Sedona is a central Arizona city known for its luxurious spas and world class resorts, scenic views of stunning red rock and long believed spiritual vortexes. What used to be a secret getaway for the wealthy; has quickly become famous for unmatched outdoor life and relaxation. Arizona may be the Grand Canyon State but it has a ton more to be discovered. If you are traveling through Arizona or heading on a Southwest US road trip, here is your guide to family friendly activities we did in Sedona.
When we embarked on our Southwest US Family road trip via Route 66 from Missouri to Nevada, we knew that we wanted to spend a little more time in Arizona exploring than any other state because it was technically our first time visiting and if for no other reason the stunning Red Rocks. From spending time in Nevada, we’ve become enamored with Red Rocks and scenic views and there is arguably no place better in the world to discover them than here. Route 66 takes you through Flagstaff, Arizona from Albuquerque but Sedona was a quick detour of around 30 minutes.
If you’re traveling during the Pandemic as we did, we knew that this would be the perfect stopping point because of the phenomenal outdoor life. We could hike, eat and explore outdoors and remain socially distant as often as possible. Plus, after 5 days or so on a road trip; it didn’t hurt to get out in nature and stretch our legs and breathe fresh air.
Sedona, Arizona Hotels: Hilton Sedona at Bell Rock
During our two nights in Sedona, we chose to stay at the Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock. The Hilton Sedona is a pueblo style golf resort with stunning views of the red rocks and tons of amenities for both adults and kids alike. If you’ve followed us for any amount of time, you know that we love and are extremely loyal to Hilton but this resort made it extremely easy to decide. Though pricy, the Hilton Sedona was on par or even cheaper than the other full service resorts in the area but the amenities were absolutely worth the price.
Our time was spent in a King suite on the third floor. Amenities included a pool and splash pad, full service spa, indoor and outdoor state of the art fitness facility with classes, on site golfing, games, live music and more. Due to the pandemic, a lot of the amenities were limited in order to assist with social distancing and keeping patrons safe but the resort was kind enough to decrease the additional resort fee. The pool allowed a limited amount of guests per day and there was a wait list in which you can receive a call or text when your slot was available.
Sedona is often thought of as an adult paradise but at this resort, children have more than enough activities to participate in when full amenities are offered. I highly recommend choosing to stay at this resort with or without kids. Though it was kid friendly, I can imagine that it would be just as enjoyable or more during a parents’ or couples’ getaway. The location was unbeatable and an experience that we enjoyed.
What to Eat in Sedona, Arizona
Sedona screams luxury even down to the restaurants. There were very little fast food options which left us to indulge in both mom and pop and fine dining which we enjoyed. I recommend keeping this in mind when planning to visit especially with children. Food costs can and will add up quickly in Sedona. If your travel party is larger than three, an Airbnb could be a good option to cook and cut costs of dining. For $40 off your first Airbnb booking click HERE.
I was also surprised to see how many people were in Sedona for the weekend even during the Pandemic. Wait times for restaurants were lengthy especially for ones with scenic views. We highly recommend making a reservation for a restaurant of your choice in advance if it comes highly recommended or is popular for the area. My favorite sites/apps to get the deets on restaurants, hotels and activities are Trip Advisor or Yelp.
In just two days, we didn’t have nearly enough time to properly explore the culinary scene but the two restaurants that I am recommending were wonderful and I suggest checking them out during your stay.
Mesa Grill Sedona
The Mesa Grill is located right on property of the Sedona Airport with killer views. We attended their weekend brunch and it was an amazing menu. I indulged in the blueberry pancakes (these are huge and sharable) with a side of apple wood bacon and scrambled eggs. Another great option was the All American which includes: a selection of classic American breakfast meats, grilled focaccia bread and the most DELICIOUS wild thyme potatoes. You cannot go wrong with either of these selections. Plus, the views of the red rocks and aircraft taking off was unbeatable.
