Las Vegas: Top 10 Things To Do With A Family.

Most of us think of Las Vegas as Sin City or an adult playground.  Well, in reality, there’s a ton of stuff to do with kids.  In this Blog, I’m going to talk about the top things to do with kids that puts a totally different spin on our thinking of what a Las Vegas vacation is all about.  And if you have a teenager in the house (like me), you can even manage to sneak in a pretty epic date night in the midst of all that family fun.

1005397450836301434_img_7597

 

Transportation

The trip I planned was on Spring Break while the kids were out of school.  I always plan a family trip for Spring Break, and try not to go too far being the kids have to jump right back into school after one week off.  I also try to avoid flying on this week of vacay, because getting a family of six anywhere with flights increases my cost incredibly.  If we are flying and spending that extra money, I prefer to have more time than one week to enjoy the trip.  So, I save those trips at far away places for different times in the year. The kids got so excited about Las Vegas and the thought of seeing a little example of different places in the world ex.  Paris, New York New York, Venetian, and Caesars.  The weather is absolutely perfect at this time of year in Las Vegas at 80-85 degrees.  We initially had planned to drive to Las Vegas (from Northern California).  However, at the last second we started to dread the 10-12 hours in the car with four children.  LOL.  We decided on taking the train instead.  This was such a great idea!  It was a new and exciting experience for the kids!  We scored great seats with four top tables.  We could work, do school work, play electonics, get up and walk around, grab a drink at the bar, eat at the cafe when we were hungry, all while avoiding traffic and not stopping to use the restroom every five minutes.  The train was  in no way faster than flying but it was WAAAAYYYY better than driving and was half the cost of flying our family of six.  Being there is no need for a car in Vegas, this ended up being a great choice for us.

train 2
Vegas here we come!
IMG_3146
Settling in for our train ride to Vegas.  So comfy with table tops, cafe, bar, bathrooms, no traffic.  Winning!

 

Accomodations at Tahiti Village

It is absolutely ridiculous for my family of six to stay in a regular hotel room (IMO), and I refuse to do it unless it is a short weekend trip.  When I’m with my entire family, I need to have more space and a full kitchen to feed their hungry mouths that are asking for food every 30 minutes.  Hashtag TRUTH.  Las Vegas is mostly hotels near the Strip, but I came across a place called Tahiti Village online.  Guys, this place ended up being totally awesome for a family trip!  The rooms were huge condos with full kitchens but the property was more like a grand hotel.  If we didn’t feel like cooking or going out, we had a restaurant and bar right on the property.  The best part about this place was the pools and activities.  They had a huge pool with a sandy beach entry where they held sand castle making contests and a long Lazy River with intertubes, which is where my kids spent most of their time.  An evening movie on the grass was shown twice per week.  It was perfect!  Tahiti Village is located just a mile from the Strip, so we could take the free shuttle, or jump in a quick Uber ride to all the Las Vegas action.

8761981357987404636_IMG_7269
Our condo at Tahiti Village.  A must for our family to have a full kitchen.
7290308993344627426_IMG_7661
Main pool at Tahiti Village.
4690235834962303405_IMG_7644
Sandy beach entry to the main pool where they had organized sand castle making contests.
7173686921759874757_IMG_6954
We rode in the lazy river all day long on our relaxing days.
pool.jpg
Living our best life in Las Vegas.

 

Top Things to Do

Ok, so let’s get into it.  What are the top things to do in Las Vegas with kids??  Well, we barely could scratch the surface in one week but these were my top picks.

High Roller Ferris Wheel

High Roller is a 550-foot tall, giant Ferris wheel on the Las Vegas Strip.  It is currently the worlds tallest ferris wheel and is a 30 minute ride.  This absolutely puts those county fair ferris wheels to shame, and will be quite the experience for your little ones.

ferris wheel
High Roller Ferris Wheel.  The largest in the world.

Circus Circus

Circus Circus is definitley the most kid friendly hotel on the Las Vegas Strip, and is where the Adventure Dome is located. The Adventure Dome is a five acre indoor/outdoor Adventure Amuesment Park.   The kids can ride rides, play games, rock climb, and even catch a creepy clown show.

-6838287532653141186_IMG_7289
Circus Circus.  The most kid friendly hotel on the Las Vegas Strip.
-6403894698552140889_IMG_7294
Virtual Reality Experience at Circus Circus.
adventure
Adventure Dome Circus Circus.

