Have a tough time keeping your little ones entertained on vacation? Head to the Grand Canyon, where the exquisite landscape and high-adrenaline activities leave no shortage of things to do.
Though there are airports closer to the Grand Canyon, your best bet is to fly into Phoenix, rent a car, and drive the four hours to the park. Both US Airways and Continental offer daily, non-stop flights from Newark, N.J., to Phoenix.
Where to stay
Surprisingly, the Grand Canyon does not boast a bevy of high-end hotels, but one of the best, on the canyon’s South Rim, is the $175-a-night El Tovar hotel. The 78-room, historic property — which opened in 1905 and underwent extensive renovations in 2005 — is an ideal spot to explore the canyon and its surrounding area and features a concierge service to help you plan your stay. The less-
accessible North Rim offers a campground with showers and laundry facilities. More information on where to stay within the park and nearby can be found at www.grand.canyon.national-park.com/lodge.htm.
What To Do
Hook up with Rivers & Oceans for a $290 one-day white-water-rafting tour of the canyon — and a 10-minute helicopter ride with breathtaking views. On the South Rim, Off the Beaten Path leads a three-hour, $80 hiking excursion that explores the Desert View and Grandview Point — the best locations for capturing sunrise and sunset photos of the canyon. Spend a few days exploring the surrounding area starting with a visit to Grafton, Utah, a ghost town founded in 1859 by Mormon pioneers and abandoned in 1921. Head to Flagstaff, Arizona, to sneak a peak at the sun through a specially filtered telescope at the Lowell Observatory. After, make your way over to the gigantic meteor crater southeast of Flagstaff. At almost 600 feet deep and mile across, it’s almost as impressive as the Grand Canyon itself. Much more trip planning ideas can be found at the park’s official Website, www.nps.gov/grca.
Where to Eat
Take in the canyon’s unmatched views while dining at the restaurant in the El Tovar hotel. You and your kids will love the Southwestern flavors infused into each dish like the $20 buffalo carpaccio on roasted poblano crostini and the $25 wild Alaskan salmon tostada with greens. At the Arizona Room just east of the Bright Angel Lodge, you can feast on $28 hand-cut steaks and southern-inspired seafood dishes in a casual and authentic western-style setting.