When people think of family friendly vacation destinations, Las Vegas rarely comes to mind, and rightly so. With 24-hour bars, rowdy nightclubs and people walking around in next to nothing, Sin City can be a tough town to travel in when you’ve got children.
The beauty of Las Vegas, though, is that there really is something for every body. If you’re traveling with younger kids (anybody under the age of twelve), read on for more travel tips on where to stay and what to do. For those with teenagers, check out this piece on Las Vegas for teens.
When you’re traveling with kids, avoid luxury hotels and over-the-top suites. After all, a family vacation isn’t about indulging in the finest accommodations; it’s about getting out and being active together.
So where should you stay? Circus Circus and Excalibur have lots of activities on site, including child-friendly shows and arcade games. Stratosphere is convenient option since it’s located right next door to Circus Circus, and New York New York, another busy and fun property, is near Excalibur.
If you don’t mind staying in a hotel off of the Las Vegas Strip, consider staying at one of the Station Casino properties, which are located throughout the city. These are considered “local” casinos, but they have extensive offerings for families, including childcare services and entertainment centers. Likewise, The Orleans, located on Tropicana Avenue, has a bowling alley, arcade and movie theater.
Before booking anything, check for coupons or discounts that bundle hotel stays with show tickets or buffet passes.
>>More information about family-friendly hotels in Las Vegas.
Things to Do
The Adventuredome at Circus Circus is a big hit with families, regardless of your children’s ages. Rides range from junior tower rides and roller coasters to the full-size real deal. Instead of paying for each ride individually, save some money and purchase an all-you-can ride pass. There are two options: One for those under 48 inches and one for those over 48 inches, so even the youngest ones can stay and play.
If the kids are animal lovers, there are plenty of places along the Strip that may be of interest. Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at The Mirage and the Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay are both entertaining and educational. Two animal friendly exhibits that won’t cost a penny are the flamingos at Flamingo Las Vegas and the lions at MGM Grand.
Las Vegas Boulevard can be a bit overwhelming for families with children, and renting a car in Las Vegas will give you lots of freedom to explore places off of the Strip. In the city, make plans to stop at the Lied Children’s Museum as well as the Springs Preserve. If the kids just need to run off some steam, there are plenty of local parks with playgrounds and water areas, which are turned on during the summer months.
Outside of the official city limits, check out Ethel M Chocolate Factory and Botanical Gardens, which is free to the public and decorated for the holiday season in the winter. Lake Mead National Recreation Area offers playful diversions for children as well; consider renting a boat for the day and enjoying the water.
Where to Eat
In general, families may find it worthwhile to skip the fine dining options spread throughout the Las Vegas valley. Instead, opt for friendly fare at some of the more mainstream restaurants. Rainforest Cafe, Planet Hollywood and Hard Rock Cafe are all represented in Sin City, and though you might pay a little more for relatively standard food, you know what to expect when you step into these popular restaurants. There are, of course, plenty of other mainstream chains located throughout town.
If everyone in the family wants something different, there’s the classic Las Vegas standby: The buffet. Though quality varies slightly, you’ll find that the more upscale resorts offer the most expensive buffets. If you’re looking for the cheapest option, head for a locals’ casino or one of the older properties on the Strip.
For the most part, shows in Las Vegas are expensive, so finding the money to take the whole family can be tough on the wallet. Nonetheless, Las Vegas shows are a popular attraction, and there are several that are kid friendly, even for the littlest ones in tow.
When looking for a show for the family, you’ll want to check for show times. Most performances that are geared toward families offer matinees. There are lots of magic shows that kids will enjoy, including Nathan Burton and Zen Magic. For a variety of acts, check out the Gregory Popovich Comedy Pet Theater or V- The Ultimate Variety Show.
Kids particularly enjoy the Tournament of Kings, which is a dinner show where everyone has to eat with their hands while actively participating in medieval camaraderie.
If you want to go big, there are two Cirque du Soleil shows that are good for families—Mystere and KA—though the younger kids will probably like Mystere better. In addition, Disney’s The Lion King is always a hit with families, especially because kids are familiar with the story.
>>More information about family-friendly shows in Las Vegas.
>>Buy tickets for Zen Magic.
>>Buy tickets for V – The Ultimate Variety Show.
>>Buy tickets for Tournament of Kings.
>>Buy tickets for Mystere.
>>Buy tickets for KA.
>>Buy tickets for Disney’s The Lion King.
Other Travel Tips
If you bring the kids to Las Vegas, remember that this is a family vacation. The city is an adult’s playground, and many places are not open to those under 18 or 21. This includes the casino floor, so keep on moving when walking through. If you want to get away for some over 21 fun, consider staying somewhere that has a childcare services on property, enlist the services of a childcare center somewhere else in Las Vegas or travel with another family and then swap nights with the other parents so that everyone gets family time and adult time.
Avoid the city during holiday weekends and large conferences, if possible. Las Vegas can be overwhelming; adding crowds can also add crankiness.
Despite the overabundance of things to see and do, don’t overstuff your itinerary. Spend some time at the pool, let kids take their daily naps and enjoy some quiet time in the evenings before turning the lights off. Well rested kids makes for happy kids, and happy kids make for happy parents … and that’s the best way to enjoy your Las Vegas vacation.