GOING TO VEGAS WITH CHILDREN IN TOW MAY NOT SOUND LIKE FUN FOR THE PARENTS. Gen-Xers, between the ages of 25 and 45, are the most likely tot-toting tourists, and even if they're shackled to the kids for a weekend getaway in Vegas, it doesn't have to be a Sinless City visit. With proper planning, mom and dad can have some fun—both together and on their own, while also showing their children an unforgettable time.
Here are some suggestions on how to craft a three-day trip that considers everyone and lets mom and dad sneak away for some fun. The key to getting this trip right is that one night should be kid-free.
Book your clients at a hotel that appeals to children or has access to babysitters. Circus Circus (www.circuscircus.com, 702-734-0410) is an older property, but that's part of its charm—it's great for old-school Vegas cotton-candy kitsch. A thousand rooms were recently upgraded, with 42-inch plasma TVs, pillowtop mattresses and new bathrooms. Kids will get a kick out of the giant castle that is Excalibur (www.excalibur.com, 877-750-5464), where your family clients can step into King Arthur's realm. The more upscale Four Seasons Las Vegas (www.fourseasons.com/lasvegas, 702-632-5000), adjacent to Mandalay Bay, and Wynn Las Vegas (www.wynnlasvegas.com) can provide babysitters.
Afternoon is a time for hanging out by the pool, weather permitting. But if your clients want to get out and about, they can take the kids to M&M's World (www.mymms.com/merchandise/las_vegas.asp), a four-story attraction dedicated to the multi-colored candies. Here you'll find a 3-D movie theater and a wall filled with dispensers of every color M&M imaginable, as well as logo gifts galore. Next door is Gameworks (www.gameworks.com), with more than 250 games and activities.
For dinner, suggest the Tournament of Kings at Excalibur. There's jousting, dancing maidens and fireworks, and everyone eats with their hands. It's appropriate for toddlers to older kids. Suggest a pre- or post-dinner stop at the Fantasy Faire carnival midway games to try to win some prizes. Another dinner option is Benihana (www.benihana.com, 702-732-5334) at the Las Vegas Hilton. The ubiquitous Japanese restaurant is a hoot for kids, as chefs cook dinner right on the table. After dinner, if the kids are tiny Trekkies, suggest Star Trek: The Experience (www.startrekexp.com 800-GO-BODLY), also at the Hilton. It's not appropriate for the preschool set, but those a little older will love the Borg Invasion 4D and Klingon Encounter rides.
Once the kids are tucked into bed, either mom or dad gets free time. They can switch halfway through the evening, to be fair.
Grab breakfast at the hotel's buffet, and then the daytime hours are all about the kids. But again, encourage parents to take turns watching the brood so each can get some alone time.
Get passes for the Las Vegas Monorail (www.lvmonorail.com, 702.699.8200), which runs from the MGM Grand to the Sahara with seven stops in all. It makes getting around more fun, and it offers a 12 percent commission if you call to buy tickets in advance.
Spend the day doing kid-centric activities such as visiting the Adventuredome (www.adventuredome.com) at Circus Circus. The theme park has more than 20 rides, including the Rim Runner flume, bumper cars and the SpongeBob SquarePants 4-D Thrill Ride, plus laser tag, an arcade, circus acts and more. Siegfried & Roy's Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat (www.miragehabitat.com, 702-792-7889) has a baby dolphin that was born just this past summer.
Go for lunch at Rainforest Café (www.rainforestcafe.com, 702-891-8580) at MGM Grand, where you'll eat in a lush jungle atmosphere with food geared to kids and adults. After eating, check out the resort's Lion Habitat. Sometimes one of the magnificent beasts will sit right overhead, which provides an amazingly close view. Or have a ball and a burger at Lucky Strike Lanes (www.luckystrikelv.com, 702-777-7899) at the Rio. With a hip, retro vibe, the restaurant serves burgers, salads, pizzas, chicken bites and more. Also at Rio, starting at 3 p.m., is The Masquerade Show in the Sky (www.harrahs.com/casinos/rio/casino-misc/masquerade-show-in-the-sky-detail.html), a state-of-the-art performance with floats suspended from the ceiling and a parade above the casino floor, evoking the spirit of Carnivale. Kids who are three feet or taller can attend the show with an adult for $12.95.
The evening is all about mom and dad. Get a sitter. If the hotel won't arrange the service, Nannies and Housekeepers (www.nahusa.com, 702-451-0021) is the preferred company for most major resorts, and all its nannies are licensed and bonded. It costs $45 per hour with a four-hour minimum, and the rule is one nanny for every two children. Wynn and some other hotels will book the service for guests, but some may not. Mom and dad can order up room service for the kids, rent them a movie on pay-per-view and head out on the town.
For a romantic dinner, Le Cirque (www.bellagio.com, 887-2-DINE-LV) is a AAA five-diamond modern French masterpiece at Bellagio. More affordable is Roy's (www.roysrestaurant.com, 702-691-2053), a sumptuous fusion of Hawaiian, French and Japanese ingredients and flavors. Live-music fans may want to check out the House of Blues (www.hob.com, 702-632-7600), with its concerts and Southern-inspired menu.
Long Island native Bobby Slayton (www.hooterscasinohotel.com, 866-LV-HOOTS), who's billed as the Pit Bull of Comedy, does a hysterical show at Hooters. Or your clients may want to see Blue Man Group (www.blueman.com 702-697-1655), an experimental theatrical presentation combining music, comedy and multimedia, at the Venetian. Spamalot (www.boxoffice.wynnlasvegas.com, 702-770-WYNN) is a side-splitting musical stage adaptation of Monty Python and the Holy Grail at Wynn Las Vegas.
Suggest your clients have breakfast at the hotel, then head to the pool, where they can also eat lunch. After that, they can check out Mandalay Bay's Shark Reef (www.mandalaybay.com/entertainment/sharkreef.aspx), a fantastic underwater experience for the whole family. Visitors meander through clear tubes surrounded by fish that swim around on all sides. Suggest they finish the trip with the Popovich Comedy Pet Theater (www.comedypet.com, 702-932-1818) at the V Theater in Planet Hollywood at 3:30 p.m. The show features former stray cats and dogs performing, as well as clowns, jugglers and balancing acts. —GLENN HAUSSMAN