When most people think of iconic American landscapes, Grand Canyon National Park usually climbs to the tip-top of the list—it’s certainly at the top of mine. A UNESCO site, a wonder of the world, and the largest canyon in the country, the Grand Canyon is a unique experience. And, lucky for us, it’s open for exploring.
You and the kids could spend weeks here and still feel amazed—there’s plenty to do for families—but three days is a good amount of time to cross off all the must-dos. Here’s what’s in store for your Grand Canyon getaway.
Summers can be incredibly hot. Bring sunscreen and water.
If you only have time for one thing, make it a canyon helicopter tour.
Blow the kids’ minds by taking a helicopter tour. Not only is the experience incredible—flying like a bird above one of the world’s largest canyons—but it’ll help build that awe for when everyone's feet hit the ground. It also showcases how huge Mother Nature's masterpiece is.
Back on the South Rim, nab lunch at the Bright Angel Cafe or Delicatessen at the Marketplace in the General Store. Then take a hike. The South Rim Trail winds from the Visitor Center to Mather Point, the Bright Angel Trail, and beyond, a flat path with stellar views. Take the 13-mile (20-kilometer) trail as far as you wish—you can return on the shuttle.
You’ve seen the canyon from the air and on foot. Now see it from a windowless Hummer. Tour the park, get photos, and access a guide who can share stories. Not to mention: Everyone, no matter their fitness level or age, can keep up.
From here, you’ve got options: Take the Grand Canyon shuttle and explore to Hermit’s Rest; visit Yavapai Point and Geology Museum; go on another hike; or take Desert View Drive, the scenic drive to do in the park, snaking for 25 miles (40 kilometers) and six viewpoints. The Desert View Watchtower is out there, too.
Hiking families might consider the maintained South Kaibab Trail. It goes down to the river, though you can’t hike down and back in a day. The Cedar Ridge day hike is 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) into the canyon—beware the haul back to the top. No matter how far you go, being in the canyon is special.
Back on the South Rim Trail, grab dinner at El Tovar Dining Room—if you nabbed a reservation. Afterward, watch the sun set and then stargaze from spots like Mather Point. The kids won’t forget seeing the Milky Way in such glowing detail.