The glitz and the glamor of Las Vegas have mystified you. Your kids are a bit older now, and although they can’t gamble, you’re sure you can find plenty of family fun and entertainment in Vegas. How do you get there by car from San Antonio?
Taking a road trip from San Antonio to Las Vegas requires driving through almost the entirety of Texas as well as through parts of New Mexico and Arizona before you finally reach Nevada. The entire trip takes about 18 and a half hours and should be split into three or more nights.
If you’ve ever contemplated road-tripping with the kids, this guide will tell you everything you need to know, including routes, drivetimes, and activities. You’ll be ready to make your vacation dreams a reality!
The best route from San Antonio to Las Vegas
You and the kids are so excited about your road trip to Las Vegas. As you depart from San Antonio, be ready to do a lot of driving through Texas as well as two other states before you reach Nevada.
The trip is going to take several days, so my best advice is not to rush!
Without further ado, here’s how to get to Las Vegas from San Antonio by car.
San Antonio to Caverns of Sonora
Your mini trip through Texas begins once you reach the Caverns of Sonora.
From San Antonio, you’ll drive northwest for about three hours if you don’t run into much traffic.
The Caverns of Sonora in Sutton County is by Sonora, a tiny city.
The world-class cave is a National Natural Landmark that is worth getting out of the car and exploring to the fullest with the kids. You drove for long enough, after all!
The helictites and calcite crystals here form unique configurations, and some of the helictites are extremely rare.
The snake pit portion of the Caverns of Sonora is jam-packed with helictites. It’s one of the coolest parts of the cave for sure!
The Caverns of Sonora is comprised of Segovia limestone that’s 100 million years old and dates back to the Cretaceous Period when dinosaurs were still alive.
Lodging is available in the area if you want to take a nap or overnight stay before you continue your driving adventure.
Caverns of Sonora to Fort Stockton
The next part of your road trip entails crossing through Fort Stockton.
The drive from the Caverns of Sonora to Fort Stockton takes about two and a half hours, so you’ll be glad if you took an overnight siesta in Sonora!
The Pecos County city of Fort Stockton has many historical sites, including museums and an old jail that is still standing to this very day. It’s a great ode to Texas’ history!
Fort Stockton to Van Horn
When you’re ready to continue your road trip, you’ll next drive to Van Horn.
This entire time, you’ve been driving diagonally west to northwest through Texas, and that’s the route you’ll continue to take.
Without heavy traffic, you should arrive in Van Horn an hour and a half after you depart Fort Stockton, which isn’t too shabby.
The town of Van Horn has museums, a spacious city park, and a city pool for dipping into and cooling off.
You’re also not too terribly far from state parks if you feel like venturing a little bit off your route.
Van Horn to El Paso
Your drive through Texas ends in El Paso, which is reachable from Van Horn by driving sharply northwest for an hour and a half.
One of the most popular cities in Texas, you’ll see why El Paso is so beloved for yourself when you and the kids get out and stretch your legs for a while.
Here, you’ll find amusement parks, water parks, zoos, and state parks aplenty.
If it sounds like there’s too much to explore in El Paso in one afternoon, don’t sweat it. Now is as good a time as ever to take a break and get some shut-eye so you can leave Texas feeling fresh in the morning.
El Paso to Deming
Say good morning to New Mexico! By taking another sharp northwest turn from El Paso for an hour and a half, you’ll reach Deming.
This Luna County city has a lot of wineries, but I know you’re looking for kid-friendly activities, so we’ll disregard those.
You and the children can also explore the parks, the arts, or check out a museum or two!
Deming to Tucson
Your time in New Mexico is very short, as you’ll drive straight west through the rest of the state until you get into Arizona.
Your destination is Tucson, and it should take you roughly three hours to get there.
You can stop off here if you want for a night’s rest, as there’s not a whole lot of mileage left to cover of your road trip before you’ll be in Las Vegas.
The gorgeous Tucson will win you and the children over with museums, parks, amusements, zoos, science centers, planetariums, and observatories. The desert views here are not to be missed!
Tucson to Phoenix
You have two more stops in Arizona before you’ll get to Vegas, and the second one is Phoenix, the state capital.
To reach Phoenix from Tucson, drive diagonally northwest for an hour and a half. It’s the shorter part of your drive today if you’re making it to Vegas in one fell swoop.
I promise you will find no shortage of activities in Phoenix, which is all the more reason to take your time as you explore this major Arizona city.
Photo-worthy geologic clusters, zoos, science centers, botanical gardens, parks, aquariums, and amusement parks could entertain you and the kids for days if you have that kind of time!
