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paris hotel las vegas at night
Stunning lights from the Paris hotel glistening off the Bellagio Fountain pool.

Las Vegas is Gonna Get You: 11 Epic Family Adventures

Known worldwide as THE destination for gambling and nightlife, most people shy away from visiting Las Vegas with kids. But located just 5-hours from our homebase of Phoenix, Vegas finds itself on the path for many of our travels. And as long as we’re in town, we’re always going to adventure! So here’s our favorite kid friendly stops in the City of Lights.

1. Marvel at the Bellagio Gardens and Fountains

So I may be projecting a bit onto my family, but I can’t venture to Vegas without the inspiring beauty at the Bellagio. Dancing every 30 minutes in the afternoon and every 15 minutes after 7pm, the Bellagio Fountains provide a thunderous aquatic ballet that make the crowds and stench of the Strip disappear. Filled with towering floral sculptures, the Bellagio Conservatory provides a seasonally rotating display rivaling any art gallery. And the best part… they are both completely free!

2. Keep little hands busy at Discovery Children’s Museum

Hands down the best stop in Vegas for kids under 5, the Discovery Children’s Museum offers 3-stories of play. From a huge water table to art, science and maker spaces, little ones can touch, play, climb and design until they drop. The traveling exhibition is often geared toward entertaining older minds so there really is something for every age. All day entry starts at $15.50 per person with a variety of discounts through their website and sometimes Groupon.

water fun at las vegas discovery center
Kids were instantly drawn to the water table inside the Discovery Children’s Museum.

3. Appreciate nature at Valley of Fire

A quick 45-minute drive to clearer air, Valley of Fire is our favorite experience in the Vegas area. As the backdrop for dozens of Hollywood films, Nevada’s first and largest State Park has hosted stars from Elvis Presley and Burt Lancaster to Arnold Schwarzenegger and Captain Kirk. For just $10 a vehicle, a whole carload can explore petroglyphs, sandstone formations, abandoned movie sets, a slot canyon and the world-renowned Fire Wave.

fire wave valley of fire
Stunning Fire Wave formation at Valley of Fire State Park.

4. Thrill with rides for all ages

Kids love to DO way more than see, and Vegas has some great rides. When our kids were little, we enjoyed the ride diversity at the Adventuredome in Circus Circus. Protected from the elements by a dome of pink glass, all day ride bands for riders below 48″ are $30 and taller is $60. With fewer patrons than a typical theme park or carnival, this place was a great bang for the buck.

Up for bigger thrills? Over 54″ can zoom above the Strip at the New York New York hotel on the Big Apple Coaster for $19 a ride. Not a huge fan of heights, I closed my eyes for the primary ascent, but the ride itself was epic. Extreme adventurers over 48″ and 14 years old and zoom 900ft above the strip on the Big Shot and X-Scream rides atop the Strat for $29 each or $44 for both. Insane people over 52″ and 14 years old like to hurl themselves off the side of the perfectly intact Strat for $130 at the Sky Jump.

New York New York Hotel
Big Apple Coaster at NYNY is the most extreme this mama gets.

5. Take Silly Pics to make walking fun

Although the hotel properties are a half to full mile apart, the easiest way to get around in Vegas is generally on foot. While my kids will happily climb to the top of a mountain, apparently an hour of walking on flat ground is akin to punishment. So, to make the best of getting from point A to point B in big cities, we find silly things to take pics with. In Vegas, we got our hand bitten off by the MGM lion, picked the Statue of Liberty’s nose, put a mustache on a dog, rode in a shoe and posed as Barbie. Also, totally free so get low, get high, get silly and have fun.

6. Fuel adventure with Candy

What would “Sin City” be without candy? Located at the MGM Grand, the flagship M&M store offers 4 stories of branded gear and lots of photo ops with famous mascots. Since the personalized candies are actually available online, the kids opted to make their perfect mix of colors and flavors from the rainbow wall of options.

Literally across the street in New York New York, Hershey’s Chocolate World offers 2-stories of merchandise and candy Statues of Liberty. Having visited Hersheypark in Pennsylvania this summer, they were less impressed with this store. But personalized candy wrappers were voted the perfect souvenir for grandparents.

7. Learn how the city glows at Museum of Neon

Vegas isn’t called the City of Light for no reason. With 9+ miles of neon, it can easily be spotted from space! Showcasing over 90 years of Vegas’ fixtures, the Museum of Neon is a treasure with a variety of options to experience. Important tip: photos within the facility are only allowed during $50 Photo Walk and Portrait Sessions scattered through the month. Hours, costs and availability change regularly, so check out the website before going.

