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Nevada: Las Vegas, Family Vacation Ideas - Cowboys, The Stratosphere, and The Dolphin Habitat. 768NVLasVegasBeatlesLoaded with glitz and glamour, casinos and nightlife it is hard to imagine the words Las Vegas and family vacation in the same sentence but in reality the city offers plenty for families. First off, the arid landscape surrounding all of the glitz is ideal for hiking and biking. Remember, it’s a dry heat so you do really sweat. From desert habitats, indoor amusements, dolphins and tigers to Star Trek, Old West and Cirque du Soleil, it’s all good.
We have assembled a list of the best options for families, some with a little glitz and some not so much but all include fun and remember it’s a dry heat – you don’t even sweat.
Find the high water mark. The perfect day away, Hoover Dam is dubbed one of the top one of the Top Ten Construction Achievements of the 20th Century, the dam is located 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas on U.S. Highway 93 at the Nevada-Arizona border. Hard hats are no longer needed. The new Discovery Tour is a self-paced tour created to meet the public interest allows visitors to listen to talks by guide. (Hoover Dam (702) 494-2517 or

Go crazy inside out. The Adventuredome is a five-acre indoor, climate controlled adventure park with wild family style fun for everyone. Soar effortlessly into the pink canyon sky in a hot-air balloon Ferris wheel or test the Canyon Blaster, the largest indoor double-loop, double-corkscrew roller coaster in America. Discovery: New to the park is the Sling Shot, a tower ride that shoots riders up a 4G's of acceleration and then shoot straight back down again. (The Adventuredome 2880 Las Vegas Blvd. South Las Vegas, NV 89109. Toll-free 1-877-434-9175 or
Meet a Barbary ape. The Southern Nevada Zoo is shady 3-acre park is located just 15 minutes northwest of the Las Vegas Strip. The zoo contains more than 150 species of plants and animals including a variety of endangered cats as well as chimpanzees, eagles, ostriches, emus, talking parrots, wallabies, flamingos, large exotic reptiles and every species of venomous reptile native to Southern Nevada. Forget Gibraltar, this is also the home of the last family of Barbary Apes in the United States. Bonus points: The zoo also features exhibits by the Las Vegas Gem Club and botanical displays of endangered cycads and rare bamboo. Discovery: The zoo offers a series of Desert Eco-Tours providing visitors with one-of-a-kind vacation experiences. Need to know: The Zoo’s website has a discount coupon for a child admission. (Southern Nevada Zoo 1775 N. Rancho Drive Las Vegas, NV 89106. (702) 647-4685 or
Time travel to Old Nevada. In 1843 Bonnie Springs Ranch was a stopover for the wagon trains going to California down the Old Spanish Trail. Today the recreated version of an 1840s western town provides plenty of live action for visitors.  The complex makes time travel with kids easy. There are cowboys and cowgirls, a miniature train to ride, riding stables, restaurant, shopping, live action gunfights, melodramas, and a petting zoo. Bonus points: On weekends and holidays there is a "posse" show and kids are welcome to track down the “bad” guy. (Bonnie Springs Old Nevada 1 Gunfighter Lane Blue Diamond, Nevada 89004. (702)875-4191 or 768NVLasVegasLied

Share discoveries about the desert.
Lied Discovery Children's Museum offers visitors more than 100 hands-on exhibits in the arts, humanities and sciences plus traveling displays, programs and entertainment, the museum is interactive and pure fun. Age specific areas include: Toddler Towers for visitors younger than five; six-12 year olds explore the Mechanical Forces Pavilion and those older than 12 may perform their own radio show. Checkout the first floor Bubbles Area; visit the interactive Water Table; try the Tennis Ball Launcher.  From drop in science demonstrations to recording a song or playing a steel drum, the place is hands-on. Desert Discovery is an exciting new exhibit for children ages five and younger and their families. Bonus points: Within the Desert Discovery area there is a Baby Oasis just for little ones who are not yet walking! Baby Oasis is a cozy space filled with exciting materials for babies to manipulate and explore with their hands, eyes, and ears. There is also a Parent Resource Room filled with materials and helpful information for parenting.  (Lied Discovery Children's Museum. 833 Las Vegas Boulevard North, Las Vegas, NV 89101. (702) 382-3445 or

