During the 1990s, there was talk that Las Vegas was reinventing itself as a family destination. The plan to do so sort of just faded away (after all, Las Vegas is known as an adult’s playground for a reason), but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a family friendly destination, even if it isn’t specifically designed with children in mind. In fact, there is a rather diverse selection of good places to stay, things to do and shows to see if traveling in Las Vegas with a family.
Where to Stay
There are a handful of hotels in Las Vegas that either specifically cater to families or at least offer diversions for kids. The most popular options are Excalibur and Circus Circus, both of which have arcades and carnival games. For those families who have a rental car handy, there are several hotels located off of Las Vegas Boulevard that offer the right mix of family friendly atmosphere, fun and convenience.
>>More information on family friendly hotels in Las Vegas.
What to Do
Popular activities for families in Las Vegas include:
Gameworks – Located in the Showcase Mall next to MGM Grand on the Las Vegas Strip, Gameworks is a mix of arcade and carnival games with a heavy emphasis on the arcade games. To get the most out of your money at Gameworks, consider buying a card that lasts for a certain amount of play time versus feeding machines from a pile of quarters.
Adventuredome – Inside the Circus Circus is a 5.5-acre, glass-enclosed theme park with roller coasters and other large rides mixed in with bumper cars and smaller attractions. There’s also an IMAX ride/film, a mini-golf course, laser tag and an arcade. Individual rides can be a bit pricey, but all-day passes are fairly reasonable.
>>More information about Adventuredome at Circus Circus.
Rides at Stratosphere – Though they aren’t necessarily appropriate for young children (due to height restrictions), there are four adrenaline-rushing rides on the top of the Stratosphere that leave riders dangling high above the Las Vegas Strip. These might be particularly appealing to teenagers. Visitors can purchase rides individually or lump several together under a package price.
M&M World – This giant candy store is located in the Showcase Mall next to the MGM Grand, just upstairs from Gameworks. Though there is encouragement to buy your favorite M&Ms memorabilia, that’s not the only thing families will find here. A free 3D film on the second floor is a fun diversion, and there are also several M&Ms collectors’ items and and a NASCAR available for viewing.
Roller Coaster at New York, New York – This indoor / outdoor roller coaster at New York New York twists, turns and goes upside down as it makes away around this New York-inspired hotel. Again, a ticket to ride is a bit on the pricey side, but it’s the experience you’re looking for here.
Pinball Hall of Fame – This inconspicuous stop on East Tropicana Avenue is fun for both adults and their kids. Hundreds of machines are packed into the Pinball Hall of Fame; the old ones cost $.25 to play and the new ones are $.50.
>>More information about the Pinball Hall of Fame.
Las Vegas shows – There are lots of shows in Las Vegas, but not all of them are appropriate for people under 18. A few Cirque du Soleil shows are fun for kids, and there are also many show times throughout the day for those performances that are particularly good for families.
>>More information about family friendly Las Vegas shows.
Road trips and day trips – With access to a rental car, the whole family can enjoy a day trip to Red Rock Canyon or Hoover Dam. There are several national parks near Las Vegas that are worthy of a visit, though it may be best to enjoy one of these with an overnight trip. Check out the tours available in and around Las Vegas as well, as there are a few catered toward families.
Travel Tips for Families
- Las Vegas can be overwhelming, so don’t try to cram too much into a single day. Take some time out to splash in a pool or relax with an ice cream cone.
- If at all possible, avoid the busiest times of the year. Holidays can be particularly crowded in Las Vegas, and Halloween and New Year’s Eve in particular aren’t necessarily the most kid-friendly times of the year.
- Las Vegas is in the desert, so regardless of what time of the year you visit, make sure everyone in the family drinks plenty of water.
- The Las Vegas Strip is longer than it looks. In order to avoid putting extra miles on little feet, plan your days out before you get started to make the most of your time. Don’t try to cover too much ground; that will just exhaust everyone.
- A few companies in Las Vegas, such as Our Turn Excursions, specifically design activity schedules for kids so that parents can enjoy the city on their own. If parents need to attend a conference or just want a day alone, consider looking into these services.
- Las Vegas doesn’t have to be expensive. Look for discounts and coupons to cut down on the costs that could accumulate during your family’s vacation.
Photo credit: mkoukoullis