Las Vegas Family Vacation

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Most people consider Las Vegas more off the partying and gambling hub of Nevada and less of a family friendly destination. There are plenty of things to do in Las Vegas with toddlers and/or kids, on and off the Las Vegas strip. People just don’t realize how kid friendly Las Vegas is, that explains the reason why it is referred to as “Sin City.” We recently took a family trip to Las Vegas with our in laws and their kids and you’ll see below why we all had such a great time.

I’ve heard people say they would never take their kids to Vegas because of the gambling, partying, nudity, sin etc; and I don’t blame them for feeling the way they do. When I think about our college Vegas trips, there was absolutely nothing kid friendly about it. As a matter of fact, my bridesmaids and I went to Vegas for my bachelorette party, and we had a crazy time!

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My view of Las Vegas completely changed after having kids. It’s one of those places you can visit with your family, but then also get a sitter for a night out if you want to. It’s important to note that Las Vegas is a city just like any other in the U.S., with children’s museums, national parks, play areas and much more. And that visiting the Las Vegas strip, which is party central during the day and night time especially, is not a must.

Aiden and I have been to Las Vegas countless of times. The first time we visited Las Vegas, he was 6 months old and that was the first time we travelled. I have lots of fond memories from that trip. I also had a job assignment in Las Vegas, and was blessed to be able to take him with me. He attended daycare at Kids R Kids for a day or two, while I worked or I’d take someone to watch him, and we’d hang out after and do fun stuff. By the way, I felt super comfortable with that daycare especially as they had cameras and I could watch him while I was at work and see what he was up to.

This blog post below highlights our most recent trip to Las Vegas.

When Did We Go There

We visited Las Vegas in March. I called it our “Spring Break” trip even though none of us is in school.

What Was The Weather Like

The weather was in the high 60’s. Perfect for outdoor activities. If you’ve been to Vegas in the summer or winter, then you’d appreciate this spring weather.

How Did We Get There

Las Vegas is only a 3hr and 39minute drive from our home in Los Angeles, so it’s the perfect road trip. We’ve flown to Vegas before, but this time we decided to drive and make a road trip out of it.

Aiden had a photoshoot the afternoon we traveled, so we drove to my in laws in the evening afterwards and we all carpooled together from their place. I really would have preferred to leave early that morning, but due to Aiden’s shoot, we had to leave later in the day. It worked out just fine, except I feel like we lost a whole day. Btw, his photo was too cute not to share, check him out on IG:@AidenAkpan. Photo Credit: @yellowheartphotography.

How Did We Get Around

When we got to my in laws the evening we left, we had to figure out which car had the roomiest third row. The reason why we wanted to drive the car with the roomiest third row is because my sister-in-law and I wanted to sit in that row, while the three kids sat in their car seats in the middle row. It was important for us to be comfortable back there before heading out on this road trip. The only issue with us sitting in the third row was getting in and out of the car from the trunk, however, we made it work. Our options were the Acura MDX and Infinity QX60, both of them are awesome 7 seater cars, and we decided on the Infinity QX60 😊. My husband and brother-in-law took turns driving.

Where Did We Stay

We stayed in an Airbnb, which had 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms. We didn’t need that much space, but because we booked it the day before we left, there weren’t many options left. The Airbnb was just okay, as the house is not well taken care off. However, the owner was nice and responsive and got back to us right away to solve any issues we had. The kids got the master lucky and we slept in the other two rooms upstairs. Have you ever used Airbnb? If not, Click here to sign up using my referral code and save $40 on your first booking.

What Did We Do

DAY 1

Due to the close proximity, I recommend combining, Hoover Dam, Lake Mead and Valley of Fire State Park on the same day if you can.

Hoover Dam

The Hoover Dam is named after President Herbert Hoover. It was built between 1931 and 1936 by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and is used to supply hydroelectric power, provide flood control, river regulation, and improved navigation.

We planned to do the Powerplant Tour which costs $12 for kids and $17 for adults (kids 3 & under free), but the elevators were not working on the day we visited, so the tour wasn’t available. I decided to pull up video for the kids to watch and go over everything they were seeing so they could full understand what the Hoover Dam was about. They also offer a full Dam Tour which costs $30, but no kids under 8 are allowed. If you want to visit the visitors center only, it only costs $10 for kids 4 and up (kids under 3 free).

  

Lake Mead National Park

After leaving the Hoover Dam, our next stop was Lake Mead. It costs $20 per car to get in the park, and they accept cash or cards. There are so many places to explore, but we only made it to one of them.

The kids were so excited about climbing the red rocks at redstone. We stopped here for about an hour so the kids run around, climb the rocks and snap some photos. They also have picnic tables here so the kids were able to enjoy a snack before we left.

 

  • We missed stopping at the Lake Mead overlook. If you have time, it’s a must in order to get a great view of the Colorado River. It’s also great place for a photo op.

Valley Of Fire State Park

Valley of Fire is Nevada’s largest and oldest state park. From Redstone in Lake Mead, the park is about 40 minutes away. You can reach the park from Lake Mead, so make sure to get directions as the internet can be spotty on the drive. It costs $10 per vehicle to get into Valley of Fire State Park.

