We survived Vegas

May 6th, 2009, 06:54 AM
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We survived Vegas

I asked for advice on a trip to Vegas in this forum a couple times. One of them turned out to be as much of a disaster as most posts to most blogs re: taking kids to Vegas, with people giving advice on how to restructure my life (actually not that far off the norm--it's amazing the things people say about kids in Vegas). Some people on that topic here, and nearly everyone on chow.com, gave good advice. Still, our trip to a place I was dismayed to be going to in the first place (I had a conference there, so no choice in destination) was not so great but also not such a disaster.
Choosing a babysitter in Vegas was our first hurdle. Asking for advice from people who know the city turned out to be a bad idea--see above re: people sticking their noses where they don't belong. The one promising lead we got--a sheriff's card--turned out to be for dealers and casino workers, and basically assures no jail record. Instead, I did as usual and turned to the university. I went through the career center and took screening procedures (calling refs, interviewing, double-checking resume items) more carefully than usual. The kid we wound up with (he was 18) was a mixed bag--some experience, but not a ton. He generally had the values I was looking for, (when my son complained about gambling, the babysitter pitched in that it was a problem with parents at his h.s.) but let my son watch tv til 10 one night and fed him McD's twice that week. On the upside, he brought oil crayons and a football, and took my son to a church picnic. My kid missed him for a week afterwards.
Our hotel, Polo Towers, was nice. I heard people staying elsewhere verifying that there were NO food-related appliances--not even coffee makers--in their rooms, so we enjoyed having the kitchen. They had one great concierge and one lousy one. The pool is indeed a postage stamp, as I was warned, but there is a little kiddie play area. It was closed for cleaning while we were there, but looked good for preschoolers.
I had wanted to go to one of the waterparks, like the one at Mandalay Bay, but it wasn't warm enough. My son went to Circus Circus with the sitter, but only stayed about 20 min, said it was noisy, crowded, and confusing.
Best thing was almost certainly the springs, where we did a tour with a conservation ecologist who was great with kids. We also enjoyed Mac King, whose show is nearly all on youtube in various clips. It was cute and he was very good with the audience.
Worst thing, according to my son, would be the trash. I'd say it's the layout. Imagine the worst suburb you know, entirely on a car-based scale, and then imagine that being the center of the city and you've got Vegas. We didn't make it out to the chocolate factory, just because we slept in that morning, and by the time we got to Whole Foods and were ready to take the bus over, they were nearly ready to shut down the line.
The duece does run up and down the strip, but it is the slowest form of transport I've ever been on, including bikes! It also occasionally passes people up, even if it's just 1 person who could certainly squeeze in.
The 'kid-friendly' stuff--fountains, lions, flamingos, volcano, was all directly on the strip, which tended to be teeming with people, really mobs of people with no discernible goal. My son (6) really wasn't interested in dealing with it all. Good thing the room was nice!
As for the other things Vegas is known for, yes, there were trucks advertizing "hot girls to you in 20 min" as though they were pizzas, and stripper card littering the ground, and no, there were no clocks in sight, and no chairs. That was all expected. One expectation I was glad to see not fulfilled was re: the raunchiness and sex. It was basically on the level of American Pie or some other prom movie--very white bread, hetro generic stuff, nothing strange, just very boring socially-acceptable stuff, not hard to deal with, and I (unlike another mom friend) did not get hooker cards pushed in my face. The replicas-NY, Venice, Eiffel Tower--were all much less impressive than rumored. They were just big buildings with x finish on them.
I was looking forward to appetizers at Cafe Babareeba, found the selection quite small, even though what they had was good. The sangria there was good. There was tons of fast food on the strip, for higher prices than usual, but not astronomical. Otherwise, aside from one Ethiopian restaurant and some high-price things, it was all very straightup midwestern food, which was disappointing.
