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Three days in Sedona, Arizona

Sedona mountains

To be honest, I can’t remember exactly when Sedona hit my radar. I went there once as a teenager back when nature didn’t really do it for me (I am embarrassed to admit that yes, that was a real phase of my life), and somewhere in the last few years a return trip ended up on my bucket list. When I was putting together the itinerary for our moving road trip, it was easy to work in, especially since we were already going comically out of the way with a stop in Santa Fe!

Sedona, Arizona
November, 2018


We drove to Sedona from Santa Fe, a drive of about 6:13 that was relatively uneventful. There was definitely some pretty scenery leaving Santa Fe, especially since it had just snowed, and I imagine we would have gotten nice views on the way into Sedona, too, but it was night when we arrived. If you do drive this route, you’ll pass right by Winslow, Arizona, the setting of my favorite song. We didn’t stop since I had just been there with my dad a couple months prior, but we did give it a listen (or three) as we drove by!

Sedona red rocks and trees


We stayed three nights at the Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock, which is really the only place I ever considered staying since we could redeem points for the stay. That said, I was definitely happy with the property and would stay there again even after getting a peak at some of the other Sedona hotels whose restaurants we visited. The furnishings were up-to-date, the spa was great and the surroundings were gorgeous. 

Check out this post for more on our stay!

Hotel room bed at the Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock
Red rocks view from Hilton parking lot
Sunrise at Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock
Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock pool


Sedona’s tourists skew older, and so as you might expect, the cuisine wasn’t exactly hip or cutting edge, especially compared with restaurants in the more up-and-coming urban centers we visited on this trip. Plenty of places we ate were fine, but I wouldn’t endorse any of them whole-heartedly as “must-visits”—even the famed Elote Cafe, which I didn’t find to be worth the hype or the wait. When we got there BEFORE OPENING on a weeknight to put our name down, there was already a line out the door and an hour-long wait, and I don’t think I’ll bother going to the trouble of rushing over there the next time I’m in town. 

One great thing about Sedona’s restaurants are the killer red rocks views, and we tried to hit some of the spots with the best ones either during daylight hours for lunch or right at sunset for dinner. That was a little harder to do in winter when the sun was setting early, but we were still operating on eastern time, so it wasn’t too bad. Plus, it made it easier to get a table!

For a white tablecloth dinner, I’d recommend Mariposa, where you can book a table right up next to the windows and look out over a sweeping landscape. Tii Gavo, Saltrock and The Hudson are all nice places to dine outside for lunch!

Do me a favor and avoid Golden Goose Grill—miiight just be the worst restaurant I’ve ever been to. I’ve warned you!

Salad from Tii Gavo
Patio chair and cactus
Tacos at an outdoor table
Door to Mariposa
Table with mountain views
Decorative sculpture with mountain backdrop


For us, it was all about the hiking in Sedona. We shot for three hikes and ultimately chickened out of the third (Cathedral Rock), but we really loved the two we did (Devil’s Bridge and Soldiers Pass). Neither was particularly strenuous, and hiking is one of the best ways to explore Sedona’s stunning scenery. You can read more about them in this post!

We also did the infamous Pink Jeep tour, which was another great way to see the red rocks up close. As touristy as it is, it’s definitely worth a couple hours to get up into some areas that would be hard to hike to. 

Sedona hiking trail
Carly on Sedona hiking trail
Red rocks on Brins Mesa trail
Sedona pink Jeep
Pink Jeep going downhill


There’s an endless list of hikes to do in Sedona, so with more time we definitely would have ticked off more of those. We also didn’t visit any of the vortexes, not because we were passing judgement in any way, but more because I just kind of… forgot.

I would say overall though that three days felt like a pretty good amount of time to stay in Sedona, particularly since it was too cold to sit out at the pool (which I think was actually completely closed for the season). If the weather had been a little nicer or if we’d been with friends, I could see extending Sedona trip an extra day.

Carly in front of red rocks
Sedona red rocks at sunset
Sedona red rocks at sunset


We redeemed 60,000 Honors points per night for three nights at the Hilton, which felt right in line with a price in dollars that sits above $400. Thanks to Hilton Diamond status (which comes with the Hilton Aspire card), the hotel also upgraded us to a suite.  And by booking a stay on points, we avoided paying the resort fees that the property charges alongside revenue bookings (meaning things like parking, normally covered by resort fees, were free as well). 

The resort also included breakfast for Diamond members, and instead of a voucher, we got $29.90 per day that we could charge to our room at the hotel’s restaurants and have automatically removed from our bill. I love when hotels do breakfast this way, especially when they have grab-and-go options like this one did, as I don’t always like to eat in the morning but am constantly stashing things away for later. 

This hotel also offered 2,500 bonus points if you spent $150 at the spa, but I just missed the threshold!

For the Pink Jeep tour, I paid for our tickets using my  Citi ThankYou Premier card. They coded under the entertainment umbrella as “miscellaneous amusement/recreation services,” meaning I got a 2x bonus on the purchase!

For more on earning and using points and miles to travel for free, visit the 52 Cities free resource library or register to join me on my next live masterclass. For more on my cross-country road trip, check out this post, which has links to posts from every stop! And finally, for more on Sedona, read my review of the Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock, browse my top local hiking tips or check out my experience taking a pink jeep tour!

Hope you enjoyed this mini Sedona travel guide! Have you been to Sedona? What were your favorite parts? Let me know in the comments! >>

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"Open your ears and listen to the message that Sedona has for you" Three perfect days in Sedona "Listen to the message that Sedona has for you."

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