Las Vegas and Sedona Family Vacation
The Things Bucket Lists are Made Of
This year’s March break family vacation started out much like last year’s March Break family vacation-a flight to Las Vegas and a stay at the New York, New York Las Vegas Hotel Casino, a Vegas Knights hockey game, some Cirque du Soleil and a few rounds at the Shake Shack (Shack burgers and shakes are tasty!).
But that’s where the similarities end. Part two started after hotel check out, with a rental car and our GPS.
We made our way from Vegas to Sedona across a desert highway, detouring for a couple hours while we ‘Got our Kicks on Route 66’. A four-hour drive became six… But it’s all good since Route 66 is on my bucket list, and has been since forever.
I’m keeping Route 66 on my bucket list. Even though we’ve driven a section from Kingman to Seligman (and on to Flagstaff). Even though we made a few stops, passed boarded up and abandoned gas stations and stores from a time near forgotten, and saw a tumbleweed blow across the road ahead of us. (I was kind of excited about this! A real tumbleweed!)
The reason I’ll keep Route 66 on my list is that I always wanted to drive ALL of it. Right from Chicago to Santa Monica. But this has proven hard to do, so I’ll take what I can get… even if it’s one section at a time.
As we approached Flagstaff the scenery changed to pine trees and snow. Snow! Now a bit of snow isn’t that shocking. I knew the area got snow, but I didn’t know how much snow they sometimes got. A few weeks before we arrived there was a snowstorm and 40 inches fell. Most had melted away by the time we cruised by, but there was still plenty of white evidence left on the sides of the road and in amongst the trees.
And those pines! Honestly, it felt like we were driving through our home town. Our little part of the world is a pine forest, and for a few months in winter it’s snowy.
Arriving in Sedona
The descent into Oak Creek Canyon and arrival to Sedona will remain one of the most memorable parts of this road trip for me.
Starting at approximately 6000ft you twist your way down and around the narrow paved road, often times on the edge of a cliff but always with a stunning view. By the time you reach the bottom you’re around 4300ft and passing some lovely forests and campgrounds. Coming into Sedona, you’re hit with those stunning views in every direction. Red rocks and blue skies.
Welcome to Sedona
There are just over 10,000 residents in Sedona, and tourism here is big year round, though the best times to visit are March through May and September through November. It’s drier and warmer, yet not too cool or too hot.
It’s a perfect town for walking and sightseeing. I love quaint, artsy towns and Sedona is exactly that!
The town has no shortage of new age shops, boutiques, restaurants, and spas. It’s especially lovely at night. Sedona’s an International Dark Sky Community, meaning they’ve taken action to ensure visitors can see the stars. The town has worked hard to reduce light pollution by using low-lumen lighting and proper hooding on outdoor lights. Calling all star-gazers, add Sedona to your list!
Sedona is a unique blend of red rock cliffs, canyons, and forests. The outskirts provide numerous hiking trails, jeep tours, camping, and fishing. You’re an hour from Flagstaff, two hours from Grand Canyon National Park, and two hours from Phoenix.
What to do in both Las Vegas and Sedona
We had a great time in Sedona and plan to return one day. We started our vacation with a stay in Las Vegas before driving to Sedona. Below are the attractions we visited in both places, and of course this year we tried to do a few different things while in Las Vegas.
- Cirque du Soleil ‘O’ at the Bellagio. Fabulous. If you’re a fan of the Cirque chances are you’ve seen it already, but if not it gets a thumbs up from me. Incredible acrobatics and a cute story… And lots of water.
- Las Vegas Golden Knights. We took in a game last year as well, but if you’re in Vegas and the Knights are playing, you have to go. It’s Vegas! And even an NHL game can be turned into a show… from the pre-game show about the Knight, the sword and the stone to the Cirque’s mini Mystère preview show (not a regular occurrence)… and the fans, they’re into it!
- Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat. Located at The Mirage, an MGM resort. The educational dolphin shows are interesting and we enjoyed watching the dolphins play and jump. We were fortunate to see the new baby dolphin during our visit in March.
