Looking for the perfect opportunity for a fun-filled family vacation? Look no further than Nevada. Famously known as the party town of Las Vegas, Nevada has so much more to offer with experiences that combine great fun with great education. Ride a one-of-a-kind historical steam train, explore ghost towns, or climb spectacular rock formations. Instead of staying in a big, mega-hotel like the ones you’ll find on “The Strip,” choose a Nevada vacation rental with a lot more personality. There’s no place like Nevada to reconnect with your family and remind you how much fun you can have together!
1. Las Vegas
When you think of Las Vegas, you probably think of cocktails, casinos, and staying out until the sun comes up, but the city of sin is so much more than that. It really is true when they say you can find anything in Vegas, including loads of family fun. From the volcano at The Mirage, fountains and The Bellagio, or the roller coaster at New York, New York, many hotels are keeping their younger visitors in mind. There are also plenty of activities to be found off The Strip. The Pinball Hall of Fame houses and displays the world’s largest collection of pinball machines, ranging in age from 1950s through the 1990s, including a large number of machines from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, which is known as the heyday of pinball. Entry is free, and machines are just $0.25 or $0.50 to play. The world-class Discovery Children’s Museum is also located in Vegas and is the perfect family-focused outing. This three-story museum offers 58,000 feet of nine themed exhibition halls with a stunning 26,000 square feet of interactive hands-on core exhibits and caters to a variety of ages.
Located on 160 acres of land in Imlay, Nevada is a non-profit wild animal sanctuary called Safe Haven Wildlife Sanctuary. The sanctuary is currently home to bobcats, cougars, African lions, tigers, African servals, foxes and more, and they work with the USDA, state and local authorities and many national organizations to offer permanent housing/care and rehab/release programs for these animals. Daily tours, educational programs, and outreach programs are available by appointment. Many people say that their visit to Safe Haven was one of the highlights of their Nevada vacation!
3. Boulder City
The obvious choice in Boulder City is a visit to Hoover Dam. What was once the tallest dam in the world, this modern wonder simply cannot be missed. If you want your family to get outdoors, head to Boulder City for the Bootleg Canyon Trails. This series of trails has nicknames like The Reaper, Dominatrax, and Armageddon, and is extremely popular with mountain bike enthusiasts. Of course, you can enjoy the trails by foot too, but if you’re staying in a vacation rental, it’s the perfect chance to bring your own bikes along too. Just outside of Boulder Canyon is one of the most incredible zip lining experiences in the West, Flightlinez. You’ll soar 8,000 feet over the picturesque Bootleg Canyon at nearly 60 miles-per-hour! The four-part tour begins at the top of Red Mountain in Bootleg Canyon Park and will give you the most amazing views of Boulder City, Lake Mead, and the El Dorado Valley.
Let your kids reach for the stars at the Fleischmann Planetarium in Reno. Currently listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings, this planetarium is unique for being the first planetarium in the world to project full-dome movies in its unique theater. In addition to large-format films and star shows shown daily, the Planetarium offers a variety of exhibits that include an enormous rotating planet Earth and moon globes, dozens of meteorites, an intriguing black hole demonstrator and more.
5. Moapa Town
Can’t kids get enough of those furry critters? They’ll love Roos-N-More Zoo in Moapa Town. What began with only one wallaby is now home to nearly 300 animals, including lemurs, monkeys, a sloth, birds, reptiles, camels, a zebra, a caracal, a serval, tamarins and marmosets, wallabies, and kangaroos. Thanks to a place like Roos-N-More, your kids can experience animals that they would usually only be able to read about in books or see one TV.
Located in the scenic El Dorado Canyon is the oldest, richest and most famous gold mine in Southern Nevada, the Techatticup Mine. The area is now referred to as Nelson, but the historic Techatticup Mill still remains the crown jewel. Take a guided tour to see above and below ground and learn about the mine and the rich history of the area. Historical blue water cove trips are also offered, where you can rent a canoe or two-person kayak to explore the beautiful Colorado River in the canyon below.
A little-known secret about the hills surrounding Tonopah is that they are filled with unimaginable amounts of turquoise! Have an experience like no other and go turquoise mining. Tours start at the Otteson Turquoise Jewelry shop, where you take a short 30-minute ride to the Royston Turquoise Mine, about 30 minutes from the Mizpah Hotel. The Royston Turquoise Mine is special because it’s known worldwide for having a wide range of colors, from emerald greens to soft baby blues, along with the more traditional deeper aquamarine. Each guest is given one large bag for collection and three hours to dig and sort through turquoise-laden mounds. Once you’re back to the Mizpah, you can sort through your best pieces, cut, and polish them. Talk about souvenirs and memories to last a lifetime!
8. Toquima Mountain Range
Located deep in the Toquima Range in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest is the captivating Toquima Cave. This historic site was used by Native Americans as a temporary dwelling between 3,000 and 1,500 years ago, and inside, you can see a large number of pictographs on the north and south walls. To reach the cave, enter the Toquima Cave Campground and hike about 1/2 mile to the entrance. If you’re looking to spend more than just a few hours in the area, you can reserve a spot in the Toquima Cave Campground. It’s a nice alternative to staying in a vacation rental and a great opportunity to spend the night underneath the stars.
Elko is the perfect place for your family to discover the Wild West. Start at the Weigand Gallery in the century-old Pioneer Hotel with its Western-themed exhibits and 20-seat black-box theater. Then, head to the Northeastern Nevada Museum to peruse the works of Western artist and author of “Smoky, The Cow Horse,” Will James. Head eight miles west of Elko to the California Trail Interpretive Center which tells the story of Americas Westward expansion in the mid-19th century. Next up, see how saddles are made at J.M. Capriola Co. This longstanding western wear store has been in business since 1929 and sells boots, hats, and other items essential to the cowboy. After you’ve picked up a new outfit, dine in style at The Star Hotel to sample Nevada’s Basque cuisine of the American West.
10. Incline Village
Lake Tahoe, straddling the Nevada/California border is called the jewel of Nevada, and it’s easy to see why. With 22 by 12 miles of sparkling water and 72 miles of pristine shoreline, Lake Tahoe is the nation’s largest alpine lake and an absolute water-sports paradise during the summer. Divided into two shores, north and south, each side has plenty to offer in its own unique way. Set up your home base in charming Incline Village, and then set out to explore the different parts of the lake. South Shore is the lively side with large hotel-casinos, shopping, and dining. The southeast shore, Zephyr Cove, is perfect for hitting the water with parasailing, beach lounging, or scenic cruising. Explore the north side for a slice of quiet mountain life.
Ready to plan your trip to Nevada?