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Family Vacation To Las Vegas? What to Expect & Where to Stay

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Las Vegas Airport

Guide for Visiting Las Vegas With Kids : Where to Stay & What To Expect

(Note – we visited both pre-Covid and during Covid, but we focused on general information that might be helpful to families visiting anytime).

We decided to take my kids to Las Vegas for the past two summers. It was one spot that I had previously said I would not travel to with my kids, but an opportunity ended up presenting itself for us (in the form a beautiful hotel to stay at, gifted to us by a family member), and so, after some research, we decided to turn it into an epic school shopping trip for my tweens. After doing some research, a few things changed my mind about visiting. They included the fact that I had heard the streets had been cleaned up quite a bit (so we could walk down the strip without my kids finding inappropriate flyers all over the place), that there were options to stay in hotels that did not have a casino, were non-smoking and had heightened security, and there were plenty of kid friendly activities beyond the casinos and nightlife activities that Las Vegas is so well known for. We honestly had a really good time, but that being said, this might not be a great vacation for every family. I am sharing my honest opinion of family travel to the Las Vegas trip, to help others make the right decision for them.

Besides the gorgeous room we were gifted, another thing that pushed me to a yes for Vegas with kids was the fact that I wanted to take them some place fun to do their school shopping this year. I looked at it like this: we were spending the school shopping money anyway, so if I combine the idea of back to school shopping and vacation, it would actually end up saving me some in the long run (I would use their school shopping money for spending money on this trip – vs doing a vacation with spending money and school shopping when we got back). Plus, my girls are entering their early teen years, so it was a fun way for me to create special school shopping memories for us. Again, not for everyone – but we loved it.

In this article we will go over things to consider for family travel, but be sure to check out this article on What to Do In Las Vegas With Kids for lots of fun activities!

You will find bling everywhere in Vegas!

For us, the most important thing to making this trip a success for our travel style, was to pick the right hotel with a beautiful pool area, so it was more like a trip to a nice resort, which happened to be at the end of the Las Vegas strip. That way I did not feel like I had to hit the strip all day long with the kids. We could get out and do what we wanted to do early, and relax around the pool in the afternoon and evenings, and we really ended up enjoying our time there. We spent 7 full days, and had more than enough to do in that time. Here are some of the things we learned on our trip, as well as tips you can use for planning your Las Vegas trip with kids. This info is based on the experience my family had, and will hopefully help you make decisions that will work for your family. I will go over tips for families traveling in Vegas, recommendations on where to stay, what to do and even some ideas on where to eat. If I missed any of your favorite family spots, let us know.

Tips About Visiting Las Vegas With Kids

I am going to start with tips, because some of this info might help you decide if you want to go or not, with your kids. I had visited years ago with just adults, and at that time I thought I would never take my kids, just based on what they would see from walking the strip alone. This time however, it seemed like things have been cleaned up quite a bit. The walkways where clean for the most part, they have added many railing guards to make the sidewalks safer to walk, as well as many overpasses. As long as I had the kids in by late afternoon, things worked out in a way I was pretty comfortable with for the most part. That being said, it is not the most kid friendly city in the world. There were billboards and bus signs, etc. that I would have preferred to not explain – so do be prepared for some of that.

What Ages are Best Suited for Visiting Las Vegas?

This is really going to be based on your travel style. For me, I would wait until they are tweens or at least at an age that they can enjoy all the shopping Vegas has to offer (personal preference for the way we enjoyed Vegas). That being said, there are waterslides, and amusement parks, and aquariums to keep kids of all ages busy.

What time of the year should families Visit Vegas?

It can get very hot during July and August, so those are the two months you may want to avoid traveling with kids (although we go and enjoy it). We were there in July one year, and August the other (school shopping time) and it topped 110 some days. It is a dry heat, and there is air conditioning just about everywhere – so it did not bother me as much as I was concerned it might. The heat did keep us from doing too much outdoor walking though, for longer times, so it would be much nicer to enjoy in the Spring I think.

What you can expect your kids to be exposed to?

As I mentioned above, for the most part the streets were fairly clean. There may have been a few girly show flyers here or there, but we did not run into much of that during the day, but things to start to pick up around 6ish on through the evening. There were some billboards and signs on buses, etc. advertising adult shows that they will likely see.

We did not stay out late most days (we headed back to our hotel by afternoon time most days), but on the few evenings we did stay out, exposure to these kinds of things really ramps up at night (or if you visit old town Vegas – which we did not based on the recommendations of other parents we heard from). There are girls that will come out in some of of the g string, tassels and feather outfits (they are out there to take pictures with those who want to pay to take pictures). So expect that. Again, we found most people to be respectful of the kids, but just so you know what to expect ahead of time.

