18 fun things to do in Las Vegas with teens

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Let me guess, you’ve read the title and you’re like, woah! Las Vegas with teens in tow? Yes, my friends, Sin City is legit a fantastic family travel destination. Especially if you have older kids who can do cool things and have the stamina to keep up. Whether you’re visiting over a long weekend or here for a week, enjoying a holiday in Las Vegas with teenagers is anything but boring. From playing with big diggers to watching pro sports, riding ATVs and noshing on food tours, here’s our guide to 18 fun and surprising things to do in Las Vegas with teens.

boy in love sign las vegas

18 fun things to do in Las Vegas with teens

It may come as a surprise but this famous oasis in the desert serves up a lot more than a 24/7 buffet menu of casinos and slot machines. Whether you’re a Vegas virgin or veteran, you’ll find fun and thrilling off-grid family vacation experiences that will more than satisfy the pickiest teen or tween, on and off the Strip. (And don’t miss the bonus content just for moms at the end of the article!)

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Visit the Grand Canyon

Las Vegas is the perfect gateway to visiting the Grand Canyon, one of the world’s most magnificent geological sites.

The distance from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon National Park varies depending on which part of the Grand Canyon you’re traveling to. The most popular destination for visitors from Las Vegas is the South Rim, which is approximately 270 miles (435 kilometers) away. This distance can be covered by car in around 4.5 to 5 hours, depending on traffic and road conditions.

If you’re considering visiting the North Rim instead, the distance from Las Vegas is slightly more, approximately 280 miles (450 kilometers). However, due to the more rugged terrain and fewer direct routes, the drive may take a bit longer, typically around 5.5 to 6 hours.

It’s essential to plan your trip carefully. Pay attention to weather conditions, road closures, and accommodation availability, especially if you’re planning to make the journey in a single day. Many visitors opt to spend a night near the Grand Canyon to fully enjoy the experience without feeling rushed.

grand canyon near las vegas

What to do in the Grand Canyon

There are countless ways to experience the Grand Canyon, from leisurely walks along the rim to adrenaline-pumping activities like hiking, rafting, and even helicopter tours.

One popular option is a guided tour, where knowledgeable guides will lead you through the desert landscape, providing insights into the region’s history, geology, and wildlife along the way.

Some tours are intense and physical multi-day hikes into and through the Canyon. Others are day tours, which often include comfortable transportation. This allows you to relax and enjoy the scenery without the stress of navigating unfamiliar roads. Note: Guided tours must be booked well in advance of your arrival, sometimes even one year ahead.

If you prefer a more independent adventure, renting a car provides the flexibility to explore at your own pace. The drive from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon is a scenic journey in itself, passing through vast desert plains and rugged mountain ranges. Along the route, stop at iconic landmarks such as Hoover Dam and Route 66.

Take a Lip Smacking Foodie Tour

The owner of Lip Smacking Foodie Tours advises you to “come hungry,” which is never a problem since teens are always hungry, right? Donald Contoursi’s food tours of the Strip and Vegas’ downtown Fremont East district showcase the best signature dishes of the local restaurant scene.

The tours last about three hours, and guests are treated to VIP seating and special menus. Guides provide guests with a primer on Vegas history, along with the chance to meet like-minded foodies. All dietary restrictions can be met, and you can enjoy Vegas alcohol-free on this food tour as well.

bowl of momofuku ramen las vegas

Go on the Dig This Experience

What could be more fun than playing with huge earth-moving machines with your family? At Dig This Vegas, you can channel your inner “Bob the Builder” in a giant natural sandbox using bulldozers, excavators and back hoes. Kids as young as 8+ years old can operate some of the machines. Your teenager won’t have any problem moving a 20-ton excavator or bulldozer around the yard.

Dig This guides explain all the levers and buttons of the control panels before letting you (kind of) loose in your climate-controlled big rig. You’re connected to instructors via headsets, in case you need extra guidance. Then it’s basically play time as you steer the machines, complete with nicknames like Maximus, around the play yard. Excavate trenches, try to stack giant tires, and manage your way through obstacle courses. This is one of the most fun and best things to do in Las Vegas.

dig this machines las vegas

Take a helicopter ride to Hoover Dam

Built in 1933, the historic Hoover Dam has enough concrete to circumnavigate the earth at the Equator. Book a scenic and thrilling helicopter flight microadventure with Papillon Helicopters to really appreciate this important feat of hydroelectric engineering.

The view from the cockpit offers a unique perspective on the dam’s structure and design, and the desert landscape below. As you fly above the Dam, Lake Mead, and the fascinating formations of Black Canyon, the friendly pilot will share educational information and details about the sights on the ground.

helicopter tour of las vegas

Explore Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon, located just a short drive west of Las Vegas, is a natural oasis well apart from glitz and glamour of the city. Designated as Nevada’s first National Conservation Area, the Canyon spans over 195,000 acres of stunning desert landscape, characterized by towering red sandstone formations, rugged cliffs, and abundant wildlife. Red Rock Canyon was designated as Nevada’s first National Conservation Area.

