I'm Just Sayin': A straight-and-narrow trip to Sin City

My husband and I took the kids to Las Vegas over their winter break from school. Some of you might think it's crazy to take two 7-year-olds to Sin City, but our son wanted to see the sights and we thought that a couple of nights wouldn't morally corrupt him too much.

When you have small kids, you don't stay at the hottest hotels or go to the clubs (not that we ever did before). We stayed at an extended-stay hotel far from the Strip so we wouldn't be in the midst of the noise and chaos. We're not gamblers or drinkers, so we didn't miss not having a casino in the hotel. Our kids were more concerned that they offered a free breakfast buffet.

You'd think that there wouldn't be many kids traveling with their parents to Las Vegas, but we actually saw a large number of children and even a few infants, and surprisingly there's an abundance of things to keep the kiddies entertained.

Their favorite destination was M&M World, which boasts 85 varieties of the candy that "melts in your mouth, not in your hand." Of course we had to get some, but the kids were just as interested in the merchandise bearing the logo. We even bought some silly bands in M&M shapes and colors. (For those of you without kids in elementary school, silly bands are rubber bands in endless shapes that kids wear on their wrists and trade with friends.)

We also went to a $10-per-person afternoon magic show. Never have I so agreed with the phrase, "You get what you pay for." Our kids wanted to see David Copperfield or Chris Angel, but that would have meant raiding their college fund to pay for the tickets, so we felt something more thrifty was in order.

In any case, the kids thought the magician was great and didn't mind that his act consisted of well-worn tricks that I saw on the Ed Sullivan Show in the 1960s. To them, everything old is new again.

When we walked through the casino on our way to the magic show, our son was awestruck by all of the slot machine lights and sounds. I told him that he had to be 21 to play them and he made me promise to bring him back for his 21st birthday. I hope he still wants me to tag along when the time comes.

I think it's a law in Nevada that you can't leave Las Vegas without having visited an all-you-can-eat buffet at one of the large hotels. Our kids were more concerned with the style of the venue than the actual food itself, so we ended up at the Excalibur hotel buffet. I can't wait to see the reviews it got on yelp.com. We should have checked it before we went.

One night we went downtown to see the Fremont Street Experience. It's a pedestrian mall with a light and sound show running every hour. The kids must be technically jaded, because they didn't think it was as cool as mom and dad did.

Since so many kids now come to Las Vegas, the street entertainers are almost all geared toward them. We saw people in costumes ranging from Hello Kitty and Spiderman to the requisite Elvis. The kids wanted to have their picture taken with every one of them, requiring us to give an appropriate tip.

The phrase, "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" must apply to your money too.

SHARON RAGHAVACHARY is on the steering committee for Crescenta Valley Community Assn. and a member of the Family Advisory Council for Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. She may be reached at sharonchary@gmail.com.

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