Las Vegas Guide for Families
Las Vegas is known as a place for adult entertainment, not a place for kids. At first glance, families don’t have much to do in the city of nighttime entertainment and gambling. However, anyone who actually takes the time to do some research on what Vegas has to offer beyond shows and casinos would be surprised to find an array of activities and entertainment of a more wholesome type, perfect for families and kids. Our team of editors has done the research for you, traveled to the destination, and got the scoop on the best sights and activities to do when traveling to Vegas with your family.
Today we’d like to take you to a place in Vegas where kids are welcome. Where big families gather. Where Vegas is no longer about gambling only but also about reconnecting: with nature, with oneself, with relatives.
We’d like to give you a tour of Vegas the way it’s rarely seen: through wholesome eyes.
Where to Stay
The first stop on our family friendly Vegas adventure is the same place where you would end up right after you get picked up at the airport: your hotel.
There is no better place in Vegas for rest and relaxation (away from the noise, yet close enough to enjoy what Las Vegas has to offer) than the JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort and Spa.
Being a family brand to begin with, the Marriott chain sticks to its values even in Vegas. Located off the strip in a more residential home-like location, JW Mariott Las Vegas is the perfect getaway for a family.
Traveling to and from the resort, we kept thinking about how amazingly nice it felt to return to JW Marriott, how it felt exactly like driving home, warm and familiar, despite the drastically different landscape of the desert.
Located not far from Red Rock Canyon, JW Las Vegas sits on 50 acres of beautiful gardens, water features, manicured lawns and beautiful views of the nearby mountains.
This is one of those luxury resorts that you seem to explore for days and never really see everything there is to see. Endless hallways with grand chandeliers, rock lined pathways among tall trees and glistening creeks are just begging to be explored.
If you love the idea of a family vacation with just a touch of gambling, JW Vegas’ casino is right there for you, low key and classy, perfectly understated for such a family friendly resort.
You can get even more excitement with nightly features, or by driving 15-20 minutes to the strip and returning back home to quiet luxury when you’re ready.
The rooms at JW are of the best traditions of Las Vegas: over the top, but in that warm welcoming way that you want your bedroom to be; with dark woods, impressive four poster beds, luxurious bathrooms and outstanding views from the balcony.
No JW resort would be the same if it weren’t for their intricate and relaxing spa with luxurious amenities: whirlpool, baths, steam rooms, separate lounges, plunge pools and two levels of treatment rooms. An outdoor spa area with gleaming pools amongst rocks is one of the most unique and loved features of the spa.
You could always try going for an unforgettable Cabernet Crush Treatment that includes a crushed red grape and orange blossom exfoliation, followed by a warm wine and honey body wrap and finished with a wine body oil massage. Everything is done in the same treatment room to ensure complete relaxation.
JW’s signature 11,000 square foot waterfall pool is the perfect place to have fun with the kids or hide away in a cabana after a long day. If you’re into active sports, try your hand at sand volleyball, bocce ball or go for a round of golf on a beautiful picturesque course.
Finally, when the day is almost over, a nice dinner at one of the 8 on-site restaurants will put a perfect cap on your experience.
Now that you’re settled in, let’s move on to activities.
FOR MOM | FOR DAD | DINING | FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY | FOR KIDS
Tivoli Village is a little respite from the Las Vegas strip. It does feel a bit like strolling through Italy and the ambiance is welcoming. Inside the Italian-village-like atmosphere there are some great eateries and boutiques with friendly staff. However, unlike a sleepy Italian village, this is a mall with everything from candy and clothing to dog grooming, plus kid stuff, a salon and a gym. You can enjoy outdoor dining, spending the day with your pet in the designated dog-friendly areas, relaxing at a spa or break a sweat in one of the most elite gyms in the country. The charming village is also quite stunning to walk through at night with all the glimmering lights.
