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Things for Kids to Do in Las Vegas

While Vegas is Sin City, there's definitely stuff for kids to do here.  Between games, thrill rides, and all-ages shows, there's enough to make it interesting for them, rather than just having to tag along with mom and dad.

Note that casinos don't want any kids on the gaming floor, even though they force you to go through the casino to get to your room.  So basically, when the kids are in tow, just keep moving.  They can't even sit down at a slot machine, even if they're not playing, and even just standing around in the casino is frowned upon.  And incidentally, the gaming age in Vegas is 21, so young adults on the floor can expect to get carded.

When you need some time away from the kids, check out our babysitter page.

Thrill Rides & Roller Coasters

There are so many thrill rides and roller coasters on the Vegas Strip that we have a special page about them.  But here's the summary:

On top of the Stratosphere Hotel Tower (see the Strat's ride info page)

  • Big Shot.  Shoots you straight up at 4G's, while the Earth disappears below you.  Probably the most popular ride in Vegas.  Minimum height 48".  All the Strat's rides are $12, except the SkyJump which is $99.  You'll also pay $10 to $16 to get to the top of the tower.
  • Insanity.  You go around in circles like a merry-go-round, except that while that happens, you're being dangled 1000 feet above the Vegas Strip.  Minimum height is 48".
  • X Scream. A seesaw-like contraption that takes you out over the edge of the tower, hovering hundreds of feet over the ground.  Height requirement is 48 to 80 inches.
  • SkyJump.  Sky dive off the tower to the ground, using braked guide wires instead of a parachute.  Pricey at $99, but what an experience.  Age 14-17 need a parent or guardian signature.
Downtown:
  • Fremont Flightlines.  Ride a zip line right under the Fremont Street Experience -- 800 feet at speeds up to 35mph.  The price is $15 before 6pm, and $20 after 6pm.  Tip:  Book online or by phone, and then start at the front of the line when you get there.  A picture is worth a thousand words, so see the video at right.
Circus Circus (see Circus Circus' ride info page)
  • Canyon Blaster is the only indoor double-loop, double-corkscrew roller coaster on the planet.  It drops 90 feet and hits 55mph over a 2,000 foot long track, and lasts 1:45.
  • Chaos is a three-dimensional tilt-a-whirl, tilting, spinning, and flipping riders at the same time.  No two rides are the same. (review at Vegas.com)
  • Inverter keeps you upside-down and staring at an upcoming wall of concrete for a full four seconds before turning you right-side up again.  The ride is a generous two minutes during off-peak hours. (review at Vegas.com)
  • Rim Runner is the only indoor flume in the world, featuring a 60-foot drop which will soak you but good.
  • Sling Shot, the newest addition, is Circus Circus' answer to the Stratosphere's Big Shot, shooting you straight up a column at 4 G's.
Other roller coasters on the Strip:
  • Manhattan Express at New York New York.  Casino Player magazine says: "At two minutes and 45 seconds, it's easily the longest-lasting ride in Las Vegas. Top speed is 67 mph and the biggest drop is 144 feet, but what keeps everyone coming back for more is the insane 540-degree spiral, not to mention the fact that it takes place over a pretty solid replica of New York Harbor. If this ride doesn't put you in a "New York State of Mind", nothing will."

Arcades & Game Centers

You've got several choices for video and carnival games on the Vegas Strip:

Video Arcades on the Vegas Strip


Number of games at each place


Where is it?
Video
Games
Pinball
Coin-op
Carnival &
Novelty Games
Carnival Games
w/live attendant
Air Hockey
Virtual Reality
Notes
Circus Circus
North Strip
116
5
83*
28
6
0
Free 10-minute circus shows every 30 minutes.  Also has the original Space Invaders and Qix.
Excalibur


South Strip
44
1
67*
18
5
1
Also has the Manhattan Express roller coaster next door.
New York New York
48
1
73*
1
0
1
Cheapest video game is 50.  Others cost $1 or $2.  Note that the Sporting House Grill also in NYNY sometimes sets their games to free-play, call 702-740-6766 to check. The NYNY coupon books sometimes has a coupon for $10 of free games at other times.
GameWorks
130

0
69*
0
3
3
All games work on gamecard credit, and the min. purchase to get a card is $5.  Some games as low as 25.  You can get "all-you-can-play" cards @ $20/1 hr, $25/2hrs, $35/all day, but the real deal is to buy the cards for close to half price at Tix4Tonite. Has the original Space Invaders!
Riviera

32
5
10
0
2
0

* Earn tickets to redeem for prizes.  •  Survey conducted November 2010.  Identical units of the same video game count towards the total, but identical carnival games don't.

Get pictures with Spiderman, Sponge Bob, etc.

