The Parents’ Midsummer Panic Guide to Kid-Friendly Fun

It?s that time of the season when kids are getting stir-crazy. As their initial no-school excitement begins to wane, fear not: You?ve got plenty of options to keep them occupied. Here?s our handy guide to help you plan the latter half of summer, with sections on educational experiences, neighborhood tours, and daytrips to take outside the valley. It?s never been so easy to say ?bye-bye? to midsummer boredom.


Ruffle some feathers at Gilcrease Nature Sanctuary | Photo by Chris Ainsworth via Flickr

Learn Something

You could use some extra hands in the kitchen. Get your kids cooking this summer at a ?Le Petit? class at Cooking Experience. Courses range from cookie baking to pizza making, but quality bonding time is always on the menu. ($35 per adult-child pair, 9500 S. Eastern Ave. #170,

Nestled in the Northwest end of the Valley, the Gilcrease Nature Sanctuary is the perfect way to pass some time with your little animal lovers. The sanctuary is home to hundreds of exotic animals, and for the inexpensive entry fees, you might want to make a few trips to see them all. ($5 per adult, $1 ages 3-12, free for ages 2 and under, 8103 Racel St.,

Make a pit stop at Southern Nevada?s only public planetarium, where projection shows on the domed screen are offered every Friday and Saturday. After the last performance at 8 p.m., kids can exercise their newfound stargazing skills with free telescope viewings. ($6 per adult, $4 per child 12 and under, Showings also offered at 6 and 7 p.m. Fridays, 3:30, 6 and 7 p.m. Saturdays, 3200 E. Cheyenne Ave.,

In addition to nine permanent exhibitions that you can peruse anytime, the Lied Discovery Children?s Museum offers five-day summer camp sessions that entertain and enlighten. Spaces are still available to sign up your budding scientists for sessions like ?Rockin? Rockets,? ?Chemistry Concoctions? or ?Grossology.? ($12 admission or $180 for half-day camp session, 360 Promenade Place,

Explore the scientific side of the ocean at the Las Vegas Natural History Museum?s new Sea Trek Exhibit. Now through August 30, the museum features displays on coral reef and sea critters, plus extra hands-on activities for the kids during the Weekend Science program Saturdays-Sundays. ($10 per adult, $8 for students, $5 for children under 11, 900 Las Vegas Blvd.,

With all of this time left to kill, why not help your children boost their reading skills? UNLV offers five-week summer reading programs at various locations around the valley. Available for all ages and grade levels, they come complete with weekly classroom instruction and take-home assignments to keep kids engaged in their reading improvement. June classes are just wrapping up but spaces are still available for July and August. (Call 964-8888 to enroll, multiple locations,


Roam Local

Channel your inner artist at the District's Color Me Mine | Photo by Ellyom via Flickr

Channel your inner artist at the District’s Color Me Mine | Photo by Ellyom via Flickr


At the District, you and the kids can get crafty at Color Me Mine pottery-painting studio. Start with a blank piece of pottery (choose from coffee mugs to cookie jars and everything in between), and then select paints, stencils or stamps to customize it as you please. (2255 Village Walk Drive #133, After you turn in your masterpiece for a glaze, head west to St. Rose Parkway and pay a visit to Lion Habitat Ranch.? The lions previously housed at MGM?s Lion Habitat have a new home near Henderson?s executive airport. ($20 per adult-child pair, 382 Bruner Ave.,

Also in the area:

Purple Penguin Snowcone Shack: Line up for a scoop of the ever popular ?tiger?s blood? flavor. Though we warn you, the kids will beg to come back. (1500 W. Horizon Ridge Pkwy.,

Kettlemuck?s Toy Shoppe: Filled floor-to-ceiling with hard-to-find toys (they stock Lincoln Logs!), this little shop is full of hidden treasures for kids of all ages. (10895 Eastern Ave. #120,

All aboard the Boulder City train | Photo by Mike Miley via Flickr

All aboard the Boulder City train | Photo by Mike Miley via Flickr

Boulder City

Get an early start to your day in Boulder City with breakfast at Coffee Cup Cafe. Your little ones will love options like Mickey Mouse pancakes and pigs in a blanket. (512 Nevada Highway, From there, truck it back to Yucca Street where the Nevada State Railroad Museum awaits. Shoot for a Saturday or Sunday visit so the family can hitch a train ride on the historic railway, originally built in 1931 to haul supplies over to Hoover Dam. ($5-10 per person, 600 Yucca St.,

Also in the area:

Grandma Daisy?s Candy and Ice Cream Parlor: Satisfy everyone?s sweet tooth with homemade fudge, toffee, truffles and more! (530 Nevada Highway,

Veteran?s Memorial Park: The perfect place to work off a sugar rush, this 25-acre park offers everything from beach volleyball courts to horseshoe pits. (1650 Buchanan Blvd.,


Explore what's new at Lorenzi Park | Photo by Outside Las Vegas Foundation via Flickr

Explore what’s new at Lorenzi Park | Photo by Outside Las Vegas Foundation via Flickr

Take your tots out to Anderson Dairy for a free ?Barnyard Buddies? tour and get a backstage look at dairy processing and packaging. (Call to schedule at 642-5707, 801 Searles Ave., About 10 minutes up the road is WestWind Theatre, the last drive-in left in Las Vegas. Settle into your parking spot, stock up at the snack bar, and sit back for a double feature from the comfort of your car. Kids under 5 are free, under 11 are $1 each, and if you come on a Tuesday, ages 11 and up cost only $4.75 per person. (Regularly
$6.75 per person, 4150 W. Carey Ave.,

Also in the area:

Springs Preserve: This summer, the Springs has added ?A Night at the Museum,? to its plethora of kid-friendly programming. Drop off your child for a four-hour block of movies, games, and their favorite part of the night?pizza! (Next event is 5-9p.m. on July 27, $25 per child, 333 S. Valley View Blvd.,

Lorenzi Park: Some sections of the 60-acre space are currently closed for renovation, but come Mid-August you?ll find a revamped pond and rose garden, making this park the perfect setting for a family picnic. (3333 W. Washington Ave.,

Elsewhere in the Valley

Bonnie Springs Ranch is an old west-style adventure just thirty minutes west of the Strip. Kids can kick up their boots at Old Nevada Town, a wonderland of weathered wood and western flair where the 1880s are alive and well. ($10 per person, Old Nevada Town operates Wednesday-Saturday, 16395 Bonnie Springs Road,

Pinball Hall of Fame: Empty your pockets for hours of play at the world?s largest collection of pinball machines. (Free to enter, 610 E. Tropicana Ave.,

Get Out of Town

Across the California border, the green and serene China Ranch Date Farm sits in stark contrast to the dustiness of Death Valley. Pick a day when it?s not too hot to hike the Old Spanish Trail or abandoned gold mines, then trek back to the farm?s onsite museum to learn even more about the land?s rich history. Don?t end your outdoorsy excursion without stopping by the Date Farm Gift Shop to take home a tasty souvenir such as chewy homemade date bread. (China Ranch Rd., Tecopa, CA,