My family recently returned from 3 days in Las Vegas with a 5 year old and a 18 month old. While friends thought we were a tad crazy to take a toddler and a young child to Las Vegas, we found that there was just so much to do with little ones. Vegas is definitely high on our travel list for a return trip again soon.
I’m living proof that you can take a baby, toddler, or young kid to the Vegas Strip and still find plenty of family-friendly activities. If you are thinking of doing the same, here are 10 things to do with young kids while in Sin City.
Located in the Mirage, this attraction truly feels like an oasis from the Vegas madness. Kids of all ages (including babies and toddlers) will enjoy watching dolphins play and marvel at the majestic white tigers. Arrive at opening (usually 10 am) to have the animals all to yourself. At $19.95 for adults and $14.95 for kids ages 4-12 with re-entry privileges, we found the attraction to be one of the best values in pricey Las Vegas.
Blue Man group is a wild and wacky sensory experience that defies categorization. I can perhaps best describe it as equal parts Twinkies, enthusiasm, eyeballs, curiosity, marshmallows, exuberance, color, and self-examination. It’s definitely worth experiencing for yourself. Be aware that you need to leave the littlest ones behind for this show (only ages 5 and up are admitted). Our family hired a babysitter for our toddler and enjoyed a special night on the town with our almost 6 year old.
The Mandalay Bay Shark Reef Aquarium offers a great chance for your kids to get up close and personal with all sorts of marine life. The biggest hit with our 6 year old was definitely the sting ray touch pools. Taking a photo with a scuba diver in one of the shark tanks was another highlight.
The Shark Reef Aquarium is extraordinarily popular, so your best bet to avoid the crowds is to arrive for morning opening. Plan for about an hour to walk through the entire attraction. Right outside the Aquarium is a huge food court with kid-friendly food choices and lots of empty space for toddlers to roam, and we made great use of the space after our visit.
If you aren’t quite ready to jet off to Venice with your little ones, the Venetian provides an entertaining glimpse of the real thing. Our daughter loved being serenaded by an especially friendly gondolier as we cruised through the hotel’s Grand Canal Shoppes on our gondola ride. The ride is much quicker than the real Venice experience, so take photos as fast as you can. Wait times can be significant at peak times, so plan accordingly with young kids. Waits for the indoor gondolas are longer, but the indoor ride is more beautiful and is also protected from the sun and heat (which might be a wiser choice with children).
Some have said that the classic dinner show is dying, but it lives on in Las Vegas in truly kid-friendly form at Excalibur in the Tournament of Kings. At the Tournament of Kings, families eat with their hands while watching a show full of knights, jousting, and adventure. The horsemanship and skill of the performers were what truly impressed my husband and me. Our daughter just loved cheering for the good guys.
The food served was surprisingly delicious and healthy for a banquet style meal and included baked chicken, boiled potatoes and steamed broccoli.
The show does have a scary villain and is quite loud with pyrotechnic effects. Sensitive little ones may be scared at moments, but our little adventurers didn’t seem to mind.
The Bellagio is the best Las Vegas resort for free offerings appropriate for family travelers. The nightly fountain show outdoors is perfect entertainment for the little ones. Be sure also to make time to stroll through the gorgeous seasonally-changing flowers in the conservatory indoors.
7. M&M World
Vegas is all about excess, and what could be more excessive for kids than four whole floors devoted to candy? At M&M World near the MGM Grand, you can buy just about any piece of clothing or gear in the world branded with the M&M logo. And, of course, there are thousands of pounds of candy available for purchase in every variety and color. If you can enter with your kids and come out with less than $20 of bulk M&Ms, you are a better parent than I. (And if you haven’t gotten enough chocolate after a visit to M&M World, just cross the Strip and visit Hershey World next. Seriously.)
Another free evening activity that is well-suited for kids is the erupting volcano at the Mirage. It runs from 7 pm to 11 pm on each half hour (except 7:30), so there are plenty of opportunities to make a show even with early kid bedtimes.
Without a doubt, the High Roller is the coolest and most modern Ferris Wheel I’ve ever experienced. The wheel rotates once every half hour and is slow enough that riders simply hop into a fully-enclosed pod cabin as one moves slowly by the loading area. The view from the top is breathtaking and a great way to get oriented to the Strip. Night rides are more expensive, but worth the upgrade in my opinion so you and your children can see the Vegas lights (kids 12 and under are free).
10. Hoover Dam
Although we stayed on the Strip for the sake of convenience during most of our trip, an off-Strip activity or two is definitely a good idea if you have the time. The one that cannot be missed with children is undoubtedly Hoover Dam. Adults find this marvel of modern engineering fascinating too.
Take the shorter of the two tours (little ones are ineligible to take the longer one), which we found to be perfect length for our childrens’ attention span. It started with a short movie and then our group then walked underground through some of the tunnels to see the power generators. The tour finished with a great view of the dam and newly-constructed bridge. I’d highly recommend putting babies and todders in a baby carrier for this tour; it isn’t really meant for strollers.
Have you been to Las Vegas with young kids? What were your favorite activities? Share your tips in the comments.