Our spring kicked off with a trip to Las Vegas just us three, my husband, myself and our two and a half year old. Visiting a city as busy and as adult-centric as Las Vegas, we prepared our itinerary a little more rigid than we normally would. As a couple who had frequented Las Vegas often prior to becoming parents, we knew a couple of things to avoid once we had our little guy in tow. Those things we avoided namely being -
Now that we’ve covered a couple of the things NOT to do with a toddler in Las Vegas, let’s talk about all of the things you CAN do. We visited Friday through Monday and we still didn’t do EVERYTHING that was available to us. We had a packed, fun-filled four days. You just have to know what’s available. Below are our favorites and extra suggestions!
This was by far our favorite. I know, I know, you should save the best for last but I wanted to start our trip here because I knew it'd be epic to Grey and so I found it fitting to start the post here too. If you have any Marvel fans or pirate fans in your brood, you'll want this at the top of your list.
- Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N
Located inside Treasure Island hotel and casino, this has to be one of the most well done attractions on the Strip. Disney quality, clean, interactive and SO fun. It was worth the higher end ticket price.
- Pirate Ship
No longer a show, it's still cool to take the kids outside to see the massive pirate ship in the water on the property.
- Pirate Shop
Grey LOVED perusing this shop and we ended up purchasing pirates gold, a really cool faux leather treasure chest and pirate guns for play battle that he enjoyed doing with daddy throughout our entire trip.
Showcase Mall, NYNY Hotel and Casino (and all the sugar)
- M&M World
When I asked Grey what he wanted to do when we went to a Las Vegas, he replied with "get a candy treat". We don't do much sugar at home, so he knows when we travel he normally gets to choose something. Boy or boy was it an OVERLOAD of options. The four story, 28,000 square foot M&M World has ENDLESS candy and merchandise options to please any age 1-100. Grey walked away with a small cup of multicolored milk chocolate M&M's and a lollipop.
- Hershey's Chocolate World
As if that wasn't enough of a toddler sugar high, Hershey's Chocolate towers over the strip directly across the street inside the famous New York New York Hotel and Casino. It boasts a S'Mores bar, milkshake shop, cookie counter and sections devoted to all of their famous candies. Since little man had gotten to choose M&M's, we opted for daddy and Grey to share a chocolate covered strawberry here. For us with dairy intolerance, there was one option by a high end Hershey's partner that was high quality dark chocolate and dairy free! So I was pleased to see that. The NYNY Hotel is also home to a thrilling roller coaster fun for the older age kids.
We headed into Caesar's at the end of day 2 for dinner because there is a Smashburger for us gluten free and dairy free travelers! A tip: Download the Find Me Gluten Free App, it lets you know of safe Gluten Free restaurants in your area and shows you real time reviews. After dinner we strolled through the Forum Shops and found the following attractions to be great for kids.
- Caesar's Palace Fall of Atlantis Animatronic Show
This was under construction on this trip, but we have seen this before and Grey would have LOVED it. A perk? It's free!
This giant 50,000 gallon aquarium is also a free way to relax, take in the shops and let the kids watch the colorful fish swim while you get a breather.
- Trevi Gelato
This gelato stand, located by the Forum Shops replica of the Trevi Fountain, offers many dairy free flavors! We enjoyed bowls of strawberry gelato after a scrumptious dinner and all of our walking.
An oasis in the desert, when I think Mandalay Bay I think of sun, water and great shows. For littles the thing to do here is the aquarium!
Shark Reef Aquarium -
With over 2,000 species of fish and animals this aquarium is a must see. You can even interact by feeding sting rays, shark or turtles in their Aquarist for a Day program.
Another favorite! We were blessed with a beautiful 75 degree sunny day and it was the PERFECT day to see animals, enjoy some iced drinks and let Grey run out energy in the sunshine.
Secret Garden & Dolphin Habitat -
Created by Siegfried and Roy (who we got to hang with in the garden on our last trip!) you can come face to face with nature's most beautiful and intelligent animals in this serene habitat. Grey LOVED seeing the lions and got to see a tiger roar, which basically made his day. The multiple gift shops also helped us grow our animal and book collections, haha. A plus: they sell Usborne books IN the park! We LOVE those!
The Volcano! -
Seriously cool and one of Grey's favorite memories, the Volcano erupts each night at 8, 9 and 10. A little late for little ones, but we caught the earliest show post dinner and headed back to bed after. It only lasts a few minutes, is located in the waters outside the Mirage Hotel and Casino and is seriously worth getting a good spot for.
All the fun of a day at the circus. Grey didn't end up wanting to do as much here as we had thought, but we still spent about two hours here after naptime and got to fill part of an afternoon!
With games and rides for all ages, the Adventuredome is a large indoor theme park. You can see a lot of the Adventuredome in our highlight video. The best rides for tots? The plane ride, carousel and our favorite - the hot air balloons!
