3 Great Las Vegas Side Trips for Families

Sin City is not your typical family destination. While there are plenty of family-friendly activities to be found up and down the Strip — think big-name entertainers, circus acts, magic shows and roller coasters — Las Vegas is best known for its wild parties, gambling and excessive amounts of adult fun.

That doesn’t mean families should, by any means, stay away. A well-planned Vegas trip can offer the perfect balance of adult-themed entertainment and family fun when you incorporate some of these family-friendly side trips.

Hoover Dam

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The Hoover Dam

The Hoover Dam, located on the border of Nevada and Arizona, is one of the crowing achievements of 20th-century engineering. About an hour from the Las Vegas Strip, this man-made concrete dam is a must-see for anyone visiting the area. The site offers fun and educational tours of the dam and the power plant that harnesses the energy of the water. The tour provides amazing views from the top of the dam with photo opportunities too good to pass up.

Colorado River Water Sports

If your family enjoys water sports, explore the Colorado River via kayak or canoe as it winds through the Black Canyon in the shadow of the Hoover Dam. Companies like Blazing Paddles, LLC offer tours with shuttle service to and from Las Vegas. Professionally guided tours give you a fun way to experience the river and the natural beauty of the desert.

Half-day tours are great for families with small children and those with no previous kayaking experience. Full-day tours are also available for those with higher endurance levels and each month during the full moon a night tour is available which offers an unusual kayaking opportunity. Glow-in-the-dark kayaks start out at 6 p.m. and stop downriver to toast marshmallows and watch the sunset.

Red Rock Canyon pano

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Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

Located just a short drive west of the strip into the desert — 17 miles to be exact — is the unique geological attraction that demonstrates the natural beauty of the desert. The Canyon is filled with colorful rock formations and native wildlife. Visitors can spend just a few hours enjoying the 13-mile scenic drive through the park or spend an entire day hiking the trails and exploring this natural playground. There is even a campground for those who want to spend more than just a day exploring the unique landscape; however, it closes during the summer months due to the extreme desert heat. The park itself is open year-round.