We recently returned from a Zion National Park to Las Vegas road trip. We planned our Las Vegas 4 day itinerary with plans to spend time in Zion as well as a day trip to the Hoover Dam. It was a great trip with a lot of family fun activities.
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I have been wanting to plan a road trip out west ever since our last trip in 2019. Our Southwest road trip was one of my favorite vacations ever and I knew I wanted to plan another one.
When I first started planning this trip I wanted to do Denver to Anaheim, to include Disneyland in there again! We wanted to add to our visited states list and I love the mix of theme park and outdoor activities.
But then the pandemic happened in 2020 and time seemed to move at warp speed. Now we are in 2022 with 3 kids in double digits and busier lifestyles than back in 2019.
I knew we would have to adapt the Denver to Anaheim trip to fit where we are at. We decided to remove some places and split the trip up. So we would do Disneyland in the summer and Vegas during our February break.
I was looking forward to visiting Vegas but I wanted to include places that have always been on my list to see. After some brainstorming and family discussions we landed on a Zion National Park to Vegas trip with a day trip to the Hoover Dam.
The trip ended up being the perfect mix of outdoor fun with a little touristy family friendly attractions mixed in!
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Zion National Park to Las Vegas
Distance from Las Vegas to Zion National Park
Zion National Park is 159 miles from Las Vegas. The drive is a little under 3 hours. Keep in mind you will be driving through two time zones. Las Vegas is Pacific and Zion National Park is Mountain.
Las Vegas 4 Day Itinerary
- Day 1: Arrive in Las Vegas and drive to Zion National Park
- Day 2: Zion National Park and Back to Las Vegas
- Day 3: Las Vegas Strip
- Day 4: Hoover Dam Day Trip
- Day 5: Depart and Travel Home
Day 1: Arrival and Zion National Park
We had an early morning departure and with the time change arrived in Las Vegas at 9:00am. If you can get up early and live in the Eastern USA I suggest booking an early flight. It maximizes your vacation time!
Las Vegas is a larger airport and it took a little time to get our rental car. All of the rental cars are located at an off-site location. We had to take the shuttle to the rental center and then another shuttle to our off-off-site rental.
We rented with NU and had never used it prior to this trip. They didn’t have the car we rented when we arrived but they did have a suitable replacement. It ended up working out but it could have been much worse.
If you can I would try to rent from a place at the rental location. It saves you time and confusion.
Once we were all set with our car we started the 2.5 hour drive to Zion National Park.
There is something about the Western landscape that has me in awe each time I visit. It is stunning and I love taking drives through it. I think my excitement wore off on the kids because they were excited too!
We drove directly to Zion National Park entrance and signed up for our free National Parks pass courtesy of our 4th grade son. If you have a 4th grader be sure to take advantage of this.
I share more about our visit to Zion National Park in our 1 Day in Zion National Park article but be prepared for crowds and not a lot of parking.
We arrived and went directly to the Visitors Center parking to find no spots available. I asked a Ranger where the next best spot was and he said in town.
So we exited the park and made our way to our hotel for the night the Best Western Plus Springdale. This hotel is about a one mile walk to the Zion entrance. During the spring/summer/fall months there is a shuttle running through the town of Springdale to the park.
This was not the case for our visit. With no shuttle to the entrance we had no choice but to walk to the park. It was a beautiful day and we didn’t really mind the walk.
As we entered the park we realized we had about 5 minutes to get to the last internal shuttle of the day. At this point it was 3:30pm. During certain times of year guests are not allowed to drive their vehicle through the park and must utilize the internal shuttle. Review times/schedule here.
I cannot recommend it enough to read through the shuttle system before you leave for your trip. It was important to know when we were planning our visit. I didn’t want to get stuck inside the park without a ride.
Another thing to note is that Zion National Park is on Mountain time. This is an hour ahead of Las Vegas. So if it is 3:30pm in Las Vegas it will be 4:30pm at Zion.
Once the chaos of making the shuttle and getting to our first hike of the day we were able to soak in our surroundings. Zion National Park is stunning and pictures do not do it justice.
We are not outdoorsy, but I believe everyone should see this at least once, even if you can only walk a short distance. For this visit we chose 3 hikes that we would do. 2 on day 1 and 1 the next morning.
We stared with the Lower Emerald Pools hike and watched as the sun dipped below the mountains. It was really pretty. Then we took the short walk along the Grotto path and spotted deer and Mountain goats.
After our short hikes we were pretty exhausted and made our way back to the hotel for the night. We were on NY time and were ready for take-out and sleep.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t find a single restaurant that was accepting take-out orders. I called a few and even asked at the front desk.
