Most states in the US now sport some type of casino resort along major interstates and highways. How do you know if any are worth a stop? Of course, adults serious about vegas-style gaming can head to Las Vegas or try their hand at mobile gaming, but for families just looking for a cheap meal or kid-friendly entertainment, keep the following in mind:
1. Does the road-side casino offer cultural or educational amenities?
Sometimes, they actually do! If the region you’re driving through features Native American-run ‘Indian Casinos’, look for a museum or cultural site next door. These amenities are often less advertised than their attached casinos (rarely will you find directions to the museum on the billboards), but when they exist, they provide families with a low-cost pit stop that delivers on educational value. Our favorite: the Museum at Warm Springs in Central Oregon, which is located adjacent to the casino at Warm Springs. Skip the casino and head to this award-winning museum with indoor and outdoor exhibits, cultural activities, a dedicated staff, and seasonal events.
2. Does the casino offer a pool complex or video arcade?
If you’re road tripping on a budget, stopping at a small casino resort with an indoor or outdoor pool complex can save money. Often, these pools are available for a day fee, which means parents can save money on nightly accommodations (stay elsewhere, or camp!). Most casino resorts simply want to get parents in the door, and will offer low entrance fees for swimming or large video arcades for kids. As long as you don’t plan to gamble, the cost savings are significant.
3. Does the casino offer a buffet meal?
Eating one large meal per day while road tripping (and snacking in-between, picnic style along the road) saves serious money. Many small casino resorts offer low-cost buffets that are open 24 hours per day, allowing families to pick the timing of their main meal of the day. Look for a road side casino with non-smoking restaurant options (this can be a challenge) and with a free or low-cost kids’ meal price. Prices under $10 for kids’ buffet meals are standard.
Have you found a casino resort that’s kid-friendly? Where is it?