Family-Friendly Activities In Las Vegas

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‘Sin City’ has quickly become a destination for families with fun, educational and delicious activities

Las Vegas is associated with many things: a vibrant party scene, gambling, world class restaurants and some of the best shopping in the country. For decades, Las Vegas has seemingly been an adult playground, but recent years have seen a surge in activities for the whole family from children to kids to teens. No longer catering to one specific demographic, come and discover a whole new side of Nevada’s city of lights.

‘Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas’ Sign

No trip to Las Vegas is complete without seeing the iconic sign that welcomes visitors to the city. Located just south of the strip, the 25-foot tall roadside pole design reads “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada.” On the back side, which is lesser known, it reads “Drive Carefully Come Back Soon.” At night, the internally lit sign is illuminated with a border of flashing and chasing yellow incandescent bulbs. A great tourist attraction that has become a piece of Vegas history.

The Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign is located at 5100 S. Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89119.

Ethel M Chocolates

As Forrest Gump once said, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” In the case of Ethel M Chocolates, guests know exactly what they’re in for. The family-owned gourmet chocolate company is owned by Mars, Inc. and was named after the mother of Forrest Mars, Sr. For the past 38 years, Ethel M Chocolates has been producing the highest quality of chocolate and sweet treats, with unique flavors that beg for more than just a taste.

Tammy Jo French is the tasting room chocolatier at Ethel M Chocolates and she recommends that every experience begins with a chocolate tasting. For adults 21 and older, they can partake in a chocolate and wine tasting, which pairs four types of wine from light to dark with white, milk and dark chocolates for $25.

“For chocoholics, I recommend the 48-piece box that really encompasses everything. For those who don’t like chocolate, I always suggest the pecan brittle,” said French, of the number one seller that is a crunchy, crumbly and buttery brittle. “Our seasonal and holiday flavors include pecan pie and pumpkin pie for fall and liquor chocolates, like eggnog with a spiced rum, my personal favorite crème de menthe and a peppermint bark for Christmas.

Every two years, the chef at Ethel M’s comes out with a new bonbon, often bringing back a retired flavor and creating an original sweet as well. Flavors like cherry cordial with brandy, prickly pear, champagne truffle, pumpkin spice nut and a cognac ganache truffle have been added to the chocolate box.

While the chocolate tasting is the way to go (prices vary between $6-$15 for children and adults and packages are available for groups), the company also offers guided tours of the factory and garden, which is the largest cactus garden of its kind in the world, featuring more than 300 species of plants.

“I think people should come here if they want to get away from the city, especially for the best chocolate,” said French. “It’s just magical.”

For more information about Ethel M Chocolates or to place an order, call 877-617-3957 or visit www.ethelm.com.

Ethel M Chocolate Factory is located at 3200 S. Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas, NV 89109.

Part of a wall mural by artist Kevin Lyons

Downtown Murals Tour

Every year artists from all over the world (Brazil, France, Lithuania and America just to name a few), are invited to create a mural for the Life is Beautiful festival, an urban arts and music festival. For one week during the festival, 18 city blocks are closed to traffic, leaving the area wide open for food trucks, merchants and vendors, musicians and visitors to explore. This past year, the festival celebrated its sixth year, featuring music from Arcade Fire, Florence and the Machine and The Weeknd.

“Downtown is called the Fremont East Entertainment District, where locals go out. It is very low key with bars and restaurants and is a much more casual part of town,” said local Devin Aaron, who was extremely knowledgeable about the revitalization of Downtown Las Vegas, helping to shine a spotlight on such a unique part of the town.

The one-hour walking tour takes visitors around corners, where on nearly every building, there are brightly colored vivid murals from the Life Is Beautiful installation. This tour is family friendly and a great way to teach children the beauty and appreciation of the arts on a massive scale they will no doubt find enjoyable.

“The murals remain all year-round and can stay for a few years before they are repainted with another,” said Aaron. “A lot of the businesses are very willing to have the side of their building painted in support of the arts.”

Another fun stop is the Downtown Container Park, an offbeat shopping center built from shipping containers that also features eateries, galleries and a courtyard with a playground.

Take a trip to Downtown Vegas and start your tour at 506 Fremont St., Las Vegas, NV 89101.

For more information, visit www.lifeisbeautiful.com and www.downtowncontainerpark.com.

A piece of wreckage from the Titanic (Photo source: www.luxor.com)

Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition

If you can’t make it to Belfast, Ireland, anytime soon, head over to Luxor Hotel & Casino and learn more about the story of Titanic’s ill-fated maiden voyage. Upon entry, each guest is given the name of a passenger at the beginning of the exhibit and only find out at the end if they survived the tragedy or not. The 25,000-square-foot exhibit features numerous items from the Titanic, including luggage, the ship’s whistles, floor tiles from the first-class smoking room, a window frame from the Verandah Cafe and an unopened bottle of champagne with a 1900 vintage.

Other highlights include a piece of Titanic’s hull, a full-scale replica of the Grand Staircase as well as a newly expanded outer Promenade Deck, complete with the frigid temperatures felt on that fateful April night. These artifacts tell the journey from inception to creation and eventually, destruction of the “unsinkable” Titanic.

For more information regarding ticket prices and the exhibition, call 702-262-4230 or visit www.luxor.com/en/entertainment/titanic.html.

Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition is located inside the Luxor Hotel & Casino at 3900 S. Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas, NV 89119. General admission $32.

(Photo source: The Venetian)

Art and History at The Venetian

Step into Venice when you enter The Venetian, an Italian-themed hotel inspired by Italy’s floating city. Be sure to visit the Las Vegas Waterfall Atrium, which is also home to the LOVE Art Installation and historic gondola. Created by celebrated artist Laura Kimpton as part of her Monumental Word Series, the installation, which is perforated with bird-shaped stamps, spells out LOVE in ruby red letters that rise 12 feet tall and span 36 feet across. A great photo op for visitors and families alike.

Learn a bit about Venice’s history and culture by way of travel along the Grand Canal via the gondola. The historic gondola, thought to be constructed around 1850, is considered to be one of the best surviving examples of Venetian gondolas from that time period. Visitors can take a gondola ride in a smaller version throughout the hotel, which is one of the most popular attractions at The Venetian. Both activities are free.

The Venetian is located at 3355 S. Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas, NV 89109. Learn more at www.venetian.com.

A holiday display at the Bellagio

Bellagio Fountains and Conservatory & Botanical Gardens

Enter the Bellagio Hotel & Casino and you will be transported to the epitome of elegance, beauty and luxury. Two must-not-miss attractions are offered here: the Fountains of Bellagio and Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens. Both are recommended to be experienced during the day and in the evening with the former, perhaps the greatest star on the strip. The daily iconic, choreographed water show blends water, music (opera, classical, Broadway and pop tunes) and light designed to mesmerize its admirers. Each performance is unique in expression and interpretation so no matter how many times you have seen the Fountains, there is always something new.

The Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens is quite the special site to see, especially around the holidays. Each season, talented horticulturalists and designers transform a 14,000-square-foot floral playground into a spectacular visual showcase. When the seasons turn and the displays rotate, 90 percent of the trees, flowers and plants in the conservatory are recycled, to further celebrate the conservatory’s commitment to the earth, environment and nature.

The Bellagio Hotel & Casino is located at 3600 S. Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas, NV 89109. Learn more at www.bellagio.com.

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