Scottsdale vs. Sedona: Which Destination Is Best for Vacation?
If you’re planning a getaway to the “Grand Canyon State” for the first time, you are likely overwhelmed by all the towns, cities, and sites you can see or visit during your trip.
From the Grand Canyon and Flagstaff to Downtown Phoenix and Sedona — there is no shortage of incredible places to visit in Arizona. However, when it comes down to choosing a place to stay for a couple’s getaway, solo trip, or family adventure, most travelers make a challenging decision between two famous cities, Scottsdale & Sedona.
In this post, we’ll compare the difference between Scottsdale vs. Sedona, so you can determine which resort town is the best place to stay during your vacation to Arizona.
Transportation in Scottsdale vs. Sedona
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is located in Phoenix — the state’s capital — but Scottsdale is only 10–20 minutes away. On the other hand, Sedona is located two hours from the airport, so if you’re planning to stay in Sedona, you’ll need to factor in some drive time from the airport after your flight.
Scottsdale and Sedona are not walkable cities. Regardless of which city you decide to stay in — you’ll need to factor the cost of a rental car into your budget. However, it’s wise to upgrade to a four-wheel-drive vehicle if you plan to spend a considerable amount of time in the red-rock landscapes of Sedona.
Outdoor Activities in Scottsdale vs. Sedona
In Sedona, visitors can climb steep canyon walls or adventure on hiking trails for all skill levels in the morning, such as Bell Rock, Cathedral Rock, and Devil’s Bridge. In the afternoon, they can ride through Sedona on a Pink Jeep Tour, splash around in Slide Rock State Park in Oak Creek Canyon, or ride ATVs through the stunning red rocks and other natural attractions.
In Scottsdale, travelers can also soak in the natural beauty of the desert landscape on hiking trails at the McDowell Sonoran Preserve or Pinnacle Peak. Alternatively, golf enthusiasts can spend any time at Scottsdale’s world-class golf courses, including the Champions Course at TPC Scottsdale, where the Waste Management Phoenix Open is hosted.
While there are plenty of unique things to do in Sedona and Scottsdale for outdoor adventurers and nature lovers, we recommend Sedona for breathtaking red rock hiking and proximity to the Grand Canyon and Scottsdale for world-class golfing and scenic desert trails.
Restaurants, Nightlife & More Things to Do in Scottsdale vs. Sedona
Aside from adventurous things to do outdoors, like hiking, biking, and four-wheeling — you’ll find that Scottsdale has more activities to offer during your getaway to Arizona than Sedona.
In Scottsdale, you can enjoy high-end shopping at luxury malls, like Scottsdale Fashion Square and Scottsdale Quarter, or visit the large gallery district in Old Town Scottsdale or fantastic museums throughout the city to immerse yourself in art, culture, and history.
Old Town Scottsdale also offers dozens of award-winning restaurants and great dining experiences, from authentic Mexican cuisine to charming brunch spots. The Scottsdale Entertainment District offers visitors many vibrant nightlife options, from clubs to country-western bars.
However, if you carve out plenty of time to explore Scottsdale and are still looking for more to do, Sedona offers some unique experiences you won’t find in Scottsdale. For example, you can immerse yourself in Sedona’s new-age superstition and culture or embark on a wine-tasting tour on the Verde Valley Wine Trail through Cottonwood, Cornville, and Jerome. Learn more about other Scottsdale wine tasting experiences here!
Spa Resorts & Hotels in Scottsdale vs. Sedona
A Scottsdale or Sedona visit isn’t complete without a massage, facial, or spa treatment at one of each city’s luxury resorts. While you may have more options in Scottsdale — Sedona is filled with plenty of spectacular resorts, so you really can’t go wrong with either choice.
Some of the best spa resorts to enjoy when your visit Scottsdale include The Phoenician Scottsdale and the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North. In Sedona, the Enchantment Resort and L’Auberge de Sedona are a few of the best resorts for spa treatments surrounded by nature.
Is Sedona worth the drive from Scottsdale?
Yes, Sedona is absolutely worth visiting during a vacation to Scottsdale — even if you only have time for a brief day trip.
It only takes a few hours to reach Sedona from Scottsdale, and the small-town feel, breathtaking landscapes, fabulous hikes, and other things to do in Sedona, like wine-tasting and shopping, make Sedona one of the best weekend or day trips from Scottsdale.
Is Sedona or Scottsdale closer to the Grand Canyon?
Sedona is only a 109-mile drive (around two hours) from the Grand Canyon, making it closer than the 233-mile (three-and-a-half hour) drive from Scottsdale.
Is the weather different in Scottsdale vs. Sedona?
Yes, the weather in Scottsdale, Arizona, is different from the weather in the Sedona area. High temperatures in Sedona are generally 10°F cooler than in Scottsdale, and, on average, Sedona receives more rainfall (and snowfall) than Scottsdale.
Visit Sedona and Scottsdale on the Same Vacation — But Stay in Scottsdale for More Convenience
We highly recommend quality time in Scottsdale and Sedona during your adventure in Arizona. However, if you’re looking for an endless selection of dining, nightlife, museums & activities, and hassle-free transportation from the airport — we recommend staying in Scottsdale, AZ, and planning an epic day trip to Sedona during your trip. Check out our Scottsdale Visitors Guide to start planning the trip of a lifetime. Stay With Style Scottsdale offers short-term rentals complete with heated swimming pools, gourmet kitchens, and other resort-style amenities in Scottsdale, Arizona. If you decide that Scottsdale is the best choice between Sedona or Scottsdale for your next trip — we hope you’ll consider booking one of our rentals to stay in during your visit!