The Las Vegas strip is one of the most visited places on Earth, and has earned itself a stellar reputation for excess, hedonism, gambling and nightlife. Yet in 2015, nearly 10% of all visitors to the city holidayed with someone under 21, showing just how family friendly a Vegas vacation is.
When you strip back the 24-hour party image, Vegas has a world of adventures for youngsters, families, and the young at heart to enjoy. Yet with the same sprinkle of LV excess we’ve come to expect from the city. Check out the family friendly top picks that will earn you extra brownie points from the kids.
Only in Vegas can you stumble a few hundred meters and visit several different countries. Take a stride down the faux New York harbor, set amongst famous Manhattan buildings and a 150ft model of the Statue of Liberty. If you’re daring enough, have a go on the New York, New York Rollercoaster – a thrill-seeking ride with a 144ft drop, heart-stopping corkscrews and loops, and spectacular views of the strip. With coaster trains that are perfect replicas of the legendary yellow taxicabs adding a little extra authenticity to the experience, it’s no wonder over one million people visit the New York, New York Rollercoaster every year.
Fans of the TV series or those with an interest in a forensics career will love the live CSI experience, based at Studio Walk at the MGM Grand. This is an ideal afternoon for older children (recommended age is 12 plus) to really get their minds working in a fun and exciting environment. Visitors can take part in a hands-on exhibition, solving three realistic crime scene mysteries. With footage and videography from the shows cast and creators helping along your way, this authentic experience will get visitors thinking like a real detective.
Bodies – The Exhibition is an award-winning exhibition that allows visitors to see and celebrate the body’s beauty and intricacies up close and personally. Showcasing 260 organs and 13 whole body specimens, this is particularly interesting to those with an interest in human anatomy and health, and provides an unbeatable view inside the muscular, respiratory and circulatory systems. Healthy bodies are showcased next to bodies damaged by over eating, poor exercise regimes and bad habits like smoking and drinking, providing food for thought and promoting a healthy lifestyle. What sounds a bit gruesome; is in fact inspiring and educational in equal measures. A must see for science class outings and excursions.
One for the little kids and big kids alike, Ethel M’s Chocolate Factory is a short 15-minute journey from the Strip. Visitors can watch as 35,000-gallon vats of delicious chocolate, caramel, peanut butter and pecan brittle are handmade and packaged into boxes, maybe even benefitting from a few samples too. As the only Ethel M headquarters in the world, all of the candy sold across the US is made right there in Vegas, following mama Ethel’s original recipe, which hasn’t changed from how she made it in her very own kitchen, since launch in 1981.
A visit to The Grand Canyon is bucket list material and children of all ages will be overwhelmed by this majestic wonder of nature. Described by Teddy Roosevelt as “one of the great sights which every American, if he can travel at all, should see,” it’s easy to see why over 5million people around the world visit flock to The Grand Canyon every year.
With an abundance of things to see and do, from the vintage railway, Skywalk and helicopter rides to kids programmes, horse-riding and full moon walks, the South Rim of the Canyon is open 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Seeing this beauty in movies or reading about in books is no match for seeing this wondrous sight with your own eyes.
Over by US Highway 96 on North Rainbow Blvd, LVMGP is the ideal spot to let the kids blow off some steam and maybe take part in some mini kart racing yourself too! The Grand Prix is a fun but economical way to spend the day with food, arcade games, slides, rollercoasters and miniature race tracks, all under one roof. There are height and age restrictions, so check out the website before you go to avoid disappointment for the little ones.
Based within the Venetian hotel-casino Madame Tussauds Las Vegas is a 30,000 square feet museum, built across two floors. Jam-packed with lifelike waxwork celebrity favourites, visitors can get snapped alongside their idols, to fool friends and family back home. From J-Lo – who blushes if you touch her bum – to Marvel favourites, The Avengers there’s something for kids of all ages.
Just a short 10-minute drive Southeast from the strip, near Spencer Street and Tropicana Avenue, the Pinball Hall of Fame is an enthralling adventure for big kids looking for a little dose of nostalgia, as well as for children of all ages. Hosted in an unassuming concrete warehouse, your attention is grabbed by the retro beats and beeps mixed with newer digital sounds and the rush of playing your favourite games. With over 400 arcade games and pinball machines to choose from, it’s easy to lose an entire day. There’s no cost of entry to get into the Pinball Hall of Fame, only the cost of games you play. And big-hearted owners donate a share of their profits to good causes and non-profits in the area too, meaning the feel good factor is ramped up that little bit more.
With the stifling Vegas heat, it makes sense to head for some aqua park fun. This is one day out that will really keep the kids happy, and begging you to go back for more. Wet n Wild is the ultimate waterpark, with over 25 slides across 34 acres. There’s a pool for every age and stage. From lazy rivers that sun worshipers can take their time slowly riding along, to new funnel slide – The Tornado, there’s something for everyone. There are 9 slides especially for younger visitors and interactive fun zones that will keep them entertained and in the shade when it gets too warm.
Opened daily from 9am ‘til midnight, M&M’s world on the famous Vegas Strip is 28,000 square feet of lively, colourful, candy fun across all four levels. With an unbeatable choice of branded memorabilia from teeshirts to cookwear and everything in between, you’ll want to take loads of personalised gifts to friends and family back home. Watch the free 3D movie on the third floor and enjoy the NASCAR themed M&M products on the fourth floor. The kids won’t want to leave!
Leeanne Boulton is a marketing and communications expert, with over 15 years experience across a diverse range of B2B and B2C businesses, social enterprises and charities.