Explore America's Campgrounds
Las Vegas isn't just for the over-21 crowd anymore. From lounging by a pool to hiking in a national park to adrenaline-pumping roller coasters, you can easily find a wide array of activities to make even the pickiest teenager secretly happy to be on family vacation.
Red Rock Canyon
About a half hour outside of the Las Vegas strip, you'll find Red Rock Canyon, home to Mojave Max, a giant desert tortoise, and gorgeous rock formations. Red Rock Canyon has 19 hiking trails including the beginner trail, the Moenkopi Loop, where you can see an amazing array of flora and fauna, a 13-mile bike loop, and opportunities for climbing for both the advanced and the beginner climber.
Hotel Pool Use for Non-Guests
Las Vegas is known for huge, grandiose pools, but if you are staying at a smaller hotel or at a hotel "off strip," your pool may not be as exciting as some of the more famous hotels' pools. However, most hotels that are famous for their pools have non-guest day rates--just give the hotel a call to check rates and availability. During the week, people under 21 are allowed in non-gambling pool areas. Your kid will be impressed when you take her to the Tank to see sharks and a huge water slide at the Nugget or to the huge, posh mile-long pool at the Hard Rock.
Las Vegas is now home to lots of adrenaline-pumping rides sure to increase your heart rate. Can't miss rides include the Stratophere's SkyJump, Big Shot, Insanity, and X-Scream, New York, New York's Roller Coaster, and Pole Position Raceway's Go Karts.
Pound the pavement to see all the shopping that Las Vegas has to offer. Check out the Fashion Show Mall and take in a live runway show. Don't miss the Forum Shops and treat yourself to a piece of cheesecake at The Cheesecake Factory. Miracle Mile Shops is also more than just shopping--they have free fountain and laser shows.
Las Vegas has long been known for its entertainment, but your kids probably don't want to see Bette Midler or Barry Manilow. Take them to a show you can all enjoy together, like the Blue Man Group or an exciting Cirque du Soleil, such as Mystere or KA, or cheer together for your favorite knight at The Tournament of Kings.
With so many restaurants in Las Vegas, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. Mr. Lucky's 24/7 in the Hard Rock Cafe is a good choice when dining off hours, as it's open 24 hours a day. Viva Mercado's Mexican Restaurant is a local favorite known for salsa as mild or spicy as you would like and its famous chile rellenos. It's both a vegetarian and budget-friendly restaurant. Go to the Canyon Ranch Grill at the Palazzo for a healthy, affordable breakfast featuring organic eggs and oatmeal among other specialties. Kids will love the "Healthy Elvis" sandwich. For a special treat, take high tea at the Petrossian at the Bellagio. Gourmet tea sandwiches, delicious scones with clotted cream, mini pastries and imported tea makes it an unforgettable experience for you and your family.
Deborah Castellano has been a published writer since 2001. Her work has appeared in magazines such as "Venus" and "NewWitch" and in anthologies published by "Cleis Press" and "Freya's Bower." She received her Bachelor of Arts in women's studies from Douglass College of Rutgers University.