We are the Smiths — an attorney and stay-at-home mom by day, enamored parents by night. We love the life we are building together and enjoy exploring the city we call home with our two darling girls.
When most people think of Las Vegas they think of all that surrounds the popular slogan: “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”. However, when you are both natives for 30 plus years with a growing family, Sin City exudes a whole different vibe, and you quickly learn that there is a lot more to discover than meets the eye.
Whenever we tell someone that we grew up in Vegas, they seem to always give us a flabbergasted look and ask almost patronizingly, “What was that like?” They want to know where we lived and what we would do, as if to suggest that life in Vegas doesn’t exist beyond the infamous Las Vegas Strip. One can only imagine how surprised they are to find out that we rarely went to the Strip and that Las Vegas is actually a great place to raise a family.
It’s no secret that the summer heat can be brutal in Las Vegas, so to keep things cool we spend most of our summer days playing at splash pads and swimming pools or enjoying indoor activities like movies, indoor adventure parks, or the Discovery Children’s Museum. And when most of the rest of the country prepares to hibernate during the cold winter months, we can enjoy many of the outdoor activities like going for a walk, biking to the park, playing tennis, enjoying a movie in the park, golfing, hiking, or taking in the beauty of the Springs Preserve.
Sure, every now and then, we like to mix things up and head to the Strip to give the kids a little taste of the City of Lights. Just last week, my sister-in-law and I took our four kiddos to the Strip for a little adventure. The first stop was the Bellagio Conservatory where they had an enchanting Under the Sea flower display, followed by a quick stop to the Jean Philippe Patisserie for a fancy French dessert. Then it was on to the Mirage hotel to see Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden where we marveled at dolphins, leopards, lions, and, of course, the famous white tigers.
Our other favorite kid-tivities include: Flippin’ Out or Gravidy trampoline parks, Craig Ranch Regional Park, the Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay, Gilcrease Orchard, Wet ‘N’ Wild, and the list goes on. It may seem to most that Las Vegas is not a very kid-friendly place, but the truth is, there is actually a lot for the littles to go, see, and do, and we love doing it all with our girlies.
Although the majority of our recreational time is spent enjoying family-friendly activities around the valley, it would be a shame not to partake in at least a little of the excitement Las Vegas has to offer. So every now and again we venture out, sans kids, to enjoy the activities you can only find in the Entertainment Capital of the World. One of our most recent favorites was participating in an Escape Rooms located just off the Strip followed by dinner at Pasta Mia. And who wouldn’t love taking in a spectacular show on the Strip or at the Smith Center, followed by dinner at one of the many world-renowned restaurants in Vegas, then a walk around the Linq—grabbing a cupcake at Sprinkles before taking a ride on the High Roller?
Back in our younger years, when we enjoyed a little more freedom, we used to love taking in a show or seeing our favorite band in concert. One of the great things about Las Vegas is that no matter what kind of music you like, your favorite band or artist will play a show in Las Vegas. Before kids came into the picture, I had to suffer through a country music concert or two but I always looked forward to dragging Parker to the Nutcracker every year around the holidays. The thing about Vegas is, with so many performers coming to town, we both can win.
Another great thing about Las Vegas is the food. We like to think of ourselves as aspiring foodies. To be honest, growing up in Vegas, it wasn’t always the best place for restaurants. It seemed as if everything was a boring chain. Nowadays it seems as though everybody who is anybody in the food industry has a restaurant in Vegas and we love trying new places. We finally made it to Gordon Ramsey’s BurGR just last month and absolutely loved it. A few months ago Jimmy Fallon was talking about how good the spaghetti and meatballs are from a place in New York called Rao’s. Lucky for us, there is one in Las Vegas so we had to go try it and it did not disappoint. We also we’re happy to find out that Grimaldi’s, the pizza place we loved in our trip to New York, has several locations in Las Vegas. The city has certainly stepped up its game from the old buffets and restaurant chains we frequented in the nineties.
Beyond the enchantment of the city, one of the great things about Las Vegas that most people don’t know is the beautiful nature activities that surround the Vegas Valley like Spring Mountain Ranch (where you can also catch an outdoor play during the summer months). Redrock Canyon and Mt. Charleston are both beautiful places and great escapes for hiking or biking. Mt. Charleston is also a great place to get your snow fix during the winter while still being able to drive 15-20 minutes home to a very bearable 60 degree winter.
As one can see, there’s so much more to Las Vegas than what the Strip has to offer. Over 40 million people visit Las Vegas every year to have a time they won’t forget (and maybe not even remember), but for us it will always be home.