Sedona, Arizona might just be the most beautiful place I’ve ever visited. And that is saying something, considering that my visit to Sedona came just hours after departing the Grand Canyon. My family spent two days in Sedona over spring break on a Southwest road trip, and it was two days incredibly well-spent.
Although little ones can certainly appreciate the natural beauty of Sedona, they also need things to do to keep them busy. The classic high-end Sedona experience (lounging by a luxury resort pool and visiting spas) is not going to cut it. If you are heading to Sedona, Arizona with kids, here are my top recommendations for a family-friendly experience.
Kid-Friendly Things Do in Sedona
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 6 year old daughter.
Our son just made the age cutoff for coming along with us, as kids have to be 18 months old to ride on the tours (the bumps can cause issues when neck muscles are underdeveloped). 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 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 18 month old son laughed his way over every bump with his hands thrown in the air, roller-coaster style. Tours are expensive ($95 for adults and $71.25 for kids 12 and under), but this is one splurge that is well-worth it. AAA members can save 10%, so bring along your AAA card if you have one.
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 and has a natural rock formation that acts as a water slide of sorts. Our 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 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.
Built directly into the red rocks of Sedona is a gorgeous Catholic chapel that young kids can appreciate. 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 space on busy days.
We had high hopes for gazing at the stars in Sedona, but this activity ultimately turned out to be a bit of a mixed bag. My husband and 6 year old daughter went one evening on this tour (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, but the real downer for the two of them was some brusque service they received that was decidedly not in keeping with the Sedona spirit.
That said, the nighttime views are breathtaking. Our take? This is an attraction that is probably best geared towards older kids and teens. At $60 for adults and $35 for kids 6-12, it’s also quite expensive, so I’d recommend it only if you have a real astronomer-in-the-making in the family.
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 is also a very budget-friendly attraction. Entrance fees are only $5 for guest ages 16 and under and younger kids are free. An $8 combination 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.
Our daughter had a blast participating in the Junior Ranger program while at Montezuma’s 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
1. Cowboy Club
This moderately-priced and family-friendly steakhouse in the middle of downtown was our family’s dinner choice 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. 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.
At the recommendation of our Pink Jeep Tours guide, we made a lunch stop at Sedona Memories Bakery & Cafe. For $8, 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.
After a few strenuous Sedona hikes, you’ve probably earned some ice cream. 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.
Check out other stories relevant to my family’s road trip from Las Vegas to Phoenix, Arizona:
- Las Vegas
More Arizona Travel Destinations:
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.