When I think of Las Vegas, two words come to mind: Sin City. I have in my head images of a modern Sodom and Gomorrah, and my very conservative and “sheltered” upbringing has led me to believe that I’d be damned if I went.
And despite all of that, it was our choice destination for a family trip over Memorial Day Weekend (Go figure).
Last May’s 3-day weekend prompted the girls to ask for a family vacation where they could “explore” a new place. My husband and I went back and forth between our options for a quick, easy and relatively inexpensive trip we could do. We hadn’t really done a road trip since Yosemite two years ago and save for a wedding and San Diego, we haven’t really been out that much.
We settled on Las Vegas because of the above criteria, and because he had to travel for work. Also, our friends and their kids were headed there that same weekend. They knew their way around town too.
Unlike my previous pre-conditioning, I didn’t tell the girls about Sin City (Forgive us, we lived on the other side of the ocean. No one knew any better). I wanted to see what they’d pick up without any preconceived notions, but admittedly, I was nervous about all the potential questions I was not prepared to answer just yet. So far, what they’d heard were all family friendly facts from their friends who had gone there before.
Over the last few years I’d heard the same. Las Vegas has tried to revamp its image to become more family friendly and less…. Sin City. I didn’t know what that meant exactly. In any case the trip was set and the hotel was booked. So off we went.
We drove into the city in the wee hours Saturday morning, and thankfully the girls were asleep. I was quite horrified to still see so many billboards of half-naked women (and men!) plastered everywhere, and Gentlemen’s clubs very much alive past the witching hour. But the girls missed all of that, and woke up the next morning beyond excited.
The hotel our friends booked had no casino, so there were no traces of smoke (despite the strong exhausts in Casinos, you just know it’s there because of the way the smell sticks to your clothes when you walk through!) and it was fairly near everything else. They got us a room with a view of the city, where they could see the big glittering hotels of Las Vegas. It was a pretty sight.
After breakfast we headed out to the strip where the Hershey’s Shop and the M&M store were located. At the top floor of the M&M building was a 15-minute 3D movie.
Then the girls admired the car displays and merchandise, and enjoyed the colorful world of M&Ms.
There was a Coke store too and I reminded Sam of the time we were in Atlanta Georgia at the actual Coca-Cola Museum where she had a picture with the Polar Bear, which we updated with Jamie on this trip. 🙂 While we were interacting with the Polar Bear, our friends got tickets for the Magic Show of Nathan Burton. We were assured he was family friendly despite the inclusion of show girls in his repertoire. The dads of course were excited. 😉 This prompted us to enter some of the magic stores and check out the cool stuff they had for sale.
At the strip, a “must do” for my husband was lunch at Shake Shack.
Then we proceeded on to visit the High Roller, supposedly the world’s tallest observation wheel. It was quite the relaxing ride with a great view of Las Vegas.
And only in Las Vegas will they have an open bar inside one of its glass cabins.
As we got off, there were some other free attractions on our way to Caesar’s Palace, and the girls excitedly got free face painting and some necklaces from a man on stilts.
There were people spray painting amazing paintings too, and some sketching caricatures. We headed to Caesar’s palace (more for the photos than anything else), to watch the talking statues at the fountain and learned of the legend of Atlantis.
I would’ve liked to stay and shop (yeah right! As if my practical husband would let me), but the dads were in a rush to catch the NBA Play-offs, so we picked up food for the kids and headed back to the hotel. The kids cooled off and had dinner by the pool while the dads did their thing.
That Sunday we went to church near the Wynn, and then headed to the Silverton Hotel to watch what was supposedly the best free show in Vegas, the Mermaids.
While I can understand how it is entertaining, I’d have to say seeing it once is enough. And my girls were more interested in the different kinds of fish in the aquarium, and the live feeding of the sting rays.
My husband took a quick trip down to his store, and then we met up to catch Nathan Burton’s magic show. That was pretty fun, and some of his tricks were indeed — amazing! The kids got to meet him outside too.
The highlight of the evening was the Cirque du Soleil show, Ka at the MGM Grand. I remember my very first and only Cirque show was two decades ago when my Grandfather took me to see them. It was pretty impressive then, but oh my goodness, they were beyond spectacular now!
Ka is a must see. While the kids were having dinner before the show, we researched on the story so they could appreciate it a little more as it went along. Even though, the acrobatics and stunts and all the movements were incredible. My husband says he paid quite the price for the seats we got, but it was definitely worth it. I would suggest arriving 45-60 minutes prior to the actual showing because there are pre-shows in the lobby as you wait to enter.
Because it was our last night, the girls asked “what else could we do”, so we drove down to the Bellagio to see the famous water fountain show from the movie, Oceans 11.
We chanced upon an interesting exhibit inside the Bellagio as well.
And before we headed home, my husband took us to the highly rated gelato shop inside for a last Las Vegas treat.
The girls knocked out fairly fast and had a hard time getting up the next morning, so by the time we left, we hit traffic and it took us all day to get home. They were in good spirits though, and did not complain about the heat and the long car ride home.
They had all sorts of stories to recount, but neither showed signs of noticing the half-naked billboards and Sodom and Gomorrah qualities of Las Vegas. Whew!
All in all I’d say it was a good family friendly first experience with a lot of “free” shows and activities that kept the girls fairly entertained while allowing us to stay within budget. I’d keep Las Vegas as a destination option for a quick and easy family vacation the next time around. 😉