Take the Family: Day Trips from Las Vegas

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Spring wildflowers in Death Valley, a kid friendly day trip from Las Vegas
Spring wildflowers bloom throughout Death Valley National Park. Photo credit: National Park Service

When you’ve had enough of the Las Vegas Strip, take a scenic drive to one of the many natural wonders in the area, like Zion or Death Valley. Other day trip destinations are engineered, like the Hoover Dam, a must-see for families visiting Vegas. Here are our top kid-friendly picks for day trips from Las Vegas.

Best Family-Friendly Las Vegas Day Trips

Las Vegas is spectacular with its neon lights, mega hotels, hustle, bustle, and entertainment although many might question whether Las Vegas is truly kid-friendly.  A road trip away, discover more family-friendly adventures that await just beyond the city limits. Escape the neon lights and big city atmosphere of Sin City with our best family-friendly day trips from Las Vegas.

Take your family-friendly adventure beyond the lights of Sin city with these day trips from Las Vegas. Photo: Pixabay
Take your family-friendly adventure beyond the lights of Sin city with these day trips from Las Vegas. Photo credit: Pixabay

1. The Hoover Dam and Boulder City

The impressive engineering wonder, Hoover Dam, in Boulder City is one of the best day trips from Las Vegas.
The impressive engineering wonder, Hoover Dam, in Boulder City is one of the best day trips from Las Vegas. Photo credit: Pixabay

Best known as the home of the iconic engineering marvel, Hoover Dam, Boulder City is a relatively short drive southeast of Las Vegas at just 40 minutes. Visit the dam and then take a stroll up the steps to the gigantic Memorial Bridge for incredible views of the dam below.

The massive dam was built in just five years. That’s one of the fun facts you’ll learn if you take a guided Hoover Dam tour, including the power plant. Tour information, including ticket pricing, is available on the US Bureau of Reclamation site.

In addition to its most famous water-taming resident, Boulder City offers more to see. Families will want to visit the Nevada State Railroad Museum.  Look at its historic locomotives and climb all-aboard its 45-minute train ride.

Related: Looking for Educational Spring Break Ideas?

2. Lake Mead National Recreational Area

Take to the water in Lake Mead on this day trip from Las Vegas.
Take to the water in Lake Mead on this day trip from Las Vegas. Photo credit: Pixabay

Rent a boat, gaze upon the lake via helicopter, or hike a picturesque trail. All of these are options for those venturing southeast (45-minute drive) to Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

Those in the mood for a hike should check out the Historic Railroad Tunnel Trail. This trail offers beautiful views of the lake and wildflowers in spring.

Read More: Best Hotels in Carson City, Nevada for Adventures Beyond Vegas

3. Valley of Fire State Park

These dramatic rock formations of Valley of Fire are just a day trip from Las Vegas.
These dramatic rock formations of Valley of Fire are just a day trip from Las Vegas. Photo credit: Pixabay

Located about an hour northeast of Las Vegas, this state park is the perfect introduction to desert life in Nevada. Beautiful red rock formations in dramatic shapes make this one of the most photogenic spots in the southwestern United States.

Families should consider a hike at the Mouse’s Tank trail where they will walk over red sand, scramble on rock formations and try their best to interpret the ancient petroglyphs that decorate the surrounding cliffs.

If you have extra time, stop by the nearby town of Overton to explore the Lost City Museum, which focuses on the Anasazi, the makers of the Valley of Fire petroglyphs.

4. Zion National Park

The Narrows is the narrowest section of Zion Canyon in Zion National Park
The Narrows is the narrowest section of Zion Canyon in Zion National Park. Photo credit: Pixabay

Only a 2 1/2 hour drive from Las Vegas,  Zion National Park is known for its steep red cliffs, emerald pools, and waterfalls, and not surprisingly, it is also one of the most popular National Parks in the US. With a variety of hiking trails, it’s ideal for solo travelers, families, and any age group. Use this first time guide to discover lodging options, must-see hiking trails, and learn how to get around inside the park.

