We recently got back from 5 nights in Sedona, part of which was over Memorial day weekend. It was an amazing trip and much more gratifying because we took more time to see less which ironically let us experience a lot more of Sedona in the time we had.
Even though reading posts on this forum is helpful in preplanning, the trip we ended up doing was much more spontaneous, but we did make it a point to get out on the road to the trails, parks or other destinations really early- avoiding traffic, and easily finding parking and enjoying the relatively cool mornings and the rest of the day. Often we got back to our hotel by very late afternoon or early evening. After our main destination each morning, we then explored things sort of in the vicinity of where we were - pulling over when things looked interesting and making sure to pack picnic lunches or snacks and enjoy the entire day. It was great. We also knew we wanted to mainly explore things in the entire area, and on one of the days went as far as Flagstaff (discovering a great vegan Thai restaurant).
Here are some of the places we went: Fay Canyon, Grasshopper Point, Banjo Bill, Crescent Moon/Red Rock Crossing, Slide Rock, Oak Creek Canyon, Allens Bend Trail, Airport Mesa and a few wineries. We also saw some amazing sunsets and did stargazing almost every night.
Here are some other observations - just for some perspective, although everyone surely has their own approach:
1. Everything is so beautiful, so don't worry about "must sees" - enjoy the places you decide to go. Chances are the "must sees" recommended will be the most crowded - so get there early or explore other locations or a combination of things.
2. You're in Sedona, don't agonize on where you are going to stay, unless you plan on spending so much time at your hotel. Hopefully you will be out and about most of the day. As nice as the view might be from your room, it's better outside your window. As for hotels, if yours has a pool that opens early and late into the evening, that's a good consideration. However, there are so many places to swim or at least enjoy the water (see above list) it's more fun and beautiful than any hotel pool.
3. Spend as much time in Sedona as your schedule and budget permits. We have been to the Grand Canyon on a previous trip, but we appreciate the Sedona area a lot more. In our 5 nights we really got a feel for the area which is very hard to do in a shorter period of time. However, regardless of the number of days, take advantage of the late sunsets and enjoy everything.
4. On one of the nights when we went to see the sunset from airport mesa, many people started leaving just before or right at sunset. The best part is the time afterwards that's when the amazing colors happen.
Thanks again for all the information in this forum. Looking forward to our next visit