Phoenix to Kingman
I hope you had fun in Phoenix, as the memories and smiles will make the three-hour trek to Kingman go by that much faster.
This is your last stop in Arizona, and you’ll again drive northwest to the top of Arizona.
This Route 66 city is an ode to the history of that famed road, with the Route 66 Museum in the Powerhouse Visitors Center a must-visit.
You and the children can also learn about the history of trains at both the Kingman Railroad Museum and its nods to 20th-century locomotion as well as Locomotive Park with a steam engine from 1928.
Kingman to Las Vegas
For the final stretch of your trip, you’ll enter Las Vegas from a northwestern route, driving for an hour and a half. You’re finally here!
How long does it take to reach Las Vegas from San Antonio?
Before you hop in the car, you need to know what you’re in for when taking a road trip to Las Vegas. How long will the drive take you?
The route from San Antonio to Las Vegas takes approximately 18 hours and 22 minutes across 1,278 miles.
Yes, you’ll drive nearly 1,300 miles! That’s due to how you’re crossing through more than half of Texas on your route.
That’s why I recommend so many overnight stays. This trip is very heavy on driving, and you want to make sure you don’t end up fatigued.
Traffic is undoubtedly going to slow you down. I wish there was a way around that, but there simply isn’t.
I would recommend focusing more on the road than the destination.
After all, if you only give it the time, you and the kids can make memories for life enjoying the attractions on the way to Las Vegas!
Family-friendly destinations on the way to Las Vegas
Have I inspired you to slow down and take your time on your route to Las Vegas? I’m glad to hear it!
Here’s how you and the kids can have a blast no matter how many or few stops you have time for.
Fort Stockton Destinations
- Paisano Pete
Between North Main Street and East Dickinson Boulevard is Paisano Pete, a Fort Stockton staple.
What is Paisano Pete, you ask? It’s an oversized statue of a roadrunner. No, not a cartoon roadrunner, but a real one!
You and the kids can pose in front of the statue or take photos from a distance. Paisano Pete is one of Fort Stockton’s top curiosities.
- James Rooney Memorial Park
Small but cozy and full of greenery, James Rooney Memorial Park is a great spot for families looking to take a reprieve for an afternoon.
The park has two separate playgrounds for kids as well as the Comanche Springs Pool, barbecue pits, exercise tracks, walking tracks, softball and baseball fields, and a disc golf course that’s a whopping 24 holes.
- Historic Fort Stockton
See what Fort Stockton is named after by visiting Historic Fort Stockton, a fort that was used in the 19th century between 1867 and 1886 for the Indian Wars.
The fort protected emigrants, cattle drives, and freight wagons at the time. Four original buildings are standing while the others are restored.
Van Horn Destinations
- The Red Rock Ranch Tours
Just a little northward of Van Horn is the Red Rock Ranch. The ranch offers guided hiking and driving tours, one of which your family should definitely take advantage of.
The tour is an excellent way to see the outcroppings in dark red from the Precambrian age. Those rocks intermingle with Cambrian formations that are pink and purple in color.
As the mesas ascend, you’ll be able to see vistas like only Texas can offer.
For the history buffs, you’ll find a movie set used in a slew of westerns, a ranch house from 1880, and pictographs drawn by the Native Americans at Red Rock Ranch.
- Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Offering an assortment of vistas such as dunes, deserts, and canyons, Guadalupe Mountains National Park affords 86,416 acres of beauty to drink in and gaze upon.
Named after the mountains you can see from many parts of the park, the Guadalupe Mountains ascend over 3,000 feet. Surrounding the mountains is the Chihuahuan Desert.
The 1,000-foot El Capitan is a cliff made of limestone that’s one of the most beloved parts of the park by far.
Capitan Reef is a fossil reef complex shaped like a U that goes on for 400 miles. Only some of Capitan Reef is on the national park’s grounds.
- The Clark Hotel Museum
The oldest building in Van Horn is The Clark Hotel Museum, which was erected in 1901.
At once the county courthouse and later a hotel (hence the name), the building was also once used for school graduations, theatrical events, and plenty more.
If you visit today, The Clark Hotel Museum welcomes you with ancient artifacts and even an antique bar.
- McDonald’s Observatory
No, not that McDonald’s.
There are no golden arches at McDonald’s Observatory, only optical telescopes, including a Hobby-Eberly telescope provided through the University of Texas.
El Paso Destinations
- Western Playland
Spanning 30 acres full of thrills and excitement, Western Playland in nearby Sunland Park will be one of many highlights of this road trip for the kids.
