Sedona, Arizona might just be the most beautiful place I’ve ever visited. That is saying something, considering that my visit to Sedona came just hours after departing the majestic views of the Grand Canyon. My family spent two days in Sedona over spring break on a Southwest road trip several years ago, and it was two days incredibly well-spent.
The classic Sedona travel experience usually involves a lot of lounging by a luxury resort pool, visiting spas, or meditating at a yoga retreat. That clearly was not going to cut it for travelers with young kids in tow like my family. Thankfully we found Sedona had a kid-friendly side as well, with amazing outdoor adventures and plenty to explore – all set against a backdrop of pretty breathtaking natural beauty the kids can’t help but notice.
If you are heading to Sedona, Arizona with kids, here are my top recommendations for a family-friendly experience.
(Trips With Tykes uses affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission if you purchase through links in this post. See our full disclosure policy linked in the menu at the bottom of this site.)
Sedona Arizona Travel Basics
Location. Sedona is located in central Arizona about two hours due north of Phoenix. It’s about another two hours due south of the south rim of the Grand Canyon, making it an easy and strategic stop on a longer Arizona or Southwest road trip (as my family did).
Flying to Sedona. If you are arriving by air, it’s important to know that Sedona doesn’t have a commercial airport of its own. The closest airport with commercial service is in Flagstaff (FLG), about 45 minutes north of town. Flagstaff has service on American to Dallas-Fort Worth and on United to Denver. Many travelers fly instead into Phoenix Sky Harbor and make the drive instead. PHX has many more airline choices and usually cheaper flight prices.
Where to Stay in Sedona. Sedona attracts a lot of well-heeled visitors and has a number of super expensive resort accommodations. But it’s entirely possible to visit Sedona more cheaply, especially if you are willing to stay a little outside the central part of town. A car is very useful to be able to explore the area more broadly, so it’s not too difficult to stay a little farther afield. We chose to stay in the Sedona Real Inn & Suites, which has family-friend accommodations at moderate prices a few minutes from town – highly recommended.
Best Times of Year to Visit Sedona. Sedona is in the high desert which means it gets pretty chilly in winters and fairly hot in summer – although nowhere near the heat of Phoenix and Tucson. Fall and spring are the most popular months to visit but also the busiest.
Top Kid-Friendly Things Do in Sedona
If you are looking for things to do with your kids, we found plenty in Sedona. Here are the top attractions to hit on a shorter visit.
1. Pink Jeep Tours
Driving through the red rocks on a Pink Jeep Tour was truly the highlight of our trip. There are a number of jeep tours in the area, but Pink Jeep has the most options and the best access. Plus, the jeep’s color was a big hit with our then 6 year old daughter.
Our son just made the 18 month age cutoff for coming along with us, but be aware that the tour has since raised the eligibility age to 2 years old. A car seat came provided and was already tightly and professionally installed (I double checked!). Be aware, however, that your toddler will need to forward face.
We took the the Broken Arrow tour, which clocked in at 2 hours. It was the perfect length for even the littlest of attention spans. The tour took two stops to explore and admire the red rock views. I’d highly recommend bringing a baby carrier along for toddlers to keep them safe and contained on the stops – the dropoffs are no joke!
The most thrilling moment of the trip for kids was driving down the face of a red rock at very steep angle. Our kids were amazed at what the jeep could do and our toddler son laughed his way over every bump with his hands thrown in the air, roller-coaster style.
Tours are expensive ($129 for adults and $116 for kids 12 and under as of January 2022), but this is one splurge that is well-worth it. When we visited, AAA members could save 10%, so bring along your AAA card if you have one in case that discount remains.
2. Slide Rock State Park
While in Sedona, take your kids on an old-fashioned water slide – one that nature has made! Slide Rock State Park is just a few miles north of Sedona in Highway 89a and has a natural rock formation that acts as a water slide of sorts. Our then 6 year old was determined to do it even though the water was freezing in early April, and it was a bit of a physical challenge at her age. Luckily she is a strong swimmer and my husband was able to go down with her.
