Visiting Las Vegas with kids is not something I ever wanted to do. I have been to Vegas a handful of times and have come to appreciate it for what it is, an adult playground. I remember fondly that my Cousin was getting married in Vegas and I came with my family to visit, unfortunately, the wedding was four days before my 21st birthday so I did not enjoy it as much as I could have. Since then I have enjoyed my visits to Vegas as an adult, playing cards, hitting the slots, shooting machine guns, and of course drinking.
When we started planning our adventure in the Unicorn RV, I had specifically steered clear of Las Vegas. In between St. George, UT and Prescott, AZ, we were going to stay near Lake Mead. I wanted to avoid driving the Unicorn RV in an urban setting and avoid the distraction of Las Vegas with kids. Unfortunately, due to an unexpected life event, we stayed in Vegas for almost a week so I could catch a last-minute flight to Seattle.
The first night after we arrived in Vegas, we met up with Jen’s brother-in-law who was visiting. We agreed to meet at the Rainforest Cafe in the MGM Grand. Navigating a casino with a two-year-old and a four-year-old was difficult; thousands of people swarmed around and stopped by the table games made the going tough. When we made it to the Rainforest Cafe, we met our next obstacles, which were long waits for tables. We waited 45 minutes for a table, on a Wednesday night before being seated. Thank goodness, there were aquariums and a gift shop there to distract the girls.
Since there were five of us, we were seated in a cave-like booth near the waterfall. It was a perfect place for us; both girls were starving and hyperactive. They bounced around the booth while the adults tried to hold a conversation. Our overly excited waiter did the best to sell the Rainforest Cafe story during our dinner, trying to get us to join their membership club. It felt dirty, we were just there to eat dinner after all not enter a long-term relationship.
We left the Rainforest Cafe at almost 9:00 PM; it took us nearly three hours between leaving the RV, parking, walking through the MGM, waiting for a table and eventually eating our dinner. The two girls were on the verge of a meltdown and by the time we made it back to the RV, we had to fight a tantrum to put them both to bed. Clearly, the outing had been overwhelming for the both of them; it was overwhelming for us adults.
The next night we ventured into Vegas with some lessons learned. We left the RV around 5:00 PM and I had decided to visit a buffet for dinner, I looked at restaurants that took reservations but decided the buffet would be the best option for everyone. We met up with Jen’s brother-in-law around 5:30 PM in Paris Las Vegas at their buffet and were disappointed to see another line; this line was long as well. In the end, we stood in line for nearly 30 minutes before being seated.
I did not factor into the equation that neither girl had ever been to a buffet, so both of them were overwhelmed by the options. This is also Las Vegas, so I watched both girls people watch instead of eating. The food was good and eventually we got them both to fill their stomachs; Leona ate salad and deserts while Evelyn ate cheese, deserts and salad. Jen, Jeremy, and I went to the buffet a few times and we universally agreed it was a good meal.
After dinner, we walked out onto the Strip and into the masses of the crowds. We waited our turn on the crosswalk and crossed when it was turn. It was difficult to keep our kids with us, many people crowed us the whole time. Some were drunk; some were sightseeing, and some just plain rude. We eventually made it across the road to the Bellagio Hotel & Casino, where we had just missed the Fountain Show.
We waited patiently and found a nice central spot for the show. Eventually the show started and we had a great view of the show. Evelyn was in awe of the large Fountains shooting water hundreds of feet in the air and she would hum along with some of the songs. Leona stayed in Jen’s arms but was smiling and pointing at the Fountains during the whole show. I had seen the show before so I was not as amazed as they were, but it gave me the opportunity to enjoy their reactions to the show.
When the show finished up we went back to the Paris parking garage and I took the family on a tour of the strip. We had removed the “freedom” roof above the driver and passenger so that everyone in the car could enjoy the bright lights, sounds, and (to a lesser extent) smells of Las Vegas. We drove the whole strip all the way down to Fremont Street before hopping on the highway and returning to the RV where we put the kids down for bed.
There are a couple tidbits of wisdom I want to pass onto you before you make the decision to bring your children to Las Vegas.
- Do not bring your kids – Clearly Las Vegas is geared towards adults. There are kid friendly activities, but you have to go through a smoky casino or struggle with crowds. Las Vegas is not kid friendly, period… leave them at home with the Grandparents and come to visit Las Vegas worry-free.
- Make reservations – I have never ate a good meal in Vegas without an extended wait. Our biggest mistake was not planning better and making reservations for dinner.
- Bring bags of cash – If you do bring your kids, bring bags of cash to survive the trip. The buffet at Aria charged $33.99 per adult and $33.99 for all kids older than four years old; yes… full RATE for a four year old.
- Do not plan to enjoy yourself – If you are kids with you, the likelihood of you escaping and enjoying a few hours playing craps is limited. You may have to stay up all night gambling so that your family can enjoy their activities during the day.
- Have a rental car – Jen took the girls to Cheesecake Factory way off strip, she paid a normal amount for dinner and good food. If you are in Vegas with your family, hop in your rental car and enjoy dining off the strip.
I am glad I brought Jen to Las Vegas for the first time and I think the girls did enjoy it for what they could process, but in the future I will leave the kids at home and bring Jen for a weekend of poker, good eating, and maybe some shows.