Thanks to the person who warned us that Tournament of Kings was loud. It turns out to also be inside. My son was miserable--after a loud cannon we asked how many more there were, and the waiter said 1 more, at the very end. When that was shown not to be the case, my kid lost all faith and ability to relax, so we left.
Summary: if you have to go to Vegas, you will survive, but if you have the chance to pick a vacation spot, nearly anyplace would be better.
saacnmama is offline  
May 6th, 2009, 07:16 AM
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Las Vegas is not MY favorite destination and as you probably found out, it's not really very kid friendly, but each to their own. Tourist and convention numbers are down right now, but millions of people go there every year and some just love it. As always, each to their own. Thanks for the report.
crefloors is offline  
May 6th, 2009, 07:49 AM
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So, would you say you should have, or should not have taken your child to Vegas ? Sounds to me like he didn't have a very good time, nor did you. There is a reason people suggested you not (take your child to Vegas). Perhaps now you have a better understanding of why.
SAnParis2 is offline  
May 6th, 2009, 08:59 AM
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Interesting that people insist on claiming that Vegas is somehow particularly bad for kids, even reading that into this report, which describes how neither mom or son liked it there. The fact that we had a lousy time has to do with the destination. It's just a lowbrow kind of place that appeals to the lowest common denominator.
It's unfortunate that our Exec Council somehow fell for the line that Vegas is a good location for conferences. I've heard plenty of folks who were there without kids complain of exactly the same things that bothered us.
saacnmama is offline  
May 6th, 2009, 09:00 AM
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We told you so ........
MichelleY is offline  
May 6th, 2009, 10:18 AM
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The thing that makes Vegas popular for many adults is the dining, the shows, etc. that you would be hard pressed to find anywhere else in the US, except perhaps, in New York. The places you did go were the absolute worst - Circus2 is a dump & has been for years. The Tourney of KIngs is a cheeseball show, w/bad food. Frankly, I don't even know where a McD's is in Vegas. Had I had my kids there, I would have likely left town & gone to the Red Rocks rec area. But my kids don't need to visit Vegas, not yet.
SAnParis2 is offline  
May 6th, 2009, 10:34 AM
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San Paris, too bad you weren't around to suggest anything enjoyable in Vegas beforehand. If I'd've been able to get out of town, I certainly would have, but the point was that I had a conference to attend.
Michelle, plenty of folks told me that Vegas "isn't for kids", but not that it's an even worse craphole, for anyone of any age, than its reputation lets on.
But I suppose those herds going up and down the strip have to get their constituents somewhere.
saacnmama is offline  
May 6th, 2009, 10:53 AM
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Another parent disappointed after taking a kid to Vegas. Maybe we should start countdown
Dayenu is offline  
May 6th, 2009, 10:53 AM
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So let me see. You expected to be miserable there, you asked for advice but didn't follow it, and then you complained that you were miserable at the end?
bkluvsNola is offline  
May 6th, 2009, 11:43 AM
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When I was a child, (this was back in the RatPack days), my folks used to take us to Vegas (from LA) every summer. My little sis and I would go to breakfast at the hotel while the folks slept in, then hang out by the swimming pool at the Sands or the Tropicana all day long. In the evenings, we would get dressed up and go with Mom and Dad to see a dinner show. We saw Danny Thomas, Andy Williams, Louis Armstrong, Dean Martin, and lots of other "headliners". When we were a little older, my Dad tipped the maitre d' so we could sit at a front table to see Elvis. I still feel nostalgic about that Vegas...it's a lot different now (as is the rest of the world).
azzure is offline  
May 6th, 2009, 01:12 PM
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saacnmama: I agree that the streets of LV are pretty low-life-party, party, party. The key is to head to the nicer hotel/casinos to enjoy the shows, dining and shopping. The rif-raf sticks to the streets; a jungle of people.

