill ($$$$)
Being solo wasn’t going to keep me away from one of the prettiest sunsets and most delicious menus in Sedona. Absolutely hit up Mariposa while you’re in Sedona and make sure to time it with the sun setting. It was breathtakingly beautiful. The bartenders were great and the food was incredible. I read that Chef Lisa Dahl not only brought fine-dining to Sedona but she also single-handedly decorated the interior of Mariposa. It’s a little pricey, but worth the splurge.
Wildflower Bread Company ($)
Wildflower Bread Company originally gave me Panera vibes, but it’s so much yummier. I actually ended up eating lunch here twice. They have other locations in Arizona, but they’re not a huge chain, which I usually try to avoid when I’m traveling. Their outdoor seating overlooks red rocks and Uptown Sedona. Right next to the Hyatt Resort area, there are little shops in the area, too. Try their Strawberry Spinach Salad or Buffalo Chicken Sandwich.
Elote Cafe ($$$)
This Mexican-Southwestern restaurant is conveniently located in Uptown. You’ll almost always see a crowd of people waiting at the door of Elote Cafe, but it’s because the place is worth it. Try out the Pork Cheeks, Chicken Enchiladas, Halibut, and one of their handcrafted cocktails.
The Hudson ($$$)
I walked over to The Hudson from my hotel and it ended up being one of my favorite spots. It also features some stunning red rock views, but I sat at the bar and felt right at home. The bartender, Lucy, made the most amazing spicy margarita for me. And I’m a sucker for a good margarita, but the food was also divine.
From a bruschetta appetizer to the Thai scallops, I was in heaven. The Hudson was so nice that I decided to go twice. I went back my second night there and had the chef’s favorite, a blackened swordfish. With 3 days in Sedona, The Hudson is an absolute “must”.
Mooney’s Irish Pub ($)
Right by The Hudson is Mooney’s Irish Pub, one of the only places that stays open past 9:00pm in Sedona. It may not be a “must” on your list, but if you’re looking for an after-dinner drink, this might be your only option. They had cringe-worthy karaoke the night I went, but overall the laidback dive-bar vibes were perfect for catching up with friends in town. I thought it was so strange that Sedona basically shuts down after 9:00, but I also kind of liked it. And again, being within walking distance of the Arabella Hotel made this spot extra sweet.
**Oaxaca Restaurant: I was told by an Uber driver that I should go to Oaxaca instead of Mariposa and all I can say is that I’m glad I didn’t listen to him. But I did give Oaxaca a shot one night with a friend in town and it was pretty mediocre for a Mexican restaurant. Like, no music and pretty average margaritas. Maybe the Uber driver had hyped it up too much for me, but I would try somewhere else for Mexican next time.
The Weekend Fox Tips:
- If you think 3 days in Sedona is enough, maybe think again. I was completely addicted to the happiness I felt in Sedona and extended my stay by another night. I could’ve easily stayed an entire week.
- The whole town really did seem to shut down around 9:00pm when I visited, even Uber drivers. Make sure you have a safe ride home from Mooney’s!
- Sedona is dry and low in humidity. It’s easy to get dehydrated because you don’t realize it when you’re not dripping sweat. Always bring plenty of water.
- Watch out for timeshare pitches in exchange for free experiences. I’ve, personally, sat through too many “vacation club” talks in exchange for something. While it’s really tempting to get a helicopter ride for 90 minutes of your time, 90 minutes usually turns into 3 hours and a lot of pressure. Again, that’s my personal experience, but you do you. 😉
- Looking for a local’s bar? Head to Sundowner Bar & Grill! We don’t want to turn it into a touristy bar, but this spot has been family-owned and operated for 40 years. We love sliding into places like this and chatting with the locals.
As always, if you have specific questions about my trip or you’re looking for more suggestions, drop a comment or send me an email! Happy travels. 😊