Things to Do in Sedona, Arizona on a Budget

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The small Southwestern town of Sedona, Arizona, is not know as being the most affordable place to visit in Arizona. According to a cost of living index, the cost of living in Sedona is roughly 10% higher than the Arizona average, and 13% higher than the national average in America. Which suggests that it's probably not a very budget-friendly destination for travelers.

But, despite Sedona's expensive restaurants, golf clubs and hotel rooms, it IS possible to visit Sedona on a budget.

Sedona, Arizona

Along with booking accommodation early to get the best prices and avoiding the really pricey restaurants, there are plenty of things to do and see around Sedona that are free, or at least really affordable. You can easily spend a few days in this beautiful town at a cost comparable to other cities in this region of the U.S.

Here are some suggestions for how to spend a budget-friendly couple of days in Sedona in the summer.

Free and affordable things to do in Sedona, Arizona

1. Walk around downtown Sedona

Sedona, Arizona
How CUTE is Sedona??

The cheapest thing you can do in Sedona is just stroll down its main streets. Uptown Sedona (where all the cute shops and restaurants are) is relatively small, and, even in the 100-degree heat of summer, is very walkable.

Sedona, Arizona

Most of the souvenir and clothing shops have misters outside their doors to help you cool off, and there's plenty to look at without spending any money. Sedona is in a beautiful spot, too, so even just sitting outside a shaded cafe can be a great activity here.

2. Take a trolley tour

Sedona, Arizona

Sedona Trolley refers to itself as “The best first thing to do in Sedona,” which I think is a pretty good tagline. The company offers 2 separate 1-hour tours, which cover Sedona and some nearby attractions like Dry Creek Canyon and the Chapel of the Holy Cross.

Tours run multiple times throughout the day, and cost $20 per tour (or $29 for both of them). This is a great option if it's stifling out and you don't want to do a lot of walking on your own.

3. Shop at the Tlaquepaque Arts & Shopping Village

Even if your shopping budget is small, I recommend making a stop at Tlaquepaque, which is a beautiful outdoor market and shopping center that's filled with art galleries and boutique shops.

4. See the Chapel of the Holy Cross

Sedona, Arizona

The Chapel of the Holy Cross is a Roman Catholic chapel built right into the rust-red buttes just outside Sedona. The chapel was commissioned by local rancher and sculptor Marguerite Brunswig Staude, and was completed in 1956.

If you decide not to do a narrated tour that includes this chapel, I highly suggest driving out to see it on your own. From the inside, the chapel isn't anything amazing. But it sure is located in a striking spot.

5. Visit a Vortex

Sedona, Arizona

For the spiritual (or even just the curious), a visit to one of Sedona's famous “vortexes” is a must. Sedona went through a big New Age movement in the 1980s, and four spots became popular to visit for spiritual reasons. These “vortexes” are said to have been created by spiraling spiritual energy that can facilitate prayer, meditation, and even healing.

There are vortex tours that will take you to all 4 sites (located at Bell Rock, Airport Mesa, Cathedral Rock, and Boynton Canyon), or you can visit them on your own. But, be warned: most of them require a hike, which can be unpleasant in the height of summer.

6. Drive to a lookout

Sedona, Arizona
The view from Airport Mesa

The closest Vortex to the center of Sedona is located at Airport Mesa, which is along Airport Road. Even if you have no desire to visit a vortex, driving to the lookout on Airport Road is well worth you time. From here, you can get a bird's-eye view out over the town and the nearby red rocks.

7. Splash around at Slide Rock State Park

Slide Rock State Park, Sedona, Arizona

If the summer heat becomes too much, consider driving a few miles outside of town to Slide Rock State Park. It will cost you $20 per car to enter the park, but I promise it's worth every penny.

Not only can you enjoy some hiking here in Oak Creek Canyon, but you can also go swimming in the river – and get to know the park's namesake a bit better.

Slide Rock State Park is named after what has been dubbed “Slide Rock,” which is a natural water slide that has been carved into the riverbed by Oak Creek. I promise, it's great fun for all ages!

Slide Rock State Park, Sedona, Arizona

Slide Rock sees high visitor numbers in the summer, however, so I'd suggest visiting in the early morning or late afternoon to avoid the crowds.

8. Eat cheap

Sedona, Arizona

Sedona does indeed have some very expensive hospitality services. But you don't have to spend a ton of money to eat great here.

My sister and I got delicious taco salads at an Uptown food court for $9, and I had the best sandwich I have ever eaten at Sedona Memories Bakery Cafe for less than $7. Simon's Hot Dogs is also supposed to be a fun, affordable place to grab a bite to eat.

9. Visit Red Rocks State Park

We ran out of time to visit Red Rocks State Park, but it's another of Sedona's top destinations, along with Slide Rock. This park has tons of great hiking options, including even some guided nature walks. The contrasts of red rocks, blue creeks, and green fields makes this park a photographer's paradise (or so I'm told).

