People tend to think of Las Vegas as an adult playground. Can’t imagine why with all the gambling, boozing, hardcore partying and whatnot (especially the whatnot). But for those traveling to Sin City with kids, there’s plenty of fun stuff to do other than forcing your kid to be your wingman.
Here are 10 family-friendly, totally legal ways to keep your kids entertained in Las Vegas (for a comprehensive list of kid-friendly attractions in Las Vegas, click here).
You probably didn’t plan to journey under the sea when you decided to vacation in the desert. But you’ll be glad you took the plunge at Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay.
Nevada’s only aquarium accredited by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association, Shark Reef houses more than 1,200 species of marine life including a crocodile, piranhas, sharks, freshwater fish, a 300-pound sea turtle and much more. The aquarium is also home to an eight-foot-long Komodo dragon, which is classified as an endangered species (only 3,000 to 5,000 are left living in the wild).
Highlights of Shark Reef include a touch pool with an assortment of animals, including stingrays, eels and crabs, a sunken ship exhibit, and a glass-enclosed tunnel where sharks and other sea life swim all around you … even beneath your feet. Buy tickets.
Downtown Container Park
Young kids might typically protest if you say you’re taking them to an outdoor shopping mall, but they’ll change their tune when they see Downtown Container Park.
Located at the southeast corner of Fremont and Seventh streets, the Container Park is unique because the small boutiques, galleries, bars and eateries at the three-story mall are housed in shipping containers and multifunctional modular cubes. While you might find this intriguing, your kids will be more interested in the center playground with an interactive zone designed for children. Another shipping container has been converted into a 30-foot-tall treehouse with three different enticing slides. Oftentimes you can find balloon twisters and face painters on site.
Kids will also enjoy playing with large building blocks on the grass in front of the amphitheater, which usually features live music. You’ll enjoy being able to sit back and relax with a coffee (or even a beer) while the kids play.
Las Vegas wants to give you some sugar (in a kid-friendly way).
Located across the street from one another on Tropicana Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard — the sweetest intersection of the Las Vegas Strip — Hershey’s Chocolate World and M&M’s World are both enormous, multilevel candy stores filled with chocolate, retail merchandise, mementos and interactive exhibits.
Hershey’s Chocolate World, located in front of New York-New York, is packed with more than 800 types of Hershey’s brand products and tons of photo opportunities, including an 800-pound replica of the Statue of Liberty carved from Hershey’s Milk Chocolate and a replica of the Empire State Building made from 1,800 Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bars.
M&M’s World, located next to MGM Grand, has a rainbow wall featuring 22 different M&M’s colors like teal, hot pink, lime green, gray, purple and a patriotic red, white and blue. You can also catch a 10-minute 3-D film, “I Left My M in Vegas” in the M&M’s movie theater.
You just read about taking your kid to a candy store. Now imagine that the candy store is actually a three-story museum full of interactive exhibits promoting science, art and culture — and your child’s reaction is strikingly similar to being confronted with a three-story candy cane. That’s the Discovery Children’s Museum.
Located in Symphony Park, adjacent to The Smith Center in downtown Las Vegas, the 58,000-square-foot museum is home to a well-rounded array of learning experiences that feel a whole lot more like play.
You can travel between the nine themed exhibition halls via a 70-foot, 13-level tower that puts your favorite park’s climbing structure to shame with jungle gym-esque features like slides and climbing tubes as well as hands-on experiments along the way, centered around machines, air pressure, flight, magnets, electricity, light and more.
Jeff Civillico: Comedy in Action
Looking for a kid-friendly show in Las Vegas? With high-energy juggling, quick-witted humor and even a bit of magic, Jeff Civillico: Comedy in Action at The Quad will keep both kids and their parents entertained.
Funny on multiple levels, watching this one-man, afternoon show is sort of like watching a Warner Brothers cartoon. Your kids will totally love it, but you are likely to love it even more. There’s an inflatable set, a bowling ball, tons of wedgies and some awkward moments involving three men and a unicycle.
