Whether or not the many spectacles in and around Las Vegas hotels—choreographed fountains, erupting volcanoes, reefs teeming with sharks, dolphin aquariums—were originally conceived of for children, they all add up to a massive kid zone (just shield young eyes from the occasional wheeled topless billboard). It’s all getting even more kid-friendly: the tallest observation wheel in the world—the Linq—is now in operation; a massive Hershey’s Chocolate World now competes with M&M World across the street; and hotels are getting smarter about marketing packages to families. One of the most vexing things about traveling to Las Vegas with kids in tow is that the resorts don’t make it easy to get out the door without hemorrhaging surprising amounts of money on restaurant meals; plus, getting a suite big enough to accommodate a family (with a shared front door so you can monitor for escapes) is a concern for many. But some hotels have always gotten it right. Here are some of the best for families.
Platinum Hotel and Spa
The Platinum Hotel, a non-gaming, non-smoking hotel started life as a residential condo property. Its rooms start at 950 square feet, and include gourmet kitchens (bring your groceries!), and living rooms with sleeper sofas. Just a block off the Strip, it’s convenient to the action but feels just removed enough not to worry about the trouble your kids could get in.
One of the Strip’s most massive complexes, the Greco-Roman themed resort property has lots of kid-friendly attractions, including a giant aquarium and moving statues in the attached Forum Shops. If your family loves a buffet (and is willing to pay for the best), the massive Bacchanal Buffet serves more than 500 dishes a day. And though sections of the eight-pool, five-acre Garden of the Gods pool complex could burn young eyeballs, there are plenty of family-friendly areas, too.
Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino
Two words: shark reef. At 1.6 million gallons, Mandalay Bay’s aquarium, with more than 15 types of sharks and a Komodo dragon, has some of the best bells and whistles over its 120 acres. Its Mandalay Bay Beach—an 11-acre water complex with 2,700 tons of shipped-in sand—is a kids’ paradise.
What kid wouldn’t love a hotel fronted by a giant, lava-spewing volcano? The tropical-themed Mirage is a great lure for families, with its huge atrium inside packed with flora and a floor-to-ceiling lobby aquarium with more than 1,000 forms of marine life. Of course, Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat are a major draw (one fee gains admission into both), and you can even sign kids up for dolphin trainer-for-a-day programs. Unlike some other casinos, much of its entertainment—like ventriloquist Terry Fator—is family-friendly.
MGM Grand Hotel & Casino
MGM, with its more than 5,000 rooms, is so big, it can’t help but have something for everyone. In fact, for families (rightfully) worried that their non-smoking rooms will still smell, there are the new “Stay Well” rooms, with antimicrobial surfaces and hypoallergenic everything. More than 20 restaurants—including a number of fairly priced fast food to go along with the fine dining—mean that you can splurge for some meals and stick to a budget for others. Kids will love the jungle-themed Rainforest Café, where a clap of thunder regularly breaks into a "storm.”