Rotten Johnny’s Coal Fire Pizza
I absolutely love wood and coal fire pizza. So, when we came across Rotten Johnny’s near the resort property, I was intrigued to give it a try. Each pizza is 13 inches and made with fresh mozzarella and your choice of toppings. Our pick was the sausage coal fired pizza and it was delicious. The picture is not great because it was dark outside but I promise it was delicious and fresh.
Things to Do in Sedona: Jeep Tours in Sedona
When in Sedona, you have to see the red rocks up close and personal. Sedona is known for majestic views and hiking trails that range from Easy to Intermediate to Difficult. No matter your level, there is a trail for you. Prior to our trip, I looked up Easy and Beautiful Sedona Hiking Trails to accommodate our toddler and came across this post.
Sedona Jeep Tours:
However, due to the heat we opted for one of the most popular activities in Sedona which was a Jeep 4×4 excursion with Sedona Jeep Tours. Due to Covid, we took advantage of a generously discounted rate for a Private 2-Hour Jeep Tour to the popular Mogollon Rim. This tour was called A Day in the West and we enjoyed having the jeep all to ourselves. Our tour guide, Colorado, was very knowledgeable on the entire trail and was happy to stop along the way for pictures or to allow us to take the scenery in. As a Disclaimer, this tour is super rough. The path to the top of the rim is very rocky and you are not meant to be comfortable in the Jeep. Also, if you have fear of heights, consider that prior to booking as the elevation is very high.
The Sedona Jeep Tours company has a ton of tours to offer based on the age of your children, time of day, what you’re looking to discover and your comfortability level. We scheduled the early morning tour at 8am to beat the heat and completed the tour around 10am just in time to grab breakfast. The views were strikingly gorgeous and beyond what we would have been able to see hiking on foot.
In Sedona, you will come across a ton of Jeep Tour companies such as Sedona Jeep Tours or the famous Pink Jeep Company, horseback riding, trolley tours, hiking tours and more. If you are staying in Sedona for a short amount of time, I highly recommend scheduling at least one excursion to make the most of your time there. Guides are very knowledgeable and help you to learn and discover places that you otherwise would miss. However, if you’re looking to discover Sedona on a budget, the scenic route and lookout points are great to stop and read for FREE.
Free Things to Do in Sedona
Sedona Red Rock Scenic Byway
While Sedona can be expensive, there are also ways to explore at no cost. The Sedona Red Rock Scenic Byway is a part of the Coconino National Park and goes along the Red Rocks for miles. In the park, you can pull over to look out points, fish, picnic, hike on trails or simply drive past and take in the view. The Visitor’s Center for more information is located on the southern end of the route and makes a good stopping point.
Tlaquepaque Arts and Shopping Village
The Tlaquepaque Arts and Shopping Village (Pronounced T-Locky-Pocky) was built over 40 years ago but pays homage to the Old Mexican and Indigenous culture of the area. While there is a ton of shopping in the area, this beautiful shopping center is just as enjoyable as a FREE experience as you wander around and take in the Village art and murals. If you’re in the mood for shopping, there are many authentically hand crafted artisan shops, specialty dining and more. The village has a North and South section so be sure to visit both and the shops in between. If you have an interest in collecting Crystals, Geodes, or gems; there are popular shops for you In the downtown Sedona area.
Sedona with Kids: Is Sedona Family Friendly?
Our general position on a destination being Kid friendly is that anywhere can be kid and family friendly if you make it. With that said, if you plan to visit Sedona with small children; I do not recommend spending more than 48 hours or an extended weekend here. A lot of the activities that are popular like Spas, Dining and Shopping are geared toward adult luxury. For the length of your stay, booking a kid friendly resort and choosing a child oriented excursion will be essential to children enjoying their stay. I do recommend spending just a few days here before heading to Flagstaff (30 Minute Drive), Grand Canyon (1 Hour, 30 Minute drive), Phoenix (1 Hour, 50- minute drive) or Page (2 Hours, 45- Minute drive).
In short, Sedona is well worth the trip and quick detour off Route 66. The town is Quintessentially everything to love about the Great American West and I highly recommend making your visit a bucket list item for the US and Arizona. For more guides on Route 66 and the American West, check out our post on Route 66 Oklahoma and Texas.