When considering where to go on a vacation with children, Las Vegas may not be on the top of your list. However, this city boasts an extensive array kid-friendly, world-class activity, entertainment, and dining options as well as extraordinary hotels and resorts with accommodation options that will keep kids separate from the casino atmosphere–The Venetian’s Venezia Tower is case in point.  With such an exciting assortment of things to do for children of all ages, Vegas should skyrocket to the top of your list for a truly unforgettable vacation experience. This is one bet you’re sure to win.

Having recently visited Las Vegas with my own two youngsters, in just a few short days we reveled in an itinerary that was jam-packed with fun and frivolity courtesy of the below roundup of locales.

Zarkana at Aria
Zarkana by Cirque du Soleil is an extraordinary acrobatic rock experience that blends circus arts with the surreal to create a whimsical world where physical virtuosity rubs shoulders with the strange. The show features Zark, the ringmaster of an extraordinary circus coming back to life, who guides the audience through an abandoned theatre populated by a motley collection of off-the-wall characters and incomparable acrobats. The show has been described as “a visual vortex set in a twisted musical and acrobatic fantasy universe where, little by little, chaos and craziness give way to a true celebration.” In my estimation it’s the absolute perfect combination of theatrical and musical performance art, athleticism, and comedy all wrapped up in one not-to-be-forgotten experience. The theater at Aria is as plush and luxurious as venues get, and as guests find their seating the bizarre characters from the show are ambling about, taking photos and even causing mischief to the delight of all. As with all Cirque du Soleil productions, the show is a veritable feast for the senses and a journey of stimulus overload in the best possible way.

Illusions at The Riviera
Starring Master Illusionist Jan Rouven from Europe, AKA “The Man with Nine Lives,” this mystifying new show will excite, bewilder, and stun the entire family. Rouven has been mesmerizing audiences all over the world with his one-of-a-kind illusions and charming persona.  With uniquely styled dramatic costumes and contemporary hit songs as the show soundtrack, Rouven and his cast of five incredibly talented, professionally trained dancers cross many boundaries. Some of the spellbinding acts include the Hand Stab where a volunteer from the audience will play Russian roulette with a sharp knife, and the Water Tank where the thrill level rises even more when the illusionist seems to nearly drown while cuffed and chained under water. Other  perplexing acts include the Bed of Death, Fire Spiker, and many more you just have to see to believe.

Recycle Percussion at The Quad Resort & Casino
Previously at the Tropicana, the new Recycled Percussion is now even more impressive than ever and a family vacation must. The show has been rocking the Las Vegas Strip for over two years with an unprecedented combination of extreme percussion, engaging humor and extraordinary athleticism. Whether playing on buckets, ladders, grinders or sinks, Recycled Percussion’s boundless energy and creativity blows audiences away—just as it did when featured on America’s Got Talent not too long ago. The whole family will love this interactive show where, upon entering the theater, all guests are equipped with a drumstick and “instrument” of their choice from an arsenal of old pots and pans, encouraging patrons young and old to bang away, make noise, play along to the junk rock fun. Spoiler alert: one unique and fun part of the show is the “random cookie break” where they stop everything and run around the audience doling out fresh baked chocolate chip cookies.

Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum at The Venetian
Modeled on the famous wax attraction based in London, England, the entire family can enjoy a close-up look lifelike wax creations of some of the world’s favorite personalities, including actors, musicians, world leaders and sports stars. The interactive experience allows you to touch and take pictures with the “celebs,” and kids gravitate toward their favorites like Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and pop stars Beyonce, Rihanna, and Lady GaGa. Or, go one-on-one with basketball legends Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neil.  Of course, don’t forget Vegas crooners like Elvis and the Rat Pack. And, while you’re at it, hit the Oval Office for a photo opp with Barack Obama!

The Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian
The Grand Canal Shoppes is a luxurious 500,000-square-foot indoor shopping center nestled within The Venetian and connected to The Palazzo and The Shoppes at The Palazzo. It features 80 upscale boutiques, luxury stores, and world-class restaurants that wind along a reproduction of Venice’s Grand Canal. Enjoy a delicious gelato while taking in the “Streetmosphere” with daily performances in St. Mark’s Square, including classically trained singers, actors, and musicians. The vibrant atmosphere features the Living Statues with their immovable poses, the Artiste del Arte who serenade shoppers, and up to 30 pop-up performers that delight and entertain. The main attraction for the family is the Gondola Ride where you can relax and enjoy the Venetian architecture as you float down the Grand Canal in a genuine Italian gondola. The quarter-mile-long experience includes beautiful singing from the Gondolier. Weather permitting; you can also opt for the separate outdoor gondola ride.

The Mob Attraction at the Tropicana
Immerse yourself in Vegas lore! The Mob Attraction is a one-of-a kind entertainment experience that plunges visitors into the world of mobsters with many that served as the founding fathers of Las Vegas. It is a fun, exciting, and interactive history-laden journey through the world of organized crime. Visitors quickly become a part of the action, going face-to-face with the mob. An “assignment” is given to visitors by a real life “mobster” and an array of actors stay well in character as you’re ushered through various scenes.  While walking through the various scenes visitors also interact with 3D holograms of famous mob movie icons like Frank Vincent and Tony Sirico. Also museum-esque, this attraction also features an extensive collection of authentic, never before seen mob artifacts, memorabilia, photos and videos of “Bugsy” Siegel, Meyer Lansky, and other of the Mob’s most notorious figures.

Fatburger Near Monte Carlo and City Center
Of course, amid the fun activities a family needs to eat. And, what’s more appealing than a thick, juicy burger, fries, and a milkshake? Fatburger, and it’s adjacent Fat Bar patio right on the Vegas Strip, has been designed to feed and entertain guests 24/7/365 days a year. Fatburger has a delicious menu for everyone in the family with various sized 100% USDA custom burgers, chicken burgers, turkey burgers and veggie burgers along with famous sides like chili cheese fries and daily fresh onion rings that can’t be beat. Mom and Dad will enjoy the extensive cocktail and drinks menu, including adult ‘slushies.’ There is a wide range of kid-friendly drinks and shakes to keep them happy while the whole family enjoys people watching and sights over a delicious meal. For weather that’s too hot or cold, the patio seating features misters and heaters. And, you can also catch the game with more than 20 Plasma TVs also within view.

Las Vegas Monorail
There’s no more convenient way to travel the Las Vegas Strip than using the monorail, allowing you to skip the gridlock on the street below. Kids love the excitement of the fast moving monorail while adults enjoy the views…and having a few minutes of rest while they are transported up and down the street in a clean, convenient, and climate-controlled way. The monorail provides direct access to many of the hotels as well as the Las Vegas Convention Center. With trains departing every few minutes, riders can rest assured they’ll arrive at their destination promptly and in comfort. The monorail offers seven stops, including MGM Grand; Bally’s/Paris Las Vegas; Flamingo/Caesars Palace; Harrah’s/The Quad; Las Vegas Convention Center; Las Vegas Hotel & Casino; and Sahara Avenue. Ticket machines that take cash and credit and debit cards are available at each station.

As exemplified by this representative list, Las Vegas has become so much more than a playground for adults. With a mix of shows and entertainment, cultural activities, outdoor fun, shopping and great eateries, Las Vegas is understandably rising as a U.S. destination for family getaways.

***Some or all of the accommodations(s), experience(s), item(s) and/or service(s) detailed above were provided at no cost to accommodate this review, but all opinions expressed are entirely those of Merilee Kern and have not been influenced in any way.***