The high-desert city of Sedona offers both the ultimate escape and a sensory overload, whether you're visiting a vortex site to feel the Earth’s energy or trekking to a natural sandstone bridge with vertiginous views.

Situated in Arizona’s Coconino National Forest and flanked by Red Rock State Park and Slide Rock State Park, Sedona is the quintessential desert oasis. Studded with saguaro cactuses and hidden swimming holes, there are also destination spas, dozens of art galleries and 400 miles of trails to explore.  

There’s a dedicated downtown, but this city of 10,000 feels more like a handful of villages spread out under the shadows of imposing red rocks that are a magnet for exploration. Getting around Sedona is straightforward, though – its neighborhoods are spread along the main thoroughfares, so you don’t need to venture too far to discover their singular charms.  

Here are the four Sedona neighborhoods you can’t miss.

Three people walk alongside a fountain in an arts and shopping complex, shaded by trees
Find locally made arts and crafts at Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village in Uptown Sedona © RAUL RODRIGUEZ / Getty Images


Best for shopping

Sedona’s rustic roots run deep in historic Uptown, the city’s original downtown and core of its cultural heritage. Once flush with ranches and apple orchards, Hollywood came calling in the 1920s and the fledgling village welcomed an influx of movie-making, with more than 80 Westerns filmed in the area. Sedona’s hardscrabble cowboy culture was later augmented by artists and New Agers seeking spiritual enlightenment. 

If you’re looking for liveliness in Sedona, Uptown is the place to be. It’s easy to spend a full day here, shopping for handmade pottery, kachina dolls and rugs made by Navajo creators at Garland’s Navajo Rugs, and learning about the healing properties of crystals at its many spiritual centers. 

Pause at historic plaques, sculptures and landmark buildings that offer glimpses into the city’s past. Then dive deeper: visit Sedona Heritage Museum, which houses thousands of artifacts and photos, and Sedona Arts Center, once a barn used for packing apples and peaches. South of Main St, the massive Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village is a must for finding arts and crafts made by Sedona’s talented artists. While here, drop by El Rincon restaurant, which has been serving Arizona-style Mexican dishes and Navajo cuisine since 1976.

Stop in at The Art of Wine for a selection of craft beer, locally made mead and dozens of wines from around the world, or keep it local at Winery 1912, where you can sip Arizona offerings. The streets get sleepier after dark, but some pubs and saloons stay open until midnight on weekends.

Uptown is the most convenient place to stay in Sedona, but expect to open your wallet wide for the neighborhood’s sprawling luxury resorts and hotels. If you plan well in advance and aren’t fussy about amenities, you might find a relative bargain at one of Uptown’s older accommodations, like the Sedona Motel.

Read more: Top 10 things to do in Sedona

A towering reddish-brown rock formation stands against the night sky, illuminated by the stars of the Milky Way
The Village of Oak Creek is one of only 200 International Dark Sky Places in the world © Robert Loe / Getty Images Getty Images

Village of Oak Creek

Best for stargazing and golfing

The Village of Oak Creek (VOC) straddles the Red Rock Byway south of Uptown. “The Village,” as it’s called by locals, is a little more rural and laid-back than its northern neighbor. It’s dark here – perfect for stargazing and UFO spotting – and residents want to keep it that way. The Village is one of only 200 International Dark Sky Places (IDSP) certified worldwide.  

It's also home to imposing natural edifices such as the mile-high Courthouse Butte and the dome-shaped Bell Rock, one of Sedona’s four vortex sites. Some people believe a vortex is a naturally occurring phenomenon of energy that’s ideal for healing, meditating or simply recharging your weary soul. 

The Village’s real character comes from its stunning natural setting, making it a good base if you’re into outdoor excursions. Plenty of easy-to-access paths crisscross the surrounding area, such as the Courthouse Vista branches of Courthouse Butte Loop and Bell Rock Pathway, which offer access to popular hiking and mountain biking trails such as Big Park, Llama and Templeton.

Naturally, the Village of Oak Creek draws its share of spirituality seekers, but they’ve got competition when it comes to golfing. Sedona’s mild weather means there’s never a bad time to tee off; four golf courses (some attached to resorts) are scattered around the neighborhood, along with wellness centers offering everything from chakra alignment to halotherapy. You don’t need to go far to find a solid restaurant or cafe loved by locals, such Oak Creek Espresso, which roasts some of its beans on site, and brunch-spot staple the Red Rock Café (share the 3lb cinnamon roll). Not to be outdone when it comes to inventiveness, Butterfly Burger is a higher-end spot with boozy milkshakes and cocktails served up in a sophisticated space.  

