It may be known as a hedonistic playground for the over 18s, but Las Vegas also has tons of fantastic kid-friendly attractions too.
From stomach-churning amusement rides to exotic animal sanctuaries to gentle hikes in the jaw-dropping Grand Canyon, the iconic Nevada resort city of Las Vegas makes for an amazing family vacation. If you’re planning a trip here with little ones, we’ve picked out 20 of the best things to see and do, with something for every age and taste.
Visit an immersive museum
The clue’s in the name of the exceptional Discovery Museum in downtown Vegas, where kids are encouraged to come and discover the magic and wonder of nine interactive, specially themed zones. Among the main highlights are The Summit, a 70-foot tower with multiple levels of hands-on science activities and climbing/sliding structures, and the chance to build and create in the community-focussed EcoCity. There are also regular rotating exhibitions ensuring that every visit offers something different.
360 Promenade Place / Tues-Sat 10am-5pm Sun 12pm-5pm Closed Mon
If your children are captivated by animals, plants, and other natural phenomena, a visit to the Las Vegas Natural History Museum is just the ticket. Packed full of exhibits ranging from dinosaurs to ancient Egyptians and the African savannah, the sheer scope of the museum’s collection guarantees something for every age, taste and interest. As well as attention-grabbing items such as a real wooly mammoth tooth and a shark jaw bone, you can also learn about whales in the Marine Life Gallery, watch a shark feeding session, and even make it rain in a recreated African rainforest with the touch of a button.
900 Las Vegas Blvd North / Mon-Sun 9am-4pm
Catch a family-friendly Boulevard Show
There are tons of live shows suitable for kids in Las Vegas, and among the most renowned are the stunning contemporary circus productions by Cirque du Soleil. Their Mystère shows offer plenty for grown ups too, featuring constant motion, high-energy acrobatics, evocative dances, colourful costumes and vivid lighting, all designed to leave you tapping your toes and reliving the experience for days and months ahead.
Another essential for your Vegas itinerary is the Fountains of Bellagio. The dramatic, aquatic show choreographed with music and light is among the most mesmerising attractions anywhere in Vegas. Free to the public, the show weaves together lights, water, and music in front of the famous Bellagio Hotel. Watch your children’s jaws drop as the display spans more than 1,000 feet with water soaring as high as 460 feet into the air. Performances take place daily at half-an-hour intervals from 3pm until late.
Bellagio Hotel & Casino, 3600 South Las Vegas Boulevard / 24/7
Explore an iconic natural wonder
Among the most popular excursions from Las Vegas is the legendary Grand Canyon, famous for its layered bands of red rock revealing millions of years of geological history. Around a 4-hour drive from Vegas, there are a number of ways of exploring its vast expanse, including several that are child-friendly. For those who like the idea of hiking in the Grand Canyon, one of the less arduous trails is along the South Rim overlook, accessible via a one-mile dirt road. The path meanders through the ponderosa pine forest and ends at Shoshone Point, where there are picnic tables and restrooms.
If you’ve got the budget for it, a more indulgent way of seeing the Grand Canyon is from the vantage point of a helicopter. There are several companies offering Grand Canyon helicopter tours that are suitable for kids, many of which include complimentary pickup from Vegas and drop off too. Tours can be tailored depending on the time or money you want to spend, and the experience you’re seeking. Most tours feature a narrated guide and you can also choose whether to include a landing with exploration time on the ground, which section of the canyon to fly over, and many other options too.
A great way to instil a passion for the Grand Canyon in your kids is by signing them up as a Junior Ranger. Created to encourage children to forge an interest in the preservation and protection of national parks, the free-of charge Junior Ranger Program requires little rangers to follow a set of directions that will help earn them a certificate and badge. Requirements include writing observations about what they can see in the canyon, drawing pictures, creating poems, and attending ranger-led sessions.
