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Kid-Friendly Activities in Las Vegas, PART 2

kid-friendly Las Vegas

One of the most-visited posts on this blog is my list of kid-friendly activities in Las Vegas. I’ve lived in Las Vegas long enough to have some new activities to add, so here it is: Kid-Friendly Vegas Activities, Part 2. Everybody loves a good sequel, right?

Henderson Bird Preserve: I’ll admit it. This place wasn’t really for us. But if you visit when the weather is nice, or if you are an avid bird-watcher, this might be an adventure you and your family will enjoy.

Natural History Museum: It isn’t exactly the Smithsonian, but that’s ok! This museum features several automated, gigantic dinosaurs, an exhibit on ancient Egypt, and much more. My daughter loved our visit.

Neon Museum: This one is best for older kids, since you can only visit the museum as part of a guided tour. The Neon Museum features many of the historic neon signs that once decorated the streets of Las Vegas. You might want to consider booking your tickets ahead of time for this attraction.

National Atomic Testing Museum: Like the Neon Museum, this activity is best-suited for older kids and teens. The museum focuses on the atomic testing that occurred in Nevada. For an extra fee, you can visit the Area 51 exhibit while you’re there.

Flamingo Habitat: Walk through this outdoor garden to see flamingos and other birds. It’s free and is located right on the Strip on the grounds of the Flamingo Hotel and Casino.

So, get out there and continue exploring beautiful Las Vegas! But before you go, check out my first list of kid-friendly Vegas activities. Or, if you’re in the mood to venture further afield, you can read my Vegas day trip ideas. Happy trails!

Budget-Friendly Ideas for a Weekend Getaway

Budget-friendly ideas for a weekend getaway

Planning a weekend getaway with the family this summer? Keep costs down by choosing budget-friendly activities like these:

1. Parks: national, state, and local parks are all great budget-friendly options for families. No matter where you travel, there is likely to be a park or two nearby. Remember that members of the U.S. military are eligible to receive a free National Parks annual pass. We’ve used ours several times in the last year and are ready to renew it for another twelve months of adventures.

2. Ghost towns: not only are they fun to visit, ghost towns are also a great way to get kids interested in history. Each ghost town has a story, and learning about their rise and fall can help kids learn about about local lore. Also, ghost towns are perfect for photographers, both young and old. (Check out photos from our trip to the ghost town of Rhyolite.)

3. Small museums: large, comprehensive museums are a fantastic educational resource for families. However, smaller museums shouldn’t be overlooked and are often reasonably priced compared to their larger counterparts. Two small museums in Nevada that we enjoy are the Lost City Museum in Overton and the Clark County Museum in Henderson.

4. Scenic drives: besides paying for gas and snacks, a scenic drive can be an inexpensive way to explore. Check out this scenic byways guide from the U.S. Dept. of Transportation to find scenic drives in your neck of the woods.

5. Military and local discounts: Even if special military rates aren’t posted, it is always a good idea to ask about military discounts before buying tickets or booking a hotel room. We’ve found that military rates aren’t always advertised. Also, many attractions offer discounts for locals, especially in tourist destinations like Las Vegas.

Please have a safe weekend wherever your travels take you.

Photo Friday: pretty yellow flowers at the Henderson Bird Preserve

Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve. Henderson, Nevada

I’m sure that there are people out there who absolutely love the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve. They probably wake up early, arriving at the park before the desert heat sets in. Armed with their field guides and binoculars, they are able to see and identify a vast array of feathered wonders.

However, we did not have such a successful trip to the preserve.

We went in the heat of the afternoon, despite the fact that the preserve opens quite early. That was our first mistake. We hadn’t walked far before our daughter started complaining about being hot and tired. And to be quite honest, we don’t know much about birds. But hey, we wanted to give it a try and explore someplace new. It might not have been our most exciting outing in Las Vegas, but I’m glad we went even for a short time.

My favorite part of the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve was the collection of beautiful trees draped in yellow flowers that met us at the entrance.

To see photos from other travelers, stop by the family travel blog Delicious Baby and check out Photo Friday.

Exploring the Historic Railroad Trail at Lake Mead

Historic Railroad Trail, Lake Mead

Thanks to a recommendation from Oh Mah Deehness!, I decided a recent spring Saturday would be the perfect time to try a hike at Lake Mead’s railroad trail.

I’ve heard there are several cool tunnels along the trail. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to even the first tunnel.

But that’s life with a strong-willed kid whose attention span is a mile long.

Even though we didn’t come close to completing the trail, there were plenty of things for us to see along the way.

Historic Railroad Trail, Lake Mead

Spring is a perfect time for this hike, not only because the weather is great, but also because the wildflowers are in bloom. We also enjoyed some great views of Lake Mead and got to see an interesting bit of history. Along the way, we saw a sign pointing out several concrete plugs that rested next to the trail that had once been used in the construction of Hoover Dam. That’s certainly not something you see every day!

Historic Railroad Trail, Lake Mead

So, you may be wondering why we didn’t make it to any tunnels despite the fact that we were having a great time. Well, five-year-old E. wanted to stop and examine everything. Every wildflower, every view of the lake, every interesting rock. She also wanted to record her findings in her journal. She made plenty of nice sketches of her surroundings: the flowers, the boats docked in the lake, the mountains. I was happy to let her take her time…although eventually we had to call it a day and start heading home.

