I am often asked by friends and acquaintances about things to do in Las Vegas with children or if you don’t drink or gamble. It surprises me a little that people still see Las Vegas as simply a place to party but then again, What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas is a very successful marketing campaign.
Travel Nevada is working hard to let people know about all of the great things to do in their state. They have an easy to navigate website that helps you build an itinerary to create your perfect visit.
I’ll focus on some of our favourite spots in Las Vegas itself for this post but there are many more things to do in this beautiful state.
The Springs Preserve is a great place to explore the history of the Las Vegas Valley. Its interactive exhibits are perfect for children and parents alike and will take you back to a time before the Strip and Freemont Street. Make sure to take in the popular Flash Flood exhibit!
Hands-on activities to keep kids engaged
The Nevada State Museum is now part of the overall Springs Preserve facility. Here you can witness an atomic explosion, hear the tales of Nevada’s miners, go inside of a stalactite cave and learn about the glitz and glamour of early Las Vegas. The museum also houses a 20,000-year-old Columbian Wooly Mammoth – or his skeleton at least.
Stardust time capsule rocket was found in a downtown garage before being displayed at the museum
No visit to Las Vegas is complete for our family without a stop at Ethel M’s. Not only do you get to see them making their scrumptious candies, you get a free sample on the way out. Of course, this does encourage you to shop for some delicious sweets to take home. The kids will love a visit to the M&M store right next door.
Who can resist these delicious gourmet chocolates?
Before you leave, be sure to take a stroll around the Botanical Cactus Garden. It is one of the world’s largest collections of its kind.
Relaxing view of the Cactus Garden
If you watch the History Channel or Animal Planet, the next three spots may be familiar.
Upon entering the Clark County Museum, fans of the History Channel’s Pawn Stars will recognize the life-size cardboard of Mark Hall-Patton (or as our grandson refers to him, the man with the big hat.) Hall-Patton is the museum’s curator who’s appearances on Pawn Stars have helped increase visits to the facility by 66% over the last three years. No matter the reason for a visit, this is a nice little museum that includes an exhibit hall that showcases the area’s history from prehistoric to modern times. One of my favourite areas is Heritage Street. It features a collection of historic buildings that have been restored to display important time periods in local history. I really enjoy these homes at Christmas time. The vintage decorations and recipes are a fun way for the kids to see how things were back in the time of grandma and grandpa.
Vintage travel court, complete with canned ham style travel trailer
4. Gold & Silver Pawn Shop – Home of Pawn Stars If you have ever watched Pawn Stars, you will recognize so owner Rick Harrison’s Gold and Silver Pawn Shop. This popular tourist spot generally has a line-up of folks eager to catch a glimpse of one of the series’ stars. Once inside the shop, you have the opportunity to view Rick’s collection of Superbowl rings among other items that have been featured on the show. You can also take home a souvenir – perhaps a Chumlee bobblehead will suit your fancy. In addition to the pawn shop, you can visit the recently opened Pawn Plaza. Here you will find Smoke’s Poutinerie from Quebec, Rita’s Italian Ice and Harrison’s own Rick’s Rollin Smoke BBQ & Tavern. This is probably a stop more suited to the older kids in the family but even the younger ones will enjoy an ice and custard at the colourful outdoor seating area.
Checking out the menu
5. Acrylic Tank Manufacturing (ATM) – Home of Tanked What child doesn’t love an aquarium? I’m sure there are some but they don’t live at my house. Animal Planet’s hit show – Tanked – follows the exploits of Wayde King and Brett Raymer, two brothers-in-laws who work with other family members to design and build some really awesome fish tanks. You can call ahead and arrange a tour of their facility or simply drop into their shop. We ran into the friendly and gregarious Brett on our last visit and he was happy to pose for a picture.
Chance encounter with one of the show’s stars
6. Hershey’s Chocolate World Ok, this one is on The Strip, but it’s popular with families too. This 13,000 square foot flagship store offers visitors the opportunity to customize their own chocolate bar or star in a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup TV ad. You can also see a milk chocolate Statue of Liberty! The tough part of a visit here is deciding which of the 800 different candies you want for a treat.
Hubby next to the giant chocolate Statue of Liberty
The next spots are on the western outskirts of Las Vegas but well worth the drive. 7. Spring Mountain Ranch State Park Located a short 15-mile drive from Las Vegas, this ranch that was once owned by Howard Hughes, feels as though it is a world away from the glitz and neon of Sin City. Families can enjoy living-history programs that describe some of the valley’s early history. There are also hands-on opportunities including demonstrations of pioneer skills and even reenactments of Civil War battles. This park is a great spot for a family picnic with it’s picnic tables, grills, clean facilities and wide open park space. There are a number of hiking paths with breathtaking scenery suitable for all ages. You might even spot a wild burro or two!
Lake Harriet, home to the endangered Pahrump poolfish
8. Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area If you like hiking and beautiful scenery, Red Rock Canyon is the place for you. Managed by the Bureau of Land Management, this national conservation area boasts a 13-mile scenic drive through the spectacular Mojave Desert landscape and unique geologic features. There is a well-designed visitor center with both indoor and outdoor exhibits plus a book store/gift shop. A word of caution, this park can get very busy on summer weekends, resulting in a back-up on the scenic drive. It’s best to plan your visit for early in the day.
Beautiful blue skies above the red rocks – a great place for hiking and rock climbing
There are so many things to see and do in Southern Nevada. I can hardly wait for our next visit!