Having previously claimed the title of USA Weekend’s “Most Beautiful Place in America”, Sedona is nestled amongst some of the most truly breath-taking landscapes on our planet.
This geological wonderland is home to all kinds of marvels, from the universally recognizable Grand Canyon to other more hidden gems that are found off the beaten path.
Sedona itself is a mesmerizing art town in the heart of Northern Arizona that’s full of charming plazas, galleries and craft stores – a perfect town to come back to and relax after venturing into the beautiful wilderness surrounding it.
The alluring landscapes found around Sedona are only a stone’s throw away and incredibly easy to access, thanks to the many reliable tour operators found in town.
To get you started, here are some of the best day trips you can go on.
1. Mogollon Rim
Venture into higher altitude red rock country on a tour around the Mogollon Rim, where you’ll discover landscapes that wildly change between low-lying deserts to forest-carpeted plateaus in the blink of an eye.
The sweeping, emerald-green Ponderosa pine forests offer a wonderfully unique perspective of Northern Arizona’s diverse topography when comparing them to the typical picture of the Grand Canyon that most people automatically conjure.
Enjoy this tour from the back of a jeep that’s capable of taking you deep into and out of the rugged paradise in complete safety.
Recommended tour: Scenic Rim 2-Hour Tour from Sedona
2. The Grand Canyon
It’d be virtually unthinkable to pass through northern Arizona without setting aside a day to visit one of the most awe-inspiring sights on the planet.
The Grand Canyon is without a doubt one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world and it’s not hard to see why.
From the South Rim, the views are beyond spectacular as the land simply drops away into the impossibly vast red canyon formed over millions of years.
Throughout the day, you can enjoy free Ranger Talks, or for something a little more interactive, you can raft down the Colorado River or embark on one of many gorgeous hikes.
Those who arrive at sunrise or stay till sunset will be rewarded with a view over the canyon that’s impossible to forget.
Recommended tour: The Grand Canyon Classic Tour From Sedona, AZ
3. Antelope Canyon
Located on a Navajo Tribal Park in Page, Arizona, Antelope Canyon is one of the most bizarrely beautiful destinations on Earth.
Looking more like something out of a surrealist painting than a geological formation, the smooth, twisting red rock walls and caves extend for miles both over and under the ground.
Formed over millions of years by intense water erosion, the canyon seems to have almost been molded by hand and offers some truly unique photo opportunities.
Suggested tour: Antelope Canyon Full-Day Tour from Sedona
4. Hopi Lands
Visit an area that has been occupied by the Hopi people for over 2000 years on this wild day trip that takes you to the top of the high rock mesas known as the Hopi Nation and Reservation.
Here, you’ll find homes and villages that are amongst the oldest in the country, surrounded by vast expanses of rugged terrain as far as the eye can see.
Thanks to the fascinating history in the region, there is a Cultural Center, as well as a museum and art gallery that offer incredible insights into the ancestry of the people living here.
Be sure to bring some cash with you as you’ll want to take home one or more of the immaculately crafted artisan dolls, baskets or pots that are famously made here.
5. Sonoran Desert
Widely hailed as one of the most beautiful deserts in the world, the Sonoran Desert is vast, spanning across parts of Mexico and California as well as Arizona.
As a result, the flora and fauna found here are incredibly diverse, with everything from rare cacti species to desert bighorn sheep.
For shifting sand dunes, head to El Pincate Biosphere Reserve, or if you want a little excitement, pay a visit to Joshua Tree National Park, where you can clamber over stacks and boulder on over 8000 different rock climbing routes.
Available tour: Red Rock West 2-Hour Jeep Tour from Sedona
As was the fate of so many other old mining towns in the US, Jerome went from an industrial hub to a ghost town to a now happily thriving artist’s enclave.
The charming town is built on the face of a mountain and is connected by stairwells and switchback roads.
It is certainly a unique day trip for anyone looking to explore a fascinating desert settlement.
From wine tours to biker bars and art galleries, Jerome is bursting with things to do and can be comfortably seen in the space of a day.
Available tour: Full-day Guided Tour of Jerome and Sedona
7. Bear Wallow Canyon
Particularly famous for being a key route for trailblazing pioneers and the scene of many fascinating historical occurrences, Bear Wallow Canyon is as intriguing as it is beautiful.
