Living in Arizona, I am always looking for driving distance getaways for my kids. One year an opportunity arose for us to spend Spring Break in Las Vegas. I was apprehensive of the cost and the atmosphere of the “kid friendly” things at the infamous Strip. However, it was a deal I couldn’t pass up, so we went for it. We were able to find some great places to have fun on a budget and we only went to the Strip twice! You could absolutely visit Las Vegas with kids and never even take them to the Strip and still have a great family vacation.
First off, we really enjoyed where we stayed. We were able to rent a two-bedroom condo at the Grandview, Las Vegas. It was a great, family friendly place. There wasn’t even a casino on the property! The kids loved the 4 pools, especially the kids play pool because that is exactly what they were able to do, play as long as they wanted while I enjoyed relaxing nearby with a friend.
The great thing about the two-bedroom condos at the Grandview is they are two complete, separate condos. Each has kitchens, living rooms, and bedrooms with doors that are locked in between. This is an excellent option for traveling with friends, separating the kids from the adults, or bringing along the in-laws without such close quarters.
When we wanted to get away from the hotel for a bit of exploring, we found some great and unexpected places.
Our favorite fun place was the Pinball Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame is a no-frills building, but the awe is captured in the row upon row of vintage pinball machines. They range in age from the 1950s, which are all 25 cents to play, up to the 1990s, which are set at 50 cents a play. The pinball museum is a non-profit, making it an affordable place that doesn’t try to nickel and dime, but you will want to spend all your quarters!
The kids and adults alike were amazed at the number of pinball machines and the nostalgia they provided. We used the cash machines in the museum to trade our dollar bills for quarters. I would suggest visiting a bank for quarters before you go or arriving with cash in hand. Each kid can have a great time with a $5 bill, but just be ready for them to ask for more!
Seven Magic Mountains is a unique FREE art exhibit in the desert outside Las Vegas. The immensity of it and the bright colors are what captivated my kids. I had a great time just enjoying the fantastic view with them and taking some great photos.
If you want to read more about visiting here, read more here.
Speaking of nostalgia, this place has it. The cars on display here blew my mind. It was a fun walk down memory lane with all the famous vehicles.
From their website:
The museum is now home to five James Bond vehicles including the Lotus Esprit Submarine Car driven by Roger Moore in the 1977 film, The Spy Who Loved Me, Batmobiles from both TV and film adaptations, Doc Hudson‘s Hornet from the animated Pixar film Cars, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang from the movie of the same name, the Back to the Future Delorean, the Knight Rider pursuit car (one of two in the world,) the bullet ridden car from the newest Green Hornet movie, Herbie the Love Bug, Bonnie and Clyde‘s death car from the movie, and vehicles from the first film in the Fast and Furious series, including one that was driven by the late Paul Walker.
They have that and more; visit the museum’s website to read about all they have.
If you go, it would be fun to show your kids some of the shows and movies represented so they will be even more excited as they walk through. Seeing the vehicles I had watched as I grew up felt like being star-struck.
As a frugal traveler, I don’t love spending time in shopping centers and malls unless there is a specific reason. With this one, it was more about the atmosphere. The Town Square has many unique shops and restaurants, so it is a great place to shop and eat. But even better, for those of us with kids vacationing in Vegas, it was an excellent place for free play! Sometimes there is even free music or entertainment for the adults as well.
There is an impressive Square that defines the center. It has an abundance of grass and a fabulous kids’ play area. Dotted around it are smaller restaurants. We enjoyed going here in the evening as it was getting cooler. You can get some yummy ice cream or another snack and sit and relax while the kids play. It is an atypical playground with great features.
From the website, these are the features of the Child’s Playground:
- A tree house within a 42-foot tall live Oak tree features a rock wall, slides, and a fort connected to the tree house by a bridge.
- A Pop-Jet Fountain.
- A bakery café playhouse that provides endless entertainment for toddlers.
- A hedge maze.
- Springer toys are made of Robinia wood with bear and giraffe rotary toys that twist and turn.
- A children’s stage for storytelling, performances, and more.
- Boys and girls restrooms designed for children.
- Shade sails and a drinking fountain to keep cool in the summer.
Even our 10-12-year-olds played tag, hide, and seek through the area. We ended up here several times during our week-long trip.
We headed to Lake Mead for a sightseeing cruise to see the Hoover Dam from the water and the other beautiful views. Our friends also took the dam tour, but I heard the lines were long and didn’t think my kids were old enough to enjoy it yet.
We loved the look of the “Mississippi-style paddle wheeler” called the Desert Princess that we got to ride. It had a beautiful red paddle, and Jo was mesmerized.
The view was excellent, and the ride was relaxing. We got right up to the dam and could see it well. The kids got a little bored with the length of the ride to and from the dam, so I would suggest being prepared with a simple activity. There are tables inside, which would be perfect for drawing, coloring, or a card game.
In the first paragraph, I mentioned that we went to the Strip twice. We did take our kids on two outings to the Strip. We drove down one night so they could see all the lights. Of course, their favorites were the Hershey’s and M&M Stores. The second outing to the Strip was to go to the Venetian. We wanted to see the canals and the ceilings that look like the sky and change color like the sky does outside throughout the day. We also went to Carlos’ famed bakery and ate at his restaurant. The kids enjoyed this because we had all seen Cake Boss’s show. We really enjoyed the restaurant, the food was excellent, and the desserts were even better!
I have learned about budget traveling with kids and that there is always somewhere free or low-cost to go. You may have to search Google a little or be willing to explore, but some of the best places we have found were where the locals take their kids for a fun day.
Please let us know if you have other unusual gems in Las Vegas or elsewhere. Where do you look to find those tremendous free spots to visit when traveling? Add a comment below to share your thoughts and experiences.
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