Should You Bring Your Kids to Las Vegas?

December 26, 2022

“What? No! Are you crazy? Why would you ever bring your kids to Las Vegas?” This is a pretty common reaction among parents and non-parents alike. And while it’s true most folks don’t associate child rearing with gambling and prostitution — much to our credit as humans — Las Vegas brings more than sin to the table. Over the years we’ve seen plenty of children around town, so it would seem the question is legitimate: Should you bring your kids to Las Vegas?

For openers, Las Vegas is built for bad behavior. And it is also understood that most parents avoid putting their children in such a situation. However, rather than just saying, “Bringing kids to Las Vegas is a bad idea, harumph”, we’re going to address the pros and cons in this article.

Because here’s the thing: We just got back from taking our kids to Las Vegas. We partook of the forbidden fruit. This is no longer a hypothetical. Recently we spent 3 days in Las Vegas with our 13 and 15-year-old kids. We wanted to show them some sights, eat a few buffets, and let them observe the pitfalls of gambling. True story. We knew there was the possibility of unfortunate encounters, but we were willing to take the good with the bad.

There’s No One Recipe for Rearing Children

It could be argued our greatest parenting responsibility is to teach our kids to make good choices. Most life lessons in morality are taught in the comfort of our homes, local schools and ballfields, and other communal childhood milieus. Still, some understanding requires a more visceral “classroom” setting. These “real world” morality lessons — right vs. wrong; virtue vs. vice — are effectively taught to kids in Las Vegas.

We can tell our children about the pitfalls of moral corruption, or we can show them under supervision. Why wait until they get to college, where lust, greed, and addiction will be ushered in by their bright, beautiful peers, when we can reveal the ugly, clown-show end-game while they’re still at a reachable age? The Hoffmann’s aren’t exactly parenting gurus, but we felt this was worth a thought.

In all honesty, our Vegas experience teetered on failure from start to finish, but it was ultimately a valuable experience. We had some unsightly encounters, and there were some persistent elements that we wish would go away. You kinda have to expect this in Las Vegas.

Leading your kids into the carnal mayhem of a gaming metropolis might be the last thing you would consider, but maybe — just maybe — you should reconsider. You might be surprised what everyone can learn on those filthy streets.

These are the top ten lessons we learned with our kids in Las Vegas. Some were good, some were bad, some were pathetic. We hope you enjoy.

1. Kids in Las Vegas Can Discover What Marijuana Smells Like

We’d been in town a few minutes when our 15-year-old son asked, “What smells like a skunk?” We informed him that it was marijuana he was smelling, something he had never smelled before (parenting points for mom and dad). This dank, repulsive odor would become a theme of our Vegas vacay. Every 50 yards or so some degenerate was blazing a joint on the sidewalk.

Apollo hated the smell. Whenever it wafted past he’d hike his shirt collar over his nose in recoil. As Apollo’s parents, it was hard to watch him walking around with his shirt halfway up his face, because: A. We had willingly exposed our child to marijuana, and, B. He looked completely ridiculous.

Lesson Learned: The older I get, the more pot stinks. Don’t smoke it in public, losers.

2. Kids Can Admire the Flat Affects of Slot Machine Jockeys

The idea of winning big, or risking it all on the roll of the dice, is an exciting prospect. Casino commercials capture this easy-to-romanticize idea, where good-looking people laugh and slap each other’s backs after hitting the jackpot. When you bring your kids to Las Vegas that fantasy quickly unravels. Your children will observe average-looking, flat-affected folks slumped in solitude, pushing the button on their oversized slot machine as if they have zero expectation of success.

Lesson Learned: Gambling is actually quite boring.

3. Kids in Las Vegas Can Behold a Mace Victim in the Wild

There were about 75 people dining at the Panda Express / Chipotle near Harrah’s Casino when the shirtless young man burst through the door screaming, “Water! I need water!” He stumbled across the dining area holding his face. When he arrived at the metal counter of Chipotle he pounded his hand on it, startling the employees and everyone watching. “Get me water, NOW!”

The faces of the diners were thick with disgust, and the restaurant emptied in minutes. The hysterical young man poured cup after cup of water into his eyes, moaning and screaming all the while. “I need more water! Get me more $#%!ing water! Napkins! I need napkins!” I asked the guy what happened. “Some girl maced me on the sidewalk!”

Monica, the mother of my children, walked up to the young man, took the cup of water from him, told him to lean over and look up, and proceeded to pour the water gently on his eyes. She was given some napkins by his friends, and she helped him rinse and dry his eyes for the next twenty minutes. Security and police arrived and interviewed the young man’s friends. Our children were incredibly disturbed. “Dad. Does this happen all the time in Las Vegas?”

Lesson Learned: We can be kind to everyone. The mother of my children is a wonderful woman. Be respectful to girls and they won’t spray you with mace.

Regardless of what you’ve read so far, Las Vegas is full of wonderful things to do. You can learn about some of our favorites in The 15 Best Things to Do in Las Vegas.

4. Kids Can Frolic in an Adult Playground

The Vegas casinos are impossible to resist, even for tough-to-impress teens. The nicer ones are stunningly beautiful inside and out, adorned with shopping malls, living statues, and ornate pools. Throw in some white tigers, rooftop rollercoasters, three-story M&M stores, a monster ferris wheel, an exploding volcano, and a dancing fountain that shoots water hundreds of feet in the air; the effect is guaranteed to dazzle anyone, young or old. Now smatter the strip with replicas of an Egyptian pyramid, a medieval castle, the New York skyline, and the Eiffel Tower. It sounds unreal when you list it all out.

