Florida might have the theme parks, Washington, D.C. might have the museums, and Montana might have the national parks, but this summer, you want to make sure your family packs its bags for the Silver State because Nevada just got family friendly. Though you might only think of the adult-rated attractions of the Strip, there is plenty for kids (of all ages) to love in every corner of the state ― and some of it is even educational.
Seeing the Strip
Las Vegas is made for vacations, and not just the adult kind. There are plenty of attractions on and around the Strip to keep families entertained for days. However, Sin City has more than a few sights and sounds you probably don’t want your little ones to experience, so you should prepare ahead of time by following these tips from Vegas parents:
- Take advantage of family freebies. Expenses on the Strip add up fast, and toting around a family of four for a week could easily deplete your kids’ college savings. Fortunately, there are plenty of activities that don’t cost a dime, like the Bellagio’s Botanical Gardens, and many expensive tickets are actually free for kids.
- Book rooms off the Strip. When you are single, footloose, and fancy-free, you might have wanted to stay in the heart of the action, but hotels off the Strip provide more savings and more family-friendly locations, like bowling, arcades, and movie theaters.
- Remember rest time. Kids coming from sedate suburbs will quickly endure sensory overload from all of the goings-on in Vegas. You should avoid the temptation to fill up your itinerary, as your little ones might need more down time. You can step into shops, like Hershey’s Chocolate World, for a much-needed break in the middle of your Vegas adventure.
Exploring the Desert
Of course, Vegas isn’t the only destination in the state. In fact, venturing outside the city limits can be a unique experience for the entire family. Nevada’s deserts are unbelievably beautiful, and they contain a number of fascinating wonders. The Mojave Desert is the most exciting of the state’s 10 deserts, and it covers the entire southern tip of Nevada, making it within reach for a Las Vegas family vacation.
There are hundreds of hiking trails that will take you deep into the wilderness, and many provide expansive views of the desert and the city. Red Rock Canyon is particularly awe-inspiring; little ones might enjoy running around Cave Canyon or Fern Canyon, which have exciting natural features to explore. Fifteen miles farther than Red Rock Canyon, you’ll find Mount Charleston, which has many easy trails perfect for short legs.
If hiking seems too strenuous, you can take a stroll through some parks to learn about the region. Ash Meadows Wildlife Refuge is the last remaining Mojave oasis, and it aims to protect and preserve unique plants and animals that are quickly dying out. The park is home to several types of wildlife, including 275 species of birds, and conservation efforts have revitalized the area with dozens of endemic plant species. This is truly a one-of-a-kind place, which makes for a memorable family vacation.
The West has always been wild, and a few stops around Nevada’s cultural sites prove it. Proud of its heritage, the Silver State has preserved history from several cultural groups throughout the ages in parks and museums.
For the oldest evidence of life in Nevada, you can take your family to Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park, which contains the site of the largest bed of Ichthyosaur fossils in the world. Since 1928, a total of 40 skeletons of the ancient swimming reptiles have been uncovered here. Additionally, inside the park you can find the ghost town of Berlin, which popped up 1896 when miners discovered silver in the Shoshone Mountains. Overall, the park is saturated with important Nevada history and beautiful scenery.
If the weather is too warm to explore the outdoors, your kids can still learn about Nevada’s past at the Nevada State Museum, which is one part of the amazing Springs Preserve Complex. The museum includes captivating exhibits on the human history of the state, including exhibits on native peoples and early miners, as well as explorations of indigenous wildlife. For a broader sense of Nevada’s place in natural history, you can also take your kids to the Las Vegas Natural History Museum, which boasts collections of Egyptian artifacts and African animals.
There is more to Nevada than Sin City, and you and your family will love exploring the secrets and beauty of this underappreciated western state.