I spent three months as a travel nurse in Scottsdale and one of my main goals when living there was to visit as many surrounding towns as possible. Before moving to Arizona, I knew that there was the Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, and more… but I had no clue the extent of beauty and nature that is found within the state. There are national parks, natural wonders, abandoned ghost towns, and more! Two towns that I had heard about before arriving in Scottsdale were both Flagstaff and Sedona. But if you’re coming to Arizona and only have time to visit one, which is it? So, Flagstaff vs Sedona… which town is better to visit?
Flagstaff vs Sedona
Flagstaff is located 2.5 hours north of Scottsdale. It’s known as a college town, housing Northern Arizona University, it’s known for having the tallest mountain peak (Humphreys Peak) in Arizona, and it’s also known for having a ski resort. Did you think it didn’t snow in Arizona? Think again!
Flagstaff is nestled away in the mountains and the best part about the city is that it’s close to some of Arizona’s best wonders – The Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and Antelope Canyon, to name a few. The Grand Canyon is located 1.5-hours northwest of Flagstaff; while both Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon are located about 2-hours north of Flagstaff near Page, Arizona.
To be honest, Flagstaff wasn’t for me. Aside from the incredible meal that I had at Criollo Latin Kitchen, I wasn’t entirely impressed with the town and I ended up leaving nearly as soon as I had arrived. However, if you’re thinking Flagstaff or Sedona I think it’s important to keep in mind that Flagstaff is closer to the sights mentioned earlier.
On the other hand, Sedona was hands down, my favorite little escape away from Scottsdale! Only two hours north, it is a gorgeous town and makes you feel as if you’re on a different planet! Sedona is surrounded by these unique, red rock buttes as far as the eye can see. Not only can you find hiking trails, places to camp, and buttes to climb. But Sedona also boasts restaurants, cafes, and fun art galleries!
If you’re planning on visiting Sedona, here are some things to do in Sedona that you can’t miss!
If you like… Hiking
If you enjoy hiking then Scottsdale is the place to be. There are tons of hikes around the area but a few of my favorite including Devil’s Bridge, Bell Rock Trail, and Cathedral Rock. Make sure to check out AllTrails for accurate and up-to-date information on each hike.
For more on hiking in Arizona, read Best Arizona Hikes
If you like… Eating
Always a favorite of mine, the type of food in a city or country can make or break an experience for me. Luckily, in the short amount of time that I was in Scottsdale, I did find a few great restaurants to eat at. If you’re looking for a healthy eatery try ChocolaTree Organic Eatery located close to Devil’s Bridge starting point. If you instead prefer a bit of a heavier meal head to Tlaquepaque to dine at El Rincon Restaurant Mexicano. And lastly, if you’re looking for a place with incredible views try the Italian restaurant Hideaway House.
If you like… Wine
If you’re a wine-o (like me!) head to Page Spring Cellars. Located 15-miles outside of Sedona in Cornville, Page Springs is a great place to go if you want to be outdoors enjoying the sunshine. Not to mention there is an indoor seating area for the hot summers. I have to say, I’m less than impressed with any wine grown in Arizona but it’s a fun and cute place to sit amongst the vineyards and try something different.
If you like… Art
If you like art then Tlaquepaque Arts and Shopping Village are definitely for you! Tlaquepaque is an outdoor market with craft shops, clothing shops, art shops, and restaurants. Paved with cobblestone paths it’s a great place to wander around for the day.
I think it’s clear where I stand on the Flagstaff vs Sedona debate. But even better? These two towns are located only an hour from each other so if you have the time you can visit both. Both Flagstaff / Sedona is family-friendly, for nature enthusiasts, and for those who are looking for a quick getaway. Now you tell me, in your opinion which do you like visiting more and why?
If you’re looking for more towns to visit in Arizona, why not check out the ghost town of Jerome?