Around the World in Just One Strip: Las Vegas for Kids
It’s more realistic than Epcot Center, larger than a Chinese theme park and cheaper than an around-the-world flight. Transport your kids across the globe without ever leaving the ground in Las Vegas, the city where the world’s most spectacular sights are reborn.
If your image of Vegas is all booze, gambling, and broads, it’s time to think again. Your kids can watch a volcano erupt in the tropics, take a gondola ride in Venice, cross swords with the Knights of the Round Table, and see the Big Apple by roller coaster, all without ever leaving the strip! Off-strip, there’s even some nature – canyons, craters, mountains, and water slides come to mind – to bring your family back to planet earth.
Yes, it’s in the middle of the desert, but Vegas is surprisingly easy to reach. McCarren International Airport serves a myriad of regional and national legacy carriers, as well as European, Asian, and South American airlines.
Taxis and shuttles to downtown and the Strip are available outside baggage claim on Level 1, as well as shuttles to the rental car center, where you’ll have more than a dozen choices for car rental companies under one roof.
Seven Wonders of the Strip
Your first stop on the strip is New York, New York, where Manhattan landmarks like the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building converge in miniature. Ride the Big Apple Coaster around the “city” for a dose of Gotham in a few minutes flat. Want to ride and repeat? Head over to Circus Circus’s Adventuredome, the largest theme park under a big top you’ll ever see. Get an all-day ride pass to zoom the day away!
When you need a break from American-style thrills, head to Europe. A gondola ride at The Venetian will have your kids singing along through the canals in the peaceful Italian cityscape. Get on top of the city at Paris Las Vegas’ Eiffel Tower Experience, where you can journey up the half-size replica for full-scale romance. From here, your kids can really see the world in all of its splendor.
From here, your Vegas transporter can take you back in time. Head to the Forum at Caesar’s Palace, where the special effects-laden Fall of Atlantis show starts on the hour, every hour. For dinner, take on the English at medieval castle Excalibur with jousting and swordplay over a meaty supper at the Tournament of Kings. Finally, don’t forget to visit ancient Egypt at the Luxor, a giant pyramid behind the great Sphinx and many other knockoff ancient artifacts that your kids will enjoy posing with.
Natural Wonders Via the Strip
Replicas of man-made structures and international attractions aren’t the only impressive things on the strip. Kid-friendly natural attractions are also a big part of the Las Vegas draw. Visit the Italian-inspired Bellagio’s conservatory and botanical gardens, which are themed to fit the seasons. Make sure to outfit your kids with cameras.
Nearby, Mandalay Bay’s Shark Reef is an underground aquarium with a dive program that will have your kids swimming with sharks and feeding exotic sea life, too. Another urban jungle, The Mirage, contains a colorful coral reef tank, a rainforest-like atrium, a secret garden full of leopards, lions, and jungle beasts, and a casual volcano in the front yard, erupting nightly at 8pm and 9pm.
For kids who are into a little more kitsch, the Flamingo Hotel has a flock of flamingoes (what else?) in their 15-acre wildlife habitat. Kids can also glimpse a variety of other feathered flocks, as well as turtles and koi fish. The spacious grounds are a free place to play and stay when you need a break from the bustle.
Off the Strip, kids can get a real dose of worldly wonders at the Las Vegas Natural History Museum, home to prehistoric dinosaur mummies and Egyptian artifacts, geological and marine exhibits, and an exploration center for young paleontologists and marine biologists. A bit further off the grid, take a day trip to the Grand Canyon’s West Rim. Take the Colorado River Bridge over the Hoover Dam as you approach the majestic natural wonder.
Just for Good Measure
Need a break from the grand scale of everything Vegas? Check out the Town Square Children’s Playground, where tree forts, a labyrinth maze, spouting splash pad geysers, and a storytelling playhouse will occupy your kids on a more manageable scale. There’s even a shopping mall and a Whole Foods Market so you can grab some food and relax.
And finally, counteract the rays of the hot desert sun at Wet’n’Wild, a summertime waterpark to take the edge off the city’s scorching summer.
Hotels for More than Entertainment
With the plethora of Vegas Strip hotels, it may seem impossible to choose a place to lay your head and drown out the overstimulation.
If your kids insist on staying on the Strip, Mandalay Bay is a great option with plenty of pools, lots of kid-friendly attractions (the aforementioned shark tank and aquarium come to mind), and plenty of dining options. The hotel also has supervised kids activities. Rooms are spacious and cribs are available, but there’s no full kitchen here.
Off the strip, you can get suites with full kitchens, mellow and spacious pools, and family activities like treasure hunts every day for half the price at the Wyndham Grand Desert. On-site food isn’t great, but shuttles can take you to the Strip every 30 minutes.
To dial down for minimum Vegas and maximum family, check out the suburban South Point Hotel and Casino. Spacious suites and large pools are only part of the picture. Kids can pick from 16 films at the on-site movie theater, or bowl the night away. However, rooms are only accessible via the smoky casino, and there’s no free breakfast or kitchens in rooms. The Strip is a cab-ride away, too. If you want to keep it low-key between explosive entrances, this is the spot for you.
Taking the family to Las Vegas? What will you see?
Las Vegas Strip Cover by littleny/Shutterstock. New York in Las Vegas by Andrew Zarivny/Shutterstock. Excalibur Las Vegas by Paula Cobleigh/Shutterstock. Mandalay Bay Shark Reef Las Vegas by Kobby Dagan/Shutterstock. Flamingos Las Vegas by EQRoy/Shutterstock. Wet n Wild photo courtesy of Wet n Wild Las Vegas. Mandalay Bay by Andrey Bayda. South Point Hotel by Jeffrey J Coleman/Shutterstock.Tags : travel Las Vegas Nevada