For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved Vegas. I mean, who doesn’t? The people watching is unlike anywhere else, you can find phenomenal food at any hour, let loose, lay by the pool most months of the year, see amazing shows, and obviously be entertained the entire time. It’s a city that quite literally never sleeps and is always there to entertain you and show you a good time.
So, of course, it was a place I wanted to show Zelda. You might be thinking “Ummm…Vegas…and kids?!” and I’m here to tell you HECK YES! Why not? To me, parenting is ALL about finding what works for you and what gives you a fruitful, positive experience. For me, that’s immersing Zelda in things that I’d want to do with or without kids. I loved Vegas before Zelda and I love it after her, and I wanted her to experience everything the unique city has to offer. Plus, it’s a great option for a quick weekend trip where you can squeeze a lot into just a few days. So when I had the chance to head to Sin City for a girls trip recently, I brought Zelda along, and let’s just say we had a blast.
For any other moms out there who might be a little freaked out about taking their kids on solo trips or to places like Vegas, this post is for you. I’ve found that traveling with your kid is like ripping off a Band-Aid…once you do it, you realize it’s actually a ton of fun and pretty liberating, honestly. If it’s something you’ve been considering, just book it and get ready to enjoy it! And when it comes to planning, I actually did the same thing I do for any trip – pick a few must-visit hotspots, and then let the rest of the trip happen organically. Don’t set yourself up for crazy expectations with a non-stop timeline, but instead, have a few places you want to visit and then see what happens.
So, if you’re heading to Las Vegas with your children, here’s how to make it the most kid-friendly experience.
Pick a Hotel That’s Accommodating
Just because you’re bringing a kid doesn’t mean you have to stay at a place that screams family. The key is finding a place that’s both suitable for you and your child, and among everything, is accommodating. I like to go a little glam when in Vegas (because why not?) and was pretty excited to stay at Nobu, which is actually part of Caesar’s. O.M.G. it was amazing. You can tell from the photos that the place is stunning, but what was more than the beautiful decor and exceptionable boutique experience, was the incredible staff.
When traveling with kids, it’s crucial to find a place that has kind staff and caters to the guests – even if they’re not known for hosting families. Nobu does room service 24/7, so even after Zelda went to bed, I was able to eat delicious fish and drink vino with the girls in our room. Zelda also LOVED the green tea waffles, so consider a place that has a hint of fun like this.
Can’t say enough great things about Nobu. If you’re unsure of where to stay with kids, but still want to have an amazing adult experience, this is the place.
Create a Fun Distraction
Can we talk about this balloon moment?! It was actually much more than a moment – we let these balloons hangout in the room with us for most of the trip. When traveling with a child, this is a really smart hack. Think of something fun to keep them distracted so you can still have some down time of your own – or for me, time with my girlfriends while keeping Zelda in the mix. Get creative!
I knew I wanted to bring balloons for a few reasons. First of all, they’re super affordable. Buy them wholesale and they won’t break the bank. The most expensive part of balloons is actually the helium, so take that out of the equation. I literally bought a $5 air pump and packed it with me, along with about 100 balloons. It was probably $25 total, that’s it. And no, this didn’t take up an entire suitcase, either. Balloons are like the size of a newspaper before they are blown up, and the pump was no bigger than a blow dryer. Easy!
It took me about an hour to blow all of these up, and let’s just say it was very much worth it. Not only did we get these fabulous photos, but Zelda was able to independently play with them for hours upon hours. It was pretty much her playground. SO FUN! To get photos similar to this, make sure to pool all the balloons in one area to make everything look more lush – and save space.
Just because you haven’t seen something on Pinterest before doesn’t mean it’s not doable. I find that traveling with Zelda is all about creating opportunities for her to have fun, without being in my hair the whole time. Real talk. I’m pretty sure the kids won’t complain, either.
Visit the Neon Museum
The moment I saw the Neon Museum on Instagram, I knew it was a place Zelda and I would both LOVE. I mean, how cool is it? It was actually what first inspired me to want to take Zelda to Las Vegas. If you’re heading to Vegas with any kids in your life, this place cannot be missed. Not only will the kids love it, but it’s just something different. It’s only about 10 minutes off the strip, but feels like a fresh experience full of history.
There are a few things to note about the process since you can’t just show up and tour. The Neon Museum is actually a non-profit working to collect and preserve neon signs from around Vegas. Due to the historical and delicate nature of the pieces on display, you can only view the museum on a one-hour guided tour. It’s still easy to book a tour, just make sure to do it in advance.
