We've taken our kids to many fun places all over California and the US, but their hands-down favorite place to visit is Las Vegas!
People are always shocked when we say that because you don't think of Las Vegas as a family destination, but there are actually so many kid-friendly things to do there!
Here are the highlights of some of our favorite attractions:
-Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay
This aquarium blows us away every time.
There are many different types of animals to see and you can spend several hours there, especially gazing into the large tank full of sharks that swim all around you.
The aquarium also currently has a special interactive exhibit called Polar Journey.
-Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at The Mirage
There's more animal fun to be had right on The Strip.
At this attraction, you can watch dolphins from an underwater viewing area and watch them working with their handlers above water, and you can see several different exotic cats, including the adorable White Tigers and White Lions.
You just can't take kids to Vegas without stopping here!
M&M's World is 4 floors of M&M's and related products.
And they have a fun 3D Movie that you can watch for free.
-Hershey's Chocolate World (In New York-New York)
More chocolate, candy, baked goods and products, and some fun photo ops, including The Statue of Liberty made out of candy!
-The Fun Dungeon at Excalibur
Excalibur is fun just because it's a castle with lots of knights inside, but the lower floor is full of family activities.
There are arcade games, toddler rides, carnival-style games, prizes and a 4D Movie Experience.
-Tournament of Kings at Excalibur
Also at Excalibur is this exciting medieval dinner show experience with jousting and pyrotechnics.
Your family can cheer for their knight while enjoying a good meal and an exciting battle.
-Marvel Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. at Treasure Island
Treasure Island is also cool to visit just because of the giant pirate ships in front, but now there is a fun, interactive exhibit there for Marvel fans.
Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. allows you to learn all about the Avengers characters and see authentic props and costumes.
You can test your Hulk grip,
try to lift Thor's hammer,
see the evolution of Ironman,
and test all of your skills in a life-size video game.
In addition to all of these fun attractions, there are so many other cool things to do and see on The Strip.
You can go to the top of the Eiffel Tower,
check out the amazing seasonal displays in the Bellagio Conservatory,
watch The Mirage volcano explode,
enjoy the amazing Bellagio fountain shows,
and have fun with the many, many photo ops all around The Strip.
Of course, in the summertime, you can also spend a lot of time at the pool.
Our favorite pool area for the family is at Mandalay Bay.
There is sand to play in,
and a lazy river and wave pool.
It's like a beach and a waterpark included with your hotel stay!
There's another place in Las Vegas that's just a short way off The Strip and provides hours of free family fun -
The Bass Pro Shop in the Silverton Casino.
This Bass Pro Shop is HUGE and has almost every animal you can think of, plus a large aquarium.
And, just outside the shop in the lobby of the casino, there is a tank with live mermaids swimming around and interacting with guests!
The drive to Las Vegas from the Valley is a little long, but there are lots of fun stops along the way.
Our favorite is Murray Family Farms, just outside of Bakersfield.
For a small entrance fee, you can jump on the giant air pillow,
play in the ball pit,
play on a giant spiderweb,
or sled down these fun slides.
They also have a petting zoo, a little train, a grassy hill to slide down, and several other fun areas to explore.
You can seriously get the road trip wiggles out here!
A little further down the way, near Barstow, is Peggy Sue's Diner-saur Park.
Peggy Sue's is a 50's diner and pizza shop with lots of fun things to see and a gift shop with candy and ice cream, but they also have this cool park out back where you can take pictures with these statues and find lots of turtles in the ponds.
This is another great place for kids to run around and stretch their legs!
In this same area is Calico Ghost Town - a fun and educational stop where you could spend several hours if you wanted.
Calico was a real mining town in the 1880's and has been restored as an attraction.
It has a museum and a mine to tour, as well as a train ride, mystery shack and gold panning.
There are also shops and restaurants.
As you are driving on the 15, you can't miss EddieWorld - a sweet rest stop for sure!
The giant ice cream sums up what you'll find inside - yummy treats!
EddieWorld has some delicious food, but also jerky, ice cream, popcorn and every candy you can think of.
And finally, when the desert driving is taking a toll on you, there's a hidden gem rest stop -
the Borax Visitor's Center.
It's right on the edge of the Borax mine, so it's a great opportunity to teach kids about mining and it's really interesting for adults as well.
The Visitor's Center is small, but has some great interactive exhibits and a replica of the famous 20-mule team.
We hope we've inspired you to try a new destination for a family vacation.
A trip to Las Vegas can be really affordable or really extravagant, but it is always fun for all of us!