You’ll also find the big cats- white lions, white tigers, and leopards. They are such beautiful animals. There are many mixed opinions about zoos and habitats, but I believe they can serve a greater purpose by promoting education and conservation. I looked into this particular venue, and according to an article I read in the Las Vegas Review they’ve earned certification from American Humane. You can easily spend an hour or so here. I like the educational aspect which is good for families with children.
- Big Apple Roller Coaster and Arcade. Right at the New York, New York Hotel, and great fun for families!
- Sightseeing around town. It’s easy to spend time walking around from shop to shop, looking at the many interesting and
unique items you’ll find… I’ve never seen so many crystals and precious stones for sale. The beautiful, giant amethysts were my favourite!
- Chapel of the Holy Cross. You’ll find this Chapel not far from uptown, just a short drive away. An interesting history, beautiful bronze art (Christ of the Holy Cross), and more scenic red-rock views. For a detailed account of our visit read my post, A Visit to the Chapel of the Holy Cross
- Pink Jeep Tours-Diamond Back Gulch. The first of two Pink Jeep Tours we took. Being the original jeep tour company in Sedona they take it seriously. Professional and fun, they know what they’re doing. Diamond Back Gulch is a 2.5-hour tour exploring the high desert terrain. Visit Pink Jeep Tours.
- Pink Jeep Tours-Grand Canyon Premier. The second tour we took with this company. This is a well-organized tour with knowledgeable and personable tour guides. We never felt rushed on this tour and I’m happy with the number of stops we had, and the amount of time at each stop. Grand Canyon Premier takes in the entire South Rim loop with several stops including Grand Canyon Village.
Where to stay in both Las Vegas and Sedona
We’ve been to Las Vegas twice, and both times we stayed at the New York New York Hotel Casino by MGM Resorts.
Our first room was Strip view on a higher floor with 2 queen beds. Our second room was a players suite, still with two queen beds, but also a jacuzzi tub and a living area. It was a much bigger room, and the view overlooked T-Mobile Arena rather than the strip.
Travelling with teenagers, we loved this hotel as it was busy and active. It’s located on South Las Vegas Boulevard, not far from the airport.
Honestly, there are so many great options when it comes to hotels on the Las Vegas Strip. The Aria looked great, and the Bellagio is on my list for a future stay!
This was our first visit to Sedona and we chose the Orchards Inn for our stay. It’s a small, quaint, two-story hotel in the heart of uptown Sedona with absolutely stunning views from every room.
You won’t find any high rises here, the hotels are only one to three storeys. This is great given the views, and high rise buildings would be so out of place here. There are strict building codes in place that help with this, along with requiring colours that fit within the natural scheme of the area.
Our room was simple but lovely. We enjoyed the gas fireplace in the mornings and evenings. While the room wasn’t overly large, it did have some nice conveniences like free wifi, a fridge, a microwave, and a Keurig coffee brewer.
If you find yourself travelling in Mid-March, to either Las Vegas or Sedona you’ll find the weather starting to warm up and there will be many sunny days. The temperatures ranged from 10-20 Celsius (50-68F) during our visit.
Las Vegas and Sedona are both great destinations that couldn’t be more opposite. Both provide a great weekend away, depending on the type of vacation you want.
We love both the electricity of Las Vegas and the laid back vibes of Sedona.
We went to Las Vegas last year, so knew what to expect. This year we wanted to see another Knights game and do a few other things. We also knew we wanted to see the Grand Canyon, but wanted more than a tiring full day tour from Vegas. We wanted to visit the south rim first, so after some research, we opted to stay in Sedona and take a Grand Canyon tour from there. As it turns out, I fell in love with Sedona and can’t wait to visit again…
I hope this glimpse into our vacation helps you in your decision making.
Have you been to either Las Vegas or Sedona? Do you have any plans to visit the Grand Canyon? Questions and comments are welcome!