There was a time when the city of Las Vegas was synonymous with vice. One of the world's great gambling cities, the Las Vegas Strip used to be a neon ghetto rife with crime, both organized and not.
But Las Vegas has changed. And while gambling purists may lament the Disneyfication of a place that used to live up to its moniker of Sin City, there's no denying that fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada, has become a much more appealing place for families in recent decades.
In fact, the hotels, resorts, and casinos of Las Vegas are so eager to keep parents at the gaming tables that they put on an astonishing variety of entertainment for children. And beyond that, the city is also home to some incredible and quirky museums that make excellent places for families to explore. Plus, once you get away from downtown Las Vegas, you'll quickly discover that there are some incredible natural areas around the city that make ideal places to go for a hike.
All of this adds up to make a trip to Vegas with kids a good idea at any time of year. But traveling on a family vacation invariably means traveling heavy. Don't forget to leave your bags behind at a Bounce luggage storage before you go exploring. That way, you won't have to worry about your things while you have some Las Vegas fun.
Hershey's Chocolate World
A visit to Hershey's Chocolate World is a must for any family with young kids. Located in the New York-New York Hotel & Casino, this sweet spot offers free chocolate tastings, interactive exhibits, and a chance to create your own candy bar.
There's also an excellent cafe serving up all sorts of Hershey-themed treats, from milkshakes to sundaes. And let's face it; it's not just kids who love candy. This delicious attraction is one that's likely to please the whole family and anyone with a sweet tooth.
The Shark Reef Aquarium
One of the best things to do in Las Vegas with kids is to visit the Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay. This incredible facility houses more than 2,000 animals, including sharks, turtles, rays, and crocodiles.
Kids will love getting up close and personal with some of the most fascinating creatures on the planet, and they can even take part in feedings and behind-the-scenes tours. It's a thrilling way to explore what goes on beneath the ocean waves in this landlocked city and offers an unforgettable experience of the natural world for kids and adults alike.
The Mob Museum
This unique museum tells the story of organized crime in America, from the early days of the mafia to the present day. While it might not sound like the most kid-friendly place, the museum does an excellent job of presenting its material in an engaging and accessible way.
There are also some pretty cool interactive exhibits, like a chance to step into a replica of a crime scene or sit in a jail cell. That makes this a great place to visit for older kids and one that adults are likely to enjoy too.
Discovery Children's Museum
One of the best museums in Las Vegas, the Discovery Children's Museum is perfect for families with young kids. With interactive exhibits on everything from the human body to the solar system, there's something for everyone here.
And if that's not enough, the museum also has a rooftop garden with a butterfly habitat and a water play area. You could spend hours exploring this top attraction with your family, and the kids will have so much fun that they won't realize they're learning something.
The Springs Preserve
If you're looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the strip, head to the Springs Preserve. This 180-acre park is home to hiking and biking trails, a botanical garden, and a museum.
Kids will love exploring the interactive exhibits at the museum, and the whole family can enjoy a picnic lunch in the scenic gardens. If you're looking to save money, it's also one of the best free things to do in Las Vegas.
Ethel M Chocolate Factory & Botanical Cactus Garden
For a truly unique experience, head to the Ethel M Chocolate Factory & Botanical Cactus Garden.
At the factory, you can take a free self-guided tour and see how some of your favorite chocolates are made. Then, head next door to the botanical cactus garden to see more than 300 species of cacti and succulents.
And if that's not enough, the factory also has a cafe serving up delicious chocolate treats.
Sigfried & Roy's Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat
Located at the Mirage Hotel & Casino, Sigfried & Roy's Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat is home to bottlenose dolphins, white tigers, lions, and leopards.
Kids will love getting up close and personal with some of these amazing animals, and they can even take part in feeding times and training sessions.
There's also a playground and a splash pad to keep kids entertained, making this one of the best things to do in Las Vegas with kids.
Big Apple Roller Coaster
Located in New York-New York Hotel & Casino, the Big Apple Roller Coaster is one of the most popular rides on The Strip.
With speeds of up to 67 miles per hour, it's not for the faint of heart. But if you're looking for a thrill, this is the ride for you. And best of all, it's free to ride if you have a New York-New York Hotel & Casino player's card.
Paris Las Vegas
The replica Paris built in Las Vegas may not be the most authentic thing in the world, but its kitschy nature is part of its charm.