Tour TimeLocationCost
1hr Self-
+ Brilliant!
welcome to las vegas sign
Iconic, but not actually at the museum, with scant parking and long queues, the Welcome to Las Vegas sign is best visited in the morning.

8. Tour the nature bending Hoover Dam

Providing electricity to 1.3 million people in Arizona, Nevada and California, this goliath structure is infrastructure icon. At the time if its construction in 1935, the Hoover Dam was the largest hydroelectric powerplant and tallest dam in the world. Constructed between the sheer walls of the Grand Canyon, its completion created Lake Mead NRA, the largest reservoir by volume in the country. The $10 tour will get you into the Visitor Center, while the $15 and $30 options include visits to the powerplant and dam structure respectively.

hoover dam
Closest view of the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas, the Hoover Dam is a marvel of engineering!

9. Appreciate the artistry at Meow Wolf

We really wanted to love Meow Wolf Omega Mart but found ourselves underwhelmed for the $50 per person admission and purchase of an extra $3 card suggested to fully engage with the installation. Visually stunning and super punny, this place is definitely geared toward teens and adults. Hoping to find more opportunities to “play” like the City Museum in St. Louis, the kids were less than impressed by pushing a few buttons and walking through doorways leading to differently decorated rooms. The adjacent Area 15 has several more activities with packages ranging from $49-13. Unfortunately most of their height and age restrictions left our crew out. We’ll definitely try it again when the kids are a little older:)

10. Fly high above the City of Light

While I definitely prefer zipping along the Potomac in Harper’s Ferry or over the deep canyons of Catalina Island, the Slotzilla Zipline running the length of Freemont Street is its own kind of fun. I’m sure the ride is great at any time, but at night the LED screens and lights feel like zooming through a spaceship. There’s also Fly LINQ on the strip located next to the 30-minute ride on the High Roller Ferris wheel.

slotzilla zipline
Just because the kids aren’t quite big enough doesn’t mean the adults can’t play:)

11. Impress kids with Vegas Productions

Vegas is world renowned for huge productions, and several are incredibly family friendly. Kids will love visiting the Excalibur castle to see duals in the Tournament of Kings or entering the Luxor pyramid to experience the thundering Blue Man Group. V the Ultimate Variety show in Planet Hollywood feels like an episode of America’s Got Talent. And high-flying acrobatics and entrancing storylines make Cirque du Soleil shows KA, O, Mystere and Michael Jackson Tribute captivating and family friendly staples.

big apple show vegas
While the show isn’t kid friendly, the kids had fun trying to recreate the sign for Big Apple Cirque du Soleil.

Advice on hotels & RV park

The only thing worse than traffic in Vegas is booking a hotel. With resort fees, hours long check-in lines and abysmal parking, we’ve been so frustrated just getting to our room that we wanted to leave. Reading fine print, selecting parking garage for driving directions and arriving a couple of hours past check-in can really smooth a trip.

1.5 hour check in at Paris las vegas
Huge hotels like Paris typically have long lines at check-in.

For the most part, Vegas hotels all feel pretty similar. The rooms are nice enough but typically lack amenities like coffee pots, so you’ll spend money in the casino. We usually go with whatever is cheapest and have had fine experiences on The Strip at Paris, Treasure Island, Mirage, Cesars Palace, New York New York and Luxor. Off the strip, South Point and Aliante are nice too.

circus circus juggler
With rides, games and big top acts, Circus Circus is a fun day visit, but I wouldn’t stay again.

When the price is right, we often choose the Flamingo for the prime location, live flamingoes and waterslide for the kids in the summer. Our favorite Freemont Street location is definitely the Golden Nugget with fabulously remodeled rooms and a waterslide through a shark tank! And located off the strip, Sam’s Town KOA is the best RV park in town with heated pools and access to the Sam’s Town casino and facilities.

flamingo hotel family pool
Flamingo has a separate family pool with water slide next to the Flamingoes:)

Looking for more adventure?

As the only major airport for 200 miles, Vegas is a super popular jump off nature lovers seeking world-class outdoor adventures:

  • Death Valley is the closest National Park with otherworldly landscapes and certified Dark Sky to catch views of the Milky Way.
  • Grand Canyon cuts into the landscape just miles from town, but access to the North Rim, South Rim or Sky Walk are all a few hours’ drive.
  • Zion National Park showcases the most stunning red rock canyon with hikes easy to insane.
  • Page, Arizona boasts the world-famous Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend and more stone wonders near Lake Powell NRA.
  • Bryce Canyon National Park is home to the famous hoodoos formed by extreme water erosion.

What did we miss?

Tell us about your adventures in the comments:)


Eternally on the hunt for the science in every adventure.

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