Just married… with children

Hello, my partner and I are getting married at the Graceland Wedding Chapel in September. We are coming with both sets of parents and our two children, aged 7 years and 8 months. I know many people don't like the idea of kids in Vegas, but we want them at our wedding. Is there anywhere we can all go in the evenings? We would like somewhere the adults can enjoy a couple of drinks and the kids can also relax (I'm talking about 8pm, not 2am). My thoughts are that there are many kids in Vegas so there must be somewhere where we can all go to enjoy ourselves.

Thank you for your time,

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Let's begin with the niceties: congratulations on your upcoming nuptials and on getting the whole family together for a cross-Atlantic trip!

With that out of the way, here come the fair warnings: there are reasons Las Vegas is known as THE adult playground. Back in the early-90s Las Vegas businesses tried to change their image and attract families to Sin City... and learned quickly what a bad idea it was. With negative feedback pouring in and tourist dollars tailing off, Chamber of Commerce types were reminded that grown-ups go to Las Vegas to get away from the kiddos, not to visit Disneyland with a roulette wheel. Ever since that misguided experiment, Vegas hotels and casinos have been trying to rectify the ill-conceived "family friendly" image.

Knowing that, try and be extra considerate of your fellow Vegas visitors, many of whom would prefer the hotels to be strictly 21-and-up (count us at FirstTimeLasVegas.com as part of that crowd... unofficially, of course). Because the hotel staff know this, they're not going to cut even a happy just-married family much slack. Try and bring the young 'uns into even the most casual of lounges and you will definitely be turned away. It's also best to avoid very high-end restaurants, as the reception to children there is likely to be chilly at best.

To continue with the list of Dont's: Children are allowed in casinos areas only in passing. They're not allowed to linger (which is just as well, because they'd learn bad blackjack habits watching me). This means when you want to gamble, you will, without exception, have to leave the kids in the hotel room or somewhere else under supervision.

One of the few exceptions that does cater to families is Circus Circus. In fact, practically screams "family friendly." If you're still deciding on where to stay, this hotel is worth serious consideration.

I realize just about everything I've told you sounds less that optimistic, but don't despair. If you're willing to be a little flexible in your Vegas plans, your trip can turn out to be one great memory. One place where the whole family can be entertained is at Excalibur's "Tournament of Kings" dinner. With knights, horses, jousting and dinner eaten with your hands -- plus a drink or two for everyone with more than a couple of decades of living under their belts -- it's a spectacle worth attending. Food and drinks keep the grown-ups happy while youngsters are rapt with the show. (If your 7-year-old is a boy this could very well be the highlight of his whole trip.) Dinner shows are at 6pm and 8:30pm.

Another option, one not so child-centric but still friendly to other visiting adults, would be to take advantage of the complimentary limo service provided by the excellent Italian restaurant Casa di Amore. Slip the driver a little extra when leaving the restaurant and ask to see a nice view of the Strip's famous lights. There's no guarantee the driver will take the long way home, but most don't mind. Note that you'll have to call the restaurant to set an appointment for your limousine. Online reservations don't handle that part of the experience.

A few more attractions that are welcoming of all ages: the fountain show outside the Bellagio. It's far more impressive than words can describe and especially spectacular at night. Mandalay Bay offers a stroll around and through giant aquariums. This is one of the many free or cheap things to do in Las Vegas that are suitable for everyone.

If you're looking for some adult-only time and no one is volunteering to stay with the children, some hotels will provide guests with phone numbers for outside babysitting services that will come directly to your hotel room. Ask the hotel concierge for details. The only near-the-Strip hotel that offers on-site childcare is the Palms. This isn't free, of course, and I would strong recommend against taking the whole family to the Palms. It's a wonderful hotel, but it's also one of the most popular party hotels. There a fair chance your kids could see some stuff you'd really prefer wasn't going on right in front of them. Which brings me to my last note...

The Strip after dark isn't a good place for kids to be, even with their parents. After sundown, the streets are littered very quickly with fliers showing scantily clad women advertising escort services. And when I say "scantily clad" I'm being pretty liberal with the term. Some of the fliers border on explicit. If you haven't had "the Talk" yet with your young one, this may be one of the most awkward ways to prompt that conversation.

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1 response to “Just married… with children”

  1. joey said:

    hey im 11 years im going to vegas

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