The Other Las Vegas

Las Vegas is known as America’s playground. People come here to have a good time, let off some steam, and indulge on every conceivable temptation. After all, the city often lives up to its motto: whatever happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Over the past several years however, Las Vegas has made every effort to improve its image and not just be America’s party town. There are more family activities in Las Vegas, more emphasis on non-gambling activities, and more development increasing its cultural impact. One might say that this is the other Las Vegas.

The Other Side: Family Activities in Las Vegas

Family Activities in Las Vegas: For Kids

Most big hotels and resorts on the Las Vegas Strip nowadays have some form of family geared attraction. There’s the Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, the roller coaster ride at New York New York Hotel and Casino, and the Fun Dungeon arcade at Excalibur Hotel and Casino just to name a few. Families can also enjoy watching the dancing fountains at The Bellagio and the nightly volcano show at The Mirage.

Family Activities in Las Vegas: Downtown Container Park
Downtown Container Park

Those with younger kids can visit some of the lively city parks like the newly built Downtown Container Park. Its centerpiece is an elaborate tree house made from old containers that even parents will want to explore. There are also plenty of shopping and dining establishments enough to entertain the whole family. Another popular park for families is Sunset Park. Its location just southeast of McCarran airport makes it easy to reach from the Strip. It features a large pond, an elaborate playground, and several recreational facilities including disc golf and tennis.

Thrill seeking kids can feed their adrenalin needs through a couple of fun filled activities. First, head downtown and zip line underneath the Freemont Street Experience. SlotZilla offers the chance for kids and adults to get a bird’s eye view of Freemont Street while zipping through at 15-20 miles an hour. There are certain age and weight restrictions but it’s definitely a fun and unique experience for the entire family. Second is the infamous pool at the Golden Nugget aptly named The Tank where anyone can go on a three-story water slide within an aquarium full of swimming sharks.

Family Activities in Las Vegas: Zip lines on Freemont
Zip lines on Freemont

Non-Gambling Activities

Many people are surprised to see that Las Vegas is surrounded by mountainous peaks and even more are surprised to hear that hiking is a popular recreational activity among locals. There are several national conservation areas within an hour’s drive of Las Vegas. Red Rock Canyon is the most popular one and is a mere 30 minutes drive away from the Strip. There are over 30 miles of hiking trails, handful of picnic areas, and a paved 13-mile scenic road that loops around the park.

Family Activities in Las Vegas:  Red Rock Canyon
Red Rock Canyon

Shopping is also a popular activity for visitors. Each end of the Strip has a major outlet featuring dozens of designer label names offering items at deeply discounted prices. The Strip also has a handful of large shopping locations. A few famous ones include the Miracle Mile Shops inside Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino, the Forum Shops inside Caesar’s Palace, and the Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian.

Family Activities in Las Vegas: Hoover Dam
Hoover Dam

Visitors can also take a trip to The Hoover Dam, considered as one of the world’s best engineering marvels. Learn about the history of its inception, pay homage to the many lives lost during its construction, and take in the awe-inspiring power (literally) that the dam’s generator provides. There are bus tours available from the Strip. The dam is in Boulder City, Nevada, a 45-minute drive from the Las Vegas Strip, and serves as a border between Arizona and Nevada.

Downtown Dining and Arts Center

Family Activities in Las Vegas: Dinner at Viva Las Arepas
Dinner at Viva Las Arepas

Some of Las Vegas’ most creative and tasty foods are in restaurants downtown. Skip the outlandish prices for buffets inside hotels or the places that have famous chef names attached to them and try something local instead. Eat on 7th Street prides itself with using only local and natural ingredients. Le Thai on Freemont Street is a perfect spot for food, drinks, and music, while Viva Las Arepas at the northern end of the Strip serves up some very tasty Latin food at incredibly cheap prices.

The Smith Center for the Performing Arts has also rejuvenated the downtown arts district. The 61-acre park has multiple art deco designed buildings that serves as homes to the Las Vegas Philharmonic, the Nevada Ballet Theatre, and several music and dance companies where new talents are groomed and waiting to be discovered.

There is a great choice of hotel accommodation in Las Vegas. To find out more information about the other family activities in Las Vegas which include kid friendly, non-gambling, and cultural activities, visit, the city’s official tourism website. It also has links to shows, and a number of tools to help you plan that perfect Las Vegas getaway.

About Iris A


Born in the Philippines, but grew up in Texas, Iris has been traveling and writing about her experiences for well over a decade. Her work has been published on well-known travel sites like Hipmunk (#hipmunkcitylove) and D Magazine Online Travel Club. She has been all over Europe, the US, and has recently started exploring Latin America. She loves trying local cuisine and visiting UNESCO deemed World Heritage sites. Her favourite city is New York, with London, following a close 2nd. You can follow her on Twitter @sundeeiris or through her travel blog, Traveling With Iris.

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