Drive through the gorgeous ponderosa pine forests and follow in the footsteps of the famed Huckaby and Munds Wagon Trails.
Looking down on the stunning vistas of Oak Creek Canyon below, you’ll truly feel as though you’ve stepped back in time.
Recommended tour: Bear Wallow Canyon on 4×4: 2-Hour Tour from Sedona
Less than 30 miles north of Sedona, you’ll be welcomed by the crisp, cool, alpine air of Flagstaff, Arizona.
Typically cooler than the dry, red rock landscapes of the south, you’ll find stunningly clear alpine lakes and snowy peaks that feature a beautiful ski resort.
Outdoor adventure can be found in abundance here, as well as a bubbling, progressive entertainment scene thanks to its proximity to the Northern Arizona University.
Though you can easily spend a day here hiking, skiing and soaking up the views of the beautiful pine forests, you may want to stay for a night to enjoy the raucous nightlife at an elevation of 7000 feet.
9. Verde Valley Wine Trail
Though Arizona isn’t typically known for its wine, the climate around Sedona is, in fact, ideal for growing delicious grapes; this has resulted in a few world-class wineries popping up around the Verde Valley area.
Only a short drive from town, you’ll find both the Alcantara and Oak Creek Vineyards, the Page Springs Cellars and the Javelina Leap Vineyard, all renowned for their gorgeous atmospheres, unbeatable views and, of course, delectable wines.
If the appeal of more hiking is wearing thin and you’re after a day of indulgence, this is the day trip for you.
10. Williams, Arizona
A friendly and inviting town – popular amongst starry-eyed visitors on their way to and from the Grand Canyon – Williams is the gateway to not only the canyon but a myriad of other natural escapes.
For a close encounter with bears and wolves, head over to the Bearizona Wildlife Park, where you can drive through natural habitats populated by everything from bison to black bear cubs.
In the area, you’ll also find dirt bike and ATV trails to get your adrenaline pumping.
Once you’re done, you can spend a couple of hours relaxing and admiring the charming shops lining the streets of this quaint mountain town.
Tucked away on the banks of the gorgeous Oak Creek in Sedona, Tlaquepaque is a nod to Mexican architecture and artisan culture both in name and purpose.
It’s a beautiful little arts and shopping village characterized by pretty cobblestone streets and vine-covered walls that lie under the shade of enormous sycamore trees, making it an extraordinarily picturesque destination.
With an unimaginably diverse range of arts and crafts, there’s something for everyone in this unique little enclave.
12. Montezuma Castle
As well as prime wine country, Verde Valley also offers a fascinating example of the ingenuity of ethnological history that takes the form of Montezuma Castle.
The “castle” was built by the Sinagua people and is literally carved into a cliffside to realize a series of stories and rooms that people can still visit today.
Available tour: Full-Day the Ancient Castles of the Southwest
13. Monument Valley
The red rock buttes and mesas that form the instantly recognizable landscape of Monument Valley are probably the most comparable sights with Western movies that you’ll find anywhere in the world.
The tallest of these rises to 1000 feet in height.
They make for truly spectacular views at dawn and dusk, when they cast enormous shadows across the dusty ground.
Monument Valley has been the set of many iconic Westerns over the years and you can take certain tours centered on this intriguing movie trivia.
14. Oak Creek Canyon
Though in the summer months it can become slightly congested with traffic, Oak Creek Canyon remains one of the most beautifully scenic drives around the Sedona area.
Majestic sycamore trees line a softly babbling river and carpet the cliff sides all the way to the top of the canyon.
Fishing and swimming are hugely popular in the summer and its one of the most popular spots to cool off that’s only a stone’s throw from the town of Sedona.
15. Verde Canyon Railroad
One of the most scenic ways to appreciate the huge diversity and staggering beauty of the landscapes of northern Arizona is to jump on the four-hour journey along the Verde Canyon Railroad on a luxurious locomotive.
From the unique, open-air viewing cars, you’ll have the chance to soak in the beauty of the Verde River and the rich emerald tree canopies as you follow the progress of daylight from Clarkdale to Perkinsville and back.