Southwest Tourist Attractions for Families

  • 01 of 07

    Southwest Region

    Family together and embracing
    Ramón Espelt Photography/Moment/Getty Images

    Race down ski slopes or roaring rapids. Watch a big city show or a giraffe eating out of your hand. Day and weekend trips in the Southwest are full of adventure, fun and memories. Find Southwest tourist attractions that are perfect destinations for your next vacation:

    Arizona | Colorado | Nevada | New Mexico | Texas | Utah

    Before your visit, check with the attraction for hours, prices and other up-to-date information.

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  • 02 of 07

    Arizona for Kids

    A picture of a giraffe from the Phoenix Zoo
    The Phoenix Zoo offers a giraffe encounter that lets you get up close and personal with these 11 to 18 feet tall animals. Photo © Brent Schmidt / Flickr

    The Grand Canyon may hog the spotlight but ghost towns, natural parks and wildlife adventures are just a few of the wonders you'll find in Arizona. Have you visited attractions in Arizona for kids?

    Attractions in Arizona for Kids:

    • Gold King Mine and Ghost Town
      See a working saw mill, dozens of antique autos and farm animals in an old mining and ghost town. About an hour and a half from Flagstaff and two hours from Phoenix.
       
    • Grand Canyon
      The ultimate Arizona vacation has the Grand Canyon on your...MORE travel route. A mule trip, walking tour and overnight camping make a Grand Canyon visit more than a quick stop to marvel at the view.
       
    • Hall of Flame Firefighting Museum
      The junior firefighter in your family will love this trip to see classic fire engines and firefighting tools dating back to 1725. Located in Phoenix.
       
    • Mesa Golfland Sunsplash
      Beat the heat with water roller coasters for the big fish in your family. Your tiny tadpoles can cool off in the special play area for kids seven and under. On the same grounds at Golfland, you'll find hundreds of arcade games, miniature golf, go carts and laser tag. Located in Mesa.
       
    • Out of Africa Wildlife Park
      Discover the animals of Africa about an hour south of Flagstaff and an hour and a half north of Phoenix. Lions, tigers, snakes, wolves, hyenas and other wildlife can be seen. You can even hand-feed some of them.
       
    • Petrified Forest National Park
      Spend hours at the Petrified Forest National Park admiring spectacular views and checking out the humongous fossilized trees. The petrified wood is stunning to see in person.
       
    • Phoenix Zoo
      About 1,000 animals are exhibited on more than 100 acres. Voted one of the nation's top 5 zoos for kids.
       
    • Pima Air and Space Museum
      Explore 300 airplanes and spacecraft on 80 acres in Tucson. Plan for a day trip during the week. The museum is closed on holidays and weekends.
       
    • Wildlife World Zoo and Aquarium
      See white tigers, feed the giraffes and visit the baby animal nursery at the zoo. The aquarium features everything from sea horses to a moray eel. About half an hour from downtown Phoenix.
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  • 03 of 07

    Colorado for Kids

    A picture of a family whitewater rafting
    Guided whitewater rafting tours are a must for thrill-seeking families in Colorado. Photo © David Madison / Getty Images

    Colorado travel immerses you in natural beauty. Mountains, caves, sand dunes and waterfalls are perfect, picturesque destinations for a day or weekend trip with your family. Have you visited attractions in Colorado for kids?

    Attractions in Colorado for Kids:

    • Aspen/Snowmass
      Brave the cold for outdoor family fun. Formerly Aspen Ski Resort, there are activities for kids of all ages, such as a 25,000 square foot treehouse kids' adventure center and, of course, skiing for those who dare. Daycare for...MORE babies as young as 8 weeks also features indoor and outdoor games for preschoolers.
       
    • Glenwood Caverns
      Take an underground cave tour or soar 1,300 feet into the sky on the Swing Shot. Other adventurous attractions available but most are seasonal. About 150 miles west of Denver.
       
    • Mesa Verde National Park
      Tour cliff dwellings dating back to AD 1100. Self-guided walking tours or half-day guided tours take you to some of the 4,700 ancient sites. Local art exhibits, prehistoric artifacts, towers, reservoirs and dams are located within the park, which is in the southwest corner of Colorado.
       
    • Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
      Colorado's a perfect ski location. But have you ever tried to ski a sand dune? Families can sandboard, ski and sled the dunes as well as hike in the mountains and splash in the creek. A little over 100 miles from Colorado City.
       
