Vegas, Family Style

My friends looked at me like I was nuts when I told them that not only were we were going to Las Vegas for spring break but we were also taking the four kids. Yes, you read that correctly, we took our four young kids to Las Vegas for spring break and had an amazing family adventure.

We stayed at the Polo Towers Suites which is located in the heart of the Las Vegas strip. We loved this hotel because it had a roof top pool which overlooked the strip as well as a fabulous splash park for the kids. We always find that suites work best for our family because we can eat breakfast in the room when the kids wake up and save our from when we dine out for another meal. We also really like the Polo Towers Suites because they do not house a casino which gave the hotel a more relaxed atmosphere.

There are several non-casino attractions along the strip that my kids loved. The first is Hershey’s Chocolate World located outside the New York – New York Hotel & Casino. This store is a chocolate lover’s dream come true. In addition to over 800 different chocolates and candies, Hershey’s Chocolate World features a sculpture of the Statue of Liberty carved out of almost 800 pounds of chocolate. There are also interactive experiences where you can design your own candy bar and star in a TV ad.

Not to be outdone M&M’s also has its own 4-story unique shopping experience, M&M’s World, near the MGM Grand. Kids can meet their favorite M&M characters and design their very own personalized M&M’s. M&M’s World also featured a FREE 3D movie starring Red and Yellow.

Las Vegas Coca Cola

My kids favorite shop was Everything Coca-Cola, which is also located just north of the MGM Grand. The 100-foot tall coke bottle out front makes this 2-story shop impossible to miss. The first floor is a retail shop featuring all things Coca-Cola. However, upstairs is where the real fun takes place. There is a beverage bar that serves Coke beverages as well as 16 global brands of soda that they serve together as a Tastes of the World experience. They also offer a float tray with 8 different kids of ice cream floats. Of course, we had to sample both!

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Most travellers have heard of the Fountains of Bellagio, and they are definitely not to be missed. This FREE show incorporates music, lights, and water into one of the most beautiful experiences on the strip. Although the show occurs every half hour during the day, it is the nighttime shows that are truly out of this world. Luckily the evening shows occur every 15 minutes, so you never have to wait long for the next performance.

Be sure you explore inside the Bellagio as well as view their incredible fountains because it houses quite a few treasures. The lobby boasts a breathtaking glass ceiling by the contemporary art glass blower, Chihuly. My boys had just finished studying Chihuly in their art class and loved seeing one of his famous works of art in person.

Hidden inside the Bellagio at the entrance of Jean Philippe Patisserie is the World’s Largest Chocolate Fountain. You can read the certificate from the Guiness Book of World Records to verify this claim.  At just over 26 feet tall, this fountain circulates 2 tons of white, dark, and milk chocolate for your viewing pleasure.

After you view the fountain, be sure to continue to the Bellagio’s Conservatory and Botanical Garden. Each season the garden is masterfully decorated to celebrate the distinctive horticulture and beauty of that season.

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Another fabulous place to explore is the Forum Shops at Caesar’s Palace.  It is fun to stroll through the shops and take in the architecture of the building which is built in immitation of the streets of ancient Rome. There are numerous dining options throughout the forum shops. We enjoyed a fabulous family style lunch at Carmine’s. What’s not to be miss is the large exotic fish aquarium and the Fall of Atlantis which is a free 11-minute show where the statues “come to life” every hour on the hour and features an abundance of special effects.


The Venetian is another do not miss hotel to visit with your kids in Vegas. Upon entering be sure to look up and admire the beautiful ceilings. They are truly stunning. Head down to the Grand Canal Shoppes and you feel as if you’ve been transported straight to Italy. Grab some gelato and enjoy a variety of classically trained international performers at the Streetmosphere. No trip to the Venetian would be complete without a gondola ride complete with a serenade from you gondolier.

Another of our favorite hotels to explore was Paris. We elected not to do the Eiffel Tower Experience because we had such an amazing view from the roof top pool at our hotel and we had our eyes on another viewing experience. However, you can take a glass elevator up 460 feet for a 360º view of the strip. We loved strolling along the promenade pretending we were on the streets of Paris. Although we typically eat breakfast in our room during vacations, we did enjoy a fun breakfast buffet at Le Village Buffet one morning and I would highly recommend it. If you don’t want an entire breakfast buffet, La Creperie has some excellent crepes for snack or a quick meal.

mirage las vegas

Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat is another top attraction for families in Vegas. This beautiful habitat was created by the legendary magicians Siegfried and Roy. The secret garden is winding path surrounded by lush foliage where you can observe rare exotic cats such as white tigers, white lions, and black and spotted leopards. Most of the cats were sleeping during our afternoon visit. However, the real highlight was the dolphins. There are both above and underwater viewing areas to watch the dolphins. Animal experts were on hand in both the secret garden and dolphin habitat to educate and answer questions.

