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Posts Tagged ‘Las Vegas’

Photo Friday: The Dark Side of Family Travel

August 7th, 2009 by bsmith | 5 Comments | Filed in Las Vegas Adventures
Destiny is not a Happy Camper at the Adventurdome

Destiny is not a Happy Camper at the Adventuredome, Las Vegas

Hi All,

This ”dark night of the soul” post was actually written a few months ago on a Spring Break Trip to Las Vegas.  I am happy to report that although we have had some similiar moments since then, in general my outlook towards family travel has much improved.  What a difference a little more maturity makes! 

 My fellow travel bloggers and I spend a lot of time, trying to encourage you all to get out and travel.  We offer tips and tricks to make traveling with kids easier.  When it comes down to it, however, traveling with kids is hard…definitely worthwhile, but on the other hand very very difficult. 

Kids thrive on routine and try as you might to maintain routine while on the road it is not going to be the same.  This trip I found the quirks of my five year old Miss who must have her socks adjusted just right, and has a preferred wardrobe of about three things to be amplified to a point that it almost drove my whole family over the brink! Sleeping schedules are difficult to maintain. Toast, my four year old’s favorite food is hard to come by.  Being in constant close quarters with his younger siblings without some opportunities for escape to pursue his own interests became very difficult for nine year old Justin by the end of the trip.

Hotels are not the most kid friendly spaces for preschoolers whose voices seem physically incapable of whispering, and who long to stomp and run.  It is balance to be considerate of others while at the same time letting the kids have a good time.  Some guests will be patient with your kids idiosyncrasies.  Most smiled tolerantly as mischievous Jared tried to jump every time we got in the elevator.  (Note to other traveling moms…be sure that your kids never watch Elf !)  Most waitresses are understanding about those wiggly kids at the table and seat your family as far away from the other guests as possible…especially those young honeymooners at the corner table.  The short frustrating public tantrums…those are a bit difficult for everyone however.

Roadtrip Tantrum

My perspective may be a bit warped as I was outnumbered for the majority of the trip.  Each day I had time to fill on my own from 8 am-4pm while my husband was at work.  I experimented with keeping them out and busy, and just lazing around the hotel room and pool.  Each strategy had some benefits and some drawbacks.  Keeping the kids quiet in the hotel room got a little frustrating.  The pools were great, but once again the needs of the two age groups were hard to meet.  Justin got short shrift due to my need to keep an eye on Destiny and Jared and keep them safe.  He didn’t want to enjoy the big kid areas on his own.  Like most kids he wanted to share the fun with mom or dad.  Our adventures to the Adventuredome and the Children’s Museum were fun, but once again we were limited by Justin and Jared’s craving for adventure and Destiny’s timidity to the point of hysteria whenever she is confronted by anything remotely loud or exciting.

I think that traveling with an only child would be a very different experience.  I have very fond memories of traveling with my parents.  Even if one was busy, the other was always available to give me the attention I needed.  My parents could choose activities that were appropriate for my age level, or even if we were doing something “adult” my presence as the only child in the room gave me some positive attention.  Ken and I were able to spend some one on one time with Justin this trip.  Ken took him to Fremont Street.  I headed over to New York, New York to ride the giant fast roller coaster.  I love spending one on one time with Justin because he just talks his heart out.  He glows under my undivided attention.  He also complains A LOT, but at least I have the time to listen.  We get to share what we enjoy.  I rode the roller coaster, he grudgingly took in the Bellagio Fountains.

So why do it?  Why didn’t I just sit out this adventure and spend a quiet spring break with the kids swimming in our own familiar and somewhat freezing pool?  Because I love watching my kids rise to the occasion and work together as a team.  I love that Destiny helps me pack.  I love that Justin gives his siblings piggy pack rides on the long walk through the casino.  I love that he and Jared go off and ride some of the more exciting theme park rides.  I love that Jared gets to use the boys bathroom every once in a while under the watchful eye of dad or big brother.  Then there is the adventure…exploring unfamiliar places, swimming next to a shark tank, changing the tires on a pretend car, choosing whatever your heart desires for dinner.  Despite all our misadventures, this trip was worth it.

Destiny Gets Brave, Adventuredome, Las Vegas

Destiny Gets Brave, Adventuredome, Las Vegas

Happy Trails,

Bridget

PS. This blog participates in Delicious Baby’s Photo Friday.  Keep your finger on the pulse of the travel world here.

