Grand Canyon with Kids: Top 6 Things to Do and See on Your Trip
The Grand Canyon, located in Arizona, is one of the most famous attractions in the U.S. The canyon spans 227 miles in length, 6,093 feet in depth, and 18 miles across at its widest point. Carved by the Colorado River, it is an awesome natural feature that offers the perfect family vacation destination.
Planning a trip to the Grand Canyon is only challenging because of how much there is to do and see from amazing vistas, to family-friendly camping, to cultural and historical activities. Here are the best things to do when visiting the Grand Canyon with kids.
1. Grand Canyon Railway
You can't plan a trip to the Grand Canyon with kids without this tour. Ride the Grand Canyon Railway all the way to the rim of the canyon and spend two nights at the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel next to the historic train depot.
Meet the train in Williams, Arizona where you will start with a Wild West show before the train departs. On the train, the whole family will be entertained by musicians on board and a guided tour along the scenic South Rim of the canyon. In addition, you’ll have time to stretch your legs and explore at the canyon rim.
The original hotel at the train depot, the Fray Marcos Hotel, was built for passengers of the Santa Fe Railway during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Today, the hotel is no longer open for guests, but the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel was built in 1995 to resemble the original. The hotel was most recently renovated and expanded in 2004, offering a pool, spa, and 298 rooms. It is walking distance to downtown and the historic Route 66.
If you choose, you can add an additional night to your tour where you will stay at a lodge in Grand Canyon National Park. The lodge is walking distance from the rim of the canyon and the historic Grand Canyon Village, built in the early 1900s by the railroad.
2. Grand Canyon Mule Ride
There are several mule ride options for your Grand Canyon vacation with kids. The South Rim Phantom Canyon Ranch mule ride includes a 10.5 mile descent down the Bright Angel Trail. Along it you will have lunch at Indian Garden and then cross the Colorado River on a suspension bridge. You will then head up Bright Angel Canyon to Phantom Ranch, where you will stay overnight in a cabin and enjoy a family style dinner. You will return the next day via the 7.8 mile South Kaibab Trail. The Phantom Canyon Ride is now only available for reservation through online lottery due to demand. The minimum age is 9 years old and riders must be 57” tall.
Alternatively, you can take the Canyon Vista Mule ride, which is a four-mile, three-hour tour along the East Rim Trail. The age and height restrictions are the same as the Phantom Canyon ride.
On the North Rim, there are also several options for mule rides, including a short ride along the rim of the canyon, a three-hour rim ride, and a three hour ride that descends into the Grand Canyon. The age limit ranges from 7 to 10 depending on the ride.
Also read: Best National Parks For Family Vacations
3. Grand Canyon Skywalk
The Skywalk at Eagle Point, located in Grand Canyon West, is one of the most popular things to do at the Grand Canyon. The 10-foot-wide glass bridge is situated 4,000 feet above the canyon and extends 70 feet out over the canyon rim. The Skywalk is strong enough to bear the weight of 70 747 passenger jets, so don’t worry about safety — you can take the whole family.
Grand Canyon West prohibits outside food and drink, but they have multiple dining options. Tickets range in price depending on your activities, which can also include river rafting or an aerial tour of the canyon in a helicopter.
4. Hiking & Camping the Grand Canyon
If your family is interested in hiking while visiting the Grand Canyon, there are many kid-friendly trails. For older children the South Kaibab Trail or the five-mile Uncle Jim Trail offering more moderate hiking with impressive views. For young children, the paved, half mile Bright Angel Point or Cape Royal Trail are good options where you can still see some of the Grand Canyon’s best views.
Camping can be a great way to spend your time visiting the Grand Canyon with kids. There are many camping options, but the easiest part of the canyon to get to is the South Rim, which is also open all year. There are two campgrounds at the South Rim, Mather Campground and Desert View Campground, and one RV park called Trailer Village. Mather Campground and Trailer Village are located in Grand Canyon Village and accept reservations, while Desert View is located at the entrance to the park and is first-come, first-serve. Desert View is only open part of the year, so check before you go.
5. Tusayan Ruin & Museum
In the South Rim, the Tusayan Ruin and Museum offers a look into Anasazi village life during the 1100s. While the area around the Grand Canyon has many Anasazi sites, the Tusayan site is easiest to get to — the ruin is only a half mile from the museum. At the museum you can see remains of pottery and jewelry and learn about the ancient Anasazi.
6. Visitor Centers
The Grand Canyon Visitor Center is just through the South Entrance Station. If you are tired of driving, here you can board shuttles that will take you around Grand Canyon Village and to scenic outlooks. The center also offers exhibits, a 20-minute movie on the Grand Canyon, and an interactive trip planner. During March - October you can take the family on a guided bike tour of Grand Canyon Village.
At the North Rim Visitor Center park staff are available to help you plan your visit and you can pick up maps and information on tours and exhibits. You can also walk to Bright Angel Point, one of the most popular viewpoints overlooking the canyon.
Insuring Your Trip
You might not immediately think about travel insurance for a family trip to the Grand Canyon, but problems traveling within the United States can happen more often than many people realize. For a fraction of your trip cost, a travel insurance plan can help protect your most precious moments.
- What if one of your kids becomes too sick to travel just before the trip? Trip Cancellation coverage can reimburse you for unused, non-refundable, pre-paid trip costs if you’re prevented from taking your trip due to a covered reason.
- What if you take a tumble while hiking and need emergency medical evacuation? Our travel insurance plans include Emergency Assistance and Transportation, as well as Medical and Dental coverages that can help get you in safe hands and cover the costs.
- Are you renting a car? The Grand Canyon during peak season is teeming with tourists who are unfamiliar with where they are going and likely glued to the scenery or their phone’s map app. Not having adequate rental car coverage could cause you heartache even if a fender bender isn’t your fault. Travel insurance plans from Generali give you the option of adding rental car damage coverage, and it’s even included with the Premium plan.
When you buy travel insurance, remember to include kids on the policy so they’re covered on the trip. You can insure up to 10 travelers with one of our plans.