Living in Scottsdale means a Vegas getaway is only a five hour road trip or a short plane ride. If you’re reading this, you probably have kids…which might leave you wondering, is Vegas even an option with a family? The great news is, with a little careful planning, there’s plenty to do in Las Vegas with kids!
Las Vegas with Kids
Going to Las Vegas doesn’t mean you have to stay where all the action is. The JW Marriott is located near lots of shopping and restaurants. It has an awesome pool and even has koi ponds throughout the property.
- Tivoli Village shopping center is a short walk away and even has an outdoor musical area for kids to play.
- Red Rock Canyon is a short drive away from this area. They have a beautiful welcome building with microscopes and exhibits that even a toddler may be interested in. Although there are 26 different trails to explore, you also have the option to enjoy the scenery from your car during a 13 mile scenic drive. Check out their website to learn more about their kids (and adult) programs.
- Located downtown, Discovery Children’s Museum is the perfect place to cool off and spend some time exploring. The Summit provides a place for kids to climb three stories high. They also have a Discovery Lab, Eco City, Toddler Town, Water World, art and science rooms, and so much more. Bonus, the Las Vegas Premium Outlets are right next to the museum.
Las Vegas Strip with Kids
Whether it’s tagging along on a business trip that lands you in a hotel on the Las Vegas Strip, or you just prefer to be a part of the hustle and bustle of the city, there’s actually a lot to do with kids.
- The Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Garden changes their display on a seasonal basis. Check out the Chihuly glass ceiling on your way to the Garden. After taking in the sights, treat yourself to dessert near the World’s Largest Chocolate Fountain, which circulates over 2,100 pounds of chocolate around the clock! Plan your departure to watch the Bellagio Fountain show (free) in front of the hotel.
- It’s hard to miss the Eiffel Tower surrounding the Paris Las Vegas Hotel. Whether you’ve been to France or not, it’s pretty cool to see this structure up close. If you’re feeling adventurous, book a tour to ride to the top of the tower. Or if you’re feeling up to braving the nightlife scene, watch the Eiffel Tower light show (free).
- Stepping into the Flamingo Wildlife Habitat feels like you’ve entered a tropical paradise. There are plenty of insta-worthy moments here. The lush landscaping even includes a waterfall. Some of the animals you’ll see include flamingos, turtles, koi fish, and exotic birds. Check out their feeding schedule and prepare to learn so much about the animals being fed. Bonus, this is a smoke-free area.
- Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat is a hidden gem. Check online before your visit for special children’s programs and even “kids go free” days. Inside, there are three different dolphin pools, including underwater viewing areas. While you will probably have a chance to see dolphins jumping out of the water or swimming up near where the people are watching, this isn’t a Sea World show. The focus here is education and the trainers do an excellent job of explaining dolphin behavior and why the trainers have the animals do certain movements. We happened to be there on “blood draw day” – my daughter is still talking about the day the dolphin’s had their test. Just beyond the dolphin pools is the Secret Garden with big cats, including a lion, panther, leopards, and tigers. When you leave The Mirage, be sure to check out the lagoon on the way to the lobby. The plants are incredible. Behind the registration desk is a 20,000 gallon aquarium with dozens (hundreds?) of busy fish.
- While a gondola ride at the Venetian may seem like something you’d rather save for a date night, think about how much fun your child would have floating through the inside of a hotel on a boat with a singing guide!
- The architecture at The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace is worth the visit. My daughter loved the “face chairs” and the curved escalators. As you wind your way through the shops, you’ll eventually come across a free animatronic Atlantis show. If the special effects are too dark, loud, or scary for your kids, there’s a 50,000 gallon tank (free) on the other side.
- Who doesn’t like M&M’s? If your kids need a mid-day pick-me-up, M&M’s World is the place to stop. This location has four stories filled with treats and souvenirs. You can even personalize an M&M! My daughter loved making a bag of her own favorite color mix. (Spoiler alert: a five year old’s favorite color is “all.”) If you’re ready for a sitting break, the top floor has a short M&M show (free). If you’re planning to buy anything, check their website, they probably have a coupon you can use right away.
- If you’re ready for a little caffeine, stop next door at the Coca Cola Store. This three story store is filled with branded merchandise and souvenirs. The top floor has a beverage counter – if you’re feeling brave try the “Tastes of the World tray.”
- If you have a shark-lover in your family, they’ll probably want to check out Mandalay Bay’s Shark Reef Aquarium. Their website has details on booking a sea turtle or shark feeding. They’ve also recently added a Polar Journey exhibit which you can add on with a combo ticket purchase.
Where to stay?
On our most recent trip to Vegas, we stayed at the New York New York Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip. So far, it’s my favorite place to stay downtown with a young kid. The hotel wasn’t as smokey (at least during the day) as some of them. It also featured an arcade that my daughter would have gladly spent hours playing in. The main level of the hotel has an area set up like a New York street, so there’s tons of quick and easy, kid-friendly food (hot dogs, pizza by the slice, sandwiches, and tons of dessert). Hershey’s Chocolate World is located in this hotel, too. Whether you’re in the market for a giant Reese’s piggy bank or your kids want to make their own mix of Hershey Kisses, this is the place for any chocolate lover. This is also a great spot to score a free sample of chocolate on your way inside.
Is it worth the trip?
Being alone with a five year old on the Las Vegas Strip definitely made us stand out from the usual partying crowd, but I don’t regret the trip at all. I did plan to be back to our hotel by about 4pm each evening. That gave us time to swim, eat at our hotel, have fun at the arcade, and watch a little TV before bed – it also reduced my daughter’s exposure to the smokier time and more provocative side of Vegas. Overall, we had a blast exploring the family-friendly areas in Las Vegas and look forward to going back again soon.