Kid Friendly Travel Guide to Las Vegas: Extended Edition

Earlier this year, I wrote a brief guide on things you could do in and around Las Vegas if you’re traveling with kids. Las Vegas isn’t the most family-friendly city you can travel to, but there are plenty of things here that your kids can enjoy; you just have to know where to look. I’ve been working on expanding it since then, and this is what I’ve come up with so far. I’ve found additional places and things to add to this list, so I will update it again in the future. In the meantime, I hope it gives you some ideas when it comes to planning your trip to Vegas with your children. If you’d prefer a version you can download, check out the link under the Travel Guides section.

 

At one time, Las Vegas advertised itself as a family-friendly vacation destination. Every hotel had a show or activity geared toward children; these days, every hotel has a nightclub. Gone are the Sirens at Treasure Island and trick-or-treating at the MGM Grand. Some kid-friendly shows managed to survive, but once “What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas” took over, Las Vegas turned into an adult’s playground. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t come here with your kids. If you’re planning a trip to Las Vegas and the kids are coming along, add some of these to your travel itinerary:

But…Some Tips Before You Go

Your kids can’t loiter in the casino. Seriously. This doesn’t apply if your kids are over 21 of course, but if you’ve got small kids or teenagers, they can’t loiter. Loitering means hanging out anywhere near a slot machine, or a blackjack tables. You can try it for a while, but the security guards will get wise to you. Some casinos have arcades and indoor playgrounds you can send your kids to (more on those later), but if they get caught loitering, you and your kids might be asked to leave.

Also, opt for a place with a pool (if you’re visiting in the summer). It will be an easy default option if you’ve got nothing else planned, and it’s a good way to get them tired.

If you’re in a pinch and need someone to watch your kids while you’re in Vegas, check out a service like Arsty Nannies. They are available 24 hours a day, on an hourly basis.

About the Bellagio – kids are welcome as guests of the hotel. Children are also welcome as guests of any of the shows and/or events that take place on the Bellagio property, provided you have your tickets in hand.

Places to Eat

America

America, located inside New York New York, is a place with simple food and simple pleasures. The giant map on will keep your kids occupied while they wait for their American-inspired dishes. The menu features items from across the country, including chicken nachos, giant pretzels, pizza, and bagels & lox. If you’ve got a picky eater in your family, there’s a good chance you’ll find something that everyone can enjoy.

Honey Salt

Honey Salt prides itself on being kid-approved. The New American bistro is closer to Red Rock Casino, so it’s a great place to stop if you’re on your way to Red Rock National Park. Honey Salt has a kid’s menu that rivals the adult’s; items on the menu include mac & cheese, grilled asparagus, and crispy cornflake chicken tenders. The open-air design makes it an ideal place for large group gatherings or family outings.

VegeNation

For some healthy meal options, try VegeNation. The street food vendor prides itself on not sacrificing flavor in the name of healthy eating. Its menu caters to both vegetarian and vegan dietary needs. The kids’ menu offers items they know with a vegan spin, such as chicken-less nuggets and tomato pizza.

Lazy Dog

Lazy Dog is another family-friendly restaurant, and I mean the whole family, including the dogs. There are two locations in the Las Vegas valley, with one in Summerlin and one in Town Square. The human menu is chock full of items that kids will try and enjoy, like the mini corn dogs and the mac and cheese, and the canine menu includes a bowl of brown rice, grilled hamburger patties or chicken.

Places to Stay

Mandalay Bay

Photo by Rob Young/Flickr

Located at the southern-most end of the Strip, the Mandalay Bay is a great place to stay if you’re traveling with kids. The hotel is home to an impressive wave pool, as well as The Shark Reef, the only predator-based aquarium in the United States. If you stay at Mandalay Bay, you have easy walking access to Mandalay Place. Mandalay Place offers even more options for food and shopping and leads straight to the Luxor. The Luxor is home to the Titanic exhibit, Bodies, the Blue Man Group, and a fast food court.

