When we told people we were taking our kids to Vegas we got more than a few raised eyebrows (and even a couple of direct reproaches). The truth is we do not really consider Las Vegas a family vacation DESTINATION per se, (and not the one we would cross the ocean or even the United States coast to coast for). That said, we were planning a family road trip through California (read about our trip here) and knowing that we would not make Vegas our destination in the near future, adult members of our family were interested to see what Vegas was all about. What we discovered was that you could indeed have a great time in Vegas AS A FAMILY should the circumstances (be it a family reunion, or road tripping through California or Arizona National Parks) call to bring your kids to Vegas.
SO HERE ARE OUR TOP 10 FAVORITE FAMILY MOMENTS IN VEGAS:
1. GETTING THERE was an adventure and more than half of the fun. We got to travel from Yosemite to Vegas via Tioga Pass – a trans-Sierra Nevada crossing which is the highest highway pass in California and in the Sierra Nevada (we experienced a more than 3,000 ft (914 m) drop off by the time we reached Rt. 395 on our way from Yosemite). Our journey also took us through the magnificent stillness of the Death Valley National Park– an unforgettable experience in itself.
2. UNWINDING at THE TROPICAL ROOF TOP POOL IN OUR HOTEL.
Las Vegas is home to some of the most beautiful hotel pools in the United States (and quite possibly in the world). Many of these fabulous pool complexes are kid-friendly – complete with lazy rivers, slides and waterfalls and some even with sandy beaches (look for them at the Mandalay Bay, MGM Grand, and Excalibur resorts to name just a few).
3. ADMIRING ENGINEERING BRILLIANCE OF THE “DANCING” BELLAGIO FOUNTAINS which lit up the lake in front of Bellagio Hotel every half-hour between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m., and every 15 minutes between 8 pm and 12 am with a perfectly choreographed numbers set to the pop classics. (Free!)
4. TAKING GONDOLA RIDE AT THE VENETIAN HOTEL.
Gondola ride ($19.95 per person) in the Venetian was a lot of fun for our 5-year old daughter who has not got to experience the “real deal” in Venice yet. (My son and I have done this ride in “real” Venice, so we skipped the attraction to do some shopping at St. Marco Square –also housed at the Venetian Hotel.)
5. WATCHING CONTINUOUS CIRCUS ACTS AT THE CIRCUS CIRCUS HOTEL
My daughter did not want to leave the circus space at the Circus Circus Hotel where international jugglers and acrobats perform for about 15 minutes every half-hour, between 11 a.m. and midnight (Free!)
(There are only 60 seats which do fill up about 10 minutes to performance time; it is a 5-minute taxi drive from the “central” strip).
6. PLAYING IN THE HORTICULTURE GARDENS AT BELLAGIO.
This inside nature exhibit at the Bellagio offers an impressive selection of plants, flowers and trees- which -under a care of 100 stuff horticulturalists – is being updated 5 times a year to celebrate each season! (Free!)
7. WATCHING (and being slightly scared) by The VOLCANO SHOW (redesigned in 2008) right in front of The Mirage Hotel as it is igniting the Strip by a mix of fire, water and light effects choreographed to the sound recording of actual volcano eruption. (Beware that the fireballs shooting 12 feet into the air will probably scare your very young kids). (Free; every 30 minutes between 5pm until 11 p.m; schedule is subject to change and vary by season.)
8. LOOKING FOR THE FROG at THE WYNN’S “Lake of Dreams” light and music show offered after sun sets- enjoyed best when sipping a cold drink on the first flour terrace or second floor balcony of this lush property.
9. TRYING NEW FOODS AT THE BELLAGIO’S INTERNATIONAL BUFFET. Food quality and choices at the towns’ many Buffets is another Vegas’ feature that appeals to families visiting with kids. We have chosen Bellagio’s Buffet for best price to quality ratio after spending some time comparing reviews and prices of the best buffets (tip: arrive at the later time slot for lunch and stay for dinner selection.). The Buffet at Wynn is arguably the best in town, but pricy.
10. ADMIRING LUSCH AMBIANCE AND STRIKING ARCHITECTURE of the many beautiful hotels on the strip. The sculptures at CAESAR’S PALACE and the life sized replica of the Eifel Tower in PARIS (hotel) appeal to kids (and adults) of all ages. We found ourselves gravitating towards the traditional beauty of Wynn and Caesar’s Palace but appreciated the “art nouveau” elements of the Cosmopolitan where we stayed. (You could find some great hotel deals in Vegas: we paid $125 a night for a 5-star Cosmopolitan we booked through booking.com)
AND we can’t wait to bring our kids back to Vegas – for our family journey through the Grand Canyon, Bryce and other National Parks in neighboring Arizona and Utah.
Bonus Tip for thrill-rider families: Vegas is home to world renown thrill rides, including the roller coaster at New York New York Hotel.
IF YOU TAKE YOUR KIDS TO VEGAS, NOTE THAT:
1. You cannot play in the casino when your kids are with you (although you can pass through the casinos in the hotel lobbies); casinos (and cigarette smoking) are pretty much part of all the hotels on the strip, BUT there are some smoke and casino-free hotel options you could research (e.g.Vdara, Four Seasons or Mandarin Oriental).
2. In general, while there are many hot hotel deals happening for Vegas, restaurants (especially those in the hotels) are expensive (think $6 croissants in the hotel lobby).
3. It can get very very crowded on the strip- so that it becomes impossible to push a stroller through.
4. While everything seems walkable, just getting from point to point in one hotel may get your kids exhausted, let alone reaching a point of interest on the strip. Plan accordingly and use public transportation or taxi.
5. Vegas is called a SIN city for a reason: there are plenty of flashy outfits, “cover your kids’ eyes” billboards and conspicuous ADS on the taxis you may have to explain to your kids.
PIN THIS FOR LATER:
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