So, all cards on the table here—we don’t think Las Vegas is a great place to bring kids. If you can leave the kids at home with trusted sitters instead of bringing them to Las Vegas, we strongly recommend you do so. Sure, there’s a lot of family-friendly options these days and some of the rides and attractions open to the young-uns are world-class. That being said, Vegas (specifically the Strip and Downtown) is really an adult playground—most everything is intended for the 21+ crowd. During both day and night, there’s a lot of risqué imagery in public spaces all across Vegas, as well as other visitors on booze-filled benders. No matter how hard you try to limit what they’re exposed to, your kids are going to get an eyeful. (Even just a stroll down the Strip during the daytime will lead to interesting questions for you and questionable stories for teachers and classmates.) The age of your kids and your own personal parenting style are going to factor heavily in the how, what, and where of your Vegas experience.
There are few things to know off-hand about staying in Vegas with kids:
- No one under 18 is allowed on the casino floor. Many hotels require you to navigate through the casino to reach the elevators to the rooms, so the rule about kids on the casino floor can seem confusing. There are pathways through the casinos (usually part of the carpeting) that kids can be on. You just can’t sit at a slot machine with your kids next to you.
- Fitness rooms at most hotels are 18+, so you won’t be able to bring your kids along while you workout.
- Pools at hotels can range in styles with some being more kid-friendly than others. Pools may include a range of slides and other water park-like features, while others are only meant for lounging and relaxing.
If you’ve decided on a Vegas vacation with the kids but still want a night out on the town, there are several babysitting services available. Note that you won’t find hardly any in-house childcare programs at the resorts and hotels in Las Vegas. Many of the large resorts provide a list of third-party childcare services. In general, expect to pay around $35 (or more) per hour for in-hotel babysitting, usually with a minimum of 4 hours per booking. Generally, these services have a ratio of 1 sitter to 3–4 kids. We don’t personally review babysitting services, we only pass along information that we’ve researched. Two companies that offer in-hotel care and receive good reviews online are Love and Care Sitters and Nannies & Housekeepers U.S.A.
Things To Do with Kids in Vegas
If, despite our warnings, you’re taking the plunge and making it a full, family trip, worry not, brave souls—there are some great experiences to be had both in town and in the surrounding area. Below are different types of activities and the specific companies and spots that tend to be your best bet when traveling with children.
Airplane, helicopter and hot air balloon tours are fair game for families. Some age restrictions could keep the very young kids from partaking in some tours. For example, hot air balloon tours require passengers to be 6 years or older, and any child between the ages of 6–18 must be accompanied by an adult.
ATVs & Off-Roading
Ripping around the desert on an ATV can be a great way to get the whole family excited for a trip to Vegas. Most companies will require kids to be at least 6 years old and accompanied by an adult. (Plus, you’ll have to be at least 16 to drive.)
The biking opportunities around Las Vegas are pretty good. Not so much for around the city, but in the surrounding areas. Whether you’re looking for a guided tour or to rent a bike and cruise around on your own, you have lots of options. Guided tours may have age restrictions, and generally are better for those with kids around 12 or older. Bike rental companies tend to skew to adult bikes and finding a good range of kids’ sizes can be difficult.
Boating & Jet Skiing
Another solid option for families is getting out on a boat for the day. This is also a category where renting a boat or taking a guided tour are possible options. You’ll find less age restrictions on most of these types of tours.
This is an activity where you’re either all-in or it’s something that is synonymous with torture. Add children to the mix and it’s a whole other level. Generally speaking, even those that love camping with their kids tend to go for the sites and areas that have easy access to things like bathrooms (not pit-toilets) and water. We’ve found most of the camping around Lake Mead is where families will be most comfortable. In Death Valley, Furnace Creek Campground or Sunset Campground are probably your best bets. Red Rock Canyon technically has one campsite, but there’s another one that’s connected to the park by a (very) rough road. (You’ll need 4WD if you want to get there.) The official campground is a family-friendly place and a fair number of sites offer (much needed) shade. Other locations have varying degrees of roughing-it that are best suited to those that are already seasoned campers that are good at packing everything they need.
For the most part, escape rooms are family-friendly. There are a few that are very much not for a younger audience, but those are the exception, not the rule. Working together as a team to solve the various puzzles can be a great bonding experience, though it’s still best suited for those with older children (12 and up). The puzzles can be complex enough that young kids might not get much of a chance to participate in the same way that older kids can.
It doesn’t get much more family-friendly than a fishing trip. (Of course, individual results may vary.) There are excursions you can take to Lake Mead and other spots outside the Las Vegas area that can make for a good family trip. If you’re looking for something closer to the city, we’ve found Tule Springs, Sunset Park Pond and Boulder City Pond are your best bets. You’ll need to bring your own gear and have a license, but it’s a simple and easy trip that gets you away from the busiest parts of the city.
