Chantal over at Keira's Adventures recently asked me about family-friendly activities in Las Vegas. With the Strip synonymous with gambling and other adult activities, it may seem that Las Vegas is no place for little ones. But really, there are many great things to do on the Strip and throughout the Valley for families with children. Not having children myself, I don't claim to be an expert. However, as a kid-at-heart, I do have some ideas of places that may be a great place for your own family to have fun. Here's a random list. Please feel free to add to the list in the comments (or veto as appropriate)!
1) MGM's Lion Habitat - Inside the MGM, this is a free activity yet oh so priceless. Amazing to watch these magnificent creatures up close while they rest and play.
2) Springs Preserve - An educational mecca both indoors and outdoors. Full exhibits dedicated to regional history and the desert environment, this is a great way to spend an afternoon. There is even a special gallery just for kids, with fun activities and games teaching about how to be kinder to the Earth. There are also gardens and walking trails for getting some exercise while enjoying the outdoors.
3) Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens - Inside the Bellagio is a beautiful atrium that changes themes with the seasons and is always elegantly over-the-top in a way only the Bellagio can mastermind. It's a lovely location to take a stroll and bring out the camera for unique family photos.
4) Jean-Philippe Patisserie @ Bellagio - While still at the Bellagio, turn the corner from the atrium. There you will come upon a lovely shop full of sweets and some serious eye-candy in the form of a fountain flowing over with chocolate!
5) Mandalay Bay Shark Reef Aquarium - A massive aquarium filled with sharks (of course!), sea turtles, piranha, and even golden crocodiles, among other creatures of the sea. Monday - Friday there is even an educational program associated with the aquarium. More more information or to make reservations for the special session, call 702.632.4555.
6) Lied Discovery Museum - I used to love visiting here back in the day. Exhibits encompass arts & humanities, sciences, nature, and music. For more information, call: 702.382.KIDS.
7) Good off the Strip locations to stay and/or play: Lake Las Vegas (MonteLago Village Resort, Ritz-Carlton) is a bit of a drive away from the Strip and actually is in Henderson, Nevada, but it is a beautiful resort with a Mediterranean feel. There are even free outdoor movies on the lawn by the lake every Thursday night at 8 PM during the summer. Or Red Rock Casino (in the Northwest of the Valley and close to Red Rock Canyon, plus it has a nice movie theatre and arcade), or Green Valley Ranch which is adjacent to the The District for shopping and dining.
8) Chinatown: Just a short drive from the Strip, this may be a fun place to visit. It definitely has nothing on LA, San Francisco or New York's Asian areas, but it does have some very cool restaurants (i.e., Ichiza Japanese Restaurant and Sake House) and a great tea house in the form of Tea Planet, complete with boba iced teas to an amazing variety of hot teas.
9) For those with an adventurous outdoorsy spirit, there is always Red Rock Canyon, Mount Charleston, Lake Mead/Hoover Dam, Valley of Fire, all beautiful nature reserve areas close enough for a day trip or just an afternoon.
These are just a few ideas of ways to spend your time in Las Vegas with the family. But of course, if you prefer relaxation, I'd just book a classy hotel, kick off the shoes, order room service and then lounge the day away as you oversee the kids playing Marco Polo in the pool.