Most people do not consider Las Vegas a kid-friendly destination, but Matt recently had a conference there, so we decided to bring the entire family along. Here are some tips for enjoying Sin City with your little ones in tow:
Stay elsewhere. Of course if you are visiting Las Vegas, you want to be in Las Vegas, but consider staying somewhere off the Strip. While the most well-recognized resorts are there in the heart of Vegas, there are plenty of other hotels and resorts that are not located directly on the Strip. By staying off the Strip, families encounter less second-hand smoke and less overt sexuality.
We stayed at the Red Rock Resort, which houses a movie theater, bowling alley, arcade, and is within walking distance to several family-friendly restaurants. A shuttle takes guests to and from both the airport and the Strip on a regular basis, so we didn’t even need to drive most days.
Enjoy the outdoors. One of the days we were there, the kids and I hiked in Red Rock Canyon. This beautiful National Conservation Area offers a stunning change of scenery from the surrounding desert. For an entrance fee of $7 per vehicle, cars can drive the 13-mile one-way scenic drive around the park. Along the drive there are parking areas for visitors to get out and go for hikes. The trails vary in length and difficulty, so you are sure to find one that will suit your family. We were also surprised at the variety of plant life we encountered. Who knew the desert could host such beautiful flowers?
Las Vegas is a very outdoor-oriented city. We found a dedicated walking trail about half a mile from our hotel and took family walks in the morning to enjoy the outdoors. It was a wonderful way to start our days.
Time your adventures. While it may not be the most family-oriented place, the Strip does have a lot that kids will enjoy. Plan your visit there during the daytime to make it the best experience for your kids.
Our kids really enjoyed watching the fountains in front of the Bellagio Resort. With shows almost every half hour during the week, it’s hard not to catch one. You can even find a list of when each song is being played so that you can go when there is a song your kids recognize. Luke and Ellie loved the fact that the water danced to “Singing in the Rain”.
They also loved M&M World. This four-story retail store offered a free 3D movie, pictures with the characters, and, of course, samples. Luke spent his souvenir money on personalized M&Ms.
Unfortunately, Ellie was an inch too short to ride the roller coaster at New York, New York. I suggested Madame Tussaud’s, but after looking they realized they didn’t know any of the celebrities featured there. We ended up running out of time, but I also think they would have enjoyed the Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at the Mirage or a gondola ride a the Venetian.
Go outside the city. The Hoover Dam is located 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas. This wonder of human achievement is a sight to behold. We started by crossing the pedestrian bridge that spans the river and has an amazing view of the dam. Then, we took the 30 minute Powerplant Tour. For $15 per adult and $12 per child, we were able to go down into the Dam and learn about how it was built and what purpose it serves today. Luke was especially fascinated by the stories of the men who built the Dam, which you can learn about in the Visitor’s Center.
Lake Mead National Recreation Area is located very close to the Hoover Dam. We stopped at the Visitor’s Center to learn more about the plants and animals native to the area. The kids completed their Junior Ranger booklets and were sworn in by a Park Ranger.
We firmly believe that any destination is a great destination for a family. Look for opportunities to teach, explore, and engage with your children. Have a great trip to Las Vegas!