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Friday, May 14, 2010

What to do in Las Vegas with Kids

I can think of a lot of places I’d rather go with kids than Las Vegas. But given that Vegas is close, and their pools are open in the summer, there are plenty of things to do to keep you and the kids busy. Here are a few ides:

MGM Grand Lion Habitat – it’s a little odd to see lions in the middle of a hotel, but so be it. You can walk into this lion habitat, and see the lions on top of the glass tunnel you’re in, or maybe on the side. It’s open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, and it’s free.

New York, New York roller coaster – how awesome to ride a big roller coaster outside a Vegas hotel. With multiple barrel loops, drops and other fun features, this is something you’ll talk about for days. The coaster costs $14 for the first ride, and $7 if you want to go again (though you’ll need to decide that when you buy your ticket). Kids need to be 54” to ride. If they’re too short, or aren’t into thrill rides, you get a great view outside. And if you’re not already married, you can do so on the coaster for $600-$700 – including the minister. Send photos if you do!

Bellagio Fountain – this is a staple of any trip to Vegas. Bring the kids to see the dancing Bellagio outdoor fountains, choreographed to music and lights. The show runs every 15-30 minutes. Check the Bellagio Founain schedule here.

Vegas Chocolate Fountain - While you’re at the Bellagio, head inside to look at the Bellagio’s Jean-Philppe Chocoalte Fountain – the world’s largest. It’s 26 feet high, and circulates almost two tons of melted chocolate (unfortunately it’s covered by glass so you can’t get your strawberries in there for dipping).

Las Vegas Monorail – sure, you could walk the strip. However when it’s 110 degrees outside, and people are handing out cards with the phone numbers of scantily clad women (most of those cards end up on the sidewalk, which is much closer to your kids’ eyes than you’d like) do you really want to walk? Plus monorails are fun for kids, and they're air-conditioned. The monorail costs $5/ride, or ride all day for $14.

Treasure Island Pirate Show – this hotel’s show, the Sirens of TI, sports some barely clad women, fireworks and flames. Not the most family-friendly show, but the kids may not notice the sexual overtones while fire shoots out of the set. The show runs every 1.5 hours during the evenings in good weather. Very telling: no strollers allowed in the viewing area, and parental guidance is suggested (by the promoters). 

Game Rooms – Looking for some video attractions for the kids? Head to the Excalibur, where there’s a 4-D Sponge Bob kids’ ride and a Fantasy Faire Midway with plenty of options for dropping your noney.

Shows – check out family-friendly shows, like magician/comedian Mac King, a “clean” show for kids, with some adult humor that will also keep you laughing. Try for free tickets at the Harrah’s Hotel concierge desk (you’ll still need to buy a drink at the show), or fork over the $25 for a guaranteed ticket. Afternoon shows make it even more family-friendly!

Gondola Ride - If you won't make it to Venice this summer like the Jolie/Pitts, get our Italian ride in Vegas instead. It's cheaper to pay $16 per adult to ride the gondola in the Venetian's Grand Canal Shoppes. Not sure if kids get a discount - the website doesn't mention them, only the romantic ride for adults! You'll make your way through two foot deep water in the Grand Canal, as you check out what stores and restaurants you'll want to hit up later.

Pools – check here for the best Vegas hotel swimming pools for kids.

M & M World – I swore to myself I wouldn’t write about M & M World in Vegas, but alas, I’m doing it. They have an M & M World in New York City’s Times Square too. To me it’s just consumerism at its worst, but kids do like to buy M & M stuffed animals and get M & Ms by the pound in every flavor imaginable. It’s on the strip.

Spa - okay this isn't for the kids, but read our review of Canyon Ranch Spa in Las Vegas. As for dining, check out our reviews of Tao and Lavo.

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