The rides include:
- Bandido, a coater
- Tsunami, a refreshing water ride
- Mine Coaster
- Sky Glider
- Flying Skooter
- Red Barons
- Frog Hopper
- Granny Bugs
- Drop Zone
- Pharoah’s Fury, a buccaneer ride
- Yo-Yo swings
- Fireball, a looping roller coaster
The ride variety is a mix of kid-friendly attractions, family rides, and thrill rides. No matter the age of your kids, there’s something for them at Western Playland!
- El Paso Zoo and Botanical Gardens
See more than 220 unique animal species at the El Paso Zoo and Botanical Gardens, a 35-acre zoo.
The animals are housed in four distinct areas, the Chihuahuan Desert, Asia, Americas, and Africa.
When you and the kids are done seeing your favorite creatures, check out the wealth of attractions available at the El Paso Zoo.
For instance, you can ride the African Star Train in the Africa part of the park, explore the Foster Treehouse Playground, or take a spin on the Hunt Family Endangered Species Carousel.
The kids can refresh themselves at the Hunt Family Desert Spring with pop-ups, tower sprays, spray tunnels, gushers, and dancing water interactive play features.
The Wildlife Amphitheater features shows on animal education throughout the day.
The kids will adore the Copper Canyon Challenge, which is a ropes course three stories up!
These attractions all cost an additional fee to partake in except for the amphitheater shows.
- Wet ‘N’ Wild Waterworld
Texas can get awfully hot, which is why the Wet ‘N’ Wild Waterworld in nearby Anthony is such an appealing attraction.
The park is open seasonally and has rides for every single age range and taste.
For the kids who like twists and turns, try the Corkscrew, Condors Secret, Blaster, or the Waterfall Leap.
The Slippery Rock Challenge will also demand the physicality of older kids as they try to traverse an outdoor rock-climbing course.
If you have young’uns, they’ll enjoy rides like Katch-a-Kiddie Creek, Nainoa Springs, or the Wild Island Wave Pool.
Dry off and make a beeline for the Ribbit Café when you and the kids start feeling hungry. The café at the water park serves cheeseburgers, hot dogs, chicken wraps, funnel cakes, fries, nachos, and Frito pies.
- Franklin Mountains State Park
For a thrill of a different kind, Franklin Mountains State Park will surely delight the kiddos.
The Texas state park offers peaks over 7,100 feet, and the entire park spans 24,247 acres.
No matter the season, Franklin Mountains State Park is open. You can explore the vistas here, take a scenic drive, go picnicking, try some recreational hiking, or enjoy some mountain biking.
- Deming Luna Mimbres Museum
Known as the Deming Armory or Deming Luna Mimbres Museum, this Deming establishment is an ancient armory built between 1915 and 1916 for the United States Department of the Army.
As a part of the New Mexico State Register of Cultural Properties and the National Register of Historic Places, the museum offers enough history just from the exterior.
Three buildings afford 20,000 square feet of space and 40 exhibits, including history archives from New Mexico and the first custom home in Deming.
- Voiers “Pit” Park
Although not a park in the traditional sense if you were expectin greenery, Voiers “Pit” Park is a stretch of desert and gravel with a 6,100-square-foot pavilion, an amphitheater, and an exercise trail that spans a mile long.
It’s a nice place to breathe in the fresh New Mexican air before you venture forth for Arizona.
- Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium
A premier planetarium and science center in Tucson, Flandrau is presented in association with the University of Arizona.
Within the Eos Planetarium Theater are 146 seats and a dome that’s a sizable 15.2 meters.
The planetarium show content is divided into younger and adult audiences as well as general audiences.
For the little ones, the shows Perfect Little Planet and We Are Stars are educational but age-appropriate.
The adult shows include Laser Metallica, Pink Floyd the Wall, and Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon; take your music-loving teens as well.
The general audience shows at the Eos Planetarium Theater are Black Holes, Mysteries of the Unseen World, Great White Shark, Laser Stranger Things, Tucson Sky & Beyond, and more.
Inside the Flandrau Science Center is an array of impressive exhibits on insects, our solar system, sharks, fossils, and more.
- Valley of the Moon
The “enchanted historic fairyland” known as Valley of the Moon is a children’s park that’s also a part of the National Register of Historic Places.
Created by artists, the Valley dates back nearly 100 years and is today run as a nonprofit.
The values here are imagination, sanctuary, balance, stewardship, community, kindness, and inclusion.