Aside from the upscale shopping, dining, and plenty of fun venues to visit, walking around Tivoli Village you feel like you are surrounded by beautiful and friendly people. You can peruse the farmers market on Saturday mornings and occasionally, Tivoli Village holds free events like salsa dancing or live music. You can check the calendar on their website to keep up with the upcoming shindigs. Tivoli Village is located in Summerlin on the corner of Rampart Boulevard and Alta Drive. It is about 25 minutes north from the Las Vegas Strip and worth the drive to get away from all the hype. Parking at Tivoli Village is a breeze with outdoor lots, covered garages and valet parking options.
Relaxing at M Resort Spa
For a relaxing time while the husband is losing your hard earned money, try visiting the spa at M Resort. The 23,000 square foot world-class spa is sure to provide you with a relaxing and revitalizing experience. Spa Mio is a Forbes Four-Star Spa, located away from the bustling casino on the pool level at M Resort. The spa and salon sanctuary are tucked tranquilly behind an inviting fountain featured at the foot of a staircase and glass elevator. Spa Mio contrasts modern décor and nature inspired touches for a stylish yet serene ambiance. Shimmering chandeliers play off of decorative wood accents while fresh, bright flowers soften the bold furnishings.
The spa offers 16 treatment rooms, a romantic couples area, sauna, steam and hot tub wet areas, a full service salon and barbershop, luxury locker rooms and a state-of-the-art fitness center. A one of a kind experience is notable as you enter the steam room, as the therapeutic scent of eucalyptus greets and detoxifies your senses. Cool off with moisturizing cucumbers and wet ice towels or a refreshing rain shower, located in the same area. Spa Mio has an extensive list of specialized spa services, and their expert hair and body technicians use the highest-quality products and latest techniques to transport you to a tranquil state of mind.
The intimate relaxation lounge is an ideal spot for balancing your mind before or after a treatment with plush seating, gentle music and reading materials. Enjoy refreshments like fruit, tea, coffee and sparkling water. For a natural immunity boost, sip on hydrating ice water with freshly sliced cucumbers and lemon. Spa Mio’s friendly and attentive spa attendants can even bring you fresh fruit smoothies or a light meal.
If you choose to get a work out, the fitness center is 5,500 square feet and you can get a world-class workout while enjoying the spectacular views of the M Resort’s expansive pool. The incredible fitness center includes a variety of cardio and strength training state-of-the-art Cybex equipment, designed to improve physical wellbeing, function and performance. In case you want to step away from the pool view, there are several flat screen TV’s to entertain you as well as inside the gym. After a workout you may want to step outside to the 100,000 square foot backyard retreat, which has infinity pools, hot tubs, day beds and cabanas. It’s a great place to rest your muscles after a workout and to soak up the sun. This also serves as an alternate route to avoid walking through the crowded casino after your relaxing time at the spa.
RICHARD PETTY DRIVING EXPERIENCE
Get out of the casinos and head to the outdoors for an experience of a lifetime in a real NASCAR stock car. You can actually drive or ride along with a professional driving instructor at speeds of 160 MPH in a 600-horsepower race car with the Richard Petty Driving Experience. Owned and operated by the worldwide leader in NASCAR stock car drive and ride entertainment, Petty Holdings, LLC, the Richard Petty Driving Experience takes place at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, which is 1,200 acres, and consists of multiple tracks for motorsports racing, including the Tri-Oval SuperSpeedway, the Bullring Oval, a dirt track and “The Strip” drag strip. This is the one and only motor sports attraction in Las Vegas that offers the thrill of the NASCAR superSpeedway. You will get suited up in authentic tracksuits and trained with an instructional video prior to getting behind the wheel. You will get to experience the same 1.5 mile tri-oval superSpeedway that hosts a number of racing series including the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series.
The Richard Petty Driving Experience includes complimentary round-trip transportation from the Las Vegas Strip, so getting out to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway is as simple as booking a driving experience. You can easily make a reservation online from a selection of various driving experiences.
The Ride-Along Experiences do not require reservations except during special events and start at $109. The driving experiences start at $499 with the “Rookie Experience” that is 8 laps in a 600HP NASCAR race car, and you can splurge all the way up to a high roller experience for $2699 called “Racing Experience” that will give you a 50-lap, five-segment experience. This 4 hour package comes complete with in-car video of the driving experience on a USB flash drive, a photo plaque and a souvenir Richard Petty Driving Experience hat and t-shirt.
