Sunday, March 11, 2012

Vegas with Kids

The fountains at Bellagio, with a view of the Paris Hotel
A few weeks ago, my husband, toddler, and I were in desperate need of a getaway after too many cold, gray winter months in Utah.  Our getaway requirements?  Somewhere south for sun and warmer weather, and somewhere close enough for just a quick weekend trip.  We mulled over and discarded a number of locations, but one that kept coming up was Las Vegas.  But Vegas?  With a child?  We weren't sure that it would be fun, let alone appropriate, but decided to give it a shot since it met all our requirements.  Although I still wouldn't call Vegas "kid-friendly," it was definitely workable and turned out to be just the break we needed.  Here are some highlights and tips:

We stayed at Staybridge Suites, which is located just west of the freeway and the Strip.  We liked that it was a non-smoking hotel without a casino.  Our one bedroom (king) suite was the perfect size for our little family, with a sitting area, dining table for four, full kitchen, spacious bathroom, two flat-screen TVs, a washer/dryer, and a small balcony.  There was a sofa that would pull out into a queen-sized bed, but rooms probably wouldn't fit families with more than one or two kids.  Our daughter's playpen fit well next to our bed.

Floor-to-ceiling windows provided a panoramic view of the Strip (on the other side of the hotel rooms overlook the pool).  A large breakfast buffet, great pool area, ample parking, and a shuttle to the Strip (all free!) rounded out the hotel's amenities.  After a couple of housekeeping snafus upon check-in, which were fixed immediately, the rest of our stay was very pleasant.

We decided to avoid dining out, which is often overpriced in Vegas and can be a challenge with our 16-month-old.  Instead, we stocked our suite's kitchen with groceries and cooked simple meals there.  We also ordered pizza one night (get recommendations from the front desk).

Bellagio's Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
While we wanted to avoid the Strip for the most part, I did want to see the Bellagio hotel's Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, which at the time were spectacularly decorated for Chinese New Year.  We also stepped just outside the Bellagio to see the fountain show--our daughter loved it!

Speaking of the Strip, I would highly recommend that you avoid walking it with kids, especially the south end.  There are countless folks in neon-colored shirts passing out ads for non-kid-friendly Vegas activities.  Although they tend to avoid those who are walking with kids, the ads (with pictures your wouldn't want your kids seeing) are dropped all over the sidewalk and street, making for an inappropriate walk with the little ones.  A slow drive down the Strip during the day or early evening is a more family-friendly way to see the sights.

Off the Strip, there are a surprising number of activities that kids and families can enjoy in and around Vegas.  Here are a few:
  1. Spend a day at Springs Preserve.  Explore two museums, botanical gardens (desert-themed), hiking and biking trails, a cafe, and more.  Admission prices are more expensive for non-locals, so it might be worth it for you to purchase a family membership, which is currently $60 (for 2 adults and up to 6 kids).
  2. Take a day trip to the beautiful Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, about 30 minutes west of the Strip.  You can drive the 13 mile scenic loop, check out the visitor's museum, or hike on several great trails.  I would recommend packing a picnic and enjoying it there.  Don't forget to take sunscreen, hats, and lots of water! 
  3. Spend a few hours at the Las Vegas Natural History Museum.  It's small compared to museums in other cities and doesn't look great from the outside, but once inside, kids seem to have a good time here.  Visit their website for info and a coupon.
  4. Enjoy outdoor recreation activities at nearby Lake Mead or take a tour of the Hoover Dam (for kids age 8 and up)

Have you visited Las Vegas with kids?  What activities do you enjoy doing with them while you're there?

This post is part of Tuesday Travel Tips at Suitcases and Sippy Cups and Walkington Travels.  Please visit their sites for more great travel tips!

Also check out Six Suitcases Family Travel Blog Hop!
Family Travel Friday


  1. I've always wanted to go Vegas. Or at least visit the West Coast for a change. Thanks for the tips and tour, it would come handy whenever we visit. Crossing my fingers and toes, that it would be soon :D

  2. I love your suggestions for things to do outside the strip. Vegas is looking more and more like a destination we would enjoy with kids! Thanks for linking up today!

  3. We have been talking on and off for a couple of years about taking the kids to Vegas and it always slips off the list. Two posts in a row today on taking kids to Vegas seems like some sort of sign - maybe this will be the year! :)

  4. While I personally love the Strip I agree that it is not at all a child friendly walk any time day or night. It might be a (more appropriately) memorable experience to take them on a drive down the strip. For kids a daytime cruise down the strip is probably best when there is slightly less traffic and fewer trucks with giant billboards which match the inappropriate little cards on the ground!

  5. We're one of the few who love taking our kids to Vegas. They love the lights and the little trip around the world. We love the Lion Habitat, the Bellagio conservatory, the Mirage volcano and the pirates at Treasure Island. Will need to look at Staybridge Suites.

  6. You have me dreaming of Vegas. I'm trying to figure out if I can squeeze it in this summer. My aunt and uncle just bought a house there, so lodging would be free. I've actually been to Vegas more as a kid than as an adult. Back then, Circus Circus was the place to be for kids. My cousin was great at the carnival games. I remember trying to get the huge dragon he won me into the luggage. As we reached our teens, my cousins and I would sneak into the casinos and play slots. But we were always worried about hitting the jackpot and drawing attention to us. Turns out we didn't need to worry.

  7. Thanks for joining our Family Travel Friday blog hop.

    There's so much more to Vegas than just the strip! Thanks for highlighting some family friendly activities.

  8. Las Vegas was one of my kids' favorite spots on our western trip last year - glad you had a great time.


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