Visitors to Red Rock Canyon can explore a network of scenic trails suitable for hiking, rock climbing, and even horseback riding, offering unparalleled opportunities to immerse oneself in the beauty of the Mojave Desert. The vibrant colors of the canyon come alive, particularly during sunrise and sunset, casting a mesmerizing glow over the rocky terrain.

Timed entry reservations are required for the 13-mile Scenic Drive between October 1 – May 31 for entry between 8 AM to 5 PM. Reservations can be made at Recreation.gov or by calling (877) 444-6777.

red rock canyon near las vegas nevada

Visit the STRAT Observation Deck

The sky is the limit at the STRAT Hotel’s Observation Deck. With the greatest views of the Las Vegas Strip and the tallest freestanding observation tower in the United States, This 1,149-foot-tall Observation Deck offers some of the greatest views of Las Vegas, and is the tallest freestanding observation tower in the United States.

The two-level indoor and outdoor deck features experiences for all, including interactive video maps and retail shops. Take a leap with SkyJump, a controlled descent that spirals you down The STRAT tower or go for a spin on one of their adrenaline-pumping thrill rides.

Take in the Valley of Fire

Las Vegas is a great jumping off point to explore some of Nevada’s amazing state parks. Valley of Fire State Park is renowned for its 40,000 acres of bright red Aztec sandstone outcrops sprouting from tan and gray limestone.

The outcrops contain ancient, petrified trees and petroglyphs dating back more than 2,000 years. The Park’s Visitor Center showcases exhibits on the geology, ecology and history of the park and nearby region.

Tip: Visit early in the day to avoid the heat and crowds. And pack plenty of water and snacks to enjoy the park’s many hiking trails.

Enjoy the Vegas Light Show

Filled with neon signs and street performers on every block, the Vegas Strip is its own free entertainment zone and light show. But for a treat, visit the Viva Vision light show, part of the Fremont Street experience in downtown Las Vegas.

This is the largest video screen in the world, boasting 16.4 million brilliant pixels. It’s 1,375 feet long, 90 feet wide and suspended 90 feet above Fremont Street’s pedestrian mall. It’s a great place to experience at night. And if your teen is a gamer, the mind-blowing visuals will surely impress. Shows run from 6 PM to 2 AM every night. Fremont Street is a short drive from the main Las Vegas strip.

15 Epic Microadventures in the United States

Go on an ATV Adventure in Eldorado

Go back in time to the Old West of 1861 and explore Nevada’s rich mining history. Take a short road trip to the Eldorado Canyon historic mining site just 45 minutes outside of Las Vegas. The ATV adventure and the gold mine tour (see below) combine for a great day trip from Las Vegas with teens and older kids.

Hop on a four-wheel ATV and ride through a desert canyon dotted with cholla cacti on a fun Awesome Adventures Tours. The four-wheeled ATV tour covers trails meant for mule-driven ore wagons. The guided tour takes up to 90 minutes, and a helmet, helmet sock, goggles, gloves and water are provided. Keep a sharp eye out for big horn sheep or mountain lions in the brown hills above the trails.

gold mine tour in techatticup gold mine las vegas

Visit the Techatticup Gold Mine

The abandoned Techatticup gold mine is an eerie site. And the Techatticup Mine Tour will have you wandering through its dark and twisted tunnels. The pathways are narrow and dim, with 100-year old mining debris still scattered around. This mine was a profitable source of gold in the 19th century, mined from quartz veins that you can still see on the walls. 

The guided tour talks about the mine’s history, which includes learning about the harsh working conditions and short life span of miners and their donkey ore-haulers. Most men didn’t live past 35 years old, and many donkeys would go blind after ten days in the darkness of the mine.

The nearby ghost town of Techatticup Mill is worth visiting in its own right. Step into its General Store to see a quirky collection of kitsch, knick-knacks, and an odd shrine to Area 51.

Experience the Mob Museum, The National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement

Would Vegas be Vegas without the Mob? The answer to that question can be found at the excellent Mob Museum in downtown Las Vegas.

It’s not every day that you meet a museum docent who served as a mob ‘specialist’ in a past life. While you may not hear any spilled secrets from the living here, you will get an eye and earful about Made Men, G-Men and their big shot bosses at the Mob Museum. 

vegas mob museum display of guns

Located in the historic former Courthouse and Post Office, this interactive museum presents a fascinating view of organized crime’s impact on Las Vegas history. It also talks about the Mob’s unique imprint on America and the world. Visitors get to read and hear real stories as Mob history is revealed through live interpreters and engaging exhibits, including the infamous St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.

The Museum is also home to The Underground, a permanent exhibition, distillery and speakeasy that is dedicated to the history of Prohibition. Teens can’t enter the speakeasy section (even with the password), but everyone can time travel back to the 1920s, when Prohibition gave rise to the Mob’s control over the outlawed liquor trade.