Delve into the world of Hershey’s chocolate
America’s reputation as a purveyor of chocolate divides opinion, but there’s no denying the popularity of the Hershey brand. The manufacturer’s cocoa-based treats are sold across the US and beyond and in Vegas itself the company even has its own museum in the shape of Hershey’s Chocolate World. Packed with more than 800 types of Hershey products, the venue invites guests to delve deep into the brand’s past, learn about the chocolate-making process, and taste some of the sweet stuff yourself. There’s also a gift shop selling mementos, clothes, coffee mugs and other items.
3790 South Las Vegas Boulevard / Sun-Thurs 9am-12am Fri-Sat 9am-1am
Cycle around Red Rock Canyon
Nestled in Nevada’s Mojave Desert, about 15 miles west of Vegas, Red Rock Canyon is renowned for its towering red sandstone peaks, seasonal waterfalls and panoramic views. One of the most popular ways of exploring the area is along a 17-mile hiking or cycling trail, but if the idea of pedalling solo the whole distance is a little daunting, there’s also the option of hiring an electric bike to help you along the way. Available for children aged 14 and above, Red E Bike Tours is an acclaimed Vegas-based company that’s been given special permission to run E-Bike tours through the canyon. Riders are encouraged to move along at their own pace while your expert guides direct you to the best photographic spots. Tours run for around 3-4 hours and include an E-Bike orientation session, plus return transport to and from Vegas.
Feel the rubber hit the road
For new parents in Vegas, a trip to the Las Vegas Mini Grand Prix is something of a rite of passage, given its popularity as a kids’ birthday party venue. But whether you’re a seasoned balloon-festooned party-goer, or a family visiting Vegas seeking a fun-packed day of entertainment, the Mini Grand Prix is a guaranteed crowd pleaser. Spread over 7 acres just 20 minutes by road from the Vegas Strip, the site features four go kart tracks, along with amusement rides and arcade games. There are go karts to suit every age from under-5s to 16-plus and a major part of the fun is that you can race against friends or family, adding a sense of good natured competition to the proceedings. Varied food offerings are also available.
1401 North Rainbow Boulevard / Mon-Thurs 11am-9pm Fri 11am-10pm Sat 10am-10pm Sun 10am-9pm
Marvel at an array of animals
Amid the bright lights of The Mirage Hotel & Casino on the Vegas Strip you perhaps don’t expect to find one of the region’s finest zoological gardens. Opened in 1990 with a focus on scientific research and conservation, Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat has grown into a major tourism attraction, allowing visitors to get up close and personal with some of nature’s most majestic creatures. The venue houses everything from rarely-seen white striped tigers to bottlenose dolphins, with special experiences such as the chance to paint with dolphins or become a dolphin trainer for a day also available.
The Mirage, 3400 Las Vegas Boulevard South / Mon-Sun 10am-6pm
Join a downtown walking tour
If you’re in Vegas with older kids who might relish a couple of hours of exploring the city on foot, then how about joining an organised Walking Tour. Las Vegas Walking Tours are a highly-reputable local company that organises and hosts trips around downtown, inviting you to see the city like never before, all in the company of a friendly, knowledgeable and expert guide. As you walk from past to present, highlights will include hearing the stories of how the city got its start over 100 years ago, how Fremont Street became one of the most storied thoroughfares in the world, and how Fremont East has grown into a modern-day jewel of urban renewal.
Mon-Sat 11am & 2.30pm Sun 2pm
Attend a fun-packed music festival
Las Vegas plays host to a busy programme of annual music festivals and among the most acclaimed is Life is Beautiful. A multi-genre music festival, it has grown into one of the biggest events of its kind not just in North America but across the entire world since debuting in 2013, thanks to its curated line-up of acts spanning everything from pop and rock to hip hop and electronic. The atmosphere can get raucous – especially near the main stage – but that doesn’t stop many revellers coming with their little ones in tow. As well as the live music, there’s also visual arts, interactive installations, stand-up comedy, expert panel discussions, and gourmet food stalls.