If you want to switch it up from the NASCAR racing experience, try the American Muscle Car Challenge Driving Experience that takes place on a test track. You will be able to experience the performance characteristics of the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, Dodge Challenger SRT8 and Ford Mustang Shelby GT500. Whether you decide to ride along or actually get behind the driver’s seat of a race car or muscle car, it will be the ultimate adrenaline rush.
Cantina Laredo serves modern Mexican food in a sophisticated, vibrant atmosphere. Diners can sit inside the 300 person capacity dining room, or on one of the two patios, to soak in the atmosphere in Tivoli Village. Its location is ideal for dinner and drinks after a stroll in Tivoli Village in Northwest Las Vegas. You can visit Cantina Laredo for lunch, dinner, drinks, and Sunday brunch. Brunch is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays, and guests can land a complimentary bloody Mary or mimosa as well as dishes such as crab cakes Benedict and asada y huevos.
The small chain creates authentic Mexican food inspired by the cuisine of Mexico City with a modern twist. Executive chef, Damon Workman, prepares grilled fish, chicken or steak topped with one of a kind signature sauces like chipotle-wine and Portobello mushroom or sautéed artichoke heart and roasted red bell pepper. The menu features dishes such as camaron poblano asada with sautéed shrimp, mushrooms, onions, and jack cheese all inside a grilled poblano pepper wrapped in carne asada steak, and enchiladas de avocado topped with tomatillo sauce. However, the restaurant is most known for its fresh guacamole made table side.
For dessert try the Apple Pie, which comes in a hot skillet and smoked with Mexican Brandy Butter, topped with cinnamon ice cream. Other dessert options include a Mexican brownie, mango tres leches and flan, among others. What drives in customers the most are the killer margaritas that will make you forget your name. Don’t miss their award-winning signature margarita, the Casa Rita, made from fresh lime-juice and the finest tequila.
Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville is right on the Las Vegas strip across from Caesar’s Palace and inside the Flamingo. As much as it is fun and the place to get your booze on, it is also family friendly. They allow any age all the time and upon arrival your kids will be given fun Wikki Stix to get creative with. People walking around on stilts will come by and make the kids balloon animals or hats and the whimsical décor will definitely catch their eye. A suspended airplane in the dining room will awe them, and the girl sliding down a volcano into a Margarita glass will thrill you. The centerpiece of the tropically themed main floor dining room is the signature bar over which a volcano periodically deposits tequila into a huge blender.
The iconic chain is inspired by Jimmy Buffett’s island lifestyle. The multi-level Caribbean-themed restaurant features two outdoor patios, which is great for people watching while you chill with a drink. This is a hot spot for Vegas visitors and features a 12,000-square-foot, three level restaurant with six bars and live entertainment nightly both indoors and outdoors. Reminiscent of the vibrancy of a Jimmy Buffet show, Margaritaville is a lively and colorful eatery.
Its nautical influences are not only woven into the décor, but the drinks, menu and music as well. Guests are encouraged to relax and chow down on a “Floridian” menu that reflects the flavors of Buffett’s island travels. If you are a “Parrothead,” then you will love the crunchy conch fritters, creamy corn and crab chowder and barbecued ribs marinated in guava puree. But don’t miss out on the signature dishes either. Everyone must start off with the gigantic Volcano Nachos; a tower of tortilla chips, cheddar cheese, olives and chili. Buffett’s signature is the famous “Cheeseburger in Paradise” with a whopping seven ounce patty and all the toppings. There are also gluten-free food options, which range from light to decadent.
When it comes to libations, Margaritaville is undoubtedly the Mecca for margaritas and probably the cheapest margaritas on the strip. Share the giant frozen margarita cup with your tablemates. There are also hundreds of daiquiris and shot combinations and several Bloody Mary variations that you can get in take-home cups.
For dessert you can go all out and share the Chocolate Hurricane. The massive sundae is made with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Vanilla Bean ice cream, brownies, Kit Kats, Heath Bars, shortbread cookies, sliced banana, whipped cream and chopped macadamia nuts. It is all swirled with chocolate and caramel sauce. This restaurant and bar with a laid-back party vibe and free-flowing tequila offers hearty and healthy dishes to satisfy your appetite.
