A weekend road trip from Las Vegas, Nevada, to Tucson, Arizona, may be just the ticket for a fun family vacation. Las Vegas is known for its nightlife, casinos, and fine dining, but “Sin City” is also a great place for families, with plenty of kid-friendly activities. Attend a kid-friendly show like the Blueman Group, cool off at a Las Vegas waterpark, or pick up some delicious treats at Hershey's Chocolate World or M&M's World. Looking for some thrills? Many casinos have attractions and rides that are family-friendly, and there is always the Adventuredome at Circus Circus. Animal lovers will find opportunities to commune with critters at Shark Reef Aquarium or visit the Mirage, where kids can visit Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat to meet bottlenose dolphins and gorgeous white tigers.
Your road trip to Tucson is 413 miles in length. Take Interstate 40/Route 93 south to Phoenix, and then take Interstate 10 to Tucson.
While staying in Las Vegas camp at the Lake Mead Recreation Area to the east where there are many RV campsites, some with RV hookups, or Red Rock Canyon National Monument to the west, which has fewer RV amenities but plenty of natural beauty.
As you pass though Phoenix, Arizona, on your way to Tuscon be sure to stop at the Phoenix Zoo to meet the 3000 animals on exhibit here. The zoo is situated on a 125-acre property and visitors can enjoy a variety of activities and animal displays including the Giraffe Encounter, Camel Rides, Stingray Bay, Monkey Village, and a 4D theatre.
Families can also enjoy a real farm experience at Harmony Farm which houses cows, horses, chickens, turkeys, sheep, and goats, as well as tractors and farm equipment that kids can climb on and discover. The Red Barn allows you to get up close and personal with the farm critters and even brush the goats. The Discovery Farm is great for very young children, with activities for little ones including animal rockers.
Check out the unique Endangered Species Carousel and the daily animal presentations. Explore the Enchanted Forest with its bridge over the river, treehouse, and giant tree trunk slides. Need to cool down? Kids will love the Leapin’ Lagoon where they can enjoy water features and splash about. Older kids can adventure in the Yakulla Caverns splash pad, which is unique, with a cavern to explore, complete with stalactites and stalagmites!
While staying in the Phoenix area check out the Lost Dutchman State Park Campground which has 134 campsites for RVs and trailers, 68 of which have electric hookups.
As you head south to Tucson, take a quick side trip off Interstate 93 for fabulous RV camping at the Prescott National Forest, Lynx Lake Campground. The national forest is 1.25 million acres in size and contains a variety of wilderness habitats and ecosystems, from low elevation desert to treed areas at higher elevations.
The Verde River runs through the park and provides rafting and boating opportunities, although there are significant rapids on this “Wild and Scenic River” so use caution. Hiking trails and OHV off-roading trails thread through the park. There is even a hang gliding area. Take your family to view the hang gliders when conditions are good, and watch the colorful gliders launching off the cliffs.
To reach the Lynx Lake Campground take Route 71 east from Route 93, onto Route 89 through Prescott then take Route 69 east.
The Lynx Lake Campground boasts 35 individual sites and four double sites. Campsites have fire rings and grills, picnic tables, and large cleared areas that accommodate RVs up to 35 feet in length. There are some pull-through sites for easier access, and they may be able to accommodate larger units. You can make reservations ahead of time to make sure you secure a spot.
You won't find RV hookups here, but there are drinking water supplies, flush toilets, and vault toilets. Be aware that there are bears in the area so you will need to store food in bear-proof containers. The campground is on Lynx Lake, which is 55 acres in size and provides opportunities for boating, swimming, and fishing. A store and marina are located on the lake and you can rent watercraft during the summer when these facilities are open.
Looking for a unique way to take in the bright lights and activities on Las Vegas’s magnificent “Strip” that is appropriate for all family members? Take a ride on the High Roller Observation Wheel. This giant Ferris wheel, at the LINQ Promenade right on the Vegas Strip, is the world's tallest observation wheel! At 550 feet high, the High Roller has 28 air-conditioned, “see-through” pods that can hold 40 passengers each, and provide amazing 360-degree views of the city.
A rotation takes about 30 minutes, but you should plan for about one hour, to allow for entering and exiting the “wheel” There are special rates for young people, and best of all, children six and under are free! You can even get a commemorative photo of your High Roller experience, a great family keepsake to remember your Las Vegas trip by, or pick up souvenirs at the store on site.
Set in the beautiful Sonoran Desert, arrive in your destination of Tucson, Arizona. To learn more about the native habitats and natural desert beauty around Tucson, visit the Tucson Botanical Gardens and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Kids can receive an age-appropriate learning experience at the Children's Museum, which has an exhibit with Saguaro cacti and a mini-canyon set up for interactive play. Local observatories provide excellent night sky viewing opportunities in the area, and there are museums, galleries, and historical sites to discover.
Take the Sun Link Tucson Streetcar, a 3.9 mile run through the heart of Tucson, and jump off at whatever stop takes your fancy to experience unique shopping and dining opportunities. Be sure to visit the Saguaro National Forest, named for the magnificent cacti native to the area. The national park is 181 square miles in size, with a region to the east, and a region to the west of the city. You can backcountry camp in six designated camping areas at this park. These camping opportunities are primitive with no services and appropriate for smaller RVs and trailers with good clearance.
Closer at hand, and with more services, is the Gilbert Ray Campground, just 13 miles from Tucson. This county-run campground has 130 sites with electric hookups, modern restrooms, and an RV dump station. You can also find an urban campground with plenty of amenities at the Tucson Lazydays KOA.