Green Valley Ranch

Photo by: Kennejima/Flickr

For those who’d like to avoid the high prices of the Las Vegas Strip, Green Valley is a good place to start. Green Valley Ranch is a 15 to 20-minute car ride to the Las Vegas Strip, and has enough retail shops and restaurants around the hotel to keep you occupied. Besides the movie theater and arcade inside the casino, Green Valley Ranch is walking distance from the District. The District is a sprawling shopping center that includes retail shops, restaurants, paint classes, and weekly farmer’s markets.

The Mirage

The Mirage is a Las Vegas Strip hotel that is great for families to stay in. Besides the two pools that Mirage keeps for its guests, the hotel is home to the Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat. The Secret Garden and Habitat were founded by the magical duo Sigfried & Roy. The Mirage is also home to LOVE, the Beatles tribute performed by Cirque du Soleil. LOVE is a bright, fun, colorful production that would be ideal for a kid’s first Cirque du Soleil experience.

Boulder Station

Boulder Station is another great option if you’re coming into Las Vegas and want to avoid the Strip. Located on the east side of the city, the average price for hotel rooms is almost half of what you’d find on the Strip. The hotel has a movie theater and an arcade on location. The casino’s proximity to the freeway means easy access to downtown Las Vegas. Other nearby points of interest include The Wetlands Park and Vegas Off Road Tours.

Red Rock Resort & Casino

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Families that love the outdoors will enjoy staying at the Red Rock. The closest points of interest are Red Rock National Conservation Area and Mount Charleston. Depending on the time of year, you can hike, bike, and camp out at Red Rock; Mt. Charleston offers skiing and snowboarding opportunities in the winter. Red Rock has a pool, movie theater and arcade as well a full food court and a bowling alley on its property.

Sunset Station

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Sunset Station is another good option for families traveling on a budget. This hotel is nowhere near the Strip, but if you plan on spending some time at Hoover Dam, or Lake Mead, Sunset Station would make an ideal option. This particular hotel also has a bowling alley and a movie theater on site, as well as a Kid’s Quest, so your kids can play while you have dinner or see a movie on your own.

New York New York

If you’re traveling with kids and need to stay on the Strip, I’d recommend the New York New York. Not only is it right in the heart of the Strip, but it also within walking distance to a number of key attractions on the Strip. Inside the hotel, you’ll find an arcade, the Big Apple rollercoaster and Hershey World. Just outside the hotel, you can walk to the Park, the T-Mobile Arena, or M&M World across the Strip.

Activities

M&M Factory

Photo by: Josh Truelson/Flickr

Adults and kids alike love the M&M Factory. Located next to MGM Grand, you can spend hours going through the four-level tribute to the history of the internationally-known candy. You can take home personalized M&Ms, on top of the other typical souvenirs (t-shirts, bags, keychains, etc.)

Discovery Children’s Museum

The Discovery Children’s Museum has been a beloved member of the Las Vegas community. Formerly known as Lied Discovery Museum, the 58,000 square-foot facility houses numerous exhibits designed to engage and challenge your children’s minds. You will find the Discovery Children’s Museum in downtown Las Vegas, next to the Smith Center.

Lion Habitat Ranch

The adventurous family will want to take a ride out to the Lion Habitat Ranch. The open-air animal sanctuary is open Friday-Mondays during the daytime, so it’s best to book your tickets in advance. Besides lions, the ranch is also home to giraffes. There are multiple tour options available, including feeding the animals and a behind-the-scenes tour.

Mount Charleston

If you get to Las Vegas and decide you want to go ski, camp, hike, or play in the snow, go to Mount Charleston. Mount Charleston is about an hour’s drive outside of Las Vegas city limits and is free to the public. Temperatures can vary as much as 30 degrees cooler in the summer at Mount Charleston, so it’s a welcome break when it gets a little too hot in the city.

Entrance to parts of Mount Charleston is free, but admission prices vary at the picnic and camping areas.

Tournament of Kings

Photo by: Joe O’Connell/Flickr

Tournament of Kings is one of the few attractions from the 90s that has survived on the Las Vegas Strip. Located inside the Excalibur, this live dinner theater show is fun for both adults and kids alike. Kids will love watching the jousting match that accompanies dinner. Parents love that the kids are entertained for the entire ninety-minute production. Ticket prices start at 55.95 for dinner and the show, and 44.95 for the show without dinner. Children 3 and under are free.

