Are you considering a trip to Las Vegas with your kids? Having recently visited with my two boys, I thought I’d share with you some of the things we did there, all of which are 100% kid appropriate and very well done! The only problem… They’re in Las Vegas…
Let me explain
Having done the bulk of my traveling since the arrival of my kids, there’s rarely if ever been a place I felt I couldn’t take them. The reality is, if they weren’t going, I wasn’t going, so they went! Ancient temple in Japan, no problem! Fashion exhibit in the Metropolitan Museum of Art! They loved it too! Windsor Castle, the streets of Belfast, Rome, Paris, New Orleans, and the list goes on.
My mindset has always been: Why wouldn’t I bring my kids, after all, people in these other places have kids too! That said, you might be shocked to hear me say, “Las Vegas, isn’t really for kids.”
I know, how could I? When this goes against everything I’ve always said about travel with kids, but for a number of reasons, I’ve never liked the idea of bringing my kids to Las Vegas, and having recently done so, I can safely say that I should have gone with my first instincts.
My older son, Simon, who is close to 15, says that Vegas is like the Twizzler Statue of Liberty Pictured below: “It looks really cool at first, but then when you get up close it’s dirty and gross.”
I’m sorry if you love Las Vegas, but this is pretty much a perfect analogy! It isn’t one thing exactly, just that it’s all so in your face. There’s no way to pick and choose what you might see.
Still considering a family visit to Sin City?
8 Family Friendly Things to do in Las Vegas
The Vegas Sign
You’ll probably want to document your trip, and a visit to the famous Las Vegas Sign is a great place to start! The Sign is located on a large pedestrian friendly median in the middle of S. Las Vegas Blvd. The city has kindly provided parking and a large visitor friendly area just for taking photos!
Las Vegas is located in the middle of a desert so swimming is a great idea, and very family friendly. Just make sure you’re at the “family” pool!! During our visit we had the opportunity to swim at the Mandalay Bay Pool, and the Shark Tank at the Golden Nugget, both were great fun!
The Mandalay Bay Pool
The pool complex at the Mandalay Bay is huge. You’ll find multiple pools, a lazy river, and a wave pool. Shade is a hot commodity, so if you’re planning a visit arrive early to claim your spot.
Temperatures reached 114 during our visit, so floating down the lazy river was a big hit, and is appropriate for all ages, so a great family activity. The boys also enjoyed the wave pool.
Towels are provided, and food and drinks can be ordered right from your lounge chair. Floaties and other pool supplies are available at the pool shop.
The Shark Tank at the Golden Nugget
Each pool has it’s claim to fame, but none quite like the Shark Tank at the Golden Nugget, referred to us by Erin at Oregon Girl Around the World, which literally has it’s water slide run through the middle of a large tank of sharks and other ferocious looking sea life!
Both my boys gave this a try! My teen quit after one go, saying the water in the pool was too cold. I admit it was a bit on the chilly side.
My little couldn’t care less if the water was cold and loved swimming around the outside of the tank, but once through the middle was enough for him.
The pool closes for swimming at 7 pm, but the pool area and bar stay open until 1 am.
Sweet tooth? You’re in luck! There are no shortage of treats to be found in Las Vegas! We loved the Chocolate box located in the Golden Nugget Hotel, but the ice cream at the Forum Shops in Cesar’s Palace wasn’t bad either!
The Eiffel Tower Experience
The photographer in me was looking for night shots of the famous Las Vegas Strip, but our visit to the Eiffel Tower Experience, at the Paris Hotel and Casino, was a win for the entire family!
Once you arrive on top, you’ll be 460 feet up, which means sweeping views of not only the Strip, but also the entire city!
Your time at the top is unlimited, so consider sticking around for a bird’s eye view of the Bellagio Fountain show, which takes place every 15 minutes after 8 pm.
I highly recommend purchasing these tickets in advance, as our last minute purchase wasn’t exactly smooth.
Speaking of fountains, The Bellagio isn’t the only fountain in town! The fountains in the Forum Shops at Caesar’s Palace are full of fun surprises, including occasionally coming to life!
