As any parent can tell you, road trips aren’t the same when you’ve got babies on board. Once you have kids, your days of sneaking into places like Area 51 for chance to see some extraterrestrials are all over. But that’s when the real fun of forming family traditions begins!
If you’re heading up a family and looking for the best day trips in the Las Vegas area, you’re in the right place! Whether you’re clan is full of active hikers or chill types who prefer to sit back and enjoy scenic drives, the following travel guide will lead to twice the fun with half the sweat.
5 Family-Friendly Day Trips from Las Vegas
The Hoover Dam & Lake Mead
Since the Hoover Dam is just about a 40 minute drive from Sin City, it’s perfect for Las Vegas day trips. However, even though the dam is an amazing sight and has a visitors center kids are sure to love, there’s not all that much to do there besides standing in awe of its massive power plant. Enter Lake Mead National Recreation Area.
The Hoover Dam throttles the Colorado River and its rising waters give us Lake Mead. The lake is an excellent destination for the sort of aquatic recreation families love, like swimming and fishing, as well as boating opportunities such as rafting and kayaking.
Pro Tip: Take highway 93 through Boulder City to get to either the dam, lake, or both. In addition to being a great place to eat and refuel, it also has family-friendly attractions like the Nevada State Railroad Museum and Tom Devlin’s Monster Museum.
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Red Rock Canyon is only a half hour’s drive from the Las Vegas Strip, making it one of the easiest outdoor destinations to enjoy in an afternoon. Located in the breathtaking Spring Mountains, the area is named for its stunning rock formations and features ancient petroglyphs, rock climbing spots, and a range of natural wonders. Although Red Rock is covered with hiking trails, a lot of sightseeing can be done right from your car thanks to the loop road that circles the land.
Grand Canyon West Rim
A lot of people don’t know that the Grand Canyon reaches as far as Arizona’s border with Nevada. Although the mighty chasm’s western half isn’t officially recognized as part of Grand Canyon National Park, it is still as moving and majestic as the distant south rim. More importantly, it’s only 130 miles away from Vegas, meaning it takes about a two hour drive to get there.
The Grand Canyon’s West Rim is a particularly good spot for families thanks to the famous Grand Canyon Skywalk. This feat of human engineering extends out over the canyon and has a glass bottom. After all, you’re never to young to develop a crippling fear of heights!
Along with the Skywalk, the canyon’s west rim has guided tours by land, air, and water. In addition to exciting activities like ziplining and helicopter tours, it also has places to shop and eat.
Zion National Park
Next on our list is Zion National Park, since it’s only about a two and a half hour drive from the world’s gambling capital. Located in the south of Utah, Zion has a vast collection of strange rock formations, including the sort of slot canyons that’ll knock kids’ socks off. If you want to make a lasting impression on your children that gives them a true appreciation of the outdoors, but you only have a day to do it, definitely consider Zion.
Valley of Fire State Park
This humble park is a lot like Red Rock Canyon, but with way less tourists cluttering up every rock wall and trail in sight. Just like Red Rock, it has the sort of geological features that were forged from sand dunes over 100 million years ago. Given this perspective, it’s the perfect place to take kids and other family members who give you guff about your age. Show ’em what old really is! Moreover, the park is only about 100 miles outside of LV and not far from the upper arm of Lake Mead.
Who Didn’t Make the Cut?
While destinations like the Death Valley National Park, Joshua Tree, and the Mojave Desert are only a short drive from the Strip, they’re also some of the hottest and driest places in the entire USA. As we all know, it’s already hard enough keeping kids from destroying themselves and everything around them without adding any other handicaps to the equation. This being the case, you can easily skip these destinations, especially if you have younger children. After all, are they really going to enjoy attractions like Badwater Basin and Zabriskie Point when it comes down to it?
Similarly, some places are too far to even consider if we’re talking about trips that only take a day. While Hollywood might sound fun, it’s sort of scuzzy, and Los Angeles is at least 4 hours away! When you’ve got Nevada and other southwestern states, who needs crowded California anyway? Meanwhile, outdoor areas like Black Canyon or Bryce Canyon National Park are way further than you want to drive with someone kicking the back of your seat and asking “Are we there yet?”
What’s your favorite day trip to take from the Las Vegas area? Help others out on our Wide Open Roads Facebook!