You Can Leave the Rugrats at Home

Yes, there are family-friendly options here, but it's not an all-ages vacation spot


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Should tourists bring the kids to Las Vegas?

This question has come at me numerous times, and in various forms, since last week’s “first timer’s itinerary” appeared—an itinerary that notably did not call out any kid-focused activities. Most often it was, “Where can I steer those who are visiting with children?” There are the obvious choices: the new Wet ’n’ Wild water park; the Circus Circus Adventuredome; the Children’s Discovery Museum (which moved into a shiny new facility in Downtown’s Symphony Park in March). There are also many destinations that, while not child-obvious, are decidedly family-friendly: the Springs Preserve; the Pinball Hall of Fame; Mount Charleston; some random sporting event, street fair or carnival; various museums, galleries, theaters, roller coasters, arcades and skating rinks; a One Direction concert; uh … bowling?).

But let’s be real. Aside from the activities and places where locals entertain their children (most located away from the tourist corridors, and likely terribly mundane on a trip to Sin City), and despite the fact that I’m proof that kids can be born and raised here and end up (relatively) normal, this is simply not the place for a family-friendly summer jaunt. Kissimmee we are not, and I’d think the failure of the family-friendly marketing mash-up of the 1990s (does anyone remember the theme park behind the MGM Grand?), combined with the frisky “What Happens Here” ad campaign would have been enough to chase the strollers from the Strip. Crazily enough, my bruised ankles prove otherwise.

Which begs the question: Should visitors subject their under-21s to Las Vegas? Given the choice, I wouldn’t. For the little ones, it’s a terribly selfish compromise that will please neither parent nor child. For teens and young adults just beyond the grasp of legal status, it’s a mind-bending tease that will distract parents with worries about their offspring getting sucked into some risky behavior a la Vegas Vacation. My advice? Leave the kids (and the inhibitions) at home for a long weekend and recall what life as an adult was like before diapers. Then, be a good mommy and daddy and take the family to Orlando.

And finally, since (I hope) you wouldn’t call San Francisco “Frisco,” unless you are acting out a scene from Swingers, please refrain from calling it “Vegas.” The natives will thank you, baby.