Is Las Vegas a family-friendly travel destination? The simple answer is no. Las Vegas is not intended to be a family-friendly city, and that's ok. I just returned from our cross country roadtrip (Georgia to California!) with my daughter and my parents, and while what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, I don't think it'll hurt to give you an overview of the area.
Why is Las Vegas NOT a particularly family-friendly travel destination? Here are just a few of the things that stood out to me:
First - Let's not skip the obvious. The Strip is literally lined with pornography. Business cards, flyers, and classified magazines advertising local strip clubs and escort services were abundant. It was a little awkward to glance down to watch our step, because our eyes were bombarded by the nude women covering the sidewalks. I'm sure this format of advertising has its value (people certainly stop and pick up an item or two) but it's not exactly what you hope your child is focusing on.
Second - Shady Character Greetings. I wish I could tell you that parents exercised caution with these costumed characters, but no... Many parents ushered their children into the open arms of who-knows-what to take a novel photo. Las Vegas is not one of the Disney Parks - these people have not been vetted and do not have any hygiene, social, or other guidelines to adhere to. It's yucky and scary and a little creepy. Just don't.
By the way, do you spy an interesting character behind Danger?
I will give Las Vegas major credit in one aspect: the streets along the Strip are very pedestrian-friendly. There are bridge walkways that guide pedestrians across busy intersections, freeing up traffic and helping visitors stay safe.
That said, the crowds can get rather large. There are many pushy vendors and ticket-sellers. There are not many child-appropriate places to stop and take a break, let alone spend time in. And there are no benches to rest on.
All of that aside, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed our time in Las Vegas. My daughter and I admired the lovely architecture of the swanky hotels lining the strip.
We watched the volcano erupt at The Mirage AND the fountains at the Bellagio - right from the comfort of our hotel room! I'm sure we missed out on some of the experience, but at the same time, we had the most incredible view of the Strip at night. Pro tip: Stay here:
Some people suggest visiting the M&M World, but in my opinion, it's just a giant souvenir store. Really. But look! This one matches my shoes:
Danger got to visit a castle, see the Eiffel Tower, wave at the Statue of Liberty, and even enjoy the desert landscape surrounding the city. If you are a homeschooling parent, then the Las Vegas Strip is truly a treasure trove of educational opportunities.
Traveling outside of the strip can be an adventure, too. Las Vegas has its very own Chinatown area not too far from the strip. We did find a really good Krispy Kreme right next to a Wal-Mart AND a Target (score!) There are also quite a few McDonald's locations in the area, a bonus for people that need a fast cheeseburger or two.
If you can get past the street porn and clearly limited entertainment options, then a visit to Las Vegas might work well for your next family travel occasion.
But if you want a clean, exciting, and safe environment to entertain and amuse your child, then Las Vegas might not be the right city. My advice? Leave the kids with a sitter and check this place out as a couple.