 

Shopping at the Forum Shops

Las Vegas has some of the best shopping!  I have two teenage girls in the house, so we snuck away for a girls day and hit the shops.  We visited several malls, but the Forum Shops at Caesars were our favorite.  The hotel is really beauiful and you feel as though you are shopping in Rome, Italy.

5911530106553745815_IMG_7251
Shopping at Caesars Forum Shops.

 

Best Restaurant To Dine At On The Strip: Sugar Factory!

Our kids are crazy for sugar (who’s aren’t?), and when we spoil them with a sugary treat they are so so so happy (before they turn into little monsters).  What better place to take them than the Sugar Factory!?  This place is located right on the Strip, and the menu is filled with things like Cheeseburgers with donuts for buns, fried chicken and waffles, or a truly gourment stack of pancakes and chocolate.  The $20 milkshakes are pricey, but you simply have to try one.  Everything is a total sugar masterpiece.  It’s a really beautiful restaurant too with elegant decor, and is a true sugary fine dining experience.  We ate dinner here, and then returned for a milkshake on our girls day in the middle of shopping.  Yum yum!

331549356565085590_IMG_7193
The milkshakes at the Sugar Factor are an absolute must!
9149876229136739744_IMG_7136
Candy Shop at the Sugar Factory.

 

Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden, Tiger and Dolphin Habitat

We set the teenagers free one day to do more shopping, and went to see some tigers and dolfins with our little guys, who are 10 and 5, at Siegfriend and Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitiat.  Here, you come face-to-face with some of nature’s most exotic creatures.  Explore, learn and play in an enchanting world of Bottlenose Dolphins, White Tigers, White Lions, and Leopards.  The little guys loved it!

SEIGFRIED AND ROY
LOL.  My son had to have this photo…what can I say?

 

Slotzilla Zipline Over Fremont Street

SlotZilla is a 11-story slot machine-inspired zip line attraction on Fremont Street, and is one of the best things to do in Las Vegas!  It was $25 per person or $45 if you wanted to do Superman Style.  I thought these prices were great for the experience you receive!  Making a reservation in advance is a must!  I made mine one week in advance.  The wait could be hours if you don’t have a reservation.  I personally think it is best to do this once the sun goes down and the Las Vegas lights are shinging as bright as can be.

img_1158
Slotzilla Zipline.

 

Seven Magic Mountains

Ok, so now that you’ve walked up and down the strip and gotten a taste of all the Las Vegas action, why not take a 15 minute ride outside of the Strip to see a beauiful place in the middle of the desert called Seven Magic Mountains.   A large scale desert artwork comprised of seven towers of colorfully stacked boulders standing more than thirty feet high.  If you can believe it, our kids wanted to go at dawn to exprience the sun coming up in the middle of the desert.  I can never get my kids to catch a sunrise.  This was an absolutely beautiful experience, and one I think they will remeber forever!

seven magic mountains
Seven Magic Mountains.
8201082450129557784_IMG_7475
Catching a sunrise in the dessert.
3652089858639879010_img_7527
Never a bad idea to get up early.  Perfect lighting for great photos.
img_1645
Love in the desert.

 

New York New York

I think this was our favorite Strip hotel to visit as a family.  We visited Houdini’s Magic Shop, which the kids stayed at for over an hour learning magic tricks.  There was a bar right outside the magic shop where mom and dad posted up for some adult beverages.  We road the Big Apple Roller Coaster…well, half of us did.  The other half who were either too scared or too small, stayed back in the super enormous arcade.  We ate awesome pizza by the slice, and snuck in a little gambling.  This was definiley a day of fun for everyone, with good mix of adult and kid things to do.

DCIM100MEDIADJI_0151.JPG
Houdini’s Magic Shop.
IMG_1075
Little smooching after we won some money at the tables!
roller coaster 1
Big Apple Roller Coaster.
IMG_1062
New York New York was our favorite hotel on the Strip that was fun for everyone.

 

Town Square

Located within walking distance from Tahiti Village is Town Square.  Town Square is a shopping, dining, and entertainment center.  There is a huge park in the center of the Square with a train ride, playground, and hoolla hooping for all.  A lot of the restaurants have patios that overlook the park so the adults can enjoy some wine while keeping an eye on the kiddos.  This is an awesome place to go out to eat or shop if you don’t feel like dealing with the crazieness of the Strip.

town square
Having some Happy Hour while we watch the little guys below at the park.
train 2
That is the exact balcony we sat at for Happy Hour to watch the littles below play at the park and ride the train.

