“It’s possible for a family to win big in Vegas ”You don’t normally hear the words ‘outdoor family travel’ and ‘Las Vegas’ in the same sentence but here’s a surprise, the two can work together. As a short vacation destination, there’s so much more to do than walk the famous Strip, you just have to think outside the box.The trick is to plan your trip in advance, find the best deals and make sure you book into a hotel that isn’t bursting at the seams with scantily-clad showgirls, cigar-chomping high-rollers and raucous frat boys.

We spent three nights at The Orleans Hotel & Casino because it offered incredible value and was super family friendly. They have a professional baby-sitting service – and not just a girl in clear high heels called Candy – plus a bowling alley, cinema and all the usual casino attractions. It rained during our visit but we didn’t let it put us off enjoying the trip, and the hotel’s indoor play center proved to be a happy distraction for our five-year-old when going outside was impossible.

Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden

Jett loved Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden & Dolphin Habitat at The Mirage Hotel. It’s an enchanting hidden playground, and home to majestic white lions, white tigers, panthers, leopards, and a family of bottlenose dolphins, who were more than happy to try to communicate with us humans. Our son really connected with these gentle creatures, and loved getting so close to them. The hotel also features a magnificent indoor coral reef and 20,000-gallon saltwater tank that sits behind the front desk. It’s filled with around 450 fish including angelfish, puffer fish, tangs and other exotic sea creatures. All very bewitching for a five-year-old.

Helicopter Ride Grand Canyon

We decided to splurge on a helicopter trip to the magnificent west rim of the Grand Canyon.We booked with Papillon Airways, and while their website is confusing (review what you are purchasing and double-check your departure times), it was a family highlight. Our four-hour trip consisted of two 35-minute helicopter rides to the Grand Canyon and back. It goes without saying that you get to see one of our most incredible natural landmarks from the most amazing vantage point. As well of the buses we also flew over the volcanic Black Mountains, Grapevine Mesa and the Grand Wash Cliffs. The scale of the canyon is breath-taking but Jett was most impressed with his headset; he loved hearing the captain talk and fly the copter. Once we landed in the canyon, we had a hurried box lunch but the trip was sensational and I’d recommend it to anyone.

Ferrari & Porsche Racing

To make sure boys both big and small were entertained, we decided to book a day at Exotics Racing, which was only a short 20-minutes drive from our hotel. This was boy’s heaven all wrapped up in the shape of red Ferrari. More than six to be exact. First the whole family did two laps in a Porsche Cayenne, and I felt like a super sexy soccer mom. My husband drove two race car laps in a brand new Porsche 991, and wished he had booked more laps. He felt like he’d just got the hang of the car and the track, and then it was time to go. I did two drifting ride-along laps in a Corvette with a trained driver and was truly terrified within 15 seconds. But hey, now I can cross Monaco Grand Prix racer off my bucket list.

We also enjoyed all the outdoor water features along The Strip, as well as a trip on the Monorail. And while you might want to protect your off-spring from the more colorful sights, the reality is that you will see boobs on flyers, as well as showgirls, drag queens and performers in sequins and feather boas walking around. My son certainly noticed all the ‘tushies’ but if you can handle the sights, this is an exciting and affordable vacation. You can book cheap family rooms, food is good value, and if you clip your coupons and search online for the best deals, you can win big – and let’s face it, not everyone who visits Vegas can say that!

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