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Las Vegas with teens

Las Vegas with teens

Las Vegas with teensLas Vegas with teens?  We’d heard mixed reports about Las Vegas and the suitability of the destination for kids.  Some people said they loved it, others said it was completely inappropriate for kids and teens and we should stay away.

Las Vegas is such an iconic place though isn’t it?  We really wanted to see what it was like – it couldn’t be all that bad could it?

 

Las Vegas shows for Teens

There are loads of shows going on in Las Vegas and lots of them are perfect for older kids and teens.  They do come at a price though and many are an expensive night out.

We were very lucky and were given free tickets to see Jabbawockeez from a friend that I made at a conference and we saw them on our first night in Vegas.  It was absolutely amazing – way better than I ever could have imagined a show would be and it really set the tone for our stay.

jabbawockeez las vegas show for teens

There are many magic shows going on in Las Vegas as well and I think these would also be fun for older kids.

 

Las Vegas with Teens

Other than the shows – what else can you do in Las Vegas with teenagers?

We stayed around the strip in our time there – we stayed at the Luxor hotel which is at one end of the strip.  We loved the hotel but with it being at one end it made it harder to get to the other end with happy kids in tow.  In hindsight we should have just got a taxi to the other end and walked back!

There are many shops that are fun to wander round – we enjoyed the M&M shop (it was the first one we’d seen until our London and NYC trips later that year!) and also Hershey’s world.

m&m shop in las vegas with teenagers

If you’re into roller coasters then there’s a fab one at the New York, New York hotel.  My lot are scaredy cats when it comes to roller coasters so we didn’t partake!

Just wandering around the different hotels is fun in itself.  How often can you walk round something in the style of ancient Egypt and then walk a while and be in something completely different like the Paris or Venetian hotel?

Each hotel has different things going on, I wish we’d had longer than the couple of nights we did have to really explore everything on offer – Circus Circus is often recommended for kids.

Our kids were not impressed by the Bellagio fountains – possibly too old to go wow!  To be fair it was very hot, very busy and they were tired by the time we reached them.

bellagio fountains in las vegas

 

In the heat of the day the pool at our hotel was welcomed – I’d recommend going for a hotel with a pool if you have teens.  An excellent way to cool down and also to get active!

 

If you’re just based in Las Vegas then I’d definitely recommend either hiring a car or taking a tour to both the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam.  You can’t miss these!

 

 

Would I recommend Las Vegas with kids?

family in las vegas Absolutely!  There are of course unsavoury things going on, but you know what?  We never saw it.  Apart from the gambling of course!  Wandering around as a family meant we were free from people trying to get us to go to their bars, or clubs.  Nobody bothered us at all.

It felt like a safe, if busy, town.  We never once felt like something bad could happen.  We did stick to the Strip area and didn’t manage to explore further afield on this trip.

Would we go again?  I definitely wouldn’t say no if we were in the area – I’d love to explore the older areas of Las Vegas such as Fremont Street and I’d like to actually get a good view of the fountains at the Bellagio!  It was so busy when we went.  There are also lots of sights that we just didn’t get chance to see – I’d love to have looked round more of the hotels.

Perhaps next time we’ll station ourselves mid way on the strip so that one night you go one way and the next you go another!

I’m very glad we experienced the place – maybe next time we’d not go in August as it was incredibly hot, but even so it was awesome!  And there certainly was plenty of things to do in Las Vegas for teens – not just for adults!

 

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Las Vegas with teenagers

Visiting Hoover dam on our way to Las Vegas

Visiting Hoover dam on our way to Las Vegas

We decided that visiting Hoover dam on our way to Las Vegas was another ‘must do’ trip.  We had so many of those!  Part of me did just want to scoot our way to the end of historic route 66.  We had seen signs for Los Angeles – only another 400 or so miles!!  So near yet so far, it was tempting but we decided against it.

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Hoover dam

Goodbye to Route 66

Our last night on Route 66 was tinged with sadness, we’d loved the journey so much.  We managed to just touch californian soil and had our last night in a hotel in Needles (Rio Del Sol motel, was very nice and had a nice pool :D).  I remember looking out of our window at the palm tress and the sunset and it really felt very californian!

sunset in motel at needles on route 66 in california

 

I was starting to become a bit fed up of travelling so fast though, it’s not something we do a lot of as a rule, much preferring to stay in one place and take trips from that point (except of course the grand road trip adventure of 2013 but we had a van to retreat to, could cook ourselves and relax in a different way)

 

So we said goodbye to the historic mother road and set off from route 66 to Las Vegas via Hoover Dam in Nevada – another state to tick off!  We managed to visit 6 states on our first visit to the US – not bad!

