The decision of whether or not to take kids to Las Vegas isn’t an easy one. There are both positive and negative factors to consider and, in the end, I honestly don’t think there’s a right/wrong answer. Families can make the most of any location so long as they keep safety, health and security at the forefront of the decision. We opted to take our infant to Las Vegas for review purposes. In the end, we would neither encourage nor discourage other families from doing the same thing. Our purpose here is to advise, offer tips and help travelling families make the most of their destination.
LOCATION: Las Vegas, The Strip
DURATION: 5 days
DATES: May 3rd – May 9th, 2015
WHO: Rick, Angie, 13-month old son, grandma
Prior to taking our baby to Las Vegas, I read numerous comments advising me against it. Other travelers warned of cut-eye, rude commentary, smokey environments and an overall lack of accessibility for parents.
It’s considered an adult playground and most people vacationing there are ready to drink, party, gamble, eat and score. They do not want to accommodate children. So, I braced myself for a very interesting experience.
But, to be quite honest, families are everywhere and one could even suggest that the famous “Strip” is now getting a different reputation – one that is more family-friendly.
Parents and kids alike took in the sights, enjoyed the pools, dined on world class foods and essentially appeared captivated by all of the same magic that’s adults have loved over the decades.
Yes, it’s definitely still ‘Disney’ for grown-ups (complete with call girls, strippers, free-flowing booze, all night raves and endless gambling). But that doesn’t mean your kids won’t love it as much as you do – but for very different reasons.
Tips to make the most of a family trip to Las Vegas:
- Book your stay at the Vdara Hotel & Spa.
For families, the Vdara hotel is a hidden gem. I’ve stayed in Vegas many times – The Wynn, Encore, Red Rock Hotel & Casino, The Venetian and the Luxor. Nothing compares to the Vdara when considering an environment for kids. It’s a smoke-free, no gaming hotel right off the strip (beside the Aria and the Cosmopolitan Hotel). It’s prime real estate with access to all of the wild, crazy activities, but it’s designed for a certain clientele and families are part of it. The lobby is a breath of fresh air amidst stinky, smoky casinos and because they’ve got such stringent policies you can bet there are very few party-focused people staying there. We spent hours at the pool and were welcomed by the guests who oooed and awed at my son’s giraffe floatie. There were plenty of other kids horsing around and essentially you’d have no idea you were in Vegas. Most guests at this hotel are staying there for a conference or as a vacationing family.
2. If on Eastern or Central time, try sticking to your time zone (oddly)
Initially, we tried to convert the baby over to pacific time. This was a mistake. There’s really nothing to do or see after dark with kids and this is when the adults in the city really don’t want your rug rats visible. So, after two nights, we reverted back to EST which meant my son went to bed around 4:30pm and woke around 3:45am. It sounds horrid but we were able to give him breakfast and then hit the town when all was quiet. We toured all the big hotel lobbies, checked out the strip and enjoyed the sites with no crowds. At the end of the day we were putting him to bed when things started to rowdy and busy. The same would apply for kids of any age — not just for an infant. If you can keep them out of the party scene, do it.
3. Book a spacious suite
Our suite in the Vdara was over 800 square feet for a one-bedroom. That type of space is typically unheard of in hotels. But, not in Vegas. We had a door to our bedroom so Jack could sleep (naps and nighttime) and we did our thing in a separate room. We also had a kitchenette, dining table and laundry in our own room. The cost of hotel rooms in Vegas is often so affordable that upgrading for extra room tends to still be manageable.
4. Use Baby Equipment Rental Companies
I used Las Vegas Baby Equipment Rentals to assist with our trip. I booked a high chair, jogging stroller, baby back pack carrier, a bin of age-appropriate toys (books, puzzles, stacking blocks), a white noise crib machine, a push/ride-on toy and a car seat. For approximately $150 I only needed to pack clothes and necessities although they’ll bring everything from diapers and wipes too. They deliver the items right to your hotel (and pick them up at the end of the trip). It’s an amazing service when you’re in a place that doesn’t necessarily cater to infants. My son loved playing in our gigantic room with his new toys. It’s also a great way to test things out if you’re thinking about making a purchase. I didn’t like our stroller (hard to steer) but loved the back pack style carrier.
5. Pack Water Shoes for the Kids.
Vegas is HOT. The ground gets HOT. Even the playgrounds were so ridiculously hot that my (not yet walking) son had a hard time enjoying it. If we had water shoes, he could have maneuvered much easier.
6. Be Confident.
If you’re in Vegas with your kids, you’ve already thought through the decision. Enjoy it. Hold your head high when you push your stroller through the casinos (there are plenty of non-smoking routes) and take the classic photos, just like everyone else. It’s doubtful that anyone around you really cares that your kids are there and if they do, does it really matter?
7. Bring a baby-sitter
I’ve said this before when reviewing destinations – bring a baby-sitter or nanny. When it comes to Las Vegas most people don’t start heading out until the sun starts to set. It’s a night-hawk sort of town. If you’ve got an extra set of hands available and some airline points, bring someone else along to help with the baby. We brought my mom. She stayed on a pull out couch in her own space. It frees up the evenings for adult time and gives that one extra set of hands throughout the day.
8. Scope Out Your Area Upon Arrival.
We did an initial check of the few blocks around us to see where we could find baby essentials, food, first aid and so on. I highly recommend doing this on any vacation, especially when you’re with your kids. The last thing you want to do is scramble to find Tylenol, gravol, diapers and so on.
Overall, I embarked on this task a little nervous – the warnings from others made me feel like everyone would be looking at me like I shouldn’t be there. Instead, we were welcomed immediately by smiles (in the airport) and most people stopped to peak at our kid. There were plenty of other families there too – most were moms with their kids travelling along with the working husband. If you embrace the experience with confidence, it’s enjoyable.
It’s not unheard of to take kids to Vegas (we’re now proof) so if you make the choice to do so, know that you’re not the first and won’t be the last. The weather is gorgeous, the sights are magnificent and there’s a lot to do for people of all ages.
That said, I’m not about to convince you to plan your next family trip to LV nor am I here to persuade you against it. I’ll just say that there are a million other places that I would take my kids before ever bringing them back here.
If you do find yourself going with your kids (whether for pure amusement, to accompany a work trip, for a family function etc) there’s plenty of ways to enjoy it.
More Las Vegas Family Photos:
My mom and I around 7:30am on the strip
More resources on taking your toddler to Las Vegas:
Keeping your Baby Cool in the Heat
Trip Advisor Recommendations on kids in Vegas