Top 7 Things to do in Sedona with Kids
“God created the Grand Canyon, but He lives in Sedona.” We saw this amusing quote throughout Red Rock Country during our visit this past summer. Sedona is a picture-perfect scene of red rock formations and boulders. It’s a mystical, thriving artist community, but we also found it to be very family-friendly. Here is our list of top things to do in Sedona with kids no matter when you’re visiting.
Take a Jeep Tour
Converted jeeps ready for a 4×4 off-road adventure through Sedona’s canyons were everywhere in Sedona. The tours have various themes that range from ancient ruins to sunsets. We chose the popular Broken Arrow afternoon tour with Pink Jeep Tours. This was a fun, bumpy ride through a protected trail that gave us an up-close look at the red rocks and unique desert flora. We had a fantastic time despite the summer monsoon that included thunder, lightning and torrential rain halfway through our tour. It definitely was an unforgettable and adventurous trip and also the highlight of our weekend trip.
Boasting over 300 dry and clear nights annually, Sedona is one of the best places in the country for stargazing. Tag along with astronomers and see the night sky through their high-powered telescopes. Sedona Star Gazing offers custom astronomical tours all year limited to a group of 12 guests per astronomer. It’s an educational tour with some fun thrown in. Kids under 5 years old are not recommended for this tour. We were there during monsoon season and couldn’t do this tour, but we’d love to do it on our return trip.
Explore National Parks
We love visiting America’s National Parks and were happy to find there were some within a short drive of Sedona. The big one is the Grand Canyon which is about two hours away. All-day tours are available from Sedona. We’ve visited during other times and the Grand Canyon is an incredible and breathtaking place.
We visited Montezuma Castle National Monument during this trip which was 25 miles away. Despite my kids’ disappointment of no actual castle here, it was still worth a stop. The main attraction was a five-story, 20-room dwelling built before the 1300s on a cliff. The visitors’ center was a wonderful place to learn about the Southern Sinagua who lived here for hundreds of years.
Another nearby park is Tuzigoot National Monument which has the remains of the Sinaguan’s village. My kids enjoyed doing the Junior Ranger program activities and earning a badge to add to their collection.
Get off the beaten path
There are also various options to explore the valley and red rock landscape beyond hiking. Sedona has many mountain bike trails for every level. Bike tours are available all year. Several companies also rent out bikes for self-guided tours. All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) rentals are also available for the more daring types. Arizona ATV Adventures offers three-hour guided tours. Kids over 5 years old or at least 50 pounds can be passengers but must be at least 15 years old with a valid driver’s license to drive an ATV.
For a more peaceful ride into the scenic back country, M Diamond Ranch offers various trail rides on horseback that can also include a trail lunch or cowboy cookout. Children over six years old can go on the trails. Kids, ages 3-5 years old, can go on pony rides around a corral. We’ll be making a return trip to Sedona soon and we can’t wait to get off the beaten path using one of these tours.
As my tween girl gets older, shopping has become a pastime when visiting places. Luckily, Sedona has some fantastic shopping areas. Uptown’s pedestrian-friendly Main Street is filled with eateries, galleries, souvenir and eclectic mix of shops and great for window-shopping.
We also loved exploring Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village with over 40 unique shops and beautiful galleries. This was modeled after a traditional Mexican village that included fountains and colorful tiles. We had a wonderful dinner at family-friendly Oak Creek Brewery and Grill here.
Visit Slide Rock
One of the best ways to cool off under the desert heat is visiting Slide Rock State Park which is seven miles north of Sedona. There are various swimming areas that include an 80-foot water slide on red sandstone.
There are more activities within the park than swimming, though. Kids between 6-12 years old can do fun Junior Ranger activities to earn their buttons. There are also several short nature and hiking trails within the park ideal for spotting wildlife. Visitors must pay $30 per car (up to four adults) during the weekends to enter the park. We desperately tried to go here during a summer holiday weekend, but it was so crowded we couldn’t even enter the parking lot. Come here early!
Take a Hike
Sedona’s red rocks are the ideal backdrops for scenic hikes. There are numerous trails for every level and age. The most popular ones are the Devil’s Bridge Trail (large, natural stone arch) and Cathedral Rock. Some of these trails are also energy centers and vortexes that Sedona is known for. Many people have claimed feeling some sort of spiritual or energy force while at certain vortex spots. Unfortunately, we didn’t experience this. Maybe we need to stay longer at the sites next time.
We did a morning hike on Bell Rock Pathway. This was a fairly short but wonderful hike that took us to some stunning rock formations like Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte. It was interesting to see the desert flora, including cacti and juniper trees, along the scenic path. Arizona’s summer temperatures can reach triple digits so try to schedule hikes in the early morning or at dusk and always bring plenty of water. Many trail heads require a Red Rock Pass for parking which can be purchased at the visitor’s center as daily or weekly pass.
We enjoyed our stay at the beautiful Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock with their great pools and spacious rooms.
Do you have other attractions you’d like to add when visiting Sedona with kids?
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Mary lives in San Diego, California with her husband, 13 year-old daughter and 10 year-old son. She was born in the Philippines, grew up in the U.S. territory…