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Sedona vs Tucson – Which One Should You Visit?

Both Sedona and Tucson are popular vacation spots located in Arizona. 

This post will look at the differences between them to help you decide where to visit on your next trip! It covers hotels, activities, atmosphere, nightlife and more!

Summary – Sedona vs Tucson

Small tourist townMid-sized city
Tourist centered
& commercial
Less touristy,
less commercial
Red rock scenery
& pines
Mountains & desert
Fun outdoor activitiesFun outdoor activities
Limited nightlifeFun & lively nightlife
2 hours from
Grand Canyon
Far from other
tourist spots

Top Picks For Sedona

Best Hotel In Sedona

Top Activities In Sedona:

Top Picks For Tucson

Best Hotel In Tucson

Top Activities In Tucson:

Sedona is a desert town in Arizona that is surrounded by impressive red-rock buttes, steep canyons and pine forests. Uptown Sedona has a fantastic range of shops, cafes and art galleries. 

Tucson, on the other hand, is the second most populated city in Arizona and the home of a major university and a thriving arts, music and food scene. 

Whilst Sedona is all about the magnificent red rock scenery and pines with a busy town center, Tucson is a mid-size city surrounded by mountains with lots of things to do. 

Most people rate Sedona as having much better scenery than Tucson. In fact, Sedona has some of the most beautiful scenery in the country. 

The red-rock buttes are unparalleled and Tucson just doesn’t have anything like it although Tucson does have some beautiful mountainous scenery surrounding the city. 

Sedona is located much closer to the Grand Canyon. You can book onto a Grand Canyon full-day tour from Sedona. It takes just 2 hours to get there. Tucson is far from all major Arizona tourist spots.

Sedona is very touristy and often gets busy especially in the main uptown area. Tucson, on the other hand, is still a busy city but doesn’t feel very touristy at all. 

Most of the shops in Sedona are souvenir shops and typical tourist shops that don’t feel very authentic. Tucson, however, is not overly commercial but still has a nice buzz due to it being a mid-sized city. 

There’s tons of fun outdoor activities available in both Sedona and Tucson. In Sedona you can take a jeep ride through the desert or do some ATV off-roading whilst in Tucson you can relax on a hot air balloon ride or take a tour up to the peak of Mount Lemmon.

Which Is Bigger? Sedona or Tucson

Tucson is much bigger than Sedona in terms of area. Tucson covers 587.2km2 whereas Sedona covers just 47.4km2.

Tucson also has a much higher population of 541,000 compared with Sedona which has just 10,300 residents. 

As Sedona is much more popular with tourists and much smaller, it can get very crowded especially in the main uptown area of town. This area of Sedona is very commercial. 

Tucson doesn’t feel as commercial and tourist-centered as Sedona and you really feel like you’re in a true Arizona city. 

As Tucson is much bigger you’ll find a wider range of shops, restaurants, bars and cafes in the city center compared with Sedona.

Which Has Better Activities? Sedona or Tucson

Most people rate Sedona’s scenery to be much better than the scenery in Tucson however Tucson does still have some really beautiful spots.

Most of the activities in both Sedona and Tucson are outdoors with a big focus on hiking.

Activities In Sedona

Most people come to Sedona to see the epic red rock scenery and stunning landscapes. 

There are so many different ways to enjoy Sedona’s magnificent scenery both from the air or from the land.

Best Activities In Sedona:

Sedona has a huge focus on outdoor activities with a wide range of magnificent nature trails. Hiking is the most popular activity in Sedona as there are over 400 miles of hiking trails to choose from. 

Book yourself onto a day tour of Sedona to make sure you don’t miss any of the top sites and attractions in the desert.

Sedona has some of the most magnificent scenery in the whole of the US. Some highlights  include Bell Rock, Devil’s Bridge and Cathedral Rock. These incredible giant red rocks & natural bridges look out of this world. 

There’s no better way to see Arizona’s incredible desert beauty than from the above. Get a birds eye view by joining a helicopter tour and see some of Sedona’s most famous red rock formations, including the ancient Anasazi cliff dwellings.

Alternatively, you can also join a Sedona jeep tour and explore the epic red rocks from the road.

For incredible views, head up to the viewpoint at Airport Mesa. From here you get panoramic views over Sedona including some of the most famous rock formations like Chimney Rock and Capitol Butte

Other popular activities in Sedona are fishing, mountain biking and even ATV off-roading. The best place to go fishing is at Oak Creek Canyon.

You can also spend the day on a wine tour where you’ll visit local wineries and try out some of their beverages. This activity is super relaxing and gives you a chance to try some of Sedona’s best wines.

Sedona is only a 2 hour drive from the Grand Canyon so why not join a day tour to the Grand Canyon from Sedona! Everyone should visit the Grand Canyon at least once in their lifetime, it is not to be missed.

