While I’m still recovering from life with two kids (omg wine anyone??) I’ve asked Stefanie from RockStarMom Las Vegas to guest post for me. If you’ve never stopped by her site, she breaks down the places to go and things to do when in Vegas, especially if you want to bring the kids. Since I’ve spent a few (cough:: lots) drunken nights in Vegas in my 20’s (aka the lost decade) and just went back this year as an actual grown up, I was interested to hear how she does Vegas with kids? She had so many great ideas that I’ve broken it up into 2 posts. Things to Do and Places to Stay.
I get asked all the time about what it was like to grow up in Vegas, live in Vegas and to raise kids in Vegas. The funny thing is that until I was in high school, I didn’t really get that we in lived in a
“special place”. Walking through the casinos was how we got to the mall, restuarants and shows. Driving down the Strip at night was my parents’ idea of free entertainment for the kids. My father was in insrance, my mom stayed at home. My life seemed pretty normal to me until one day, while on vacation, someone asked me where I was from. Very proudly I announced “Las Vegas!”. All I remember hearing was “WOW?! Really?”. The more I traveled the more I realized that Vegas wasn’t really a “normal” place to grow up, or to bring your kids on vacation. Oddly enough, my husband was also born and raised here, and our four kids will be raised here as well. Though I grew up here, I was never part of the gaming world. Now, my husband is a casino executive, so if the kids want to see their dad more than twice a week, we find ourselves on the Strip! Since my first child was born though, I’ve been looking for the most sophisticated, yet family friendly things to do in Las Vegas because that’s the Vegas that I want to be a part of. I love everything that you can do in Vegas – shopping, dining, relaxing, entertainment… not to mention the comforts of a great hotel room.
So how do you Vegas with kids??
Contrary to popular belief, there really is a life off the Strip. Depending on your itinerary and your comfort level for some adventure, there are plenty of kid-friendly activities for all ages in Las Vegas,
This is my kids favorite routine… Start at the Aria Resort and make your way over to Crystals at City Center. Hop on the Aria Express, a tram ride that goes from Crystals, to Monte Carlo, to the Bellagio. Get off a the Bellagio and follow the crowds to the hotel, which leads you past the Jean Phillip Patisserie. Here you can see the largest chocolate fountain in the world, along with some of the most beautifully decorated cakes and life-size chocolate displays. The made to order crepes are my favorite, but everything is beyond delicious there. Right around the corner is the Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, which changes seasonally and if you have older kids, consider making the visit to the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Arts where the likes of Monet, Manet, Seurat and Ansel Adams have graced the walls. All ages will enjoy taking a walk outside to view the famous fountains and water show choreographed to familiar tunes from Andrea Bocelli, Frank Sinatra, and popular Top 40 artists.
I love to recommend Town Square to those who have a family full of mixed ages. It’s just a little south of the Mandalay Bay Resort and is an outdoor shopping and dining area. What is fabulous about this place is that there is something for every age here: a beautiful grassy area to relax or picnic; Children’s Park full of fun playground equipment like a merry-go-round, tree house, a stage and water feature; Rave Cinemas; and tons of great shopping! There is also a Whole Foods Market located at Town Square, which is important to note, especially with babies or toddlers or kids with allergies who may require special items. This is the only true grocery store on the Strip, and sometimes, it’s nice to know where to grab a coconut water or fresh fruit without paying hotel prices.
The Smith Center for the Performing Arts is the latest and most notable addition to the Las Vegas arts and culture scene. There, you can take in a Broadway musical or play, catch a performance from the Nevada Ballet Theater or enjoy live jazz music at The Cabaret. Across the street is Symphony Park providing an escape and opportunity to enjoy the beautiful weather Las Vegas has to offer most of the year. In early 2013, the Discovery Children’s Museum is set to open.
Downtown Las Vegas has a funky, community vibe full of historic buildings turned high-raise apartments, boutiques and art galleries. You will also find The Mob Museum located in the old courthouse, which I definitely recommend for those ages 12 and up. Another one of my favorite museums is the Neon Museum, housing original YesCo neon and flourescents, marking the history of the architecture, design and marketing of the casinos through the decades. The Neon Museum now has tours at night and a few of the old signs have been restored to their glory days. If your little one is into dinosaurs and such, the Natural History Museum is also located in the same area.
West Side :
Often the question is asked about how Las Vegas manages to remain a thriving oasis in the middle of the desert. The Springs Preserve is just the place to find that answer, amongst other great information about the Las Vegas desert environment. Built with the Earth in mind, natural resources and energy are utilized as much as possible to light, power and cool the entire facility. The springs Preserves addresses many topics about water usage, solar energy, and environmental habitats and creatures. It is also a great opportunity to become more educated in the ways of how to live in the desert by recycling, conserving and taking advantage of the resources available to us to live a cleaner life. Additionally, there is a brief history about Las Vegas as well as travelling exhibits, crafts and trading post for the kids to enjoy. Make sure they bring their most valued treasure made by the Earth to gain points and trade it out for another cool nature’s toy!
Of course, it goes without saying two of the most popular day trips in the Las Vegas, Southern Nevada region is the Red Rock Conservation Area and the Hoover Dam. If you have time to really explore off the Strip, make sure to plan one or both of these destinations into your itinerary. Keep in mind, though most of these areas are family friendly, some of the tours at the dam and the paths at Red Rock have age restrictions and can be challenging for little legs, so always check first.
So what do you think??? It’s not quite the Sin City that you thought it was?? Exactly! There are incredible activities for kids of all ages and it’s totally possible to do Vegas with KIDS!
Next up, the best hotels to cater to both Mom and Dad’s tastes, and those of your smallest entourage.