 

Silverton Casino Mermaid’s Aquarium

Named the “Best Free attraction in Las Vegas” is the Mermaid’s Aquarium.  It’s a huge tank filled with tropical fish and live mermaids that interact with the guests.  My kids are Disney’s Little Mermaid fans, so this was a really cute experience for them to wave and blow kisses to real mermaids.

mermaid 3
Mermaid’s show at the Silverton Casino.
mermaid
Interacting with real mermaids.

So there you have it!!  These were my top things to do with a family in Las Vegas.  This ended up being one of our favorite Spring Break vacations!  Easy too if you live in California or Nevada.  Hopefully this shows Las Vegas in a different light for you, and that this trip really can be fun for the entire family!

Thanks for reading!!!

IMG_0992
All you need is LOVE.
-4698310534388431912_IMG_7160
Exploring the Strip at night.
DATE NIGHT
Date night.
SUNRISE
Sunrise in the desert.

 

 

 

 

British Virgin Islands: Bareboating For Beginners.

The first time I thought about creating a Travel Blog was at the end of this vacation.  So, I found it fitting for this to be the first article on my site.  This trip was so nontraditional, stressful (at times), and truly the biggest adventure I have ever taken.  It changed me in a way once it was all over. In the end, it confirmed that I want to live on a yacht one day and cruise my days away.

What is Bareboating?  Bareboat: (n) A boat, such as a yacht, that is chartered without a skipper or crew.  That’s right, you rent the boat and head out to sea without any captain or crew….just yourself.  I planned this trip with my husband in tow.  We both have always loved boating, grew up owning a boat, and still own a boat today.  It has always been a dream of ours to retire on a yacht, so I thought I would give bareboating a try to test the waters on our retirement dream.

bvi

When I say that we have always owned a boat, I am talking about a ski/wakeboarding boat that we take out on lakes while camping.  This trip I planned was going to be for one week on a 38ft 2 bedroom/2bath power cat in the Carribean.  We both had very little experience boating on the ocean.  We had never anchored out at sea or used waypoints.  However, I banked tens upon tens of hours researching this, and where would be the best place to bareboat for beginners.  I came up with the Virgin Islands.  The Virgin Islands are perfect because the islands are very close together so the seas are fairly calm.  Plus, you can always see shore somewhere so that is very comforting as a newbie.  Lastly, the route I chose had us driving the boat 1.5 hours (at the most) to get to our next stop.  Bouncing around from island to island on calm water seemed like a perfect fit to get our feet wet.

Map_BVI

We flew into St. Thomas, and took a ferry to Tortola which is where we were picking up the boat.  We spent a couple of nights unwinding from our travels and also preparing for our ocean adventure.  We hit the grocery store, got our fishing license/gear, and had a very nice dinner filled with nerves of excitement to board our boat.  Our route was Tortola, Norman Island, Jost Van Dyke (including Sandy Caye), Virgin Gorda (two sides of this island), Cooper Island, and back to Tortola.  We were shooting for six different islands in seven days.

I decided to rent our boat from Marine Max Vacations.  For the main reasons that they were very fairly priced and had power cats.  Most bareboating rentals in the BVI are sail boats. Sailing is really big in the BVI, but we opted for a power cat as we know nothing about sailing.  I was very happy with Marine Max, and they actually rent boats for bareboating all over the world.  I am secretly planning my next bareboat adventure while writing this Blog.  Probably Greece or Croatia!

After a 2 hour orientation of our new home, we drove out of the marina into open waters with butterflies in our stomachs, and feeling totally in over our heads.  Our first stop was Norman Island, which was a very short hop from the marina we were in.  There were literally hundreds of boats anchored here, which definitely solidified the fact that the BVI is extremely popular for bareboating.  We were the little guys on the block for sure.  The boats around us were filthy gorgeous.  I found yachters to be much like campers.  All of our neighbors were so nice, and willing to help.  Like that one time we woke up to find that our dingy was no longer tied to our boat…the dingy we had signed a $10,000 replacement cost on.  Ya, that was a stressful moment!  Our neighbors came and picked us up, and we found the dingy which had floated away.  Yachters are good peeps!  But back to Norman Island…We got our anchor secured (after about an hour of trial and error), bbqed some steaks and scallops, and took the dingy over to Willy T’s Floating Bar for some cocktails and dancing.  This place was rowdy and fun!  Everyone was getting straight up crazy!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Willy T’s Floating Bar.

