Investments into the creation and development of special economic zones are important for socio-economic development of the country as a whole, and for the subjects of the Russian Federation. An important factor for economic growth and development of special economic zones is to increase the volume of investments and improve their cost-effectiveness, as an instrument of formation and development of innovative economy. No less urgent is the problem of establishing an effective mechanism for the implementation of a balanced and consistent government policy to attract investments to the special economic zones. The article investigates the problem of investment attractiveness of the special economic zones of the Russian Federation. The article deals with new approaches to the implementation of regional policy and innovative development of the region. It noted the need to improve regional policy by encouraging regions to generate independent income and improv the socio-economic development. The problem of the transfer of authority for management of special economic zones at the regional level has been considered. The features of activity of special economic zones of various types have been described. The authors also analyzed the attraction of investments in special economic zones, taking into account the peculiarities of the Russian federalism. The experience of attracting investors to special economic zones of Russia has positive and negative examples. In particular, we highlighted the importance of creating a special economic zone for the solution of the problem of the formation of the tourist-recreational cluster. The result of the study was a comprehensive review of special economic zones as a special mechanism for improving the investment attractiveness and competitiveness of the entire country and its individual sectoral institutions.