Las Vegas, Nevada may not be the place you envision taking children, but if you do there are plenty of free or cheap things to do to keep the kids entertained.
I don’t know about you, but I love traveling. Since moving to Arizona, Las Vegas is one of those locations I’ve returned to several times. Each trip brings interesting stories and experiences which I hold dear to my heart.
I honestly never imagined I would be the parent that takes their kid to Las Vegas but alas I am. About two years ago, I visited Vegas without my daughter and saw a little kid lost in the New York, New York hotel terrified because he couldn’t find his parents. I swore I would never bring my daughter to Las Vegas out of fear of something similar happening. However, the next year my mom drops a bombshell on us, she has a timeshare in Las Vegas. Of course, my ears perked up, and all bets were off the table, my kid is going to Las Vegas.
We’ve now spent two vacations in Vegas with my daughter, which happens to fall the week of her birthday, and it’s not as bad as I thought. I mean what parent celebrates their kids birthday in Vegas who doesn’t already live there? I hope this doesn’t bite me in the ass later in life. But let me reassure you, we aren’t living the motto “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” because everything is mostly PG rated but we’ve managed to have a fun vacation. I’ve learned a lot from my time in Vegas and have some tips on places to take kids to have a fun family vacation.
Let me start by saying if you make plans to visit any of the hotels for their attraction I’d highly recommend checking their website before attending. While planning our most recent trip to Vegas, I followed various blogs for suggestions and a few of the plans did not work out due to the information being outdated.
If any website tells you the Pirate show at Treasure Island is still around, don’t believe it! Also, I read the volcano at the Mirage goes off every 15 or 30 minutes depending on the day, but that is no longer the case. Again, this is my fault for not doing sound research, but that would be my one piece of advice since information changes regularly for Vegas.
Once you get past the cost of hotels and food the entertainment piece can be a great way to save money since there are a lot of free to inexpensive things to do on and off the strip. Here is a list of my favorite things to with kids that do not break the bank!
The Flamingo’s at the Flamingo Hotel:
I’ve been twice to see the Flamingo’s, and while this is not a zoo, it is fun to see random flamingos in Vegas. Plus the hotel has other birds, turtles, and fish to see. It’s a great place to take pictures since they have waterfalls, and it’s centrally located on the strip.
The Bellagio Hotel:
Can you believe this was the first year I went inside the Bellagio hotel? I could kick myself for not doing it sooner because I love the hotel. Obviously, the fountains are incredible. However, the hotel also has a fantastic botanical garden which is free! Full of flowers and unique sculptures (not sure if that’s the correct term) but it feels serene despite all the other tourists. It’s also another great place to take pictures. The intricate details of the hotel and the ceilings makes this hotel one of my favorites.
I will admit the hotel is run down and towards the end of the strip, but the kids love it. They do have a few free shows such as juggling and acrobats which my niece and nephew loved when we went last year.
The M&M factory is also on the strip near Planet Hollywood and the Coca-Cola store. My daughter went crazy for this store, and I didn’t realize her addiction to M&M’s until that day. The M&M factory is four stories, and each story has something cool on it. The ground level has M&M souvenirs of anything you can imagine.
The second level focuses on the M&M wall which is every color M&M’s you can think of as well as different flavors, strawberry shortcake M&M, anyone? The 3rd floor has a 3-D movie theater which features a free movie starring Red and Yellow M&M. The last floor had the M&M sponsored Nascar race car and was the location we met blue M&M in person which my daughter was starstruck. Overall, if you have kids this is definitively worth it but good luck trying to get out without purchasing anything.
Bass Pro & Aquarium at the Silverton Hotel:
A few miles West of Las Vegas Blvd is the Silverton hotel which is the home of Bass Pro and Mermaid Aquarium. I wouldn’t typically recommend Bass Pro as a place to take kids for entertainment, but my daughter loved the HUGE fish aquarium in Bass Pro. They do live fish feeding sessions during the day.
They also have replicas of various animals throughout the store which my daughter also enjoyed. Outside of Bass Pro and into the casino is the Mermaid cafe with a large aquarium. Throughout the day (times vary), they have a mermaid swimming with the fish which all the kids found to be cool. There was a sign that said voted best free attraction and based on all the kids who were mesmerized I would believe it.
Ethel Chocolate Factory and Desert Botanical Garden:
Two things I would never pair together but they have decided to do just that. The chocolate factory is in Henderson, about 20 minutes from the strip but it was fun to venture into a new part of town. According to their website they say the best day to visit is Monday-Thursday 10 am- 4:30 pm.
We stopped by around 1 pm on a Monday. I’m glad they decided to add a botanical garden because nothing was going on at the chocolate factory the day we attended. The desert botanical garden was stunning, and the flowers were in bloom which made the garden vibrant and full of color. My daughter enjoyed running around, and another guest showed her baby bird in a tree which excited her.
I’ve never taken my daughter to Fremont Street, but it’s worth mentioning because it’s entertaining and never a dull moment. I think it’s too crowded to have a kid there, but I’ve seen young kids visit. I would argue to say it’s the most fun you can have in Vegas because they have free concerts, lots of great people watching, and a digital ceiling which shuts the street down. I’ve never had a bad time on Fremont street but be careful because it’s a little sketch.
Red Rock Canyon:
If you love the outdoors or gorgeous scenery, then you have to take the 20-minute drive to red rock canyon. The views are fantastic, and the red rocks are beautiful. It’s almost hard to believe something so serene could be so close to the hustle and bustle of Vegas. There is an entrance fee, but I think its money well spent and it’s a great way to spend an afternoon with the kids, weather permitting of course!
The Las Vegas Sign:
What better way to remember your trip than visiting the iconic Welcome to Las Vegas sign. The lines can be long, but you are sure to run into some interesting characters and at least one Elvis impersonator.
When I learned the volcano at the Mirage only did two shows a night my daughter was upset, and I needed a quick solution to cheer her up. We were in the Luxor hotel when I remembered the tram that goes to the Mandalay Bay, Luxor, and Excalibur. I would have never classified it as something to do but she enjoyed the tram ride, and we were able to check out the other hotels. She loved Excalibur and the kids arcade and enjoyed seeing the Titanic replica in the Luxor. So if you’re in a pinch, the tram ride is something worth trying.
Again, I never imagined Vegas would be a family destination, but I can’t imagine a trip to Vegas without my daughter, and as she gets old there will be more activities we can take her to visit! Here is more information on things you can do in Las Vegas.
Have you visited Vegas and done something free or inexpensive that I didn’t mention? Let me know so I can try it next year!