Going for hikes with your kids is another activity that can be great, but being aware of your families’ (and your) abilities and limitations is key. Upfront we want to remind you that for any hike you attempt, no matter how easy, bring plenty of water, snacks, proper footwear, and protection from the elements. We also recommend having a child-carrying backpack for those with very young kids (such as those made by Kelty). Not only can you carry your child along, but many models also have decent storage for all those things that you should be bringing along. The hikes we’ve included here are (for the most part) less than 2 miles round trip and have relatively little elevation gain.
- Hikes near and around the city
Floyd Lamb Tule Springs Park Trail, Wetland Parks Nature Preserve, and Crystal Springs Boardwalk.
- Red Rocks Canyon
Moenkopi Trail/Calico Hills, Fire Ecology, Red Rock Canyon Overlook, Petroglyph Wall, Oak Creek Trail, Lake Harriet Loop, Overlook Loop, Lost Creek/Children’s Discovery, and Sandstone Canyon Loop.
- Valley of Fire
Petrified Logs Loop (west), Balancing Rock Trail, Rainbow Vista Trail, Mouse’s Tank (Petroglyph Canyon), and White Dome Trail.
- Mt. Charleston
Robber’s Roost, Kunav Huveep, Escarpment Trail, Pack Rat Route and Mary Jane Falls.
- Lake Mead
White Owl Canyon (only with proper gear and preparation) and Wetlands Trail.
Kayaking trips with the kids can be a good way to beat the heat on those hot, Nevada summer days. Guided tours and rentals are available from several areas and can make for a good, family-friendly adventure. The options found at Lake Las Vegas Water Sports are some of the better ones for families with young children since everything takes place in a fairly contained area (not down a river or the middle of Lake Mead).
Depending on their outlook, taking the family to a museum can either elicit groans or glee. Luckily, there are a few good options in Vegas that will hopefully bring more glee than groans. Some of the better options with an educational aspect include: Discovery Children’s Museum, Natural History Museum, Neon Museum, and the Springs Preserve museum network (which includes the Springs Preserve, the Origen Museum and the Nevada State Museum). For pure entertainment-style museum experience, Marvel Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. is another option. Somewhere between the entertainment and educational options are the aquarium at Shark Reef & Polar Journey at Mandalay Bay and Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at The Mirage.
Kids and the grown-up variety of kids love these options. Go-kart options are most of what is available to the little ones, but some companies allow kids to ride as passengers around the tracks. The more family-friendly options are Exotics Racing, SPEEDVEGAS and Pole Position Raceway.
More on the adventurous side, but this activity has all the makings for an unforgettable family trip. Restrictions vary depending on the company, length of trip, and other factors. In general, only those ages 8 and up are able to partake in rafting tours.
Some hotels along the Strip have actual carnival rides to go along with the carnival-like atmosphere. The Adventuredome at Circus Circus probably has the most options for the widest range of ages and sizes of kids. The Stratosphere has more thrilling options at the Skypod, though you’ll need to be at least 48″ tall for the Big Shot and 52″ for the X-Scream and Insanity rides. At New York New York, there’s the Big Apple Express Roller Coaster. You’ll need to be at least 54″ tall to ride the coaster, but to try the virtual reality option you’ll also need to be at least 13 years old.
A lot of the sport of rock climbing is done in the relative safety of climbing gyms these days. The Las Vegas area has a number of options and several have kid-specific courses. The most kid-friendly options we’ve found are Origin Climbing & Fitness and Flip N Out Extreme.
A definite mixed bag, but some spas now offer kid-friendly treatments. Though hardly any actively advertise these options, we found Oleksandra Spa & Salon at Treasure Island is a little more open to the designation of being kid-friendly.
Video Games & Virtual Reality
It’s not just casino-style gaming in Vegas. There are numerous examples of virtual reality games and experiences along the Strip. (Think of them almost like a high-tech and pricier version of the quarter-machine rides sometimes seen outside grocery stores in other parts of the country.) Some are a bit violent and/or scary, while others are something like a virtual ride on a magic carpet, so be sure you know what the theme is before agreeing to the ride. There are also video arcades found in several hotels, such as Excalibur, New York-New York, Circus Circus, and The Orleans. An even bigger and diverse video gaming experience can be found at HyperX Esports Arena in the Luxor.
Probably a kid’s favorite way to deal with the desert heat. Besides the waterpark-like pools at many of the Strip’s large hotels, there are two water parks in the Vegas area: Cowabunga Bay Water Park and Wet ‘n’ Wild Las Vegas.
Ziplines can be a great, family-friendly option. Restrictions vary on the company—some have age and weight restrictions, while others only have weight restrictions. In general, you must be at least 75 lbs. to zipline, though there are a few companies that don’t allow anyone under 16.