Visiting Hoover Dam

Getting to Hoover dam is quite easy – it’s located about 25 miles from Las Vegas and is situated on Highway 93.  It’s an amazing sight and spectacle of human construction and what we can do plus what effect we can have on wildlife (depending on your view point!)

plaque at hoover dam in nevada

 

We parked on the Nevada side in a multi storey car park which cost $10.  You can park in some parking lots on the Arizona side for free, but it was a hot summers day and we appreciated the shade!  The Hoover dam opening hours are 9am – 5pm and they state that no-one is allowed on the dam after dark.

 

While you’re there you can take a tour, which we didn’t do – we were content with just seeing the dam and walking round the area.  However if you are interested in this the Hoover Dam tours cost around $30 per person (get up to date prices here) or you can just do the power plant tour which is a little cheaper.

 

If you don’t want to do a tour, but just want to learn a little bit more about the area then the hoover dam visitors centre is for you – it’s not free though, $10 each for access to it, although it’s included if you decide to do a tour. As I said though, we just enjoyed walking round, taking photos and feeling the wind on our face as we looked over the side of the dam (hold on to your hat!).  It was incredibly hot when we were there – the air conditioning in the gift shop was a God send!

family visiting hoover dam in nevada

 

Don’t forget the bridge near hoover dam as well – it’s an iconic structure and you can even walk across that if you fancy it.  We didn’t – I expect if we’d been there at a cooler time we might have done though!

bridge near hoover dam

 

Leaving Hoover Dam we headed to Las Vegas for our final two nights of our road trip.  Can you believe that staying in the amazing hotels on the Las Vegas strip were some of the cheapest nights we had on our whole route 66 trip?  We chose to stay in the Luxor.  More about that in my next post!


Where to stay on your visit to Hoover Dam

Many people visit Hoover Dam when staying in Las Vegas and there’s plenty of hotels to choose from there.

 

I highly recommend the search engine HotelsCombined if you want to search Las Vegas hotels as it combs the booking sites and tells you which one is cheapest – I’m loving it!  You can see Las Vegas hotels and prices here.

 

If you’re looking to stay a little closer to Hoover Dam or possibly Las Vegas isn’t your thing, then Boulder City is the nearest place for lodging.  Quality Inn Boulder City is an excellent choice for families!  Check out prices here.

 

 

 

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visiting hoover dam from Las vegas

 

 

 

 

Route 66 to Grand Canyon

Route 66 to Grand Canyon

route 66 to grand canyonWhen planning our Route 66 trip, we knew we wouldn’t get to the end of it, but we also knew that getting as far as the Grand Canyon was a must.  Route 66 to Grand Canyon is an easy trip and one that was a no brainer!

Route 66 to Grand Canyon

The distance from Williams to Grand Canyon is about 60 miles and so takes around about an hour on a pretty direct road.  This brings you to the Grand Canyon Village – if you wanted to go to other areas it would take a bit longer.  Williams is pretty much perfect as a base to explore it when travelling Route 66, we stayed 2 nights at the Motel 6 so we didn’t tire ourselves out trying to do too much at once!  (if you’re looking for a budget option to stay at near Grand Canyon I highly recommend this one – very much in the centre of Williams too so lots to do)

 

 

Grand Canyon is one of those places that you’ve seen a thousand pictures of.  I was really concerned it wouldn’t live up to expectations.  We had a beautiful day to explore and that moment when I saw this I was gobsmacked!

 

Route 66 to Grand Canyon

route 66 to grand canyon day trip

 

There were some moments when I would look out at the chasm and think that it must be all fake.  The weather was beautiful, but it made it seem a little hazy.  Was it all an elaborate ruse?  I felt like maybe I was in the Truman Show and it was just a painted on background!

I would love to do a hike in to the canyon at some point.  By just standing on the rim it felt a bit like I hadn’t connected well enough to it.

 

Become a Junior Park Ranger at Grand Canyon

After our success at becoming Junior Park Rangers at the Petrified Forest we were keen on doing the same at the Grand Canyon.  Marcus decided he wasn’t going to do it this time, but Alex and I collected some work books and spent some time filling it all out.

