I remember when Las Vegas was strictly an adults-only destination. This was back in the ‘70s, when thick cigar and cigarette smoke curled everywhere inside and out. The number of casinos was much smaller, and the town as a whole had yet to develop into a thriving urban environment.
Things have changed completely in the intervening decades. Now, several areas in the city have become gambling destinations, including Fremont Street, the Strip, Summerlin, and a group of popular outliers on the I-15 coming into town from Los Angeles (Silverton and South Point, just to name a few).
Most importantly, for our purposes, many of these properties not only welcome families but have activities in place to keep the kids engaged as well.
The LINQ includes a casino, a hotel, the huge “eye in the sky” observation wheel that dominates the Vegas Strip skyline, and also a wonderful promenade of shops and entertainment that feels like the Strip in miniature form.
On top of that, the LINQ is a solid choice for travelers visiting Las Vegas with children. This casino property has an air of excitement, a restaurant the kids will love (Hash House a Go Go), and plenty to see and do on the Promenade.
The observation wheel, called the “High Roller” sits at the eastern end of the promenade. So, you can take a ride in the sky, then window-shop the entire way back to your hotel room.
One thing to know about this property is that, unlike other casino hotels around town, this one does not offer on-site childcare. If your kids are too young to hang out in the room and watch a movie on their own, then consider staying at the Red Rock Casino Resort, which hosts a wonderful and very secure childcare facility (that kids love) that is open until 2 am.
Also, the LINQ pools are not welcoming to kids like the Excalibur’s are. If your child is a waterbaby, consider staying at the Excalibur. You can always walk or Uber/Lyft to the LINQ from wherever you are staying.
Note: Guy Fieri has a restaurant here at the LINQ, and it is one that is very kid-friendly in a casual setting. It is placed just right in order to be one of the best people-watching locations in Las Vegas (as long as you are sitting on the outdoor deck). Fieri’s eatery is not on the Promenade, which parallels the southern face of the casino. Instead, it is on the northern side of the casino, toward Harrah’s.
The Excalibur is shaped like a castle, which is fun, and has a King Arthur-style dinner show that is well worth seeing. This casino also has a kids’ arcade and game area (the Fun Dungeon), a decent food court, and what I consider to be some of the most enjoyable swimming pools in Las Vegas.
The swimming pools are friendly, the lifeguards are attentive, there are poolside cocktails for the parents, and (if you can get away to yourselves for a bit) an adults-only pool on-site.
The Excalibur also boasts “magic motion” rides. These are “virtual” experiences, such as riding a roller coaster or flying through space like Superman, that don’t actually take you anywhere. You sit in a chair equipped with 3D visuals, immersive sound, and enough motion built into the seat itself that you truly trick your mind into thinking you are experiencing the exciting (or terrifying) event. Kids love them.
Note to adults: The bars within the Excalibur are popular with locals and visitors alike. Ask an employee where to find the “slushy bar.”
Whereas the other options on the list were casinos first, with the idea of appealing to kids coming in a distant second, the opposite is true for Circus Circus.
The entire casino area—built in the 1960s—is dominated by two features, which are the free trapeze shows that happen twice an hour and the carnival-style midway that features all of the games you love to lose money on. These include familiar classics, such as knocking over milk bottles with a softball and shooting ducks in a row.
Circus Circus sits at the far north end of the Strip. Thus, unlike the LINQ and Treasure Island, it is not easy to wander out of the front doors and check out other casinos.
However, there is plenty to do right on-site for kids. There is a recently built water park, the aforementioned trapeze acts and midway, and even an indoor amusement park complete with a roller coaster and laser tag.
The rates at Circus Circus are always among the most affordable offered on the Strip, and the rooms used to just be so-so. However, they have recently been refurbished, and they are surprisingly appealing even though the prices are still quite low.
Red Rock Casino Resort
This bustling, charming casino hotel is not near the Strip. It’s actually toward the western edge of town. However, there is enough happening at this property for both you and the kids to do that you don’t need to leave.
The pool is spacious, and it’s not deep enough to worry you. There is a bowling alley on-site, as well as a movie theater. The best feature of the Red Rock Casino, in terms of kid-friendly activities, is the Kids’ Quest childcare area.
Kids Quest is a super-secure child watch facility that takes kids as young as newborns and those on up into the teen years. There are play structures, game tablets, craft areas, and one of the supervisors will lead a game of tag on occasion.
Not to mention, Kids Quest is enjoyable enough that even local kids enjoy being dropped off at Kids Quest. The hourly rate is reasonable, the limit is five hours per drop-off, and they are open quite late on the weekends and holidays.
If slots, keno, poker, roulette, dining, swimming, and seeing the latest moves becomes stale, then you can turn your attention to shopping. The casino itself is at the tail end of an outdoor plaza called Downtown Summerlin. Simply exit the southern doors of the property and walk into the shopping district.
This is a pirate-themed casino property, as you can tell from the name. Other than the swashbuckling décor, features of Treasure Island that kids can enjoy include a Marvel Avengers retail shop and exhibit, a video game arcade, a dedicated wading pool for the younger children, as well as several casual restaurants.
Perhaps the best feature of Treasure Island is its location across the street from The Venetian. The Canal Shoppes at The Venetian mimic the canals of Venice (except that the Las Vegas interpretation is clean and well-lit). Here, you can find gelato, opera singers, and some wonderful shopping opportunities as you explore the charming setup.
One of the Cirque du Soleil shows (Mystere) plays in the Treasure Island theater, and at 90 minutes, it’s of a duration that most kids can handle. Keep in mind that Vegas shows are quite pricey, however, so if you have a larger family, then you may want to steer clear of these extravaganzas and enjoy such activities as walking to the famous synchronized fountains at the Bellagio before heading indoors to peruse the Bellagio’s indoor botanical garden.
Las Vegas sits close to many noteworthy destinations, such as the Grand Canyon, the Colorado River, and Zion National Park, among many other gems. If you are in town with family, and have more than a weekend to spend, consider taking a day to visit some of the area’s natural features.
Red Rock Canyon is a national conservation area that lies just beyond the west edge of Vegas, and it’s world-famous for the hiking and exploring opportunities. There is an interpretive center and even a children’s discovery trail.
An Important Note in Closing
It is important to know that there are a great many kid-friendly activities around town, even on the famed Las Vegas Strip. And because the Strip casinos are all at a relatively short distance from each other, you’ll have access to features at all of the casinos regardless of where you are staying.
For instance, if you choose to stay at the Excalibur because of the pools, you can still take the kids to the aquarium down the street at the Mandalay Bay casino. You can then visit the LINQ wheel (the Vegas version of the London Eye) afterward for a view of the entire city and beyond.
To cap off the evening, you can take the kids for dinner at the Rainforest Café, a restaurant on the Strip not affiliated with any casino/hotel, but a favorite with the kiddos for all of the jungle-y sights and sounds within.