The Mirage is also famous for its volcano which erupts 2-3 times each night. If you happen to be in the area when the volcano is about to erupt, it is fun to watch. However, it is not an event I would make a special trip to see unless my child had a special love for volcanos.

flamingo las vegas

Although I don’t think it’s worth a special trip, but if you are walking past the Flamingo (and you probably will) there is a FREE wildlife habitat that makes a nice escape from the busy strip. Not surprisingly, the highlight of the habitat is flamingo island which is home to some beautiful Chilean flamingos. The habitat is also home to numerous exotic birds, fish, and turtles.

None of my kids wanted to see Tournament of Kings at Excalibur, but I had such great memories of the show as a child that I made them go. Guess what? They all had a fabulous time. Be prepared, this dinner show is an eat with your hands experience as you are transported to Medieval times and enjoy an evening of jousting, dancing, and sword fights.

This trip we skipped the Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay because we had already seen the dolphins at The Mirage and the exotic fish tank in the Forum Shops at Caesar’s Palace. Plus, we are fortunate to have an aquarium in Cleveland that we had a membership to at the time. However, I can see where this would be a highlight for many families.

Because of our kids’ ages and interests at the time of our visit we also skipped the Adventuredome at Circus Circus, the The Big Apple Coaster and Arcade at New York – New York, and the Titanic and Bodies exhibits at the Luxor.

highroller las vegas

Be sure to take a ride on the High Roller. We were lucky to visit on a weekday during the day and enjoyed an entire glass cabin to ourselves. The 30 minute ride gave us incredible views of the Las Vegas strip and surrounding desert. We had lots of time for dancing during our trip. One word of advice, there is an open bar option with the ride, and I have heard some riders can take full advantage of the happy half hour so riding during the day or during lower crowd levels is advised with kids.

fremont street las vegas

It was tempting to take the kids to see the Fremont Street Experience. They would love loved seeing the overhead light show, and I’m sure my oldest would have tried her best to talk her way onto the zip line. However, this experience is fun, but NOT kid-friendly. There are a lot of characters on Fremont street and the dress code is much different from Ohio. I will just leave it at that.

ethel m chocolate

One place that is ultra kid-friendly and lots of fun is the Ethel M Chocolate Factory. You will have to have access to a car or other transportation to get to this gem just outside of Las Vegas in Henderson. The Ethel M Chocolate factory features a self-guided viewing aisle where you can watch the chocolate and candy making process. Be sure to sample a few of their delicious chocolates during your visit. My personal favorite is their peanut butter milk chocolate in the shape of a chocolate peanut. After your factory tour, be sure to visit the botanical cactus garden. Ethel M Botanical Cactus Garden is the largest cactus garden in the American Southwest and features four acres of drought-tolerant ornamental, cacti, and other succulents. If you are lucky enough to visit during the holidays, be sure to visit the Cactus Garden Holiday Lights.

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Another great adventure a short drive (17 miles) from the Vegas strip is Red Rock Canyon. Be sure to stop at the Visitor’s Center when you arrive at the canyon. They were extremely helpful in pointing us towards the perfect trail for our crew. We also learned a lot about the Mohave Desert and Red Rock Canyon before we started our adventure. Even if you are not up for a hike, there is 13 mile paved drive through the canyon with several scenic stops that I would highly recommend. We hiked the Lost Creek – Children’s Discovery Trail. It took about an hour to complete and ended at a waterfall. Along the trail, there are petroglyphs that can easily be observed.

hoover dam


p1000247 Hoover Dam is another fabulous family excursion a short drive away from the Vegas strip. For those that are interested in the inner workings of this amazing structure there is a tour of the power plant and the famous dam tour. We didn’t take either tour, but still found the excursion well worth the short drive. For the best views of Hoover Dam be sure to visit the Mike O’Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge. This suspension bridge crossed the Colorado River and gives visitors the opportunity to be in not only 2 different states, but also 2 different time zones at the same time.

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A blog about Vegas wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t write about the food. My little foodies loved trying some of their favorite Food Network stars’ restaurants. Bobby’s Burger Palace is Chef Bobby Flay’s fun, casual burger joint. This is a counter-service restaurant that was very kid-friendly. However, our favorite celebrity restaurant was Guy Fieri’s restaurant named Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen and Bar. Although we had about a 45 minute wait to dine, it was more than worth it. The food was OUTSTANDING and the atmosphere was laid back and fun.

We also wanted to eat at a traditional Vegas-style buffet. After much research we chose Wicked Spoon at the Cosmopolitan. It was an incredible dining experience. Much of the food was served in cute serving vessel such as french fries in a mini fry basket or soup in small metal pots. We had so much fun sampling new foods as well as enjoying some old favorites. I would highly recommend Wicked Spoon to any family wanting a Vegas buffet experience.

Happy Travels!

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