There are a number of street performers on the strip dressed up in costumes who take pictures with tourists for tips.  A dollar or two is a standard tip.  The best place to find them is near the giant Coke bottle, just north of the MGM Grand.  You never know who's going to be working, but today there was Spiderman, Sponge Bob, Buzz Lightyear, Pikachu, and, because I made a rare appearance, the original Willy Wonka.


Children's Park in Town Square

Free park features a tree house with slides, a hedge maze, pop-jet fountain, merry-go-round, children's theatre for storytelling, and more.  It's about a mile south of Mandalay Bay, and both the Deuce and Strip/Downtown Express buses go straight there.


Lied Discovery Children's Museum

From their website: "Features over 100 hands-on exhibits in the arts, sciences, nature, music and humanities, traveling exhibition galleries, an early childhood pavilion and an eight-story science tower.  Our mission is to provide a vibrant and engaging environment, through exhibits and programs, where children and families from economically and culturally diverse backgrounds actively participate in playful learning environments."  $9.50 adults, $8.50 children.  In downtown at 833 Las Vegas Blvd. North.


Non-kid-specific attractions

There are a number of free and cheap attractions that are great for kids, even though they're not kid-specific.  These include:
  • Bellagio Fountains.  The best free entertainment in town.  A water fountain system in the pond in front of Bellagio shoots water into the air in a variety of patterns, choreographed to music.  Shows begin at noon on the weekends and 3:00pm M-F.  The show happens every half hour until 8:00pm, and then every 15 minutes through midnight.

  • Mirage Volcano & Rainforest.  "Every fifteen minutes from dusk to midnight, flames shoot into the night sky, spewing smoke and fire 100 feet above the waters below and transforming a tranquil waterfall into streams of molten lava. The volcano at The Mirage has been Las Vegas' signature attraction ever since the resort opened in 1989. The show is free to the public.  And inside The Mirage's front entrance, you'll find a lush and verdant indoor rainforest housed under a 100-foot-high dome. Palm trees reach 60 feet above cascading waterfalls. Lagoons meander through a forest of rich tropical flora including bird of paradise trees, orchids and bromeliads. Woven into this waterscape is an artist's palette of beautifully colored, delicately arranged tropical flowers enveloped in natural sunlight. Water mists the area lightly throughout the day to enhance the atmosphere and help keep the plants cool. Six full-time gardeners spend over 240 hours each week to maintain the more than 100 different types of plants in the atrium. Over 300 fresh orchids and 1000 bromeliads grace the walkways." (from the Mirage's website)

  • Pirate Battle at Treasure Island.  Free shows every night on the big paret ship right outside the casino.  The current show is called "Silens of TI" and is reportedly "sexier" than the old show, with the website warning that "Parental guidance is suggested", but the show is outside and free so I'm thinking it can't be too sexy.  See the TI website for show times, since they change on occasion.

  • Moving statues at Caesars Palace.  At the very end of the Forum Shops at Caesars is a free show with large, moving statues acting out a short play, running every hour on the hour.  It's nothing to write home about but it is free, and the kids will probably like it.

  • Fremont Street Experience.  In downtown Vegas there's a huge metal canopy over Fremont Street which is essentially a massive video screen, over five football fields long, and filled with over 12.5 million computer-controlled LED lights.  There are free animated shows every hour on the hour, starting at sundown and ending at midnight.  It's easy to find: just go to Fremont Street and look up.  If you're on the Strip just hop on the Deuce or Strip/Dowtown Express bus which goes straight there.  If you saw the show before June 2004 and weren't impressed, check it out again: The upgrade added a bunch more lights and dramatically improved the resolution.  There are also free bands playing on Fremont Street, and some of them are pretty good.  (Visit the official website.)

  • $1 massage chairs.  Various places have automatic massage chairs which run for 3 minutes for a dollar.  They're not just chairs that vibrate, they really knead and massage.  I was really surprised by the variety in the chairs' repetoire, and kids will love them.  Can't beat the price, either.  Find them at outside the buffets at the Flamingo and Imperial Palace, and in the mall at the Stratosphere.

  • $15 aqua massage.  Moving on up the pricing scale are the aqua massage machines, which generally start at $15 for seven minutes.  (And seven minutes is enough; after that it gets repetitious.)  You lie face down, they put a plastic sheet over you, and then the machine sprays high-pressure water on you in massage-like ways.  It's definitely a unique sensation.  Find the machines at the Showcase Mall (next to the MGM), the Luxor, the Miracle Miles mall (in Planet Hollywood), and in the mall at the Stratosphere.

Did I miss something?  Let me know!

Last update:  September 2011 

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Also, know that Parkinson's drugs encourage gambling.