Las Vegas – Family holiday guide

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.

Explore Las Vegas


Why go on holiday to Las Vegas?

  • 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.



Where to go and stay in Las Vegas

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 Strip

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.

  • Four Seasons Las Vegas, Mandalay Bay Resort and New York-New York Hotel are south end luxury options with family-friendly reputations and lots of fun stuff for kids.
  • Circus-Circus is kid heaven at the north end of The Strip and home to Adventuredome and 12-hour long circus performance as well as large pools and dream children’s menus.
  • Don’t miss: Forum Shops at Caesars; Bellagio Fountains; Hershey Chocolate Factory; M&M World; Grand Canal Shoppes; Wynn Lake of Dreams; CSI Experience; Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign.

Downtown and the Fremont Street Experience

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.

  • Don’t miss: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Dana-Thomas House; Henson Robinson Zoo; Adams Wildlife Sanctuary; Illinois State Museum; the Capitol Complex.

 


What to do and see with kids in Las Vegas

 

  • Tournament of Kings, Excalibur Hotel
    One of the city’s most popular family shows, based on the Legends of King Arthur and pulling together a cast of 100s and at least 22 horses – from the King’s own stable.
  • Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat, The Mirage
    Celebrated illusionists Siegfried & Roy invite kids behind the scenes to meet and train dolphins, get (safely) close to big cats and uncover more than a few secrets of their long-running Las Vegas show.
  • Fall of Atlantis, Caesar’s Forum
    Every day between 10am and 11am, kids can see the Fall of Atlantis re-enacted in typically outrageous Las Vegas style at Caesar’s Forum. It’s great fun, and free.
  • Big Shot, Stratosphere Hotel
    The thought of being fired 1081ft in the air from 921ft high platform is either going to thrill or horrify. Obviously it does enough of the latter: it’s one of the city’s biggest attractions.
  • Shark Reef Aquarium, Mandalay Bay
    Over 2000 marine predators, 14 species of sharks, a Touch Pool and a full-size shipwreck, Mandalay Bay’s Aquarium boldly bills itself as entirely unique.
  • Vegas Indoor Skydiving, Convention Centre Drive
    All the free-floating excitement of skydiving and none of the bloodcurdling fear is what’s on offer here, full training’s given and kids as young as seven can fly.
  • Big Apple Rollercoaster, New York New York Hotel
    The world’s first ever rollercoaster with a 180˚ heartline twist & dive hurtles at inescapably high speeds surrounded by the glitter and dazzle of downtown Las Vegas.
  • Valley of Fire State Park Tour, Mojave Desert
    You can’t say you’ve done Vegas until you’ve visited the Mojave Desert and a guided tour in a huge pink jeep is the only way to go.
  • Grand Canyon West Rim Tour
    The Grand Canyon is just over two hours drive east of Las Vegas. Visit the west rim on a guided tour and enter Hualapai country, venture out on to the Skywalk and gaze over the Hoover Dam.
  • Mount Charleston National Park
    Just 35 miles away from the buzz and bustle of Las Vegas, Mount Charleston has lush green mountain trails and wildlife adventures in summer, snow in winter and cute cabins for overnight stays when you’re in no rush to get back to the city.


Educational value for kids

  • Where would Las Vegas be without its gangland connections? Non existent is the correct answer and if you’ve any other questions about the city’s dubious origins, colourful characters, bloodcurdling tales and shady dealings, The Mob Museum in Downtown is only too happy to help.
  • Possibly the strangest permanent exhibition in Las Vegas can be seen at the Luxor Hotel. Bodies is a detailed anatomy examination using preserved human bodies, organs and skeletons. Not for the fainthearted, or very young, but 15 million visitors have been enthralled by it so far.
  • Shopping’s as natural in Vegas as gambling and almost as ruinous to your finances. Persuading kids to participate in the city’s second favourite pastime is easier at Grand Canal Shoppes where the spirit of Renaissance Italy’s brought to life with colourful, operatic and outrageously theatrical Streetmosphere performances in and around the stores.
  • Take a guided tour of the Las Vegas Art Museum. It’s the first of its kind in Nevada and contains a diverse collection of contemporary works in a cool, custom-designed 8000ft² space.
  • The Las Vegas Springs Preserve is an exciting out-of-town heritage park created to teach kids of all ages about Nevada, the desert’s unique eco-system, pre-Vegas industry and traditional local culture.
  • Spend a few hours at Discovery Children’s Museum for a mixture of science, creativity and interactive play – a welcome break from the city’s high-energy activities for younger kids.
  • If you’re planning a visit to the Grand Canyon or Mojave Desert, drop in on the Las Vegas Museum of Natural History first and get a bit of background on this unusual part of the world.

 

Getting about with kids in Las Vegas

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.