Planning a vacation to Sedona can be pricey. Hotel rooms, sightseeing excursions, and spa days can really add up. Luckily, there are plenty of free things to do in Sedona to help balance out your budget.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that many of those free activities involve the great outdoors. With stunning scenery that stretches for miles, this Arizona town boasts some seriously gorgeous locales. Discover all you can do without spending a dime as you dig into our Sedona guide.
1. Red Rock Scenic Byway
No trip to Sedona is complete without some time spent admiring the beauty of the Red Rocks, for which the area is famous. Take exit 298 off Interstate 17 to travel the 7.5-mile byway. Along the way, there are numerous trailheads and scenic overlooks. However, the joy of this excursion is simply in the admiration of the views that surround you at every given moment. We recommend driving it in both directions. That way, you can experience both perspectives. Plus, if you’re not traveling solo, it will allow you to switch drivers so one person can gawk while the other drives.
2. The Vortexes
Sedona has an undeniable new age vibe. In fact, you won’t be in Sedona long before you start hearing about cyclones of energy that come from nearby vortexes. Many believe all of Sedona is a vortex. But, there are four primary vortexes throughout the city, each radiating a special energy that can be felt while in its presence. These energies are labeled “masculine” or “feminine,” and are marked by rock formations that emit said energy. One of the most popular vortexes is Airport Mesa. In addition to emitting serene energy, it also has one of the best 36-degree views of Sedona.
Stop by a local New Age shop or the Sedona Visitors Bureau to get a map of the vortexes. Then, explore them yourself to see if you can feel the power of the vortexes.
3. Chapel of the Holy Cross
When it comes to free things to do in Sedona, you can’t overlook the Chapel of the Holy Cross. With a location along the Red Rock Scenic Byway, this marvel is easy to access. Built in 1956, this chapel is literally built into the rock walls of the canyon. As such, it definitely makes one wonder “How’d the do that?” However, the natural design blends seamlessly with the surrounding canyons and is an impressive sight to witness firsthand. Even if you’re not religious, a visit to the chapel is still a mist as it offers one of the best views of Bell Rock.
To access the chapel, there is a steep access road. As a result, there is typically an escorted golf cart that transports visitors from the small parking areas to the chapel itself.
4. Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village
The Spanish-style courtyards of the Tlaquepaque (pronounced T-la-keh-pah-keh) Arts & Crafts Village are a wonderful place to window shop. Keep in mind, though, you will be tempted to spend money! However, that temptation is worth it as this collection of buildings creates a charming little Mexican hamlet worth exploring. Cobblestone walkways, vine-covered walls, and stone archways comings to create a one-of-a-kind shopping destination. As a result, it’s one of the best places to spend a pleasant afternoon in Sedona.
Of course, one of the best free things to do in Sedona is simply going for a hike. There are trails literally everywhere. As a result, it doesn’t take much of an effort to find a trailhead. Some of the most spectacular hikes include:
- Bell Rock Loop
- Cathedral Rock
- Devil’s Bridge Trail
- Bear Mountain Trail
- Doe Mountain Trail
- Soldier’s Pass
Please note, access to some of these trails will require a Red Rock Pass. The cost is $5/day.
Do keep in mind, hiking in Sedona requires some preparation. The sun is seriously strong in Arizona. As such, bring water, sunscreen, sunglasses, and even a hat.
6. Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park
Any visit to Sedona should include some time of peaceful reflection. And, where better to do just that than at the Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park. This 14-acre oasis features a 36-foot tall Buddhist structure (the Stupa) and a trail lined with trees and prayer flags. It is suggested you walk around the Stupa three rimes clockwise, keeping a focused intention in mind as you do. However, you can also simply sit and enjoy the quiet and beauty of the park too.
7. Oak Creek Canyon
Another scenic drive can be found through Oak Creek Canyon. This scenic stretch along State Route 89A features high-walled chasms, coral-hued cliffs, vibrant forests, and an elevation gain of over 2,000-feet. Along the way, you’ll pass landmarks like Slide Rock State Park and West Fork Trail—both of which are excellent stops. At the head of the Canyon, stop at Oak Creek Vista. Native American vendors have tables set up with arts and crafts that are worth a second look.
There’s no doubt about it—the sunsets in Sedona are a remarkable sight. And, thankfully, witnessing them is totally free! However, you may be wondering what are the best locations for watching a Sedona sunset. We recommend:
- Sugarloaf Hill
- Airport Mesa
- Cathedral Rock
- Schnebly Hill Drive/Mogollon Rim
Free & Fun in Sedona
As you can see, it’s easy to find free and fun things to do in Sedona. As a result, you’ll have plenty of money left over to spend on the city’s other amazing attractions!