Orbitz released a list of the Top 10 Summer Travel Destinations for 2011 this morning and it came as no surprise that Orlando took the top spot. However, what did surprise me was that Las Vegas was number two, and that Las Vegas was actually number one in 2010.
Now, Orbitz didn’t claim that Las Vegas was necessarily a summer hot spot for families, but I did become curious about what types of activities kids can enjoy in Las Vegas (beyond splashing in the hotel pool). I was pretty impressed by the variety of educational activities well-suited for kids of various ages in Las Vegas. Take a look.
- Atomic Testing Museum: Better suited to older kids, this museum chronicles the history of the atomic age with artifacts, short videos and interactive displays. Check out the Building Atomic Vegas exhibit through early-2012 to explore the various effects of the atomic bomb on Las Vegas.
- Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art: Allow your kids to experience fine paintings by Claude Monet, Marc Chagall and more. Quick note that no strollers are allowed. While you’re at the Bellagio, stop by the Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens as well.
- Botanical Cactus Garden: Living outside Washington, DC, we don’t see much (any) cactus, so the thought of checking out four acres of cactus, including 300 plant species, is very cool indeed. Be sure to check out the Christmas lights during the holiday season.
- Las Vegas Natural History Museum: Your kids can explore Egyptian treasures, learn about prehistoric life or even check out mammal families in the international wildlife gallery. Visit the marine life and geology galleries, and be sure to experience hands-on Weekend Science programs. Bring along this printable buy-one-get-one-free coupon or stop by on the first full weekend of the month when Bank of America customers get free admission as part of the Museums on Us program.
- Discovery Children’s Museum: Located across the street from the Las Vegas Natural History Museum, this is a great place to take little ones (generally kindergarten and younger) to blow off some steam and engage in some hands-on learning experiences. Permanent exhibits focus on healthy eating habits, green living and even science experiments in Einstein’s Corner. Closed Mondays.
- Shark Reef Aquarium: Inside Mandalay Bay you’ll find more than 2,000 animals, including sharks, piranhas and sea turtles, even a Komodo dragon. Before you go, print out a word search and fun facts sheet and call ahead to find out when they feed the sharks so you can watch. You can also sign up for exclusive one-hour guided tours for a more personalized, educational visit.
Now this is by no means an exhaustive list of activities to do with your kids in Las Vegas. However, it should give you a good feel that there is plenty for your kids to enjoy in Las Vegas (all activities are within15 minutes of the Strip), so don’t feel confined to the hotel swimming pool. Get out there and enjoy what Vegas has to offer your family.