Guide to Las Vegas with kids: family-friendly Las Vegas vacation

I’ve never thought of Las Vegas as a family-friendly trip idea, but in the past few years, Vegas hotels and attractions have made strides to be more kid-oriented. Now that our local airport offers a cheap direct flight to Las Vegas (as many do), we’re considering a stay to escape cold winter weather. Whether your family trip focuses on Las Vegas entertainment, outdoor recreation, or dining (or all of the above), the following advice can help make your trip to Sin City much more wholesome.

Las Vegas with kids

Where to stay:

Families will want to compare hotel prices in Las Vegas, but to find properties that focus on kids, you’ll also want to look closely at amenities. Sure, Circus Circus is known for their big top attraction, but families can easily visit their AdventureDome during a day trip. Better to find a hotel with a great pool, family-friendly dining, and preferably, no smoking. Think a family-friendly oasis is impossible to find in Vegas? It’s not! Our picks: the Westgate Las Vegas, or the Four Seasons Las Vegas and the Marriott Vacation Club Grand Chateau, both non-gaming luxury hotels.

Take day trips off the Strip:

Many parents (myself included, our first stay) make the mistake of walking along the Strip during the daytime. They believe it will be ‘tamer’, with less drinking and drunken people during the daylight hours. Unfortunately, this is not the case, and instead, families are subjected to the same number of drunken individuals, made worse by the fact that it’s only 11 am. In fact, seeing so much day drinking is downright depressing. Instead, take a day trip outside the Strip during the day.

Red Rock Canyon

 

Our picks:

The one exception to our ‘off the Strip in daylight’ rule: Circus Circus AdventureDome, which closes by early evening on weekdays.

Come back to your hotel by around 5 pm, clean up, and head out with the kids from 6 pm to 10 pm. You’ll see all the neon and lights, the glitz and the glamour of the Strip, but before it gets truly rowdy. This is a great opportunity to eat out at an innovative, fun restaurant before it’s most crowded time period, then take in a kid-friendly show or attraction, like the Bellagio water show or a ride on the New York New York roller coaster.

Where to eat:

Las Vegas has experienced a culinary renaissance of sorts in the past five years. Families can find top tier dining all over the city, but if you’re not looking for a four-diamond experience with kids, we recommend something different: the Tournament of Kings located in Excalibur. Families enjoy entertainment along with their meal (which is kid-friendly meat and potatoes fare) and adults will have fun, too. For something less extensive, try the Rainforest Cafe in the MGM Grand.

Need casual food options? Check these out:

  • Bobby’s Burger Palace: on the South Strip, near Aria
  • Snack Shack, outside New York New York
  • Miracle Mile shops (Chipotle, Earl of Sandwich, more)
  • Town Square (south of Mandalay Bay)

What to see:

vegas for kids

Entertainment abounds in Vegas, but what to see with kids? Our top picks are the Comedy Pet Theater at Planet Hollywood or sea-life viewing at the Mandalay Bay Shark Reef Aquarium. If in doubt, treat kids to an evening at any number of high-end, extensive video game arcades along the strip. Some shops along the Strip are kid-friendly, like the World of M&Ms and Adidas store. Learn more about things to do in Vegas with kids.

Shows to catch while in town:

  • Blue Man Group: art, music, non-verbal performing…it’s hard to describe but stunning.
  • Penn and Teller: We love that these magicians are also funny…very funny.
  • Ka by Cirque du Soleil: the ultimate in circus performing arts, martial arts, acrobatics, and puppetry. In other words, something for everyone.
  • Tournament of Kings: Located in the Excalibur, this dinner theater showcases dueling knights and lots of action.
  • Recycled Percussion: this ‘junk rock’ performance allows the audience to play along on pots, pans, sinks, etc.

Arcades and attractions for older kids:

The arcade at New York New York is extensive, as is the Midway arcade in Circus Circus. GameWorks Las Vegas is located next to the MGM Grand. The Luxor’s Games of the Gods arcade is one of the best for virtual rides and interactive gaming experiences. Want an old fashioned midway instead? Head to Circus Circus, the Excalibur Fantasy Fair Midway, or the Strat-o-Fair at the Stratosphere Hotel.

We really enjoyed the New York New York roller coaster, but be warned: you have to walk all the way through the extensive arcade to get to the ride entrance. If you don’t like heights, the location of the coaster, with the rail suspended outside the hotel’s skyscraper, might just do you in before the vertical drops and inverted loops do!

The Stratosphere Sky Wheel is tamer, or on the opposite end of the scale, the hotel hosts a whole slew of terrifying-looking rides on the tower. For families with older kids, the Vegas Indoor Skydiving allows families to ‘fly’ together in wind tunnels. (Except to pay dearly, however).

If you want to make an entire afternoon of it, head to the AdventureDome at Circus Circus (you may want to take a cab to this very North Strip hotel). Inside, you’ll find roller coasters, kiddie rides, a midway experience…basically a theme park inside a dome. Check ticketing options to get the best deal for your group…paying a la carte would add up!

Photo credit: Aigle Dore.

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About the author

Pit Stops for Kids AUTHOR: Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly at a number of travel publications, and contributes to OutdoorsNW magazine as an outdoor adventure traveler. Find Amy at Google.

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