360 Promenade Place
Las Vegas, NV 89106
$14.50 ages 1-99
A bright and fun learning center for kids focusing on various sciences with interactive exhibits and games.
Just west of Downtown Las Vegas, next door to the Smith Center for the Performing Arts.
For kids (and parents who need something to do with their kids), absolutely!
Free parking is available in the garage next to the museum.
Forget the arcades and roller coasters, this is where you should take the bored tykes while you're in town.
The old children's museum on Las Vegas Boulevard was a bit shopworn with age but had an almost inexhaustible supply of cool things for kids to touch, watch, interact with, and learn from. Some, including myself, were worried that a move to a fancy new building might result in a loss of some of the magic, offering a more homogenized version of the things in this world that can shape young minds. All of us needn't have worried - the new Discovery Children's Museum takes everything that was wonderful about the old one and makes it bigger, better, and brighter in every way.
The gleaming three-story facility is located on the campus of The Smith Center for the Performing Arts. Getting there is easy if you have a car but it is not within walking distance of The Strip. A cab will probably cost you between $15-$25 depending on your point of origin.
The centerpiece of the museum is The Summit, a multi-level jungle-gym of a contraption soaring 70-feet up through all three floors of the museum. It contains simple, hands-on lessons that equate basic scientific principles to reality. Want to understand the physics of a fulcrum? Lift this car by pulling down on a rope with so little force that even a small child can do it. How about getting an insight into the ways we perceive light and sound? Create "music" with a series of vacuum tubes or see a model of the human brain. Or you... I mean your kids... could just horse around on the various slides, chutes, and ladders that connect different levels in ways much more interesting than taking the stairs.
The two main exhibits on the first floor are Water World, a series of water-filled channels, tubs, and pools (complete with a model of Hoover Dam!) and Fantasy Festival, which features a pirate's ship, a castle, a stage, and costumes to go with all of the above. The former teaches kids how water flows and falls and its relation to power and the earth (although it's really just an excuse for kids to get wet and shoot water guns) and the latter encourages imagination (although it's really just an excuse for them to play dress up).
Other exhibits include It's Your Choice, a game show inspired area with quizzes, tests, and challenges that support healthy eating and exercise habits; Solve It, a "mystery town" that lets youngsters collect evidence solve problems (don't worry, it doesn't involve CSI style murders); Eco City, a miniature town with a bank, airport, grocery store, and more that teach lessons on environmental friendliness and sustainability; a Toddler Town with a mining theme for very little ones; an art area; performance spaces; traveling exhibit halls; and much more.
The only downside is that there is so much here that your kids are probably going to be bouncing off the walls trying to get to it all or so enamored with one thing that they'll ignore the rest.
Most of the exhibits are geared toward younger children. Most of this stuff will probably cause eye-rolling from tweens and outright hostility from teenagers but you're probably used to that by now.
It is worth noting that this is one of the few family-friendly attractions in Las Vegas so both visitors and locals are taking full advantage of that. The place was absolutely packed on the Saturday afternoon of my visit, which can result some tried patience - the kids as they have to wait in lines to get their hands on some of the exhibits and yours as you listen to the chaotic din of that many children in one place. Visiting on a weekday might be a better idea if you can swing it.
There is a small snack area with vending machines or you can bring your own food into that area. Food is not allowed into the museum proper.At just $14.50 per person (ages 1-99) this is also an incredible bargain. If you have small children and are planning on bringing them to Vegas, this should be at the top of your to-do list.