Shark Reef Mandalay Bay
The Shark Reef Aquarium, located in Mandalay Bay, is a fully accredited aquarium, and is home to not only sharks, but many other fascinating creatures as well.
Located just next to the aquarium is the Polar Journey, which was full of interactive exhibits that really appealed to my younger son.
Everything in Las Vegas is over the top and the rides are no exception! If you’re traveling with older kids or thrill seekers they’ll love all the choices.
My son rode the New York New York Big Apple Coaster and loved it! If, like our family, you have riders who aren’t thrilled by a ride like this, there is an arcade conveniently located just outside where you can occupy yourselves while you wait for your riders.
For those who prefer something a little more tame, consider a ride on the world’s tallest observation wheel The High Roller. Families are welcome!
Whether your artistic tastes range from fine to street or everything in between there is plenty to discover in Las Vegas! This visit found my teen and I exploring a treasure trove of amazing street art in the Fremont East District, but keep your eye out for traveling exhibitions as well.
The Neon Museum
Las Vegas wouldn’t be the same without it’s iconic neon lights. Many of which have been lighting up the night for decades. The Neon Museum is a unique museum and conservation nonprofit where you’ll learn all about the city’s history as it relates to neon while walking among the larger than life signs. Seeing the iconic signs at sunset was a highlight of our entire stay.
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Las Vegas is fun at all ages. My son used to love to go there too.
It is fun, but my kids didn’t really love it beyond the pools and art… they thought it was a little too much. 😘
Great post Hilary, I like to have the full picture not just the good bits!! We always bring our son along on our trips too, the kid friendly things look amazing but the other bits are food for thought for sure.
Thanks! I tend toward the more liberal side, but prefer to choose what I think might be appropriate, or too much of something. For better or worse Las Vegas is a place where there isn’t a much of a choice.
Agness of eTramping
Las Vegas is dream destination! Your post was very educational. How many days would you suggest staying there?
Im glad you enjoyed it. I would suggest no more than three maximum.
I grew up often going to Vegas and had no problems. Ya, ok there were strange things you saw but my parents always brushed it off. Although, I’m sure it’s changed a lot since I went! #FarawayFiles
We definitely brush it off, but it depends on the kids/level of strange. 😳😘
Hilary, the thing is that Vegas has always been weird but, in my opinion, it has been getting rowdier and rowdier in recent years. Remember when you couldn’t drink alcohol on The Strip? Those days were a bit more toned down. Now, craziness explored (and naked people) by 300 percent. So, I get your feeling and your kids feeling. Glad you found ways to have fun. #FarawayFiles
I know exactly what you’re saying! I’ve never been squeamish or bothered by a bit of this and that, but this is something else entirely. Without kids it’s one thing, but with them… does seem to have escalated in recent years.
I’ve have the exact same thoughts about visiting with kids. I want to think I can take them anywhere with me, and appreciate your honest review. If adventurous, there are some amazing Off Road ATV and Dune Buggy Tours out in the desert. Thanks for sharing #TheWeeklyPostcard.
Thank you! Once we left Las Vegas we had some fun adventures in Utah and Arizona! No dune buggy tours, but we did off road to a slot canyon!
Anisa & Katherine (@2travelingtxns)
I can definitely understand why you say Vegas is not the place for kids. As an adult though, I do really enjoy it. I think my favorite thing is the pools actually. I love the one at the MGM. I could literally just spend the whole weekend there! Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard.
I agree completely! I enjoy going and love the MGM pool too!! Just leaving the kids at home next time! 😘
Love the way you wrote this post Hilary. I can see where Simon gets his sense of humour from too – Twizzler Statue of Liberty – ba ha ha ha! – I concur that does seem like it would be gross. Now, for a different perspective.. a trip to Vegas may actually confirm your parenting skills are on track. My parents took us there when I was 15 and I loathed the place and have avoided it ever since. Although that neon museum might just tempt me back! #FarawayFiles
Ha ha! I’ve always hated twizzlers! I’m thinking he may just follow your footsteps and never return! Stay tuned for more on the Neon Museum next week! Xx
Michelle | michwanderlust
I’ve never been to Las Vegas, so would be really interested to know more about why you don’t think it’s a good place to bring kids! Is it just the seediness, gambling etc.?
