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Surprisingly Kid-Friendly Vacations

Lasvegaslover for Wikimedia

You can bet on it

Where: Vegas, baby!

Why you and the kids will love it: To most visitors, counting the three watermelons and two cherries on the slot machine is about as kid-friendly as Vegas gets. But Sin City actually has a gaggle of G-rated experiences for underage tourists.

Mall in one: On the Strip, inside Crystals ( at the hulking CityCenter, public art installments include Glacia, water sculptures composed of giant ice columns that melt and change shape throughout the day, and Halo, interactive multicolored light sculptures that visitors can walk through and around, touch, and just be enveloped by. There are also funnels that spin water into liquid tornadoes. But a stroll through this über-high-end megamall is a treat in itself. Window-shop (sigh!) at Harry Winston and Cartier on your way to Wolfgang Puck’s Pizzeria and Cucina: margherita with burrata mozzarella for them (shh…it’s just pizza) and penne carbonara with English peas and crisp pancetta for you.

Nature calls: Off-Strip, get your nature fix at the Springs Preserve (, where you’ll find different attractions depending on when you go. In the late winter/early spring, check out the nocturnal-wildlife walk-through exhibit “In the Dark.” In the spring, “Wild Things at the Springs” in the amphitheater brings you and your kid face-to-snout with exotic critters such as lemurs, armadillos, and two-toed sloths. And all year long, little kids can take part in a pretend archaeological dig.  Off-off-Strip, marvel at man-made magnificence on a day trip to the Hoover Dam. Various tours are sold,  but free gaping is available on the drive across the Mike O’Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, linking Nevada and Arizona. The bridge was opened last October; before then, you needed to shell out for a helicopter ride to enjoy that view.

Snooze: Recent renovations made Tower Rooms inside Circus Circus ( some of the nicest on the Strip for the price. The on-site Adventuredome theme park, home of the Canyon Blaster double-loop, double-corkscrew coaster, can eat up a whole afternoon. Off-Strip, all the Tower Junior Suites at the Signature at MGM Grand ( include full kitchens. Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa ( boasts a 16-screen movie complex, a 72-lane bowling alley, and a massive pool that’s (usually) free of thumping bass.