Because we wanted to shoot Zelda here, we had to jump through a few hoops since the museum isn’t exactly free, but I think the pictures were very much worth the price. I’ve always liked making art from photography, as I think it makes for a cool, unique visual experience in a home. That said, I knew I wanted to stretch these Neon Museum photos onto canvas, which I’m planning on doing ASAP. Anyways, very much worth the price for us to be able to have these pictures for a lifetime.
Visit Seven Magic Mountains
WOW, this place was rad. Another must-hit destination when traveling to Vegas with kids. This art installation is 20-30 minutes off the strip and it’s a beautiful drive through the desert, especially at sunrise. If you’re wanting to take unobstructed photos of your family, it’s key to get there EARLY – like sunrise early. Once the sun peaks, the light is perfect and that’s when crowds arrive, trust me. When we left around 8:30 a.m. the cars were pouring in, so we were happy we woke up early for the intimate experience.
Also, I often get questions about how we get such awesome pictures of Zelda, so I’ll include a tip here. The main thing is do NOT ask them to pose. You won’t get a great result most of the time. Instead, let them do their thing and get the photos in true candid form. Half the magic of pictures of children (or anyone) is their expression, especially when exploring a place like this.
Insider Tip | Rent a Car: I’d never rented a car in Vegas before because I had never truly explored the area. With Zelda in tow and some destinations on our list, we decided to rent a car after comparing the affordable prices vs. cab fare. Valet at hotels was also crazy affordable compared to Chicago, and it made running around the city with Zelda a breeze.
Walk the Wynn
The Wynn is beautiful year-round and it’s a place you can’t miss in Vegas! It’s one of the most visually pleasing hotels and their installations are just insane. I knew Zelda would go crazy for whatever they were showcasing, and it happened to be some really pretty flower designs. She loved it.
There’s also another reason to walk to the Wynn – the food. It’s the best buffet in Vegas, hands down, and it’s great for kids since they have SO many options. It’s definitely not your typical questionable buffet – I even go when Zelda isn’t with me out of choice. Make sure to also stop by Sweets, an entire space dedicated to the best candies, ice creams and chocolates from around the world. The kids will LOVE you forever. Zelda even declared that she wanted to live there.
Explore the Venetian
There are so many hotels in Vegas. You could go 10 times and not even step foot in all of them. But one hotel that I make sure to visit every time I’m there, and could not WAIT to let Zelda experience, was the famous Venetian. I mean, the place is like a Hollywood movie set and it’s so unique! From the gelato, to the gondolas, there’s so much to take in. Give yourself and your family 3-5 hours to fully experience a hotel like this without rushing through things.
Let’s talk about the gondola ride first. If you are in a group of 1-2 and want your own boat, you have to book a private ride. If you’re a group of 3-4, they’ll automatically give you your own, so take that into account if you want privacy or photos. The ride takes about 25 minutes in total, and we had such a great gondolier (the person driving the boat). She even sang Zelda ‘Twinkle, Twinkle” about 10 times on repeat.
As far as photos go, we had a photographer friend with us, but if that’s not the case, the Venetian also takes photos like most experiences like this do. If you don’t want to spend the money on buying one of their prints, try to bargain for the digital version. It never hurts to ask, and I’ve found that you can usually get a couple extra digital versions for the price of the printed. Then you can print your own versions later. Just gotta ask!
The Las Vegas Sign
Now, this might not be on the list of everyone heading to Vegas, but I thought it’d be a fun shoot location. If you want to finally see the sign, it’s a pretty fun time. We went on the way to the airport the day we were leaving, as it’s close and a bit off the strip. What we weren’t expecting was the line! We waited for about 45 minutes, but none of us were complaining because the people watching was out of this world. Let’s just say people do some pretty funny stuff in front of that sign.
<There’s also a parking lot attached to the sign, so you can park if you have a car, or just have a cab wait. We were back in a cab at this point and it cost about $45 overall (and that was from picking us up at Nobu and driving to the airport).
The key here is to stand a good distance in front of the sign, not too close to it and definitely not right under it. That way you’ll get the entire sign within the photo looking crazy tall. There isn’t a time allotment for anyone taking a photo, but it’s just about respect in terms of how long you take.
There you have it. Vegas with the kids IS possible and I bet you’ll have just as much fun as them. Honestly, I really, really enjoyed this trip because it provided an opportunity to see Vegas in a different way than when it’s adult only. Give it a try, I promise you won’t regret it!
An extra shout out and so much love to our special friend and photographer Hallie Duesenberg for capturing this special guide.