- International Wildlife Museum
The International Wildlife Museum offers you and the children the unique chance to see more than 400 animals up close and personal. They’re all taxidermized, of course!
The permanent exhibits here also include Conservation Underwater, an exhibit with a saltwater aquarium (with living creatures, not taxidermized ones) such as tropical fish and live coral.
- Musical Instrument Museum
A newer attraction in Phoenix first open in 2010, the Musical Instrument Museum is a great opportunity for your children to embrace their inner musicians.
The exhibits teach about the history of music through geography. Live events are hosted all the time about–you guessed it–music!
- OdySea Aquarium
It’s a quick trip from Phoenix to Scottsdale to check out the OdySea Aquarium, which is more than 200,000 square feet and full of over two million gallons of water!
The aquarium includes a variety of exhibits and zones, from the Aqua Lobby to Rivers of the World, Otter Banks, Touch Pools, Kids’ Cove, Deep Ocean, Penguin Point, and Reef Jewels.
To really make the kids’ day, you can pay extra for encounters and tours. The kids can wear a SeaTREK helmet and OdySea Aquarium wetsuit to go diving if they’re at least eight years old.
Other less immersive but still awesome experiences include the Penguin Encounter, Shark Behind the Scenes Tour, and Sloth Encounter.
- Castles N’ Coasters
A premier theme park in Phoenix, Castles N’ Coasters promises 10 acres of family fun.
That’s family fun of all kinds, by the way. You and the kids can enjoy the 20 rides on the grounds or spend all day jumping from one of the 150+ pinball and arcade games to another to another.
You can also choose among four 18-hole mini golf courses and six food and drink snack bars.
- Arizona Route 66 Museum
There’s no better place to learn about the history of Route 66 than at the Arizona Route 66 Museum in Kingman.
The museum has been open since 2001 and features larger-than-life dioramas, vintage cars, and movies that provide a riveting background on the illustrious Route 66.
- Kingman Railroad Park
If you and the children want to check out the famous Steam Engine #3759, then Locomotive Park is the place to be.
The coal-burning train would travel between Kansas City and Los Angeles for years, and the train could reach top speeds of 60.2 miles per hour. It’s a must-see for certain.
What to do with the kids in Las Vegas
Pulling up to the lights of Las Vegas is going to feel incredible! Keep the mood cheerful with these exceptional kid-friendly activities and attractions throughout the city.
The Neon Museum Las Vegas
Where do all those neon signs go when they’re no longer in use in Vegas? Well, to The Neon Museum Las Vegas, of course!
The 2.62-acre museum showcases neon signs from defunct businesses and casinos as well as more current offerings that might be more recognizable to your crew.
The Neon Boneyard is a display of as-yet-unrestored signs while the North Gallery has well-loved and restored light-up signs that are sure to dazzle.
The photo opportunities here are endless!
Cowabunga Bay Water Park
Beat the sweltering Nevada heat at the Cowabunga Bay Water Park, a seasonal waterpark with two locations, Summerlin and Henderson.
The attractions and rides vary between the two parks, but you’ll find your standard assortment of water slides, tube rides, wave pools, splash pools, and kiddie attractions here.
Cabanas are available, and food and drinks are onsite as well, although the offerings vary by park.
Las Vegas National History Museum
Take a step back in time at the Las Vegas National History Museum, a museum with taxidermized creatures, ancient artifacts, and fossils on display to teach kids about history as only Las Vegas can.
The available exhibits are:
- Treasures of Egypt
- Englestad Family Prehistoric Life Gallery
- Marine Life Gallery
- Gary & Matthew Primm African Savannna Gallery
- International Wildlife Gallery
- Prehistoric Mammals Gallery
- E.L. Wiegand Foundation Wild Nevada Gallery
- Geology Gallery
- Cox Charities Young Scientist Center
In the STRAT Hotel is Big Shot, a slingshot ride that sends you 160 feet up at blistering speeds of 45 MPH.
Although not for the super-young kids, Big Shot can be a lot of fun for tweens, teens, and adults looking for the ultimate thrill!
No, High Roller has nothing to do with gambling. It’s a Ferris wheel that’s 520 feet in diameter and 550 feet tall.
Situated prominently on the Vegas Strip, High Roller is the second-tallest Ferris wheel in the world.
Whether you ride it by day or by night, the views of Vegas from the top are something to cherish!
Do you want to take a road trip from San Antonio to Las Vegas? I can promise that you and the kids will have a blast whether you spend all your time in Vegas and especially if you enjoy the various attractions and entertainment on the way!