We just got back from a weekend in Las Vegas, and I have to admit: it was not the city I remember visiting with my parents back in the day. This was the first time I’ve been there with kids, let alone three of them, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Luckily, I came prepared and made sure we could find things for kids to do in Vegas during our trip.
Our little ones (5 years, 3 years, and 10 months) had a hard time understanding why they couldn’t play with all the bright, shiny, noisy casino games in front of them every time we walked into a casino. I don’t blame them—the stimulation was overwhelming, and I wanted to run towards the fun machines, too. But we made it a point to keep them busy occupied with other things, and talked up where we were going to keep them enticed…hence this post with more than a few things for kids to do in Vegas!
We stayed off the strip at Homewood Suites—a brand new hotel I highly recommend based on location, price, and size of the room. I really wanted to stay closer to the action, but finding a spot for our larger family that wouldn’t break the bank was easier said than done. Luckily, they had breakfast for us every morning and a free shuttle to the strip, and had we stayed during the week, they have dinner provided, too.
As for us grown ups, we luckily traveled with my mom, so one night after the kids went to bed, we took the hotel shuttle to the strip and gambled for a couple of hours kid free. Thanks again, mom!
Things for Kids to do in Vegas
The majority of these things for kids to do in Vegas are actually free, which is music to our ears since saving some bucks is slightly hard to do in a place where you can literally lose your money in the blink of an eye.
1. See Flamingos
With two little ladies in our household, anything pink is the best thing in the world, and flamingos just happen to their favorite animal. They couldn’t believe we were going to see flamingos outside of the zoo!
So the fact that you can see these beautiful creatures (plus parrots, koi, turtles, and other animals) for free makes it a spectacular attraction.
We ran into a worker while were there who said they have two live feedings once a day, which is fun since the animals are always more alert around feeding time.
You can also see a ginormous—not real—larger-than-life flamingo in the promenade area outside of the hotel. The girls got a kick out of it, and who can blame them?!
Where to see it: The Wildlife Habitat at the Flaming Resort and Casinio.
Where to park: We did valet at the Flamingo, and it was just a few steps away from where we got out of the car. If you want free parking, drive to the Venetian and then walk from there.
Cost: Free! If you want to take a picture with the parrots, it’s $15.
2. Watch a Volcano Erupt
Gather ’round and get those kiddos ready for a possible once-in-a-lifetime opportunity (unless you actually have plans to see a real volcano erupt in your lifetime). The volcano at the Mirage is an iconic destination, and it’s recently been upgraded with more fire, more explosions, and more excitement—all the stimuli to keep your kid entertained. Keep an eye on the time, and don’t be late—this hot show erupts at 7 and 8 pm, and at 9 pm on Fridays and Saturdays.
When to see it:
Sunday—Thursday at 7pm and 8pm
Friday—Saturday at 7pm, 8 pm, and 9 pm
Where to see it: in front of the Mirage on Las Vegas Blvd.
Where to park: Self-park at the Mirage, or use their valet
3. Take a Selfie with Sharks
We’re huge, HUGE, fans of aquariums, and the Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay was so much fun. So we practically jumped up and down when MGM graciously supplied us with tickets to check out the sharks, and have lunch afterward.
In true Vegas fashion, the aquarium transported you to a different place, and the kids and grown ups loved it. The littles actually loved it so much they didn’t want to leave any exhibit; we had to lure them away by telling them about something cooler around the next corner.
…And there was always something cooler!
We saw fish I’ve never seen at any other aquarium before. There were even piranhas, a crazy huge octopus, jelly fish, a touch pond with sting rays and crabs (who were actually mating while we were there), and more.
While you meander through the Shark Reef, it’s as though you are actually in the amazon with the way the whole place was decorated. The ambiance was just as exciting as seeing the main attractions.
For example, once you hit the shark reef, you’re magically “underwater” in a sunken ship with huge sharks swimming all around you. And I do mean all around.
Watch your step, because there are portions of see-through-glass above, below, and beside you. Keep your eyes peeled, because you never know when you can stop and take a selfie with a shark.
To make the timing work for our young ones, we got to the Shark Reef right when it opened at 10 am, spent a little more than a half hour there, then we saw their interactive Polar Journey exhibit (included with admission). It was a cute and fun, educational stop addition to our morning, and then we were ready for lunch.
If you worked up an appetite trying to restrain from being shark bait, head over to Mandalay Bay’s Bayside Buffet and chow down.
Their buffet has pretty much anything you could want, and we stuffed our selves silly. But listen to my wise words: If you’re there and they have the Panko Crusted Salmon, GET IT! It was unbelievably delicious, and I wish I started with it instead of ending with it.
