No matter what you may have heard, Las Vegas is not a very family friendly town. Sure there are roller coasters and animal exhibits but there are a lot more strip clubs, topless shows, gambling opportunities, places to drink, places to smoke, and places for general debauchery than there are amusements for the wee ones. In addition, most major hotels are no longer offering any discount for children staying in their parents' room, so you'll pay an addition $25-40 per night for the visit if you go above double occupancy in your room. Although some families have made trips and come away with a successful vacation, I've heard from many more that say they'll never do it again.
Of course sometimes you don't have the option to leave the kids with grandma, so if your vacation plans have to include the offspring, the lists below should help guide you toward your best bets for having the best Vegas vacation with your family.
Family Friendly Hotels
The following hotels offer the most choices for kids including pools, arcades, and attractions, while still offering the grown-up fun of a casino. Please note, however, that many of these hotels still offer "adult" oriented entertainment including gambling, drinking, shows that are not appropriate for children.
Although most adults would rather stick needles in their eyes than step foot in this place, it really is the only good option for parents with children on The Strip. It has the The Adventuredome amuseument park, a Circus Circus Midway, and lots of other family friendly entertainment and dining.
Sure, they have a male strip show and a restaurant where foul-mouthed waiters insult you, but they also have a full game arcade and the kid favorite Tournament of Kings medieval dinner theater experience.
The roller coaster and large game arcade make this one a decent option. Plus there's the big Hershey's Chocolate World store out front, which any kid will love. You may not after they get all hopped up on sugar, but...
This locals' favorite hotel has an 18-screen movie theater, a bowling alley, a Kids Tyme play center, a video game arcade, and an events arena plus lots of low-cost dining options.
Located a few miles south of The Strip, this locals' hotel has an equestrian events center, two bowling alleys, a movie theater, and more.
Located on the far east side of town, the drive is a bit of a bummer but the hotel has a movie theater, a video game arcade, and a Kids Quest play center so that may make up for it.
This sister to Boulder on the north side of town has a similar lineup of amenities including a movie theater, a bowling alley, a video game arcade, and a Kids Quest play center.
Similar to corporate siblings Boulder and Texas above, this hotel on the southeast side of town has a movie theater, bowling, video game arcade, and play center plus an amphitheater for concerts and events.
Las Vegas also has dozens of non-casino hotels that will allow you to be close to the action but not right in the middle of all of it. Check out the list of alternate lodging in Las Vegas.
Family Friendly Entertainment
The following attractions and shows are the ones that I think kids would enjoy, although you know your kids better than I do so be sure to investigate them thoroughly before attending.
Family friendly comedy and "how did he do that?" illusions make this a great show for adults and kids.
The comedy juggler's manic energy is like catnip to kids and the host goes out of his way to make sure they are entertained and included in the show.
The weird antics of the men in blue will probably confuse smaller children but its just offbeat enough that older kids should be entertained.
The hip-hop dance crew is a favorite among older kids and adults alike.
Although some of the imagery might be a little disturbing for younger kids, the dreamy stunts and good-natured clowing around should entertain even the most jaded of teenagers.
Older kids will probably know who Michael Jackson was and will probably enjoy this tribute to his music.
Horses and knights and fair maidens. Older kids will roll their eyes but younger ones will eat it up.
This indoor amusement park has roller coasters, laser tag, and plenty of other diversions to keep the kids entertained for hours.
Although it only runs for a few minutes, the iconic fountains will keep even small children amused.
This is Vegas' way of teaching children how to gamble - put down money and you might win something. Still it's a good diversion and there are free circus acts to watch as well.
This water park on the east side of town has plenty of wet rides for kids of all ages.
The best family attraction in Vegas is primarily designed for younger kids with hands on exhibits that mix fun with education, but older ones may find themselves drawn into the action as well.
There's a big play area in the center of this shopping complex that younger kids will love and everyone is amused by the fire breathing praying mantis sculpture out front.
Go fast in go karts. Obviously not for small kids.
Recently relocated to the Town Square Shopping center, this facility has tons of video games, a computer game lab, a bowling alley, and more. Plus, bonus! They have a bar for the adults.
As long as your kids (or you) aren't afraid of heights, the views from the world's tallest observation wheel are pretty cool.
Sure, most kids won't know who KISS is, but they should still be entertained by the day-glo madness of this indoor golf course.
Although the go-karts are the primary attraction, they also have amusements including slides and an arcade.
The famous faces cast in wax should be interesting to most kids, especially the Marvel super heroes section complete with a 4-D theater attraction.
Adventurous kids will love this extreme coaster that winds its way in and around the Gotham themed hotel.
If your kids love animals, this is the best furry and finned friend attraction in town with an opportunity to get up close with dolphins and other exotic animals.
Another one that only last for a few minutes, but the faux-lava show is still spectacle sized entertainment that should have your kids buzzing.
This might be a little too retro for today's kids, but the playable pinball and video games will probably amuse the heck out of adults.
Some of the animals at this aquarium and zoo might be scary to smaller kids (and some adults) but for the most part the younger set should love this place.
The indoor trampoline center will literally have your kids bouncing off the walls - in a good way.
Older kids who crave thrills will love this zip line running down Fremont Street. Adults will want to go at night for the cool lights but if you have kids take them during the day because things can get a little rowdy on Fremont after dark.
A really cool interactive experience about nature, ecology, and water has enough whiz-bang stuff to keep older kids interested and the animal exhibits should appeal to younger ones.
If your kids have a taste for extreme adventure, try out these high flying thrill rides more than 1,000 feet up in the air.
Another water park, this one on the west side of town.
Childcare & Babysitting
Most major hotels will be able to arrange childcare or babysitting services for you or refer you to reputable companies that service their facilities. This eliminates the worry of trying to investigate an unknown on your own.
Many hotels also have onsite childcare facilities. These include Boulder, Sunset, and Texas Stations located elsewhere around town. Be sure to ask what facilities or services are available when you make your hotel reservation.
Next: Vegas for Seniors