    • Royal Gorge
      If you're afraid of heights, Royal Gorge may not be the best location for a day or weekend trip with your family. If you're up for spectacular views or a drive across the world's highest suspension bridge, then travel about an hour west of Pueblo to visit this 360-acre park with rides, shows and a wildlife park.
       
    • Seven Falls
      Seven Falls is just what the name implies -- seven waterfalls in Colorado Springs. And it's so much more. See a songbird swimming underwater. Feed the rainbow trout. Look out for the fast-flying hummingbirds.
       
    • Whitewater Rafting
      Nothing forces a family to work as team quicker than paddling down raging rapids together. Take on the Colorado River or travel down the Arkansas River at a heart-racing pace.
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  • 04 of 07

    Nevada for Kids

    A picture of a child watching a trapeze show
    Las Vegas isn't just for adults. There are plenty of shows your kids will love, including high-flying acts under the Circus Circus big top. Photo © Walter Bibikow / Getty Images

    Hit the jackpot in Nevada without ever gambling. The state has become a popular vacation destination because of its wide selection of attractions for families. Have you visited attractions in Nevada for kids?

    Attractions in Nevada for Kids:

    • Great Basin Adventure
      In Reno, kids can climb dinosaurs, ride the log flume or visit the petting barn. Seasonal schedule.
       
    • Lake Tahoe
      Snow favorites, such as skiing, sleigh rides, ice skating and sledding are some of the outdoor activities families can enjoy at...MORE Lake Tahoe in the winter. Fishing, swimming, hiking and horseback riding will keep you busy in the summer.
       
    • Las Vegas Zoo
      Drive about 15 minutes from the Las Vegas Strip to a 3-acre park filled with more than 150 plants and animals. The zoo also showcases endangered species as well as botanical exhibits of rare and endangered plant species.
       
    • Lied Discovery Children's Museum
      Kids are encouraged to touch everything at this 22,000 square foot learning museum. Exhibits are geared toward various age groups...you'll learn something new too! Located in Las Vegas.
       
    • Sierra Safari Zoo
      The largest zoo in Nevada can be found in Reno. You'll see favorite zoo animals like monkeys, lions and zebras, but you'll also get to see sloths, lemurs, wallabies and cavies. Operates on a seasonal schedule.
       
    • Las Vegas Shows for Kids
      Las Vegas usually conjures up images of a bank-breaking night at the craps table. But "Sin City" has been trying to revamp its style to become more family oriented. Vegas shows, such as Blue Man Group and The Lion King, are kid-friendly entertainment the whole family can enjoy together. Show listings and times can be found on the city's official tourism bureau site.
       
    • Shark Reef Aquarium
      Walk underwater at this 1.6 million gallon seawater aquarium. Sharks, endangered green sea turtles, piranha and golden crocodiles are a few of the 2,000-plus animals on display. Located at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.
       
    • Special Attractions
      Visiting Las Vegas is a surreal experience for adults and children. On one block, you're watching a volcano erupt at the Mirage Hotel. Down the street, water does an amazing dance set to music. Walking the Las Vegas Strip with your family will take you to the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower and an Egyptian pyramid, to name a few.
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  • 05 of 07

    New Mexico for Kids

    A picture of a child playing with bubbles at the Santa Fe Children's Museum
    There are bubbles of fun and so much more hands-on learning to enjoy at the Santa Fe Children's Museum. Photo © cnrivers05 / Flickr

    Meet a mountain lion in the morning and captain a model boat in the afternoon. New Mexico travel connects you with amazing wildlife as well as more tame fun for those who prefer to keep nature at a distance. Have you visited attractions in New Mexico for kids?

    Attractions in New Mexico for Kids:

    • Albuquerque Biological Park
      Four family-friendly vacation destinations all sit in Albuquerque Biological Park -- Albuquerque Aquarium, Rio Grande Botanic Garden, Rio Grande Zoo and Tingley Beach. Be sure...MORE to rent a model boat at Tingley Beach.
       
    • Bandelier National Monument
      Bring your camera as you hike scenic trails and see an abundance of wildlife. Find the Bandelier National Monument about an hour and a half northwest of Santa Fe.
       
    • Santa Fe Children's Museum
      Don't worry about the kids breaking anything here. Kids can create art, play with water, learn about the environment and more. Exhibits rotate several times a year so families can discover something new with every visit.
       
    • Wildlife West Nature Park
      About 20 minutes outside of Albuquerue, you'll find a habitat dedicated to the birds and animals of the Southwest. Black bear, mountain lions, bobcat and coyotes are a few of the 122-acre preserve's residents.
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  • 06 of 07

    Texas for Kids

    A picture from Space Center Houston
    Blast off to an afternoon of family fun at Space Center Houston. Photo © jubilo haku / Flickr

    You could spend weeks in Texas and not scratch the surface of all its attractions. With so many things to do in Texas, you'll never hear "I'm bored" from the kids. Have you visited attractions in Texas for kids?

