The Insider: Family Friendly Las Vegas

While Las Vegas isn’t thought of as a family friendly town now, you can still find plenty of things to do in Sin City that will be fun for youngsters and oldsters alike. Bring the little ones and stay at a hotel such as Circus Circus or Excalibur, the perfect settings for families with plenty of entertainment on the properties. Take a look at seven ways to go family friendly in Vegas and start booking.

Lied Discovery Children's Museum: If your kids are in to science, art, culture and early childhood, stop by the Lied Discovery Children’s Museum, where 100 of these exhibits take up the 23,000 square feet. Look for the Growing Up With The Berenstain Bears exhibit that gives kids a chance to participate in the stories of the beloved family of bears. At Desert Discovery, little ones under age 5 can play in the desert. Make bubbles, hear a whisper 30 feet away, dance in costume, create computer art, earn a paycheck for working in the Green Village and cash it at the Bank of America exhibit. The two levels of the museum are sure to keep families entertained.

Lied Discovery Children's Museum, 833 Las Vegas Blvd. N.; 702-382-3445


Shark Reef Aquarium: Something lingers under the deep, dark depths of the Shark Reef Aquarium, but don’t worry; they can’t bit. The underwater creatures at the Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay make up  North America's only predator-based aquarium and exhibit with sharks of all kinds, sawfish, giant rays, endangered green sea turtles, piranha, moon jellies and the rare golden crocodiles. More than 2,000 animals in 1.6 million gallons of seawater share living space in the 14 exhibits. During the holidays, you can visit Santa Claus or go through the haunted exhibit with fearsome predators including sharks and a rare Komodo dragon with dagger-like teeth and piercing razor-sharp claws will lurk in exhibits.

Shark Reef Aquarium, Mandalay Bay, 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702-632-4555


Adventuredome Theme Park: Thrill rides galore await at the Adventuredome, a five-acre indoor amusement park inside Circus Circus. Twenty-five rides and attractions make up the fun within. Take a ride on the Canyon Blaster, the only indoor double-loop, double-corkscrew roller coaster in the United States that flies at 55 miles per hour. The Disk’O combines a breathtaking dual rocking/spinning motion with front row seats for all. Don’t worry if your kids are too young for the rides; the park features something for all ages. An 18-hole miniature golf course, arcade, clown shows, midway games and more are all awaiting here. And every October, the Adventuredome converts into Frightdome with Halloween themes throughout. Adventuredome Theme Park, Circus Circus, 2880 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702-794-3939


Lion Habitat: Watch lions as they hang out in pairs, trios and solo at the Lion Habitat at the MGM Grand, the reigning mascot of the brand. Greenery and a waterfall within the soundproof, one-and-a-half inch thick glass windows let the lions feel at home and keep you safe from their claws. While you’re observing, look for interesting facts about these powerful cats such as female lions do all the hunting and all the females in the pride take care of the newborns together. These lazy lions tend to sleep 20 hours a day and can run at speeds up to 40 miles per hour. While the exhibit is open daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., they’re fed at 11:15 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. daily.

Lion Habitat, MGM Grand, 3799 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702-891-1111


Springs Preserve: Everyone no matter what their age should visit the Springs Preserve, the 180-acre cultural institution not only commemorates Las Vegas’ history but looks to the future to provide a vision for a sustainable future. Inside the park setting, discover museums, galleries, outdoor concerts and events, colorful botanical gardens and an interpretive trail system that meanders through a scenic wetland habitat. The highlight here is the native and non-native plants in the variety of gardens covering cacti, palms, herbs, roses, vegetables and fruits. Wander the 1.8 miles of trails and 110 acres of native habitats and archaeological sites. Be sure to visit the website for festivals and educational events that take place nearly every weekend.

Springs Preserve, 333 S. Valley View Blvd.; 702-822-7700


Tournament of Kings: Fire-breathing dragons and brave kings come together to battle it out to the death at the Tournament of Kings at the Excalibur. Cheer on your favorites as they joust, duke it out and race their mighty steeds in contests to determine the best as fair maidens vie for their hearts in this extravagant dinner show where you eat with your hands. Like all good fairy tales, good wins over evil and the heroes reign over the land. Tickets start at $56.95 and include a three-course dinner.

Tournament of Kings at the Excalibur, 702-597-7600,


Dolphin Habitat and Secret Garden at the Mirage: Discover the worlds of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins and the white tigers, white lions, panthers and leopards of Siegfried and Roy at the Dolphin Habitat and Secret Garden at the Mirage. The 2.5-million-gallon Dolphin Habitat is home to a family of dolphins who occupy four connected pools, with an artificial coral reef system and sandy bottom that replicate the dolphins' natural environment. Most of the dolphins were born here. Be sure to ask about swimming with the dolphins while you’re there and check out the two new dolphin calves this year. At the Secret Garden the big cats relax in a lush environment modeled after their natural habitats. Two new tigers cubs were born this year. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for children ages 4 to 12 and free for children 3 and under.

Dolphin Habitat and Secret Garden at the Mirage, 702.791.7188,


Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort: While Las Vegas sits in the midst of the Mojave Desert, you can still find fresh powder for skiing once Thanksgiving hits. Just an hour north of the Strip north of Mount Charleston sits the Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort, the only ski resort in Southern Nevada. Kids can take lessons on the mountain or take part in the youth racing league that launches next January for eight weeks. The 11 runs serviced by three chair lifts and one surface lift offer adventure for every age.

Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort, Highway 156, Mount Charleston, 702-385-2754