We picked Rainbow Vista and Fire Canyon Overlook Hike as it was a short hike, about 1.1 miles and we knew the kids would have no issue with it. They loved it, especially playing with the sand. It was so soft to the touch, and so fine, I honestly thought about taking some home.


DAY 2

We purchased a package at the Shark’s Reef counter located at Mandalay which allowed us to pick any three attractions for the price of $57 per person. That is definitely a good deal, so if you plan to visit at least three of the attractions on that list, make sure to purchase the combo. We chose Shark’s Reef Aquarium, Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat and Adventuredome.

Las Vegas Sign

We’ve been to Vegas so many times, however we’ve somehow never made it to the Las Vegas sign for a photo. We got there about 11am and there was a line. The line did move quickly though which was nice. There was a guy there offering to help people take photos for free, hoping for a tip. We had a tripod with us, so we set it up and quickly got a few shots.

Shark Reef Aquarium – Mandalay Bay

The kids love aquariums, and fish and sharks so this was a no brainer. All though this aquarium is small in comparison to some others we’ve visited, they loved it. There’s always something new to see and something new to learn.

 

Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay. Smaller than some of the aquariums we’ve been to, but still fun ☺ Kids: “Look, we can touch the fish” 🐡🐠🦈🐙🐟🦑🐬🐳 . . #LasVegas #LasVegasWithKids #SharkReefAquarium #MandalayBay . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . #blackhomeschoolers #blackhomeschool365 #homeschoolblogger #homeschoolfun #travelingclassroom #blackfamilytravel #familygo #kidslovetravel #showthemtheworld #familytravelling #familyonthego #jetsetkids #havekidswilltravel #explorerkids #exploringfamilies #almostfearless #welltravelledkids #gowithnugget #familytraveltribe #travelingfamilies #familytraveltribe #travelingkids #trekaroo #familygo #explorerkids #kidstravel #jetsetkids #takethekids #blackfamilytravel #familytravelling

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Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden And Dolphin Habitat – The Mirage

Both the Dolphin Habitat and Roys Secret Garden are in close proximity, so it’s easy to go from one to the other. The dolphin shows happen every hour or so and they usually announce before they start. There are two sections and the kids noticed that the dolphins on the section closer to the secret garden were more active.

  • Dolphin Habitat

I knew the kids would enjoy seeing the dolphins, but I did not realize how excited they would get. They did not want to budge. They watched the dolphins perform tricks, swim around and even play with balls. They wanted to do the dolphin encounter, which includes getting up and close with the dolphins, but it was overpriced in my opinion so we decided to skip. Prices started about $159 and up – Price List.

  • Roy’s Secret Garden

This is were the exotic wild animals are. The kids were excited to see white tigers, white lions, and leopards. They loved the wishing tree in here as well. They stayed there and wished for a while, I wonder what they wished for and I wanted to ask but I knew better not to. I made my own wish too, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed to see if I get it 😀

 

Las Vegas Strip

When walking the Las Vegas Strip (Las Vegas Boulevard), make sure you have loose change (I recommend dollar bills) on you. There are characters positioned everywhere, and they do an amazing job and luring your kids in to take a photo with them. As a matter fact, they don’t even have to do anything, kids run up to them. They don’t charge a fee, but they expect you to tip. So if your kid gets close to one of them, get ready to pay up. I don’t recommend doing this at night with kids though, as the kid friendly characters leave and the half naked women take over, which is fine when you’re in Vegas to party.

Marvel Avengers Station

As we were walking the strip after leaving the Mirage we came across the Marvel Avengers Station. We wanted to do the tour as the kids love Marvel super heroes, but we were disappointed to find out that “Black Panther” wasn’t included. The lady who works there noted her disappointment with this too. The kids love all the Marvel superheroes, but really wanted to see the Black Panther exhibit. Since they didn’t have it, we opted not to do the tour. The kids played a few interactive games and looked around the store and then we left.

 

DAY 3

This was our last full day so we tried to maximize it as much as we can. We woke up early and started our morning with a hike.

 Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Center

When we got to Red Rock, the weather was so gloomy and cloudy, then it cleared it, then it drizzled. The weather ws pretty crazy, but we were determined to get out and climb some rocks. The kids especially were excited. The kid were excited about wearing their “The World If My Classroom” shirts in their favorite colors, because the world really is their classroom. Click here to purchase “The World Is My Classroom” shirt for your kids. This is one of Aiden’s many designs, and he is very proud of it; and he says thank you for the support.

  

Discovery Children’s Museum

This is the best and most interactive children’s museum we’ve ever been to; and we’ve visited several around the world, and in the U.S. too. This museum has three floors of nonstop fun. They also have workers who lead activities. The kids attended an art class, science lesson and puppet show. They normally announce before each one starts to give you enough time to make to the appropriate area. You can also get the daily schedule of activities from the front desk.