    Attractions in Texas for Kids:

    • The Alamo
      Millions of people visit The Alamo in San Antonio each year. The historic site from the Texas Revolution is comprised of three buildings with barracks, monuments and a water well from the 1800s.
       
    • Austin Children's Museum
      Curious...MORE kids, it's all about you at this interactive museum. Special exhibits rotate throughout the year. Other exhibits are housed permanently. Some exhibits are specifically for children 2 and under.
       
    • Cascade Caverns
      "Wow!" is the word your children will keep saying at Cascade Caverns. Every 30 minutes, a new cave tour begins that takes your family into the belly of a cave with a view of a 100-foot waterfall. Located 14 miles northwest of San Antonio.
       
    • Children's Museum of Houston
      The museum touts itself as a "Playground for Your Mind." Dragons and fairies, a building zone and a specially-designed area for infants and toddlers are some of the fourteen galleries more than 750,000 people visit each year.
       
    • Dallas Zoo
      The oldest zoo in the state opened its doors in 1888. What friends will your kids make here? Penguins, cheetah, otters and thousands of other animals.
       
    • Fort Worth Zoo
      The first residents of the Fort Worth Zoo were a lion, two bear cubs, an alligator, coyote, peacock and a few rabbits. Today's Fort Worth Zoo shows off 5,000 native and exotic animals on 64 acres.
       
    • Fossil Rim Wildlife Center
      Drive about an hour from Fort Worth to go on an African safari. A 9 and a half mile tour on 1,700 acres gives your family a close encounter with deer, ostriches, zebras and giraffes. Be sure to buy food at the visitor's center so you can feed the animals.
       
    • Houston Zoo
      The seventh most visited zoo in the U.S. has every animal kids want to see, over 4,500 animals to be more precise. You can also view orangutans or elephants painting with the colors you choose.
       
    • Moody Gardens
      Under three different pyramids, you can visit an aquarium, rainforest or children's discovery museum. Also features an IMAX theater, Colonel Paddlewheel cruise and 180-degree wraparound screen ride. Located in Galveston.
       
    • Sea World San Antonio
      Whale shows, penguin encounters and dolphin petting are small samples of what you'll experience at the largest marine life park in the world. A water park with age-appropriate rides is also on site.
       
    • Space Center Houston
      Go on an adventure that's out of this world. Families learn everything from how to eat in space to what a real spacecraft looks like in person. Floor to ceiling movie screens show liftoffs and life as an astronaut.
       
    • Texas State Aquarium
      Thousands of animals swim in 350,000 gallons of sea water. Don't miss Flower Gardens, a 40,000-gallon coral reef replica. The Texas State Aquarium is located in Corpus Christi.
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  • 07 of 07

    Utah for Kids

    A picture of Bryce Canyon National Park
    The views at Bryce Canyon National Park are so breathtaking, even your kids will be speechless. Photo © Todd Petrie / Flickr

    Utah's landscape will make you wish you had longer than a day or weekend to visit. The state is a nature lover's paradise but also offers big city attractions like a children's discovery museum. Have you visited attractions in Utah for kids?

    Attractions in Utah for Kids:

    • Best Friends Animal Sanctuary
      Visit the home of about 1,700 dogs, cats, ducks, pigs, rabbits, horses and more. How many are there will depend on the day of your visit. Animals don't live in cages here so get ready...MORE to see happy kitties in Cat World and dogs digging Dogtown. Other stops on your tour include Parrot Garden, Wild Friends, Bunny House, Piggy Paradise and Horse Haven.
       
    • Bryce Canyon National Park
      Drive, hike or enjoy a horseback or muleback ride to see the "hoodoos." These skinny spires of rock range from 5 to 150 feet in height. A natural wonder that makes for a great family picture year after year to see how much the kids have grown. Located about 4 and a half hours from Salt Lake City and Las Vegas.
       
    • Discovery Gateway
      Let the kids explore 60,000 square feet of this interactive children's museum. Exhibits encourage play, imagination and thinking skills for all kids -- babies too! Located in Salt Lake City.
       
    • Zion National Park
      The oldest national park promises a spectacular experience with canyons, wildlife and the Virgin River. A self-guided walking tour cuts through the canyon and even takes you into the river. Just an hour drive from Cedar City.