Attraction: Town Square

There are a lot of places in Las Vegas to go shopping, even in the tourist corridor: there are Town Squaretwo outlet malls (the one on Charleston is, IMHO, much better than the one on Warm Springs), the Fashion Show (mega) Mall, Forum Shops (at Caesars Palace), Miracle Mile Shops (at Planet Hollywood), Grand Canal Shops (at the Venetian), the Hawaiian Marketplace (across from Aria), and plenty of other shopping areas. Town Square is a bit south of the Strip, at about Sunset and the Boulevard, and I think it’s the best bet for kid-friendly shopping in the Vegas tourist corridor.

It’s not the other places are necessarily family-unfriendly, though you’d be hard-pressed to find much to do with your kids in a place like Crystals (it’s telling that, in racking my brains to think of shopping areas in Vegas, I didn’t think of Crystals until just now).

Town Square is an outdoor mall at 6605 Las Vegas Boulevard South. As far as retail goes,  it’s pretty good: you’ve got places like Gap, Banana Republic, J. Crew, and other typical mall offerings. There are fewer budget-busting places than you’ll find a the Forum Shops, so if you want a window-shopping diversion for a few hours, you’re better off heading there. But if you really need to buy something that’s not too exorbitantly priced, you’ll do better at Town Square. There’s also an Apple store and free wifi throughout the open-air mall, which you might be hungering for after some time on the Strip.

There are also quite a few restaurants of varying quality. Some of them, like Yard House, are great, but not exactly kid-proofed (loud music when I went and, well, their main product is beer), while others are just blah chains (Claim Jumper). You’ll strike gold with Yogurtland, though, which is a personal favorite of mine (and Prima’s). If you want something crunchier, there’s a Whole Foods, too.

In addition, the RAVE movie theater (check times) is an excellent distraction for older kids who you want to keep away from the GIRLS DIRECT TO YOU signs for a few hours.

But the best thing about Town Square for kids, at least for younger ones, is the central playground.

Town Square Playground
One area of the playground

There are quite a few thing to do in there: a few structures with ladders, slides, and other fun stuff. There are also bouncy little animals like this fellow, whose taxonomy remains elusive, at least to me:

Town Square Creature
"Ride me!"

In the summer, they’ve got a little splashpad, so bring a dry change of clothes. My favorite part was the spinning thing (I don’t know what it’s called–it’s a manual merry-go-round of sorts). I couldn’t resist giving all the kids a spin. What started off pretty mellow ended with a bunch of 2-10 year olds chanting in unison “FASTER! FASTER! FASTER! FASTER!” So feel free to help the kids go fast, but know what you’re getting into.

There’s also an artificial hedge maze if you feel like reenacting scenes from The Shining (or just watching your little ones wander around for a bit) and plenty of other little discoveries just waiting to be…discovered.

A trip to Town Square works best if you’ve got a few hours to spend. Let’s say one of the parents has to go to a convention or wants to gamble/go to the spa/do whatever. The other parent (or whoever’s taking care of the kids; you get the point) can easily spend the better part of a day here between shopping, lunch, seeing a movie and playing in the playground.

It’s a nice escape from the Strip that’s not too far from the Strip. I’m amazed that I only see a fraction of the tourists here that I do at the Outlet malls. Even though it’s not on many of the package tour folks’ radar, if you have small kids and are visiting Las Vegas, it should be on yours.

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