This, too, will cost you $20 per car to enter during the summer months. It's on my list for “next time.”

Sedona, Arizona

Sedona may indeed be one of the pricier places to visit in Arizona. But, as this little guide proves, you definitely don't have to spend a lot to enjoy all that Sedona has to offer.

Where to stay in Sedona on a budget

Sedona has a reputation for being a bit pricey, but the truth is you CAN find hotel rooms here for under $150 per night there, which is pretty affordable by US hotel standards. Budget-friendly hotels in Sedona (that still have decent reviews) include:

You can also look for vacation rentals in Sedona. This entire house with panoramic views looks beautiful, this Uptown apartment has a lovely outdoor courtyard, and this little red cottage is very affordable.

Have you been to Sedona? If not, is it a place you can see yourself visiting?

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Note: Big thanks to the Sedona Chamber of Commerce for helping us out with our stay here and suggesting a lot of great things to do!

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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71 Comments on “Things to Do in Sedona, Arizona on a Budget

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  1. I’ve never been here, but I totally see myself going now that I read this! Thank you ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Awesome! I’m sure you’d love it. It would be hard not to!

    We went to Sedona (amongst other places) for our honeymoon. Slide Rock was one of our stops and well worth it! However, we parked precariously on the side of the road a little ways down and skipped the $20 fee per car ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Haha, you’re not the only one who opted out of the $20 fee to drive into Slide Rock! Sounds like a fun honeymoon, though.

    Stopped in Sedona when I drove out to Colorado for a summer internship a few years ago–loved it! Such a gorgeous place.

      Gorgeous indeed. I was blown away by the scenery there! We sure don’t see anything like that where I’m from.

    Sedona was one of our favorite stops on our South West Road Trip last year. Loved driving towards these bright red rocks. Your photos are gorgeous!

      Sedona was soooo pretty. I could totally see myself living in that part of the U.S. someday…. you know, if I won the lottery. Lol.

    Beautiful photos. Looks like a pleasant quaint kind of town. Makes me wish we’d had time to explore Arizona while in the US.

      Thanks, Sam! Arizona was one of my favorite states my sister and I visited on our road trip. It’s definitely an area I’d like to go back to and spend more time exploring!

    The vortex hikes sound interesting…great post – looks like a wonderful spot!

      If it hadn’t been so freaking hot, we probably would have hiked to one of the Vortexes. I would have liked to see if we could feel anything!

    What a strange place to put a chapel!! The slide state rock park looks like fun though!

      Strange, but beautiful! It sure makes for some very pretty views.

      And Slide Rock State Park was SO fun!

    Wow looks like a great place to visit.

    I am in total awe of the landscape around the area so would totally visit – Great photos Amanda. ๐Ÿ™‚

      I really liked Sedona a lot. I knew it was going to be a nice road trip stop, but I didn’t know just how much I’d enjoy it!

    Incredible lookout spots! We spent some time in Paradise Valley which was spectacular, however never made it out to Sedona (which looks as though it’s worth a trip even if only to take in the incredible landscape). Well be sure to spend some time there next time we find ourselves in Arizona. Thanks for sharing!

      Sedona is definitely worth a trip just for the landscape. But the great thing is that there’s lots more to do there, too!

    Great photos Amanda – looks like a really quaint place that lights up with the sun =)

      Thanks, Toni! And yes, the sun on the red rocks is really a sight to see!

    Looks bright and colorful. Sedona looks like a quiet sleepy place with lots of sunshine which I love!! This is a very informative post with beautiful pics.

      Thanks, Arti! Yes, Sedona definitely gets lots of sunshine – but that means it gets HOT in the summer, so beware!

    I only drove through on my way to the Grand Canyon but would love to go back and spend a few days in this beautiful, weird town.

      Beautiful and weird are perfect descriptors, I think! I really loved Sedona. It was a great spot to relax in between the Grand Canyon and going to Vegas.

    I was just at the Chapel of the Holy Cross and it was so amazing! As I lit a candle for my grandmother, three visitors started to sing a hymm acapella. It was beautiful.

    Of course the rest of Sedona ain’t too shabby either ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Aww, what a great experience that sounds like! I don’t think they could have built a chapel in a more beautiful spot!

    Slide Rock Park looks awesome! I hadn’t ever really thought about visiting Sedona. It’s totes on the radar now.

      I hadn’t really thought about it either; my sister and I were totally planning on staying in Flagstaff between the Grand Canyon and Vegas. But then a few people suggested Sedona instead, and, after reading a bit about it, I was sold!

    I can’t believe I haven’t been to Sedona yet!!! I really want to go and stay at a new agey spa ๐Ÿ™‚

      I can’t believe it either! You’re not very far away at all in Vegas! You definitely should go. I really loved it.

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