For the Ken Watrous family in Las Vegas, the Downtown Container Park is a good starting place for family entertainment. If you are working on your first few outings with children that are old enough to get out and are more highly mobile (pretty much above 5) this is a good place to feel out what kind of things your kids are interested in and what you can do with your kids. The park is an open area mall like structure. It features different stores, some restaurants, an interesting playground filled with different activities, and a live entertainment stage. They also do movies and some extra events. For the most part, the park is only really busy on weekends, Friday through Sunday, but sometimes has activities earlier in the week and of course holidays.
The stores are mostly geared toward children with a mixture of clothing and accessory stuff. And then there are toys and sweet shops. The home décor shops are especially useful for customizing a room. If you have two kids splitting from a shared room into their own rooms, this can be a great place to let them express their personality and browse through some ideas.
The restaurants are more of a mix with some things being really built towards kids and some being more about the parents. Unless you happen to have kids that are into artisanal cheese and wine… The adult themed places all have an assortment of healthy food and reasonable drinks, the kid focused stuff tends to be a bit messy and also portable. Portability is key when marching around from place to place trying out some of the attractions and messiness is really nothing new to a veteran parent.
There are age restrictions after 9 PM. This is not a problem, having kids out past that time is a little weird. The night entertainment tends to be live music and a mixture of adults coming in and out of the bar spots. The pre-9 time usually has a movie or two showing and a lot of families moving from store to store or roaming around the interactive park.
Prices range a lot in the stores and the restaurants, so that is good for fitting to a certain budget or splurging a bit. It works for a lot of different family sizes and wallets. Most of the interactive features and entertainment are free. This is how they get people into the shopping center, where the general air of commerce does its thing. There aren’t too many big structures to worry about safety wise. They do have a Treehouse playground that is well regulated and they keep an eye on the weather for their slide to prevent problems. They check at the doors as you enter for unaccompanied minors and are good at clearing out the minors at 9 PM switch over. All of the restaurants are in good condition and the only real health concern I have ever seen is trying to keep the kids from picking up things they find dropped by other kids. Staff is pretty fast in getting that kind of thing taken care of as well.
The best family factor here is that it is a large place with plenty of roaming. Teaming up to keep an eye on one or both kids isn’t too hard. The kids are usually keen to hit a few spots, like the toy stores and then they have favorites in the interactive park. The features are grouped well and it is easy enough to sit at the side and watch the kids playing around without needing to be right on top of them. The movies are easy to get in and out of if someone needs to hit the restroom and the family-friendly nature of the place usually means that the movies are full of interruptions, but nobody is a jerk about it. They knew what they were getting into watching a free kids movie.
I like the Downtown Container Park for a mixed evening out. It lets the kids have some fun, we get some dinner, we can shop for a few things, all in one location without having problems wrangling and moving the kids along. It is also easy to split up and have one parent shopping while the other sits with the kids in the park or a movie.