Taking kids to Las Vegas

How to have a fun (and minimally sleazy) family trip

Actually, it IS kind of fabulous. No, really.

If you want to really rile people up, tell them you’re taking your kids to Las Vegas.  Things get judgy fast.

There’s a reason I’m telling you this.

A few weeks ago, I discovered that Phantom of the Opera would be closing at the Venetian this September after six years.  Until then, tickets were half off.

Seeking to avoid the anti-climax that always seems to accompany the end of the school year, I hastily procured some reservations.

To be clear, Vegas is never going to be a great place to take kids.  Still, with some careful planning, it can work.  Here are some tips to keep things as PG-rated as possible.

Stay in the right place

Hotel choice is critical, and (of course) very personal.  We opted to stay at Mandalay Bay for the 11-acre water complex and on-site aquarium.  Some people swear by the Golden Nugget with its water slide through a shark tank.  I’d also recommend the Signature at MGM Grand and just about any other non-smoking, non-gaming property.

Location really isn’t that important, and I’ll tell you why next.

Don’t walk anywhere

In order to avoid the worst of Las Vegas, take taxis everywhere.  It sounds extravagant, I know, but to me it was totally worth it.  Why?  No sidewalk vomit.  No staggering drunks.  No nasty car fumes.  No people handing out skanky escort ads to us.

The monorail (as well as the tram connecting Mandalay Bay to the Luxor and Excalibur) is fine too, though a little time consuming.

Check the calendar

This is definitely a case of “take my advice, I’m not using it.”  If I had known that Electric Daisy Carnival was scheduled for the weekend we planned to visit, I might have chosen a different weekend.

What is Electric Daisy Carnival?  I’m so glad you asked!  It’s a huge electronic music party (a.k.a. a rave) to which female revelers wear huge sunglasses, furry legwarmers, and not much else.  Oops.

Choose your shows wisely

At the risk of stating the obvious, there aren’t that many shows in Vegas that are okay for kids — especially young kids.   As I mentioned, we saw Phantom of the Opera.  The Vegas version was scarier than the show I remembered seeing 20 years ago, but the kids loved it.  Also, it’s just 90 minutes long, which I consider a win.

On our second night, we picked up tickets to see David Copperfield on the spur of the moment.  I was expecting it to be really cheesy (see also: Siegfried and Roy), but  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  Not only was he kind of easy on the eyes, he is hilariously funny.  Plus, he did the most amazing illusions I have ever seen.








  1. says

    Great advice! We took our kids to Vegas when they were quite young, and could have benefited from the first two pieces of advice. After that experience, not sure we’d ever go again, but if we do, we will pick our hotel more carefully and avoid the perils of walking around the strip.

  2. says

    Made me laugh. Having done Vegas several times for work and for fun I’ve wondered how people can take kids there without exposing them to too much. I actually saved the following article from the Denver Post a few years ago with the best hotel pools for when we did end up taking our kids. It notes the best family hotel as Mandalay Bay Beach at The Hotel at Mandalay Bay – link to the article. http://www.denverpost.com/travel/ci_15526627 Thanks again for sharing the other tips.

  3. says

    @KinderJet We were ALSO in Vegas two years ago, and my daughter was absolutely horrified by the Strip (and we didn’t even get out of the car!). She has a natural aversion to big cities in general — she really didn’t like New York either.

  4. says

    @Elaine What a great article! Here’s another thing I found on my foray to Sin City with my kids (I can’t remember why I didn’t put it in the post…). Ironically, having an adult-only pool (top optional, in the case of Mandalay) keeps the regular pool scene a little more wholesome, since it siphons off the people who want to feel really naughty.

    On the other hand, my 10-y-old son spent a lot of time gazing down on the pool complex from our 22nd story window, trying to figure out which was the top optional pool. I told him I thought it was probably the really crowded one.


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