5 Kid-Friendly Day Trips from Las Vegas

There’s so much to do in Las Vegas with kids. The family-friendly options are honestly endless and there’s oodles to do without ever stepping foot on The Strip. Unless you want to, of course. Maybe to touch the stingrays at Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay or to watch the speed jugglers and trapeze artists at Circus Circus.

Neon Museum in Las Vegas
Neon Museum in Las Vegas

Las Vegas has a natural history museum and a hands-on children’s museum, as well as museums dedicated to classic cars and scouting. One of our absolute favorites is the Neon Museum for a look at rescued and restored neon signs that once illuminated Las Vegas.

There’s loads to do just outside Las Vegas too if you’re eager for places to visit near Las Vegas. Here are five best bets when you want to get out of town for a day trip from Las Vegas. Even better, these Las Vegas day trips won’t have you strapped into the car for much of the day.

#1: Scramble Rocks at Red Rock Canyon (25 minutes)

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is a 25-minute drive west of town, making this one of my favorite Las Vegas day trips based on proximity alone. Here you’ll find hikes and rock scrambles across rugged sandstone for all levels of outdoor enthusiasts.

Breathe in the fresh air and navigate a craggy canyon of red and gold sandstone on the 2.2-mile out-and-back Calico Tanks Trail. Prepare to be richly rewarded when you reach the turn-around point and spy jaw-dropping views of the Las Vegas skyline.

On the strenuous 4.6-mile Turtlehead Peak Trail, settle in and savor sweeping 360-degree vistas across the canyon once you reach the panoramic summit perch.

Hiking to La Madre Spring at Red Rock Canyon

Before you return to your hotel, don’t miss the chance to motor along the 13-mile Scenic Drive. There are plenty of picnic areas, restrooms and overlooks on Scenic Drive.

Multiple hiking trails jut off the main road. A handful of trails, like the scenic hike to La Madre Spring, can also be found outside of Scenic Drive. This is helpful on days when the main entrance closes due to over-capacity.

#2: Walk on the Moon at Valley of Fire State Park (55 minutes)

Fire Wave at Valley of Fire State Park
Fire Wave

Well, you can’t really walk on the moon at Valley of Fire State Park, but you can walk across unearthly landscapes that come as close to the moon as you’ll get here on earth.

A drive of less than one hour to Overton will take you to Nevada’s largest and oldest state park for magnificent rock formations and stunning vistas.

Orange, pink and red sandstone rocks create breathtaking landscapes around every bend as you wind your way through this geologically impressive state park.

Elephant Rock

The 1.5-mile Fire Wave Trail wows with a striped landscape that rivals that of The Wave in Arizona. Only minus the highly coveted – and nearly impossible to obtain – hiking permit.

Among the most popular rock formations at Valley of Fire State Park are Elephant Rock, which is situated near the east entrance (yes, it looks like an elephant) and The Beehives.

#3: Stand in Two States at Once at Hoover Dam (40 minutes)

Hoover Dam

From Las Vegas, it’s an easy 40-minute drive southeast to the iconic Hoover Dam. The 726-foot-tall structure is considered one of the most impressive engineering accomplishments (ever).

It’s no surprise that one million people take a tour of Hoover Dam each year, with many more simply driving across the colossal achievement from Arizona to Nevada or vice versa.

Several tours are available to visitors, including a self-guided tour ($10), which allows visitors to take in the history of Hoover Dam through a series of narrated exhibits.

Lake Mead

There is also a guided powerplant tour ($15) and a guided dam tour ($30), both of which include walks through historic tunnels and a look at the commercial power generators.

Take in the panoramic views of Lake Mead and the Colorado River from the observation deck. Walk across the top of the dam to stand in two states (and two time zones) at the same time.

** Note: Hoover Dam is closed until further notice due to coronavirus.

#4: Get Your Kicks in Kingman (90 minutes)

Historic Route 66 Mural
Historic Route 66 Mural

Make the 90-minute drive to Kingman to get your kicks on Arizona’s Route 66. Make your first stop the Mohave Museum of History & Arts.

On the side of the building, look for a historic mural painted, which depicts the evolution of Historic Route 66 as it transforms over the years from a passage for stagecoaches to one made for motor vehicles.

On the next block, the Arizona Route 66 Museum & Powerhouse Visitors Center tells the story of Arizona Route 66 through artifacts, photographs and a short movie. On the ground floor, look for an Electric Car Museum.

Abandoned gas pumps in Chloride, Arizona

For lunch, walk across the street to Mr. D’z Route 66 Diner for classic burgers, fries and root beer. Apparently, Oprah came here. Her photo is on the wall with a root beer.

On the way back to Las Vegas, stop in Chloride. The oldest mining town in Arizona, Chloride has been a Wild West ghost town since 1944, though you will be able to find a restaurant, convenience store and several gift shops today.

#5: Go Sledding at Death Valley National Park (2 hours)

It’s just under two hours to reach the east entrance of Death Valley National Park at Death Valley Junction just over the state line in California.

With more than three million acres, Death Valley is the largest national park in the Lower 48. Fortunately, there is a lot to do with kids that is very close to the east entrance.

Make the Furnace Creek Visitor Center your first stop inside the park, if only to take a selfie with the thermometer display. Temps can register in the 100s in warm weather months.

Furnace Creek Visitor Center at Death Valley National Park

Next, sled down the sand dunes at the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. It’s BYOS (as in, bring your own saucer). A flat cardboard box would likely work too.

Turn off onto the one-way Artists Drive for a colorful rocky landscape along this five-mile route. The colors and shapes were created by geologic activities over millions over years.

Walk across Badwater Basin, which is 282 feet below sea level. It’s the lowest point in North America. Be sure to get out far enough to see the salt crystals across the flats.

Zabriskie Point

Before you return to Las Vegas, stop at Zabriskie Point for remarkable views of the colorful badlands. If time permits, hike the Badlands Loop, a 2.5-mile trail in and around the badlands.

What are some of your favorite Las Vegas day trips with kids? Let me know in the comments section below.