Last updated: 10:30 PM ET, Tue May 12 2015

Fun City

Las Vegas offers plenty of attractions and activities for family-fun vacations

Vacation Agent | Destination & Tourism | Ryan Rudnansky

Fun City

PHOTO: Families will enjoy the High Roller ride at the Linq entertainment center on the Vegas Strip.

Las Vegas may not be known as a family destination, but you’d be surprised by what Vegas offers both parents and their kids.

The destination did not draw more than 40 million visitors in 2014 just because of its attractions for adults. Those who have been to Vegas know that there is a wealth of attractions and entertainment for everyone, young and old.

In this edition of Vacation Agent, we take a look at the family-friendly attractions and activities in Las Vegas that travel agents can recommend to their family-vacation clients. These range from the world’s largest observation wheel to some lesser-known attractions that deserve praise. Whether your clients prefer excitement or tranquility, here are some top family attractions in Vegas.

The High Roller (The Linq)

The High Roller holds the title as the world’s tallest observation wheel, stretching 550 feet into the sky.

Located at the outdoor shopping and entertainment district, the Linq, The High Roller is also 520 feet in diameter. Each of its 28 cabins can hold 40 people, yielding a capacity of 1,120 people. Each cabin features two benches for those who want to sit, while others can stand and admire the 360-degree panoramic views of Las Vegas. Informative videos and trivia are also shown on TV screens inside the cabin.

It takes about 30 minutes to make the full rotation, but by the end of it, clients will probably want to stay on and admire the scenery a bit longer.

The High Roller also accommodates weddings and parties with an accompanying beverage cart.

Adventuredome (Circus Circus)

It’s not often that you’ll find a theme park inside a dome.

Adventuredome at Circus Circus is America’s largest indoor theme park, a spread of five-and-one-half acres that measures 200 feet high. It’s composed of 8,615 panes of glass, with each pane weighing approximately 300 pounds.

Inside, you’ll find roller coasters, carnival rides, laser tag, miniature golf, bumper cars, midway booths, an arcade, clown shows and more, all surrounded by natural lighting and canyon sculptures to give a sense of the outdoors.

The Adventuredome opened in 1993 with four rides. Now it features 25. It took one year to build and cost $90 million. But take a look at kids’ faces inside the family-friendly attraction and you’ll know it was all worth it.

Big Shot (Stratosphere)

PHOTO: The Big Shot ride at the Stratosphere generates 4G’s of excitement.

For the thrill seekers, the Big Shot at the Stratosphere Casino Hotel & Tower is sure to get them excited.

Set atop the Stratosphere Tower, the Big Shot ride shoots guests 160 feet up into the air at 45 miles per hour, sending them 1,047 feet above the city in 2.5 seconds.

After that, clients will be taken down the Tower’s needle slowly so they can enjoy the incredible views of Vegas… before bouncing up and down the 238-foot mast three times and the coming to a rest at the bottom.

Very few rides can pack so much excitement and sightseeing into one minute, but that’s exactly what the Big Shot does. Now you don’t have to be an astronaut to experience 4G’s of thrust.

Big Apple Roller Coaster

For another thrill, take the kids to the Big Apple Roller Coaster at New York-New York.

Experience quick twists and major drops on the Strip via the Big Apple Roller Coaster, which can get up to 67 miles per hour and features a 144-foot drop.

The 200-foot-high coaster is more than 4,700 feet in length and features plenty of hair-raising turns and corkscrews, including a 180-degree spiral that will satisfy even the greatest daredevils.

The coaster, which received a Certificate of Excellence in the 2014 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards, attracts more than 1.4 million riders per year and offers some amazing views of the Strip. Situated next near New York-New York’s model of the Statue of Liberty and featuring cars that look like New York taxicabs, the Big Apple Roller Coaster presents the thrills of New York City … without the traffic.

Volcano at The Mirage

The Bellagio Fountains get a lot of press, but The Volcano at the Mirage may be even more popular with kids.

Since opening in 1989, The Volcano has been one of the most popular attractions in Vegas. In 1996, the Volcano added new water, lighting and sound effects, and in 2008 it completed a $25 million redesign that has it looking more magical than ever.

The Volcano, surrounded by waterfalls and pools, shoots fireballs 12 feet up into the sky complete with smoke effects. The sound of the exploding volcano is also an important feature. Not only does it feature sounds from real volcanoes, but audience members can actually feel the rumble, given the powerful sound system.

Another fun fact: Mickey Hart, the legendary Grateful Dead drummer, and Indian music composer Zakir Hussain collaborated to compose a soundtrack exclusively for The Volcano.

The Volcano starts erupting at 5 p.m. and fires up every 30 minutes until 11 p.m.

Shark Reef Aquarium

Inside the massive Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino, Shark Reef Aquarium is a proper aquarium that encompasses 105,000 square feet and features 2,000 animals and more than 1,200 species of sharks, tropical fish, reptiles, invertebrates and rays.

The aquarium, which holds about 2 million gallons of seawater, features just about anything you could imagine, including more than 10 types of sharks, angelfish, pufferfish, lionfish (my personal favorite), golden crocodiles, green sea turtles, water monitors, southern stingrays and hundreds of jellyfish.

It also features a tunnel that visitors can walk through, boasting 240-degree views of the surrounding marine environment, from five species of sharks to a 300-pound sea turtle.

The Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay is accredited by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association in Nevada, placing it in exclusive company. Only 10 percent of aquariums nationwide are accredited.

Cirque du Soleil

If you are staying at a hotel on the Strip, chances are you’re very close to a Cirque du Soleil show.

In fact, the hotel you’re staying in may even feature a Cirque du Soleil show itself.

Cirque du Soleil shows in Vegas include“Michael Jackson One,” “The Beatles Love,” “Zumanity,” “O,” “Ka,” “Zarkana,” “Mystere,” “Criss Angel Believe” and more.

Whether you are a fan of the King of Pop, you love the Beatles (just like everyone else), you are looking for a sensual experience or you are into the world of fantasy, Cirque du Soleil shows at Vegas offer whatever you are looking for — many Cirque shows in Vegas are exclusive.

Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat (The Mirage)

Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat, a dream of the iconic magicians, is still one of the best-kept secrets in Vegas.

The attraction at the Mirage, which houses numerous exotic and marine animals in a natural habitat, is one of the few places on the Strip where you can find a quiet environment, and it’s also one of the most spectacular family-friendly attractions Vegas has to offer.

Opened in 1990, the garden and dolphin habitat combine to feature six different showcases of tigers, lions and leopards, as well as bottlenose dolphins, all set within natural surroundings. The tigers, lions and leopards meander through lush foliage and swim underneath waterfalls, while the dolphins have 2.1 million gallons of water to swim in.

Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat is a rare attraction, bringing the family face to face with exotic animals in a natural habitat right in the middle of the Strip.

VooDoo ZipLine

For those who just can’t get enough excitement in Vegas, strap into the VooDoo ZipLine at the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino and receive and extra adrenaline rush.

Guests start at the 51st story of Rio’s Masquerade Tower (about 500 feet up), where they can get a 360-degree panoramic view of Vegas, before they proceed to fly at 35 mile per hour to Rio’s Ipanema Tower. If the ride itself wasn’t enough, the zipline will bring you back to the start at a slower pace so you can admire the scenery a bit before finally getting off.

The VooDoo Zipline is another one of those high-octane, family-friendly attractions that doesn’t get enough credit. It’s a must-do in Vegas for the whole family.

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Vacation Agent Magazine

A version of this article appears in print in the May 2015 issue of Vacation Agent Magazine.