Road Trip From Tucson to Sedona: Relaxing Among the Red Rocks

Looking for a quick getaway? Taking a road trip from Tucson to Sedona might be your answer.

To get to Sedona from Vail, simply hop on I-10 and drive towards Phoenix. Once in Phoenix, switch from I-10 to I-17 (there will be plenty of signs) and keep following the road until you reach exit 298. Take that and drive for approximately 20 more minutes until you reach the quaint city of Sedona.

The entire trip takes only about 3.5 to 4 hours, making it a fast and easy getaway. Once there, you have a variety of activities you can enjoy. Some of the standard tourist activities include:

Although these are great adventures for you and your family, there are a few excursions in particular I think are “musts” on your trip to Sedona.

Hike or Bike

Toby Bell RockWhether you’re an avid outdoorsman or just want to surround yourself in the stunning beauty of the red rocks Sedona is so well known for, you’ll want to plan a trip to the trails. This is a mountain biker’s paradise. There are trails for beginners through advanced. The same is true for hiking.

Some of the best trails are Cathedral Rock, Courthouse/Bell Rock (where this picture was taken) and Brins Mesa. Ask the concierge at your hotel for more details about each one. None of them are a far journey by car and all of them are worthwhile trying.

Sedona is a dog-friendly town. Bring your pup on any of the trails and let him or her enjoy the trip with you. Afterward, stop in at Ken’s Creekside Cafe and give yourself and your dog a delicious lunch. They have a special menu just for your four legged family members.


Tlaquapaque is at the heart of Sedona. This is the upscale shopping center where the artists who make the red rock region so famous set up shop. Here you can buy everything from small trinkets to masterpieces costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. There’s something for everyone.

Plan to spend at least a few hours roaming through the shops. This is a good place to have lunch, unwind and sip on a glass of local wine or beer. The Oak Creek Brewery and Grill features the regions very own brews.

Depending on the time of year you go, you might be lucky enough to see a celebration or festival happening. Weddings happen in Tlaquapaque year round. At Christmas, they hold a special luminaria ceremony. Visit their calendar to learn more.

Slide Rock

Want to get up close and personal with the red rocks and the famous Oak Creek that runs through the heart of Sedona? Slide Rock is the place for you to go.

Children of all ages love this area. As the name suggests, you can slide your way down the red rocks, or jump off the rocks into the refreshing Oak Creek waters. Here’s a video to give you a better idea of what’s in store for you at this hot spot.

Insider Tip #1: Splurge on a Hotel With Access to the Creek

If you’re going on the trip with your family or a group of friends, it’s worthwhile to splurge on a hotel near the creek. These are usually found in Uptown.

The creek gives you hours of fun all day where you can feed the ducks, relax to the sounds of the flowing creek or play in the water. The best part is, it’s free, which means you actually will save money in the long run.

By staying close to the creek, you’re more likely to have your own area where you can enjoy this natural beauty. Other areas with creek access, such as Slide Rock, tend to get crowded in the high tourist months.

Insider Tip #2: Plan to Eat at Elote

Elote is probably one of the best kept secrets in Sedona. It’s a small restaurant situated alongside the King’s Ransom hotel. You wouldn’t think it’s anything much from the outside, but once you experience the food, you’ll be hooked.

Elote cafe’s menu is “inspired by the markets of Mexico.” All of the food is served with the freshest ingredients the chef can find. That means, the menu is regularly changing and getting unique updates.

The only consistent is their signature appetizer, Elote. It’s a creamy corn dip that will have you hooked from the first bite. Buy the cookbook and make it at home – it’s that good!

Plan to wait; they don’t take reservations. The restaurant is only open from 5 p.m. – 9 p.m. each night and it’s closed on Sundays and Mondays.

The chef isn’t in business because he wants to strike it rich. He’s in business because he wants to serve great food to the people of Sedona. He’s been featured several times on television in Phoenix and has been offered restaurant deals in Las Vegas and New York. He’s declined those offers to continue owning and operating the restaurant he loves – Elote.

Sedona is one of Tucson’s favorite getaways. Have you ever been? Share your experiences with us on our Facebook page. We love hearing about other hidden gems.

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