Las Vegas has to be one of my favorite cities in the US, if not the world. So Ok, it does have the dubious honor of being called Sin City, and What Happens in Vegas does Stay in Vegas ;). But hangovers aside, Las Vegas couldn’t be more family friendly!
My idea of the American Wild West was based on movies like McKenna’s Gold and For a Few Dollars More. And that is how the whole region was, until this city of gold came up. Fortunes are made and lost in a night, and glitz and glamor meets the eye.
My first glimpse of this city occurred about ten years ago, in the middle of the night. And I have been in love with it since then.
Las Vegas for tourists is mostly around The Strip, a long road flanked by grand hotels and casinos. Every casino has a theme, and you could spend days checking all these out. So Treasure Island has a pirate theme, Circus Circus is like a carnival, Venetian has gondolas and canals, Paris has a mini Eiffel Tower and the Arc, New York New York has a statue of Liberty and Excalibur is a castle.
There are a lot of things to do in Vegas, other than gambling, that is. And many of these are family friendly. Vegas is just a short drive away from the famous Hoover Dam which sits on the boundary of two states. Grand Canyon is a day trip, so are other places in Nevada, Arizona and California.
Here are some family friendly things to do in Las Vegas, Nevada. And some of these are free!
The fountains at the Bellagio have iconic status. A thousand fountains dance in unison, and soar to classical music. The fountains at the Bellagio are a Vegas Must, and are a free attraction. All you have to do is be there at the sidewalk or even on the bridge that spans the Strip.
You want to see the view of the Strip from the top of the Stratosphere, the tallest building in Las Vegas. The Stratosphere casino is at the other end of the Strip, almost in downtown. The elevator whisks you up so fast that your ears will pop – mine did. Go there at night so you can see the lights on the Strip.
Walk the Strip
One thing you cannot avoid in Vegas is walking. You can easily spend a day inside a single casino. I have done it – in Caesar’s, in Paris, in Mandalay Bay and others. These casinos are like a mini city, and gambling is only one small aspect (unless you are a high roller). There are restaurants, shops, rides and attractions, shows and so on that you can watch. So if your time is limited, pick one, or maximum two to avoid disappointment.
Also, plan on being tired. Very tired!
Take in a Live Show
There are free shows and paid shows. Headliners like Seinfeld, singers like Bette Midler, awesome spectacles like Cirque Du Soleil, and shows with show girls and guys. There are free shows too, or very affordable ones. You just have to plan it right.
I am so sorry I missed Ka` last time. But I was so tired that I didn’t wake up in time for the show :).
Hit the Buffet
Vegas does everything Big! It follows that you will work up an appetite. Maybe that’s why the buffets are big too. Almost every hotel/ casino advertises their buffet. Loved the one at the MGM Grand, and the Sahara. The Rio buffet is also well known.
Gourmet Eats or theme restaurants
You can visit a really fancy restaurant from a Michelin star chef, or go to any theme restaurant. Like the Rainforest Café! I simply loved this place. You feel you are in a tropical rain forest. There are monkeys hanging off trees, and storms and lightning.
If you have been in Las Vegas for a few days, it will all seem perfectly natural to you.
Go closer the downtown for some ethnic eateries. We had to go to a Desi restaurant, of course. And there was an Ethiopian place which was totally awesome.
Shop till you drop
Well, you can shop till you drop or till your pocket’s empty. Diamonds, art or clothes, you can get it all in the many shopping malls or upscale shops in the casinos. The Miracle Mile shopping mall is one such place where you can lose sense of time. It has a sky that changes color of a sudden, and it even rains there.
You can buy cheap souvenirs like shot glasses or mugs, T-shirts, caps etc. from the dozens of shops that line the Strip. Go closer to downtown for better deals. I discovered some shops tucked away in the basement of the MGM Grand that had some super leather goods. So the trick is, keep walking and looking, and you never know what you’ll find.
Catch a Crazy Ride
The Stratosphere (Insanity), New York New York (roller coaster) , Circus Circus (Canyon Blaster) – all have some extreme ride where you can pay some $$ to get scared out of your wits. Go indoor sky diving if that’s your thing. Thrill seekers and extreme sport lovers will be very happy with what Vegas has to offer.
Obviously, I haven’t even skimmed the surface here. I always leave Las Vegas wanting to stay on for a few more days. If you were shying away from this city for some reason, I hope I have given you plenty of reasons to go visit family friendly Las Vegas!