Parking is available for a $20 fee ($30 on summer weekends as of 2022) and does fill up in high season. The park includes is a small store where you can purchase snacks and even a last-minute towel. The water is quite cold year-round, but the water flow tapers off a bit in summer making the slide safer for younger swimmers than it was for us in the spring. Walking down to the slide area requires a bit of dexterity (especially if you have gear and a baby in a carrier like I did), but it can be done by anyone in reasonably good shape.
3. Chapel of the Holy Cross
Churches can sometimes be a bit of a mixed bag to visit with children, but this Catholic chapel is one that young kids can appreciate. Built directly into the red rocks of Sedona perched atop a valley, you can take in some amazing views and learn a little about the spirituality of this area.
You’ll only need a short time to visit the small chapel, but plan for time to park too. Be prepared to wait in line for a parking space on busy days.
4. Sedona Stargazing
We had high hopes for gazing at the stars in Sedona, which is a pretty iconic activity in Sedona. But this activity ultimately turned out to be a bit of a disappointment.
My husband and 6 year old daughter went one evening on a tour with Sedona Stargazing (I was on baby early bedtime duty that night) for a sneak peek at the cosmos far from the lights of the big cities. Unfortunately weather proved a bit of a challenge, which can happen and of course is a punch you just have to roll with. But the real downer for the two of them was some brusque service they received that was decidedly not in keeping with the service we received elsewhere in Sedona.
That said, the nighttime views are breathtaking. Our take? This is an attraction that is probably best geared towards older kids and teens. At $117 for adults and $76 for children (we paid $60/$35 so that’s quite a price increase!) it’s also quite expensive, so I’d recommend it only if you have a real astronomer-in-the-making in the family.
5. Montezuma Castle National Monument
Just south of Sedona is one of the most impressive pre-Columbian period cliff dwellings to survive today. Run by the National Park Service, Montezuma Castle National Monument is also a very budget-friendly attraction. Entrance fees are $10 for guests age 16+ and under and kids 15 and under are free. The ticket also buys admission to the nearby Tuzigoot Monument which isn’t as visually impressive for children but is another family-friendly spot we enjoyed. And of course, if you have a national park annual pass (free if you have a 4th grader in the family!) entry into this site is included.
Our daughter had a blast participating in the Junior Ranger program while at Montezuma Castle, which helped her learn a bit about the history of the area. Plan for a visit of about an hour.
Kid-Friendly Places to Eat in Sedona
After all that exploring, where are the best places to grab a bite to eat? While fancy restaurants abound, we found lots of young kid-friendly places to chow down in town too.
1. Cowboy Club
Cowboy Club is a moderately-priced family-friendly steakhouse in the middle of downtown. We stopped in for dinner our last evening in Sedona. The wait for indoor seating was a bit long, so we opted for the front patio on a warm night, which probably turned out to be an even better choice for people watching.
Try the homemade cornbread with honey-chipotle butter for a little Southwestern flair. The margarita definitely didn’t disappoint either after a long day hiking the red rocks with kids in tow.
2. Sedona Memories Bakery & Cafe
At the recommendation of our Pink Jeep Tours guide, we made a lunch stop at Sedona Memories Bakery & Cafe. For a surprising low price, you can buy a delicious deluxe sandwich that is almost big enough to feed the whole family. For a sweet treat, the cookies are top-notch and equally huge. My family dined like kings and took plenty of leftovers to go.
There is simple outdoor patio seating where it’s okay for kids to be a little loud and be a little messy. This restaurant is a must-do for families on a budget who want to eat well and eat quickly.
3. Black Cow Cafe
After a few strenuous Sedona hikes, you’ve probably earned some ice cream. I highly recommend a stop at Black Cow Cafe. This little ice cream parlor in central Sedona often has a long line, but the homemade ice cream was delicious! You can also grab pie, coffee, and hot dogs.
More Arizona Travel Resources
Visiting Arizona with Kids? Check out these related stories:
- Guide to Visiting Tempe Arizona with Kids
- Tips for Travel to Cactus League Spring Training Baseball
- Tombstone Arizona with Kids
- Top 10 things for families to do in Arizona
- A Family-Friendly Evening with the Arizona Diamondbacks
Disclosure: Pink Jeep Tours provided one complimentary tour for media review purposes but I paid for the rest of our family to come along. All other attractions and experiences featured in this post were at my family’s expense. As always, all opinions are my own.