Las Vegas is one of those places you don't automatically think of when planning a holiday with kids, but it holds a world of wonder if you know the right places to go to grab your child's attention. Also, finding suitable locations to make your holiday enjoyable is always a bonus. While you might not automatically think “Vegas with kids is a great idea,” it can be if you plan it right.
I've been to Las Vegas several times as a solo traveler and found many things I thought my 11-year-old daughter would thoroughly enjoy, so I created an itinerary for three days in Vegas. After experiencing it, here are my recommendations to have a great vacation in Vegas with your kids without breaking the budget!
Las Vegas With Kids: Here's How To Make It Fun
While Vegas might not be your idea of a bucket list trip with kids, it offers many kid-friendly activities.
Las Vegas With Kids: Where To Stay
When I look at hotels as a solo traveler, I'm only interested in convenient and clean hotels. However, with kids in a place like Vegas, the accommodation can make or break your holiday. I've learned I can take my daughter anywhere on Earth; she'll be happy if the hotel has a pool. In Las Vegas, you have some great options for hotels with pools, but I ended up going with Circus Circus, which is located at the top end of the Sunset Strip.
Circus Circus is great for many reasons, the first being the pool area. What they call Splash Zone includes three massive water slides, a water play area where small kids can run under spouting water, and two pools. This is included if you're a guest of the hotel.
Most Vegas Hotels Charge a Resort Fee
The critical thing to remember with any hotel in Vegas is that the majority have a resort fee; this can be off-putting to many people because it can come as a surprise and seem excessive — especially when you're told it includes things like WIFI and gym use which are things included in most accommodations nowadays.
Hotels will advertise at a cheap rate and then expect you to pay the resort fee on top of that. While a few hotels don't have this fee, it's good to do some math and determine the difference before booking. In some cases, places like Circus Circus can be cheaper options even with the resort fee. We stayed in a West Tower Double Queen room. The cost was $38 per night for the room and $39 per night for the resort fee.
The Splash Zone and More Entertainment for Kids
The Splash Zone was one of many things for kids; there is free circus entertainment at regular intervals and an in-house carnival called Midway that includes video games, traditional state fair-style games, virtual rides, and a merry-go-round. The hotel also offers many food options, including Dunkin' Donuts, Starbucks, Popeye's, and Einstein Bagels. However, if you're on a budget or want to save some money, I would avoid buying food within the complex as the prices are higher than average.
Things To Do in Vegas With Kids by Day
Traditional itineraries can pack in many things, but it's easier to do less and spread out activities with kids – maybe even factoring in a bit of relaxation in the early afternoon.
Day One – Hotel Hopping
My daughter and I started each of our three days by utilizing SplashZone. At first, she found the waterslides intimidating, but by the second day, there was no stopping her from repeatedly running back up the stairs to the top.
After lunch and rest in the hotel room, we made our way to the Flamingo Hotel. We caught The Deuce — a bus that goes from The Strip to Downtown Vegas 24 hours a day and costs $20 for a three-day pass. All kids over five-years-old pay adult fares.
Seeing The Sights at The Flamingo Hotel and The Bellagio Hotel
The Flamingo Hotel has a free wildlife habitat where you can check out pink flamingos, a variety of bird life, and massive goldfish such as koi, catfish, and sturgeon. This area is available to guests and the general public; follow the signs to the habitat area.
We then made our way across the Strip to the Bellagio Hotel. The famous water fountains perform a musical show at regular intervals, and while it's spectacular during the day, the addition of lights makes it even better when it gets dark.
Day Two – Chocolate Factory and Circus Fun
We rode an Uber to Ethel M's Chocolate Factory in the afternoon. Ethel M is a gourmet chocolate brand of Mars Inc. It's free to get in and watch the chocolate-making process. You're also given a sample of chocolate. After drinking a delicious Frozen Hot Chocolate Shake they make in their onsite cafe, we wandered through the fascinating and beautiful Cactus Garden. The Cactus Garden lights up at night and looks impressive, but we'll have to save that experience for next time.
We checked out Midway's circus acts and carnival area at the hotel. It makes you feel like they brought a state fair indoors. There are games like pop-the-balloon where you can win soft toy prizes, but walking around and absorbing the atmosphere is also fun. We then watched as some talented performers walked the tightrope.
Day Three – Kid-Friendly Things To Do on Fremont Street
Around 5 pm, we took the Deuce to Fremont Street in Downtown Vegas and then made our way to Downtown Container Park. This place is great for kids. Shipping containers have been transformed into various shops and eateries, and, in the center, there is a sizeable treehouse-style playground that will keep kids entertained for hours. There's also a staging area with giant building blocks, a play area, and chalk for kids to take and draw on the fence with
At the entrance to the park, you probably notice a giant metal praying mantis. This is worth sticking around for, as when it starts to get dark, you'll be treated to a fire show. When I initially saw this, there were live drummers, and the praying mantis would move and shoot fire to the beat of the drums. When I took my daughter, recorded music played, but the show was worth the amazed look on my child's face.
From there, we walked through the undercover area of Fremont Street and were amazed at the images on the overhead video screens; it's made up of five of the largest screens in the world. Also, watching people zipline above us was fun too.
Where To Eat in Vegas With Kids
My daughter is particularly fussy regarding food, so I must admit we frequented Subway and McDonald's more times than I would have liked. However, there are some fun options if you're looking for something a little different. The Rainforest Cafe is located at the south end of the Strip near the MGM Grand Hotel complex. It features a rainforest theme with animatronic animals and a diverse menu with kid-friendly options. If you're looking for information on how to save money on food in Vegas, we've got you covered there too.
You can't go past the M&M's World Cafe without stopping for a sweet treat. The M&M's World Cafe is located directly opposite the MGM Grand.
Cautions: Things To Be Aware of When Doing Vegas With Kids
Las Vegas can be an eye-opener as scantily clad showgirls and guys offer photo opportunities to tourists. At one point, my daughter asked if she could tell some of them to go and put some pants on.
It's also worth being aware that some of these costumed individuals may ask for a lot of money to take photos with them. If you are interested in getting a picture, get the price upfront. Apart from the usual cautions you would take in any city, Las Vegas is a fun experience for both adults and kids and worth the trip.