Civillico recently added new stunts to his show, including a bit he calls Juggle-Vision. He wears a GoPro on his head during his juggling finale so the audience can see what he sees. Watching from two perspectives, yours and his, makes for a truly stunning visual. Civillico tells the audience he was drawn to performing after being called up on stage as a kid. If the children in the audience don’t already want to grow up to be like him after seeing how much fun he’s having on stage, Juggle-Vision will seal the deal. Buy tickets.
With 100-plus wax replicas that look so real that you’ll find yourself taking a second glance, Madame Tussauds gives you a chance to get up-close and personal with celebrities, musicians, sports figures and superheroes.
The two-floor, 30,000-square-foot museum, located in front of the Venetian, keeps things fresh by constantly changing out the figures. Most recently, though a partnership with Marvel Comics, Madame Tussauds assembled some of The Avengers. A multisensory Marvel 4-D Theater allows film viewers to feel the action (and even get wet) as the superheroes save Las Vegas from destruction.
Touching is encouraged at Madame Tussauds, which means your kid might try to poke Ben Affleck in the eye … but really who hasn’t thought about doing that at least once. Buy tickets.
The five-and-a-half-acre Adventuredome at Circus Circus is America’s largest indoor theme park and features thrill rides, traditional carnival rides, laser tag, miniature golf, bumper cars, midway booths, an arcade, clown shows and so much more.
The theme park’s newest ride, El Loco, takes riders upside down, through a 45-degree outward banked turn and a 180-degree turn that races over the edge into a barrel roll.
Younger kids will enjoy watching a Sponge Bob or Dora the Explorer-themed film in the 4-D Special FX Theater. There’s also a 4-D motion ride featuring fun computerized graphics as well as a series of shakes and bumps. Plus, the snack bar sells churros. What kid doesn’t like a nice, warm churro?
Nevada Southern Railway
Experience an authentic train ride in Boulder City, located only 30 minutes south of the Las Vegas Strip.
At the Nevada Southern Railway, you can ride the train and listen to history about Boulder City, the city responsible for building the dam. Ride in an open air car or in one of the air conditioned/heated Pullman coaches. In addition to the recorded narration, volunteers dressed in railroad attire are available to answer any questions and share fun facts during the ride. The train ride is seven miles round trip and drives up to Railroad Pass casino and back. The entire ride is 45 minutes long, so you’ll have plenty of time to take pictures.
Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat
What do lions and dolphins have in common? Not much, except that you can see them both lounging in the sun at Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at The Mirage Hotel & Casino.
Don’t worry, they’re not hanging out in a cabana by the pool. They’re not even hanging out together. The cat habitat and the dolphin habitat are separate.
The cat habitat features lush greenery, fun, jungle-themed music and built-in waterfalls showcasing white tigers, lions and leopards. Meanwhile, you can get up close and personal with playful and adorable bottlenose dolphins at the dolphin habitat, which is surrounded by palm trees, lush foliage and 2.1 million gallons of water. Buy tickets.
Wet ‘n’ Wild
Have fun in the sun and so much more at Wet ‘n’ Wild Las Vegas, a 33.5-acre water park with more than 25 slides and attractions.
Wet ‘n’ Wild Las Vegas’ newest ride, Tornado, is a funnel slide that will catapult you through a 45-foot-wide funnel. Keep the adrenaline flowing as you navigate the twists and turns of The Rattler descending 360 feet into a splash pool. Or you can rush down an enclosed flume slide through corkscrew turns and spirals on The Constrictor. Chill as you float along the 1,000-foot, winding Lazy River or hit the surf at the 400,000-gallon Red Rock Bay wave pool. Paradise Falls is the perfect spot for families with an interactive children’s area.
Kids will have a blast at the multilevel Splash Island with five colorful, interactive fun zones, nine kid-friendly slides and a massive bucket that spills 300 gallons of water onto guests below.