I had been to Las Vegas a handful of times throughout my childhood and despite it’s reputation as a city of sin, I have many fond memories of our trips there. Back in the 1990s, there had been a push to make the city more family-friendly and apparently my family took full advantage but many are saying that some 25+ years later, Family Vegas has died. And after our overnight stay there, I agree. While there are remnants of the family-friendly Vegas I remember, it’s definitely not the same..probably because what happens there, now stay’s there.
We stopped for one night in Las Vegas last year during our epic road trip over spring break. The Grand Canyon and Disneyland weren’t enough – we just had to show our children Sin City. Grand Canyon National Park is only about a four-hour drive to Las Vegas, the majority of it through northern Arizona.
The Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge (completed in 2010) spans the Colorado River between Arizona and Nevada and replaced the original Route 93 that literally ran along the Hoover Dam. It is the second-highest bridge in the United States after the Royal Gorge Bridge and is quite impressive. As it should be because it’s the world’s highest concrete arch bridge. Our kids knew that Disneyland was on our itinerary, so let me tell you…they were excited to stop and see the Hoover Dam. It’s every child’s dream.
An engineering marvel, the Hoover Dam on the Arizona/Nevada border has damed the Colorado River into Lake Mead since 1935, irrigating two million acres and generating enough electricity to power 1.3 million homes. It’s also a popular tourist destination – most likely because it offers an interesting stop for people traveling from the Grand Canyon to Las Vegas – like us! We skipped the tour and chose to look at it from afar before continuing onward, much to the relief of the kids.
Weston is obsessed with architecture, particularly towers and skyscrapers. Being able to see the tallest observation tower in the United States, the Stratosphere, was a highlight for him. We chose to stay on the strip because we wanted to do Vegas right and settled on the Excalibur Hotel and Casino. I had stayed there as a kid and loved it. Unfortunately, it is not the same Excalibur that I knew and loved.
And let’s just say that the kids were not impressed with what they saw while Clay was checking us in. I’m chalking it up to us just doing our due diligence of exposing our children to as much as the United States as we can – even the seedy underbelly. #parentsoftheyear
You haven’t lived until you pushed a stroller on a casino floor trying to find the elevator to our room with two children in tow. Do we know how to do Vegas or what?
We ate dinner at a counter-service place in New York, New York because they had about 100 beers on tap. Priorities.
After dinner, we walked down to Bellagio to watch the fountains.
I think I was making this face the majority of the time while out on the Strip with our children that night. We stay out until about 9pm soaking up all the sights before heading back to the hotel to play arcade games in the child gambling hall in the basement of the Excalibur. It was like old Vegas minus Bugsy Siegel.
Our kids were enamored with the non-licensed costumed characters. But not as much as the guys pictured was enamored with the showgirls. $100 that this scene is his Facebook profile picture.
My biggest complaint about the Excalibur is that the hotel got rid of the majority of the medieval interior decorations that were prevalent when I would stay there in the 1990s as a kid. There would be knights walking around, it felt like you were literally in a castle, and it really did feel magical. And now, other than the exterior, it is just another non-descript hotel. Womp womp.
Soak it up, kids.
The next morning, we walked around the Strip some more and took advantage of the emptier streets. Apparently if you don’t stay out too late and don’t have your kids with you, one gets to sleep in while in Vegas.
The kids liked the interior of the Luxor. No need to go to Egypt kids – this will suffice.
After a couple of hours, we were ready to hit to road for California. If you have made the drive from Las Vegas to the Los Angeles area, then you are aware of how painful this drive is through the desert. There is literally nothing aside from Fort Irwin and Barstow, California between the two major metropolitan areas.
But we were able to eat In & Out so it wasn’t too bad. It was the perfect fuel for the next leg of our trip – Disneyland!