 

route 66 to grand canyon junior park ranger

grand canyon junior park ranger

With it being a much bigger park, it was a slightly different set up here.  There were set times when the Park Rangers would do a talk with the kids and they were about different topics.  Ours was led by a fantastic Park Ranger who was amazing at getting all the kids excited about the nature of the area and really made us all laugh and have a great time.

grand canyon junior park ranger

The Junior Park Ranger programmes are free so really well worth taking time to complete – you get a badge at the end of it and sometimes a patch as well (we got one free at the Petrified Forest but it was a dollar or two for the patch at the Grand Canyon – I can’t remember exactly).

 

grand canyon viewing arizona

 

We didn’t do a huge amount of walking around and exploring lots of areas, but chose to keep to a few places.  Near the Grand Canyon hotel (which James recognised from the National Lampoon film) was some gift shops and also some performances from Native Americans with music and dancing.  It felt a little touristy if I’m honest, but sometimes that’s not always a bad thing!

No matter what is going on you’re always drawn back to the view.  If you’re travelling Route 66, do me a favour and get off the road.  Go Route 66 to Grand Canyon for a little bit and you’ll not regret it!

 

Looking for more Route 66 posts?

Finding the Mother Road and our journey on Route 66 begins!

Arizona Route 66 Attractions

Exploring Route 66 in Texas

New Mexico on Route 66

Visiting the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert

Route 66 on a budget – how we kept costs down

 

 

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route 66 to grand canyon

Arizona Route 66 Attractions

Arizona Route 66 Attractions

Exploring Arizona’s Route 66 Attractions

I felt that we were really spoiled with the Arizona Route 66 attractions.  Loads and loads on offer for kids, families and adults alike.  Here’s my favourite things from this wonderful state:

Petrified Forest National Park

This Petrified Forest NP is gorgeous and situated right on Route 66 so no detour to find it.  You can read about our time here in this post.

petrified forest national park logs

Staying in a Wigwam Motel in Holbrook AZ

I won’t lie, I was so excited about this part of the trip!  Have you seen in Cars where Sally has a motel called the Cozy Cone?  Well this is what it was based on, except of course these were huge wigwams!

The teepee motel was fairly basic, which was reflected in the price really – by far our cheapest night on the whole route so far, but a fantastic place to wander around and soak up the atmosphere – we were treated to the most beautiful sunset while we were exploring and taking pics of the old cars parked around outside.

 

sunset route 66 wigwam hotel holbrook teepee motel az arizona

 

 

Meteor Crater

The meteor crater in Arizona was another ‘must see’ for us.  Truth be told there were lots of them – I am not sure we’ll be in this area again so we have to see these unique places.  And where can you see a meteor crater like this?  It was absolutely ginormous!

There’s a nice little museum on the site of the crater which has lots of information and exhibits to learn about space and what caused the massive hole in the ground.  Don’t miss watching the movie theatre as well which shows a short film about the crater.

 

meteor crater in arizona

Standin on the Corner in Winslow Arizona

Made famous by the Eagles song ‘Takin it Easy’ is this quirky little part of the town of Winslow Arizona.  We just had to have a photo opportunity of us ‘standin on the corner in Winslow Arizona!’.

standin on the corner in winslow arizona

Winslow was a lovely little town as well though – very small, blink and you miss it, but some nice shops and wonderful people!

 

Williams AZ

We based ourselves in Williams AZ for two nights as we wanted to go the Grand Canyon and it made sense to just have that as a day trip returning to the same place.

Williams was a beautiful little town – we really fell for it.  Lots to see on a walk around and just a really nice vibe to the place.  Certainly didn’t feel run down like many other places.  On our first night there was a Corvette meet up so the whole town was overrun with cars driving down the main street – James and Marcus were in their element!

As for hotels in Williams Arizona – although it’s a chain hotel, I must recommend the Motel 6.  It had good parking, was cheap, clean and was situated perfectly to just explore the town.  A lot of times chain motels are situated a bit away from where you want to be – but not this one.  It was really a perfect base to see the Grand Canyon on a budget.

Day trip to the Grand Canyon

Although it isn’t strictly on Route 66, we couldn’t really go this far, be so close and not go on a trip to the Grand Canyon!  It’s about a 45 minute drive from Williams where we based ourselves.  Read more about this trip here.

a day trip to the grand canyon

 

Snowcap in Seligman AZ

Seligman is a special place.  Some might say it’s the original Radiator Springs on Route 66 (the town in the Disney Cars movie) and the history of the town is definitely one of the inspirations for the story.  Angel Delgadillo is a barber in the town and a local celebrity.  We knew of him as we’d watched one of the documentaries about the story behind Cars and were really excited to meet him.  He was working and cutting someone’s hair while taking the time to chat to us.  He was a super guy and I was so pleased to meet him.

snowcap in Seligman Arizona

 

seligman route 66 az angel delgadillo

Oatman ghost town gunfight and Wild Donkeys

Ever fancied watching a ghost town gunfight?  How about being wild donkeys (burros) up close?  You can see that all in Oatman AZ which is a ghost town that has been brought back to life for the Route 66 tourists.

