Las Vegas is one of the trendiest vacation spots in the US, and for good reason. This is a city that is constantly growing and reinventing itself while somehow also maintaining its iconic status as America’s party capital of nightlife, gambling and entertainment. However, what most people don’t realize is that Las Vegas is also a premier family vacation destination. Yes, you read that right! Millions of families flock to Vegas each year to indulge in the abundance of family-friendly resorts, restaurants, pools, shows and entertainment. Even though the heart of Vegas is merely a “Strip” of land less than five miles in length, there is still waaaay too much for one family to do in a single weekend. To help narrow the field, we designed the perfect Las Vegas itinerary so you can get the absolute best of your three-day weekend in Las Vegas with kids.
Where to Stay in Las Vegas with Kids
First you will have to figure out where you’re going to stay. Since you’re visiting Vegas as a family, it is important to choose a resort that is family-oriented and likely budget-friendly. Luckily there are several options in good locations along the Vegas Strip that will be safe and fun for your family. Personally, we like to choose a hotel that has amenities the kids will enjoy like an exciting pool area with waterfalls or a lazy river, and ample selection of fun, casual restaurants. Some of our favorites include The Mirage, MGM Grand and New York New York.
No matter where you end up staying, we recommend kicking off your weekend with a quick stop at the Silverton Hotel to catch the free mermaid show and to browse the Bass Pro Shops’ Outdoor World. These are both free activities that will help your family feel relaxed with the rustic ambiance and log cabin vibe so you can start your busy weekend in Vegas feeling refreshed and ready to rock! Plus, the mermaids are super sweet and interact with the kids from inside the tank.
With a constant party-like atmosphere, there is no better place to kick off your first night in Vegas than New York New York. They do have a huge arcade and roller coaster, but that is not why you are here tonight!
First you will grab a $4 happy hour beer at Beerhaus, which is a casual restaurant modeled after classic German beer halls. It has a big outdoor patio area that opens out to New York’s own miniature re-creation of Central Park called “The Park”. While you sip your brew, the kids should load up on ice water to get hydrated while playing some bar games like darts, corn hole and the enormous Jenga game that reaches several feet high.
After having a beer (or two), you will walk it off for about 60 minutes in the Park area, checking out the 40-foot Bliss Dance sculpture and soaking in all the design elements that are reminiscent of Central Park in Manhattan. This is one of the few places in Vegas designed purposefully to let the kids run and play. If it’s not too hot, sit on a park bench and let them – after all, I am sure it was a long drive or flight to get to Vegas and they deserve to burn a little energy.
Hershey’s Chocolate World
Next you will walk right around the corner and cross the Brooklyn Bridge to get a sweet treat at the two-story Hershey Store at NYNY. If the kids have been good, get them a fun candy-themed souvenir or a bag full of chocolate candies. Take a family photo in front of the store with big Hershey bars and Hershey kisses in the background.
Dinner: Nine Fine Irishmen
It’s dinner time! Tonight you will be dining in the finest Irish pub on the Vegas Strip. Nine Fine Irishmen has an authentic design with many different Irish whiskeys and cold draft beers to choose from. Even if the kids are picky eaters and not sure about traditional Irish dishes like shepherd’s pie and fish & chips, I am sure they will enjoy the smooth and hearty Colcannon soup. Try to arrive around 8:30pm because the music starts at 9pm, and kids are allowed to stay and enjoy the live entertainment until the kitchen closes at 11pm. Trust me, once the music starts you will not be in a hurry to leave. Most nights you will catch the house band, Sin e Ri Ra, who has been rocking this joint for many years with their upbeat rendition of classic Irish tunes.
Today you will start the day at the Mirage with a down-home breakfast at Pantry, which has a fresh, shabby chic farmhouse design that will make everyone in your party feel welcome and immediately at ease. Enjoy southern favorites like biscuits and gravy or chicken and waffles; alternatively, you can opt for something lighter like a spinach and feta egg-white omelet. The kids will have a hard time deciding between blueberry pancakes and white chocolate brioche French toast.
Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden And Dolphin Habitat
After breakfast, you and the kids will head toward Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat. We recommend arriving close to when it opens at 10am; if you arrive too close to noon it may soon become unbearably hot. Enjoy visiting the majestic bottlenose dolphins and observing their underwater behavior from the underground observation rooms. Hang out with white tigers, white lions and leopards in the secret garden where there is actually a lot of shade. If it gets too hot out there for the kids, there is a well air-conditioned gift shop with spray bottles and cold water for purchase. Before leaving, try to catch the show where trainers work with the animals and educate the kids about dolphins and conservation issues.
The Mirage Pool
As you leave the Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat, this is the perfect opportunity to go for a swim in the brisk, tropical pool at The Mirage. It’s probably a good idea to wear or bring your swimsuits along for the day, because you will pass the pool as you exit the area. The whole family will love parading under the cascading waterfalls together and goofing around in the little grottos. By the way, it’s also about time for a quick stop at the Dolphin Bar in the middle of the pool complex to grab one of their famous piña coladas.
Lunch: Paradise Café
You and the kids will be getting hungry after about an hour or two, so your next stop is to grab a quick poolside lunch under the outdoor misters at Paradise Café. Try the Caesar salad, chicken wrap or strawberry feta salad. The kids will likely enjoy the crispy chicken tenders, burger or quesadilla. The food will not blow your mind, but you are here for the convenience, the view, and the cool poolside vibe.