Downtown Las Vegas Events Center, 200 South 3rd Street / September each year
If there’s ever a music genre that elicits the kind of friendly, peaceful atmosphere that’s conducive to bring kids along it’s the cool sounds of Reggae. The Reggae Rise Up festival has editions across the US, and has now branched out to Vegas, where its unique brand of music food, art, activities, and welcoming and inclusive vibes take over the heart of the city for two full days. Notable reggae names to appear at the inaugural Vegas event include festival stalwarts Slightly Stoopid and Dirty Heads.
Downtown Las Vegas Events Center, 200 South 3rd Street / October each year
Perhaps less renowned for its kiddie-friendly ambiance is hip hop, yet Day N Vegas welcomes plenty of little ones each year, with children aged 5 and under permitted free to the event. Attracting some of the biggest names in the ultra-lucrative hip hop business, the festival is a tub-thumping affair that’s held over a full weekend in the vast setting of the Las Vegas Festival Grounds.. Big-hitting headliners have included the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Travis Scott and Tyler the Creator.
Las Vegas Festival Grounds, 311 West Sahara Avenue / November each year
Go kayaking in the Black Canyon
When it comes to adventurous day trips from Vegas, it’s hard to beat the breath-taking Black Canyon, located about 45 minutes from the city. Flowing along the flat, green Lower Colorado River through Lake Mead National Recreation Area between famous Hoover Dam and Arizona’s Willow Beach, the canyon is a hugely popular kayaking and rafting spot, spanning some 30 miles of wilderness. Blazin’ Paddles are a renowned Vegas-based company that run professionally guided, full-day, half-day and night-time kayak tours in the Black Canyon for individuals, families, small groups and amateur kayakers. During your tour, you’ll get to stop at sandy beaches, colourful caves, and hot springs, as well as spot diverse wildlife including bald eagles, coyotes, and desert bighorn sheep as they bound among the craggy canyon walls. Tours also include return transport from Vegas.
Let your kids loose in a giant arcade
Las Vegas’s hotels are full of entertainment for kids and adults alike, and one of the most famous child-friendly attraction can be found at the Excalibur Hotel & Casino. Making for an ideal place to head on a rainy day, or after a hard day’s sightseeing, The Fun Dungeon is packed to the rafters with evocative arcade games that will let you roll back the years, including Smash Air Hockey, carnival classics, vintage and new video games, and the World’s Biggest Pacman.
Excalibur Hotel and Casino, 3850 South Las Vegas Boulevard / Mon-Thurs 4pm-10pm Fri-Sun 12pm-11pm
Discover a vast nature preserve
Situated a short drive from the Strip, Springs Preserve is a haven of tranquility providing the perfect respite from the dazzling sights and sounds of Vegas. Spread across some 180 acres of botanical gardens, walking trails, wildlife habitats, museums and more, the site is a magical showcase of how creative, imaginative horticulture can enhance natural beauty. There’s also a variety of wetland bird species and desert creatures to look out for, plus a seasonal butterfly pavilion.
333 South Valley View Boulevard / Fri-Mon 9am-4pm Closed Tues-Thurs
Zip-line down a scenic canyon
A 30-minute drive south of downtown Vegas is Bootleg Canyon, known for its outstanding hiking trails, beautiful lake views, and one of the world’s most amazing zip line adventures. Inviting thrill-seekers to feel the rush of soaring from the top of a desert mountain at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour, this is a must-do for adrenaline junkies and includes a narrated history of the area. As you’re propelled along you can enjoy the scenic desert landscape and seemingly endless blue skies, as well as canyon wildlife such as red-tail hawks, chuckwallas, bighorn sheep and more.
Board a sky-high adventure ride
Not for the faint-hearted (and that may well be a severe understatement) Thill Rides at The Strat Hotel comprises several of the world’s highest rides. Some 100 stories above the ground, you can experience the adrenaline-fuelling sensation of free falling over 800 feet at 40 miles per hour, losing your voice as you scream while dangled over the edge of a building, and getting shot into the sky at ultra-high speed. And they’re just the gentle ones.
The STRAT Hotel, Casino & SkyPod, 2000 Las Vegas Boulevard South / Mon-Thurs 2pm-10pm Fri-Sun 12pm-12am