Bin702 is located at Container Park in Downtown Las Vegas. It’s a wine bar housed inside of two shipping containers fused together, as is the makeup of the infamous Container Park. They offer both indoor and outdoor seating. While Freemont Street already offers every type of bar, this is the first wine bar in the mix. Offering an intimate atmosphere with fantastic music playing, very mellow indie rock, this isn’t white tablecloth dining. It’s trendy, industrial, and funky with a sustainable attitude. Keeping with the atmosphere of sustainability, they use plastic (compost-able) utensils and paper (compost-able) plates. The food is just as good with plastic silverware!
Boasting more than a dozen wines on tap and a respectable canned and bottled beer selection, to accompany their selection, Bin702 offers artisanal cheese and meat plates, salads, and paninis. All of their dressings and aiolis are made from scratch on-site, and they source the best domestic and imported ingredients available. The turkey and brie is quite satisfying. The brie is nice and warm and is complimented with turkey breast, apricot jam, lettuce, tomato and house aioli. It hits the spot when you’re feeling a sandwich. A small selection of cocktails also make the grade here. Try the Bill Murray with coffee-infused vodka, spice rum, Cointreau and cinnamon. They also offer holiday inspired drinks, and the hot cider is a favorite of most patrons with a kick of cayenne pepper. This novelty restaurant is great to go and cozy up in a corner with someone special or to hang out with friends.
Culinary Dropout is a British-influenced pub and restaurant with a raw bar and a very relaxed atmosphere. It has a chic and cozy feel with crystal chandeliers contrasting hunter’s lodge moose antlers. You can enjoy relaxing on the art deco sofas complimented by oversized paisley chairs in the open-air patio with a stage for live bands. It is a great spot to spend time enjoying live music over brunch or happy hour. Culinary Dropout is the latest brain child of five-time James Beard Foundation semi-finalist for Outstanding Restaurateur, Sam Fox. This hip and funky hangout on the Vegas strip is located inside the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. The place is casual, including the uniform-free staff, so don’t go there expecting the snob treatment like other Vegas restaurants on the strip. From the chefs with silver-studded ears and Mohawk hairdos, to the inked-up bar staff, you will only find a relaxed and soulful ambiance here.
This is essentially a gastro-pub that serves the very best fare. It’s a bit of a soul kitchen with dishes ranging from fried chicken and biscuits to rainbow trout and rib eyes. The house made pretzels with provolone fondue are addictive. Don’t miss the fresh potato chips with onion dip, and the gorgonzola chicken salad is very tangy and delicious. Culinary Dropout is the perfect destination for day-drinking and late-night carousing with two-thirds of the menu dedicated to beer, wine and innovative cocktails. The stylish staff stirs up carefully crafted fresh cocktails and brings worldly culinary experiences to unique and simple pub fare.
Alize Restaurant at the top of the Palms has the most spectacular view in all of Las Vegas. It is notably ranked as one of the 5 highest restaurants in North America, situated on the 56th floor of the decadent Palms Casino & Resort in Las Vegas. Located on Flamingo Boulevard, one mile north of the Las Vegas strip from Caesar’s Palace and the Bellagio Hotel, Alize is one restaurant not to be missed. In the most elegant atmosphere for a romantic dinner, French cuisine is served at its finest. Alizé is one of Chef André Rochat’s jewels among his trio of French restaurants. Rochat introduced fine dining to Las Vegas 20 years ago with his original André’s French Restaurant, and he now presides creatively at Alizé.
