Which Is Better To Visit Scottsdale Or Sedona?

Which destination should you pick for vacation, Scottsdale or Sedona? Both destinations are known for their wellness culture, though they are very different. 

Do you enjoy relaxing spa treatments followed by shopping, perusing art galleries, and the like? Or do you prefer a well-deserved spa treatment after a grueling hike? 

Would you rather spend your mornings playing golf or mountain biking? Are you outdoorsy, or do you appreciate upscale experiences and luxury accommodations? Are you traveling with children? 

Something is alluring about both destinations. However, your preferences will determine which destination to visit. 

Is It Better To Visit Scottsdale Or Sedona?

If you want to go shopping, spend your days playing golf, or pamper yourself at luxury spas, you’ll find Scottsdale hard to beat. Scottsdale is the perfect family vacation city, offering a variety of activities. You’ll find something fun for every member of your party! Sedona, on the other hand, is a dream destination for adventurers, nature lovers, and spiritualists. While there’s plenty to do, most activities are outdoors.

What Makes Scottsdale Worth Visiting?

The clear blue skies, excellent shopping experiences, and the Saguaro cacti of the Sonoran desert are only a few things that make Scottsdale worth visiting. There is so much to do and see in this desert city! 

Scottsdale Arizona is a place of luxury and spectacular natural beauty. The many resorts, all with swimming pools and palm trees, are contrasted by the desert and McDowell mountain range.

The weather in Scottsdale is sunny and pleasant all year, except in summers when temperatures are routinely in the triple digits. With 330 sunny days per year, it’s the ultimate fun-in-the-sun destination!

You can easily spend weeks here without running out of things to do! Scottsdale is a terrific family destination but equally appealing to couples. 

What Makes Sedona Worth Visiting?

Sedona’s spectacular natural beauty draws thousands of visitors each year. The area is known as Red Rock Country due to its colorful rock formations.

The landscape is one of the most unique in North America. So if other world views fill your soul with delight, Sedona is the destination for you! 

Along with unparalleled natural beauty, Sedona is known for its vortexes, which are believed to possess great spiritual powers. As a result, Sedona has become a New Age hotspot for spiritualists. 

Whether you believe in the power of the vortexes or not, hiking to any of these spots rewards you with panoramic views that are hard to beat.

Things To Do In Scottsdale

Be sure to pack comfortable walking shoes when visiting Scottsdale. The older part of the city features stunning mid-century architectural buildings that are best appreciated on foot. 

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West is a must-visit! The UNESCO world heritage site was built in 1937 and celebrated Scottsdale’s landscape as only the famed architect can. Book a tour with a knowledgeable guide to learn more about Wright’s history and building.

Of the many attractions, two things draw the crowds like no other; golf and spas. The golf courses in Scottsdale are spectacular. Where else can you enjoy world-class golf with a backdrop of cacti and the most colorful sunsets?

And Scottsdale is home to the yearly Waste Management Phoenix Open, the PGA tour event. If you haven’t been to the Phoenix Open, it’s the loudest PGA tour event, and the 16th hole is like no other in golf. 

There’s no shortage in Scottsdale when it comes to spas. The city has a plethora of spas, the most in the country! So if pampering is your style, you’ll be in heaven in Scottsdale.

There are many art galleries in Scottsdale, but Wonderspaces at Scottsdale Fashion Square is unique. Immerse yourself in a world where art and technology collide. Art installations come to life with interactivity and virtual reality. 

The Scottsdale’s Mcdowell Sonoran Preserve is the place to be if you want to escape the frenzy of the city for a few hours. The desert landscape in this protected preserve is home to the Saguaro cacti, the typical cactus plant featured in cowboy films.

Other highlight activities in Scottsdale include:

  • Shopping at Fashion Square
  • Butterfly Wonderland
  • McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park
  • Spring Training at Salt River Fields

Things To Do In Sedona

Sedona is a haven for nature lovers. Sedona boasts over 200 hiking trails and some of the best stargazing in the Northern Hemisphere.