Either driven by hunger and not wanting to eat granola bars for dinner or something more magical we mustered up the energy to drive around looking for a place to dine.
We found Jack’s Sports Grille about .5 mile from our hotel. There was no wait and something on the menu for everyone.
After dinner we went back to the hotel. I have to share a little about the Best Western Plus Inn & Suites Zion (Springdale). The location was great.
The price was within our budget, under $250.00 a night. Breakfast was included and we took advantage of the nightly fire pit.
There was also a pool and hot tub but we didn’t have much time to enjoy it. We also found the beds to be comfortable and the room slept 6. We booked a 2 queen/1 pull out sofa bed. They also have suites available.
Overall it was a good choice for our family and I would stay there again for future visits.
Day 2: Zion to Vegas
We woke up early, around 5:30am. We planned to stay on Eastern time for most of the trip to make it easy to return back home.
The Best Western had complimentary breakfast starting at 6:00am. It was a typical hotel breakfast and a great start to our day. I was hoping to see the sunrise but it was a bit cloudy and chilly. It even snowed a little on the mountains during the night.
I had been watching the weather and prepared us with hats, gloves, and coats. I did not purchase any hiking gear because we were doing easy hikes during our visit. I did pack extra shoes because the trails were a bit muddy at times.
We packed up the car, checked-out of our hotel, and entered Zion park around 7:15am. The shuttle was not running during the week so we were allowed to drive through and park at our stop for the morning.
We decided on the Riverside Walk because it was easy and paved most of the way. It follows along a river and ends at the start of the Narrows.
The Riverside Walk is great for families because there are not many drop-offs or cliffs to worry about and it is mostly paved. You can also walk on the paths or along the river. We did the paths one way and the river the other way.
We finished the hike around 8:45 am and started our way out of the park. As we were exiting we noticed the road was blocked because parking lots were full.
People wanting to visit specific trails have to walk to them when the shuttle is not running. Keep this in mind when planning your visit. I expect crowds to be even busier during the summer months. Summer months do offer a shuttle most days.
We started our drive from Zion to Las Vegas and were so happy we decided to include Zion National Park in our trip. I always enjoy a road trip but this one was really special. It is beautiful and we really enjoyed the drive.
For our Las Vegas itinerary we wanted to stay in the middle of the strip but also on a budget, and fit our family. After some research we settled on The Flamingo.
The Flamingo is not the fanciest hotel on the strip, but it has an awesome location and 2 queen bunk-bed rooms with a sitting area. It fit our family perfect and was under $200.00 a night. On-site parking was included for guests.
Our room wasn’t ready when we arrived so we headed to the LINQ Promenade for a quick lunch before our afternoon activity. The LINQ is an outdoor eating and shopping area directly next to The Flamingo. It has mostly fast-food type options but they are unique and different than your average ones.
We settled on eating at the Haute Doggery. It has all different specialty hot dogs from plain to Mac & Cheese Dogs, corn dogs, and lots of extras. We thought it was very good and easy for our family.
Our next stop, and something we were all looking forward to, was a visit to The Hunger Games Exhibition at the MGM Grand. The Hunger Games exhibit was one of the reasons we started talking about visiting Vegas in the first place and we were all very excited to check it out.
We thought we were going to take the Las Vegas Monorail from The Flamingo to the MGM but realized it was $50.00 round trip. We decided to walk and then took the monorail back home to save us some money.
The walk isn’t too bad and it is fun to see the excitement of The Strip. If you want to avoid some of the not so family friendly side of Vegas cross the street and walk along the Bellagio side, and then cross back to the MGM.
We arrived at The MGM and headed to the District area for the exhibit. The Hunger Games Exhibition houses real props and set pieces from the movies. We boarded the train and got to see some of the amazing fashion the actors wore during the movies.
After you explore the exhibition guests can participate in their own archery training. This was a highlight of the visit. It was so much fun to learn to shoot bow and arrows.
Overall The Hunger Games was a fun family activity. If you are a Hunger Games fan you will really enjoy it. If you don’t know anything about the Hunger Games this may not be for you.
After the Hunger Games we took the monorail back to our hotel and checked into our room. We were tired from our long day and wanted to rest a bit before our evening.
For dinner we headed out to Margaritaville which is located at The Flamingo and then crossed the street to watch the Volcano show at The Mirage. The show runs every hour from 7:00pm to 11:00pm most nights.
After the show we walked around the LINQ Promenade again and picked up some candy at the I Love Sugar store for a treat back at the room.
