By Steve Beauregard
The bright white castle on the south strip, also known as the Excalibur Hotel and Casino, is the best hotel on the Las Vegas Strip for families with kids.
Opened in the summer of 1990, the Excalibur sits at the intersection of the Las Vegas Strip and Tropicana – the most concentrated intersection of hotel rooms in the world. With the Excalibur, New York – New York, MGM Grand and Tropicana Hotel and Casino, this corner of the south Strip is always bustling. The Excalibur – currently the 10th largest hotel in the world, with just over 4,000 rooms – adds to this huge concentration of bodies.
With affordable rooms, a great location, and laid-back, friendly vibe, the Excalibur is my vote for the best kid-friendly hotel in Las Vegas. Having stayed there recently with a 2 year-old and a 4 year-old, I found it to be pretty comfortable for our family.
A big part of the reason the resort is great for parents is for the simple fact that at the Excalibur, you’ll be surrounded by many other families. In my numerous trips to Las Vegas, it seems I’ve always seen kids roaming around the Excalibur.
As a parent, it’s a sinking feeling when you’re in a Vegas casino, surrounded by well-dressed adults at place like say, the Wynn, when your two year-old is in the middle of a huge melt down.
You won’t get the dirty looks from well-heeled gamblers, or dining patrons. That’s because at the Excalibur, another family’s two year-old is likely to be screaming louder than your little one.
In addition to very affordable rooms (especially for Las Vegas), the Excalibur is close to some great family-friendly activities on the Strip. Whether your kids are 2 or 17, there’s something for all your kids to do near the Excalibur.
(Go here to get the full list of Fun things for families with kids to do on the Las Vegas Strip).
NY-NY Roller Coaster
Situated at the NY-NY Hotel and Casino, just across the pedestrian bridge from the Excalibur, this ride is a great diversion for your older kids.
Obviously this isn’t an option for those of you with just toddlers, (you have to be 54 inches to ride), but the New York – New York’s Big Apple Coaster is an exciting, fun ride that thrills over a million riders a year. The ride costs $14 and involves a loop and several G-force pounding twists as it winds its ways around the faux New York skyline above the crowds below.
With two children under 5, this attraction is more of my family’s style. It’s basically an M&M super store. Want peanut M&M’s that are colored in a mauve color? You’ve got it. Dying to have a coffee mug with the M&M characters on it? This is your place.
We go here because, frankly, it’s one of the few places on the Strip for very young kids. They’ll get to have their photos taken with the M&M characters out front. Plus, there is a fun 3-D movie on the upper level that is both entertaining, (and more importantly), free.
Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay
Just a short, monorail ride south, (there is a free tram from the Excalibur to Mandalay Bay), the Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay is a fun and educational way to kill an hour or so with your kids while in Vegas. Although a little too advanced for a 2 year old, kids 4 and up should enjoy it, as did I. The exhibits are well-done and staffed by very friendly and knowledge hosts. My daughter like touching the Sting-Ray the best.
Fun Dungeon at the Excalibur
I’m hesitant to mention this, because while the Excalibur calls it their “World Famous Arcade,” it’s basically just a bunch of video games and carnival games and ticket-spewing machines you find at places like Chuck-E-Cheese.
Tournament of Kings
As you may know, this dinner theater show has you feasting in an arena, as knights joust on horses, attempting to win your approval. Admission starts at $65.60. While that sounds expensive, in reality it is. But they have to find some way to pay for upkeep for the 10 different horses used for each show. The $65.60 ticket is for everyone 4 and over, (kids 3 and under can sit on their parent’s lap and eat free). The dinner is a 3 course meal. Unlike dinner at your house, your kids will not be bored at this show.
Besides the attractions, the Excalibur has the requisite outdoor swimming pool complex with four different pools (one adult only pool) and one with a water slide. And while it will never appear on one of those lists of the “Best Pools in Las Vegas,” it has the advantage of being filled with kids and families.
As a parent, I’d take that, over going to say, the Mandalay Bay’s pool, (always ranked at the best swimming pool in Las Vegas), due to the fact that everything at the Excalibur is more laid-back and kid-friendly. In other words, you’ll be swimming next to other parents and children, rather than being surrounded by 20-something L.A. snobs, holding $15 drinks and just here to go clubbing.
Eating with Kids at the Excalibur
On the north side of the hotel, close to Dick’s Last Resort, is a Baja Fresh restaurant. We don’t have this franchise in my hometown, but I found this Mexican fast food joint to be perfect for a quick, and relatively healthy dinner for our family.
On the second level food court, (called the “Castle Walk Food Court”), you’ll find some other cheap dining options at the Excalibur. These include a Pizza Hut Express, Popeyes Chicken, Pick Up Stix (an Asian fast food franchise – and apparently the only one of its kind in Las Vegas), Krispy Kreme, Cinnabon (apparently Excalibur guests love their sugared breakfasts), Hot Dog on a Stick (and yes, that’s its real name), and Auntie Annie’s Pretzels.
All in all, while I wouldn’t aim for a Las Vegas vacation with kids, the Excalibur Hotel and Casino is a great option for a night’s stay in Sin City.
And from personal experience, allow me to remind you that kids are only allowed in the casino while traveling somewhere, or at a restaurant or front desk. Don’t loiter with your kids (even ones up to 20 years old), anywhere around the casino, as it will take security less than 30 seconds or so to start hassling you. They’re not jerks about it; it’s just their job to enforce Nevada gaming law.