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Travel Logs April 2012

Compulsive Traveler

Enjoying Family-friendly Las Vegas

By Sandra Scott

What do a chocolatier and a cactus gardener have in common? A lot! They work in the sweetest but prickliest place in Las Vegas, Nevada – Ethel M Chocolate Factory and Cactus Garden.

Contrary to what a lot of people think, Las Vegas can be very family friendly. It is a great place to take the grandkids. There are many great shows and activities that are no gamble at all. Truly fun for all ages and several activities are free.

  1. Go wild: There are a variety of attractions for animal lovers. Visit the Flamingo’s Wildlife Habitat featuring Chilean flamingos, swans, ducks, koi, goldfish and turtles. At the Mirage’s Siegfried & Roy's Secret Garden see the amazing white tigers along with other exotic animals. Don’t miss the sharks at Mandalay Bay.
  2. Everyone loves a circus: Circus Circus has free world-class acts throughout the day. It is the world's largest permanent circus, highlighting the center stage of the Carnival Midway daily. For amazing costumes and performances take in one of Cirque du Soliel’s artistic shows including "Viva Elvis."
  3. Afternoon Tea: Make any day or any occasion in Las Vegas special with afternoon tea at the Four Seasons at the Verandah Restaurant. The traditional afternoon tea includes warm scones with Devonshire cream, a variety of delicate tea sandwiches and delectable tea pastries.
  4. A sweet visit: What do a chocolatier and a cactus gardener have in common? A lot! They work in the sweetest but prickliest place in Las Vegas, Nevada – Ethel M Chocolate Factory and Cactus Garden. Watch chocolate being made and then tour the 2.5-acre cactus garden with over 300 species of prickly desert flora -- both are amazing.
  5. Show of shows: Not sure what show to take in. Consider V the Ultimate Variety Show. The show offers something for everyone and it is very family friendly with nothing to embarrass, which can’t be said about many of the Vegas shows. The show includes several acts from heart-stopping aerial antics to belly-laughing comedy routines and usually includes something unique.
  6. Flat water rafting: One of the most unique experience in the desert is a flat water rafting trip, and it is only a short distance from the Strip. Put into the Colorado River at the foot of the massive Hoover Dam and head down the Colorado through 12 miles of Black Canyon. It is wheelchair accessible.
  7. Ziplining: Soar like an eagle from the top of Red Mountain to the bottom of Bootleg Canyon with Bootleg Canyon Ziplines. Sit safely and comfortably in a para-gliding harness suspended from cables over the desert. Highly qualified guides are in charge. Children under 18 need parental permission.
  8. Old time fun: Less than one hour from the Strip, experience old-time fun on the 115-acre Bonnie Springs Ranch. There are cowboys, gun fights and hanging reenactments, fascinating Nevada history, horseback riding, and a huge petting zoo.
  9. Hiking: Red Rock canyon has a series of hiking trails from an easy one on the Willow Springs Loop to a strenuous 5-mile hike to Turtlehead Peak. The interpretive center has excellent displays along with a number of programs on a variety of topics.
  10. Learn the history: At the Las Vegas Museum of Natural History meet the 35-foot long Tyrannosaurus Rex that lowers its head and roars. Take a trip into the Tomb of Tutankhamun. In the African gallery learn about the Serengeti and the rainforest.

For an evening show and meal the Excalibur’s Tournament of Kings makes for an unforgettable night. For another out-of-town trip visit Lakes Mohave and Mead where boat trips are possible, and between the two lakes tour the awe-inspiring Hoover Dam.

Sandra Scott travels the globe recording the top attractions at every destination.

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