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My Favorite Vegas Restaurants

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Steak n shake. Las Vegas

I love food, but hate to cook, which means our family ends up eating at restaurants quite often. It’s no secret that Las Vegas has a plethora of fabulous restaurants, from casual and family-friendly to ultra-swanky. Our culinary excursions tend to be the more down-to-earth variety since we’re almost always dining out with our five-year-old daughter. But don’t let the term “family-friendly” fool you…there are plenty of great restaurants that welcome children, yet offer up excellent, imaginative food. Here are our four favorites in four different categories:

Pizza
When we’re in the mood for pizza, there’s no question where we’re heading: Dom Demarco’s. When President Obama visited Las Vegas last winter, he ordered carry-out from this pizza-and-pasta establishment. Having eaten plenty of pizza in my day, I can tell you that he made an excellent choice. Demarco’s offers both New York style pizza and deep dish pies. Our absolute favorite is the deep dish pepperoni pizza: thick, crisp crust is covered in sauce, cheese, fresh basil, and pepperoni. The deep dish pizzas are baked well-done, which makes them a hit with our family. I love how the pepperoni is nice and crispy. I’m also a big fan of the 15th Street BLT salad, which consists of butter leaf lettuce, cherry tomatoes, bacon, and avocado in a gorgonzola dressing.

Thai
Our family loves Thai food. Yes, even our daughter. She gobbles up pad prik king the way most kids dive into a cheeseburger or chicken nuggets. When we’re in the mood for Thai food, our go-to is Archi’s. I almost always order the panang curry with tofu. In order to keep your street cred, I suggest you order your food at a spice level of at least 5 or 6 (on a scale of 1-10). Just be prepared with a tall glass of ice water!

Brunch
For Father’s Day, my daughter and I took my husband out to brunch at Mon Ami Gabi, located at the Paris Hotel and Casino. I love that this restaurant has a slightly more formal atmosphere…it’s a place where we can go in our Sunday best, which is fun. Guests who choose to sit outside on the patio will enjoy a great view of the Strip. My favorite dish at the Mon Ami Gabi brunch is the strawberry waffles. The waffles are nice and crisp, the strawberries are fresh, and the whipped cream is to die for. After brunch, you can take the elevator ride up to the top of the Eiffel Tower and enjoy fantastic views of the entire Strip, including the Bellagio fountains across the street.

Burgers
I know there are going to be some folks who vehemently disagree with me on this pick. Keep in my mind that my husband and I spent most of our lives in the Midwest, so our favorite burger spot is a bit of a sentimental choice. We love Steak ‘n Shake, located at South Point. Yes, this is a chain. Yes, the burgers are thin. But we love the crisp edges of the burgers, the shoestring fries, the delicious milkshakes, and the reminder that there is a little bit of home here in Las Vegas.

The best part about these restaurants? Not only do they serve delicious food, they make families feel welcome. These restaurants strike that perfect balance between the preferences of the kids and those of the parents.

What do you think? What are your favorite Vegas restaurants?

Pueblo Park: Kid-Friendly Fun in Las Vegas

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Kid-friendly activities abound in Las Vegas, but what is particularly surprising is the number of lovely parks and playgrounds. One of my favorites is Pueblo Park in Summerlin, which we visited for the first time last weekend. I left wondering why I hadn’t explored this suburban oasis sooner.

Pueblo Park features large areas covered in lush green grass, somewhat of an anomaly in the Las Vegas area. It has a playground, complete with swings. (Remember when all parks had swings? Those were the days.) Visitors will also find a nice walking/biking trail that is perfect for observing the surrounding desert landscape, getting a little exercise, or just taking an after-dinner stroll.

Pueblo Park is a linear park, which runs west from Lake Mead Blvd., past Park Vista Dr., to Rampart. If you’re using a GPS, you can plug in the address 7663 Lake Mead Blvd.