The Midway -
A bit pricey per game, it was fun to choose our favorites and play traditional boardwalk style games!
Circus Acts -
Another free activity, the midway level of Circus Circus presents live acrobats, jugglers and more throughout the day! Grey loved sitting in the stands and taking in a short show tailored for shorter attention spans.
I wanted to book end the post with two great locales, especially you boy mamas. All things castles and knights, this was the first place that made Grey gasp in excitement when we arrived to the Strip. He's in a knight and dragon phase and he couldn't wait to explore the big white, blue and red castle. He's now asking if our next vacation can be visiting a REAL castle. So we're working that out, haha.
Tournament of Kings -
One of the coolest dining experiences on the Strip, and one of the most kid-friendly, Tournament of Kings showcases knights on horses, jousting battles and delicious fare you eat with your hands. And a plus? They can make the entire meal gluten AND dairy free if you speak to them about your allergies while making your reservation.
The Fun Dungeon -
Similar to Circus Circus' Midway, we preferred Excalibur's Fun Dungeon between the two arcades. It felt cleaner. And while the games were just as pricey, Grey was able to play two games on his on where he won stuffed animals, thus making his night!
The rest of our trip was spent shopping the Grand Canal Shoppes of the Venetian, playing with our new toys at the resort and taking in the lights as we drove back to our resort each night.
Have you visited Las Vegas with little ones? What DO's or DON'T's would you add?
Travel was, is, and always will be my love language. From a single girl traveling the world in my late teens to exploring the world as a newlywed with my husband in my twenties, we knew it was deeply ingrained in us to continue living our passion for adventure once we introduced kids into our family.
My son took his first luxury vacation, by the blessing of my husband’s job, at just ten-weeks-old to a resort on Coronado Island in California, his newborn toes getting to wriggle on the sandy beach for the first time. From there, we continued to plan vacations for our family and the feedback from outsiders has been mixed:
“I can’t believe you travel with your baby!”
“How do you handle road trips/flights/theme parks with a young child?”
“Travel surely can’t be as fun with kids in the mix.”
I’ve heard comments on both sides, from judgmental to joyfully cheering me on for living our life with kids, and it inspired me to write a little tip sheet on how we believe (because we live it out) that you CAN travel with kids. And not only travel, but travel WELL and LUXURIOUSLY with little kids. A mix of ‘WHY YOU SHOULD’ and ‘HOW YOU CAN’ can be found below.
1. YOU Set the Standard on What Travel Can Be
This was a big goal of ours out of the gate. We wanted to show our son that road trips, flights, hotel life, and sometimes being off-schedule for an adventure day was a part of life. It's why we started early. Taking a trip at least every other month—even if it's just a drive up north for a two-hour drive—shows him (and our future children) that it's just a part of our family culture. I honestly believe our attitude and commitment to traveling so regularly helped with how well he travels. I'm not saying there isn't crying or tantrums, but it has been overall a very positive and fun experience.
2. Give Each Other Space to Disconnect
One of our tricks to feeling truly relaxed and disconnected is that my husband and I give each other "wellness" time while we are away. Just like at home, we each allow each other to carve out some time—whether that be to get a massage at a resort, enjoy the room alone to nap or read, snorkel for a while, or go ride a big roller coaster solo—while the other cares for the little one(s). This is key to really soaking in the luxury aspect of what your resort or destination may offer.
3. Schedule In Downtime
To avoid additional tantrums or tears due to overstimulation, exhaustion, or hunger make sure downtime is part of your vacation. This applies to all vacations, but especially ones where theme parks or busy, packed schedules are involved. We usually book our busy vacations with an extra day, so that we don't feel rushed to get everything in one or two days. You can go at a more leisurely pace without the stress, return to your room for a nap, or take a pool or local bookstore day for everyone to recharge.
4. Plan Ahead
Making a plan is in my nature as a type A mama, ha, however I know it's not everyone's personality. My husband is more go with the flow, but I know when traveling with an infant or toddler, this needs to be a part of the big picture for travel and he lets me take the reigns on it. This includes having a general idea of when naps could happen on both travel and trip days, always having healthy snacks at the ready in the car, plane, the diaper bag, or your purse. Having little books, mess-free color pads, and toys are great as well.
5. Make the Journey a Kid-Friendly Adventure
Diving deeper into what I stated above, making sure the kids have entertainment DURING the travel portion of the trip is important. Children value play so greatly that sitting in a car or plane for hours on end with zero stimuli is a recipe for meltdowns. To avoid them, pack plenty of easy to pack toys, car games, color books, mess-free color pads, mini lego sets, or molding clay. If you don't mind screen time for travel (we allow it during the traveling portions on our trip), a kids tablet or movies downloaded to your phone can also pass the time. You can also make up games along the way. Even though our son is still just two, he LOVES "I Spy" or finding shapes in the clouds—a GREAT one for air travel.