Mark Purdy, Alizé’s Chef de Cuisine, executes the restaurant’s delectable dishes. The dishes are attractively presented, with delicious flavor and texture combinations. Among your appetizer choices might be André’s foie gras terrine or escargots. Fresh fish, such as Dover sole sautéed Veronique, grenobloise or amandine style, is flown in daily. Other entrée favorites include duck three-ways: pan-roasted breast, Beluga lentil and sautéed foie gras; prosciutto, cabbage, raisins, mustard and almonds; and confit and smoked sausage cassoulet. For dessert, the chocolate soufflé and the soufflé du jour, plus temptations such as chocolate fondant with a chocolate truffle center, are worth the splurge. For a comprehensive dining experience, select the seven-course tasting menu. Las Vegas’ Michelin-starred Alizé Restaurant is not just famous for its ever-changing menu, it also has a vast, award-winning wine selection and the largest cognac collection in Vegas. Alizé’s astounding wine list of 1,800 wines would appeal to the most discriminating wine connoisseur.
For THE WHOLE family
Picnic is a unique venue for a downtown pool experience inside the Las Vegas Grand Downtown Hotel and Casino. It is a poolside restaurant and bar located in the Casino Tower, 3rd Floor Rooftop. Arriving at Picnic is like finding that perfect spot to park your blanket on the grass in the park. You’ll find plenty of fun at the lively walk up bar, the outdoor tent filled with communal picnic tables, live blackjack games, and a rotating lineup of eclectic entertainment. Amid the park-like landscaping, you will also find lounge chairs and daybeds with umbrellas. The 35,000-square-foot infinity pool area even has fire pits, manicured hedges and pops of lime green furnishings to evoke that park like vibe. It has a nostalgic feel of a bygone era of simplicity.
Picnic is open on a seasonal basis. On weekday afternoons, hotel guests can swim and soak up the sun. On weekends, The Pool Deck regularly hosts events or has entertainment, such as outdoor concerts and DJs, as well as movies. With views overlooking the downtown scene at this rooftop pool you can enjoy a lazy meal just as you would out of a picnic basket in the park. A garlic edamame and edamame dip, chicken wings, hand-tossed pizzas made from scratch, fish tacos and the Picnic burger make the menu, while homemade ice creams and gelatos finish any meal. For drinks, find the Grand Beginnings made with Absolut Raspberri vodka, peach schnapps and cranberry juice or the refreshing Downtown Sweetness with Smirnoff vanilla vodka, pineapple juice, grenadine and just a splash of ginger ale. Picnic is an ode to the 1950’s Vegas pool style.
Container Park is a unique experience of its own. Located on the infamous Freemont Street in Downtown Las Vegas, it is a shopping center constructed solely of shipping containers stacked upon each other, thus its name. This is an open-air shopping center filled with boutique retail shops, eclectic dining, a great nightlife, and live entertainment for the whole family. Kids will love the interactive playground featuring The Treehouse, and adults can relax while enjoying free concerts, movies, and more on the main stage. This is a dynamic environment where both children and adults can have fun and be active while exploring their creativity. Special features of The Treehouse include a 33-foot-tall slide, NEOS play system, oversized foam building blocks, and much more.
For shopping you will find everything from apparel, jewelry, and accessories to art galleries, home décor, and fixtures. With three levels of shopping and more than 10 fashion boutiques, Container Park offers a shopping experience unlike anything else in the world. Created from repurposed shipping containers and locally manufactured Xtreme Cubes, the stores at Downtown Container Park offer an intimate shopping experience. And it’s the perfect way to shop small and support local businesses, as most of the owners operate their boutique. Not only are the boutique shops housed inside shipping containers, but even wine bars like Bin 702 are inside shipping containers. Downtown Container Park is home to seven restaurants and bars with indoor and outdoor seating: Pinches Tacos, Simply Pure, Big Ern’s BBQ, Cheffini’s Hot Dogs, Bin 702, The Perch, and Oak & Ivy. From upscale dining at The Perch to gourmet hot dogs at Cheffini’s, there’s something for everyone. Downtown Container Park is an exciting sustainable shopping attraction.
No age restriction
“The World Famous Popovich Comedy Pet Theater is a family-oriented blend of the unique comedy and juggling skills of Gregory Popovich, and the extraordinary talents of his performing pets.