Lesson Learned: Las Vegas is spectacular and can live in the imagination forever.

5. Kids Can Study Lying From the Hucksters on Fremont Street

A troupe of performers convinced me to stand in a row with five other non-short men, and told us that someone was going to jump over the entire row of us as the finale of the show. They then proceeded to make off-color jokes for ten minutes before hitting up the crowd for donations. After the crowd was harassed for every last dime, the head performer instructed the participants to face him. He asked us where we were from, made more profane jokes, then harangued us — shamelessly — for money, one at a time in front of the crowd. Once they bilked all they could get from the six of us the show was over. There was no finale. No one was jumping. We were free to leave.

Lesson Learned: Don’t pay anyone for their work until the job is complete.

6. Kids Can Glean Anger from Dad Yelling at a Porn Peddlers

Those who visited Vegas in years past will recall an army of poor-looking immigrants handing out business cards for prostitutes. As a result, the sidewalks around the casinos were littered with the images of low-rent whores. Nobody liked it. Today, a much smaller number of these same people are passing out the same X-Rated advertisements, and they don’t discriminate who receives their materials.

When the short, middle-aged woman tried to give my son porn, she caught a few sharp words on the spot. “What the hell is wrong with you?! He’s fifteen-years-old! You should know better!”

Lesson Learned: Just because she looks like a mom doesn’t mean she cares about children.

7. Kids Can Embrace Gluttony at an All-You-Can-Eat Sushi Place

All cynicism aside, the highlight of our trip to Vegas was an all-you-can-eat sushi restaurant called Sushi Ichiban on Freemont Street. There was no long counter of boring food under heat lamps. Everything was ordered off the menu, served exactly as if you’d paid full menu price. We ordered half the appetizer menu, nine sushi rolls, and other incredible stuff. This is what it must have felt like in ancient Rome when the rich would feast. We might not drink, gamble, or rent friends in Las Vegas, but we are food sinners none-the-less. Forgive us Lord, for we have gorged.

Lesson Learned: Go to Sushi Ichiban!

When we need a breath of air in Las Vegas we like to visit Valley of Fire State Park. Click the link to learn more about this amazing place!

8. Kids Can Appreciate the Ingenuity of Casinos

Why are all these magnificent, cathedral-like hotels in the middle of the desert? Why does every famous chef have a restaurant here? What is the draw for these talented entertainers to perform beside the dirt and dust? It’s not because you’re special and deserve an entertainment wonderland. It’s because gamblers blow billions of dollars in casinos.

By all means, devour lobsters, race ferraris, and guzzle champagne if that’s your thing. But whatever you do, never forget who wins in the end. Have the kiddos look around and observe the sky scraping hotels, bright billboards, and foot traffic on the sidewalks. Remind them this is here for one reason. They don’t have to hate the casinos or judge the gamblers — just understand what’s happening.

Lesson Learned: Gamblers are moths traveling thousands of miles to be destroyed by a bug zapper.

9. Kids Can Examine the Places Substance Abuse Leads

There’s a lot to learn about life and humanity on the edge of a Vegas sidewalk. As your children walk past homeless men sleeping in their own vomit, they might ask questions like, “Why don’t they have jobs,” or, “Why are they sleeping at noon on a Tuesday?” To which you might reply, “And why do they have a dog?” Every conversation we overheard was gross. The end of line for depravity is sleeping on the Las Vegas sidewalk.

Lesson Learned: Say no to drugs.

10. Kids Can Develop Love for All People

This one is for the parents, too. It is easy to recoil in disgust when we observe someone living a less than admirable existence. The movie Animal House taught us, “Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life,” yet Las Vegas is packed to the vents with these people. But who are we to judge? The addict sleeping on the sidewalk you just tripped over… God loves him as much as anyone else. The guy who beats his hand against the wall and raps, “Put a buck in my cup and I’ll shut the $#%! up,” on the street corners… God loves him as much as he loves my kids. The girls with their stuff hanging out… the woman pushing porn into kids’ hands… the creepy guys leering at your wives and daughters as you walk past… God loves them perfectly, too.

Lesson Learned: It is always good to remind ourselves and our kids that God loves everyone equally.

An Honest Conclusion: Should You Bring Your Kids to Las Vegas?

Now back to the original question: Is it a good idea to bring kids to Las Vegas? Well, what do you think?

The strip is inundated with weed-smoking degenerates filling the air with profanity. It didn’t used to be like this. In a way Las Vegas has devolved into a crap circus of extra-trashy people, and at times the scene felt extra dark.

If we could do it over again, we would stay somewhere nice and out of the way, like The Wynn. Our children got an outsized dose of bleak reality on the sidewalks around the Paris and Venetian, so we would stay off the sidewalks as much as possible.

All of that said, our children learned a lot about the choices people make. We are thankful they learned it with us so we could help give sense to what they witnessed. In the long run we believe the experience could benefit them very much. They seem to have gained understanding.

Well… that was a sobering article to write. We hope it helped you to gain some insight into what a Las Vegas vacation with kids can entail. Thank you for reading! We wish you the best and may God bless your travels!

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