Las Vegas is an incredible experience best shared with older kids and teens.
A family holiday in Las Vegas probably won’t test whether what they say about America’s most famous desert city is true or not. But with a bit of organisation, some downtime built into the excitement and a little curiosity about life beyond The Strip, it’s always an amazing experience.
Direct flights from UK to Las Vegas, year-round, take between 10 and 11 hours.
McCarran International Airport sits on the south end of The Strip, minutes from hotels and major attractions.
The world’s top ten biggest hotels have 4000 plus rooms, six are in Las Vegas including The Luxor; Mandalay Bay & Delano; Wynn Las Vegas and the MGM Grand.
Las Vegas has 300 days of sunshine with winter temperatures pretty much the same as in the UK. The desert kicks-in come summer: highs of 40˚ in August are normal and upwards of 25˚ isn’t unusual in October.
The city sits on the Mojave Desert and has several national parks within easy driving distance including the world famous Valley of Fire.
Mount Charleston, about 30 minutes drive from The Strip, is gorgeous for walking and hiking in summer, and fun for winter snow sports.
The Grand Canyon West Rim is just over two hours east of Las Vegas and there are dozens of day-trips designed for families.
It’s not much of a surprise to find things are done differently in Las Vegas when it comes to choosing where to stay. Districts aren’t as important as hotel experience, which end of The Strip you pick and what deals are available when you book.
Many of the city’s major attractions are in or owned by big name hotel brands. So it’s worth looking at what’s free or substantially reduced for guest: if your kids are going to ride Big Shot again and again, the cost of that could balance out Stratosphere Hotel room rates.
Brands rule here – again, no surprises. MGM Resorts alone, own over 25 hotels including Mansion, the city’s most luxurious, bar none. And out of the world’s ten largest hotels, six of them are in Las Vegas. But don’t up-size with kids unless the offers are so good they’re almost giving you a holiday for free. The behemoths have between 4000 and 6000 rooms: you can imagine what that looks like during peak check-in times; just think about the busiest airport security on earth and start multiplying.
Mid-range US brands like Best Western, Holiday Inn Express or Marriot won’t put you right on The Strip, but they’re designed on a human scale and within walking distance of all that’s essentially Vegas. And, unless kids are used to relentless noise, crowds, lights and frenzied activity; a little off-strip breathing space isn’t a bad plan.
The iconic Las Vegas drag runs from McCarran Airport in the south to downtown Vegas in the north and lives up to its gaudy, frenetic reputation ever step of the way. All the main attractions are here and vying for attention, it’s busy 24/7 and every major hotel brand has at least one spot.
The five street long, neon splashed, show-filled, glitter tunnel of the Fremont Street Experience dominates downtown Las Vegas now. It’s unmissable in the entertainment centre of the city and famous for free nightly concerts and performances, public events, 12.5 million dazzling LED lights and 550,000 watts of non-stop sound.
The main airport is on the south end of The Strip and, if you don’t plan to go beyond city boundaries, shuttle buses, hotel transport, tour transport and taxis cover everything. Hire a car to see the Mojave Desert, national parks like Mount Charleston or the Grand Canyon. Remember to carry plenty of water, watch your fuel, have a paper map as back-up and tell your hotel where you’re going and when to expect you back.