When my father-in-law moved to Las Vegas in 2017, we knew trips out there with our kids were going to be our new normal. So began the task of finding child friendly activities in Sin City. Spoiler alert: They DO 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. Luckily, Vegas actually has its share of super cool playgrounds.
Our absolute favorite is 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 where my father-in-law and his family now live. On each of our LV trips with our kids, we have spent about half our time in Summerlin at the Red Rock Casino, Resort and Spa. The Red Rock Resort is actually QUITE kid friendly, as far as Vegas casino hotels go and after two back-to-back visits, my older daughter has declared it her “Favorite Hotel!”
For its littlest guests, the Red Rock offers on site bowling, a movie theater, an arcade and really nice sprawling pool area, including a huge main pool with a water feature that the kids love climbing into. Plus there is a Kids Quest within the resort where you can drop your kiddies off - 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 on each trip while we played Blackjack - a double win :-)
While in Summerlin, we also visited the 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.
Kiddies can certainly cramp our dining style, and Vegas is filled with adult dining options (and other adult activities 😉). We were fortunate to have one adult only night out on each of our trips and each time, we tried a Chef Dan Krohmer spot off of the Strip - Other Mama in 2018 and his brand new yakatori spot, Hatsumi, this summer. Both were KILLER.
Another AWESOME non-Strip spot we fit into our “adult night” was Frankie’s Tiki Room. The insane tiki drinks here are just $11 and the spot is open 24 hours a day!
As far as kid friendly Vegas dining, spots in 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 much more challenging, as pretty much every restaurant is set up like a club/bachelorette party. The fairly new Block 16 Food Hall in the Cosmopolitan is a GREAT option with kids on the Strip, plus Holsteins is another kid friendly sit down option in the Cosmo. And the Sadelle’s inside the Bellagio is just as special and worth doing (with kids included) for brunch as its NYC original.
We Saw Some Art
Vegas actually has a fairly prolific art scene. Despite the oppressive heat on this year’s visit, I really wanted to check out the Neon Museum. This small non-profit accepts and maintains Vegas signs that are no longer in use. The Neon Boneyard was awesome to walk through (and AMAZING for Instagram pics). Some signs have been restored and are lit day and night. I’d like to come back for a night guided tour - I bet the it all looks beautiful.
On our 2018 trip, we took 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 will be up through the end of 2021!
RIDES, Arcades AND THE KID MECCA, CIRCUS CIRCUS!
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 rock star arcades - the kiddie version of a casino! On our 2018 TRIP, 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.
We were hesitant last year to check out Circus Circus, remembering it feeling pretty icky when we visited awhile back before kids. But we popped by this trip and I must admit their Midway area of carnival and arcade games (with circus acts happening throughout the day) was absolutely adorable. Our girls got some great prizes without us having to spend a fortune to get them!
After the Midway, we walked to the other side of the hotel to check out Adventuredome - Circus Circus’s indoor amusement park. It was clean, well staffed and had a great assortment of rides for all ages plus roller skating, VR and mini golf. Next time we’ll dedicate a full afternoon to Circus Circus - if you’re traveling with kids in Vegas, it is must do.
a few other vegas kid activities
I think the The Fountains of Bellagio is must do on anyone’s first visit to LV, even a kid's first visit. My younger daughter 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 yup, we played black-light 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! 🎲🎰
NOTE: This post updates the prior July 17, 2018 post to include our visit to Las Vegas in August 2019.