We spent 36 hours with our kids in Las Vegas. To be fair, I spent 28 hours with the kids and 8 hours working but CD put in the full 36.
We talked about flying into Vegas in order to get easy and fast access to Zion or Bryce but this was something different. My idea was to save money by routing all of us through Vegas on the way back from family Christmas in Michigan. In the end, we didn’t save money but we learned some things about Vegas that we didn’t know prior to being parents.
We arrived at the Excalibur just before 3 am. Only 4 days earlier we left Oregon at 2:30 am PST. We spent 4 days in Michigan on EST and now arrived at 3 am in what I will refer to as “Vegas time”.
Before I write more about our 36 hours in Vegas, I will rewind a bit and add some context to the culture shock that we forced on to our kids that night. A few months earlier, some friends invited us to an amusement park. It was called the Enchanted Forest. CD and I listened to the kids talk as we drove. HB was explaining to Grace what to expect. She was listening and asking questions. He told her that there would be hiking and wildlife. “It will be so cool.” CD and I didn’t interrupt or correct him as he went on and on but it was obvious that he actually thought we were going to a forest. We never asked him about it after but we realized that while we had been hiking, camping, fishing, and driving around in our van, we may have failed to introduce our kids to pop culture.
Here we were, 3 am on the Las Vegas strip. The kids weren’t phased a bit. HB was excited to play at the “arcade”; Grace asked if it was night or morning. Two days later, she still wasn’t sure when it was night and when it was morning.
What did we do in Las Vegas on our family trip?
- We walked the strip. I suggested to the kids that we were saving tons of time and money by going to New York, Paris, and Venice all in one day. They kept this joke going the entire trip.
- The kids played in the Excalibur Fun Dungeon. (HB was right, there was an arcade)
- We rode the escalators on the sidewalk and the moving sidewalk into the casino
- We saw the volcano erupt at the Mirage. (We were planning to see the Pirate Ship at Treasure Island but it was discontinued in 2013. Yes, we are that out of it.)
- We ate dinner at the Grand Lux at the Venetian and recommend it. HB’s kid’s sliders were super yummy. My wedge salad was a perfect balance of lettuce and blue cheese.
- CD and the kids filled their 8 extra hours with the following:
- The “Container Park”. It was in a questionable part of town; I can’t remember the last time I heard CD call any part of town “questionable”. They got there around 8 and it didn’t open until 11:00. There was a sculpture that the kids wanted to see but the environment wasn’t very inviting. We do not recommend this park.
- Circus-Circus: 2 thumbs down. The parking was sketchy. It was dirty and old.
- Mandalay Bay: The pool made a positive impression on CD and he seems to want to stay there in the future. Shark Reef was a walk to get to but the kids really liked the touch pool. To keep up with our Junior Ranger theme, they earned Junior Naturalist certificates. Staff were great and gladly answered question after question from HB. Grace was curious and sat down to look and watch.
- The tram from The Excalibur to Mandalay Bay: It stops at the Luxor on the way back. CD found the Luxor architecture to be really interesting. It’s free.
Would I recommend the Excalibur for families with kids?
Yes. It was great for our purposes and I was impressed. It lacks the high end presentation of other places on the strip but had advantages for us.
- The room was accessible. We could walk from the lobby to our room in 5 minutes flat. The last casino hotel that I stayed in included a fast paced 15 minute walk to get to my room. I would stay at the Excalibur just because I could make it to and from my room in reasonable time.
- The room was basic but clean and the beds were comfortable.
- Our room was quiet and dark! I was amazed! Being that we had traveled at all hours of the day and night and bounced around between PST, EST, and Vegas time, we took advantage of the dark room and took a mid afternoon nap. When the kids woke up they didn’t know if it was time for breakfast or dinner. I didn’t know either and it really didn’t matter.
- The Fun Dungeon was downstairs from the main lobby. It was easy to find. The kids loved it.
- Parking was close and was $10 per day. We could park at any MGM resort. It was accessed by using your room key.
- There were tons of hidden fees. This is Vegas.
- Each guest over 2 per room is $30 each per day. They agreed to charge us for only one additional guest. Since I paid less than $50 per night, I figured that the extra $30 was okay. There is also a resort fee, which was about as much as the room price.
- Kids in-room movies were $10.99. We didn’t order any.
- There were fees for late check out; we kept the room until 6 pm. That was the best $50 we spent in Vegas. CD and the kids used the room all day; they even took an afternoon nap. I changed my clothes and put my feet up for a minute after work.
Will we be going to Vegas again soon?
I don’t think so. While taking the kids to Zion is high on our list, we will likely steer clear of the Vegas strip on the way through. The kids took Vegas in a stride and don’t have much to say about it now.
Building a snow fort to ambush Uncle Mike in Michigan was way more fun than riding the one-way moving sidewalk into our casino hotel. I think we will stick with snow fort building next time.
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