Everyone goes to Las Vegas hoping to hit a jackpot. And on my first night there with my five-year-old twins, eating cream puffs, watching a dancing fountain, riding an elevator to the top of an Eiffel Tower replica, and then watching a flurry of (play) $100 bills fall from the sky during a live theater performance, I was fairly certain I had.
Sin City has a squeaky clean side, and visiting as a family is an ideal opportunity to see America’s playground from a different point of view. There are buffets with desserts piled as far as their eyes can see, neon light shows, giant ferris wheels, hotels where acrobats swing from the ceiling, and even an aquarium that can reveal a life-like mermaid. Off the Strip, a flurry of new development over the past decade has brought urban parks, immersive entertainment venues, and a renovated, top of the line children’s museum to the city as well.
For traveling families, Las Vegas is so much more than a place for gambling and gluttony. Indeed, with a bit of planning and a willingness to sidestep some of the city’s more seedy attributes, it can be one of the best vacation destinations for kids in the West. Here are some of the best things to do in Las Vegas with kids.
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Where to eat in Las Vegas with kids
Let’s start with the food. Las Vegas has no shortage of world-class restaurants, but it’s best to hold off on the refined dinner reservations at Mr. Chow or Joël Robuchon—many of the city’s fine-dining spots don’t allow small kids in the first place. But parents need not settle for the purgatory of the fast-casual chain restaurant: At Black Tap inside The Venetian, my girls munched on fried mozzarella and a bison burger while their dad and I split smoky barbecued wings and a wagyu patty with truffle-yuzu vinaigrette; we all then watched in awe as the shake artists at Crazy Shakes prepared a milkshake topped with an entire piece of cake.
Las Vegas buffets are heaven for the picky pint-sized eater, and the largest among them, Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace, has sliders, wagon-wheel mac n cheese, and red velvet pancakes for the kiddos—plus duck carnitas, fresh seafood, and dim sum for the adults. At the charming bistro Mon Ami Gabi inside Paris Las Vegas, my enfants were not left out of the elegance: They were greeted with crayons and a French word-search game, then served their dishes on special kids’ plates.
Kid-friendly things to do
And they had certainly worked up an appetite: Beyond Las Vegas’s casinos, where under-21s are only allowed to walk through (not loiter), the city overflows with attractions to thrill little minds. At the Minus5 ICEBAR, for example, kids are welcome before 8:00 p.m., and upon entering are greeted with a coat, hat and gloves, then handed a cup made of ice they can fill with a mocktail of their choice. The High Roller, the largest observation wheel in North America, offers a smooth ferris-wheel ride 550 feet in the air; older kids will love the adjacent Fly LINQ zipline. My five-year-olds were content with FlyOver Las Vegas, which offers virtual flight rides à la Disneyland’s Soaring Over California.