Explore my city with guest blogger Haley from Where are we Going Today?
Families live in Las Vegas?! That’s the question I get asked most often when I tell people we are from Las Vegas. Yes! Las Vegas is a great place for families and we welcomed both our daughter and our son into our family while living in Las Vegas. The community is very family-friendly and the activities for kids are abundant. Today I’m here to give you all the details on the best places for kids when visiting the world’s adult playground.
Visiting the Las Vegas Strip with Kids
Whenever we had visitors in Las Vegas, they always asked me about my feelings on taking our kids to “the strip”. We followed some strategic guidelines when visiting but mainly adhered to the “anything before 9pm” guideline. Most of our visits were during the day, but an occasional dinner in the evening kept us out during the night. Here are our tips:
1. Enter through a parking garage
When you enter through a garage, you can often miss the chaos of the strip and even the casino! Unfortunately, casinos in Las Vegas are quite smoky, so we tried to avoid them if we could with the kids. When visiting a restaurant or an attraction in a casino, the parking garage will often offer you direct access to the place without walking through the casino.
2. Plan your route strategically
If driving, know which turns you can make and where. We followed the rule of stay right, turn right. It’s much easier to turn right into a parking garage that it is to turn left across traffic. If you must go one exit further down the highway, do it so that you can turn right! The strip can be fun to drive down to see all of the lights and activity, but traffic can be a nightmare! It’s best to avoid driving directly down the strip if possible, especially during the evening.
If you are walking, especially with a stroller, again, know your route. Plan where you’re going and what you want to see! There are many pedestrian cross-bridges in Las Vegas, and not all of them have easy accessibility. Strollers can also be hard to navigate in the crowds. Enter through back doors if possible and avoid walking directly down the strip, especially in the evening.
3. Visit the hot spots during the day
Our children’s favorite activities on the strip include the Bellagio Fountains and Gardens (don’t miss the giant chocolate fountain nearby!), the M&M World Store, the Mandalay Bay Aquarium, the Linq Promenade and the High Roller, and the top of the Stratosphere. Each of these places is enjoyable during the day (and many of these are free things to do in Las Vegas!).
We always visit during the late morning and early afternoon. If you want to see a show, the Cirque shows are mostly good for older kids and another fun one for kids is the Excalibur Show.
4. Make reservations at restaurants
Who wants to wait at a busy restaurant anytime, especially with kids in tow! Make reservations if possible to avoid the frustration of waiting. We didn’t take our kids to the restaurants on the strip often, but a few we enjoyed were Mon Ami Gabi, Sprinkles Cupcakes, Grimaldi’s Pizza, Hash House A Go Go, and Sugar Factory American Brasserie.
Planning a kid-free trip instead? Check out these Romantic ideas for exploring Las Vegas
5. Book a Hotel with a fabulous pool
Let’s be honest, Vegas is HOT! Especially if you’re visiting anytime from April – October, the temperatures can soar well past 100 degrees F during the day. No one wants to be out walking around the strip during this time, so definitely book a hotel with a fantastic pool. Our favorites on the strip are Mandalay Bay, Bellagio and the Elara. The key to the Elara is you can book suites for extra space with the kids, and there is no casino to walk through!
Hidden Gems of Las Vegas
Now that I’ve given you some details of staying on the strip with kids, let’s talk about the things we REALLY enjoyed about living in Las Vegas. When you live in Las Vegas, you make use of the strip when you want to. Need a fancy night away? No problem. Want a delicious 5-star dinner? Check. Want to see your favorite artist in concert? Got it! All fabulous perks of living in Las Vegas. But, how often do we really take our kids to the strip? I’d say on average we visited the strip with the kids once every two months or so.
So, what makes Las Vegas so family friendly? EVERYTHING ELSE! Here are our favorite activities to do and places to stay in and around Las Vegas that you WON’T find on the strip:
1. Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Located just 20 minutes from downtown Las Vegas, this gorgeous wildlife area is hard to miss! Just look to the West and you will spot these gorgeous red rocks on the horizon. From driving the scenic 13-mile drive to hiking, rock-climbing, canyoneering, and more, this was one of our favorite places to spend the weekend in Vegas. The visitor’s center has a fabulous display with information on the park, and the hikes range from beginner to advanced all throughout the park.
Our favorite hikes with the kids were the Children’s Discovery Trail and Calico Tanks. Located just outside the paid entrance fee to the park, Calico Basin is another fabulous spot with the kids. This area at the base of the red rocks is free to enter and there is a wooden (stroller-friendly) path around the basin. Also, Spring Mountain Ranch is just beyond the entrance to Red Rock Canyon, and another great place to visit with the kids!
Just a reminder that the summer sun in Vegas is brutal and many of these places are unbearable in the heat of the day. Pack plenty of water and sunscreen and avoid the hottest parts of the day!
2. Valley of Fire State Park
Another great trip out of the city to visit the beautiful desert landscape. Valley of Fire is located about 50 miles northeast of downtown Las Vegas. Another gorgeous park, the hikes are fantastic and the views are incredible. Again, not for a middle of the summer day though.
The visitor’s center is a great place to start to find out which hikes are open and available and to learn a little about the area. Our favorite hikes were Atlatl Rock and Mouse’s Tank to see petroglyphs or White Domes Trail. There’s also a natural arch and many unique rock formations to see.
