How to Spend a 9-Hour Layover in Vegas With Kids

Make the most of your 9-hour layover in Vegas with kids! Discover family-friendly activities, dining options, and attractions to keep everyone entertained.

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How do you spend a 9-hour layover in Vegas with kids, you ask? I’ve got you covered! I recently spent 48 hours in Vegas, but this trip was a doozy.

We recently planned a 3-day trip to St. Louis on Frontier Airlines. I haven’t flown Frontier in over 5 years, and I remember my one experience with them wasn’t that bad. However, this one was a doozy and I plan never to fly with them again. Thank you, Frontier, for the vouchers, but they’ll be wasted on me!

So let me tell you what happened. Our flight was supposed to leave Denver at 7:10 a.m. and arrive in St. Louis at 10:30 a.m, giving us almost a full day to enjoy ourselves. With hotel and car rentals booked, we were ready. We checked into the Denver airport hotel so we didn’t have to wake up too early for our early morning flight.

We woke up at 5am before checking out of the hotel, checked our flight, and noticed that it was canceled 😡. However, we did receive a $100 voucher each and were able to be rebooked with a flight through Las Vegas with a 9-hour layover before heading to St. Louis. Well, that’s another story because our 9-hour layover turned into an almost 13-hour layover. 

Anyway, despite the flight fiasco, I want to share with you how you too can spend a half day (or if you have a 9-hour layover or more) in Vegas with kids and have fun

Book a Rental Car

While you’re very close to the strip, a taxi can take you there. I recommend getting a rental and taking advantage of a bit more of Vegas besides the Strip. The Vegas Strip is great for adults (and there are a few things you can do here for free along with free parking, and I’ll tell you where to park in a bit) but there is so much more to Vegas besides the Las Vegas Strip. Car rentals are outside the airport (about a 10-minute ride) but there’s a free shuttle that takes you there.

Visit the Hoover Dam

The Hoover Dam is about 45 minutes from the Las Vegas airport and while the drive isn’t that scenic (trust me, there’s not much to see on a Vegas highway), the Hoover Dam is a must-see. The Hoover Dam is a big wall made of concrete that holds back water from the Colorado River and still works to this day, creating electricity. This is also a great way to visit two states at once, as the Hoover Dam is located in both Arizona and Nevada. It’s also 100% free to visit. Skip the paid parking and take a drive further up the dam, where you’ll find free parking and even better views. 

Check Out the Seven Magic Mountains

I’ve visited here before, a few years ago, while it was under renovation and this time it was a much better experience. You can get up close to the colorful “towers,” which are stacked up on each other. It’s a burst of color in the otherwise dry and brown desert of Nevada. The stacked rocks remind me of Stonehenge, but in color. Parking here is free, as is the exhibit and there’s no need for a reservation. You simply show up and enjoy.

Indulge in a Bit of Shopping at the Fashion Show Mall

While you can do a bit of shopping, we visited because it’s the only free parking along the strip. There are over 250 stores at the Fashion Show Mall, including Neiman Marcus, Macys, Saks Fifth Avenue, Pandora Jewelry, and so much more. There are also many restaurants, including Benihana, Kona Grill, and the Sugar Factory. From here, it’s an easy and quick 10-minute walk to the next thing to do on the list.

Take a Gondola Ride at the Venetian

While the Venetian hotel is technically a hotel and casino, there’s also the Canal Shoppes, restaurants, and a gondola ride reminiscent of Venice, which kids will enjoy. We decided to do the gondola ride, which you can book the day of. During COVID, reservations had to be made online, but not anymore. The ride was fantastic, as we got a great story of the city of Venice along with a serenade. The Venetian gondola ride is reminiscent of a mini Venice City. While on your ride, you can get a professionally done photo or take a photo yourself. 

If you’re a Pandora charm collector, don’t leave the Venetian without grabbing the Venetian Grand Canal exclusive charm only found at the Venetian. You can also find charms exclusive to Las Vegas, along with a Grand Canyon charm. Unfortunately, while there are other Pandora stores around, this is the only place to get that Grand Canal Charm. 

Hang Out With Celebrities at Madame Tussaud Las Vegas

Before you leave the Venetian, pay a visit to Madame Tussaud Las Vegas. We’ve visited a few Madame Tussaud’s around the world and each are different in its own way. Vegas is all about the shows and celebrities and they did not disappoint. From Vin Diesel (Fast and Furious), who was displayed on the outside, to some of your favorite singers, Drake, Bob Marley, Bad Bunny, and so many more, it was a treat from start to finish. You can add the Marvel Experience (which we skipped as we’d done it before) for an extra $5 on the entrance fee. 

Tip for Military Families: Madame Tussaud Las Vegas offers a military discount, which significantly reduces your entry fee.

Grab a Bite to Eat

There are quite a few places to eat at the Venetian, including Black Tap, which the kids would love as they have the most delicious burgers and milkshakes that kids would enjoy. But there are many other restaurants that adults would love as well. I recommend choosing your favorite restaurant or heading back to the Fashion Show Mall to grab a bite to eat, as there are quite a few restaurants at the Fashion Show Mall, as mentioned previously, which are also kid-friendly.

Visit the Welcome to Las Vegas Sign

Technically, this is the last thing you’ll do on your way back to the airport. From here, it’s an easy drive to the airport. Less than 20 minutes. Lines can be long depending on the time you get there but there’s once again free parking so there’s no need to worry. I’ve visited twice and each time we’ve visited, once in the morning, and this time late afternoon, we’ve had no issues getting a parking spot.

Head Back to The Airport for Your Flight

Now it’s your time to head to the airport. Domestic flights generally recommend a 1-hour flight check-in, while for international flights, it is recommended to be at the airport 2–3 hours before your flight departs. MyTSA has an app (available for both Android and iOS) that tells you the estimated security wait times at the airport so you can estimate how much time you’ll need to make it to your gate and your flight on time. 

In Conclusion

Whether your layover is planned or, like me, totally spontaneous, it may surprise you how kid-friendly Vegas is. While most people think that Vegas is just for adults due to the casinos on the Las Vegas strip, there are still a lot of things to do in Vegas with kids. So spend a day or a few hours in Vegas and take your kids with you, you’ll both enjoy it.

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