If you’re thinking of traveling to Las Vegas with kids (or you live here already and need a little inspiration), then this list is for you! There are so many family-friendly activities in Southern Nevada that it’s hard to know where to start. I know this list isn’t comprehensive, so if you have any ideas you’d like to add, please leave a comment.
Let’s get going!
On the Strip:
1. The Shark Reef Aquarium, Mandalay Bay: Possibly the coolest aquarium you’ve ever visited. The enormous shark tank allows visitors an up-close look at a variety of sharks and other predators.
2. Eiffel Tower, Paris: Travel 460 feet into the air and enjoy one of the best views in Las Vegas.
3. Secret Garden, Mirage: Watch dolphins swim, flip, and dive. Stand face-to-face with white lions with only a wire fence between the two of you. This is a great stop for animal-lovers of all ages. Check out the fantastic photos of the attraction at Vegas Solo.
4. Blue Man Group, Venetian: A kid-friendly show that is a mix between performance art and rock concert. Take a look at the fantastic travel blog More Kids Than Suitcases for a review of the show.
5. Roller coaster, NY-NY: At $14 per person, this is one expensive roller coaster. However, you will have the opportunity to see the Strip zoom by at over 60 mph. Did you know you can get married on the coaster? Pretty crazy!
6. Bellagio Fountains: This is one of the more unusual attractions on the Strip. Why? Because it’s free! Watch the fountains dance to music in an intricately-choreographed performance.
7. Bellagio Conservatory: After you check out the fountains, go inside the Bellagio for another free attraction. The conservatory features a wide variety of flowers and plants that have been morphed into beautiful arrangements. The display changes based on the season, so be sure to go back for a return visit.
8. The Buffet, The Wynn: One of the best buffets on the Strip (and one of the more expensive). Kids will love the elaborate dessert section.
Off the Strip:
9. Red Rock Canyon: Take the scenic loop through the park, and stop for pictures along the way. If the weather is good, you can do some hiking too or bring a picnic lunch.
10. Spring Mountain Ranch State Park: A hidden gem on the western side of Las Vegas. Located right next door to Red Rock Canyon, this state park offers visitors the chance to learn about both history and nature. The Overlook Trail is a great hike for young kids.
11. Calico Basin: Unlike many of the state and national parks in the area, there is no admission fee to enjoy Calico Basin. Take a stroll along the boardwalk trail or have a snack at one of the picnic pavillions.
12. Red Rock Lanes, Red Rock Hotel and Casino: Want to escape the heat? Find some indoor fun at Red Rock Lanes. Consider cosmic bowling if you already miss the bright lights of the Strip.
13. Springs Preserve: Offering nature exhibits, trails, animals, and botanical gardens, Springs Preserve is an educational experience for visitors young and old. Take a look at their events and programs calendar to find a special activity for your family.
14. Lied Discovery Children’s Museum: This interactive museum in downtown Las Vegas offers exhibits on a variety of topics including arts, science, and culture. Stop by before May 13, 2012 to check out the special exhibit, Curious George: Let’s Get Curious!
15. Steak ‘n Shake, South Point: This is the ultimate in kid-friendly fare. Reasonably-priced, casual, and a nice reminder of home for those of you visiting from the Midwest, Steak ‘n Shake is a great option for families dining on a budget in Las Vegas.
16. Hash House a Go Go: What could be more fun than “twisted farm food?” With menu items like bacon waffles, BBBLT (yes, all of those B’s stand for “bacon”), and good old fashioned pancakes, this restaurant is sure to be a hit with foodies of all ages.
17. Bonnie Springs: Located near Red Rock and Spring Mountain Ranch, this is a reasonably-priced, family-friendly outing. Stop by Sugar Bowl Mix for her thoughts on Bonnie Springs and four other kid-friendly Vegas activities.
18. Arbors Tennis & Play Park: Looking for a nice playground in Las Vegas? Drive out to Summerlin and check out Arbors Park. It offers a little something for everyone, including a crane for digging in the sand, giant slides, a tricycle path, a jogging trail, and a large, open, grass field for playing soccer.
Day Trips from Las Vegas:
Valley of Fire State Park
Death Valley National Park
See? There’s lots to explore. Happy trails!
Note: I realize this is an incomplete list…feel free to add other ideas in the comments section! I was not compensated in any way for writing this post.
UPDATE: Looking for more to do in Las Vegas? Check out Part 2!