Each of the show’s 15 cats and 10 dogs were once strays, rescued from animal shelters. Audiences will be delighted to see this extravaganza of European-style clowns, amazing juggling and balancing acts, and of course, very talented performing pets. It’s a show that both adults and kids of all ages will enjoy! “*
No age restriction
The midway surrounds the circus stage which showcases free world class circus acts daily starting at 11:00 a.m. It is also close to Circus Circus’ indoor amusement park.
Hailed by many as the premiere comedy magician in the world today, Mac King was just named “Magician of the Year” by the Magic Castle in Hollywood, just broke a Guinness World Record, just appeared on his seventh TV special for NBC-TV, just rocked on Late Show with David Letterman, and has been regarded as one of the top 5 shows in all of Las Vegas for the past ten years.
If you missed the Blue Man group touring in your city, this is your chance to catch them live. Kids of all ages will be delighted by their energy, colors and comedy of this trio. Prepare for a turbo charged show this time, as “the mega-enhanced show at Monte Carlo Resort and Casino is a thrilling, energy-infused performance that introduces wildly inventive musical instruments, a humorous look at robots and creativity, and a mind-blowing (literally) tour inside the neural network of the human brain”.
Located in the Bellagio, this garden is surely to impress a kid of any age. Free admission will please parents and after a leisurely stroll among rare natural finds, the whole family can visit one of the on-site restaurants for lunch.
Exploration Peak Park, a western themed park offers so much to families. Bicycle trails and walking paths lead up to several vantage points on top of Exploration Peak, offering incredible views of the Las Vegas Valley. Exploration Peak Park features picnic areas, playgrounds, walking trails, replicas of a western town and Indian village, an archeological dig site, an outdoor amphitheater and more. This park creates a recreational, educational, and entertainment amenity unmatched in the Las Vegas Valley.
Bonnie Springs Ranch was originally built in 1843 as a stopover for the wagon trains going to California down the Old Spanish Trail. Nowadays, it’s a motel, a dinner house, and a cocktail lounge, offering pony rides, petting zoo, horseback rides and lots of entertainment. A great way to tap into the Old West!
The Children’s Playground is located near the trail head. Keeping in theme with the Las Vegas Desert Canyon, the playground features oversized replicas of a peregrine falcon, a woolly mammoth skeleton and a sidewinder snake. Children can make believe that they are in the Old West and take a ride on a train.
The Adventuredome Theme Park is America’s largest indoor theme park expanding five acres and located at Circus Circus. Voted Las Vegas’ best place to go if under 21 by the Best Of Las Vegas, it features thrill rides, traditional carnival rides, laser tag, miniature golf, bumper cars, midway booths, an arcade, clown shows, and much more. The park is complete with foods like funnel cake, soft pretzels, nachos and lemonade, as well as a little something for adults – a cocktail stand.
Red Ridge Park is one of Las Vegas’ neighborhood parks. The park is fairly large with a baseball field, basketball court, walking trail, and plenty of grass for children to play in. What makes this park unique is that it offers a 9 hole course to play disc golf.
Explore sharks up close and personal at Shark Reef Aquarium located at Mandalay Bay. Visitors experience an almost 360-degree view, teeming with sharks and fish, through an acrylic tunnel, as well as see dangerous and unusual aquatic animals from the world’s tropical waters through 14 exhibits. Popular attractions are the Touch Pool where guests can touch an ever-changing collection of animals including sharks, rays or horseshoe crabs, and a 12,000-gallon freshwater exhibit with the highly unusual Golden Crocodile.
Red Rock Canyon is located 17 miles west of the Las Vegas Strip on Charleston Boulevard/State Route 159, and was designated as Nevada’s first National Conservation Area.
Red Rock offers a 13-mile scenic drive, more than 30 miles of hiking trails, rock climbing, horseback riding, mountain biking, road biking, picnic areas, nature observing and a visitor center with exhibit rooms and a book store. A visit to Red Rock will give you the opportunity to view unique geologic features and plants and animals which represent some of the best examples of the Mojave Desert.
Now you can rest assured that your next trip to Vegas can still be full of fun, family style!
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Elena is the managing editor for Daily Mom. She enjoys traveling, spending time with her daughter, running several businesses, working on Daily Mom, playing volleyball, going to the gym, photographing and reading. You can contact her via email.