Even though they're not coming with us this time, my kids have spent plenty of time in Vegas in the past. People say that children and Las Vegas don't mix. I'll give them a 50% for accuracy on that one. I'd say that kids and "the strip" don't mix. Outside of the main drag where all the tourists congregate, there's a city of almost two million people, a couple of which are under the age of 18. So what do we do with our kids when we're in Las Vegas? I'm glad you asked...
Bowling: Sure you can go bowling anywhere, but you can do it really cheap in Las Vegas. Casino's will subsidize pretty much anything to get people in the door, so take advantage of the deals. I don't actually know how much bowling costs anywhere else, but in Las Vegas I look to pay $1 per game and a couple of bucks for shoe rental. Maybe a little bit more if I need them to bump up my score so my kids don't beat me.
Movies: Remember what I said about the casinos being willing to subsidize things? It applies to movies too. There's almost always a deal going on if you're willing to get up early. Of course, I mean early by Las Vegas standards, so pretty much any time before 6pm will do.
The Pinball Hall of Fame: This place is as much for Dad as it is for the kids. They've got 10,000 square feet of pinball machines and (despite the name) classic video games like the original Pac-Man and Donkey Kong. All the pinball machines that you used to play in your youth are here and generally in good working order. It still costs 25 cents to play most of them, although a couple of the newer machines are more, and you can spend an entire afternoon here for around $10. Unless you suck at pinball like me...then you'd better budget at least $20.
Skyzone: My kids are not big into physical exercise, but they absolutely love this place. Picture a warehouse where they tear out the floor and replace it with trampolines. Then just to make it a little more appealing to those with no sense of fear, they replace the bottom half of the walls with trampolines as well. If your kids are driving you nuts with pent up energy, bring them here. An hour of bouncing will wipe them out for the rest of the day (It wiped me out for the better part of January.) First thing in the morning is the best time, as having the place to yourself is insanely fun, although when there's more people around they open up dodgeball games which are a blast as well.
Mac King: There's very few reasons I would recommend taking your kids to the strip, but this is the best one I could ever give you. Mac is probably the most likeable personality in Las Vegas, and his show is as good as any of the late night big budget shows that you can break the bank for. He's an amazing comic/magician who performs a one hour show afternoons at Harrah's casino, and while his show isn't necessarily aimed at them, it's perfect for kids. I could heap praise on this show forever, but let's get to the best part...the price. Full price is $33 per person, but it's almost impossible to make your way to the showroom without somebody trying to hand you a coupon (if you're really stuck, ask at the Total Rewards desk) for a free admission with a drink purchase, which is usually around $12.95. I don't know how they pay Mac with tickets that low, but he's worth every penny that he gets.
There's plenty of other things to do for the entire family like Hoover Dam, the Grand Canyon, or the Adventuredome at Circus Circus. Las Vegas with kids can be an enjoyable stop, but please don't be the person dragging their child up and down the strip at midnight. Stick to the rest of the city, and leave the strip to the partiers. Your kids will get there soon enough when they turn 21.