11 Things to Do in the Grand Canyon Village

Photo of El Tovar Hotel

Most people travel to the Grand Canyon for spectacular views and don’t think much about what there is to see at the Grand Canyon Village.

The Grand Canyon Village is the center of action in Grand Canyon National Park. Though the village was constructed entirely for tourism, the village feels like a charming trip back in time. The village contains curio shops, restaurants, historic buildings with interesting architecture, the Hopi House, visitor centers, mule rides, and shuttle bus transportation.

Want to know more? I’m Matt and I live in the Rockies. The Grand Canyon Village is my favorite village in the national park system. I can’t wait to tell you why.

7 things to see in the GRAND CANYON VILLAGE

Getting There

The Village is accessible by vehicle but it has a severe lack of parking. During the busy season, the best thing to do is to park at the Mather Visitor Center and take the Blue Line shuttle to the Village.

El Tovar Hotel

El Tovar is a famous and historic hotel – it’s really the centerpiece of the village. It’s an interesting mix of Norwegian Chalet and American Southwest design.

We highly recommend the dining room, which serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner (reservations required for dinner).

Kolb Studio

This museum was once a photography studio! The Kolb Brothers were icons in the Grand Canyon’s early days. They photographed mule riders, ran to the springs below to develop the pictures, and ran back to the studio to sell them when the riders returned.

Lookout Studio

Constructed as a competitor to the Kolb Studio, this building was designed to fit in with the surrounding rocks. Today you can visit the gift shop inside and walk onto the deck to look into the telescope.

Hopi House

Built as an homage to the Hopis who live nearby, this has always been a gift shop for Native American goods.

Verkamp’s Visitor Center

An early competitor to the Hopi House, this visitor center has a gift shop and displays about the park. It was owned by the Verkamp family for nearly 100 years!

Mule Pen

Mule rides to the bottom of the canyon begin and end at the mule pen here. Mules famously walk along the edge of the trail as you stare into the canyon.

The biggest rule when riding the mules: “no leanin, no screamin!”

Train Depot

The Grand Canyon Train arrives daily from Williams, Arizona, dropping visitors off at this historic depot, just as the original Canyon visitors arrived in the early days of the park.

Rim Trail and Trail of Time

The easiest hiking trail at the Grand Canyon is the flat Rim Trail, which follows the rim of the canyon from the Village to Mather Point near the visitor center.

Along the way notice the new Trail of Time display, which provides context to just how old the canyon is.

Not sure which area of the Grand Canyon to Visit?

Download our Free Quick and Easy Guide to the Grand Canyon’s 4 Areas!

Bright Angel Trail

If you want to get into the Canyon from the Village, you’ll need to access the popular Bright Angel Trail. The views are incredible, but don’t take it lightly! It’s steep and brutal.

Bright Angel, Maswik, Kachina, and Thunderbird Lodges

If you want to stay in the Grand Canyon Village but don’t want to spend the money on El Tovar, here are four more affordable alternatives.

Of these, the Bright Angel is the oldest and has the most charm. But you don’t actually stay in the lodge; you stay in nearby cabins.

The others are newer, built to accommodate increasing tourists, are farther away from the rim, and have much less charm.

Shuttle to Hermits Rest

shuttle to hermits rest grand canyon

The Blue Line shuttle ends in the Grand Canyon Village. Those wanting to ride to Hermits Rest must get off here and hop on the Red Line shuttle.

Additional Resources

The history of the Grand Canyon is incredible. I’ve created a Grand Canyon Guide, complete with a walking tour and audio guide of the village as well as a step-by-step itinerary for the Grand Canyon so you can visit the best places at the right times.

Not only that, but we’ll tell you about the park while you drive with our audio guide!  Stop planning and start having the vacation of your dreams now!


GRAND CANYON GUIDE: To read or watch all of our content about the Grand Canyon, Check out our Grand Canyon Homepage

AREAS: The Grand Canyon is divided into 4 areas: The South Rim, North Rim, Grand Canyon West, and the East Side of the Grand Canyon (Page, AZ). Learn about the 4 areas of the Grand Canyon with our Free Printable.

THINGS TO DO: There is much more to do than hike and look at viewpoints.  Explore Antelope Canyon or ride a mule.

WHERE TO STAY: Learn all about where to camp or stay when visiting the Grand Canyon.

WHERE TO EAT: Check out the best places to eat and get groceries at the South Rim

WATCH: Enjoy videos of the beautiful Grand Canyon while learning our best tips by watching our Grand Canyon YouTube Playlist


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