We went to Las Vegas for our honeymoon, and I decided I never wanted to go back. Well that sounds awful doesn’t it? Not because of the company, but because of the town. After a few years I wondered if Las Vegas would have been fun if we hadn’t been so broke. I remember attending a time share presentation, going to the movies, and just wandering around. Wandering around Las Vegas during the day isn’t magical, that should have been saved for the lit up night.
So when Tyler thought that the family should tag along on a work trip I was skeptical. I didn’t want to take 4 little girls to that dirty city. I asked around a bit, read some articles, and decided to give it another try.
Where to stay I wondered?
Friends overwhelmingly told me two places; Hilton Grand Vacations and Tahiti Village.
**Tahiti Village has family style rooms, pools, and a lazy river. Sadly, their river & pool was scheduled to be closed during our trip. I also realized that a lot of families were going to be there. But let me say something awful, sometimes I don’t want to be around a bunch of other kids. There I said it, so I opted not to go there.
**Hilton Grand Vacations had suites that were perfect for us. Two bedrooms with king beds, two kitchens, a dining area, two bathrooms, and a family room with a pull out couch. That cost us 200 a night with taxes (we also went on weekdays during off season). No, no free breakfast so I just bought some things and cooked them up in the hotel room kitchen. It is nice but not stuffy. I don’t want to take 4 kids to a stuffy place and feel uncomfortable. But I also don’t want to take them to a run, old down, dirty feeling place. The Hilton was perfect for our family. The pools were heated, the weather was around 55 outside and they were warm enough to swim in. But then of course when stepping out it was a mad dash to get back inside to some warmth. No no kiddie pool, but low enough waters for kids over 4/5 to swim in. The Hilton IS at the end of the strip, which has its pros and cons. It is quieter, less filth, those gross handouts passed to you at the end of the strip. But also it takes forever to walk anywhere. But the nice thing about Las Vegas is that there is TONS of free parking. The hotels WANT you to park at their spot and spend your money there, so they don’t charge.
What to do I thought?
The reviews I read online of PAID things to do with kids had very mixed reviews. I read a lot of; the animals look depressed, it was SO SHORT, and not worth the money. There are so many free things to do so I opted to spend our money on yummy food and go the free route for the kids. I also have kids to young to pay good money on shows, one day I will! When we go places my girls know we don’t buy things, it does minimize the whining. And then sometimes I surprise them with one or two locations that I let them pick a treat.
**We toured the M&M factory, let the kids get an unpackaged (aka cheaper) selection of their hearts desires. Also they had a fun 3-D 20 minute free movie for the kids to watch. Then we walked over to the Cocoa Cola factory where you can buy a selection of sodas from around the world to try for $7. Easy Peasey.
If you plan your walking times right there are the other things that are free. Please keep in mind that they are FREE and short. But that are perfect for the ages of kids that I have. Another thing to keep in mind is that if you do park closer to the location you are closer…but you still have some walking to do. Takes awhile to walk around casinos, through them, etc. to get to your desired location.
**Circus Circus; look at the schedule for all of the free shows (juggling, things like that) and there are arcade games inside you can play. All the girls won a stuffed animal, so basically I paid for all the stuffed animals.
**The conservatory and water show at the Bellagio. When we went they had a new Chinese New Year exhibit up, it was gorgeous. Everything about the Bellagio is gorgeous!
**Ethel M Chocolate Factory offers free self-guided tours of the chocolate factory and access to wander the botanical cactus gardens located on site. This is 15 minutes from Las Vegas so we did it on our way out.
**Walked through Pawn Stars (from the show)
These were things on the list that we didn’t get to:
**Venetian, be sure to see living statues, gondolas, street performers, and music inside the courtyard of the Grand Canal Shoppes.
**Don Pablo Cigar Company and watch workers roll cigars by hand.
**Silverton is home to more than 4,000 tropical fish in a huge, 117,000-gallon saltwater aquarium. Also you can watch a MERMAID SHOW!
**The Fashion Show Mall has an actual fashion show but also indoor playground. There’s an outdoor mall at the end of the strip with a great outdoor play area.
**Tigers at the Mirage, there is a paid section but then also some you can see some in the front.
But most importantly…what you must do IS…
Keep the kids up late and walk around in the early night when Las Vegas is lit up and magical. We opted two nights in a row to just walk all around the Bellagio, and watch the water show a few times. But pick the best most beautifully lit up at night hotels and go on some nice long walks.
I wanted a date night in Las Vegas, but how?
Use a service, a good service, and know that it is more expensive for an important reason. These are trusted sitters, very experienced, very throughly background checked, and sweethearts. We used a wonderful nanny, Gyorgyi with Las Vegas Babysitters. She showed up with a suitcase of age appropriate toys, an activity to do with them, and a warm trusting smile. The company sends you the nanny’s resume with a picture. It is so professional and organized. Boy was it nice to go to a fancy restaurant and have some time to ourselves at night in Las Vegas! Yes it is going to be more than your neighborhood babysitter. Just don’t get mad at your husband during your date, not that I did that. **ahem**
Where to eat?
Oh my expertise, very sadly this is my expertise. Let me give you my top recommendations:
**Special Date Night Location: May I suggest a chef that you love, their own restaurant in Las Vegas? Bobby Flay owns some and Gordon Ramsey. Our favorite chef is a Spanish chef by the name of Jose Andres. We have dreamed of eating at his restaurant for years, but never knew when we could. A lot of chefs have restaurants in Las Vegas. Jaleo was such a dream come true experience. If you are a foodie, SPLURGE, and treat yourself.
**Special Family Location: The food will be somewhat overpriced, but is fun for the kids to experience something fun with food. We opted for Serendipity because it sure is cute inside and those frozen hot chocolates. Oh la la. They have food for the kids, and delicious food for the grown ups. Look online at the reviews and order what people suggest, you will be pleasantly surprised. Friends also recommended the Rainforest Cafe and Tournament of the Kings.
**Cheap & Delicious Location: TACOS EL GORDO, TACOS EL GORDO, TACOS EL GORDO. Do I need to say it again? Man oh man are these tacos just…marvelous. Why don’t we have tacos like this in Utah? It almost makes me angry. Find them here and maybe eat an earlier lunch to avoid the lines.
**Awesome Breakfast Location: A couple of friends recommended Hash Hash A Go Go and I sure am glad they did. The portions are huge, the menu sure is fun, and they know how to cook a mean breakfast. This isn’t right on the strip, but just about 10 minutes away.
Our second time to Las Vegas, this time with four little girls in tow, was a million times better. I would go back in a heartbeat.
And before I forget let me leave you with one more piece of advice. RESERVATIONS. Book them for everything, far in advance. No one wants to miss out on things or have long waits with little kids. Think ahead and save yourself some pain. Also restaurants I have noticed were slower in Las Vegas, quite a bit slower. So I opted to order, leave one adult at the table with the calm kids. Then take the wiggly kids outside to run around and the other adult would make a call to the cell when the food arrived at the table.
P.S. Other random pieces of advice: good walking shoes, stroller and a carrier set up going on, pay attention to potty break locations, bring only essentials in your bag for caring for the kids. I also found people were very respectful of us walking around with a bunch of little girls and not passing us the gross handouts. Also we never stayed out past 9:30pm. I really really liked going during off season (mid Jan). Less busy and less expensive!