Thursday, April 16, 2015

Family Friendly Las Vegas Vacation

We recently went on a family vacation to Las Vegas. When we were deciding where to go for Spring Break, I was a little hesitant to take my kids to Las Vegas. There are a lot of things in Vegas that I really didn't want to expose my kids to. It's called Sin City for a reason, right?

Our main reason for choosing Las Vegas was because we wanted to go somewhere warm and fairly inexpensive. We booked an extra vacation through RCI at Grandview Las Vegas and it was a killer deal. We would've spent a lot more money going to the coast or somewhere else that is warm during Spring Break.

After going on this vacation, my opinion of Las Vegas has changed a little. Yes, there are things that I'd rather my kids not see. But we planned things to do that kept our kids a little sheltered from those things. Our condo was about 15 minutes away from the strip so we felt like we weren't in the middle of Las Vegas and all that comes with that. Our condo had 4 beautiful swimming pools and we spent a lot of our time there. We had so much fun and I would definitely take my kids here again.

Here are the things that we did in Las Vegas to make it a family-friendly vacation:

Hoover Dam/Lake Mead
Most of the things I read about Lake Mead was about their boating, fishing, and hiking. But I also read online that there is a beach and swimming area at Lake Mead so I thought it would be fun to take the kids there. I wasn't sure what to expect because I haven't really heard a lot about it. Well, it wasn't the most desirable area. The beach had very little sand and it was very rocky. The water in the lake was pretty dirty. But my kids had fun and that's all that matters.

Before we went to Lake Mead, we went to the Hoover Dam. This was really cool and I really wish we would've spent more time here. My kids were so excited to go to the lake so they didn't want to be at Hoover Dam and they thought it looked boring. It was pretty crowded and we had a hard time finding a parking spot. So we stopped and got a picture and then we left.

In hindsight, I wish we would've skipped the lake altogether and just gone to Hoover Dam. I think my kids really would've enjoyed it if we spent more time there.

At Hoover Dam they offer tours but they are pricey. If you want to just walk around it's free.

Ethel M. Chococlate Factory and Cactus Gardens
This chocolate factory is located just outside of Las Vegas, in Henderson. They offer free self guided tours at the Ethel M. Chocolate Factory. When we went there, they weren't doing much in the factory so we really didn't get to see anything. So I would maybe call ahead next time and find out when is the best time go. But they offered some free samples in the gift shop. They also have a small M&M World store right next to the chocolate factory. It's not nearly as big as the one on the strip but it was still fun to walk through the store. My favorite part about this place was the cactus gardens outside. It was so much fun to walk through and take pictures. I would definitely recommend coming here for a free activity with the kids.

Circus Circus
Most of the things we did in Las Vegas were free but we told our kids that we could choose one activity that's a little expensive. Our kids chose the Circus Circus Adventuredome. This is an indoor theme park inside Circus Circus. You can purchase ride tickets separately or you can buy an all day pass for about $30 a person. (We found coupons for $4 off each person just outside the elevator at the resort where we stayed.)

My kids love theme parks and roller coasters so this was the perfect activity for them. There were a lot of fun rides and we had a blast! It definitely wasn't Disneyland but we also weren't paying Disneyland prices.

We also went to Midway at Circus Circus during our day here. In the middle of Midway is a stage where they perform free circus acts throughout the day. This was super fun to watch! Surrounding the stage are lots of carnival games. Each game costs $1-2 and I think they're pretty generous with their prizes. We gave each of our kids $5 to play games and we left with 15 stuffed animals! This was definitely a highlight for my kids. Such a fun day!

Aquarium and Mermaids at The Silverton
At the Silverton, there is a large aquarium with lots of fish and some mermaids that swim around. It's also free. My five year old is always pretending she's a mermaid so I had to take my kids to see this. It was so cool to see a mermaid swimming around an aquarium and interacting with the kids. The mermaid swims are only on certain days so make sure to check the website before you go.

Connected to The Silverton is a Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World. This was one of the coolest stores I have ever been to. It's huge! If you're going to The Silverton, I would definitely recommend checking out Outdoor World while you're there. 

Las Vegas Blvd. (The Strip)

This is the place that I typically try to avoid with kids. But there are a lot of really fun free things to do here. If you go at the right time, it really isn't bad. We went on a Thursday around 11 am and we stayed all day. We started at the Flamingo and walked to MGM Grand. Then we crossed the street at New York New York and walked to Caesar's Palace which is across the street from the Flamingo. It took us about 8 hours to do all of this. I have to say this was my favorite day. There's something about the lights and the people and the music that draws me in. Every once in a while I had to tell my kids to look away so they wouldn't see something inappropriate but it didn't happen very often. Maybe it's because we went during the week. I'm not sure. But I really didn't feel like my kids were exposed to much.

These are the places we went on the strip (All of these places are free):

The Flamingo
Outside of The Flamingo they have a Flamingo Habitat with birds and flamingos. Definitely worth checking out!

Coca Cola Store
This store is full of Coca Cola memorabilia. I love looking at all of the products, especially the vintage Coke products. Upstairs they have a snack bar where they sell Coke, Coke Icees, and Coke Floats. You can also buy a sample platter with Coke products from around the world. This was my 10 year old's favorite thing of the day because he got his own 32 oz Coke!

M&M World
This store has four floors of M&M products. They have a wall where you can buy M&Ms by the pound with every color and flavor imaginable! They're a little more expensive here but it's fun to buy any variety you want. On the third floor they have a 3D movie which is really fun.


Hershey's Chocolate World
This store is similar to the M&M store but with Hershey's products instead of M&Ms.

Bellagio Fountains 
This is one of the most iconic places on the strip and the fountain show is always so much fun to watch!

Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
Inside the Bellagio is a beautiful garden that is changed seasonally. It's so beautiful and so fun to walk through.

Worlds Largest Chocolate Fountain
Just past the botanical gardens in the Bellagio is the worlds largest chocolate fountain located at Jean-Philippe Patisserie. It was cool to see. I wouldn't make a special trip just for the chocolate fountain but if you're going to the Bellagio, it's fun to check it out. The pastries at Jean-Philippe Patisserie also looked delicious. If we hadn't eaten so many M&Ms that day we might've gotten dessert!

Caesar's Palace
This is one of my favorite places to walk through on the strip. Inside Caesar's Palace is the Forum Shops which is like a really high end mall. There is a also a Fall of Atlantis show which includes fire, water, talking statues. Unfortunately, we missed this show because we weren't in the right place when the show started. It starts every hour on the hour. We weren't exactly sure where it was and we were on the opposite end of the Forum Shops. The Fall of Atlantis is located by the Cheesecake Factory.

Las Vegas Sign
This is probably the most iconic place in Las Vegas. Just past the Las Vegas strip is the Las Vegas sign where you can stop and take photos.

There's so much to do in Las Vegas and we couldn't do everything! Here is a list of other kid-friendly activities that we did not do. Most of these cost admission but a few of them are free: 

Madame Tussauds
CSI: The Experience
Siegfried and Roy's Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat
Mandalay Bay Shark Reef
Springs Preserve
Mob Museum
Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition
Pinball Hall of Fame
Red Rock Canyon
Excalibur Tournament of Kings
Volcano at the Mirage

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