Some examples of billboards or signs you can expect your kids to be exposed to on the strip (to give you a better idea) include things like “hot girls delivered to your room”, “Ladies night out with Men of Thunder from Down Under”, etc. We did run into a few folks handing out flyers that would definitely not be appropriate for the kids – but they avoided us when they saw us coming with kids – so I appreciated that.

The casino areas can get quite smokey, so if you plan to head through those you will want to be in and out with the kids. It can also be loud in those areas, which can be a bit much in terms of stimulation for younger kids after awhile. We avoided the casino areas for the most part during our trips, minus a couple of quick walk through’s to get to an attraction we were headed to.

Many areas have strong smells of weed being smoked, so the kids will almost definitely encounter that. Drinking is allowed in public and on the streets in Vegas, so there is lots of open drinking (and behaviors that can come with that the kids might see).

When to head back to the hotel with your kids?

We were out until early evening (maybe 5ish) and you could feel things start to change around that time – so we got out of dodge, so to speak, most days. There was more open drinking, drunk people on the strip,  some of them acting up a bit, and folks with fewer clothing items on (to take pictures with, or just on their way out for the evening). This is an area you will have to make a decision best for your families. I know some families who enjoyed being out at night with the fountains and lights and we did go out exploring some of the light shows (like in front of Bellagio) some evenings.

What to do when you encounter Disney & Other Characters on the Strip?

You might see Mickey Mouse (well, a Mickey Mouse looking character – but not quite the real thing) or other characters that would attract kids. These guys expect a tip to take pictures with them, that is why they are out there. If you don’t want to pay for the picture, I would avoid them altogether (some can be a little aggressive to get you to take pictures).

Walking through Casinos with kids, what are the rules?

Kids can walk through most casinos on designated walking paths. They are supposed to stay on the paths and move through the casino (no standing around and watching people play for example). This is important to know because many locations will require you to walk through a casino floor to get to them, for example.

In Summary…

For me, family travel to Vegas includes staying in a hotel with no casino or smoking, that is family friendly, heading out and enjoying things early – and then heading back to the hotel early, and planning kid friendly things to do each day. All in all, we had a great trip, but even then the kids saw a few things I would certainly have preferred they did not. But I also knew that would likely be the case in Vegas and this is information you can use to decide if it is a spot that makes sense for your family or not. I will say that the key to making the stay great for us, personally, was having a great resort to get back to and relax at for most of our stay.

Where to Stay – Family Friendly Hotels in Las Vegas (on or near the Strip)

(Note – we were gifted our hotel stay by a family member {but we did have choices on where we stayed}. We paid transfer fees, and taxes, but it was still a very low price we had to pay for our stay. I do believe that if I were paying for the full stay out of pocket, I would make the same recommendations, but that is important to note up front).

Our hotel choice was a ‘make it or break it’ decision for whether or not we were going to take the kids to Vegas. I knew we wanted a spot that would feel like a resort, so we could enjoy the entertainment on the strip when we wanted, but could relax at our hotel at all other times. We were not looking for the same things many usually look for in Vegas while traveling with our kids (casinos, nightlife, etc.).

These are what I thought were the best hotels for kids in Las Vegas. This, of course, is just based on our preferences, but will give you some things to consider for your stay. For us, finding a family friendly spot with no casino or smoking was key, and some kind of security in the evening was a plus too (it was like staying at a wonderful resort – then making trips out to enjoy the strip, but we could get away from it when it was time). Some things that were important to me when staying in Vegas with kid, that I looked for when making the recommendations below, include:

— Space – we wanted a one or two bedroom suite with kitchen (so we did not have to go out for every single meal), and where not on top of each other.

— No Casino / Smoke Free – since the casinos can go all night, we wanted a place we could retreat to after enjoying the fun things of Las Vegas, and we preferred to stay away from the casinos and smoke with the kids. One other thing that is nice about this, is that there seems to be tighter security for spots that did not have casinos on site at a certain time in the evenings.

— Pool that the kids could access, and was family friendly – there are many spots in Vegas that are adult only pools.  I wanted someplace that I knew we would be able to relax comfortably at with our kids.

Extra security at night was a bonus for us too (card checks). When we stayed at these spots with no casino on site, they did have security guards checking for room keys when you entered after a certain time in the evening. There is also a lot less traffic through your hotel – as there is not as much reason to be there if you are not staying there. You will find this at some of the higher end hotels (like the Bellagio too).

Here are some of the pros and cons of a few hotels that might work for your family in the area.

My favorites: Look for hotels with no casino, and no smoking, and good security – as well as family friendly amenities.

  1. Hilton Grand Vacations on the Las Vegas Strip

This is where we ended up staying on our first trip with the kids, and I loved it for family travel. We stayed in a two bedroom suite, and had a full kitchen and living room, and it was wonderful. We were in Las Vegas for a week, and I am not sure I would have enjoyed a stay that long if we had not been able to retreat to this beautiful spot. We were able to save on food too, by having our own full kitchen to make morning coffee and breakfast and more in. I really loved the pool here, and we spent our evenings lounging here most days.

