Keeping Your Las Vegas Family Vacation PG-Rated


Yesterday, we told you why you should consider taking a family trip to Las Vegas. With so much to do besides gambling, Vegas has evolved over the years into a great destination for parents of kids of all ages. However, in order to keep your vacation PG-rated, there are a few things you need to do and some pointers to keep in mind. If you take our advice, you’ll have fewer awkward moments and fewer things that you’ll have to explain to your kids later.

Pick the Right Hotel

When you are staying in Vegas with kids, our number-one piece of advice is to stay in a non-gaming hotel. This does not mean that you will have to stay outside of town or miles from the Strip. In fact, several of the famous casino-hotels right on the Strip have adjunct properties that lack casinos.

Why should you stay at a non-gaming hotel? To put it simply, they are just more kid-friendly. They are much quieter, without all the noise of the casinos. You also won’t have to deal with all the smoke and rowdiness of a gaming area when you are leaving or entering your hotel.  In addition, many of these properties cater to kids since families tend to make up a significant portion of their customer base.

Our favorite non-gaming hotel is the Four Seasons Resort, which is located on floors 35-39 of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. Though it’s attached to a gaming property, the Four Season has its own entrance so you won’t have to walk through the casino unless want to. It’s also located at the end of the Strip, so the area around it is slightly quieter than others. This place is really child-friendly, too, with kids getting their own special welcome amenities. Our favorite part of this hotel was the fantastic pool area, which is an oasis of calm in this hectic city, though you can still visit Mandalay Bay’s pool area, too. Pool attendants regularly walk around with complimentary goodies, like frozen fruit skewers. Would you like a cool spritz of Evian water while you lounge poolside? You do, I promise.

Other great non-gaming hotels near the center of things are the Mandarin Oriental, the Signature at MGM Grand, the Vdara Hotel and Spa, or the Hilton Grand Vacations Club.

Don’t Stay Out Late

It may be okay to push your kids’ limits and stay out until 2 am at Disney World, but Las Vegas is NOT Disney World, and your kids will quickly learn why Vegas is called “Sin City” if you’re out late at night with them.

Granted, you can see drunk and half-naked people roaming around many major cities in the wee hours of the morning, but Vegas has a really high concentration of such folks because this is where they go to party. And they emphatically do not care about upsetting the sensibilities of your dear children. You can’t blame them, either, as they have traveled to Sin City for the express purpose of getting crazy. You do need to be aware of this, though, in case you’ve been living under a rock and don’t know anything about Las Vegas. We were never out past 10:30 pm at night, and we were only out that late so we could see a Cirque du Soleil show at the Bellagio.

If you do find yourself out later than expected with your kids, I highly suggest taking a taxi home. I would do this even if I didn’t have kids with me, just so I can avoid playing “dodge the drunk” on the way to my hotel. I also have an aversion to stepping in puddles of vomit on the sidewalk, but that’s just me.

The flip side of this nighttime bacchanal is that mornings can be really calm and quiet. While the party-goers are sleeping off their hangovers, you can enjoy all the sin-free activities that the city has to offer.

Don’t Try to Have It Both Ways

You’ve decided to go to Las Vegas with your family in tow. That means this is a family vacation. Don’t try make your kids wait on the sidelines while you play a few rounds of slots. Don’t be that family. Please. I have seen parents trying to do a switch-off, where one goes to the casino, while the other waits outside the gaming area with the kids. Then, they trade off and the other parent hits the casino. All the while, the kids are becoming increasingly upset and agitated. Just don’t do it.

If you feel like you can’t possibly make it through your vacation without losing some money in a casino, arrange an adults-only night out. Some hotels, including the Four Seasons, offer babysitting services to parents who desire to go out sans children. Check with your hotel before booking to see if this service is offered. There are also a few hotels that have Kids Quest kids clubs, but parents sometimes aren’t allowed to leave the hotel while their kids are at the club. This means you might have to do your grown-up stuff onsite. You’ll want to check with the service at your resort to make sure you know their policies before booking shows or dining without your kids.

Know That You Can’t Avoid Everything

You have to accept that you aren’t in a self-contained resort and that your kids may see some things that they might not encounter in a more kid-oriented place. They will probably see someone who is drunk, likely even in the middle of the day. They will probably see someone who is scantily clad. You have to determine if you can handle your kids seeing these things. My daughter barely noticed, and I found that if I didn’t make a big deal out of something she usually didn’t notice it.

You need to be aware that there are people who stand along the sidewalks handing out leaflets and cards. These will often have pictures of half-naked women on them, because they are advertisements for the prostitutes, both legal and not, who work in and around Las Vegas. If you don’t accept anything that is being handed to you, which is a good piece of advice no matter where you are, then you don’t have to explain the shocked look on your face and the naked pictures to your kids. They may see these ads lying on the ground, however, since most of them end up there. When our daughter saw them, we told her it was just the human body, we all have one, and please don’t pick the papers up. That seemed to clarify things enough for her, but you’ll have to decide if this is something you want to deal with. If you never venture onto the Strip at all, you are less likely to encounter these flyers, but then you’d be missing out on all the fun stuff in that area.

Yes, there are some seedy aspects of Las Vegas, but most of what you see there you can probably encounter in lots of places. We’ve seen drunks in London and Inverness, including a young man vomiting violently outside a bar. At a family water park in Spain, we saw many topless women and more than a few men in Speedos so tight that nary a bulge nor crease was left to the imagination. We stepped out of a church in Amsterdam, rounded a corner, and walked right past some windows where we could see barely-dressed prostitutes plying their wares. We’ve even seen drunks at Epcot in Disney World. Just last night we witnessed some parents getting wasted on wine at a Magic Kingdom restaurant while their kids screamed bloody murder and threw food on the floor for an hour and a half. All of these things were worse than what we encountered in Las Vegas because we stuck by the rules I’ve listed above. So, if you are avoiding it with your family because of its “sinful” nature, then we would advise you to avoid most big-city or European beach vacations as well, and possibly even Disney.

If you remember these simple tips, you can have a great time with your family in Las Vegas. Do you have any tips for keeping a Vegas vacation kid-friendly? Share it with us in the comments!




  • Kim Melanie Curtin May 21, 2017 at 8:33 pm

    I’m a Las Vegas resident and truly appreciated your insightful approach to visiting Las Vegas with kids. With all the hype devoted to promoting Las Vegas, like “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”, our city is percieved to be a destination for adults only and that is not the case at all. Downtown Las Vegas and The Strip can be just as exciting for kids and are just a small part of the the attractions Las Vegas has to offer. Your tips were thoughtful, informative and spot on, for a family considering a vacation here.

    • kamieberry May 22, 2017 at 5:09 pm

      I’m happy you enjoyed our article about your city. I agree there is so much for kids to do there. There was so much, in fact, that I couldn’t fit all of it in and had to focus on the Strip. Thanks for reading!


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