A Guide to some of the Free Fun Activities in Vegas
Vegas holds a special place in our hearts, we got married there, so it will always be somewhere we’ll visit and go back to – plus it is a lot of fun in small doses! In March 2017 was actually the first time we decided to visit with kids in tow. Now I wasn’t worried about missing out on the partying action, I had previously been there pregnant so I knew it could still be fun, but making sure the kids had fun was my top priority. We were there for 3 days and decided to stay off the strip. We wanted a kid centered pool, so we chose to stay at the Rio, which had a great pool and also was connected to the to the Strip via a free shuttle. This was our first time off the Strip and I’m not sure if I’d want to repeat it the next time (feel free to reach out if you want to know more about that). Now financially, Vegas can either make you go broke – or can actually be a pretty low cost trip with a lot of fun packed in.
Here is a list of fun things we got to do: (I say it’s free fun with kids but honestly most of what we did is fun for all)
We had been to Vegas a number of times and had never heard of this gem. A few minute drive away from the strip you find Ethel M’s chocolate factory. They have a great parking lot attached so no parking hassle, and as you enter their facility you’re greeted by the sweetest employees who point you towards the start of the self paced tour and also inform you of the chocolate tasting sessions they run. We opted for the self paced tour which is basically a rundown of how chocolate is made, from beginning to end, all whilst being able to see it being made in their little factory behind huge glass windows. At the end of the tour the point we had all been waiting for – getting to sample the yumminess. I opted for the milk chocolate and it was delicious! We then strolled around the store, bought some goodies for the road and headed out to their cactus garden. Being March the weather was just perfect, warm but not unbearable heat. This is a perfect place for kids to roam, run and not be told ‘no’ a million times (unless they’re about to climb into the prickly cactus beds). This little stop made for a great hour or so of fun for the whole family.
The 7 Magic Mountains (till May 2018)
This large-scale art installation by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone, located by Jean Dry Lake, consists of seven 30-feet high colorful stacked boulders and has been on display since May 16, 2016. If you are heading into Vegas from LA then it is perfectly on your way into town on Interstate 15, if not you’d have to make a specific drive out to see it and is around ten miles south of the city. It is a whimsical and colorful art installation in the middle of the Mojave desert. As we pulled up to it, it was comical to hear others’ reactions, ranging from sheer delight to seeing such bright neon colored rocks towering above the brownish reddish earth to groans of annoyance for having driven a good half hour to see a stack of rocks. We squarely fit in the first group, and the girls took off running to get a close up look. We spent a good half hour taking pictures, hugging the rocks (we have a one year old and a three year old), and running around the area. The girls loved it, and we loved it too, plus, looking around there were more adults stopping to have a look than families with kiddos – so once again a treat for all.
On the way back into Vegas after seeing the 7 Magic Mountains we stopped at the Silverton to look at their famous Saltwater Aquarium. This was named the ‘Best Free Attraction in Las Vegas’ and after seeing this 117,000 gallon tank full of colorful fish I can see why. Unfortunately we missed the Mermaids swim (check link above for times) but heard that it’s great and also works to bring awareness to the Save Our Beach Foundation. The aquarium is located inside the hotel’s Casino, right by the internal access point to Bass Pro Shops, that also has a fresh water aquarium that you can check out. The kids were mesmerized by the saltwater aquarium and all the cool species inside and circled the tank many a time before we were ready to move on.
For seasoned Vegas travelers this is obvious – but for those new to the strip, as I was a few years ago, it’s important to mention. The Vegas Casino floors are a sight to see especially if, like me, you had never set foot into any casino ever! The themes are wonderful, and a total sensory overload. From the beautiful decorations at the Bellagio, to the Venice like canals of the Venetian to the Parisian feel at Paris, the Egyptian sphinx at the Luxor and Roman decor at Caesars palace, each hotel is an attraction in itself. I was like a child myself when I first got to experience this but getting to see my littles take it all in was so much more fun. Pace yourself, there is a lot to see, and with little kids don’t even try to see it all in one day, it truly is a sensory overload. You can search online and maybe pick a couple that seem cool to you and start from there.
This is one of my personal favorites since it has some pretty cool replicas of the City’s best known landmarks. From the prominent Eiffel tower, to the Arc de Triomphe and the Louvre, its all there. The hotel is also teeming with french inspired restaurants so you can kick back enjoy a snack or dinner and take in the ambiance.
From France to Italy – Welcome to the Venetian, complete with its very own St. Mark’s square, canals, gondola rides and fresco covered arched ceiling at registration. It is a feast for the eyes, and my girls were fascinated that the ceiling looked like the sky.
From Venice to Ancient Rome, this resort transports you both in space and time. Take some time to stroll through this iconic hotel taking in its architecture and its impressive saltwater aquarium that is sure to be a treat for the kids. Finally visit the Forum Shops and experience The Fall of Atlantis show that recounts the myth of Atlantis.
This was our 4 year old’s favorite, and she still goes on about it today. The Mirage hotel and casino is based on a pirate theme and they host an amazing volcano show every night, at the top of the hour between 8pm and midnight. This impressive show includes fire, a volcano with lava, smoke and all the bells and whistles. It was a treat to see our little’s eyes open in wonderment!
This is definitely a favorite around here, especially in the evening when the lights make it all that more impressive. The Bellagio delivers an impressive fountain water show, music and all daily throughout the day up till midnight. The dancing water makes for a fun event for the whole family – and even though I’ve seen this show a handful of times I’m always impressed by just how high the water really goes. BONUS: Whilst you’re here head to the Botanical Gardens for some beautiful seasonal decor.
Even though not as grand and impressive as its London counterpart in Leicester Square, London, this store was actually the first M&M world location, and offers a lot of fun for the kids. The M&M characters all around the store offer plenty of fantastic photo ops, as does the replica of the M&M race car on the top floor and the wall of M&M colorful chocolate dispensers. There is also a free 3D movie ‘I lost my M in Vegas’ and the opportunity to customize your very own M&Ms.
If you thought Vegas wasn’t sweet enough, across the street from M&M’s World, you’ll find this two-story chocolate wonderland. From the sculpture of the Statue of Liberty made of Hershey’s Milk Chocolate to the opportunity to customize your very own chocolate, you are sure to make the sweetest memories here and if your kids are anything like mine they will be riveted by it all.
This is a great option if you want to slow down for a while, get away from the hustle and bustle of the Strip and let the kids roam a little. The Flamingo offers a pretty Wildlife Habitat, complete with Flamingos, parrots and different birds. It is open daily and is a fun way for the kids to run around and enjoy the birds.
Fremont Street Experience
Welcome to Old Vegas! This is where it was at before the Strip came to be, and even though it may not be the hip place to be, it is still certainly buzzing and still offers plenty of fun, especially free fun with the kids. This part of town offers a line-up of free summer concerts, a free Viva Vision light show, the famous shark tank at The Golden Nugget and lots of cool people watching opportunities.
Whilst not a must do in my books, if you love engineering or have this on your bucket list it is a quick and easy drive East of Vegas. It is easily accessible by car, and whilst it does get crowded you can park and walk around to see the dam. There is also a Visitor’s Center that offers up some interesting information and is open 9am-5pm. This stop wasn’t a favorite probably because of our kids’ ages, I’m thinking slightly older kids would be more wowed by the dam and the engineering marvel that it is.