Las Vegas is as iconic as it is infamous. And while people typically associate sequined showgirls, neon lights and gambling with Las Vegas, the four million families who visit Las Vegas every year are discovering that there is still plenty of clean, family fun available. Mixed in among glitz, glamour and gaming are kids activities galore, such as the Adventuresome Theme Park, Wet’n’Wild Las Vegas and helicopter trips to nearby Grand Canyon just the name a few.
About Las Vegas
Las Vegas facts
Las Vegas Strip
You can’t say you’ve seen Las Vegas until you’ve walked down the Las Vegas Strip. All the best casinos are conveniently located along this boulevard. Kids will love the novelty of these casinos, which each have something unique about them. At The Bellagio, see the fountains and the conservatory and botanical gardens. You can climb the Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas and take a gondola ride at The Venetian.
There are other activities outside the casinos as well. Take a trip on the High Roller, the world’s largest observation wheel. Visit Madame Tussauds and make sure you stop by the famous ‘Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada’ sign.
Downtown Las Vegas
While Downtown Las Vegas still has some casinos, such as the Golden Nugget, which has a water slide through its aquarium, there are a number of other things to do with the kids.
Downtown is where the museums are, including the Discovery Children’s Museum, the Neon Museum and the Las Vegas Natural History Museum.
At Fremont Street Experience, you can try the SlotZilla Zip Line. There’s also a popular toy shop called ‘Toy Shack’ at Neonopolis shopping plaza.
Lake Las Vegas
If you need a break from the neon lights and casinos, take a trip to Lake Las Vegas. This man-made lake is great for water activities and you can rent all kinds of boats from paddle boats to yachts. You can even go on a gondola ride.
There’s also a little village beside the lake, where you can shop and eat and enjoy the peace and quiet that contrasts with vibrant Las Vegas.
Best time to go to Las Vegas
Las Vegas averages almost 320 days of sunshine per year, has an annual rainfall of 10.5 centimetres and humidity around 29% all of which make it fantastic holiday weather. Although many people think Las Vegas is hot year-round the seasons do vary.
Winters generally offer crisp, blue-skied days suitable for long-sleeved shirts and light jumpers, while winter nights can get cold.
Autumn and spring are glorious, with warm days. Once again, it can get quite cool in the evenings.
Las Vegas summers are hot so schedule outdoor activities for early mornings.
In the months of June to August, the average monthly rainfall is eight millimetres and the average temperature is 40 degrees Celsius.
In the months of September to November, the average monthly rainfall is eight millimetres and the average temperature is 28 degrees Celsius.
In the months of December to February, the average monthly rainfall is 11 millimetres and the average temperature is 15 degrees Celsius.
In the months of March to May, the average monthly rainfall is eight millimetres and the average temperature is 25 degrees Celsius.
You will need a valid passport to travel to the United States. Make sure the passport is valid for at least six months after you intend to return to Australia.
To enter the United States, you need either a visa waiver or an entry visa. You can get a visa waiver as part of the visa waiver program (VWP) if you are travelling to the US for business or pleasure for 90 days or less. To apply for a visa waiver, you need to apply online for an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA). The ESTA costs US $14 and an ESTA application needs to be done for each traveller.
Apply for your ESTA or visa at least three months before you travel to the US. Even if you are only transiting through the US, you will need an ESTA or visa.
When you check in at the airport, you will need to show an onward or return ticket. You will also need to provide an address in the US, including a postcode.
Make sure there are no discrepancies between your ESTA or visa, your plane ticket, and your passport.
Las Vegas is the capital of Nevada and is around a four-hour drive or one-hour flight from Los Angeles. It is an ideal base for the Grand Canyon, Lake Mead and Hoover Dam which are all within half a day’s drive.
McCarran Airport is the main airport serving Las Vegas. It is ranked among the 10 busiest airports in the world based on the amount of passenger activity. It serves almost 30 airlines and has over 950 flights arriving and departing daily. Services include a 24 hour Fitness Centre, the first of its kind located inside a major US airport with a cardiovascular workout area, showers, locker room facilities, a steam room and dry sauna; an unsupervised aviation-themed Kids Play Area with interactive mini control tower and mock jet engine; and a wide range of dining options.
McCarran Airport is located 1.6 kilometres or 10 minutes from the Las Vegas Strip and riot kilometres from Downtown Las Vegas. A wide range of transfer options are available including buses, taxis, limousines, car rental and shuttle buses. The average taxi fare from the airport to a Strip hotel is $US11. If you have more people than can fit in one taxi, a limousine may be a cheaper option.
