Vegas visitors are flocking to the Strip on the weekends for some semblance of a summer vacation. Everyone knows not to expect concerts, sporting events, production shows and wild nights at the club. A trip to Vegas right now is built around gambling, eating, drinking, shopping and spending lots of time at the pool.
But that’s not all. There are many other avenues of entertainment to be found in the casino resorts on the Boulevard, many of which are appropriate for family fun. Let’s take the Californian drive-in view and start at the southern end of the Strip …
The Shark Reef Aquarium is one of the most popular local field trip destinations thanks to its thousands of animals, including sharks, giant rays, endangered sea turtles, piranha and more. Admission costs $15 for kids, $22 for adults and $18 for seniors, with children 3 and under admitted for free.
The castle-themed resort reopened back on June 11 and quickly reactivated many of its amenities, including the Fun Dungeon, open every day from 4 to 10 p.m. with 200 carnival arcade and kiddie games, and the Ultimate 4D Experience ($9.99 per show or $12.99 for two shows) offering movie-themed special-effects adventures.
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Clark County bars that don’t serve food were ordered shuttered again last week, but the iconic Bar at Times Square lives on with its dueling pianos show, open from 5 p.m. until 2 a.m. Thursday through Sunday (Admission costs $25). The surrounding Village Street Eateries food court wasn’t operating when New York-New York first reopened on June 4, but many of its spots are now back in business, as is the massive candy emporium Hershey’s Chocolate World. And the Big Apple Coaster is still speeding around the resort, open daily from 1 to 9 p.m. with a discounted $12 ride for Nevadans and military with ID (regular admission for the ride costs $19).
One of the newest attractions to hit the Strip is The Hunger Games: The Exhibition, a parade through the costumes and scenery that made the movie franchise so memorable. Interactive elements should excite fans, culminating in a projection screen archery experience. It’s open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., with summer ticket prices set at $20 for kids and $30 for adults.
The sprawling modern resort has always been recognized for its impressive art collection, which ranges from the unmissable “Big Edge” installation by Nancy Rubins to more subtle pieces near the hotel lobby like Henry Moore’s “Reclining Connected Forms” and Maya Lin’s “Silver River.” These amazing creations are spread out all over the Aria campus, so you could create quite the walking tour, something that makes a lot more sense now that parking is free, if you can stand the summer temperatures, . And when you need to get out of the heat, stroll into the adjacent Shops at Crystals and check out James Turrell’s “Shards of Color.”
The Cosmo has been one of the most interesting spots on the Strip since the reopening period, thanks to its innovative venues. The Wicked Spoon buffet is back in a different way, and Rose. Rabbit. Lie. is once again serving up a modern take on the supper club experience with dynamic live entertainment. And a summer favorite made a comeback over the July 4 weekend when Boulevard Pool’s Dive-In Movies returned, a $7 ticket to watch a flick on the 65-foot digital marquee from the rooftop poolyard. The movies start at 7 p.m. Monday nights through September 7.
The pedestrian promenade at the Linq opened a week before its casino—the hotel is still closed—and its two major attractions are ready and waiting. The High Roller Observation Wheel ($7.50-$32.75) is making the rounds from 4 p.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday and from noon to midnight Friday through Sunday, while the FlyLinq zipline ($21.75) is operating from 4 p.m. until midnight Friday through Sunday. If you need a little chill time after all that excitement, slip into the Flamingo next door and visit its namesake Chilean birds at the poolside wildlife habitat.
Not only is the five-acre indoor Adventuredome amusement park open daily from 10 a.m. to midnight, it has extended a special discount for locals through the end of the month. Southern Nevadans with proof of ID receive 20 percent off admission ($19.95-$39.95) between 10 a.m. and noon every day. Back inside the Circus Circus casino, the free circus acts and arcade and carnival games at the second-floor Midway are available every day starting at 11:30 a.m.
Can thrill rides help with anxiety? Let’s find out. Shoot yourself 160 feet higher than the Strat’s Skypod on the Big Shot, or dangle off the edge of the tower 900 feet above the desert floor on Insanity and X-Scream (hours and prices vary).