Nightlife is seriously casual in the Village and a handful of local joints stay open until 2am, like PJs Village Pub, which has live music on Wednesdays, and the Full Moon Saloon, the destination for DJs, karaoke and pool (it’s free to play on Tuesday nights). The area is mostly walkable and almost everything in the Village is clustered around strip-malls and hotels, resorts and vacation rentals. Accommodations run from midrange to luxury.

Several groups of people in outdoor clothing linger around a creek at the bottom of a canyon of tall red rocks
The cooler temperatures at Oak Creek Canyon offer a reprieve in summer © Fotoluminate LLC / Shutterstock

Oak Creek Canyon  

Best for picnics and swimming

Although it’s just a short drive from downtown, Oak Creek Canyon is much more serene. Traveling north on the 89A as it twists through the canyon, Sedona’s signature red rock desert gives way to the glorious green of one of the world’s largest ponderosa pine forests. The canyon’s cooler temperatures offer a reprieve in summer with natural sites like Midgley Bridge Observation Sight for picnicking and Grasshopper Point for swimming and cliff-jumping.  

One of the area’s unusual attractions is at Slide Rock State Park: an 80ft natural sandstone chute that deposits sliders into Oak Creek’s refreshing water. Even if you don’t want to swim or splash, there’s a history lesson to be had here – on the primitive trails that lead to the 43-acre Pendley Homestead and apple orchard, you can view historic cabins and learn about Central Arizona’s early agricultural development.  

Many places in Oak Creek Canyon are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, but there’s enough around for you to fuel up or scratch your shopping itch. If you’re determined to find that rare vintage basket crafted by an Apache artisan, a squash blossom necklace or other collectible, drop by Hoel’s Indian Shop. The family-owned business has been selling art and treasures here since 1945.  

If you decide to stay in Oak Creek Canyon, there’s an array of accommodations hemmed in by creek and forest, whether you're looking for a campsite, full-service resort or a cabin at the Briar Patch Inn. Restaurants are few and typically scattered along 89A or located in resorts. You can pick up coffee and provisions at Indian Gardens Cafe & Market, and Junipine has a full-service bar with local beer on tap. And at blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Hideaway House, Italian-inspired meals and casual fare are served in its two dining rooms.

A terracotta-colored Buddhist stupa set against a clear blue sky, with colorful prayer flags strung from the top.
Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park is an unexpected slice of Tibetan Buddhism in Sedona © Nancy C. Ross / Getty Images

West Sedona

Best for living like a local

There’s more of a residential feel to West Sedona, an excellent jumping-off point for accessing scenic spots like Airport Mesa Overlook and Thunder Mountain, which towers in the distance. Located about a mile west of Uptown on 89A, it’s a great area to make your base if you plan to hit the trails early and beat the crowds. Find your way to nearby spots like the Seven Sacred Pools historic site (access is via the Soldier Pass Trailhead) or, even closer, the Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park, an unexpected slice of Tibetan Buddhism, complete with stupas, a medicine circle and colorful prayer flags waving in the breeze. 

West Sedona has a number of chain hotels that will appeal to travelers looking for a break on room rates, while boutique-style inns and lodges are further from the heart of the neighborhood but closer to the trails. Functional businesses, bookstores, thrift shops and metaphysical stores line the main artery, Arizona 89A. One standout is the Sedona Artist Market & Gallery, which showcases and sells work of more than 100 local, regional and Native American artists. You can purchase everything from jewelry to textiles and paintings to rock art.  

Food offerings are eclectic in West Sedona. Local Juicery is a morning mainstay for smoothies, dairy-free beverages and nourishing breakfast bowls, while ChocolaTree Organic Oasis promises to be a vegetarian sanctuary of sorts, with chocolate, snacks, tinctures and teas, plus its entire menu is composed of 100% organic foods. Craving sushi in Sedona? Although it might seem counterintuitive to eat raw fish in the desert, Hiro’s Sushi Bar and Japanese Kitchen has local cred, offering a signature “Sedona roll” and “Red Rock roll” and a decent selection of sake and shochu. And, of course, there’s the iconic McDonald’s: here the “golden” arches are teal, so they don’t clash with Sedona’s surrounding red rocks.  

Like the rest of the city, West Sedona isn’t exactly party central. Vino Di Sedona is a must-go spot for its selection of 900 wines as well as craft beer for sale, alongside live entertainment and a menu of tapas, pizza and locally made charcuterie.

Keep planning your trip to Sedona:

Find out the best time to go to Sedona
Save our list of free things to do in Sedona
Explore beyond the city with these day trips from Sedona

This article was first published Aug 12, 2021 and updated May 4, 2024.

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