Where We Stayed
Hilton Lake Las Vegas Resort
Because we arrived at the New Year, we chose to stay outside of the strip, at the Hilton Lake Las Vegas Resort. The resort is adjacent to a shopping and dining center which was largely deserted, outside of the fireworks show on NYE. We did have a few options for dining both there and at the Hilton. Our resort also offered a free family-friendly NYE party in the lobby, with a DJ and regalia.
Waldorf Astoria, Las Vegas
On our last night we splurged for a stay at the Waldorf Astoria, a small hotel nestled in between the Aria Resort & Casino. Our room was posh and remarkably quiet given its proximity to the strip.
The Las Vegas Strip
- Children ARE allowed to walk through most casinos but cannot watch you gamble. Smoking is still permitted in most of the casinos.
- The infamous “sin city” stuff isn’t obvious. If you avoid strangers flicking cards your way and your kids aren’t overly curious about what the billboards are advertising, Vegas doesn’t blatantly advertise its seedier side. Also, I’ve seen just as much public drunkenness on a Saturday night in WDW’s Epcot.
- All of the well-known tourist traps that children love are scattered throughout the strip, including the Hershey’s store in the New York, New York Casino and M&Ms and Coca-Cola stores across the street.
Cirque du Soleil DOES live up to the hype. We chose one of the lower-cost performances, and three tickets to “Mystique” at Treasure Island in the nosebleeds ran just under $300. Some of the better known shows, including the water-themed “O” and the Beatles show “Love” are much pricier. We were happy with our choice, and from our vantage point we could see both the aerial and the ground-based acrobats. We were impressed by the live band and vocalists, and didn’t mind that the music wasn’t based on a popular artist like many of the other Cirque shows.
I hesitate to post pictures from Meow Wolf because I don’t want to ruin any surprises. The experience begins in the Area 51 entertainment district, a collection of bars, restaurants, and activities. Tickets to Meow Wolf sell out often, and it felt crowded during the first hour of our visit. Participants can choose to try to decipher the many different story arcs, or just enjoy the interactive rooms without trying to think too hard about a deeper meaning. We spent two hours creating music, taking photos, finding secret passages, and perusing the products (most available for purchase) in the OmegaMart.
Fremont Street Experience & Neon Museum
The Neon Museum was an extremely child-friendly destination (admission was free with our NARM membership). The collection of Neon signs and sculptures provide an excellent history of the Vegas Strip.
The Fremont Street Experience was recommended to us, and because of New Year’s celebrations it was more crowded than usual. We had some of the best pizza of our lives at Pizza Rock Las Vegas.
Red Rocks State Park
Red Rocks Canyon is on National Conservation Area land, so admission was included with our National Parks Annual Pass. Our first stop was the large Visitor Center, with restrooms, a gift shop, interpretation, and Park Rangers to help guide your visit.
The weather changed quickly, as we had heard it is prone to do in the valley. Our first stop at Calico 1 was sunny and gave us a good chance to stretch our legs with some light boulder hopping. As someone terrified of heights, I liked having the opportunity to play on rocks without the threat of plunging to my death after a misstep. The remainder of our visit was rainy and windy on and off. The weather provided the benefit of multiple rainbows, but thwarted our plans to hike.