Cocktails By the Kiddie Pool: Yes You Can Take The Family to Las Vegas
Photo courtsy of Thinkstock. All other photos by Barry Kaufman
Let’s face it; 30 years ago this article would not be possible.
Las Vegas might mostly be known as the place where debauchery lives, but the destination has made huge strides in recent years to present a more family-friendly profile. Yes, you can still spend a weekend immersing yourself in every vice known to man (and a few that Vegas may have invented) but you can also spend a few days taking in the sights with the whole family in tow.
There are obviously a few challenges to overcome. For starters, don’t even try to get around with a stroller. The city’s unique understanding of what constitutes public walkways means that walking the strip usually entails a fair number of stairs. You don’t need to be folding and unfolding a stroller every time the sidewalk suddenly meanders up an escalator and through Caesar’s Palace. And know where boundaries are inside a casino. Obviously in some hotels you have to walk through the pit to get to your room, but the areas where anyone under 21 absolutely cannot go are pretty well marked.
And finally, the most important caveat: tell the young ones that no matter what, keep your eyes up. Those fliers on the ground are not for them, and the Las Vegas strip is no place for the birds and the bees talk.
But if you can get over that, you can have a hell of a time in Vegas with the kids. So pack your bags, strap your baby onto your chest, Hangover-style and let’s give the whole family something to enjoy in Vegas.
Take in the Sights
The great thing about Vegas is, if your kids are young and gullible enough, you can convince them that you’ve sprung for a weekend in Europe. Just head to The Venetian and take a walk around the Grand Canal Shoppes (be sure to visit Houdini’s Magic Shop for a quick demonstration), and be sure to spring for a gondola ride. Tickets are $21 each for as many as four to enjoy a relaxing trip down the meandering canals guided by the famed singing gondoliers.
While you’re at The Venetian, pop into B&B Burger & Beer and treat the kids to a milkshake (and yourself to a beer – you’ve earned it, super parent).
For a bird’s eye view of the whole strip, head a few doors down the new High Roller at The Linq. Tickets are $23 for a half-hour ride that takes you to dizzying heights above Vegas. If you’re worried about children hopped up on vacation energy contained in a glass bubble for a half hour, just know that the views are enough to keep kids enthralled for the whole trip. If that doesn’t do it, the music piped in can help burn off some of that hyperactivity through a high-altitude dance party. You can pop and lock in peace knowing that no one on the ground can see you shaking your groove thing.
And while Vegas is famed for its shows, some of its most kid-friendly don’t cost a dime. Time it right and you can grab a front-row seat at the famed Bellagio fountains or at the volcano show at The Mirage. Between the spectacle and the costumed characters wandering around the strip, it’s pretty much like taking your kids to Disney. And, it’s free! So much for the house always wins.
It’s not the only free entertainment. Grab an Uber XL north to Fremont street and you can let the kids go nuts at the Downtown Container Park. The sprawling playground with its labyrinthine treehouses and slew of serpentine slides is a great way to give an adventure while you grab a drink at Oak & Ivy. Fuel up across the street at Glutton (try the Glutton burger) and then check out the Fremont Street Experience (just, um… bring an umbrella).
Indoor Family Fun
As long as you’re on the north end of the strip, take the family inside the Mob Museum. The older kids will enjoy their chance to test the grip on a replica Tommy gun and see what it was like for the G-Men who took on the mafia. A word of warning: the Mob Museum isn’t shy about the crime scene photos. Parents might want to keep hands at the ready if younger kids need blinders.
Just down the strip is Circus Circus, with the Adventuredome Theme Park. Depending on how much you lost at the craps table, you can either stop at the massive arcade at Circus Circus and let the kids blow through a few bucks in quarters on a few new machines and classics ortake the kids all the way in to check out Adventuredome. And all-day pass is $31.95 for 25 different rides and attractions, including the twisting four-seater roller coaster “El Loco.”
Then, as their energy level fades, get them back to Vegas Crazy levels with the sugary blitzkrieg that awaits a little further south at the strip’s Candy District. New York New York plays home to Hershey’s Chocolate World with its Kiss flavor wall and Jolly Rancher flavor wall. Grab a selfie with the Statue of Liberty made out of 800 lbs of chocolate, then cross the street to M&M World at the MGM Grand. Here you’ll find a wall of M&Ms in a mind-blowing array of colors and flavors that’ll leave you wanting to try them all.
YOUR KIDS, I mean. I mean your kids will want to try them all. He he he. Just… make sure they share.
Las Vegas may be known as the place that vice and decadence made famous, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a few things in store for families. Just give the kids a day’s worth of fun and excitement, and they’ll sleep soundly while you and your spouse take turns dipping down to the casinos to blow their college funds. Happy travels!
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