If you want to do a bit of shopping whilst in Sedona then head over to the Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village. This stunning collection of Mexican-style buildings is home to over 50 boutique arts & crafts shops and a great range of restaurants. 

This Sedona stargazing tour is also super popular. You’ll get an unparalleled peek at the astronomical wonders of the Arizona night sky.

Activities In Tucson

With year-round sunshine and incredible desert scenery, most of Tucson’s top attractions will lead you into the great outdoors.

Best Activities In Tucson:

Tucson has some incredible hiking opportunities as it is located close to 4 mountain ranges. Most of the trails are around 15 minutes from downtown Tucson and give you the chance to escape the city and get lost in nature. 

Explore Tucson by joining a bike tour around the city. You’ll learn all about the city and see all that it has to offer.

As part of the bike tour you’ll ride over Rattlesnake Bridge and cycle through the colorful Barrio Viejo. This is followed by great views of the Santa Cruz River. 

A must-see attraction whilst in Tucson is the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. This world-renowned zoo and natural history museum features an impressive range of plants and animals. 

Tucson is well-known for its delicious Mexican food. Hit up the best restaurants by joining a taco and bike tour. Your experienced guide will take you all over the city to taste the best tacos in town!

Mount Lemmon, located in the Coronado National Forest, is the highest point in the Santa Catalina Mountains. 

Join a tour of Mount Lemmon to experience it to its fullest. As you travel up the mountain you’ll be greeted by scenic views of the surrounding landscape. 

You can also go rock-climbing and canyoneering at Mount Lemmon too.

For an experience that you’ll never forget, book a hot air balloon ride over the Sonoran Desert. You can marvel at the panoramic views of the Sonoran Desert whilst enjoying a glass of champagne.

The Saguaro National Park is another top attraction not to be missed whilst in Tucson. This impressive national park protects and preserves a giant saguaro cactus forest that stretches across the valley floor with some of the cacti reaching up to 50ft!

Which Has Better Accommodation? Sedona vs Tucson

You’ll find an impressive range of places to stay in both Sedona and Tucson. 

Both locations have a variety of upmarket, luxury hotels that will make your trip just that little bit more special.

If you’re looking for a more budget option then Tucson will have a wider range of cheaper hotels and B&Bs compared with Sedona.

Accommodation In Sedona

In Sedona most people stay in the uptown area as this is where all the shops, restaurants and amenities are.

Accommodation in Sedona is very pricey as most of the hotels and resorts are luxury. 

Best Hotels In Sedona:

Accommodation In Tucson

Tucson has a great range of places to stay including a few impressive luxury hotels. 

You’ll find every kind of accommodation in Tucson perfect for every traveler and every budget. 

Best Hotels In Tucson:

Which Is Better for Nightlife? Sedona or Tucson

Tucson has a much more lively nightlife scene compared with Sedona. This is mainly because Tucson is a larger city with a university and a much higher population.

Sedona isn’t known for nightlife but it does still have a range of nice bars where you can spend the evening.

Nightlife In Sedona

Sedona isn’t really known for being a party city. There are no nightclubs in Sedona at all and almost all of the bars and restaurants close by 11pm even on weekends.

Despite closing early, Sedona does have a very sophisticated nightlife scene. 

Most of Sedona’s bars are within resorts, hotels or upscale restaurants. Here you’ll find hand-crafted cocktails and luxurious lounges. 

Some of the best bars in Sedona are The Hudson, SaltRock Southwest Kitchen and 89Agave. There’s also a great range of wine bars in Sedona such as The Secret Garden Café and Oak Creek Brewery & Grill.

Nightlife In Tucson

Tucson has a lively and vibrant nightlife scene with a great variety of night spots ranging from quiet wine bars to college hangouts and even dance clubs. You’ll also find breweries, dive bars, country saloons, comedy shows and much more.

Tucson really comes alive after the sun goes down and has the perfect venue for everyone. Some of the best spots in town include Club Congress, Rialto Theatre and Paradiso Bar & Lounge.

Most of Tucson’s bars and clubs are open until 2am so you can keep the party going all night long. 

There are also lots of small theater companies and other venues putting on productions including music, dance and other forms of entertainment. From flamenco dancing to magic shows and classical guitar – you’ll find it all in Tucson. 

Which Is More Affordable? Sedona or Tucson

Overall Sedona is much more expensive than Tucson. Things tend to be more pricey in Sedona as it’s more of a commercial, touristy town. 

Getting a hotel in Sedona will also cost significantly more than in Tucson. You can find much cheaper, more budget friendly options in Tucson. 

If budget is an issue for you then Tucson will be much cheaper than Sedona.

Both Sedona and Tucson are fantastic vacation destinations. 

I hope this article was helpful in highlighting the main differences of Sedona vs Tucson.

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