And there's plenty to keep kids entertained, from the street performers on the Las Vegas Strip to the Eiffel Tower Experience. Ride to the top of this half-scale replica of the Eiffel Tower, and you may not be fooled into thinking you're in the capital of France, but you will enjoy views over the city and the surrounding desert.
Venice in Vegas
For a truly unique experience, take a ride on the Venetian Gondola Ride. As you float down the canals of the Venetian Hotel & Casino, you'll be serenaded by your gondolier as you take in the sights and sounds of Venice. Again, it's not the most authentic thing in the world. On the other hand, your kids may prefer this theme park version of great European cities to the real thing.
Popovich Comedy Pet Theater
Looking for something a little different? Check out the Popovich Comedy Pet Theater.
This family-friendly show features a variety of performing animals, from dogs and cats to geese and parrots.
It's a great way to see some of the amazing things that these creatures can do, and it's sure to have the whole family laughing.
Flyover Las Vegas
Thanks to this high-tech attraction, you can see the world without leaving the Las Vegas Strip. More than just a movie, this theater re-creates the sounds, motion, and even smells you would encounter if you really were flying around the world to visit some of the planet's most iconic locations. Choose from one of two immersive experiences, the Real Wild West or Iceland: Land of Fire. Alternatively, you could do both to keep both yourself and the children entertained for a couple of hours.
Fun Dungeon at Excalibur
This interactive arcade is perfect for families with young children. With more than 200 games to choose from, there's something for everyone. And if you get hungry, there's also a food court serving up a variety of kid-friendly snacks and meals.
You'll find tons of exciting arcade games, including the World's Biggest Pac-Man, along with classic and vintage carnival games. Chances are, it won't just be the kids that will enjoy the many fun things that are on offer here. You may find yourself taking a trip back to the gaming days of your own childhood, thanks to some of the machines on display at Fun Dungeon.
Mandalay Bay Beach
If you're looking to cool off in the Nevada heat, then Mandalay Bay Beach is the place to go. With 2,700 tons of real sand, a 1.6 million gallon wave pool, and a lazy river, there's plenty to keep everyone entertained here. And, what kid doesn't love a waterpark?
For those that want to catch some rays, there are also three pools to choose from, as well as cabanas and daybeds that can be rented by the day. In this notoriously hot and landlocked city, it feels truly decadent to spend the day on the beach at one end of the Las Vegas Strip. Truly one of the best things to do in Las Vegas with kids; it's a great way to relax and cool off and still keep the whole family entertained.
Wet'n'Wild Las Vegas
Another great way to beat the heat when you visit Las Vegas with kids is to head to Wet'n'Wild. This waterpark has more than 25 slides and attractions, including the world's tallest looping waterslide.
There's also a lazy river, a wave pool, and plenty of other things to keep both kids and adults entertained. And when you need a break from the heat, there are plenty of shady areas to relax in, as well as a food court serving up a variety of snacks and meals.
High Roller Observation Wheel
For breathtaking views over the city, make sure you take a ride on the High Roller Observation Wheel. At 550 feet tall, it's the tallest observation wheel in the world, and it offers some truly stunning views over the city. The wheel is located in the heart of the Las Vegas Strip at The Linq Hotel close to the Flamingo Hotel and Caesars Palace.
It's a great way to get your bearings when you first arrive in Las Vegas, and it's also a lot of fun for the kids. And if you want to make the experience even more special, you can opt for a private cabin that comes complete with its own bar.
What are the best family activities in Las Vegas?
The truth is, there are so many great things to do in Las Vegas with kids that the hardest part is narrowing down the list of Las Vegas attractions to fit in the time you have to visit them. What appeals most to you and your kids will vary from one family to the next, but there are certain family-friendly attractions that virtually never disappoint.
If your kids are younger, the Popovich Pet Theater and the Ethel M Chocolate Factory are almost guaranteed to be hits. Older kids, especially those who love to learn, will get a kick out of the Discovery Children's Museum and the Shark Reef Aquarium. And teenagers and young adults may be interested in the Mob Museum or a glimpse of old Vegas at the Fremont Street Experience. The themes of some of the hotels, like Treasure Island and Circus Circus might even be enough to impress some kids.
Fortunately, Las Vegas has so many family-friendly attractions that you really don't have to worry about how you'll spend the time. Drop off your bags at a Bounce luggage storage and check out some of these top picks, and you'll soon see why Sin City has become such a popular destination for family vacations. With so much to do for kids and adults alike, you'll be glad you made the trip to Nevada to see what Las Vegas has to offer.