The world's tallest observation wheel, the 550-foot-tall High Roller is a great place to take the kids. Riders of all ages are sure to be in awe of the jaw-dropping views of the Strip and city down below as they ride in one of the attraction's sleek pods. Beverages are available for sale before you board, and the pods are air conditioned so everyone will stay comfortable for the 30-minute ride, even during summer. Youth pricing is available for kids aged ages 13-17, and children ages 12 and younger are always free with a paid adult. The area surrounding the High Roller is also worth exploring since it's filled with shops and restaurants.
Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: The High Roller is the world's largest observation wheel and it offers a panoramic view of the Las Vegas Valley.
Terrisa's expert tip: The High Roller is close to several kid-friendly attractions, like the Flamingo Wildlife Habitat, the Venetian's Grand Canal Shoppes, the Mirage's volcano and the Forum Shops at Caesars.
Before you get to "fly" over Fremont Street on the Slotzilla zip line, you'll probably get to see several groups of people zoom out of the giant slot machine while you're waiting. The anticipation is part of the fun. If you're an adrenaline junkie, the moments before take-off will be a thrill as the workers check all the straps and prepare to send you speeding down the zip line. At speeds of up to 40 m.p.h., the ride may seem to go all to quickly--chances are good you'll want to do it again as soon as possible. Riders who choose the highest zip line (the "zoom line") fly Superman-style, while those who pick the lower line are seated. Weight minimums and maximums apply.
Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Speeding along a zip line is one of the best ways to see Fremont Street and get a major adrenaline rush.
Terrisa's expert tip: If you have teens, they might also be interested in the nearby Mob Museum, which tells the story of organized crime and features artifacts like a portion of the wall from the site of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre.
A big hit with adults and kids alike, Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay is the only animal care facility in the State of Nevada to be accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Families will not only see 15 different species of sharks at the predator-filled aquarium but also stingrays, rare golden crocodiles, piranha, jellyfish, Komodo dragons and endangered sea turtles--more than 2,000 animals in all. Fourteen exhibits are devoted to the aquatic animals, with the largest exhibit being the 1.3-million-gallon shipwreck where visitors experience an almost 360-degree view teeming with sharks and fish as they walk through an acrylic tunnel. For those who want to get closer to some of the aquarium's inhabitants, interactive programs are available where guests can feed several of the aquarium's inhabitants for an additional fee.
Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: The Shark Reef lets you view rarely seen sea creatures like sharks, jellyfish and sea turtles.
Terrisa's expert tip: The exit of the Shark Reef is through the gift shop, which can be a challenging experience if you have small children. Be prepared to navigate a store filled with adorable trinkets on your way out.
For a roaring good time, take the kids to this 6.2-acre ranch in Henderson, which is home to more than 40 majestic lions--many from the same bloodline as the original real-life MGM lion. When the MGM Grand's lion exhibit on the Strip was open, the Ranch brought lions in every day and at night they came back home for care and rest. Now that the exhibit is closed, its lions live full-time at the Ranch. Guests can walk the grounds and see the animals or partake in an unforgettable interactive feeding session for an additional fee. Private tours of the Lion Habitat Ranch are available as well where guests can watch the lions being bathed and fed. In addition to lions, the ranch has emus, ostriches, guinea hens, macaws, cockatoos and a young giraffe named Ozzie, making it one of Las Vegas' wildest attractions.
Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: The Lion Habitat Ranch is home to the lions once on display at the MGM Grand, as well as other exotic animals.
Terrisa's expert tip: While the lions are the main draw at the ranch, Ozzie the Giraffe has developed quite a following, especially after he decided to take up painting. His art is on sale at the ranch.
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area was once far removed from Las Vegas but now sits just outside the western edge of the city. The area is full of spectacular natural beauty, rugged red rock formations, desert vegetation and open vistas. A stop at the visitor center is a must for those who haven't been to the area. This portion of the Mojave Desert is home to a tremendous number of rare plant and animal species, partly because of the number of springs along the base of the mountains. While many folks opt to bike, hike or rock-climb, others make the most of the 13-mile scenic loop, which lets you drive a picturesque circuit and offers stop-offs for photography. Look out for wildlife, including burros, one of the most commonly sighted animals. Picnic tables can be found in the Willow Springs area.
Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Red Rock Canyon is full of amazing natural beauty and offers a multitude of outdoor activities like hiking, rock climbing and wildlife watching.
Terrisa's expert tip: The Children's Discovery Trail takes visitors to a seasonal waterfall and is a great hike to do with kids. It's a little more than a half a mile roundtrip and is suitable for those who can do an easy to moderate hike and can navigate stairs.
