Friday, September 16, 2011

Las Vegas for Kids

Can you really take kids to Vegas?

We all think of Vegas as an adult's playground.  But we love this city for family vacations as well.  Here are some of our favorite kid friendly spots.

#1--Circus Circus--Clearly the most family friendly major hotel/casino in Vegas is ultra cheap (as low as $30 a night).  To entertain the kids, they built the Adventuredome, an indoor amusement park at a reasonable price with plenty of rides, 4D movies, and clown shows.  But be aware the noise level can be excessive (it is indoors after all).  You can also head upstairs to see the free circus acts and play the midway games.  With acts every 20-30 minutes, you can pace yourself on the games and catch a few acts (no amateur hour here).  Savvy midway players will recognize guaranteed win games like lucky ducks which means your child will win a small stuffed animal.  We spent roughly $30 and 3 hours.  For our money, we saw 7 circus acts and won 8 stuffed animals.  On the other side of the hotel is a magic shop where very well trained salesman magicians will perform several tricks (that happen to be available for purchase in the store).  My husband is a big magic fan, so this was a must stop.  After watching several tricks and looking through the store, we finally bought a fairly cheap wand trick which the kids have played with for over four years now. If you are really into magic, definitely check out other venues (Vegas is a magic haven).  But if you are already at Circus Circus and just want a little something, this store is for you.  Finally, the buffet is definitely a kid favorite.  This is a place that has a million promotions, specials, and coupons.  So make sure you get a discount on just about everything.   There is a reason this is a bargain spot.  The hotel is old and distanced from the other major hotels on the strip (you will need to drive or ride the bus down to the other attractions). And with all the kids in this place, I recommend packing hand sanitizer.

#2--Bellagio Fountains--Enchanting to both adults and kids alike.  Our younger ones often subconsciously bend and sway in imitation while they watch.  We try to catch the fountains at least twice, once during the day and the other at night.  They are that good.   While here, slip inside and see the blown glass ceiling sculpture as you walk toward the conservatory.  Here is Vegas finery with a changing seasonal display featuring indoor fountains and a botanical garden carefully created by 140 horticulturalists.  Then take a quick side trip down the hall to see the chocolate fountain and chocolate shop.  Like a Food Network show come to life, this shop features several show pieces created exclusively out of chocolate including a fountain display (this not your average fondu fountain).

#3--Mirage Volcanos--aside from the Bellagio fountains, this is one of our favorite outdoor shows.  Fire and water combine to make this a memorable event (though perhaps a little too memorable for toddlers--"big fire" as one of our kid's said while clutching my pants).

#4--McDonalds across from Bellagio--Children will surprise you.  After our vacation, our then four-year-old said this was his favorite spot.  It doesn't even have a play land.  Why did he like it?  It is two stories.  He loved eating upstairs.  Since our visit, we have confirmed this with other restaurants--upstairs is a winner.

#5--M&M World--You can spent a couple hours in this four level store devoted to the beloved candy.  The big attraction is a free 3D movie featuring the m&m characters.  Then let the shopping begin.  This store has everything at every price point--pencils, plastic tumblers, gourmet flavors, candy dispensers, clothes, jewelry, magnets, to very expensive collectibles.

#6--FAO Schwarz and Caesars Palace--Despite being an upscale shopping mecca, this place is great for children.  The larger-than-life entry way begins the magic followed by hallways filled with large statues ending with the Zeus statue and fountain that comes to life with a mini-show.  Though the plot is difficult for children to understand as are the speaking statues, the special effects are absolutely magical to a child (can't see a show like this is your mall at home).  Close to this is an aquarium sized fish tank where divers are seen regularly feeding the fish.  Adding to the excitement, you can walk all around the tank with plenty of seating (a good resting place for tired little ones).  The other magical spot is the FAO Schwarz store with the famous large floor piano.  Everyone loved hopping from note to note as they tried to play simple melodies without losing their balance (finally all those hours of piano practice paid off). This Vegas gem sadly no longer exists.

The Opportunities

On one of our trips, our then third grader was studying the Romans in school.  She was delighted to get her picture taken with one of the numerous statues inside Caesars Palace and bring it for show-and-tell.  Not to be out done, our then first grader insisted we take a picture of the pyramid since he was learning about the Egyptians.  By the end of the day, we had also discussed the Eiffel Tower and Michelangelo's work replicated inside the Venetian.  As one friend said, "if you can't afford Europe. . ." Aahh, the educational value of Vegas.

The Take Away

Las Vegas has plenty to keep children entertained and this list was exclusively comprised of attractions located on the Strip.   Even if you are just passing through, a day in Vegas can add a lot of magic to your family vacation.


  1. We liked the Coca Cola Bear.... and Not sure where we stayed but we saw the Blue Man Group. The Pirate Show was great for my sons but they were not small so bed time hour was not an issue. Saw a few other fun places but my mind cannot think of them right now. On one place in Vegas we did see was the Las Vegas Temple :)

  2. Next time y'all come, we'll have to take you to Ethel M's Chocolate Factory (short tour to watch them make chocolate)/Cactus Garden and the Lions at the MGM. The little ones are probably a little young to fully enjoy the Hoover Dam and the new bridge, but the gift shop is fun for all ages (although there are plenty of risque gifts as with any Vegas gift shop). My 8 and 10-year-old nephews also always enjoy climbing around the rocks at Red Rock State Park.

  3. I have heard about the Chocolate Factory and want to try that. We did the Lions and I almost included that in the list. I can't wait to go to Hoover Dam (we can always tell the boys that a transformer is hiding in there) and possibly Red Rock.

  4. You forgot about the Pinball Hall of Fame (ages 6 and up), Red Rock (children's discovery hike is good for al ages), SHark Reef @ Mandalay Bay. Pinball Hall of Fame is AMAZING!

  5. Vegas is so fun. My son loves buffets so that's a highlight. We always go to McDonald's but I didn't know about the one with the playground - thank for the tip.

    We want to go to the MGM Grand because of the lazy river and pool. We stayed at the Aria and could see it from our room. It looked like a lot of fun.

    Circus Circus scares me - I wish they'd remodel it but I guess that's why it's so cheap to stay there.

    Here are some of our favorite things to do in Vegas:

  6. Las Vegas is best place to play, parties, restaurants and chill out just need to have enough money to spend on these. In all season weather is fabulous, so lot of places to enjoy in Las Vegas.

    Boston Hotel

  7. To entertain the kids, they built the vegas Adventuredome, an indoor amusement park at a reasonable price with plenty of rides,