A Las Vegas vacation can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people, from a booze and gambling-filled party to a nice vacation away from home with the kids (some people even combine these two vibes in one vacation). The Las Vegas vacation industry really boomed in the late 60s and early 70s when Las Vegas invented its image as a playground for adults, full of glitzy casinos, extravagant shows, and bars that were open night and day. In this Vegas you could catch a show, gamble all night, throw back a whiskey sour with breakfast at 8am and go to sleep for a few hours before doing it all over again.
In the early 90s the Las Vegas vacation became something completely different. With the introduction of attractions like New York New York’s roller coaster and MGM Grand’s child-friendly environment, the Las Vegas casinos began to attract families who were traveling together. Casino owners realized they could attract the all-night gamblers and high rollers while catering to a completely new crowd, the families, who brought their own money to play in the Las Vegas sands. Kid-friendly shows, restaurants, and attractions popped up everywhere, and many casinos also offered child play areas so mom and dad could still go off to drink and gamble.
Now, Las Vegas vacations represent an odd hybrid between the adult and child’s playground. Roller coasters rumble over casino floors where slot machines ping and whiz and roulette wheels clatter. Thanks to the legalization of prostitution in Vegas, advertisements for escort agencies litter the sidewalks and ads for topless shows are displayed on taxi cabs next to ads for Sponge Bob Square Pants. Though the strip has reinvented its image as a family-friendly location, the adult-playground feeling still persists. You can still find more high-end restaurants and nightclubs that just about any other small area in the U.S., and money and champagne still flow freely.
Though adults and young children alike can enjoy a Las Vegas vacation, the environment is a little tougher for teenagers. Since those under 21 can’t drink, nor can they gamble, most of the adult-orientated attractions in Vegas are off-limits to them. Likewise, older teenagers probably aren’t very interested in the arcades or the roller coasters that their younger siblings are so excited about. Though some nightclubs aren’t 21+, most of them are, leaving older teens with little entertainment. If you’re a family with a few teenagers another location may be better, as vacationing with older teens in Vegas may entice them to try out more adult forms of entertainment.