Popovich Pet Theater

If you and your kids are animal lovers, you’ll have to check out Popovich Pet Theater. Located inside Planet Hollywood near the Miracle Mile Shops, this show puts over 30 rescue pets on display, performing stunts and tricks you might not think the average house pet capable of. This show has been a long-standing favorite among locals and tourists alike.

Marvel STATION

One of the suits on display inside Marvel S.T.A.T.I.O.N.

If your kids are into superheroes, you won’t want to miss Marvel STATION inside Treasure Island. This interactive exhibit is suitable for kids of all ages, as it combines an education into the history of some of Marvel’s most well-known characters, as well as the fun of games and special effects. It can be pricey if you’re traveling with multiple children, especially when faced with the prospect of the gift shop. It’s fun for adults too.

Secret Garden

Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat has a special place in Las Vegas history. Nestled inside The Mirage on the Las Vegas Strip, the sanctuary has attracted millions of visitors in its 27-year history. Founded by the famous magic duo Siegfried and Roy, the habitat is home to dolphins, white tigers, panthers and lions. For additional costs, guests can paint, swim, or practice yoga with the dolphins.  If you purchase a ticket package, you can get a discount on entry to not only the Secret Garden, but Shark Reef, Bodies, and the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Arts.

Hoover Dam

While the Las Vegas Strip made Las Vegas famous, the Hoover Dam made Las Vegas sustainable. Constructed during the Great Depression, the engineering wonder provided desperately-needed work to thousands of workers. Guests can tour both the dam and the power plant; prices for both tours vary. The dam is both functional and breathtaking; the arched structure is responsible for supplying power to Nevada, Arizona and California. From the Las Vegas Strip, it’s a little more than an hour’s drive north toward Arizona.

Adventuredome Theme Park

The Adventuredome Theme Park is a classic kid’s attraction in Las Vegas. Located inside Circus Circus, kids can ride on a small rollercoaster, crash into each other with bumper cars, take part in 3-D movies, and more. Be prepared to spend an afternoon here if you go; there are lots of rides, lots of games, and lots of colors to keep your kids enamored and occupied.

Shark Reef

Located inside Mandalay Bay next to the convention center, Shark Reef is home to a plethora of animals and reptiles including: turtles, piranhas, eels, sting rays, and 15 species of sharks. It is ideal for school-age children, or anyone who Shark Reef is a popular attraction for those with children and is busiest in the summer months. For additional costs, guests of the Mandalay Bay can get an intimate look at the aquarium through its program, Dive with Sharks.

During the Holidays

Cowabunga Bay

To beat the heat with your little ones in tow, consider a family day at Cowabunga Bay. This sprawling waterpark located in Henderson has become a popular place for adults and kids alike during the hottest summer months, with enough water slides, pools and other attractions to keep you busy for an entire weekend.  Ticket prices average around 40 per adult and 30 per child, but there are times and days when you can get discounted entry, so keep an eye for that when you plan your trip.

Opportunity Village

Opportunity Village is a great place to take your kids if you’re visiting Vegas in the winter. For the Christmas season, Opportunity Village puts on a winter wonderland of sorts, complete with rides, Christmas trees, funnel cakes, and pictures with Santa. The event does require tickets to get in but what you get in return is well worth the money.

LINQ Promenade Halloween Party

This is a newer event to the Las Vegas Strip, but it’s been a welcome addition ever since it started. On Halloween weekend, the LINQ caters to its smaller patrons with a host of activities and performances that will surely delight everyone in the family. From trick or treating at various shops and restaurants in the promenade, costume contests and live shows, the party never stops.

Butterfly Habitat at Springs Preserve

Springs Preserve is a great place to take your kids any time of year: it’s educational, it’s entertaining, and it’s a relatively inexpensive family outing. But the Butterfly Habitat is especially exciting for the little ones. It’s only open in the fall, but for three dollars a person your kids can explore a space that is home to more than twenty species of butterflies and the plants that give them refuge.

 

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