I think we checked the anchor about 50 times that night, but we didn’t float away and woke up to a beautiful morning feeling confident to move to the next island.

Our second stop was Jost Van Dyke.  We spent 2 nights here including NYE…Oh, did I mention the weather is perfect in the BVI’s at this time of year?  I am always chasing that summer weather!  We got to Jost Van Dyke early and scored a moor ball…no need to worry about our anchoring skills…winning!  This island was a party.  One of my favorite spots here was the Soggy Dollar  where I consumed too many of their famous Pain Killers.

sand dollar
Soggy Dollar.

My other favorite spot was Foxy’s where I spent NYE dancing the night away in the sand. There had to be a thousand boats parked here for NYE.  People travel from all over the Caribbean to come to the NYE party at Foxy’s.  Our boat rental company strongly suggested that we stay away due to all the traffic on NYE.  I was very happy we rolled the dice and went anyways because it was an absolute blast!

foxys
Foxy’s on NYE.

Before leaving the island we popped over to Sandy Caye on the dingy early in the AM.  Not bad for New Years morning.  We were literally the only two people on the island.  It was gorgeous.  We toasted a little champagne and enjoyed this little island to ourselves for a couple of hours.  It was a great way to start the New Year!

sandy caye
Sandy Caye.

On to the next stop!  Virgin Gorda.  This was our longest drive on the route at about an hour and a half.  We trolled along the way but came up empty on catches.  We went spent one night on one side of Virgin Gorda exploring and snorkeling the Baths.  It is just a must if you ever visit BVI!  The water was so pristine and the Baths lived up to their reputation.  We got here pretty late and weren’t supposed to spend the night but oopsie…we had no choice because it got dark.  No ticket in the morning.  Yippee!

The other two nights were spent on the other side of the island at Bitters End.  We were surrounded by multimillion dollar yachts, and caught fish right off the back of the boat.  Pretty amazing!  Saba Rock is also located here.  It is such a small island they call it a big rock.  We took the dingy here at night for lobster, cocktails, and dancing.

saba rock
Saba Rock.

The last stop on the route back was Cooper Island.  There were turtles everywhere and we had the most beautiful sunset of the entire trip.  After all of the anxiety I started the trip with, I couldn’t have felt more relaxed at this island….and sad to return the boat the next day for that matter.  I like to push myself to just a bit outside of the comfort zone when traveling.  I always want to challenge myself with adventure.  This trip ended up being the biggest adventure of my life (to date) and I am proud of how much I learned.

cooper
Cooper Island.

After being on a boat for a week, I was ready for a hot bath, some makeup, and high heels.  We spent another four nights at the Frenchman’s Reef and Morning Star Marriot Beach Resort on St. Thomas before heading home to California.  It was beautiful and luxurious, but I have to say….I preferred the boat!

driving

Recommend this trip for: People that know more than the basics about boating.  I really think anyone with a pulse would love this trip, but you do need to be able to handle the boat.  If you can’t, hire a captain or invite a friend who is a boater.  It’s great for families, couples, and friends.

Favorite restaurant in St. Thomas: Havanna Blue.  Love me some Cuban food!

Favorite Bar in St. Thomas (Charlotte Amelie):  Rum Island Pub, aka Husband Daycare.

Favorite Wine Bar in St. Thomas (Red Hook):  XO Bistro

Favorite Place to shake my bon bon in St. Thomas (Red Hook):  Duffy’s Love Shack

Bikinis on the trip: Beach Bunny and Victoria Secret.

Favorite bar/restauraunt on Tortola: Pussers I had chowder every time I went.  So good!

Best place to stop for lunch on your way to Vigrin Gorda:  The Dogs!  The Dogs are a small group of five uninhabited Islands that sit just to the West of Virgin Gorda. They are named for the barking sound from the seal population that used to inhabit these islands (long ago). The Dogs are made up of Great Dog, George Dog, West Dog and Seal Dogs (east & little).

Tip for the trip:  If you are prone to sea sickness or have a fear of becoming sea sick, get the prescription patch from your doctor.  It works wonders!  Slap that baby behind your ear, and come away with me.