Independent Families: 'Is Vegas suitable for kids?'


Q. Las Vegas is on our destination wish list. However, we have a 10-year-old daughter who we would prefer not to travel without. Whilst we appreciate it's probably not the first place you would think of to take children, could you advise if it's a definite no-go area for kids, and, if not, could you provide some tips.

Lynn and Jim Strange, via e-mail

A. Long gone are the days when a trip to Las Vegas (or "Sin City") meant booze, gambling, and watching showgirls in itty-bitty sequinned costumes. Circus Circus, the first family-themed casino hotel on the Strip, opened in 1968. The 1990s saw a building boom in mega-resorts, where casinos were suddenly just one attraction among many. Today Las Vegas sells itself equally as a family holiday destination, with theme parks, aquariums, cinemas, bowling alleys, hi-tech video arcades, and even child-friendly stage shows.

While many parents may think twice before bringing their children along to Las Vegas, with careful planning your daughter can have just as much fun as you. Bear in mind, though, that under-21s are not allowed in casino gaming areas, and the city has a curfew for children. By law, under-18s are not allowed on the Strip or in any other public areas after 9pm Sunday to Thursday, and 10pm at weekends and holidays, unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.

The most important aspect of planning your trip will be choosing the right hotel. That said, almost any concierge desk can recommend a licensed and bonded babysitting agency that can send someone to your hotel to stay with your daughter should you want a night out by yourselves.

On the Strip, many families with younger children stay at Excalibur (3850 Las Vegas Blvd S; 001 702 597 7777; www.excalibur.com), Circus Circus (2880 Las Vegas Blvd S; 001 877 434 9175; www.circuscircus.com), or the Stratosphere (2000 Las Vegas Blvd S; 001 702 380 7777; www.stratospherehotel.com). All of these wacky, themed casino hotels have rooms costing from around $60 (£33) on weekdays, $100 (£56) at weekends. Note that breakfast is not usually included in room rates in the city.

But don't feel limited to these low-budget options. Many of the Strip's premier resorts have plenty of diversions for your daughter. Consider the MGM Grand (3799 Las Vegas Blvd S; 001 702 891 7777; www.mgmgrand.com) with its gigantic swimming pool complex; rooms here start at $100 (£56). Mandalay Bay (3950 Las Vegas Blvd S; 001 702 632 7777; www.mandalaybay.com) has an artificial surf beach and shark aquarium, and offers rooms from $120 (£67). New York-New York (3790 Las Vegas Blvd S; 001 800 689 1797; www.nynyhotelcasino.com) boasts a cityscape roller coaster and state-of-the-art amusement centre; rooms start at $90 (£50).

Once you've booked your hotel, it's wise to plan some daytime sightseeing and night-time entertainment in advance. Many of the Strip's most spectacular all-ages attractions are free: don't miss the exploding faux Polynesian volcano outside the Mirage (3400 Las Vegas Blvd S; 001 702 791 7111; www.mirage.com), the dancing fountains of the Bellagio (3600 Las Vegas Blvd S; 001 702 693 7111; www.bellagio.com), or the MGM Grand's walk-through lion habitat. Other casino hotels offer themed diversions, such as free circus acts at Circus Circus, the replica of the Great Temple of Ramses II and the King Tut Museum inside the Luxor (3900 Las Vegas Blvd S; 001 702 262 4444; www.luxor.com; $10/£5.60) and the ersatz Eiffel Tower at Paris-Las Vegas (3655 Las Vegas Blvd S; 001 877 603 4386; www.parislasvegas.com; adults $9/£5, under-12s $7/£3.90). Gondola rides are even offered along the artificial canals of the Venetian (3355 Las Vegas Blvd S; 001 702 414 1000; www.venetian.com; adults $15/£8.50, under-13s $7.50/£4.20). To navigate the Strip with ease, hop aboard the double-decker "Deuce" buses ($2/£1.10 per ride, $5/£2.80 for a 24-hour pass) that shuttle up and down Las Vegas Blvd.

Most attractions in Las Vegas offer discounts for families. At Mandalay Bay, the Shark Reef (001 702 632 7777; www.mandalaybay.com; adult $16/£8.90, under-12s $11/£6.10) is an award-winning aquarium focused on marine conservation. If she loves art, check out the Venetian's Guggenheim Hermitage (001 702 414 2440; www.guggenheimlasvegas.org; adult $19.50/£10.80, under-12s $9.50/£5.30), or the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art (3600 Las Vegas Blvd S; 001 702 693 7871; www.bellagio.com; adult $15/£8.50, student $12/£6.70). Madame Tussauds wax museum (3377 Las Vegas Blvd S; 001 702 862 7800; www.madametussaudslv.com; adult $24/£13.35, under-12s $14/£7.80) has interactive displays, where your daughter could strike a pose with Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean. Finally, take a heart-pounding elevator ride up the 108-storey-high Stratosphere Tower (2000 Las Vegas Blvd S; 001 702 380 7711; www.stratospherehotel.com; tickets from $10/£6.70).

Some say it's a crime to leave Las Vegas without seeing a show. A few casino hotels offer productions specifically geared towards children, such as Excalibur's kitsch medieval-styled Tournament of Kings dinner show (001 702 597 7600; tickets $50/£28). But some of the Strip's top shows are also appropriate for children. These include illusionist Lance Burton at the Monte Carlo (001 702 730 7160; www.montecarlo.com; tickets from $67/£37.25), celebrity impersonators in Legends in Concert at the Imperial Palace (001 888 777 7664; www.imperialpalace.com; tickets from $50/£27.80 per adult, $35/£19.50 for under-12s), and the fantastic Cirque du Soleil at TI (Treasure Island, 3475 Las Vegas Blvd S; 001 702 894 7722; www.cirquedusoleil.com; tickets from $60/£33.35).

To save money, Tix 4 Tonight (001 877 849 4868; www.tix4tonight.com) has multiple Strip locations selling same-day discount tickets for a variety of attractions.

For more ideas about Las Vegas for families, contact the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (001 702 892 0711; www.visitlasvegas.com).

Send your family travel queries to The Independent Parent, Travel Desk, The Independent, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS or e-mail crusoe@independent.co.uk

Arts and Entertainment
books
Voices
Caustic she may be, but Joan Rivers is a feminist hero, whether she likes it or not
voicesShe's an inspiration, whether she likes it or not, says Ellen E Jones
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Sport
Diego Costa
footballEverton 3 Chelsea 6: Diego Costa double has manager purring
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
Arts and Entertainment
The 'three chords and the truth gal' performing at the Cornbury Music Festival, Oxford, earlier this summer
music... so how did she become country music's hottest new star?
Life and Style
The spy mistress-general: A lecturer in nutritional therapy in her modern life, Heather Rosa favours a Byzantine look topped off with a squid and a schooner
fashionEurope's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln
News
Dr Alice Roberts in front of a
peopleAlice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Arts and Entertainment
Unsettling perspective: Iraq gave Turner a subject and a voice (stock photo)
booksBrian Turner's new book goes back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
News
The Digicub app, for young fans
advertisingNSPCC 'extremely concerned'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Some of the key words and phrases to remember
booksA user's guide to weasel words
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution