This year my younger daughter turned 4 on the Las Vegas Strip. A typical toddler birthday!! When my father-in-law moved to LV last year, we knew a trip out there with our kids was on the horizon. So began the task of finding child friendly activities in Sin City. Spoiler alert: they exist.
Cutting Edge Playgrounds
I assumed that simply strolling the kiddies down the Strip, with all the lights and sounds and people watching, would immediately enthrall them. I was wrong - they needed playgrounds. Vegas actually has its share of super cool playgrounds.
Our absolute favorite was steps from the adult world of Fremont Street in the open air shopping area called Downtown Container Park. Built in 2015 and located in the heart of Downtown LV, Container Park is a small, hip shopping, dining and gathering area. Two levels of shops and eateries form a perimeter around an interior playground. The playground is sleek and industrial looking with lots of twisty tube slides and places to climb. Container Park also has a large artificial lawn that hosts performances and events. The night we were there, we saw foam blocks to play with on the lawn and a hula hoop contest was happening. And Mama's favorite part? Container Park’s Oak and Ivy, a killer whiskey cocktail bar, featuring a whole section of “Kickin’ Mules” (SWOON), is more than happy to pack your delicious drink in a plastic cup so you can take it over to the playground. Now everyone’s happy!
About 20 minutes from the LV Strip is Summerlin, Nevada, a rapidly developing “master planned community” and the new home of my father-in-law. During the first half of our trip, we stayed in Summerlin at the Red Rock Casino, Resort and Spa. It was a quick walk from that resort to Downtown Summerlin - a fairly standard outdoor mall that had one of Connecticut’s own Luckey Climbers in it. Our girls used up some early morning energy there one morning while we peacefully sipped on our coffee.
While in Summerlin, we also visited the brand new play area in Paseos Village. Visually gorgeous and tons of fun for little and bigger kids alike, this place put our local playgrounds to shame. I could watch my older one rocking the zip-line there all day.
One last “playground” I’ll mention is Kids Quest within the Red Rock Resort. You can drop your kiddies off there - starting at as young as 6 weeks old - for a few hours and a reasonable hourly fee, and go grab dinner, grab a drink, grab a gamble or just grab a sleep. We put the girls in for a few hours one afternoon and actually made enough money at the Blackjack table while they were there to consider the babysitting a double win :-)
Red Rock Resort was pretty kid friendly as far as Vegas casino hotels go. There's bowling, a movie theater, an arcade and really nice, relatively quiet sprawling pools on site. Plus that Kids Quest is so clutch.
It hurts when the kiddies cramp my dining style, and Vegas is filled with adult dining options (and other adult activities 😉). We were fortunate to have one adult only night on the trip and it did not disappoint - Other Mama is a Get a Sitter must do while in LV. It’s off the Strip, and while it definitely gets some legit love online if you search food-centric sites, it’s not a huge, flashy “Vegas” spot popular with tourists. It’s a mostly locals only, neighborhood place. The dishes at Other Mama focus on raw seafood preparations with Asian leanings. As I love all those words, I was very happy at Other Mama. We hit the sashimi offerings hard and the cocktail menu even harder.
Generally speaking, it’s good to get off the Strip at least once during your Vegas trip to get a break from the crazy inflated prices and clubby vibes. On our trip before this one, my husband and I did “foodie favorite” Raku Grill (followed by a visit to sister spot, Raku Sweets) on Spring Mountain Road.
For kid friendly Vegas dining, Downtown Summerlin and Chinatown are completely kid appropriate. We had a great meal with the kiddies at Viva las Arepas en route from the Container Park. On the Strip, dining with kids is more challenging, as pretty much every restaurant is set up like a dance club. We visited Holsteins, EggSlut and "Secret Pizza", all of which are solid kid friendly options in the Cosmo. And that 4th birthday of my younger daughter was celebrated at Carbone in the Aria. I wouldn’t call that a kid friendly spot, but we did somehow successfully dine there with 5 kids all under age 13. Miracles can happen!
We Saw Some Art
Vegas actually has a fairly prolific art scene, including a downtown Arts District known as “18B” that we unfortunately didn’t get to this trip. We did take advantage of a much needed kiddie car nap late one afternoon by driving out to Ugo Rondinone’s gorgeous installation called Seven Magic Mountains. I’d been ogling pictures of it on Instagram for months so it was pretty cool to get to see in person. The installation is free to visit, easy to get to (about 20 minutes from the Strip) and should be there at least through 2018.
Like many grade school kids, my older daughter cannot get enough of iPad games and by extension, arcade games. Lucky for her, the Vegas Strip has some rockstar arcades - the kiddie version of a casino! On our last day, I took the big kid to Coney Island Emporium at New York, New York. She had a blast and so did I. As a child of the 80s, I’m pretty blown away by how high tech today’s arcade games are. And Skee Ball will forever be fun.
Next trip, I’d like to take the girls to the Tournament of Kings at Excalibur (the show WITHOUT the dinner included!!)
That Bellagio Water Show
I think the The Fountains of Bellagio is must do on anyone’s first visit to LV, even a kid's first visit. My 4 year old ended up being scared of how loud the fountains were during the show but the older kid liked it. The show is pretty, free and quick. Plus at least we got out at night with kids, right?
And Neon Mini Golf
Yup. We played blacklight neon Kiss themed mini-golf at the Rio. We went early so there wasn’t much of a crowd. Since it’s Vegas, we played with drinks in our hands. Pro Tip: use your flash if taking a picture of the family on the golf course.
See you again soon, Vegas! 🎲🎰