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Photo Friday: Lego Las Vegas

July 24th, 2009 by bsmith | 8 Comments | Filed in Las Vegas Adventures, Legoland, Photo Friday
Lego MGM Grand, Miniland Las Vegas

Lego MGM Grand, Miniland Las Vegas

Just got back from a trip from Vegas.  Since it was 112 degrees during most of our visit, I didn’t have a chance to snap many shots of the famous Strip.  Luckily Legoland has me covered.   Here is the Lego version of our Las Vegas adventures:

Lego Excalibur, Miniland Las Vegas

Lego Excalibur, Miniland Las Vegas

Lego New York New York, Miniland Las Vegas

Lego New York New York, Miniland Las Vegas

Lego Treasure Island, Miniland Las Vegas

Lego Treasure Island, Miniland Las Vegas

 We tried to see the Treasure Island sirens show when we were in Vegas.  The crowds were so huge we could only catch a glimpse.  Probably a good thing since this show is decidedly PG-18.  Those sirens wear some skimpy lingerie!  I think we will be sticking to viewing the Legoland version in the future.

I have a blog post about family friendly Las Vegas pools on Uptake this week.  Check it out.

Family Adventure Guidebooks participates in Delicious Baby’s Photo Friday.

Happy Trails,

Bridget

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Photo Friday: Ethel M Chocolate Factory, Las Vegas

July 17th, 2009 by bsmith | 4 Comments | Filed in Las Vegas Adventures, Uncategorized
Jared and his Green Friend

Jared and his Green Friend

It has been a hot week here in Las Vegas.  Before you think I was absolutely crazy to plan a trip out here this time of year (and perhaps I was!) my husband had a business trip so we decided to tag along. 

Enjoying Las Vegas in 112+ degree weather has required some creativity.  We spend more time just hanging out in our wonderful hotel room at the Desert Rose Resort in Las Vegas then we usually do on such adventures.  We swim in the evenings and spent a morning bowling in an air conditioned casino.

The first day of our trip I had the crazy idea to drive out to Henderson and take the Ethel M Chocolate Factory Tour.  The tour, frankly, was a bust.  Although we arrived at 1:30 the workers must have been home on break or gone for the day.  The factory was almost deserted.  I enjoyed seeing all the machinery and redeemed myself in the eyes of my children by buying overpriced chocolate bars.   They were delectible.

Chocolate Delights

Chocolate Delights

Here are some photos of the cactus garden.  I enjoyed it immensely despite the heat.  The kids were another story:

Lone Cactus

Lone Cactus

 

Happy Trails, Las Vegas

Happy Trails, Las Vegas

Some of my fellow travel bloggers are heading to TBEX and BlogHer in Las Vegas.  Sadly, my travels are mostly over for the summer, and I won’t be joining them.  If you are looking for some virtual travels, check out Delicious Baby’s Photo Friday  .

Happy Trails,

Bridget

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Photo Friday: Shark Tank Pool (Golden Nugget, Las Vegas)

May 15th, 2009 by bsmith | 8 Comments | Filed in Family Travel, Las Vegas Adventures, Road Trips
The Smith Boys Enjoy The Shark Tank Pool, Golden Nugget, Las Vegas

The Smith Boys Enjoy The Shark Tank Pool, Golden Nugget, Las Vegas

Las Vegas is know for its amazing pools.  I’ve only had a chance to see and/or experience about four of them.  From what I’ve seen so far ,The Golden Nugget should definately be on your must stay list if you value a fun, kid friendly pool. 

 

Destiny Gets Splashing at the Golden Nugget Pool, Las Vegas

Destiny Gets Splashing at the Golden Nugget Pool, Las Vegas

This lovely pool is completely shallow all the away around.  It encircles a giant fish tank filled with large colorful fish and even a few sharks.  A highlight for the adults and older kids is a water slide that passes directly through the tank.  It is transparent in the part that goes through.  I found myself going so fast that it was hard to see.  My ten year old managed to slow down enough to look around and even make funny faces as he went down.  There is a height requirement for the waterslide.  Also, your little one must be a good enough swimmer to exit the pool by his or her self after they splash down.

