Looking out over the Grand Canyon you might have to pinch yourself to remember you are really there. Like many people, you might have seen the canyon on TV and featured in movies. It couldn't possibly be that big, could it? Yes it is, and you are there with your kids. Now what are you going to do?
Start your day off in a piece of history by grabbing breakfast at the El Tovar Hotel, one of Fred Harvey's many buildings in the park. Grab a table by the windows to enjoy canyon views, but don't expect quick service; this meal is meant to be savored. Your kids will love the gingerbread waffles and pancake trio that features blue cornmeal pancakes with bright pink prickly pear syrup.
After you fill up on breakfast, head across the way to Hopi House to load up on Grand Canyon souvenirs, stuffed animals, and puzzles for the kids and Native American art to decorate your home. This historic building was designed by Mary Colter for the Fred Harvey Company and completed in January 1905, just a few weeks before the El Tovar Hotel opened. The building was meant to blend into the neighboring environment, using materials that the Hopi people would use in their pueblos. Walking into this gift shop isn't just another commercial experience; you are stepping back in time.
The kids will be antsy after all that shopping. Stow your bags in the car, and get ready to do some walking. The Grand Canyon is home to a few hikes that are easy, but many that are steep and strenuous. Most hikes can also be tricky for younger kids. The Rim Trail runs from the village area to Hermits Rest and offers easy inner canyon hikes for visitors of all skill levels. Those looking for a slightly more strenuous trail with the kids can try parts of Bright Angel Trail. Make sure you check in with park rangers to ask about trail conditions before you head out though. Winter snow can make the trails icy, which will last into spring.
If hiking isn't an option, you can easily see the South Rim by car. Grab a map from any of the lodges, visitor centers, or gift shop. The people manning the tour desk at Yavapai Lodge can give you the must-stop viewpoints if you are in a hurry. Parking at each viewpoint is easy, and some even have restrooms. Keep an eye on younger children, as there are not always rails to stop them from falling off a cliff into the canyon.
Your last stop before you head out of the canyon should be the Desert View Watchtower. Admittance is free with park entry. Climb to the top (easy for even little ones to do with some help) for panoramic views of the canyon and surrounding countryside. Count the ravens flying below you in the canyon. The artwork on the walls may spark a few conversations, and the gift shop is a great bribe for any member of the family who has had enough. Ice cream, coffee, and chips are also available in the nearby snack shop. Keep an eye on the ground too. Tarantulas have been spotted. Don't worry; they will try not to bother you. They are more worried about getting stepped on before they reach a shady spot to spend the afternoon far away from those humans who are running all over the place.
Is the Grand Canyon on your family's travel bucket list?
Note: Available plans and coverages may have changed since this blog was published.
Keryn is an East Coast native living life as a freelance writer in Seattle surrounded by her two little boys and one incredible husband. When not dragging the men in her life across the globe you can find Keryn writing on her blog Walking On Travels, a site that gives hope to today's modern parent that doesn't see kids as a roadblock to travel, but an excuse to get out the door and explore. Keryn has laughed at the naysayers by bringing her boys to far off lands like China, Hong Kong, Japan, Hawaii, back and forth across the USA, Mexico, Canada, and even across Europe. Keryn loves to encourage families to take that first step out the door, the hardest step of all. Follow Keryn on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google Plus.
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