Historic Railroad Trail, Lake Mead

historic railroad trail, lake mead

Be sure to read up on this hike and Lake Mead in general prior to your trip. Have fun!

Our staycation at the Westin Lake Las Vegas

Westin Lake Las Vegas

The view from our room at the Westin Lake Las Vegas

To be honest, the Westin Lake Las Vegas wasn’t really on my radar until recently. Sure, I’m a certified hotel nerd who can tell you about almost every hotel in Vegas. (Wondering how much a room at the Red Rock is going for on a given night? There’s a good chance I’ve recently checked the rates and can tell you!) However, Lake Las Vegas wasn’t an area that we’d visited since moving to town in November. Besides…when it comes to Vegas hotels, the big, flashy casino/resort accomodations on the Strip often get the most attention.

Luckily, I had the opportunity to become more familiar with this hotel and the Lake Las Vegas area in general. When an invite to a media event turned into a complimentary one-night stay at the Westin, I eagerly scheduled our quick Vegas staycation and prepared myself for drinks by the pool, s’mores by the lake, and a glimpse of that strange juxtaposition of lake and desert.

Don’t expect over-the-top glitz like you’d find on the Strip. Lake Las Vegas may be a thirty-minute drive from Las Vegas Blvd, but it feels like it’s worlds away. The hotel, and the surrounding community, seem very serene. And when you’re travelling with kids to Sin City, serene can be a good thing.

Here’s the breakdown of our stay at the Westin Lake Las Vegas:

First Impressions:

I love the way the resort looks as you drive onto the property. Tall palm trees, the dark beige building against bright blue sky…it’s lovely. Once inside, we noticed the Moroccan theme, which follows guests through their entire experience.

Westin Lake Las Vegas

Beautiful and serene

And while we’re talking about first impressions, have you noticed that Westin hotels smell absolutely outstanding? How do they do it? We’ve stayed at Westin hotels several times, and that smell always reminds me of past trips and pleasant memories. (I can’t be the only person who has noticed that heavenly aroma!)

The Room:

We stayed in an alcove suite, which consisted of a sitting room with a convertable sofa and (you guessed it!) an alcove area that housed the bed and two night stands. The extra space in the alcove suite is great for families, although I wish there was more separation between the bedroom and the sitting area.

Westin Lake Las Vegas

The alcove suite

The room also had a balcony, although it was very narrow. It provided just enough room for one person to stand. This actually makes sense since this is Las Vegas; sitting on a balcony in the sweltering heat when you could be poolside would be utter madness.

balcony. Westin Lake Las Vegas

*verytinybalcony*

Overall, we were happy with the room: clean, spacious, and comfortable.

The Pools:

The Westin Lake Las Vegas offers guests two large pools and a water slide, not to mention lake activities like kayaking. The pools were clean and appeared to be well-maintained. My five-year-old daughter enjoyed the water slide, although it certainly wasn’t the fastest we’d ever been on. A man-made beach by the lake offered the perfect place for roasting marshmallows after dark, and an evening movie by the pool was a nice way to end our day.

Westin Lake Las Vegas

Fun on Lake Las Vegas

The Westin Lake Las Vegas is a good kid-friendly option for those visiting from out-of-town and for Las Vegans looking to get away for a short staycation. With its location right on the lake, this hotel offers guests more than just a comfortable bed. This is a great hotel choice for those who want a relaxing Vegas experience.

Note: I received a complimentary one night stay, but we paid for our own food and activities. All opinions are my own. I was not asked by the Westin Lake Las Vegas to write this post.

Photo Essay: Cactus Garden

The Ethel M® Botanical Cactus Garden is the largest garden of its kind in Nevada and features over 300 different plant species. Take a look at what we saw during our visit:

Ethel M cactus garden. Las Vegas

Ethel M cactus garden. Las Vegas

Saguaro "skeletons"

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lizard. cactus garden.

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I tried something different this time and used Aviary to edit my photos. What do you think? I found Aviary to be very easy to use, and I look forward to experimenting with it more in the future.

The Ethel M® Botanical Cactus Garden is located at:

2 Cactus Garden Drive
Henderson, NV 89014
(702) 435-2655

Kid-Friendly Vegas: Are Mermaids Real?

Another weekend, another awesome kid-friendly experience in Las Vegas! When I told my daughter we were going to an aquarium to see a mermaid, she said, “I thought mermaids were pretend. Are they real?” I told her she’d just have to see for herself.

Mermaid at Silverton Casino's aquarium, Las Vegas

This is one of those rare Las Vegas activities: not only is it kid-friendly, but it is also FREE and requires almost no planning. We arrived at the Silverton Casino on a Saturday afternoon and didn’t have any trouble finding a prime spot for mermaid-watching right up front by the glass.

I thought the mermaid was pretty convincing. Older children might not be fooled, but we saw lots of smiles from the younger kids. The mermaid did lots of waving, blowing kisses, and high-fives through the glass. She really seemed to go out of her way to make each child feel special.

Mermaid, Silverton Casino. Las Vegas

For more information about the “real” mermaids, take a look at the Silverton Casino website. You’ll find the aquarium hours as well as a short bio about each mermaid. I found it interesting that many of them have a background in synchronized swimming.

For more Vegas fun, check out my list of family-friendly activities in Southern Nevada.

Mermaid, Silverton Casino. Las Vegas

Mermaid, Silverton Casino. Las Vegas

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