We ended up being there for brunch, which is basically my favorite time for food since you get the best of both words. The breakfast side was filled with all your favorites (eggs, made-to-order omelets, French toast sticks, waffles, pancakes, bacon, sausage, bagels, lox, etc.), and some you may not even expect (chiliquiles, churros, or cheese blintz, anyone?).
There was also a carving station, salad bar, and an entire dessert bar, all for your taking.
And of course, if your kid doesn’t want any of the awesome offerings, you can always scrounge up some bread, peanut butter, and jelly. Oh, kids. A whole world of flavors at your fingers and you just want PB&J.
Shark Reef Details
When to visit:
10:00 am – 8:00 pm Sunday – Thursday
10:00 am – 10:00 pm Friday & Saturday
Last admission one hour prior to close.
(May 24 – Sept. 1: 10am – 10pm everyday)
Where to see it: near the South Convention Center of the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino
Where to park: Mandalay Bay’s self-parking garage
Seniors (65+): $23
Kids (4-12): $19
Kids (3 and under): free
Discounts available for Nevada residents
Bayside Buffet Details:
Brunch: 7am to 4:30pm (adults, $25.99; $20.99; kids 5-12)
Dinner: 4:30pm to 9:45 pm (adults, $32.99; $21.99 kids 5-12)
4. See Pirate Ships at Treasure Island
Who doesn’t love the idea of a real life pirate ship? Even though Treasure Island (or TI, as their rebranded name goes), is trying to be more alluring to the older crowd these days, and doesn’t do their pirate show anymore, their ships are still on display and fun for kids to see.
If you don’t have time to get out and physically walk to see the ships, I bet your kids will still be excited to see it from the windows of your car. At least ours were. Plus, this makes another free escapade for the wee ones.
Pirate Ship Details
When to see it: All the time; static display
Where to see it: Outside of Treasure Island on Las Vegas Blvd.
Where to park: Free parking at The Venetian self-parking garage, and then walk across the street
5. Larger than Life Flowers
The Conservatory at the Ballagio reminds me of the Rose Bowl Parade, but in a static display. Thousands of flowers work together to create astonishing displays. They change it every season (you can see the schedule here), and we happened to be there on Chinese New Year, celebrating the Year of the Dog, so that’s what they had displayed.
Keep in mind that there are a few “Dark Days,” which is when they’re switching over displays. I’ll cross my fingers you won’t be visiting when it’s closed!
The girls got a kick out of seeing all the life-like animals, and loved the fact that part of the dog even moved.
I loved all the intricate details, and the chance to stop and smell the roses (aka slow down for a minute).
Plus, just outside of the Conservatory is some really cool art. Look up in the lobby to see the glass-blown flowers covering the ceiling. Plus, there’s an awesome horse with some serious bling!
When to see it: See the schedule here.
Where to see it: Next to the Bellagio front hotel lobby
Where to park: Self-parking garage at Bellagio (first hour is free)
6. Have Fun at the Circus
Everyday starting at 11:30 am, the circus springs to life over at Circus Circus. Catch actual trapeze artists and tight rope walkers share their talents. Watch amazing acrobats, wacky clowns, unicycles and more, all on display under the big tent inside.
Fair warning: there are arcade games for kids around the entire outer circle, so either have your “no” face ready, or have some money ready to shell out to keep them happy.
When to see it: Every day starting at 11:30. See the schedule here.
Where to see it: Inside Circus Circus, center stage at the Carnival Midway
Where to park: Free self parking
7. See the World
This last idea is just as much for adults as it is for kids. But what other place can you experience so many different countries at once?
If you have an avid explorer, but can’t see the world quite yet, Vegas may just blow them away.
Our oldest daughter was born in Italy, and while we’d love to take her there someday, that day isn’t coming any time soon. However, at the Venetian, she got to see “Venice,” a spot an hour from where we lived.
Then, looking down the strip she saw a pyramid (The Luxor), which she exclaimed was exciting, because she was learning about them in school.
Madilyn, our three year old, was thrilled to see the giant balloon in front of The Paris Hotel, which lead us to telling her about France and the Eiffel Tower.
Thank you, Las Vegas, for bringing the world to their fingertips.
Viva Las Vegas
Is Vegas completely family friendly? No. But you can certainly find things for small kids to enjoy, and stuff that won’t bore grown ups at the same time; we mixed our time with things for them, and play time for us. It’s definitely not Disneyland, but they’ll have fun if you take the time to find things they can do…and maybe just cover their eyes when something PG-13 or R-related comes into view.
Have you been to “sin city” with young kids lately? Do you have any tips, ideas, or things for them to do on the strip?