It’s not so much those things, as the fact that there is really no way to shield your kids from any of them, if that is your desire. I actually tend to be more on the liberal side, but I like to make choices on behalf of my children and that’s virtually impossible in the tourist areas of Las Vegas.
Your posts are ,without exception, informative, interesting and intelligent. Upbeat but not saccharine. I would agree that Las Vegas ,as an entertainment destination, wasn’t created with kids in mind but kids can have a good time there. The pools alone would score a thumbs up. By the way your line about shade being a hot commodity made me smile.
Reading your post reminded me how much fun our son had when we took him to Las Vegas. He couldn’t get enough of the rollercoaster at New York, New York Hotel/Casino and the water slides. Truth is that Las Vegas became a lot like a Disney Land if you think about it. There is something there for everyone, even for those who don’t gamble. #TheWeeklyPostcard
My kids enjoyed the coasters and pools too, but much prefer the real Disneyland. They hated the in your face nudity and sleazy signs. I try to tell them not to make a fuss about it, but they were unimpressed.
Sally's Tips 4 Trips (aka Toddlers on Tour)
I’ve been t Vegas a couple of times (before kids) and have to say I loved it. But both times I only stayed for a couple of days so I never looked too far below the surface and just enjoyed the hedonistic bling of the exterior. As for taking kids – at times I’m sure it is just like passing through a seedy area of your own home city.
As an adult I enjoy Vegas quite a lot but it’s definitely not like passing through a seedy area of my own city, as I stayed for a few nights not just a drive through.
It’s just one of those rare places I just don’t love for kids. 😳
Twizzlers are nasty in general. Glad you got the boys through the shark tank pool – that was a fave of ours too. One night in Vegas was all we could handle and it was a brightly lit mesmerizing cacophony in contrast to the nature we’d been exploring. Living in Copenhagen, we are exposed to public drunkenness and nakedness all the time, so maybe my squeamishness has subsided? I think it’s always a good platform for opening conversations for sure! I need to see the neon museum and always love your street art finds! Thanks for sharing all the sides Hilary! #FarawayFiles, Erin
Ha ha! I knew I wasn’t conveying how I felt quite right… we see plenty of drunkenness and nudity here in LA, hello Venice Beach!, however, it’s just something about Las Vegas and the droves of drunken naked people all at once and in your face that really bugged my kids. I definitely told them to lighten up, but maybe they need to spend more time in Europe! 😘
Come to Copenhagen she said!!
I sincerely hope to make it one of these days!!!
As a kid (so 1970s), Vegas was definitely not family friendly. We went to Circus Circus, and enjoyed that, but there not not many more options. I think today the city caters much more to families, as the income from gaming has been dropping. That said, I still don’t think of it as someplace for kids, except that you can get out to Red Rock Canyon, Lake Mead and Hoover Dam, and the gorgeous Valley of Fire. In fact, it’s too bad that Sin City gets all the attention – lots of natural beauty to enjoy! (Yes, still catching up! 🙂 #TheWeeklyPostcard
Great you made the best of it, but I see what you mean. It’s funny how yrou perspective shifts. I’ve only been there once, and I didn;t find it too much, but that was definitely an adult trip, and pre kids, so…
It’s funny how much opinions change when kids arrive! Xx
I can imagine some very interesting conversations if I were to go with my five-year-old (Mummy, why hasn’t that lady got clothes on?) – I’ve read a lot about the different family-friendly things to do and there are certainly plenty of attractions but it’s a very good point to take the experience as a whole. And maybe be a bit wary! Thanks for linking up with #citytripping
Ha ha! Exactly! Although my 14 yo was fully aware and had no questions, he’s very proper so spent a lot of time looking away. I think my 9yo was a. It oblivious, but then again maybe he wasn’t…