Pros:

No Casino (this might be a con for some visiting Vegas, but there are a casinos everywhere, so when traveling with kids I found this to be a real pro)!

No Smoking – huge pro with kids!

Security Checks to enter hotel in the evenings. I really liked this! Since there is no casino, there is really no reason to be at this hotel at night if you are not staying there, or visiting someone who is – so they pay attention to who comes in and out.

Family Friendly Amenities – free DVD rental nightly, beautiful pools , basketball/sport court, marketplace to get snacks, etc. It is also within a short walk from Circus Circus, so it easy to get over and enjoy their arcade area for kids, a circus show, or the amusement park, then leave the noise and smoke to head back to your hotel!

If you get a one or two bedroom it is like having your own condo. We were able to enjoy our vacation at a pace that worked for us. Go to the action during the day, and come relax in our condo, oops I mean hotel, in the afternoon and evenings.

For this stay the pool was a real highlight for us – as it stayed open much later than many pools that are further up on the strip (many close at 6pm in that area). Since we love to spend our evenings at the pool, it was a big plus that this one was open until 10 or 11 each night for us. I loved spending the day out exploring, and the evening relaxing at the pool (and it was hot all night). Things have changed since COVID though, so you will want to call ahead of time to confirm how late their pool is open for your stay.

Cons: 

The main con of this hotel is its location. The name of this hotel is a bit deceiving, as although it is technically on the strip, it was all the way at the end of the strip, down past Circus Circus. In the hot summer heat that means you will probably want to Uber it further down the strip, or take one home if you are out in the evenings (so it is not in the heart of the strip) . I personally saw this as a pro, as I liked to get back to our quieter spot after visiting the busier parts of the strip, but it may be a con for many.

Limited access to restaurants was the other big con. It will take a little more planning for meals here. There was only one pool side restaurant, and then a marketplace (you could order pizza and hot food from there too, as well as shop for regular items). If you are looking for a sit down restaurant, there are some in the area, but none in the actual hotel, so it requires some walking. An extra restaurant or two would have been nice.

(Private pool at Hilton Grand Vacations at the Flamingo, for guests to enjoy)

2) Hilton Grand Vacations at the Flamingo – No Casino, No Smoking, Security

This spot is ideal if you want to be in the middle of the strip and all of that action, but be able to get away from the casinos and smoke at the end of the night. It does offer the best of both worlds (as our resort was quiet in the evenings, but close to all the action). It offers large suites that are perfect for families, with kitchens and all. The hotel sits on Flamingo property, but feels like a separate location. It is also positioned next to the LINQ strip too, so there is easy access to the center of the strip (across from Caesars), as well as the Flamingo and LINQ areas.

(This is the well known Flamingo Pool – this part is adults only, but there is a smaller one you have access to with the kids too. We preferred to just use the Hilton pool during our stay).

It has its own private pool that all guests have access too. This is a huge perk right now, as many folks complained about not being able to get into their hotel pools with limited spots available). Although this pool was not as nice as the Hilton Vacation Club on the Strip, it was still very nice (we never had an issue getting chairs to lay out at, and the palm trees where beautiful). We spent many relaxing mornings and afternoons here. You also have access to the Flamingo pool (during regular times  – it is very difficult to get access to during COVID as they use a reservation system and lots of people want in. The family pool is not open now at the Flamingo).

This location really felt like it offered the best of both worlds, in that we were in walking distance to many restaurants and attractions, yet we were able to escape to our own quiet spot at the end of the evenings. The only real downfall for me, was that the pool closed at 6pm (same time as the Flamingo pools). While this is common for many of the pools in the strip area – I love night swims with the kids so prefer a pool to be open later. But we just made sure we got our pool time in during the day, and it was workable.

Pros: 

Essentially the same pros as we mention for the Hilton Grand Vacations on the Las Vegas Strip, except that its location is the middle of the strip (not down by Circus Circus) – which I really liked.

No need to take an Uber if you don’t want to. You are in the middle of it all, so you can walk the strip in both directions if you do not mind a little walking. You have tons of restaurants and shopping easily accessible.

Cons: 

The biggest con for me was what I mentioned above about the pool closing early. There are also no restaurants onsite, but there are many in walking distance to the hotel. You will have to walk through the Flamingo property to get to many locations on the strip (which has strong smells of pot through many areas during our visit – but it is Vegas right, that is hard to avoid here).

