When you think of family travel, Las Vegas probably doesn't spring to mind. But parents may be surprised to learn that the city offers plenty of kid-focused attractions to keep little ones entertained. "Sin City" is actually lot more family-friendly than you might think!
So whether you're headed there for a convention and need ideas for keeping your kids busy, or you're simply looking for a new travel destination for your next family trip, here are nine fun things to do in Las Vegas with kids.
Plan to spend at least a few hours at the Discovery Children’s Museum, located just north of The Strip. Nine themed halls offer dozens of hands-on exhibits such as Water World, where kids can interact with a model of the Hoover Dam, Lake Mead and the Bypass Bridge. (Free waterproof smocks and hand dryers help ensure your kids don’t leave drenched.) At Fantasy Festival, a life-size ship, castle and stage inspire creative play, while Toddler Town offers a safe place for kids under five to explore—there’s even a Crawl Zone for babies. Built in 2013, the museum is modern, clean and well-kept, and a large space for traveling exhibits keeps it fresh every visit for frequent travellers.
If the weather cooperates (it rarely rains in Vegas, but in July, the average daytime temperature is 41°C!), take a stroll at the LINQ outdoor shopping district, also called the LINQ Promenade. Choose from more than a dozen places to have a meal—there are fancy options, but you can't go wrong with a cheeseburger from In-N-Out Burger or a high-end hot dog at Haute Doggery—then grab a treat from the extensive assortment of cupcakes at Sprinkles. Window shop (or be ready to spend some bucks) at the specialty shops, then make your way to the entrance of the High Roller (see below).
The tallest observation wheel on the planet might not immediately sound like an ideal spot for little kids, but the High Roller is the perfect place to find a half-hour of peace in the midst of a busy day. Enter into one of 28 fully enclosed, air-conditioned cabins and enjoy 360-degree views of the Las Vegas Valley and The Strip. At the height of the wheel’s rotation, you’ll be (way) higher than all the surrounding hotels. It goes without saying that anyone with a fear of heights will want to skip this attraction. But rest assured it’s perfectly safe for kids of all ages, even crawlers.
Fremont St. in historic downtown Las Vegas dates back to 1905, when the city was first founded. But today, it’s been transformed into an outdoor pedestrian mall with lots to see and do. Kids will get a kick out of performers in unusual costumes, similar to what you might see at Times Square in New York City—just know that they’ll expect a tip if you request a picture. (Also be warned that while some of the costumes will delight your kids—superheroes, Transformers and the like—you may also spot women in some pretty risqué get-ups.) Grab a bite at one of the area’s casual dining restaurants, stop at one of the many street kiosks for a kitchy souvenir, and don't be alarmed if you hear some random screaming now and then—it's probably just someone zip-lining directly over your head. But the real reason tourists flock to Fremont St. is for the "Viva Vision" light show. Suspended 90 feet above the street is the world’s largest video screen. Hang around long enough and you'll catch one of the free hourly light and music shows, which runs for six minutes.
If your kids are into sharks, fish, rays and reptiles, then a visit to Shark Reef is in order. The attraction isn’t huge, but there’s enough to keep kids’ interest for an hour, including an awesome shark tunnel—an underwater tunnel that passes through the aquarium, letting kids experience sharks (and many other aquatic species) swimming over their heads. The jelly fish tank is a can't-miss, as is the jungle exhibit, which houses a Komodo dragon, a crocodile and a python.
There are so many accommodation options in Las Vegas that it can be near-impossible to choose. But kids usually care most about an awesome pool, so if that's your focus, then it’s all about Mandalay Bay, thanks to the hotel’s highly rated Mandalay Bay Beach (which is only available to guests staying at the hotel). It’s not a real beach—Vegas is in the desert, after all—but the hotel’s pool does feature 2,700 tons of real sand, and the area also boasts a massive wave pool and a lazy river. If you're willing to splurge, rent a cabana for the day to enjoy a shady spot and guaranteed loungers, not to mention a fridge stocked with drinks. Tip: If you bring your own inflatable inner tube for the lazy river, you won’t have to pay to buy one there (they don't rent them), and they’ll inflate it for you for free.
This older hotel on The Strip isn’t known for its luxurious guest rooms, but it does offer some fun, kid-friendly attractions to visit during the day.
Nestled under a massive pink-tinted glass dome, Adventuredome is a five-acre indoor amusement park that offers a mix of older and newer rides—everything from the huge El Loco roller coaster to the gentle, preschool-friendly Frog Hopper. The Canyon Cars bumper-car ride gives families a chance to playfully bash each other around (over and over and over again, since long lineups are rare at Adventuredome), and the traditional carousel is another family favourite.
On your way there, take a walk through Circus Circus hotel’s Carnival Midway. International circus artists perform every half hour starting around lunch time, and there’s no cost to watch. After witnessing some death-defying acts, win your kid a prize at the Midway, where you’ll find more than 200 new and classic games.
This off-strip open-air shopping centre boasts a super-cool playground where kids play free. They'll love the tree house, multiple twisty slides and large foam blocks—like giant Lego—for building and climbing. A park attendant supervises play, but at least one parent should stick around while the other shops.
Over the summer months, Vegas is extremely hot, making “Let’s go to the playground!” a totally not-doable idea if you have small children. (It's dry heat, but it can still be dangerously oppressive.) So if you’re looking for a small, non-touristy, relatively inexpensive place to let your baby or toddler hang out while you just chill, go where the locals go: an indoor playground. There are plenty in Vegas (search Google for "indoor playground Las Vegas"), but Kinderland Indoor Play & Café is one great one, geared to kids under six years old. Located in a strip mall in the Summerlin area of Las Vegas, about 25 minutes from The Strip, Kinderland serves coffee and snacks and offers free Wi-Fi. Socks are required.
Some of the writer’s costs were covered by Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.