For other kid-friendly Las Vegas activities, check out:

Animal Adventures on the Strip
Kid-Friendly Las Vegas Activities

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Today: School’s Out for Summer Celebration

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I usually don’t write about upcoming events, but I couldn’t help but share this one. Today, Monday, June 11 from noon to midnight, head down to Fremont Street for all kinds of fun family activities…and help your local Vegas PBS station in the process. It’s all part of the School’s Out for Summer Celebration.

Experience the Flightlinez zipline attraction and the Fremont Street Experience, while meeting special guests including Curious George, BMX pro Ricardo Laguna and DJ BABYCHINO, the World’s Youngest DJ. Flightlinez and the Fremont Street Experience will donate the net proceeds from zipline rides on Monday, June 11 from noon until midnight to Vegas PBS.

Stop by at noon to see Curious George kick off the festivities and stick around for the fun. Zipline rides are $15 before 6 p.m. and $20 from 6 p.m. until midnight.

Head to 425 Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas to join the celebration. For more information about Flightlinez, call 702-410-7999.

Animal Adventures on the Strip

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Believe it or not, Las Vegas is a wonderful place for nature-lovers. With its close proximity to state and national parks, there are enough outdoor adventures to keep any traveller happy. However, what you might not expect is that there are chances to learn about and experience nature right there on one of the busiest streets in America.

Check out these two animal adventures on the famous Las Vegas strip.

1. Shark Reef Aquarium: Mandalay Bay’s predator-based aquarium features all kinds of interesting creatures like sharks, piranhas, jellyfish, and stingrays. It’s perfectly-portioned: not too daunting for those travelling with young kids, but in-depth enough that you feel like you’ve gotten your money’s worth. For more on the Shark Reef, read about our first visit with our daughter.

2. Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat: Head over to the Mirage for an up-close look at lions, tigers, and dolphins. Watch as trainers feed and work with dolphins in one of the large pools or head down the ramp to see an underwater view of these swimming mammals. Next, walk into the secret garden to see white lions and tigers in a tree-lined, shaded habitat. Don’t forget to the find the “wishing tree” before you leave!

Travel tip: Those visiting the Secret Garden should be aware that this is an outdoor attraction. Although the lion and tiger habitat provides some shade, the dolphin area is in the blazing sun. Dress accordingly and bring sunscreen.

Animal Adventures on the Strip: Secret Garden

Clark County Fair in Logandale, Nevada

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Spending a little over two years in Texas must have left an impression on me. Even though I grew up in the suburbs of a fairly large city, I’ve grown to love county fairs, rodeos, and anything else that involves funnel cake and livestock.

Clark County Fair, Logandale, NV

Our afternoon at the Clark County Fair made me feel like I was back in Texas again. A big western sky, dust and dirt, fascinating animals, and all kinds of less-than-healthy snacks made this an enjoyable way to spend a Sunday.

Our five-year-old daughter was the perfect age for most of the rides, and she particularly liked a little roller coaster that she got to ride on her own without Mom and Dad.

Clark County Fair, Nevada

As for the livestock, we got to see all kinds of interesting animals. We saw an enormous peacock with a huge, beautiful plume of feathers. We also saw some piglets…and their mom who was absolutely enormous. We saw a calf with its mother as well, and several roosters, one of whom cock-a-doodle-doo’ed right at us.

Clark County Fair, Nevada.

We ended our day with some funnel cake and homemade root beer from one of the food stands. On our way out, we let our daughter play one more carinval game, and she won a little stuffed animal that quickly became a sentimental favorite of hers.

Don’t miss out on the fun! Give the fair a try when it comes around again next year.

Clark County Fair. Nevada.

Kid-Friendly Vegas: Are Mermaids Real?

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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

Photo Friday: Climbing at Valley of Fire

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What could be better than climbing rocks at Valley of Fire? How about climbing rocks with your cousins

Valley of Fire

To check out photos from other bloggers, stop by the family travel blog Delicious Baby for Photo Friday.

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