Forum Shops at Caesars Palace
You will walk right next door from the Mirage to spend the evening exploring Caesars Palace. You will enter Caesars at the Forum Shops to enjoy the splendor of the ancient Italian art, statues and indoor architecture. This luxurious shopping mall has numerous designer boutiques including Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Fendi and Versace, but if you are like us then you will probably just window shop these places. Fortunately, they also have stores like H&M, Nike, Apple and Sephora. Even if you don’t buy anything, the Forum Shops are beautiful and fun to walk around.
Atlantis Show and Aquarium
If you keep walking to the end of the Forum Shops then you will arrive at the Atlantis Show and Aquarium. This is a free show that takes place every hour on the hour from 11am to 11pm. If you arrive early, let the kids observe flounders, sharks and puffer fish in the aquarium while you wait for the show (Insider Tip: Grab a cheap beer at Fat Tuesday right next to the Atlantis fountain). The show is pretty fun and tells the story of an epic sibling rivalry in the fallen kingdom of Atlantis with multimedia storytelling, a light show and pyrotechnics.
Dinner: Cheesecake Factory
After the show, walk literally ten steps to the hostess stand at the Cheesecake Factory and get a table for dinner. I know, I know, this is a chain restaurant, but they have a good drink menu, a great kids menu and a delightful variety of cheesecakes to suit any craving. They have an enormous selection of different dishes on the menu, and just about everything in my experience has been very good.
Volcano Eruption at the Mirage
Following dinner and desert you will have to walk back through the Forum Shops, but there is a grand payoff at the end. You will return to the front of the Mirage just in time for the 9pm or 10pm showing of the infamous volcano eruption. This is a free show that has been around for ages, but it is still a must-see, especially if it is your first time in Vegas with kids. That’s it for today, time to call it a night.
Brunch: Le Village Buffet
When you’re on vacation, Sunday should be synonymous with brunch. Today you will sleep in a little bit and take your time getting ready so the family will be nice and hungry for a Parisian brunch at the Paris Hotel. The inside of Le Village Buffet has a quaint, French provincial village theme that just might make you squeal with excitement. The food stations are even named after famous French provinces like Burgundy, Brittany and Provence. In addition to the customary omelet bar, you and the kids will especially love the crepe station, which has unlimited sweet and savory crepes made to order. Ladies and gentlemen, this is not your standard buffet brunch. You can expect to sample delectable French courses, pastas and pastries and it’s well worth the money for an extended brunch experience.
Le Boulevard at Paris
Following brunch, you will walk off your food coma in the beautiful indoor village-themed shops at Le Boulevard. There is a nice, relaxing ambiance due to the intimate lighting and the partly cloudy indoor sky that gives you this weird persistent feeling that it is both early morning dawn and evening dusk at the same time. But trust me, it’s weird in a good way. The kids usually enjoy browsing the cute little French trinkets in the boutique shops.
Now it is time to get a bird’s eye view of the Vegas Strip from atop the amazing half-sized replica of the Eiffel Tower at the Paris Hotel. You will board an elevator with a large glass window and watch the ground recede as you rise over 400 feet (46 stories) to the top of the observation deck. Be prepared to spend about 30-45 minutes surveying panoramic views of the city and snapping amazing family photos. Although this is the hottest part of the day, there is often a nice breeze up there. It is still a good idea to bring a few cold water bottles just in case. This is a really unique activity that the kids will definitely remember and enjoy.
Walk to Planet Hollywood next door to the Paris Hotel to see the 4pm showing of Murray the Magician at the Sin City Theatre. This is a family-friendly 60-minute show open to all ages that features a great blend of wit, comedy and magic, with plenty of audience participation and mind-bending tricks. You and your kids will laugh. You will be amazed. And I guarantee you will all be thoroughly entertained by Murray SawChuck’s larger-than-life personality and show.
Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens
Tonight is all about relaxation and recuperation at the Bellagio, which happens to be a short walk across the street from the Paris and Planet Hollywood hotels. Despite the huge meal at brunch, the whole family will start getting hungry soon. However, you will first spend 30-45 minutes perusing the free 14,000-square foot Conservatory and Botanical Gardens at the Bellagio. The garden showcases distinctive flowers of the season and ornate displays that will simultaneously thrill and calm the spirit.
Dinner: Café Bellagio
Just steps away from the Conservatory, you will have dinner at Café Bellagio, which is a casual and colorful restaurant in a delightfully airy space with views of the Mediterranean-themed pool. Café Bellagio serves a variety of specialties including seafood, steak, pasta and even fish and chips that will likely please kids and parents alike. Alternatively, you can choose to finish your trip with a fine dining experience at one of the Bellagio’s world-class restaurants, including Chef Wolfgang Puck’s Spago, Julian Serrano’s Lago or Jean-Georges’ Prime Steakhouse.
Fountains of Bellagio
You will complete your perfect Vegas weekend with a viewing of the ambitious Fountains of Bellagio show. This is an iconic free show in Vegas that involves artfully choreographed water streams, music and lights that you can view with awe from the Vegas Strip every 15 minutes after 7pm every Sunday night.
Finally, it is time to pat yourself on the back because you just treated your entire family to the perfect three-day weekend in Las Vegas! Who said Las Vegas with kids can’t be enjoyable…