What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas… unless you have a blog. In which case we’ll tell you all about it! The drive from Williams, AZ would have been uneventful if it weren’t for an awful, bumpy highway on the way (I’m looking at you, US-93) between Kingman and the Hoover Dam. We had some beautiful views in the mountains around the Colorado River, which got us all excited about visiting the Hoover Dam later in the trip.

We arrived at the Sam’s Town KOA, parked in our assigned spot, and went back to the office to find out where to park our car after seeing that our motorhome just barely fit in the spot between the roads. We had booked the campground online, as we usually do, and it seemed that they ignored or didn’t see the length of our motorhome when assigning us a spot. They quickly assigned us a longer spot that fit our car too, so we moved and got set up again. After all that, it was still early enough in the day to explore The Strip! I had been in Las Vegas about ten years prior for work, and I remembered a lot of the sights we had seen (thanks, Patrick!) and I was excited to show Megan and the kids around since they had never been. We found a list of free parking in Vegas options, which was extremely helpful.

We parked at Caesar’s Palace and promptly got lost trying to walk out of the confusing garage, and unknowingly became tour guides to more people walking behind us who thought we knew where we were going! As with most Vegas hotels, everything connects through the casino. I had thought that the kids wouldn’t be allowed in the casinos at all, but the law is just that they have to be accompanied by an adult and they can’t linger. We walked over to The Mirage next door to watch the water fountain and listen to the music, which we all enjoyed. After a bit of deliberation we walked across the street to Paris Las Vegas in search of food. We found a nice café (read: Vegas buffet!) and spent the next couple of hours (!!) eating, talking, and people watching. A few nighttime snapshots later on The Strip, then we returned to Caesar’s to walk through the shop area and watch The Fall of Atlantis animatronic show. After the show the kids all ran over to the 50,000 gallon aquarium to watch the fish, sharks, and stingrays. The kids were worn out by the time we got them back for bed.

Meg and I had gotten the kids a cactus kit from a shop in Williams, so they spent the next morning getting them planted and watered. Yay-yay, Dooder, and Cake were all so excited, and quickly came up with names – Spiney, Pricky, and Toothless.

Day two we went to New York-New York and walked through the casino, because you can’t get anywhere without walking through one, and strolled around inside and outside. We had a nice stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge, took photos with a Shadow Stormtrooper, and walked around the Statue of Liberty. Across the street is the MGM Grand, which we walked through, and then went next door to the four-story M&M store. An entire store full of all different kinds of M&Ms? Mmmmmmmm! We went to see Kyle Busch’s #18 race car, let each of the kids make their own bag from the giant wall of M&Ms, and watched a 3D movie. Out on the street there were a number of performers and costumed characters vying for attention (and money). Cake was, of course, drawn to Hello Kitty and HAD to have her picture taken. We were all entertained by a talented street drummer who sang/rapped along with his music with clever lines to passing pedestrians.

I had been looking forward to seeing the Hoover Dam for myself, not to mention taking the family, ever since hearing about the trip our friends Rob and Lynn took there. The Hoover Dam is nothing short of an engineering marvel – some of which is lost on Cake and Dooder, but Yay-yay totally understood. For instance, did you know that if the concrete for the damn was done in a single pour that it would have taken over 100 years to cool and set? Instead the concrete was poured on site in big blocks with pipes inside filled with ice-cold refrigerated water. The on-site refrigeration plant used to cool that concrete had enough capacity that it could have made 1,000 tons of ice per day!

We went on the full tour and learned a lot of history of the museum, walked down inside to see the generators that sit above the turbines, and heard some interesting facts about the dam. We then also had access to the visitor center and museum and learned even more. Unfortunately, since 9/11, the tour only gives very limited access to the interior of the dam. The kids got a lot out of the interactive and hands-on exhibits in the visitor center. There was a moving memorial outside to the workers who lost their lives building the dam.

We tried to fit a bunch of stops into our last day… First stop was Circus Circus with a looooong walk through their casino to get to the circus performers. We were able to see acrobats, jugglers, and clowns perform – all for free! The kids wanted to take their chances in the gameroom and all decided on the claw, despite the poor odds. Well, it was Yay-yay’s lucky day. Not only did he score one Minecraft creeper from the claw, but TWO AT ONCE! Amazing – I’ve never seen anyone win before, let alone get two.

Next stop was the Venetian where we hoped for a gondola ride. Their lousy policy only allowed for four riders in a single gondola, no matter the age. Even with Cake’s and Dooder’s young ages and weight they wouldn’t let them ride together in a single seat. I was annoyed, and didn’t want to split up into two gondolas so we didn’t go – and saved a whole lot of money too.

Since we were staying at the Sam’s Town KOA campground, it was quick and close by to catch the water show at Mystic Falls Park. We were disappointed that the time we were there didn’t include the laser light show, and we weren’t able to go back for the much later show that would include it. Bummer, but the kids enjoyed it anyway!

Vegas with kids? It is possible to do without breaking the bank. I can’t comment on staying in a hotel with kids, but there is plenty to do in and around town and a lot of it is free. We left a few things for “next time” because of the expense – especially the Tournament of Kings which would have been awesome to see and do (and eat at). Restaurants, even those on The Strip, had kids menus and many of the events have discounted kids tickets too. Traffic wasn’t bad, even around afternoon rush hour, and between the GPS and well-marked streets Las Vegas was easy to navigate. However, we’re used to smoke-free indoor environments and the casinos stink like gross, stale cigarette smoke. Some days it was even difficult to get down the sidewalk without being inundated with second-hand smoke.

Oh, and we didn’t see a single Elvis. What is Las Vegas without Elvis?