Free things to do in Vegas with little kids
Updated: Oct 1, 2021
Las Vegas... Sin City... the gambling capital of the world... were we crazy to take our kids there? Probably!
I won’t pretend it was a family friendly travel destination as it most certainly wasn’t, especially along The Strip.
No matter what time of day or night it was, there were drunk people stumbling about, people handing out brothel fliers, poker machines EVERYWHERE - but luckily I think all of this went over our boys heads (they were 4 and 2 years old at the time).
We found Vegas to be a very expensive city. Many of the blogs I had read about taking kids to Vegas mentioned activities such as Cirque du Soleil (which can cost hundreds of dollars per ticket), Tournament of Kings (upwards of $60 per ticket) and Madame Tussauds (about $30 per ticket).
So if you are flush with cash, then it is probably very easy to have a great time in Vegas, but we are not.
We did manage to find quite a few free activities which our children enjoyed and we’d love to share these with you!
This is the most amazing water, sound and light show that we have ever seen. The fountains and lights are so perfectly choreographed with the music, it is like watching the ballet! We saw this a few times, at different times of the day and night and it was always a unique experience that we absolutely loved.
On weekdays, the show is on every half an hour from 3pm to 7pm and then every 15 minutes from 7pm to midnight. On Saturdays and holidays it starts at midday with half hourly shows until 7pm and then every 15 minutes until midnight. On Sundays it is on from 11am, every 15 minutes until 2.30pm, then every half an hour until 7pm, then every 15 minutes until midnight.
The Mirage Volcano explodes every night at 6pm, 7pm, 8pm, 9pm, 10pm and 11pm. With its loud music and sound effects, fireballs and smoke, this might not be up every child’s alley but our boys really enjoyed it! So much so that we went every single night we were in Vegas - the more we watched it, the more they loved it!
It’s definitely worth getting there early to get a good spot as it does get crowded. Our favourite place to watch it from was just outside the entrance to the casino, down to the right a bit as you head to The Strip. It was far less crowded and we always got a front row position.
Did you know that the Flamingo Hotel has an actual flamboyance of flamingos?
The hotel has a 15 acre habitat that is filled with birds, turtles and koi fish. The flamingos were so beautiful to watch, and the gardens were so peaceful compared to the rest of town that we spent a whole afternoon chilling out there.
Our favourite bird, as any other Aussie will appreciate, was the majestic Sacred Ibis. Down Under we call these “Bin Chickens” as they generally are to be found scrounging around in rubbish bins and are a total pest and not at all sacred!
The gardens are open from dawn until dusk and there are pelican feedings at 8.30am and 2pm.
The Circus Circus casino is a bit of a schlep from the rest of the Strip. We caught the monorail to the Westgate station and then walked the 20 or so minutes to Circus Circus. It was hot and there was no shade, so definitely not the easiest place to get to.
In the middle of the casino there is a stage set up and they have circus performances every hour on the half hour. There is an amazing array of free acts that you can see, from high flying trapeze, clowns, jugglers and all sorts of other acrobatic shows.
Out the back of the casino is the Adventuredome, a theme park. It is free to go in and walk around, but if you want to go on the rides you need to pay. They have free clown shows every hour from midday to 4pm (Sundays to Thursdays) and from midday to 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays.
So this isn’t a freebie, but you gotta eat, right? And you might as well eat somewhere which is fun for kids!
Our boys loved the Rainforest Cafe! We had never been to one before, so were totally amazed when we were led in to our table through an awesome fake rainforest, complete with animatronic animals and a thunderstorm every 20 minutes.
The happy hour drinks were a bargain, they had a kids menu which included veggies (a rarity in America!), and they gave the kids colouring in pages which kept them amused for ages. It wasn’t somewhere I’d go for a romantic date night, but with noisy kids, it was great!
We wandered around a few of the casinos along the strip, but The Venetian was our favourite for a stroll. The boys loved the fake canals, the boats and especially the singing gondoliers!
Walking through the cool of the Grand Canal Shoppes was a nice break from the heat of Vegas. There are free street performers - opera singers, musicians, jugglers, human statues - and delicious gelato from Cocolini (not free, but worth every penny!).
There’s nothing on earth like a genuine, bona-fide, electrified, six-car monorail!
The monorail is such a fun way to travel along the Las Vegas Strip. Trains come every few minutes and the carriages are lovely and air conditioned, so it’s a nice way to sit and relax out of the heat as well!
It isn’t free for adults, but kids who are five years old or under ride free.
You can buy a one way ticket for $5, but what we did was to plan our activities so that we could use the 24-hour pass ($13) over 2 days - exploring in the afternoon and evening of the first day and then in the morning of the second day. Vegas has so much sensory overload that with small kids, half a day of exploring each day was definitely enough!
It’s not in Vegas, but if you have a car it is less than an hour drive to see the awesome Hoover Dam!
We stopped by on our way from Vegas towards Kingman, Arizona to join up with Route 66.
The dam is on the border of Nevada and Arizona, across the Colorado River and apparently almost a million people visit each year!
You can get free parking on the Arizona side, otherwise it costs $10 on the Nevada side.
There is a paid tour that you can do which takes you into the dam, however we just walked across the dam for free, enjoying checking out the massive civil engineering landmark, and the bypass bridge which also spans the river.
The dam is stroller friendly, and make sure you have hats and sunscreen! We visited early in the day, before the day trippers arrived from Vegas, and it was pretty quiet but I was told that it does get much busier later in the day.
All in all, it was a really fun free activity to do and it was nice for us to get out of the craziness of Vegas!
Have you been to Vegas with kids? If not, is it on your to-visit list?