Last week we traveled to Las Vegas…with kids!
I know. It’s not the most well known spring break hot spot for the elementary school crowd. But, we rocked it.
I loved sharing a lot of our pictures on the Mom With A Map Facebook and Instagram accounts (FYI if you aren’t already “following” us, use the links or buttons at the top to get connected.)
Throughout the week I received tons of great questions. I tried to respond to each message, email and text individually. However, I thought it might be fun to do a little Q & A post with some of the most popular questions.
Naturally, the most common question: Why Las Vegas with kids?
Well this is really a two-part answer. First, our goal is to take our children to all 50 states before they turn 18. Although Nevada is a big state with a lot of great areas to explore, we felt we’d be a little remiss if we didn’t visit Vegas.
Additionally, Brent’s company scheduled a meeting that coincided with our Spring Break dates. And that really explains specifically what motivated us to go to Vegas now.
Spring Break? I thought you homeschool your kids?
We do. And we LOVE the freedom and flexibility “worldschool” allows us. We travel when we want without being mindful of the school calendar. However, we’re very active in our community. Between sports, church, Bible Study, friends’ parties and a variety of other commitments- it’s sometimes hard to get away without missing a ton!
So while we will always prioritize travel, we also do our best to take advantage of breaks in activities. Our county’s spring break just happened to fall the same week as Brent’s meeting.
Were you hesitant to go to Las Vegas with kids?
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t.
Of course we thought about it. And considered what it would be like through their eyes.
I asked a few people whose opinions I really value. Each of them reminded me that we’ve encountered a lot of different situations as we’ve traveled over the years. Sometimes things go over the kids’ heads and other times we use the experiences as teaching moments.
Ultimately we decided that the positive moments would (hopefully) outweigh any bad.
What did you do in Las Vegas with kids?
The answer to this question is going to be its own post (or two!) but briefly…
We spent quite a bit of time at the hotel pool. In fact, my kids could have easily spent the entire trip at the pool. But I wanted them to see Vegas, so we also walked the strip and toured 5-6 different hotels. And we rode the monorail, a gondola, and the High Roller Ferris Wheel.
Our dinners were pretty simple, by Vegas standards, and the kids and I were in our room before dark. Since Brent had work commitments, I was on my own with the kids. I wasn’t sure how comfortable I was going to be- especially at night. (In hindsight, I probably could have taken the kids to see a show.)
What else did you do in the Vegas area?
Again, there will be a lot of future posts about this information, but for now I will share:
Our last two days of the trip we said goodbye to the Vegas strip, rented a car and headed out to the desert.
We went to Lake Mead National Recreation Area and the Hoover Dam. And the following day we headed West to California to visit Death Valley National Park.
In a last minute decision we also decided to check out Red Rocks Canyon National Conservation Area. Since this was NOT on the itinerary, my only regret of the trip is how little time we got to spend there.
Where did you stay?
Brent’s work meeting was at the MGM Grand Resort. After that we moved to the Westin on Lake Las Vegas.
So what did you think? Looking back, would you do it again?
Loved it. And absolutely.
But, of course Las Vegas with kids isn’t free from some negative exposure. I’ll be totally real here because I certainly don’t want to misrepresent the experience.
First, the smoking: Ugh. It was truly everywhere and completely unavoidable. Unless we were in our room, we could usually smell smoke (of all kinds.) My kids think it’s gross and we tried to dodge it as much as we could. For example we switched chairs at the pool several times.
The drinking: Not a huge deal for us since we were in our room at night. We did not encounter anyone belligerent or acting in a way that my kids noticed. However, there were drinks everywhere. Obviously. So, if this is something you’re not okay with- you probably want to reconsider your destination.
The gambling: most of the hotels, including the MGM, are designed where you have to walk through the casinos. It seems like the rule of thumb in Vegas is that kids need to stick to the main walkways and keep moving. The kids would have loved to watched some of the card games, and were naturally drawn to all the machines that looked like video games. We saw the first slot machines at the airport and it gave us a good opportunity to talk to the children.
The questionable scenes: We saw a few people out on the strip during the day that I would have rather avoided. But honestly, it really wasn’t any worse than being at a public beach or in Times Square in New York. I honestly don’t think my kids were fazed at all.
What do you think is a good age to take your kids to Vegas?
(For a frame of reference: my kids are 7 and 11.)
I would say Vegas is best for kids ages 4-12. If you’re careful, I believe a lot of Vegas will go over their head in that age range. And they will see Vegas for all the lights, sparkle and magic.
Any final thoughts on your trip?
I really think the key to having a successful trip to Las Vegas with kids is to do your research before you go. I went into our trip knowing about 90% of how we would spend every minute of our time.
I knew the activities I would do with the kids and a list of places we could eat. As crazy as this sounds, I even studied a map of the strip. I didn’t want to get lost or have to ask for directions.
A lot of this added preparation was due to the fact that I knew I’d be on my own with the two kids. Brent is usually our navigator and spontaneous traveler. Without him, I planned like crazy and left nothing to chance!
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You may also enjoy reading:
The One Place I’ve Been That I’ll Never Go Again
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