Las Vegas has a way of making itself the perfect vacation spot for the whole family. Kids of every age can see animals that swim and prowlers that prey, they can dive into water parks that take the heat out of the day, then fill up on food that makes the entire family happy. Here’s a look at 14 places that will satisfy everyone from toddlers to your inner child.
THE TANK AT GOLDEN NUGGET
The Golden Nugget gets its guests up close with sharks that sail by at The Tank. Brave water venturers can climb up 30 feet to the third level of the complex to zoom down a waterslide that winds through the 200,000-gallon shark tank. Waterfalls are even part of the pool. Tickets are $25 M-Th, $40 F-Su, and kids under age 6 get in for free. For those who prefer not to undertake the water slide, there’s a behind-the-scenes shark tank tour, given by one of the on-staff marine biologists; witness feeding time and learn about the different species in the tank. W & Su, 1:30 pm, $50 per person.
Fun for the entire family, Cowabunga Bay features nine water slides that range from thrilling to kid-friendly, such as the Beach Blanket Banzai that lets four riders on a raft spin down 600 feet through S-curves and dips, and Point Panic, a water slide in the dark. A lazy river, wave pool, Kids Cove and much more keep the water-based fun going all day long. Children can even land in their own splash pool. Prices vary.
WET ‘N’ WILD
A water park with more than 25 thrilling attractions, the Tornado—with a max-thrill ride level—and the six-lane Desert Racer are among the eight water slides at Wet ‘n’ Wild. Kids can splash around in the 10,500-square-foot Paradise Fall. Prices vary.
FLOWRIDER WAVE IN A BOX
Surfing fans can go from body boards to flowriding fast on the FlowRider Wave in a Box. FlowRider’s wave-form technology reduces the risk of wiping out since the surface is designed to absorb the energy of falls. Guests must be at least 48 inches to ride. Tickets start at $25 per person for a 30-minute session.
CIRCUS CIRCUS SPLASH ZONE
Circus Circus already attracts families with its Adventuredome theme park, but the revamped pool area now features Splash Zone, with a 50-foot slide tower that has three colorful water slides, including one with four lanes. Plus there’s a water playground, private cabanas and a mobile food truck. Available only to Circus Circus hotel guests.
SHARK REEF AQUARIUM
Bravely look at 2,000 underwater creatures, including more than 10 species of sharks, right in the eye at Shark Reef Aquarium—North America’s only predator-based aquarium. Tour 14 exhibits, including a shipwreck, which sits in 1.3-million gallons of saltwater. $25 adults, $19 children 5-12.
LION HABITAT RANCH
The MGM Grand once had its own lion habitat paying tribute to its iconic Leo. Now the big cats roam the Lion Habitat Ranch, south of the Strip. Go behind-the-scenes to see the big cats being fed and cared for; 8:30-10 am everyday except Wednesdays; requires 48-hour advance booking. Tickets start at $150 per adult, $75 per child, free for ages 4 and under. General admission is $25, with one free child admission for ages 4-14. $10 for each additional child.
FLAMINGO WILDLIFE HABITAT
The site of mobster Bugsy Siegel’s original Flamingo Hotel now houses the property’s iconic, long-legged namesake birds. The 15-acre Flamingo Wildlife Habitat is open from dawn to dusk and filled with a flock of Chilean flamingos, ringed teal ducks, sacred ibis, pelicans, swans, koi fish and turtles. Free.
SIEGFRIED & ROY’S SECRET GARDEN AND DOLPHIN HABITAT
One half of the magical Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat houses the white tigers, lions and other big cats from the famous magicians. The other half is the neighboring 2.5-million gallon habitat with dolphins, including a new bottlenose baby. The $400 trainer for a day program that includes interaction with the dolphins and souvenirs. General admission is $22 for adults, $17 for children ages 4-12.
The multi-level Rainforest Café features animal-themed cocktails, a wide-ranging food menu for adults, million-dollar views of the Strip and an indoor thunderstorm effects every 22 minutes. Forest appropriate aromatics and animatronic creatures put diners in a jungle state of mind. The kids’ menu, meant for ages 10 and younger, has Jurassic chicken tidbits, a gorilla grilled cheese delight and python pasta. Each dish comes with a side, and choices include steamed veggies, corn, fresh fruit, mashed potatoes or apple sauce.
Chicago-style deep dish pizza satisfies adults and children alike. Giordano’s offers 13 different choices; try the simple cheese, featuring Wisconsin mozzarella made just for the restaurant, or build your own pie from your favorite ingredients. Kids can order spaghetti with alfredo sauce, marinara or parmesan butter, a chicken finger basket or thin-crust cheese or pepperoni pizza.
BUDDY V’S RISTORANTE
“Cake Boss” Buddy Valastro takes care of the kids at his Italian restaurant, Buddy V’s Ristorante. While adults can get classic Italian favorites such as linguine and clams and spaghetti, the Bambinos menu features meatballs, tomato and basil soup, macaroni and cheese, spaghetti, cheese pizza and chicken parmesan.
Who doesn’t like desserts? Across the hall from Buddy V’s is Carlo's Bakery, where chef Buddy tempts with his decadent cakes, cookies, cupcakes and signature lobster tails, an Americanized version of the Italian sfogliatelle pastry.
BUBBA GUMP SHRIMP CO.
Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. serves as an ode to all things “Forrest Gump,” with dishes named “Run Across America Sampler” and “Dumb Luck Coconut Shrimp.” The kids menu includes chicken strips, burger, mini corn dogs, ribs, popcorn shrimp, fish sticks, grilled cheese and more. Kids plates come with Jello, a drink and a side—choices include apple sauce, fruit, carrots and celery, or salad. All go for $8.49.