Family Travel: Las Vegas with Kids
I’m going to be completely honest with you. I don’t love Las Vegas when I’m there for more than 3 days. I start itching for trees and nature, and less heat! But as we were planning our family road trip from Aspen to Los Angeles, there it lay on the map, as the ideal pitstop along our route. We only had 2 nights to spare in the city that never sleeps, and I knew my kids would get a kick out of seeing the grandeur of Las Vegas. We put on our parent-planning hats to create the perfect itinerary for Las Vegas with kids. They loved it, and us parents had fun too, even in the August heat.
Where to Stay
With so many hotel choices in Las Vegas, it’s hard to know which way to go. Especially with a family of 5 that needs a bit more room. After reading endlesss online reviews, we came to the MGM Grand Resort as our hotel of choice, which we booked through Expedia.ca. We picked it for a few reasons.
- The rooms were big. We had two queen beds, a huge pull out couch, walk-in closet and a bathroom with a double vanity and both a shower and a bathtub.
- It had an amazing pool to beat the August heat, lazy river included.
- It is centrally located on the strip, within walking distance of quite a few attractions.
- Everything we needed was in the hotel complex – from an arcade to restaurants to snacks.
While budgeting the trip, we actually decided to opt out of a Vegas show, as we were there on an off Tuesday night, and spend that money by renting a pod at the pool. It was a fantastic investment. We spent our entire second day in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand pool. Having our own designated bed (it comfortably fit 4) with its own umbrellas was exactly what we needed to relax mid-trip and stay cool. Best of all, half the price of the pod could be consumed on drinks and food from the pool restaurant. So we spent the afternoon sipping virgin daiquiris and enjoying fruit plates and chips ‘n dips, without the guilt of hotel food prices.
Caveat: the hotel is huge. A kid could get lost trying to find their room when stepping off the elevator as there are so many wings that all look the same. But we stuck together at all times. Check-in also took over an hour but I think that’s fairly typical for Vegas.
Where to Eat
Depending on your family’s appetites, eating in Las Vegas with kids can be extravagant or super simple. We landed somewhere in between. Upon arrival, we headed to Eataly in the Park MGM, across the street from our hotel (if you know Vegas, going across any street can take a good 10-15 minutes). This giant food hall had something for everyone, from fresh pizza and pasta to charcuterie boards. We all loved the casual feel of the restaurant, as well as the food. The kids especially loved the buzzers they got at each station to that would let them know when their plates were ready.
Both breakfast and lunch on day 2 were spent at the hotel. I’ll be the first to admit that my dinnertime planning wasn’t up to par. My kids had never been to the Rainforest Café so I thought it would be a fun experience. But the restaurant was tucked away in a mall and was quite dark and didn’t have the amazing effects I remembered as a kid. The food was mediocre and the service was slow. In retrospect, we should have opted for a non-chain, Vegas-exclusive restaurant. But honestly, the kids didn’t notice and were just happy to be out and about.
Our highlight meal, as expected, was brunch at Mon Ami Gabi in the Paris Hotel. Fresh baguette with Nutella, thick waffles, Café au Lait and bowls of fresh fruit. We all couldn’t have been happier; and stuffed as we left Vegas for the next leg of our road trip.
What to do
As mentioned, we didn’t see any paid shows in Vegas and spent most of our full day there at the pool. But we used the “cooler” evening hours to explore and take in local attractions. From the fountains at the Bellagio to the volcano show at Treasure Island, there was plenty of free entertainment to see along the strip. We stopped into tourist spots like the Hershey’s & M&M stores and cooled off at the Fashion Show Mall too. On our way out of Vegas we stopped at the Premium Outlets North for some back-to-school shoe shopping at the Nike Factory store and the Lululemon outlet.
My kids love an arcade. So when they spotted one at our hotel they had to stop. After playing a few rounds and begging us for more tickets, we discovered they had to claim their prize at the New York, New York hotel. Across the street, this is the arcade! It was triple the size of the one in our hotel and even had the Big Apple Coaster ride.
Vegas with kids is fun. Two days of bright lights, crazy characters and the dinging of slot machines was a memory in the making for our family. I don’t know that I’d run back again anytime soon but it was the perfect action-packed pitstop on our family road trip.