Contemplating a trip to Las Vegas, Nevada? Not sure if you should bring the kids? Maybe you should! With a little planning, the Las Vegas area has all the makings of a fab family vacation. From high flying adventures and incredible shows on the Las Vegas Strip, to stunning outdoor vistas and amazing feats of engineering a short distance away, the Las Vegas area offers more than enough action to keep a family entertained all week long.
Las Vegas is centrally located to a plethora of activities and adventures sure to please the entire family. Still not convinced Las Vegas can be a family friendly destination? I’m here to tell you otherwise! Here are snapshots of five family friendly adventures worth bringing the kids to Las Vegas. Each has been tried and tested by this family’s own week in Las Vegas.
1. Experience The Hoover Dam
The Hoover Dam is considered one of the Top 10 Construction Achievements of the 20th Century, and is a must-see site everyone should experience. Located about 30 miles east of Las Vegas, along the Arizona-Nevada border, this incredible feat of modern engineering is massive beyond words. Plan several hours for a thorough exploration of everything the Hoover Dam offers.
Step into the Visitor’s Center for an overview of how the dam came into existence. Go deeper into dam mechanics with a guided power plant tour. Explore lesser known parts of the dam not otherwise accessible via a guided dam tour. Park the car at one of the overlooks and soak in the mighty Hoover Dam. It is truly a site to behold.
2. Walk The South Rim of The Grand Canyon
A trip to Las Vegas isn’t complete without experiencing Grand Canyon National Park! This masterpiece of Mother Nature is enormous, and isn’t something that will be accomplished in a day trip, nor an overnight adventure. But even one day is well worth the drive from Las Vegas. This will be a long, full-day experience, so plan your time accordingly!
If you only have one day for the Grand Canyon, get out of town early and head for the South Rim. Once there, experience the incredible vistas along Hermit Road. Hike beneath the rim at Bright Angel Trail for a different perspective. Finish off the day with a rim-side seat to catch the evening sunset across the canyon. Amazing!
The Grand Canyon is a must-do, even if only for the day or an overnight. My recommentation? Go for the overnight! Waking up to sunrise across the canyon is well worth leaving the hustle and bustle of Las Vegas. And the day trippers are long gone, leaving you and a handful of others to soak in Mother Nature’s morning light show.
Read more about our Grand Canyon National Park adventures at A Grand Tour Around the Grand Canyon and 5 Reasons Not To Skip the North Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park.
3. Hike Valley of Fire State Park
Welcome to Valley of Fire State Park and the other-worldly desert landscape of the Mojave Desert! This spectacular, beautiful, yet barren desert landscape is where ancient trees once thrived and early man once lived. It also makes for a wonderful outdoor respite from the bright lights and non-stop action of Las Vegas.
Located 55 miles northeast of Las Vegas, Valley of Fire State Park is little more than an hour’s drive away, yet seems worlds away. Come experience towering red rock rock formations carved from years of wind erosion, stunning sandstone vistas, impossibly narrow slot canyons, and ancient petrified logs.
Explore along the White Domes Trail. Enter a short and shady slot canyon for a cooling respite from the hot sun. Meander along The Petroglyph Canyon Trail in search of secrets held within. Look high. Look low. Look all around to capture the essence of this ancient red rock canyon.
Bring plenty of water, especially if hiking during the steamy summer months. This is the Mojave Desert, after all, and it can get quite hot along the trails. Shade is minimal so take advantage whenever a shady spot is found!
Read more about our day trip to Valley of Fire at 7 Sure-Fired Sights Worth The Drive to Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada.
4. Explore Red Rock Canyon
Another worthy day trip is to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, 20 miles west of Las Vegas. It’s a great place to let the kids unwind and run wild. Begin the adventure at the Visitor’s Center, where you will find everything needed to maximize a day of family adventures in Red Rock Canyon.
While at the Visitor’s Center, partake in a scavenger hunt to learn more about the local flora and fauna. Explore the massive outdoor exhibit. Then head on out along the 13-mile looping road through the Conservation Area, trail maps in hand and a plan of sites to explore. Soak in the incomparable natural beauty of the Mojave Desert spread out before you.
Park the car and go on an explorative hike. Scramble up red rocks and ledges found near an abandonded sandstone quarry. Search for hidden secrets along the Children’s Discovery Trail. Witness ancient handprints left upon a canyon wall. Just good old fashioned fun here!
Learn more about our experiences here at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area – It’s Worth Leaving Las Vegas For!
5. Take a Break at Bonnie Springs Ranch
The Old West is still alive and wild at Bonnie Springs Ranch! Modeled after an authentic 1880’s mining town, the Ranch is filled with good family fun, and yummy food too! Its location in the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area and close proximity to Las Vegas make the Ranch an ideal afternoon experience for the whole family.
Bonnie Springs Ranch was originally built in 1843 as a stopover for wagon trains heading to California. Today, replicas reminiscent of past wild west life provide a quaint, family friendly atmosphere. From the dinner house to the barnyard, horseback and pony rides, rock climbing and petting zoo, there’s something for all ages to enjoy at the Ranch.
Bonnie Springs Ranch and Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area can be easily combined for a full day of adventurous fun just outside Las Vegas. Hike the Red Rock Canyon in the morning, then spend the afternoon at the Ranch!
Bonus! Family Fun Found In Las Vegas Too!
Ok, so you’ve brought the family to Las Vegas. You’ve explored the multitude of family friendly adventures outside of town. It’s now time to to take the kids to the Vegas Strip! Yes, the Las Vegas Strip. There are a surprising number of family friendly activities and entertainment venues offered both day and night in downtown Las Vegas.
You do want a plan for your advdentures, but hey, it’s Las Vegas! Even kids will have fun here. From New York New York’s high-flying roller coaster to the VooDo zipline, Shark Reef Aquarium and Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden, AdventureDome Theme Park and Wet-n-Wild Water Park, laser tag and 3D mini golf, there’s plenty of family friendly action happening in Las Vegas.
Need some evening entertainment? Las Vegas is chock full of family friendly shows and exhibits too! Check out the Marvel Avengers Station, CSI and the Real Bodies exhibits. Catch the Popovich Comedy Pet Theater and a Cirque du Soleil show. See the Jersey Boys, Penn & Teller and Rock of Ages. Or another yet to be created family friendly show!
Yes, Las Vegas really does have a plethora of family friendly action worth bringing the kids along. Who knows what kinds of adventures a family might find here? You might even bump into a local celebrity or two!
Would You Bring The Family to Las Vegas?
A wedding invitation at the Elvis Chapel brought our family to Las Vegas. We too thought what would we do with kids in Las Vegas? Turns out, more than we realized! There wasn’t a dull moment during our week in the Las Vegas area. So the next time you too have an invitation to Las Vegas, consider bringing the whole family!
Have you explored Las Vegas with kids? What were your favorite adventures, both in and out of Las Vegas? Do share!
All images by C.Biederman