The Las Vegas Strip is well serviced by cabs.
For those driving, most hotels offer free car parks and valet parking.
The Las Vegas Monorail is an option for those wanting to travel between the MGM Grand, along the Strip and out to the Las Vegas Convention Centre. Various ride passes are available and the monorail runs between 7am and 2am.
Trolleys run every 15 minutes and stop at the main Strip hotels. Trolleys run from 9.30am to 1.30am and the fare is $2.50.
Food and drinks that kids will love
Las Vegas has restaurants to suit all budgets and tastes. Most hotels on the Las Vegas Strip will offer a range of restaurants, buffets and food courts. There are also lots of unique eateries the kids will love.
Some favourites include the Rainforest Cafe, where diners are surrounded by lush vegetation, cascading waterfalls and animals; the casual Rollin Smoke Barbecue which serves great barbecue meats, sandwiches and seafood plates; and Honey Salt, which serves modern American food and has a particularly good kids menu.
If you want a break from American food, try Chin Chin for some Chinese and Japanese sushi. This restaurant is located inside the New York-New York Hotel and has a separate kids menu.
Chocoholics beware: this appropriately named store features a massive range of chocolates. Choose a packaged product off the shelves or mix and match your favourite colour and type of M&M from the colourful ‘wall of M&Ms’. To quench your thirst head next door to the Coca Cola store where you can buy a huge range of merchandise or sit down for a range of Coca Cola drinks.
Las Vegas has three factory outlet malls (Fashion Outlets of Las Vegas, Las Vegas North Premium Outlet Mall and Las Vegas South Premium Outlet Mall) offering brand names such as Gap, Nine West, Levi and Osh Kosh all selling goods at 25 to 65% below retail price.
You don’t have to be buying to enjoy a day of shopping in Las Vegas. Just as many of the hotels of Las Vegas are themed, so too are many of the shopping centres. The kids will love the cobblestone walkways and gondola ride at the Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian. At Caesars Forum Shops, light, fire, smoke and special effects are used to tell the story of Atlantis every hour after 10am.
Tipping is customary in the US. This is because base salaries in the US are very low, and hospitality workers rely heavily on their tips to make a living. Even more importantly, the government taxes hospitability workers on a predicted level of tips for the year. It is important that Australians respect the culture of tipping when in the USA.
The following guide outlines normal tipping levels:
- 15% to 20% for table service with food and drink.
- A token tip for food or drink where you serve yourself.
- While gambling in Las Vegas, all drinks are free. A $1 tip per drink for the waitress would be the norm.
- Hotel personnel – $1 to $2 per bag taken to your room. (You can opt to carry your own bags.)
- Maids – a $2 tip per day is generally left in the room for your room maid.
- Dealers and poker machine attendants – a small bet made for them is the standard reward. If the bet is successful, the attendant keeps the winnings. If not, your tip is still considered paid.
- Taxi drivers – taxi drivers usually receive a tip of $1 to $2.
- Tour guides receive $1 to $2 per person for tours with a lot of people, 10% for more individualised tours.
- Valet parking – this service is free but a $2 tip is usual.
What to wear
There is no dress code in Las Vegas, however, most people dress fairly casual, although some restaurants may have dress restrictions. In summer it can be very hot so wear light clothing, but be aware that in can get surprisingly cool in the winter months so a jacket is recommended. Remember to bring comfortable shoes for sightseeing; it is easy to cover a lot of ground while strolling between the properties.
The USA uses Type A (two pins, 100 – 127 V) and Type B (three pins, 100 – 127 V) electrical sockets.
It is safe to drink the tap water in Las Vegas.
The United States is generally considered a safe destination, but practice caution when in the streets late at night. If unsure, simply ask the concierge or information desks at your hotel if there is anywhere you should avoid or be careful of.
The United States has the potential for a variety of natural disasters including earthquakes, wildfires, floods, hurricanes, landslides and tornadoes.
Most photographed places
The most famous casinos are the most photographed places in Las Vegas. This includes the fountains at Bellagio, the canals at The Venetian, the Eiffel Tower at the Paris Las Vegas and the fountains at Caesar’s Palace.
Outside of Las Vegas, the Hoover Dam and Red Rock Canyon are popular photograph spots and tourist attractions.
And, of course, you have to take a photo of the ‘Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada’ sign.