Beat the Las Vegas summer heat with these fun, family-friendly activities

Summer in the desert can feel like being stuck in a hair dryer. So we’ve rounded up some of the best activities to help keep your family cool over the long weekend and into the months ahead.

Top of the list, of course, are water attractions. H20 has already started to circulate freely splash pads around town, including Paseo Verde Park in Henderson, Cougar Creek Park to the southwest, and Town Square just south of the Strip.

Looking for something a little more adventurous? Head toward Cowabunga Water Park (cowabungavegas.com), which has locations in both Henderson (900 Galleria Drive) and Summerlin (7055 S. Fort Apache Road). Both feature wave pools, slides, and relaxing lazy rivers, making them one of the best ways to spend a hot day.

You can also beat the heat by spending a day at a cool museum. the Discovery of the Children’s Museum (360 Promenade Square, discoverykidslv.org) is three stories of fun, with a water exhibit, where kids can splash around and experience the power and movement of water, and an art exhibit that teaches color, line, shape and more Again. There’s a jungle gym at the center of it all, and the museum is always adding new exhibits and activities to its schedule. At Nevada State Museum(309 S Valley View Blvd., lasvegasnvmuseum.org) people of all ages can enjoy an interactive experience showcasing the history of the Silver State. And once you’ve passed through the museum, all you have to do is walk to the Springs Preserve, which features exhibits of live animals including gray foxes and turtles. Plus, Memorial Day weekend will be your last chance to catch the butterfly habitat there.

A trip to an arcade can be another indoor activity to cool off in, and Las Vegas has plenty to choose from. GameNest (4525 W Spring Mountain Road, gamenestlv.com) mostly features beat-based Japanese imports, and at $10 for 60 minutes, it’s a great way to try something new. Expansionpinball hall of fame (4925 Las Vegas Blvd. S., pinballmuseum.org) serves up rows upon rows of pinball machines, but fans of old-school board games like Donkey Kong and Ms. Pac-Man will also find plenty to like. And the Adventuredome (2880 Las Vegas Blvd. S., circuscircus.com/the-adventuredome) which turns 30 next year, is another classic choice. The indoor amusement park has all kinds of video games and intermediate games, and you can also ride the Canyon Blaster roller coaster or spin on the Disk ‘O.

Speaking of rides, Overview on the Strip (3771 Las Vegas Blvd. S., flyoverlasvegas.com) is fairly new, so now is a great time to check it out. The immersive ride features a 52.5-foot-wide spherical screen complemented by technology that dips and dips passengers to simulate the feel of flight. See volcanoes and glaciers on the Icelandic Experience or the grasslands, rivers and lights of Las Vegas Boulevard on the Real Wild West version.

Adult Experiences at Area15 (3215 S. Rancho Drive, area15.com) are already legendary, but the magnet also offers several family-friendly options. Lift-off takes guests to the top of a 130-foot tower for 360-degree views of the Strip, and kids 12 and under ride free with the purchase of an adult ticket. Inside the room, the Haley’s Comet the zip line lets you race with a friend while enjoying the views. Plus, there are fun VR experiences like five iron golf and birda flight simulator.

Stay active in the heat with a day at an ice rink, and Las Vegas suddenly has several – the Las Vegas Ice Center (9295 W. Flamingo Road #130, lasvegasice.com), Pepsi Ice Arena at Fiesta Rancho (fiestaranchoicearena.com), National City Arena in downtown Summerlin (1550 S. Pavilion Center Drive, citynationalarena.com) and Henderson lifeguards arena (222 S. Water St., lifeguardarena.com)—all open for public skating and hockey lessons. And speaking of sports, summer is the perfect time to see the pros in action, with a Aces, Airmen, Knight Hawks or Lights Thurs. Most have specials for families and/or kids, so research before you go.

It wouldn’t really be summer in Las Vegas without Great Summer Theater (supersummertheatre.org) at Spring Mountain Ranch State Park. The first production of this year, Mary Poppins the Musicalfrom June 1 to 25, with Sister Act the musical (July 13-August 6) and Mathilde the musical (August 24-September 10) lined up behind. Bring a blanket and your favorite snacks and enjoy the show under the stars. And if you prefer a big screen, head for the classic West wind by car (4150 W. Carey Ave., westwinddi.com). Tuesday is Family Fun Night, where admission is only $6 for adults and $2 for children.

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Richard V. Johnson