The Wild Wild West & California's Coast

California, The American Southwest

Duration: 13 nights

Combining Wild West desert adventures with surfing and culture in the vibrant coastal city of Laguna Beach, this active family vacation takes in the best that the Southwest and California have to offer. Beginning in the red deserts of Arizona and Utah, you’ll drive, raft, horse ride and hike the world-famous landscapes of the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley, before finishing up with beach relaxation, surfing and culture in Laguna Beach.
Perfect forActive families with older or teenage children looking to explore the desert of the Southwest and the Californian coastline.
In the knowSpending a few days at the desert oasis hotel of Amangiri, for the ultimate splurge during your time at the Grand Canyon.

Best for

  • Landscapes & Scenery
  • Adventure
  • Family-friendly
  • First-timers

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Itinerary details



Flying in to Phoenix, Arizona, your Wild West family adventure begins in Scottsdale, where you will stop over for the night. A glamorous, buzzy resort town with a quaint old town and lively nightlife, Scottsdale is a great place to ease your way in to life in the Sonoran Desert. You will spend the night at Four Seasons Scottsdale, a luxurious collection of adobe casitas nestled amid saguaro cacti and craggy desert landscapes. The hotel features a range of Southwestern and American dining options, two outdoor swimming pools, and has easy access to a range of hiking trails in the stunning Pinnacle Peak Park.
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The next day, your adventure begins in earnest, as you drive to the desert town of Williams, the gateway to the Grand Canyon. You will truly feel immersed in the desert landscapes at your luxury safari camp, Grand Canyon Under Canvas, where you will spend the next three nights. The canvas tents come in various forms suitable for families, from twin bed accommodations to deluxe tents and suites with adjacent tipis, private dens where kids will love to spend the night. The tents are simple but supremely comfortable, and have private bathrooms with showers, running water and flushing toilet facilities.

The camp is just forty minutes’ drive from the famous South Rim, the best place to view the Grand Canyon, and included in your trip are rafting down the Colorado River, a great way to see it up close, and horseback riding - the best way to get the authentic cowboy experience. A helicopter flight back to the top of the canyon is an unforgettable way to experience one of the most stunning natural wonders on Earth.
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Departing the camp, you’ll embark on a three and a half hour drive across the desert to your next stop, Monument Valley, crossing a starkly beautiful landscape of craggy red rocks and prehistoric cacti en route to the Arizona-Utah border. You will spend one night at Goulding’s Lodge, a comfortable motel on the site of an historic trading post.

If the incredible views of the desert and Navajo Tribal Park look familiar, that’s because they’re ingrained in the collective consciousness thanks to the classic Westerns of John Ford, who used this as a location for classic John Wayne films like Stagecoach and The Searchers. The hotel offers a variety of tours of this so-called ‘Land of Long Shadows’ in open-air vehicles, led by expert Navajo guides. Hiking tours are also available, and, if you’re there at the right time, monthly full moon tours, which allow you to experience the desert bathed in the glow of the moon.
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3 nightsMOAB

Get back on the desert road again to Moab, Utah. Famous for its rock formations and canyon landscapes, this is a fantastic area for exploring the great outdoors. Included in your trip is a jetboat excursion down the Colorado River, taking in the sheer canyons and red cliff faces around Canyonlands National Park, passing petrified forests, Native American ruins and rock carvings, and Dead Horse Point State Park, immortalised in the classic road movie Thelma & Louise. Jetboat tours can take the form of day trips; sunset tours, when the red rocks are bathed in a soft orange glow; and ‘dinner and night show’ tours, when a delicious meal is followed by a night-time light show in the canyon, accompanied by tales of the cowboys and Indians who once roamed the desert.

Back on dry land, a Hummer safari will take you across the rocks in exhilarating style, weaving through the red rock fins of Hell’s Revenge and stopping off at the famous arches of the Arches National Park - including the world-famous Delicate Arch, a symbol of Utah. The rocks of Moab have proved a treasure trove for palaeontologists, with numerous dinosaur skeletons found here - if you’re lucky, you might even find a bone yourself. You will spend three nights at Sunflower Hill, a charming inn a stone’s throw from downtown Moab.
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After a week’s adventuring in the desert, it’s time for the relaxing second leg of your family vacation, as you fly from Salt Lake City to Santa Ana and then drive to Laguna Beach, where you’ll spend the next five nights. With its golden beaches full of surfers and volleyball players, seafront parks and craggy coastal landscapes, Laguna Beach combines the glamour of Los Angeles with the natural beauty of the central coast, but plenty of its own character lies beneath the photogenic exterior - it has long been an enclave for artists and bohemians.

If you or the kids want to give surfing a whirl, the popular Main Beach is a good place to start, while the rockier Picnic Beach and clifftop Heisler Park are the places to go for rugged coastal scenery and photo opportunities. Your home for the next five nights is Surf and Sand, a high-end resort right on the beach which is perfect for enjoying the sun, surf and sand which Laguna Beach is famous for – not to mention the delicious cuisine.
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