Hope your next work trip is to Hawaii Much more fun!!

MichelleY is offline  
May 6th, 2009, 01:31 PM
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I remember your original thread and the many unsolicited and, to be fair, in most cases well-meaning pieces of advice that seemed to make you quite angry.

I am always glad when people follow up by reporting their experiences and I *truly* do not mean any impertinence, but I wonder what it is you wish to convey with your follow-up...

I am glad that you were able to find an appropriate caretaker for your son.
socialworker is offline  
May 6th, 2009, 02:08 PM
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Wow. While I probably wouldn't recommend bringing children to Vegas, I have to disagree that the whole town is horrible. I have friends that have taken their children there, and they were able to find alot of fun things to do (as mentioned - Red Rock Canyon, Fire Valley, amazing shows, wonderful restaurants, etc). There are some bad sections of Las Vegas - and I'm thinking you must have picked many of them to have such a bad opinion. While I don't think it's a particularly child-friendly destination (how many really are) - I think it unfortunate that you didn't see the fun (from an adult perspective - great shows, restaurants, etc) side of it. If, however, none of y'all like crowds - you definitely shouldn't have gone to Vegas...
Debi is offline  
May 7th, 2009, 05:35 AM
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@bkluvsNola, I DID take advice on stuff to do in Vegas (too bad Debi didn't suggest the restaurants adn shows she mentions here in advance). The advice I didn't take was to change my life around some strangers' notions of how I ought to live.
No, I did not expect Vegas to be a lot of fun, but I made the most of a poor choice. My son probably had a more OK time than me, but I don't think that had much to do with age.

As for "shows, dining and shopping"--the shows that sound interesting cost about $1 per minute, food, as I mentioned above, was generally either quite expensive or very very pedestrian, and shopping was just as bad as shopping anywhere. We poked our heads into the Forum mall, bought something at the place where Babareeba is located, and spent some time in the Venice mall, which amazingly enough was just as low-light as the casinos. We were gagging from lack of actual daylight, if such a thing is possible. Not my idea of fun. We did hang out at the mall around Whole Foods one day, and found it was about as nice as most decent malls in the US.
saacnmama is offline  
May 7th, 2009, 07:21 AM
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I feel fairly certain that no one was trying to 'tell you how to live your life'. Only that Vegas is not a good place to take children, & really not a good place to go w/out a sizable budget. It isn't cheap. Love it or hate it - Vegas is Vegas, & you have to accept it as such. As an aside, it probably wasn't even as crowded as usual. I just had some friends return (they are all frequent visitors)& they were commenting how uncrowded it was.
SAnParis2 is offline  
May 7th, 2009, 07:27 AM
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It seems like we'll have to agree to disagree, because I love Vegas. However, I have not and will not take my kids (not until they're 18+). Vegas is absolutely not for everyone. For those of us who enjoy gambling, great food, shows and nightlife, Vegas is a great get-away.
SiteC_er is offline  
May 8th, 2009, 05:00 AM
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Topping for jp
SAnParis2 is offline  
May 8th, 2009, 05:03 AM
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SanParis, check the earlier forums and you'll see people telling me where they thought my kid should stay instead of Vegas. THAT's what I call telling me how to run my life. As for your comment that I should've taken a "sizable budget"--hell no, I've got other priorities, certainly can't see blowing money on a night in Vegas when we could spend half a week on the Pacific Coast of Mexico again for the same money. (I wouldn't want my conference to go there--it'd spoil the fun.) Next time we go there we'll see the turtle museum.
I had a conference and didn't expect to like Vegas as much as SiteC_er, but wanted to make the best of it. Also (mistakenly) thought people on this forum might have better ideas about where to get sitters than what I've used in other cities in the past. My old formula worked, so I thought I'd share it.
I didn't expect everyone to agree on teh best vacation spot in the world, because we are (thank goodness!) all different. The city itself was more difficult to negotiate than I had expected, so I posted a notice letting other people headed to Vegas know that.
saacnmama is offline  
May 8th, 2009, 05:43 AM
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""Imagine the worst suburb you know, entirely on a car-based scale, and then imagine that being the center of the city and you've got Vegas.""

""It's just a lowbrow kind of place that appeals to the lowest common denominator.""

Must you be so nasty about Las Vegas?

It isn't a good place for kids, everyone told you, you found out it isn't a good place for kids, and now you trash Vegas?

There are plenty of beautiful areas in Las Vegas. Absolutely stunning.
GoTravel is offline  
May 8th, 2009, 06:26 AM
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gotravel, go learn to read. It has NOTHING to do with our ages. I didn't like it any more than my son did.
I did not ever ever think it was a 'good' place for kids. It was not my choice to go there. If you c/would read, you would know that.
Too bad you weren't around to tell me about absolutely stunningly beautiful places before our trip.
saacnmama is offline  

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