It’s a bit of a drive to get there, completely off the interstate and along some very windy roads.  I’d actually read about the roads and there was a bit of concern for people driving them, especially with big vehicles.  I figured it couldn’t be that bad, we come from the UK where these roads are the norm, but I still remember them making my stomach churn a bit!

Beautiful views on the drive to Oatman

Oatman used to be a gold rush town – people moved in to capitalise on the gold that was around, but when it ran out so did many of the people.  When Route 66 was built it kept the place alive for a while longer, but it turned in to a ghost town when it was bypassed with the Interstate.

It’s a little bit of a strange town, definitely felt a bit more run down than many other places, but perhaps that’s just because of the nature of the buildings which are actually all original.  It felt like a proper wild west town and there’s even some shoot outs that take place a few times a day.  There are wild burros (donkeys) all over the place too looking for food.  Oatman was certainly a unique place.

oatman ghost town gunfights

 

Want to read more about Route 66?  Check out my other posts:

Finding the Mother Road and our journey on Route 66 begins!

Exploring Route 66 in Texas

New Mexico on Route 66

Visiting the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert

Route 66 on a budget – how we kept costs down

Route 66 to Grand Canyon

 

Visiting the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert

Visiting the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert

 

painted desert Petrified Forest kids viewThe Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona (which also contains the Painted Desert) is right on Route 66 so no need to head too far off from where you are for this sight.

And what a sight it was!

It was an overcast day for us, the first on our trip really, which meant on the upside that it wasn’t overly hot for exploring, but on the downside it meant that we didn’t see the desert at it’s best.  I could see the colours would be magnificent on a sunny day.

The Petrified Forest National Park (why does this always sound like I’m going in to a Harry Potter book?) is huge and there’s a road that you follow round which takes you to the main scenic views and points in the park.

 

petrified forest arizona new mexico

There are a few visitor centres in the park – one as you arrive which has a large shop, cafe and some exhibits.  This one  is called the Painted Desert Inn and is a typical building style of the area.  This is actually an old stopping point on Route 66!

 

petrified forest national park kids

Inside the kids collected some ‘souvenirs’ in the form of stamps and we also learned that we could even become junior rangers at the park!  This seemed fun, even to me as they said there was no age limit to being a junior ranger!

 

route 66 sign petrified forest arizona

 

There was plenty of mentions of the mother road in this part of the park – it really did feel like it was an era gone by, never to return again with rusty cars left as a monument to the time.

old car rusty petrified forest new mexico route 66

 

Towards the end of the park there is the Rainbow Forest Museum and another visitors centre.  We asked about the Junior Ranger programme and were given a workbook to complete.  If we completed it and could take the oath at the end we could become Junior Rangers!

Outside there were many, many bits of petrified wood and logs, some were huge!

petrified forest logs

 

 

After learning lots of about the logs and about the area, we headed back in to see if we made the grade and could become Junior rangers – the Park Ranger asked us lots of questions and finally asked us to take an oath to look after nature and the State Parks.

junior park ranger

Yup – even I got to become a Junior Ranger – I was incredibly proud of this!

 

Overall we loved our visit here and highly recommend it – such a beautiful place!

Getting to the Petrified Forest

petrified forest painted desertThe Petrified Forest and Painted Desert are based in Arizona and is on Interstate 40.  If you’re travelling Route 66 you’ll not miss it!  For more information about the State Park check out their site.

 

The nearest town on the West side is Holbrook where you can stay in a wigwam at the Wigwam Motel.
A visit to the Petrified Forest needs at the very least a few hours – you don’t need to be fit and you can see lots even without hiking.

 

Cost – the cost for one car was $20.  This covers you for a 7 day period if you want to spend more time there.  Becoming a Junior Ranger was free!!

Petrified Forest painted desert national park

 

Interested in Route 66?  Check out my other posts:

Finding the Mother Road and our journey on Route 66 begins!

Arizona Route 66 Attractions

Exploring Route 66 in Texas

New Mexico on Route 66

Route 66 on a budget – how we kept costs down

Route 66 to Grand Canyon