Where else on the planet can you enjoy all of the attractions of man-made imaginations gone wild after sunset, only to wake up to one of Mother Natures’ most magnificent settings in the truly grand Grand Canyon?
This double whammy holiday requires at least a week – otherwise you will pay for your kids suffering sensory overload. I can guarantee you won’t be hearing the words “I’m bored” here. Even the hotels will grab their interest. Las Vegas hotels have been completely re-engineered to attract families. We’re not talking a usual hotel here – in Vegas, the hotels are so big you can get lost in the hallways. Take the Mirage for example. It has over 3000 plush rooms, cascading waterfalls, deep blue lagoons and its very own fire-erupting volcano. And if that’s not enough, it also has a White Tiger Habitat, a Dolphin Habitat, a huge aquarium and an indoor rainforest.
Be sure to let your kids stay up late – it’s a good way to escape the desert heat, and there’s so much to see and do at night. Just walking The Strip after sunset is spectacular with over 40 million watts of nocturnal illuminations. My teenage boys raved about the Manhattan Express, the roller-coaster wrapped around the faux Empire State building at New York New York. Then they watched the wet and wonderful pirate ship battle at Treasure Island – which includes one of the full-sized ships sinking. Oh, and then there was the jousting of the knights at Excalibur, and the Star Trek Experience at the Las Vegas Hilton.
After all the neon lights and action of Las Vegas, head to nature and visit the Grand Canyon National Park. We rented a car, put the top down and took off for four days of fun. We did an entire loop with our wheels and unlimited mileage so we never backtracked once. Our adventure took us to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, the Navajo Indian Reservations, Hoover Dam, Lake Mead, Lake Powell, Bryce and Zion National Parks and across landscapes used in countless westerns. We loved it!
If time is of the essence, Scenic Airlines can fly you to the canyon and back in a few hours, or they can hook you up to fly in, and board a 4WD or helicopter for the trip back.
“Doing” the Canyon can be accomplished without physical exertions, or your troops can tackle a full frontal assault on the Bright Angel Trail. For the soft adventure introduction, the IMAX film Grand Canyon is still the best buy around and you’ll feel the rapids of the Colorado River, and sway in the saddle from the back of a trusty burro (donkey) as you descend a mile down into the makings of Mother Nature. Even a pleasant stroll along the rim trail is a neverto-forget experience, and National Park Rangers are often on hand to enlighten, inspire and educate.
By Mark Sheehan
Hawaiian Airlines, United Airlines and Qantas have regular scheduled flights to Los Angeles and it’s a short hop to Las Vegas with several domestic airlines. Or hire a car – it’s a great drive.
Visas are not required for Australians for stays of under 30 days.
Las Vegas is in the high desert, and is warm to hot year round. Grand Canyon temperatures can vary radically from over 38°C at mid-day to near freezing at night.
Good walking shoes are a must whether you are walking The Strip or the Grand Canyon. If you buy them before you leave home, make sure they are broken in and comfortable.
Make sure you have comprehensive travel and medical coverage for the entire family before you go. Medical attention in the USA is costly and you’ll pay dearly if you are not covered.