Nevada has a history rich with the stories of trains, and the Nevada State Railroad Museum is dedicated to preserving that heritage. In Southern Nevada, the Railroad Museum is just outside of Boulder City. Visitors can explore the grounds and the static displays, but the real fun is taking a ride on one of the historic trains. Trains run on the weekends from 10 a.m. every hour and a half until the last train leaves at 2:30 p.m. The ride lasts 40 minutes and riders can sit in the climate-controlled Pullman coaches or in open air seating. During the holidays, Santa and Mrs. Claus are also on hand to ride along. A stop at the Railroad Museum in Boulder City is a great addition to trip out to see Hoover Dam, Lake Mead, or to explore the historic district in downtown Boulder City.
Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Taking a ride on the historic trains at the Nevada State Railroad Museum is a fun trip back in time.
Terrisa's expert tip: The Railroad Museum isn't far from a Boulder City park that's home to a herd of bighorn sheep. If you have time, take a detour to Hemenway Park to see the park's wild residents.
Located minutes from the Strip, this award-winning 180-acre family destination is dedicated to exploring green-living, desert life and Las Vegas' vibrant history through botanical gardens, interactive science and nature exhibits, animal shows and trails. Families can interact with hands-on exhibits at the Origen Museum to learn more about the Las Vegas Valley, or venture outside and observe native wildlife to see what kinds of animals live in the harsh environment of the Mojave Desert. Be sure to try out the simulated flash flood exhibit, which recreates a common phenomenon in this region of the United States, and don't miss the Butterfly Habitat in the Botanical Gardens, on display from early March through the end of May, weather permitting.
Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: The Springs Preserve has a collection of museums, walking trails and gardens designed to be family-friendly.
Terrisa's expert tip: The Divine Cafe is the Springs restaurant, and it serves a selection of salads, burgers and small pizzas. It also offers a kids menu with a burger, chicken tenders, mac 'n cheese and a Healthy Kid Tray with grilled chicken or tofu, veggies, rice, grapes and carrot sticks.
Not many places associated with the word "museum" are such a hands-on experience. Open from 11 a.m. until at least 11 p.m., the PHoF is packed with pinball machines from all eras. Known as both the Pinball Hall of Fame (PHoF) and the Pinball Museum, this is an unusual collection by any measure. The 10,000-square-foot non-profit museum is dedicated purely to pinball, and this Vegas gem hosts a massive collection of machines, many of which date to 1950 and most of which come from the celebrated heydays of pinball, 1960 to 1980. Every game is operational, so revisit all of your old-time favorites!
Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: With loads of fun retro pinball machines and budget-friendly prices, Pinball Hall of Fame will please the whole family.
Terrisa's expert tip: The Pinball Hall of Fame is a fun stop for teens who are looking for something to do in Vegas that is welcoming to people under 21 but doesn't involve lots of young kids.
Located in the Donald W. Reynolds Discovery Center in a three-story, 58,000-square-foot building, adjacent to The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, this interactive children's museum features more than 26,000 square feet of exhibit space, including a 5,000-square-foot traveling exhibition gallery. Offering exhibits in science and nature, arts and culture and early childhood development, guests of all ages can watch daily demonstrations and participate in various programs and activities. One exhibit that's not to be missed is "Water World," where, among other hands-on activities, visitors can interact with models of Hoover Dam, Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam bypass bridge. The museum even features a desert-themed exhibition specifically designed for its youngest visitors: "Toddler Town."
Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Children and adults are delighted, fascinated and educated at the Discovery Children's Museum.
Terrisa's expert tip: Traveling exhibits at the museum during the summer of 2019 include Alien World & Androids for sci-fi fans and Top Secret: License to Spy, which leads the visitor through a Bond-inspired spy experience.
The perfect place to escape Las Vegas' scorching triple-digit temps during the summer, Wet'n'Wild Las Vegas is Nevada's premier water park with more than 25 slides and attractions. Ideal for both thrill seekers and families, the park features such scream-inducing rides as the Tornado, a slide that catapults riders to a zero-gravity experience, and the Constrictor, an extreme water slide featuring some pretty tight turns. Zipp Zapp Zoom is a good ride for almost everyone (as long as you're over 42" tall) where you'll zip along a twisty water-filled course. Those with younger children can enjoy Paradise Falls, the interactive children's area with kid-friendly slides and a giant dumping bucket; the Colorado Cooler lazy river; or the Red Rock Bay wave pool.
Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Summer temperatures in Las Vegas make a day at the water park fun for everyone in the family.
Terrisa's expert tip: In 2019, the full summer hours of 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. start on June 2 and run through August 8. The park is open for limited hours during select days from the end of March through June, and again during the latter half of August and throughout September.