Day 3: Las Vegas Day
We were up early again for our full Las Vegas strip day. My husband had done some research about breakfast places and we were headed to Ellis Island for their award winning breakfast. The breakfast was also very budget friendly costing us under $50.00 for the 5 of us.
After breakfast it was only 8:30am, most things in Vegas do not open until 10:00 or 11:00. We decided to walk over to the Bellagio to see the Bellagio Conservatory. The Conservatory changes seasonally and it was themed to the Lunar New Year.
It is free to walk through and only takes about 10 minutes but it was really pretty. After The Bellagio we headed over to the Venetian to walk around and explore.
This was when we realized that nothing is really open this early. The Venetian has Madame Tussauds Wax Museum and we thought we might visit but it didn’t open until much later.
We decided it would be best to return to our room to relax before we headed over to the Avenger’s Station Exhibition. Before we went up to our room we stopped to see the flamingos and ducks at the hotel.
We are big Marvel fans and were very excited to experience the Avenger’s Station Exhibit. It was similar to the set-up of The Hunger Games exhibit in that it had several rooms to walk through and see props/costumes from the movie.
You can see if you are worthy to pick up Thor’s hammer, see original costumes from the movies, and at the end of the exhibits play in an interactive game.
We thought The Avenger’s Station and The Hunger Games were family fun exhibits but we wished there was more to do. Each of them took a little under an hour to go through and we would have liked more. The exhibits they did have were interesting for fans of the franchises. We were provided media tickets for these attractions.
We ended up eating lunch at the food court at The Flamingo back in our room and spent some down time for the afternoon. The weather was a bit chilly and too cold for the pool.
In the evening we walked to New York, New York for some pizza for dinner. New York New York is themed like the streets of NYC and this was one of our favorite hotels to walk through. It also has a Hershey Chocolate World store that we explored.
From there we crossed the street to the M & M store. The M&M Store has a free 3d Show but due to the pandemic it was temporarily closed. This was disappointing. We felt a lot of places were not updated on their websites with hours and if they were open. We had the same experience at Casers when we went to see the animatronic show.
We had planned on ending our evening with the fountain show at the Bellagio but that was also not running due to the high winds. At that point we were cold and ready for bed. We headed back to our room for the night to plan our day trip tomorrow.
Day 4: Hoover Dam
When we planned our itinerary for Las Vegas we did not plan on leaving the strip once we arrived from Zion. After spending 2 days in Las Vegas we realized we needed a break from the strip and wanted to visit the Hoover Dam.
The Hoover Dam is under an hour drive from Las Vegas and worth the visit if you have time. It is also a great day trip to escape the busy strip.
We wanted to stop and pick up breakfast along the way and my husband found the Friendly Donut House in Henderson, NV. This was not far out of the way and I am so glad we stopped. Their doughnuts were fresh and delicious!
Hoover Dam is really easy to visit. Expect to go through security with your car. Guards will talk to you a few minutes and then you can drive in.
We first stopped at the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge. Here you can walk between Nevada and Arizona. There is a marker half through the bridge that you can take a picture with.
After that we drove to the Hoover Dam visitors center. Parking cost $10.00. You can walk across the Hoover Dam and visit the café and gift shop. If you want to enter the visitors center you have to pay an entrance fee. We decided to skip it and just explore the area on our own.
After the Hoover Dam we started the drive back to Las Vegas and decided to go the long way with a stop at Seven Magic Mountains. This is an art installation project that has been extended multiple times due to its popularity.
I wouldn’t go out of your way for this but if you are looking for something different to do you might want to check it out. It is free and basically a parking lot on the side of the road.
During our visit it was very cold and windy but there was a steady stream of people visiting. I imagine on nice days it will be very busy.
We arrived back in Vegas and started packing. We had a very early departure at 5:00am and had to be up at 3:00am. For our final evening in Vegas we walked around Paris hotel, ate dinner at Planet Hollywood Hotel at Ocean One, and finished the night with the fountains at the Bellagio. I was so happy the kids got to see the show before we left.
Is Las Vegas Worth Visiting with Kids
Would I return to Las Vegas…probably not. Am I glad we visited…yes! To me a family trip to Las Vegas is a lot of fun if you plan it with kids in mind. It was a central place for us to see Zion and the Hoover Dam. We got to see some fun exhibits, popular attractions, and overall had a great family trip.
One and done is sometimes okay when it comes to family vacations. We all got to experience a new place together and learn more about what we like (or don’t like) in a family vacation.
Our Zion to Las Vegas road trip was a perfect mix of outdoors and touristy attractions. The balance worked for us. I would suggest you only need a day or two on the strip but it is a good location for taking day trips.
Read Next: New York to Florida Road Trip Itinerary
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