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Planning a vacation with teenagers can be an exercise in the art of persuasion — part salesmanship and part magical surprises suitable for Instagram.
On a recent visit to Las Vegas, our family, which includes two teen girls, found a mix of watersports, high-flying adventures, shows and food that suited us all. Here are some secrets for navigating a Vegas vacation with teens.
Splash Around and Cool Off
Plan Plenty of Pool Time: There will be many posing, giggling and looking-but-pretending-not-to-look Instagram moments. While some pool parties in Vegas are not teen-appropriate, there are still plenty of hotel pools to pick from, including the lazy river at the MGM, the lagoon-like pool with waterfalls at the Mirage and the wave pool and 11-acre pool complex at the Mandalay Bay, among plenty of others.
Visit Wet ‘n’ Wild Water Park: Wet ‘n’ Wild Water Park is a short drive from the Las Vegas Strip and is full of entertainment for the entire family. One favorite is Canyon Cliffs, which drops 33 feet per minute at a frightening angle. Tickets are about $35 for adults and $30 for “juniors” (shorter than 42 inches).
See the Sights
Take the Eiffel Tower Tour: Cheesy as this might sound, there are incredible views from on top of this replica Eiffel Tower, along with selfie/Snapchat/Instagram moments suitable for posting. Our girls must have snapped at least 20 different poses with the Las Vegas Strip as the background. A family pack of four tickets — two adults and two kids — is $50. Kids under 3 are free.
Watch the Fountains of Bellagio: The dancing waters in front of Bellagio are world-famous. Choreographed to music and lights, the free shows start every 15 or 30 minutes, with ample viewing areas stretching across the Strip and up the sides. Stay for more than one show, since they don’t repeat very often.
Thrill Rides on the Strip
Hop on the Roller Coaster at Stratosphere or New York–New York: Most teens love a good amusement-park ride, and these are fun. The Big Apple Roller Coaster ($15 per ride and $8 for “re-rides”) at New York–New York is an old-fashioned bumpy ride through the casino, inside and out. At the Stratosphere Tower, the X-Scream ride tips precariously off the top of the building and over the edge for white-knuckle moments more than 800 feet up. Prices for tickets to the roller coaster vary according to when you visit. For example, Tower admission plus one ride costs $25 per adult on a weekday and $30 per adult on the weekend.
Ride the Giant Ferris Wheel: Several cities across the globe now have giant Ferris wheels, where groups can fit into a pod as it slowly rotates to dizzying heights. The High Roller in Las Vegas is a wonderful way to take in the views from as high as 550 feet — particularly at twilight, when the lights are dazzling. Daytime tickets cost $22 per adult and $9 for youths. Evening tickets are about $10 more per person.
Helicopter to the Grand Canyon: Near the Strip, you can hop aboard a helicopter and fly over Hoover Dam to the Grand Canyon. It’s an amazing sight from the sky, and some companies, like Maverick Helicopter, even have clearance to land inside the canyon. This is a thrill beyond words. A two-and-a-half-hour tour from the Strip to Hoover Dam, the Grand Canyon and back is $259 per person. That tour doesn’t land, but you can upgrade your trip to do so.
Shopping for Days (and Days)
Go Shopping: The mall is a teen hot spot, whether you have girls or boys. There are several indoor shopping areas in Las Vegas, including The Forum Shops, Miracle Mile Shops, Fashion Show Mall and many more.
Live Entertainment Capital
See Some Magic: Teens love magic shows, particularly if they don’t feature clowns and balloon animals. There are several options in Las Vegas offering good, clean fun. Our favorite on a recent trip was Mat Franco, who put on a show our teens loved. Tickets start at $40 per person (plus fees).
Watch Cirque du Soleil: Ubiquitous throughout the hotels on the Strip, the shows of Cirque du Soleil Las Vegas are breathtaking. The ones our kids have enjoyed the most are Kà and O, which takes place above and below water. Ticket prices vary per show but generally start around $75 to $100 per person.
Visit Madame Tussauds Wax Museum: This isn’t live entertainment or unique to Las Vegas, but the kids loved it anyway. Madame Tussauds Las Vegas is full of well-known celebrities and stars. Tickets cost $18.99 per adult and $13.99 for kids from 3 to 12 if purchased online in advance.
Dessert at the Milk Bar: There are many delicious places to eat in Las Vegas, but at the top of my list is Milk Bar Las Vegas. Famous dessert chef Christina Tosi is an artist, creating sweets that are out of this world. My favorites are her birthday cake, cake pops (on a stick) and compost cookies.
Dine at Gordon Ramsay Burger: He may play a mean guy on TV, but celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay makes a mean burger. Gordon Ramsay Burger Las Vegas is tucked inside Planet Hollywood Las Vegas, where parents may enjoy the spicy Hell’s Kitchen Burger with jalapeños and pepper jack cheese while the kids devour the traditional Backyard Burger.
If you’ve got teenagers at home, you know it’s not always easy to keep them entertained, but in Las Vegas this shouldn’t be a problem. And if you’ve got younger kids, check out Mommy Points’ advice for fun things for kids to do in Las Vegas.
Here’s some more Las Vegas trip-planning information:
- Visiting Some Hard Rocks In Las Vegas
- Review: The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas — Terrace One Bedroom
- Review: Wynn Las Vegas
- Review: The Palazzo Las Vegas
- Review of the Bellagio Suite in Las Vegas
- History of Las Vegas: 35 Years of Chasing Neon
- 5 Reasons to Visit The Neon Museum in Las Vegas
Featured image courtesy of author
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