While it’s easy for parents of Tinys to feel like theme parks and Grandma’s house are their only vacation options, I’m here to tell you that it’s simply untrue! Many families would be pleasantly surprised to learn that child-friendly activities, opportunities and amenities available at even the most sophisticated locations. If you know what to look for, you and your Tinys can find fun and comfort at popular adult destinations like New York and Las Vegas.

New York

Any sucessful NYC visit begins with choosing the right accomodations. Basing your family within walking distance of several child-friendly attractions will save major time, money and stress. The Buckingham Hotel is perched 2 blocks from Central Park, making it minutes from kiddo-favorites like the Natural History Museum, Hayden Planetarium FAO Schwartz, Central Park Zoo and even the Lincoln Center (which puts on a wide variety of arts performances for families).

Space can also be an issue when taking the Tinys to the Big Apple. Thankfully, hotels like The Omni Berkshire Place and Loews Regency provide ample room-size for rollaway beds (nominal fees) and cribs (free!). Both hotels also boast charming “welcome” programs for children: suitcases or backpacks stocked with puzzles, games, jumpropes, coloring books and even an Etch-A-Sketch. And both also offer a wide variety of kid-friendly food options – that is if your children don’t fill up on the in-room cookies and milk first!

Las Vegas

Think children aren’t welcome in Sin City? Check out the Mandalay Bay, where a wave pool, lazy river, shark aquarium and Disney’s “Lion King” musical are all right outside your hotel door. Should you get bored, a quick hop on the tram will take you directly to the Excalibur, by-passing the adult-content billboards, flyers and taxi-toppers out on the Strip.  The Excalibur boasts a huge family-friendly arcade and an exciting jousting show! Plus they’re “adults only” pool keeps the serious partiers away from the waterslide and family area.

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We recently made The Excalibur our desert oasis on a roadtrip from California to Utah.  Thanks to mid-week vacancies we paid less than $50 to stay and were upgraded to their remodeled rooms for free! 

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 The kids were enchanted by the idea of sleeping in a castle, while I felt a bit spoiled by the enormous flat-screen TV, Ipod docking station and swanky interior decorating.  Even the sparkling-clean bathroom was oversized and sleek.

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After a good sleep, we were ready to play and The Excalibur did not disappoint.   Our entire morning was spent at the pool enjoying the waterfalls and slippery slides.  By midday we were hot and hungry, so we hit the buffet.  All in all, it was a great little stay in Vegas, with all the flash, but none of the trash.

However, when it comes to the practicalities of family travel, I’ve heard the Trump International Hotel and Tower is unbeatable. Its list of kid-friendly features is long and impressive: non-gaming, non-smoking, spacious rooms, kitchenettes, two TVs, children’s movies, books, games, and toys! All of this comes standard, along with free baby products (upon request) in case you forget blankets, bibs, bottle warmers, diapers, etc. Who knew The Donald could be so thoughtful?

 Knowing where to find kid-friendly amenities and activities made all the difference in our Vegas visit. Now, as I plan our trip to New York for next spring, I can’t wait to take advantage of all the fun family options available!