The Strip is no place for kids ... except yours

Taking a toddler and a 6-month-old to Las Vegas may not have been the smartest idea — I’ll grant you that — but forcing my wife and me to undergo a 24-hour mental health evaluation seemed a bit excessive.

The idea for the trip began when I won a package from the Casablanca in Mesquite. The hotel rooms were totally free, unless you factor in gambling losses, in which case they were $400 per night.

This was our first family road trip since somebody had impregnated my wife last year, so we were a little nervous. It’s around seven hours to Mesquite, so I made sure to plan ahead by mapping out stops along the way. I researched things like parks, rest stops and county social service offices — just in case the kids kept screaming and we wanted to give them up for adoption.

In my research, I discovered that Richfield, Utah, has two outdoor parks and a McDonald’s Playland. This pleased me, until realizing how pathetic it sounded. Mesquite used to thrill me with the lure of playing craps at 3 a.m. while downing Coronas. Now I get a rush when learning that Cedar City’s park has tire swings.

Contrary to conventional casino wisdom, you can do a lot with kids in Mesquite. You can swim, you can eat, you can ... well I guess pretty much just those two things. But hours spent doing nothing but swimming and eating is a pretty good day for a kid. Come to think of it, it’s a pretty good day for an adult.

This leads us to one of the best things in a casino: cheap eats. One morning, the three of us who don’t breast feed shared one $3.99 blueberry pancake special. Stacked high, there were enough flapjacks to pass around and fill us all up. It was like the Biblical loaves and fishes — only with maple syrup and a Keno runner.

At some point, my wife and I tired of all the happy, peaceful relaxation and longed for the angry stress one can only find by driving young children long distances. So we loaded up and headed for Vegas. Ear-piercing shrieks returned, and we were in our comfort zone.

Useless Las Vegas fact: The stairway leading from the Bellagio to the tram station has exactly 44 steps.

I know this because my daughter — fascinated by the staircase — had to count them out loud. There are a few things in Sin City more interesting than a walkway to public transit, but to each his own. Some people come to Las Vegas to count cards. She counts steps.

As for the strip, I don’t recommend it for kids. We came across numerous risqué billboards promoting topless clubs. These made my wife upset, my 3-year-old curious, and my 6-month-old hungry.

One bright spot: At the MGM Grand our daughter went potty in public for the first time. In the bathroom, I mean. Not on the casino floor or anything. Although I’m sure that would not be a first for Vegas.

It was during my wife’s potty break when security approached and sternly informed me that I couldn’t have a 3-year-old in the gaming area.

Getting kicked out of a casino while sober was a new experience. Never mind having a toddler near the penny slots, in the five Las Vegas bachelor parties I’ve attended, there have been legitimate things I could have gotten in trouble for. I’ll spare you the details because I’m running out of space and because I don’t know if Nevada has a statute of limitations.

Overall it was a fun trip, with the highlight being my daughter finally using the potty, as it meant there were no dirty diapers to deal with on the ride home.

It turns out what happens in Vegas really does stay in Vegas.

Reach Steve Beauregard at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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