Ride the High Roller

Your teen can’t be a high roller at the tables, but she can be in the sky. The High Roller Observation Wheel is the largest and one of the tallest observation wheels in the world. It soars 550 feet above the center of the Las Vegas Strip.

With sweeping 360-degree views, the wheel thrill ride takes 30 minutes to complete one revolution and features 28 spacious cabins. It’s located at The Linq Hotel.

See a live performance show

What isn’t performing in Las Vegas these days? There are so many live shows to choose from when visiting Las Vegas with teens, you might have to extend your stay. There’s live comedy, magic shows and musicals. Acrobatic Cirque du Soleil shows, Blue Man Group performances and countless tribute shows. Musical concerts by all the big names, and Las Vegas Residences – engagements by artists like Adele, Rod Stewart and Garth Brooks – who stay over an extended period of time.

My advice is to discuss what your teen would like to see ahead of time. Then book and enjoy a few live shows that will hopefully please everyone as much as possible. When we visited Las Vegas with teens, our son picked the MJ Live (a Michael Jackson tribute) at the Tropicana. It was a phenomenal show.

performer illuminated by light in las vegas

Enjoy the bright lights of The Neon Museum

Founded in 1996, The Neon Museum is home to Las Vegas’ iconic neon signs that have seen better days. Its campus features an outdoor exhibition space known as the Boneyard at the Neon Museum, which houses rescued signs from the storied history of Sin City.

Many of the restored signs are on all the time. The Main Boneyard contains more than 200 unrestored signs which are illuminated at sunset with ground lighting, so plan a visit at dusk to feel the full magic of those bright neon lights. It’s a great place to visit for the whole family.

Speaking of signs, the Fabulous Las Vegas Sign is free and accessible 24 hours a day. It’s located about six minutes drive south of the Mandalay Bay Hotel, at the southern end of the Strip.

Immerse yourself in the Marvel Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N

This family-friendly attraction is a must visit for any Marvel fan. At the Marvel Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N, you can delve into the history, science, engineering, tech and profiles of Captain America, Hulk, Thor and Iron Man.

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to interactively assemble case files on each of the characters and move on to become qualified members S.T.A.T.I.O.N. How cool is that?

Experience Las Vegas Pro Sports

If you’re visiting Las Vegas with teens who are big into sports, good news. The city has such a big choice of major pro sports teams, there’s nearly always a home game in town.

Teams include the Vegas Raiders of the NFL, (the team relocated from Oakland, California); the puck-wielding Vegas Golden Knights (NHL); Las Vegas Lights FC (MLS) soccer team, and the Las Vegas Aces (WNBA) women’s basketball team.

The Knights play in the beautiful T-Mobile Arena, which is on the Vegas strip. Allegiant Stadium is the 1.8 million-square-foot home of the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) college football team.

Check out Caesars Palace

Caesars Palace, the iconic Las Vegas landmark, is an opulent, if gaudy, ode to Vegas excess. Its Roman-inspired architecture and design, complete with columns, marble statues, and elaborate fountains, have to be seen to be believed. The resort is home to restaurants, lavish accommodations, upscale shops, and elaborate pools.

Teens will love the Garden of the Gods Pool Oasis. Featuring seven different pool experiences, everyone in the family can pick their own pool to lounge, swim and relax in this lavish aquatic space.

caesars palace garden of the gods pool

Visit the Eiffel Tower and New York, New York

Looking for a taste of that other famous city of lights? Head 46 stories up for a tour of the half-scale replica of the Eiffel Tower. You will be treated to some amazing views, and a chance to take in the city away from the crowded streets and sidewalks.

If you like roller coasters, don’t miss the Big Apple coaster at New York, New York Hotel. Get your thrills on the world’s first roller coaster to feature a 180-degree “heartline” twist and dive maneuver, high above the Las Vegas Strip.

And if you’re keen to walk the Strip, stop by the Bellagio Fountains to enjoy the music and water fountain show. It’s especially impressive at night, when more than 1,000 fountains spray and sway in time to music.

eiffel tour las vegas in summer

Bonus: Moms Only! See Magic Mike Live in Las Vegas

Ladies, this one’s for you! Magic Mike Live is not a family-friendly show but I HAVE to include it for the moms because I loved it and you might too. Life imitates cinematic art at this live experience based on the hit films Magic Mike and Magic Mike XXL.

The live show recreates the fictional Club Domina as a cabaret nightclub inside the SAHARA Las Vegas Hotel. The intimate space gives guests front-row seats to the show which features thirteen very handsome and talented men performing in front of, above and behind the audience.

This is an interactive show, where hopeful and willing participants are given ‘cash’ to throw and whoop it up. Random guests may also be chosen from the crowd of mostly, but not exclusively, female attendees. Enjoy, ladies!

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Photos: Claudia Laroye, Pixabay

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