One of the most magical ways to take in the beauty of Sedona is in a hot air balloon. Red Rock Balloon Adventures hosts scenic balloon rides at sunrise.

The Devil’s Bridge Trail is the ultimate Instagram-worthy hike in Sedona. This well-traversed 1.8 miles can be challenging, but the panoramic vistas from the sandstone arch are worth every drop of sweat.

The sandstone arch is one of the largest in the world! Get there early, or even better, mid-week to avoid the crowds.

The 1.5-mile Cathedral Rock Trail will take you to another sandstone wonder; Cathedral Rock. The full magnificence of this sandstone formation reveals itself during sunset, so plan your hike accordingly.

While Cathedral Rock is believed to be the strongest of the Sedona vortexes, three other sites are worth a stop:

  • Airport Mesa
  • Bell Rock
  • Boynton Canyon

If you want to go off-the-beaten-track and explore lesser-known hikes, check out The Secret Seven

In addition to breathtaking hikes and spiritual vortexes, you can explore the natural landscape through mountain biking, jeep tours, picnics, and camping.

Other must-do activities in Sedona include:

  • Tlaquepaque Arts and Shopping Village
  • Verde Valley Wine Trail
  • Chapel of the Holy Cross
  • Palatki Heritage Site 
  • Montezuma Castle National Monument
  • Slide Rock State Park

Places To Stay In Scottsdale 

What better way to enjoy the desert than a 5-star luxury stay at the Canyon Suites at The Phoenician? But be warned; you may not ever want to leave! 

Relax at the infinity pool or enjoy the views of the camelback mountain from the daybed on your private patio. There’s a spa, aerial yoga studio, and electric vehicle charging station. 

After watching the sunset from the dining area, end your evenings with your loved ones around the outside firepit.

If your vacation is short, the Royal Palms Resort and Spa is the perfect place to stay. The resort’s proximity to Scottsdale’s Old Town will give you ample time to explore the art galleries, eateries, and other attractions. 

Places To Stay In Sedona 

Sedona’s resorts pay tribute to the breathtaking beauty of the natural landscape. The abundance of highly-rated resorts means that you’ll quickly find excellent accommodations. Although choosing one may be the hardest part!

Enchantment Resort should be your first choice. This luxury resort is one of the highest-rated resorts in Sedona, so book early! 

The resort feature mid-century touches with light, airy rooms. For an additional fee, you can enjoy members-only amenities like spas, a tennis court, and a golf course.

If you want something more cozy and intimate, try The Sunset Chateau. The Spanish influences, picturesque gardens, and jaw-dropping views are hard to beat! 

Adobe Grand Villas is another spectacular 5-star resort that’s worth a stay. The exceptional hospitality and freshly baked bread will make you feel right at home.

Their uniquely decorated villas set Adobe Grand Villas apart from other resorts. With themes inspired by the old Wild Wild West, Tuscany, or Pueblo-style, it’s hard to choose a favorite!

Verdict: Scottsdale Vs. Sedona

Sedona’s otherworldly natural beauty makes it a popular destination with tourists. Still, there are many areas to explore if you want to avoid touristy spots. The colorful hues of red sandstone rocks are indescribable. You have to see it to truly grasp its beauty!

If you love outdoor activities like mountain biking, camping, or hiking, you should visit Sedona. Sedona should also be your choice if you are spiritual or fascinated by the vortexes.

Scottsdale will be a better destination if you travel with children, as there are more kid-friendly things to do. There are a few hiking trails, but the museums, spas, art galleries, and shopping centers make Scottsdale an excellent destination for a well-rounded vacation.

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About the author
Steve Morrow
Steve Morrow owns Paddle About, an outdoor recreation and travel blog. Steve loves to travel, kayak, paddle board, camp, hike, and spend time outdoors with his wife and two kids. When he's not exploring the great outdoors, Steve enjoys writing about his adventures and sharing tips for getting the most out of your outdoor experiences. He has a lot of interesting stories to share, and he's always happy to help others get more out of life.