Truth bomb time: Sin City is not a family-friendly place.
Las Vegas is fun with a capital F, no doubt about it. There is nowhere like it for over-the-top extravagance, sumptuous food and drinks, and non-stop parties. But surprise, surprise: what’s fun for bachelor parties and girlfriends’ getaways is not also suitable for family vacations. The sights, sounds, and yes, unfortunately sometimes smells on The Strip are not the stuff of a wholesome family vacation. There’s a whole world of holiday possibilities out there for family vacations. Here’s why you should pick any of them over Las Vegas:
Nobody Wants Your Kids There
There was a time when Las Vegas experimented with marketing itself as a family vacation destination. Know that this is no longer the case. The whole “What Happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” ethos is firmly in place, both for business and other tourists. Go figure—families with children are not a coveted demographic for bars and casinos. People go to Las Vegas to let their hair down and get a little wild. Your kids, as adorable as they are, put a crimp in that. There are many, many destinations where your precious babies are welcome. Vegas is not one of them.
The Fun Never Stops
There is a reason vacation packages to Las Vegas are generally 3 or 4 days: that is all a human body can handle. The frenetic energy never stops on the Strip, and even for adults that is exhausting. The bright lights, desert heat, crowded sidewalks, and non-stop noise can be relentless. For kids with fewer coping skills than your average adult, that constant sensory overload can get overwhelming awfully quick. And overwhelmed kids lead to tantrums, whining, and obstinate behavior (and that’s just the parents). It’s just stuff you don’t want to deal with on vacation unless you are a sadist.
You'll Be the Language Police
Want to spend your vacation intercepting every opportunity for eavesdropping? Your kids might be familiar with grown up words. A well placed f-bomb or a string of blue words in traffic can be cathartic for a parent. But there are limits. Partygoers in Vegas don’t have those limits. Vegas is a place without limits, conversation included. That’s why people go there. But for parents that translates into constant vigilance over what kids are overhearing including things like a very detailed conversation at the airport of what drugs the squad is going to find, what they hope to achieve on those drugs, and what they’re willing to do to procure them. Yeah, that happened.
Sex for Sale
Storytime, by a mom who’s been there: “My son carefully sounded out the words splashed across the side of a passing truck on the Vegas Strip: ‘Girls delivered to your room!’” He then wrinkled his freckled nose and asked, “Why would you want A GIRL in your room?”
I stumbled over an explanation. “Um, well, sometimes people feel lonely and uh, I don’t know…..” Then I was distracted by the realization that his little brother was no longer beside us and had stopped a few yards back to stare at the ground, hypnotized by the “business cards” featuring barely censored naked women that litter the sidewalk.” I’m pretty open with my kids, but stuff like strip club VIP rooms and prostitution services are something I don’t want to explain just yet.” Are these the vacation memories you want to be making with your kids? Nope. Nope.
It Isn't Made for Kids
There are several Vegas Strip attractions that seem like they could be family-friendly, and others that have stuff that isn’t too objectionable, but even those are aimed at the “young at heart” rather than the actually young. For example, Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum has a ton of great photo ops, but kids will likely only know about half of the celebrities. Same with things like the Legends in Concert and other tribute shows that are geared to an older audience. It gets boring for kids. And bored kids always seem to find ways to entertain themselves…fidgety, noisy ways.
You aren’t raising your kids in a bubble, and exposure to the less savory aspects of life is inevitable. In your everyday life you can keep a lid on most of it. But the Vegas Strip is not your everyday life (hopefully!) and there is way more day drinking. Way more. True, most of the drunks are just loud and exuberant. But the few aggressive, messy, pukey drunks on the street will leave quite an impression! Brace yourself for questions from the young, impressionable minds you brought.
You Have to Walk Through the Casinos
Casinos have very strict rules about kids on the gaming floor. They aren’t allowed in any circumstances: sleeping, in a stroller, just to that restaurant that’s “right there”…it’s all a no go. And security will have no problem reminding you if you happen to stray off the prescribed path. That means you have to stick to the meandering trail through the noisy, smoky casino—regardless of how convenient it would be to just cut across the corner, or sit for just the briefest of seconds.
You Won't Have Fun
Most people like fun. You probably do too. And there is plenty of fun in Las Vegas. But let’s be honest, it’s adult fun. As a parent, you already know that a family vacation can be hard work. Taking your kids to a place where you will be constantly on your guard for the next assault on the innocence of your precious babies (or something slightly less dramatic) means you won’t have a chance to relax. It’s not a place you can let your kids run around and just be kids, and that just means more work for you.
But If You Simply Must Take Them
Perhaps you remain unswayed by these arguments. It’s true, lots of people who have taken their kids to Las Vegas talk about how much the kids enjoyed it. But finding the all-ages fun can take a bit of digging. (Tip: You can save a bundle by buying an attractions pass like The Sightseeing Pass, but be warned many of the included options aren’t really for kids.) If you ignore this advice and do end up taking your kids to Las Vegas, try checking out:
Pinball Hall of Fame Museum: Make sure you have a pocket full of quarters and head off-Strip a bit to play some of the most beloved arcade games in history.
Mirage Volcano: Every night at 8 pm, 9 pm, and 10 pm the volcano in front of the lux Mirage puts on an explosively fiery show.
Circus Circus: The hotel itself may be a bit déclassé, but the Splashzone waterpark, carnival games, and theme park rides in the Adventuredome make it a hands-down kid-favorite.