3) Mandalay Bay – Tower with No Casino 

I have not personally stayed here, but have heard it recommended by others for families, with a tower available that is smoke free and casino free. If you are looking for a great pool area, this is it. You will find sandy beach pools, lazy rivers, a wave pool and more here. You can lounge out here all day! You will also find Shark Reef Aquarium onsite here, as a fun attraction right at your hotel.

There is a separate tower at the Mandalay Bay hotel called the Delano. It is still a short walk to the casino, but at least you would not have a casino in your tower. If you are wanting the best of both worlds – all the amenities of this hotel, but being able to stay in a tower without a casino, this could be a nice compromise. It will cost you though!

No pros and cons for this one, as I have not stayed here personally.

4) Tahitian Village (off the strip)

This resort has been recommended by a handful of readers, as being family friendly and their first pick when taking kids to Vegas. I hope to try it out on a future trip, but wanted to mention it as a recommended option from folks, if you want to look into it further.

Hotels You Will See Listed As Kid Friendly Hotels in Las Vegas (and what we think) –

When you are considering where to stay with the kids, there are a few hotels that on appearance look really kid friendly. These would include spots like Circus Circus, and Excalibur for example. Both have arcades for kids, fun swim areas and more. But they also have lots of smoking and casinos, and are dated, etc. You will have to decide what is best for your family, but it was important to me to have someplace to get away from the smoke and the casinos with the kids when it was time to relax for the day.

These are two hotels you will find recommended for families often, as they include many kids friendly attractions. They are not places that I would choose to stay for more then a night or two – so they might be a good fit for a quick getaway, but I would recommend finding someplace more well rounded for longer stays.

Circus Circus – Circus Circus has an entire floor for family fun, circus shows, carnival style games, as well as a pool complex with waterslides, and an indoor amusement park, and will often show up when searching for family friendly hotels in Vegas. I would not personally recommend this one for families though. I loved staying near Circus Circus to enjoy the fun with the kids (and we did spend time here), but it would not be a good fit for my family to stay at. The inside of the hotel is dark, and dated, and although we loved to play here, I was happy to leave afterwards. That being said, I have not seen the rooms or the pool complex in person, so if you have and have a different opinion, we would love to hear from you. It is also at a far end of the strip, so expect to Uber in if you want to spend more time enjoying many of the attractions on the strip.

Excalibur – The Excalibur is a medieval castle themed hotel, and includes what is called the Fun Dungeon. This is a lower level geared towards kids with arcade &  carnival style games, the Tournament of Kings Jousting Dinner Show. It is a bit of an older and dated hotel too, at the other far end of the strip. It does have a pool structure with waterslide, that would be fun for kids.

If you have stayed at either of these spots with kids, we would love to hear your thoughts?

Best Pools for Kids in Las Vegas – 

I recommend getting a hotel with a pool you will like to lounge at, as pool time was a highlight of our Vegas trips for us. Many of the hotels have beautiful pools. Here are a few with extra pool amenities. 

 

  • Mandalay Bay Pool is well known as one of the best in Vegas – they have a wave pool, lazy river
  • Gold Nugget Water Slide through Shark Tank. You can pay $25 per person per day to play here, and it is important to note that it is in old town vegas (off the strip)
  • MGM Grand Hotel and Casino has a 6.5 acre pool complex consisting of three pools, a lazy river and three whirlpool spas
  • Circus Circus has a Splash zone pool with slides (although I would not want to stay at this hotel personally, but wanted to include in case this was important to you).
  • The Excalibur is said to have a great pool area too, with multiple pools and a rock formation with water slide.
  • I personally loved the Hilton Vacation Club on the Strips pool, as it was beautiful and it stayed open later then many pools on the strip (which often close at 6pm).
  • The Tahitian Village is also off the strip, but has a sandy beach entry pool, if you are looking for a spot you can get away too.

More Tips For a Great Family Stay –

Order Groceries To Be Delivered As Soon As You Arrive

If you are planning to stay more than a day or two, I recommend finding a spot that has a kitchen in it, so you can at least enjoy snacks and drinks there. The first thing we do when we get settled in is to order groceries from Amazon Fresh. This saves us a lot of money (and is so much more convenient). We filled our fridge with water, got some coffee and individual salads and snacks. Some of my favorite meals were when we could grab a salad from our fridge and enjoy it pool side at our hotel.

We found delivery windows for the same day we ordered from Amazon Fresh to our hotel, during our trip. We ordered online (through our regular Amazon account, just changed the delivery address to the hotel). They then delivered it down to the lobby, where we could take a luggage cart  and pick up our order to get it to our room. It was so easy!

 

2 Comments

  1. The Hilton spot came up a lot in my research! I can’t remember the deciding factor, but we ended up at the Holiday Inn at Desert Club Resort for some of the same amenities you mentioned – 2 bedrooms (one had a huge walk in closet that our son slept in – perfect!), a kitchen for making meals, walking distance to the strip but not too close, and pools!

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