6. Be Smart With Infant Travel
A germaphobe by nature, I didn't plan to travel with our son as early as we did, but work called and so we went. When traveling with a baby under the age of one, there are many precautions you can take to help their immune systems and minimize contact with places or surfaces that may make them sick. I first let our doctor know we'd be traveling out of state, as a naturopathic doctor she gave us some wonderful homeopathic immune boosting drops safe for babies, and as I was nursing, she urged me to take Vitamin C and D to boost his C and D through my milk. Babywearing is also a GREAT way to not only keep your hands free while traveling, but you minimize exposure to strangers and surfaces their little hands may be curious to touch. I also wipe down all surfaces from plane tray tables (the germiest place on a plane, even more so than the toilets, ew!) and eatery table surfaces to ride handles at amusement parks with natural germ-fighting wipes. You can also consistently wash your hands and wipe down your baby's hands. Lastly, do not fly with an infant unless it's necessary. Until Grey was 2, we only took trips we could drive to, to cut down on exposure.
7. Travel with Friends
I learned the perks of this tip most recently on a trip to Disneyland, where we traveled with my husband's sister and her husband. Traveling with friends isn't only a fun way to make memories together, but having an extra set of hands on the road and at your destination is such a help. We travel with friends that our son trusts and loves, and it made it so great for my husband and me to have a little time alone in Disneyland to ride rides our son couldn't yet or grab a quick bite alone. It can feel like a mini date and such a marriage refresher! On our most recent camping trip, friends of ours played ball with our son, so I could relax with a novel in the tent. Make sure to thank them and return the favor to them as well!
8. Talk About Travel Regularly
We are consistently talking to our son about our travels, both past and future. Since he was a baby we would narrate where we going to be going and seeing. Upon returning, we'd regularly show him our trips photos and videos and talk about the memories we made. We hope these actions help to form memories that will last for him, but if not, it grows vocabulary and builds connection and communication, and enhances family culture from a very young age. While you're on your trip, make sure to talk about the highlights of your day as you all lay down at night to begin to learn what they like to do best and learn their travel personality as its forming. What an honor!
9. Memories vs. Experiencing the Now
One of the biggest negative comments I get when we talk about our travel is: "He won't even remember, why are you doing it now?" Well, for a few reasons. 1) Our life is happening now, we aren't pausing it until he's a certain age. 2) There may be things he doesn't remember, but we will and these trips are as much for us as they are for him. And we will have stories, photos, and videos to show him all the things he's seen and experienced. And most importantly: 3) Experiences at a young age have been shown to enhance brain activity, boost learning capability and creativity, and strengthen bonds in the family unit. These are all worth it to us, so we travel!
10. Take Photos – SO Many photos
Lastly, take pictures of SO much but stay connected to the moments. Don't spend time on social media, be in the moment. I only take my phone out to make videos and take photos. Take more videos than you think you should, you'll want to see how they talked, walked, and their mannerisms at every age. We make photo books of our big trips and back up everything on external hard drives always. And most importantly, relax and have fun!
We did something SO fun last weekend.
As I've mentioned briefly, we are renovating a 1960's ranch home on a large plot of land for Grey to be able to grow up exploring. We are not living there yet, but we have access to the land as they begin the renovation.
We decided to get a couple of friends together, grab our tents and take Grey on his first ever camping trip. We figured it was a better bet to start on our own land than head to the mountains with a toddler in case he loathed sleeping in the great outdoors.
Luckily he LOVED it and we will be doing it again before summer temps hit. We roasted hot dogs and S'Mores over an open flame, played games bundled up by the fire pit, showed Grey bright stars in the open sky and slept great, even though it was a tad chilly.
Because of spring time, mosquitos were to be expected. I came prepared with my homemade bug repellent roller and I had to share my recipe because it WORKED like a charm and we didn't get one bite!
Mosquito and Bug Repellent Roller
1 10 Ml Roller Bottle
5 Drops Citronella
4 Drops Lemongrass
2 Drops Peppermint
1 Drop Basil (optional)
Drop in oils and fill the roller bottle the rest of the way with carrier oil. I always use fractionated coconut oil.
Need to get your hands on the oils to make your own? Click here!
Nosh & Nurture was born of this journey I am on to better the health of myself, my family and those around me. What started as a simple compilation of recipes has grown to a all-around lifestyle journal with ways to incorporate organic products into your home, pantry and beauty cabinet. I also include stories on pregnancy, new motherhood, travel, Proverbs 31 marriage, and spiritual health, as I am a Christian who couldn't do any of this without my Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. For more of my story you can click here.
All recipes are gluten-free and dairy-free with a lot of soy-free, grain-free, sugar-free options.