Eight ideas for an action-packed family holiday in Las Vegas

This June sees the launch of Virgin Atlantic’s new service from Manchester Airport to Las Vegas – a route which will make Manchester the only city in the UK other than London to have direct flights to the West Coast of the US.

Families visiting Vegas will find an abundance of attractions and wonders to keep the kids, and the grown-ups, entertained – and the city even makes a perfect springboard for exploring what the West Coast of the US has to offer.

Here we run through some of the most amazing, and most surreal, attractions in the self-styled ‘Entertainment Capital of the World’.

Take in the sights from the world’s largest ferris wheel

The High Roller observation wheel is the largest of its kind anywhere on the planet, at 550ft tall – that’s more than 100ft taller than the London Eye. From the top, you can enjoy sweeping views of the city and its iconic buildings and attractions, as well as the surrounding landscape. If you go up after dark, you’ll be greeted with a dazzling display of light shows coming from the Las Vegas Strip.

Scale the Eiffel Tower, take a ride on a Venetian gondola and grab a selfie with the Sphinx, all in one day

OK, it might be no substitute for the real thing – but a tour of Las Vegas’ recreations of world-famous attractions is an experience in its own right, and you can do it all in the space of a day.

The most impressive thing about them is their scale – Vegas’ answer to the Eiffel Tower is more than 40 storeys tall and has an observation deck at the top, with a Parisien theme to its décor, while the Luxor Las Vegas Sphinx is even bigger than the original at Giza. The gondoliers at The Venetian Las Vegas whisk you through a labyrinth of canals lined with Renaissance-style architecture, and even sing Italian arias as they go, like their counterparts in Venice. There’s also a 150ft replica of the Statue of Liberty, a life-size recreation of Rome’s Trevi Fountain and a 2/3-scale Arc de Triomphe.

These tribute acts might not be to everyone’s taste but they’re sure to keep the kids entertained.

Go to a beach in the middle of a desert

In a city that aims to bring the world’s attractions together in one place, it should come as no surprise that a trip to the beach is one of the most popular family activities on offer – even in the middle of a desert, 300 miles from the ocean.

Mandalay Bay Beach has over 2,700 tons of real sand lining an enormous 1.6 million gallon artificial ‘sea’ complete with a wave machine and sun loungers. The beach connects to a water park, which includes a quarter-mile ‘Lazy River.’

Meet America’s biggest names at Madame Tussaud’s

Waxwork recreations of more than 100 famous faces are on display at the Las Vegas Madame Tussaud’s, which is the oldest Madame Tussaud’s location in the US and places a particular emphasis on notable figures from the world of music.

Visitors can pose for a photo with a whole host of musicians including Elvis Presley, Snoop Dogg, Frank Sinatra, Britney Spears, Tupac Shakur, Drake and Miley Cyrus. Celebrities from other parts of the entertainment industry recreated in wax include Scarlett Johansson, Kim Kardashian and Muhammad Ali.

Watch the Mirage Volcano show

Nevada was once home to several active volcanoes – but you’re about 80,000 years too late to see the real thing. Instead, however, you can safely enjoy at least some of the spectacle of a volcanic eruption from the comfort of the Mirage Hotel. The fire and water show lasts about 5 minutes and sees huge fountains of ‘lava’ spurt dozens of feet into the air. The volcano is just off the Strip at the Mirage Hotel and the show is free to watch.

Visit one of the largest aquariums in North America

Shark Reef Aquarium is at the Mandalay Bay resort – a stone’s throw from the aforementioned beach. Its main tank is one of the largest in North America, and the aquarium is home to over 2,000 creatures, including more than a dozen species of shark. Other critters on show include sea turtles and aquatic monitor lizards.

Enjoy the spectacle of an NFL game

The Las Vegas Raiders relocated to the city from Oakland in 2020, bringing the NFL to Las Vegas for the first time. They play their home games at the purpose-built Allegiant Stadium, an imposing 65,000-seat arena just off the Strip. The NFL season runs from September to February, so taking in an NFL game is a great option if you’re planning your holiday for the late summer ‘shoulder season’.

Hit the road to LA, the Grand Canyon and beyond

If all of the above isn’t enough to keep you occupied, Las Vegas’ position in the heart of the Southwest of the US makes it possible to visit some of the country’s most renowned sites. The Grand Canyon and Death Valley – the hottest place on Earth – are within a short enough driving distance that you could visit them for a day trip.

For a road tripping holiday, head across the state border into neighbouring California for the bright lights of Los Angeles and San Francisco. You’ll also find natural wonders like Sequoia National Forest, Yosemite National Park and the Big Sur coast road.