Ken Reacts to the Golden Nugget Waterslide

Ken Reacts to the Golden Nugget Waterslide

Other great ammenities in the pool area are: pool lounge chairs to cool off on a hot Las Vegas day, lots of comfy cushioned lounge chairs to hang out on, and a hot tub that is shaped like a flower.  Your family can hunker down in one petal while the couple on their honeymoon can hide out in the other. 

One thing to be aware  of  is that this pool can get busy.  During the day it was very crowed and difficult to find a lounge chair for our stuff.   Justin got tired of waiting  in line for the water slide.  When we visited early evening it was almost deserted.   We enjoyed our “private pool”. 

 I purchased life jackets for Jared and Destiny that they wore throughout their Golden Nugget  pool adventure. The jackets gave me piece of mind and gave my preschoolers the freedom to explore  the shallow water.

Jareds Ready For a Swim at The Golden Nugget Pool, Las Vegas

Jared is Ready For a Swim at The Golden Nugget Pool, Las Vegas

Congratulations to my friend Debbie at  Delicious Baby who just had her third baby.  She is so organized that she managed to get her Photo Friday Travel Blog Roundup up the day after she gave birth.  Reward her efforts by checking out great the great travel photos from bloggers around the world.

Happy Trails,

Bridget

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Sleepless in Las Vegas

April 18th, 2009 by bsmith | 1 Comment | Filed in Smith Family Misadventures

I wrote this post after our first night in Las Vegas.  Things improved somewhat over the week as we got used to our surroundings and tweaked the sleeping arrangements.  This was on of several dark nights of the soul during our Vegas adventure.  Don’t worry, more cheerful posts to follow.

Happy Trails,

Bridget

Three kids, two doubles, two exhausted parents.  What to do?  Last night reminded me about why I love day trip adventures, but am not always fond of overnight ones.  My kids DO NOT SLEEP away from home.  Well, perhaps that is an exaggeration, but getting them to sleep is one of the most brutal things I confront as a parent and hotels make it even harder with the need to whisper and walk softly.  Jared especially is at the elephant stage.  Walking softly or whispering is almost impossible for him even with frequent reminders.

My kids are also very active sleepers.  I woke up last night to find both boys sleeping diagonally on the same bed!  We divvied up the kids.  Ken took one bed and I took the other.  Needless to say no one got too much sleep.  Hopefully we’ll do better tonight.  Usually about mid week the little ones settle down, only to start hyping up as it gets closer to the drive home.

Anyone have some good kids and hotel sleep tips?

Wish us Luck!

 

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Don’t Forget Both Shoes…And Your Wallet!

April 12th, 2009 by bsmith | 3 Comments | Filed in Smith Family Misadventures

Ken Cruising to Vegas

Ken Cruising to Vegas

 

 

Here’s my blog from the first day of our Las Vegas adventure.  What is it with the Smith family and shoes?

Well, our little trip got off to a rocky start.  As I have mentioned before, the Smith Family tends to be rather forgetful. This trip we have really outdone ourselves!  This morning Ken is without razor, wallet, and cell phone clip.  Yesterday evening when we got into town we needed to make an emergency run to the Vans outlet, since Justin appeared to be missing one shoe.  (We think it might have fallen out in the Carls Jr. parking lot…long story.)

On the up side, we got a great pair of slip on Vans for about $20 … a steal.  Justin also found the perfect skateboarder hat that should keep the sun off his face in style.  The Target run for the belt, yielded the crucial revelation that Target has very cheap breakfast (Looks like it will be 2-3 dollars a kid.!)  It had the breakfast sandwich that Justin craves, and French toast for those of us that are less inclined to eat eggs.

Thanks to an ever patient grandma who will be putting the wallet in the mail today, Ken should be whisker free and back on track by tomorrow morning!  Are we the only crazy forgetful family out there?

Happy Trails,

Bridget

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Off to Vegas, Baby! (Well With Two Preschoolers and a Big Kid!)

April 3rd, 2009 by bsmith | 3 Comments | Filed in Road Trips, Special Events

The race is on.  I leave in less than 48 hours,  and I can’t find my camera.  Prayers to St. Anthony requested throughout the blogosphere!  I can’t tell you how many cool photo ops I have missed while tooling around Carlsbad these past couple of days.  Moonlight beach…the wildflowers on the trail behind my house…must find camera!!!!  I have a sneaking suspicion that  my four year old has hidden it, but I can’t get him to fess up.

