A multitude of images are sure to come to mind when you think of Las Vegas and let’s face it, most of them probably include bright lights, flashy entertainment, and lots of gambling. However, unless you live here, you might not know that there are many attractions that are actually family-friendly. And even better, they’re free! So if you and the kids are getting a little stir-crazy at home or at the hotel this summer, check out some of these local hot spots:
Flamingo Wildlife Habitat – If you’re hoping for a peaceful escape from some of the commotion of the Strip, look no further than the Flamingo. The iconic casino and hotel is home to a 15-acre Wildlife Habitat that features Chilean flamingos, pelicans, parrots, and turtles. You can check it out 7 days a week. It’s open from 8 a.m. until dusk. And if you time your visit right, you can watch the staff feed the pelicans. They are fed daily at 8:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Silverton Casino’s Aquarium – Picture this: tropical fish, sharks and mermaids. No, I’m not describing a scene from a Disney movie, but it is something you can see for yourself at the Silverton Casino’s 117,000-gallon aquarium. It’s home to thousands of tropical fish and three species each of stingrays and sharks. Check out one of the daily interactive feeding shows at either 1:30 p.m. or 4:30 p.m. The staff marine biologist will be able to answer any of your questions during the show thanks to a special full-face communication mask. And if you stop by Thursday – Sunday you can see the resident mermaids taking a swim as well. For show times, head on over to the Silverton’s website.
Barnyard Buddies Tour – Anderson Dairy has been Las Vegas’ hometown dairy since 1907. Now you and the kids can get an up-close look at how your milk and other favorite dairy products are made with their Barnyard Buddies Tour. With the help of some animatronic animals (a talking cow, rooster, and hound dog), they’ll learn Anderson’s history and get a peek inside the facility. Tours are offered by appointment only on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 10 a.m., 11:15 a.m. or 1 p.m.
Ethel M Chocolate Factory – Is your sweet tooth in need of a chocolate fix? Stop on by Ethel M Chocolate Factory! From the self-guided viewing aisle, you can see chocolatiers creating some of their delicious signature sweets. And if you’re lucky, you may get a glimpse inside Ethel’s kitchen where they make pecan brittle and small batch fillings by hand daily. The best times to visit are Monday-Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. After you finish exploring inside the facility (and let’s face it, stock up on sweets for the road), you can take a stroll through their Botanical Cactus Garden outside. It’s the largest of its kind in Nevada and one of the largest in the world.
Circus Acts – If you’re looking for a little more spectacle and excitement, the world’s largest permanent circus is sure to amaze you. It’s located in the Carnival Midway at Circus Circus. See jugglers, trapeze artists, acrobats and more! Performances start every morning at 11 a.m.
Bellagio Fountains – They’re a staple of Las Vegas and even more impressive once you see them in person. A carefully choreographed blend of water, music, and light, The Bellagio Fountains will dazzle your senses. Each performance is unique, so if you’ve seen the fountains once, or 50 times, be prepared to be wowed again and again. There are plenty of viewing spots as well – along the front of the Bellagio’s property or from a comfortable perch nearby. Shows run every ½ hour in the early evening and then every 15 minutes late at night.