Adventuredome – Circus Circus

Our admission to Adventuredome came as part of the 3 for $57 deal we bought  a few days ago. They have lots of big rides, but if you go around the corner, you’ll find plenty of kid friendly rides that the kids can ride on their own. They give out a pamphlet when you get to the front which tells you what rides the kids can ride by themselves, with an adult or can’t ride. My sister-in-law and I enjoyed a few rough rides without the kids, but we had a headache after lol.

Las Vegas Street Art

Aiden loves finding street art when we travel, so he was super excited when we came across this one.

Downtown Container Park

This place is super exciting! I had no idea about the drum circle they have. We got there right on time for the sunset show which I believe is the best. It was packed, lots of people and kids, families etc. The kids were in charge of playing the drums. It was a very interactive show and we all enjoyed it. If your kids are scared of fire, stay close. When the praying mantis spit fire, the boys got up from the drums and ran away. The attendant there informed me that they do it every hour or so after sunset, which was at 6.45pm when we were there.



The downtown container park also has two play areas for kids, including hoola hoops, jumbo legos, a play structure etc. There are also lots of restaurants around. You can grab a bite while your kids play, which I love, and it reminded me of when we visited New Zealand.

Day 4

Wynn Hotel Flower Display

The kids basically just enjoyed walking this hotel, looking at the flower display, and posing or photos. Many of the hotels in Vegas have lots going on in each one to keep kids eyes and minds busy. Just make sure your kids don’t think the casino and slot machines are archades games like these ones did.

Seven Magic Mountains

This is a beautiful artwork display by Ugo Rondinone which is about 20 minutes away from Las Vegas. We planned this activity for our last day as we knew we’d be heading home and it would be ideal for a stop. It was a little off the freeway, however, still on the drive home. This exhibit was only supposed to be there until May 2018, but due to it’s success the producers are working on an extension plan so that it can remain there longer. So, if you haven’t seen it, you may be in luck.


Where Did We Eat

Because we knew we would be staying in an Airbnb, we cooked and froze a few meals, and packed lots of snacks so we could eliminate some of the costs of eating out. I didn’t want to get to Vegas and go grocery shopping, so shopping beforehand and packing most of what we needed made things so easy. We packed things like rice, fruits, plantains, meat pies, oatmeal, etc, not forgetting the alcohol, so we could have a few drinks while the kids were in bed.

AirBnB

Arawan Thai Bistro and Desert

Luke’s Lobster

Sugar Factory – they have desserts to DIE for !! If you’ve never been, you must 😀


Big Ern’s BBQ

Itea Boba & Dessert

In-N-Out

Wynn Buffet : This is considered the best buffet in Vegas, so put in on your must have food list.

 

Tips

  • If you plan to take a road trip and don’t have much space in the car, just pack all your stuff in packing cubes and then you can easily pack those in the trunk or under the kids feet when they are seated in their car seats.

  • If hiking is on your list of things to do, make sure to visit the website or download the app – All Trails. It will give you an overview of each trail at each park you visit so you can map it out and choose which is best for you/your family.
  • Make sure to dress your kids in comfortable shoes if you plan to walk the strip or go hiking. I mention this a lot on my blog posts, and that’s because I have walked in uncomfortable shoes and can’t even imagine my kids feet hurting as bad as mine did. I highly recommend Plae. Click to sign up and receive $20 off your purchase.
  • Parking at hotels on the strip is no longer free. The only hotel that still offers free parking is Circus Circus, so plan accordingly. Before it was so convenient to park at any hotel of your choice on the strip and then walk up and down from there.
  • Vegas has some kid friendly hotels with great pools such as the MGM Grand which has a kiddie pool and a lazy river, Monte Carlo and Mandalay Bay have a lazy river.
  • Visit Las Vegas Kids and Family Vacation Hub for more things to do with kids in Las Vegas. There are so many things that we did not get to do, but that’s okay, because we’ll surely be back in Las Vegas soon.
  • As the kids are older, and the drive was short, I didn’t do any extra planning for our road trip. They had their tablets, headphones and snacks and that was it. They slept for some of the drive, stared out the window for some part, used their tablets etc.



Other:

Some other places we’ve stayed at from previous trips that we really like are:

  • Elara by Hilton Grand Vacations – Center Strip: I love this hotel because of it’s location, right on the strip. It is also connected to the Miracle Mile Shops in Planet Hollywood. It is on the pricier side, however the rooms are simply amazing and there are plenty of places that are walking distance from here.

Some other places we’ve eaten at from previous trips that we really like are:

Tell Me: Have you been to Las Vegas with your kids? What did you guys do?

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3 Comments

  1. Kim Pincombe-Cole
    April 5, 2018 / 4:25 pm

    My friends are currently in Las Vegas with their families for Spring Break. Looks like they’re following a very similar itinerary! I had no idea how much there is to do out there for families!

  2. April 9, 2018 / 1:13 pm

    I didn’t know that Las Vegas was so kid-friendly! Thanks for the helpful tips.

  3. April 9, 2018 / 11:51 pm

    Aw, it looks like you and your family had a great time. I have visited LV once back in 2010. It wasn’t that fun of a trip due to some family issues but I do plan on going back for a more enjoyable time. I really want to visit the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam!

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