Here’s what we have on tap for next week:

  • Lied Children’s museum and perhaps the Natural History Museum depending on how we are doing that day.
  • Tournament of Kings at the Excalibur-Hopefully Destiny can endure the Hulabaloo.  She’s pretty timid.
  • The Adventure Dome at Circus Circus-That one is for my big boy Justin.
  • The Ethel M Chocolate Factory Tour-inspired by one of our friend Soultravelers3 You Tube videos of a European Chocolate Factory.  Destiny loves that one.  She has quite the sweet tooth.
  • Springs Reserve-This is a big outdoor park/museum combination to explore.  I’m hoping it will get us moving and enjoying an outdoor adventure-No rain please!
  • The Gregory Popovich Pet Show-Four year old Jared can hardly wait to see this one.  He thinks it will be just like the time Clifford joined the circus!
  • Fun in the pool at the Golden Nugget (Sliding Among the Sharks) and the MGM Grand (Tubing on the lazy river)

Went to Walmart and spent way too much money on stuff we “needed” but now everyone has the appropriate amount of socks and underwear as well as hats, flip flops, and their very own “adventure guidebook” to take notes for the next Smith Family Adventure e-guidebook to Las Vegas.  Hope the rain stays away, I figure out how to navigate the streets of Vegas in a giant Yukon that I have only driven twice, and we generally have a good time.

Finally if you live close to San Diego and are reading this on Saturday April 4th head down to Balboa Park for the Science Festival.  I’m keeping the little guys at home to rest up for the trip (and find the camera!), but Ken and Justin are going .  I’m very jealous! Free admission to lots of science related museums, booths, demonstrations, entertainment.  It looks like it will be an amazing day of cheap fun in San Diego.  Always a good thing.  Find out more at http://www.sdsciencefestival.com/.  More than 500 free science activities what could be better than that!

Well dear readers, won’t be posting much next week due to the ridiculous cost of hotel internet connections (Maybe after I sell a few Legoland  guidebooks, I’ll be able to afford them).  Stay tuned though.  I’ll have plenty of Vegas goodness to share on my return.

Happy Trails,

Bridget

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Public Tantrums and Other Misbehavior While Traveling-Thoughts?

March 23rd, 2009 by bsmith | 2 Comments | Filed in Travel Tips

Sorry I don’t have any great photo for this one.  I have never had the foresight to snap a picture of my little ones mid tantrum, but if I do in the future I’ll be sure to share it on this blog.

This afternoon while procrastinating I read an article by Jack Cafferty, CNN commentator, regarding his opinion about the disintegration of good parenting in today’s society http://tinyurl.com/dgegxb. It seems that Mr. Cafferty’s rant was inspired by the misbehavior of some children sitting near him in a restaurant.  Lately in preparing for my family’s travels to Las Vegas, I have been reading alot of online commentary regarding bringing small children to this more adult oriented vacation destination.  The conclusion of many online bloggers and posters is…leave them home!  That seemed to be Mr. Cafferty’s conclusion as well.

Here’s the thing, family vacations shouldn’t have to consist of trips to theme parks or camping.  Places like Las Vegas have alot to offer to people of all ages, families included: inexpensive food and lodging, fascinating sites, even educational opportunities.  As parents we do our best to teach our kids good manners, keep them well fed and in good humor, and have them use their quiet voices at all times.   Despite our high expectations however, there are just some stages of development that will yield a tantrum from time to time despite our best efforts.  Also as a mom to three, I can say with confidence that there are times when kids feed off of each other with their energy and/or ill humor and it takes a miracle to avoid an unseemly public outburst.  I think that in some ways my parents had it a little easier.  An only child focuses on his or her parents behavior and adopts those good public manners more easily (although I know I did have more than my share of tantrums).

