Las Vegas. Not the first place that comes to mind for a family vacation. But sometimes, circumstances happen to where you have no choice but to take your kids to Sin City.
That’s what happened to us. Last November, we learned our daughter’s cheerleading team won a bid to the national championship in Las Vegas (perfect place for a cheer competition, right?). After the coach confirmed the team accepted the bid, we decided our 2017 family vacation would be in Las Vegas. Awesome.
Kid Activities Galore
If you haven’t been to Las Vegas, you probably are questioning whether there really are kid-friendly activities. Surprisingly, yes! Actually, the amount of family-friendly and kid-friendly activities shocked me. It actually proved somewhat difficult to choose.
The good thing is some of those activities are free. However, many of them are not. Be prepared for the things that look free might actually cost you more than you expected. While it is free to visit cool stores, that visit might end with you buying more M&M merchandise than you ever imagined.
Immediately, I went into planning mode (it’s what I do). I wanted to know every option available to keep these kids safe and entertained. And I wanted to do it for as cheaply as possible. I began speaking to friends who traveled there with their kids to get some advice. Like every modern woman does, I created a Pinterest board to capture the recommendations I found online. I was armed and ready to make this the best Las Vegas vacation ever (sorry Griswolds).
Of course, my husband had no intention of creating such plan. “We’ll just figure it out when we get there,” he said as my eye began to twitch. You can imagine what this did to my already high level of anxiety of going to Las Vegas with children. In his words, it was all going to be alright.
And it was. We’ve since returned from this trip safe and sound (and tired and a little poorer). The girls really enjoyed themselves and Chris and I actually relaxed a little bit. But we are glad to be back.
What did we do
Maybe you will find yourself planning a Las Vegas family vacation. Well, here is what we did. I should note that we did not really go outside of the strip. So all our recommendations are for the area where the main hotels and sight are located. So if you plan to stay mostly on the strip, then here are our recommendations.
We actually spent most of our time here. This mall is filled with both high-end shops and, for lack of a better term, normal mall stores. Restaurants and food stands can be found between the shops. Chris grabbed some Garrett Chicago Famous Popcorn while the girls loved the Sugar Factory. There, they filled cartons with different types of candy so naturally, it was their favorite. Also, the store had a giant gummy snake that was somewhat repulsive. Thank goodness it wasn’t real!
If you are looking for something a little stronger than candy or popcorn while you shop, don’t fear! Throughout the mall are spots to grab a grown-up drink. Walk-up bars, including one with a robot bartender, can be found through the mall to let you grab a drink to go. We even hit the jackpot by finding a Fat Tuesday daiquiri bar. Of course, we had to grab one (and secretly wish we were in New Orleans).
Our daughter is obsessed with Paris. I mean, we’ve had a Paris-themed birthday party, her bedspread is Paris, and majority of her clothing has the Eiffel Tower on it. So naturally, the Eiffel Tower was on our to-do list. I mean, look at this girl.
So we walked into the Paris Hotel doors right off the strip. This lead us right into the casino. Finding our way to the gift shop (in the middle of the casino), we were able to buy tickets. We grabbed a family pack of tickets (2 adults and 2 children) which saved us about $10. To get to the elevator, one must go outside the gift store and turn immediately to the left. That’s where the escalators are, not all the way back at the entrance (so we learned). The escalators take you up to a bridge that goes over the rest of the casino.
At the end of the bridge, there was an elevator to took us up 541 feet (half of the real Eiffel Tower) to the top. From there, we could see all of Las Vegas. The viewing deck wrapped around the top, allowing you to see it all. We timed our trip just right as the Bellagio Fountains went off right before we headed back down. Not as impressive, but still a neat sight to see. The price was definitely worth it, especially to watch our daughter’s face to light up the entire time.
The famed fountains. This was definitely on our list to see. Mostly because I’ve heard so many people talk about them, but partially because the show is free. The first night we were there, we caught the show right before we went back to the hotel. The girls stood on the side of the pedestrian bridge so they could see right. Each show includes a fountain show coordinated to a song. For this show, the fountains jumped up and down to My Heart Will Go On from Titanic (coincidentally, one of my favorite movies).
The show was definitely cool. It is way more impressive from ground level than from the top of the Eiffel Tower. But to be really honest, it wasn’t near as cool as everyone described it to be. But it was free so you should definitely see it. (Funny. Just realized I didn’t take a photo of the fountains from this level)
Wow. This place knows how to market itself. Before you even walk into the store, you can smell chocolate deliciousness ( I swear they pumped in the smell). Once inside, there are four floors of M&M craziness. The second floor includes a wall of M&M dispensers with every type and color of M&M possible. Each of the girls filled up a bag with a variety of candy. M&M merchandise covered every inch of the other floors. From coffee mugs to pajamas to stuffed animals to everything on the planet. If it can have an M&M logo put on it, it was in that store. The girls made out with a bag full of candy, a couple stuffed M&Ms, and a cheap M&M throw blanket. Definitely make sure to put this on your list of things to do.
The best piece of advice I can give you is to find a hotel with a great pool. The pool at Circus Circus is perfect for kids. When we weren’t hanging out on the strip, the pool is where we spent most of our time.
The pool area included two good size pools. Each pools had varying depths, but only one went past 5 feet. The splash pad included a several water-spitting pipes and a giant bucket that dumped water every few minutes.
While the pools and splash pad were fun, the main attraction was a giant slide tower. Go down the steep slides on a mat or through the twisty tube on your back. Addie loved the open pink slide because it wasn’t as steep as the others or as aggressive as the tube. Be warned though. The stairs on the way up to the top are high and metal so we would suggest some water shoes to protect your feet.
Had we planned a little better (or at all), our itinerary would have included several other activities. If we ever go back (which isn’t likely), here are the things we would like to do:
Hope you found this helpful. Stay tuned for next week’s post about why you shouldn’t stay at a kid-friendly hotel.