5. Williams AZ

Get your kicks on Route 66 in Williams, Arizona. Located about three and a half hours from Vegas, Williams has six blocks dedicated to America’s highway, with historic buildings and shops selling memorabilia.

Got kids who love cuddly critters? Williams is home to Bearizona, a drive-through zoo with over 50 species of animals.

Williams is a great place to stay if you’re extending your day trip with a visit to the Grand Canyon.

6. Grand Canyon National Park

Is it possible to see the Grand Canyon on a day trip from Vegas? Possible, yes. Recommended, no. Unless, of course, you have the budget to do a helicopter tours.

These bucket list adventures give guests sweeping views of Vegas, the Hoover Dam, the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon. Add ons include stops at the Grand Canyon Skywalk or landings on the canyon floor or Valley of Fire State Park. You’ll pay several hundred dollars per person for the experience.

If you don’t have the cash for the helicopter, plan on a two day trip to the Grand Canyon from Vegas. Overnight in Williams (check out the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel), then access the Grand Canyon west rim.

7. Death Valley National Park

A short day trip from Las Vegas, Death Valley National Park offers family-friendly hikes.
A short day trip from Las Vegas, Death Valley National Park offers family-friendly hikes. Photo credit: Diana Rowe

For more fun in the desert, drive just 2 1/2 hours to the California/Nevada border to experience a national park that is one of the driest, lowest and hottest spots in North America. Death Valley National Park isn’t for the faint of heart, as the heat alone is stifling (and yes, even more so than Vegas). Therefore, it’s critical to choose your timing well (avoid summer months!) and be prepared for the heat with plenty of water and layered clothing.

Yet I’m always in awe of Mother Nature’s landscapes and Death Valley rewards those scenery-seeking travelers ten-fold, and those who visit are rewarded with the vast salt flats, rolling sand dunes, and historic Scotty’s Castle.

Plenty of hikes are available, from easy (2+ miles) to difficult and strenuous 13-mile hikes. The easiest and perhaps most popular hike is the Mosaic Canyon. Located just outside of Stovepipe Well, this 2.8-mile round-trip hike treks through the canyons of the Cottonwood Mountains meandering through polished marble and colorful mosaic stone. The trailhead is just outside Stovepipe Wells.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Only have a few hours? Start your visit at Furnace Creek Visitors Center. From there, drive to Badwater Basin and Artist’s Drive. Be sure to check out Devils Golf Course. Take in the sunrise or sunset at Zabriskie Point.

8. Red Rock Canyon

Just 20 miles from the Strip is Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, a unique destination for rock climbers. The American Alpine Institute offers programs for all abilities, including complete beginners. Prefer to keep your feet on the ground? There are plenty of hiking trails too.

9. Ghost Towns

Rhyolite ghost town, a fun day trip from Vegas with kids
The eerie remains of Rhyolite are worth a drive from Vegas. Photo credit: Pixabay

Several ghost towns dot the region surrounding Las Vegas. Perhaps the most fascinating and lonely is Rhyolite, located near Death Valley National Park. This former bustling mining town is now a shell of its former self. Visitors shouldn’t miss the house-made of glass bottles. Want more ghost towns? Head to Chloride and Oatman, where wild west shootouts are staged.

Las Vegas is larger than life. Enjoy your time in Sin City and then consider these day trips from Las Vegas.

Related: Jerome AZ: A Ghost Town with a Pulse

For more than 20 years, Denver-based freelance writer Diana Rowe has specialized in travel, family, and multigenerational family travel — and rightly so, with 10 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren. She writes for multiple publications including SheBuysTravel.com and PrimeWomen.com, and her own blogs: TravelingInHeels.com & WineLoversVillage.com.
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  3. Couldn’t agree more! There’s so much natural beauty in the surrounding desert. Was just thinking about how we need to get off the strip and take some day trips outside of Vegas! I have so many memories of these places as a child I want my children to know there’s ore to Nevada than just the glittering lights of Las Vegas!