I have high hopes for a peaceful vacation filled with well behaved children, but I can predict that we will have our moments.  My youngest, Jared had a 20+ minute tantrum at Legoland one year that almost permanently damaged my relationship with my Mother in Law (She is a fan of Mr. Cafferty’s school of thought about the disintegration of discipline and society especially in regards to my family.)  Jared is four and a half and his outbursts seem to be peaking.   I vow to all you Vegas travelers who may witness such an outburst or perhaps a poor display of table manners that I will do my best to keep things under control.  We will eat breakfast in our room, have plenty of picnics, visit mostly kid friendly places like the children’s museum or Circus Circus, try to get them down to sleep, set boundaries, and do plenty of coaching regards how to behave in a restaurant, hotel room, museum, etc.   Still, if you see a frazzled mom on her own with three kids, please do not judge me too harshly.  I will do my best to quiet things down as soon as I can, but it may take a few minutes of discipline or soothing depending on the situation.

Any moms out there have other thoughts or suggestions on this topic?  Would love to add some stragedies to my parenting bag of tricks.

Happy Trails,

Bridget

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Smith Family Vegas Road Trip- The Quest for the Perfect Hotel

March 18th, 2009 by bsmith | 4 Comments | Filed in Road Trips
courtesy of www.pachd.com

courtesy of www.pachd.com

The Smith Family will be spending our spring break in Las Vegas.  Ken is teaching a class the week before Easter so we will be packing up the Family Adventuremobile (Otherwise known as our new to us Yukon XL) and hitting the road for our first seven day all hotel stay vacation in four years. 

There seems to be a great debate raging on the internet about whether or not Las Vegas is a good vacation spot for families.  We took Justin when he was a preschooler and had a great time.  We stayed at the Excalibur with Grandma, Great Grandma, Aunt, Uncle and Cousins.  We had fun sliding down the water slides and checking out the sights.  I have returned to Vegas on couples getaways since Ken travels there alot for business.  I also attended a wedding with my parents, and remember reveling in a kid free experience at the Bellagio buffet (I never wanted that meal to end!).  I see both sides of the issue.  Vegas has great, inexpensive opportunites for family adventure.   On the other hand, when I go with just Ken, I revel in the alone time, and don’t really want to be surrounded by preschool tantrums.  Although I must confess that I mostly just think to myself…I don’t have to deal with that until Friday- I’m so lucky! 

With this in mind I’m not booking my kids into the swankiest hotel in Vegas despite the spectacular deals right now .(The staff at the Bellagio is breathing a sigh of relief.)  I will do my best to keep my little ones behaving themselves in public and make sure they have plenty of sleep and downtime to prepare for being in the public eye.  At least I am not Angelina Jolie or Katie Holmes being trailed by reporters wherever I go.  If my kids misbehave all I will have to endure is some dirty looks not tabloid scrutiny.  (OK, did the reporter who made such a big deal about Suri Cruise not wearing a coat, ever have a preschooler who hated to cover up?…well maybe it’s just a California thing.)

Now I just have to find the right hotel… I wasn’t to fond of the Excalibur (the sheets kept coming off of the bed!).  With prices being so reasonable right now, I’m looking for a good hotel, good location, and lots of ammenities.  Circus Circus and Excalibur are nice places to visit, but I don’t want to live there.

In looking for that perfect hotel experience that will keep my kids busy and optimally behaved I have uncovered these options:

  • The Golden Nugget-  We plan to stay here on the weekend since its rates are very affordable.  We chose it for it’s amazing pool with shark tank and water slide.  Destiny is very worried about the sharks even though I constantly assure her they are behind glass.  I’m hoping there is a separate pool area where we can hang out.

 

  • The Hilton Grand Vacation Resort at the Flamingo-  This is our priciest option, but our room would include a kitchenette which would be invaluable because breakfast and lunch are going to get expensive for a family of five and retaurant dining alone with three kids (Ken will be working) sounds less than appealing.  The only room available has one king so we would be breaking out the air mattresses. If we were going in May and the Flamingo waterslides were open this would be a no brainer.  Unfortunately they’re not so I’m still weighing my options.

 

  • Trump Hotel-  Ken has ruled this one out, because it is lacking in the awesome pool.  If I were making this decision on my own it would be a contender. Great rate for a suite with kitchenette.  Kids package includes the ability to check out board games and popular children’s books. 

 

  • MGM Grand- The price is right for a large room with two queen beds.  The pool complex is supposed be fantastic with a lazy river.  There are fun things to do…Rainforest Cafe, see the Lions and preview TV shows.  They have an on-site child care center in case we could figure out a way to take Justin to a show.  Close to Excalibur for more fun.

I’m making the choice today…any suggestions?

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