Go boldly with  your kids. The drama of one of the most exciting futuristic television series ever created has in fact been recreated as an interactive adventure based on the voyages of Star Trek. Visitors become “assimilated’ into the Borg Collective through state of the art 4-D technology and very believable actors. Bonus points: Great futuristic shopping may be found along Deep Space Nine Promenade. Klingons, BORG, Ferengi and other Star Trek aliens serve guests at Quark's Bar & Restaurant that serves guests will encounter. Hint, try the SmorgasBorg.  Discovery: Back stage tours are now offered. (Star Trek: The Experience. Toll-free 1-888-GO BOLDLY or

Scream from the top. The Stratosphere at the heart of Vegas is the highest observation tower in the United States. Topping out at 1,149 feet, the Tower is the tallest building west of the Mississippi River. It offers visitors 360 degree panoramic views of the valley from both indoor and outdoor observation decks. Created not just for the view from the top, it offers the willing thrilling rides, freefall jumps, and roller coasters sizzle with the Big Shot, X Scream and Insanity the Ride. For theme park thrill junkies this stop is a must because it contains two of the world's highest and fastest rollercoasters. Discovery: This is the location of the Chapel in the clouds, 800 feet above the Strip. (Stratosphere 2000 Las Vegas Blvd South Las Vegas, NV 89104. (702) 380-7777)

Tigers, lions and dolphins, oh my! There is a marvelous Secret Garden in Las Vegas.  Walk through the Secret Garden Siegfried & Roy's open-air home for royal white tigers, magical Tibetan white lions, panthers, leopards, and a four-ton Thai ceremonial elephant named Gildah. Visit The Dolphin Habitat a 2.5 million gallon home to a family of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins. Four connected pools, an artificial coral reef system and sandy bottom replicate the dolphins' natural environment. Guided tours for the public are conducted throughout the day. Discovery: Anyone 13 or older may become a “Trainer for a Day” and work side-by-side, fin-to-fin with the official dolphin trainers. Need to know: Tickets for children younger than 10 are complimentary with paying adult.  (The Mirage Habitat 3400 Las Vegas Blvd., South Las Vegas, NV 89109. (702) 791-7188, 7889 or
All you need is love. It is a fact that every Cirque du Soleil experience is artistically beyond the limits and always excellent. Each with its own personality yet always filled with energy, and surprises any Cirque du Soleil is not-to-be-missed. They have created an entire show based on The Beatles. The show, appropriately named LOVE, celebrates the musical legacy of The Beatles through their timeless, original recordings. LOVE is a Rock 'n' Roll poem, a magical mystery tour into the heart and soul of The Beatles music through an exploration of the aesthetic, political and spiritual trends of the 1960s. Inspired by the poetry of the lyrics, the creative team designed a series of scenes inhabited by colorful characters in extravagant costumes. A youthful, raw energy is channeled through aerial performance, extreme sports and urban freestyle dance. The unique soundscape of music has been created using master tapes at Abbey Road Studios.  Need to know: You may read about the creation of the show by logging on to the website. (
Lights, sound, water and a movie! Sam’s Town has it all. Mystic Falls Park a 25,000 square-foot indoor park at Sam's has a rolling waterfall under a 10-story canopy and surrounded by trees and birds. The Park is the location of the daily Sunset Stampede, a free laser light and water show which tells the story of the Western pioneer experience with music, lights and animation symphonic score recorded by the Indianapolis Philharmonic Orchestra. Sam’ also has a Century 18 deluxe Vegas-style movie theater with all THX certification and All Digital Sound. This is also the location of a 56-lane bowling center which is open 24 hours a day. Bonus points: Perfect for families which include older teens, the Extreme Bowling Experience takes place every Friday and Saturday night. It includes a combination of state-of-the-art disco-style lights, foggers and special effects that transform the bowling center into a nightclub with bowling lanes. (Sam's Town's Sunset Stampede 5111 Boulder Highway Las Vegas, NV 89122. (702) 456-7777 or

Content researched and created by FTF staff. Images provided by Lied Discovery Children's Museum, Cirque du Soleil photo credit Tomas Muscionico and costume credit Philippe GuillotelUpdated copyright 2013. 
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