3. Lake Mead National Recreation Area and Hoover Dam
Beautiful Lake Mead is a dream for outdoor enthusiasts. The lake was created when the Hoover Dam was built along the Colorado River. This reservoir is perfect for hiking, camping and boating. There are many coves and canyons to explore by boat and the shores make the perfect play area for kids. There are a few small beach areas near the Hoover Dam to enjoy.
Our favorite hike is the Historic Railroad Hiking Trail. This lakeside hiking trail weavers through 5 historic railroad tunnels toward the Hoover Dam. There are also several “lost cities” that were completely flooded when the Hoover Dam was built. Now that the water levels are lower, many of the cities are now visible again and you can even hike to several. We enjoyed visiting St. Thomas – one of the lost cities accessible via hike.
The Hoover Dam is also really worth a visit. The visitor’s center and the tour are fantastic. Don’t miss the view of the Hoover Dam from the Mike O-Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge. There’s a small parking lot on the way to the Dam where you can park and walk up to the bridge to get a fantastic view.
4. Discovery Children’s Museum
The Discovery Children’s Museum is located not too far from the strip near the Smith Center (another great venue for the arts). Our kids LOVE this children’s museum – especially the water room. There is plenty to discover over the 3 floors of exhibits. This is the perfect activity for a hot day in Las Vegas!
5. Playgrounds, Splash Pads, Pools and More!!
Yes, Las Vegas is known for the heat! It is brutal in the summer, but there are always lots of opportunities for cooling down around the city. The playgrounds in Las Vegas are numerous and well-maintained. Many have shades to help with the sun, or splash pads to keep the kids cool! Our favorite parks included Paseos Park in Summerlin and Lone Mountain Regional Park near Lone Mountain.
Pools are another must to keep cool! We loved the Summerlin Community Pools, but if you’re just visiting the area, be sure to book a hotel with a pool!
6. Lion Sanctuary in Henderson
The Lion Habitat Ranch in Henderson (just south of Las Vegas). This sanctuary is home to many rescued lions from around the country (and a giraffe now too!). They offer behind the scenes tours and other experiences for a fun day out!
7. Other day trip ideas
Las Vegas is in such a perfect location for easy day trips or quick overnight trips to several fantastic locations. Mount Charleston is the highest peak in the Spring Mountains and offers a nice relief from the summer heat! Temperatures are often 20-30 degrees cooler at the top than in the valley, so hiking, picnicking and wildlife spotting are fantastic opportunities in this beautiful area.
Zion National Park in Southern Utah is only about 2.5 hours from Las Vegas. One of our most favorite destinations, this national park offers the perfect setting for a day or weekend trip from Vegas. The hikes are fabulous and the views are unbeatable. Our favorite hikes with the kids were Emerald Pools Trails, Observation Point Trail, the Riverside Walk, and the famous Narrows.
Grand Canyon National Park is another famous spot located not too far from Las Vegas. Day trips are organized from Las Vegas via bus, but we would definitely recommend giving yourself a little more time if you can! Visit the South Rim and enjoy some fantastic hiking and some gorgeous views of the world’s most famous hole in the ground!
Where to stay off the strip
Las Vegas is also the perfect location for a stay-cation. Locals have access to amazing resorts, restaurants and amenities right at their fingertips! You don’t even have to leave the local area! Several of our favorite spots for stay-cations were Red Rock Resort and Casino, JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort and Spa, and the famous Golden Nugget.
Red Rock Resort and the JW Marriott are both located in Summerlin – a fabulous neighborhood in West Las Vegas with amazing restaurants and family amenities.
The Golden Nugget is located on Fremont Street, or the “old strip”. While not the most kid-friendly area, Fremont Street is the perfect place for people watching and there are some fun light shows on the roof covering the street. The Golden Nugget is fun for kids because the slide goes right through the shark tank located in the hotel! Such a fun experience for kids of all ages!
I hope we’ve given you some great ideas for how to enjoy time in Las Vegas as a family! While it might not be your first choice for a family vacation, don’t rule it out just yet! We absolutely loved living in Las Vegas and hope you will enjoy your time there too!
Thanks so much to Haley for this really insightful guide into Las Vegas with Kids – after honeymooning here, we’ve been meaning to return WITH this kids for a decade but still haven’t made it – we really look forward to sharing this amazing eclectic city with our kids though – there is so much more to it than just gambling, a real playground for ALL the family!
About the Blogger
Hello! I’m Haley and our little family of four loves to take adventures together all over the world! I grew up in deep south Alabama, and as a kid our family took a few road trips here and there, but mostly we stuck to what we knew – the beach house during the summer and the visits to see the grandparents.
Then, I decided to attend college far away from home. I ended up marrying my physics lab partner – something about physics led to chemistry – and his job has taken us all over the world! Then, when we welcomed our daughter into the world, we thought our traveling days were over. But, it turns out kids are movable and travel was even more fun with a tiny tag-a-long!
We started traveling even more because we wanted to show her new things! We welcomed a son shortly thereafter and the travel picked up even more! In fact, we began traveling so much that my daughter began waking up every morning with the same question: “Where are we going today, momma?” And so here we are.
My blog was born out of my love for new experiences for myself and for my children. I want to share with you how exploring the world around you is not only possible with young kids but it is the most rewarding way to experience life with your tiny tag-a-longs!
You can follow along with Haley and her family adventures here:
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