Find out the best things to do in Las Vegas if you are not into gambling!
When you think of Las Vegas, your first thoughts probably turn to gambling. That’s expected considering that Vegas is the gambling capital of the Americas. However, while gambling getaways are the primary attraction for Vegas visitors, there are many more things to see and do in Sin City.
What to Take into Consideration
Visiting Las Vegas multiple times over a 15+ year time period has allowed me to witness the huge transformation the city has gone through. In a way, it is like a completely new city that has emerged from the desert floor.
All those changes have made prices skyrocketed. Attractions, meals, and drinks can be quite expensive. Hidden charges and fees (oh, they know how to surprise you with these) can drain your wallet too. If you are on a budget, do research the prices. There are still bargains available but you need to know where to find them (especially during weekdays).
In this article, I will alert you to free ideas.
The other thing is that Vegas moved from being a winter destination to being an all-year-round destination. But, let me tell you, summer temperatures are no joke. I recommend avoiding this time of the year if possible.
Several hotels have started to charge parking fees. Check which one offers free parking. This is an unnecessary charge that can be avoided.
Below are some of the other things you can do in Vegas other than gamble.
Things to Do in Las Vegas – The Classics
Walk The Strip
Walking The Strip (Las Vegas Boulevard) may be the most cost-effective (and fun) way to experience Vegas. I mean, you can walk from hotel to hotel soaking all the craziness without having to spend a penny. And, if you feel like making it rain, you will find plenty of opportunities.
You can concentrate on the portion from Spring Mountain Road to Mandalay Bay Road. On that 4-mile section of The Strip, you will encounter hotels like Treasure Island, The Mirage, Caesars Palace, Bellagio, Paris, The Venetian, Planet Hollywood, Excalibur, Luxor, New York-New York, and Mandalay Bay. In addition, you will pass the City Center, one of the “newest” developments in the area.
Wear comfortable shoes since 4 miles can double easily when you take into consideration all the walking inside the hotels.
Drive The Strip at Night
It is no secret Las Vegas comes alive at night. You want to see all the flashy lights and signs once the sun hides. Due to traffic, this otherwise short drive can take up to an hour. However, it is essential for every trip to Vegas.
The Eiffel Tower
You may think you’re in the wrong city to see the Eiffel Tower. However, there is no doubt that Vegas has its own for you to see. You can ascend to the top of the tower or eat at the restaurant.
Here you can get a taste of the Italian city of Venice while taking a gondola ride around their indoor or outdoor canals. Yes, you read that right. The hotel’s shopping complex is quite nice too.
The New York – New York Roller Coaster
This roller coaster takes you on a trip around the New York – New York Hotel which itself is a sight to see as it is a compressed version of the city that never sleeps (it has a Statue of Liberty replica).
Bellagio Fountains and Water Show
It may sound like a weird sight to see as it is just a fountain. However, these are very different. They will take your breath away when you see them and are very different in both daylight and at night.
In a nutshell, the show is every 30 minutes during the day and every 15 minutes at night. This is a free attraction.
Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens
The Bellagio Conservatory (a conservatory is a space with a glass roof) is full of flower displays, fountains, sculptures, and other works of art. The horticulturists in charge of creating and maintaining the displays are super talented. I am always amazed at what they put together.
The displays change with the seasons so, you can keep coming during different visits. This is a free attraction.
The Stratosphere Tower
This hotel does not need any introduction. You will be able to see its tower from pretty much anywhere. As a matter of fact, there are many claims that this is the tallest freestanding observation tower in the United States.
Of course, you can go to the top. If you dare, get into the rides at the top of the tower. I would visit close to sunset to get the views during the day and night.
Circus Circus Attractions
There is a lot to do at Circus Circus. The hotel has an indoor theme park where an entrance fee will get you unlimited rides. However, they have an entire area resembling a fair. You pay for a particular game and get a prize if you do well. Or, you can pay for an electronic game, get a series of tickets depending on the number of points you got, and interchange those tickets for prizes.
In addition, there are free acrobatic shows in the same area.
The Mirage Volcano
This old-fashioned, somewhat nostalgic, attraction takes place nightly, on the hour, from 8:00 to 11:00. The fire and music show lasts about 5 minutes so, try to pick a good spot if you want to watch the entire thing.
Welcome to Las Vegas Sign
The original “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada” sign is located south of The Strip at 5200 Las Vegas Boulevard. There is a dedicated parking lot to the sign (only in Vegas) so, visitors can safely walk to take their pictures.
Things to Do in Las Vegas – Food
There are so many buffets to choose from in Las Vegas that you are bound to expand your palate if you go to a couple of different ones.
Good ones include Paris Las Vegas, Planet Hollywood, Bellagio, Caesars Palace, and Wicked Spoon (Cosmopolitan). Off The Strip, you can find good buffets at Rampart Casino, M Resort, and Makino Sushi.
Breakfast Buffet at the Wynn
This may not sound like something to do but, when you get there, you will understand just how good breakfast can be.
Anything Gordon Ramsay
If like me, you are a fan of Gordon Ramsay, head to one of his eateries along The Strip. His restaurants fit different budgets. If you want to get fancy, you can visit Hell’s Kitchen or Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill. More affordable options include Gordon Ramsay Burger and Gordon Ramsay Fish & Chips.
This is the restaurant to visit if you want to eat the most creative food on the planet. Here you will find some of the best French food in America.
This restaurant and lounge are famous for its old-school decor (velvet booths and chairs, brass details, low lights) delicious (and huge) portions, and creative cocktails.
Ethel M Chocolates
At this popular chocolate factory, located in Henderson, you can have samples, watch the chocolate-making process, and walk around a botanical garden for free. Chocolate tasting classes are available for a fee.
If you do not want to drive to the factory, Ethel M has stores in Downtown (California Hotel) and Town Square.
Join a Food Tour
You may not think of Las Vegas as a foodie city but, believe me, there is so much to eat there! Actually, this is one of the main reasons I like to visit. If you are time-constrained, joining a food time is an excellent way to get a glimpse of Vegas’ gastronomic universe. Take into consideration the following companies:
- Lip Smacking Foodie Tours – Offer tours around the Arts District, and The Strip
- Taste Buzz – Offers tours around Downtown, and The Strip
- Food Tours of America – Offers tours around Downtown, and The Strip
During my last visit, I was ecstatic to find out the Vegas’ microbrewery scene is heating up. If you want to explore this side of the city, you need to get out of The Strip.
In Downtown, you will find Banger Brewing and Triple 7 Restaurant and Microbrewery.
In the Arts District, there is a wider range of options. For example, you can try Beer District, Hop Nuts, Nevada Brew Works, and Able Baker.
And, if you are a beer lover, let me mention Hofbrauhaus, that venerable institution in Munich has an outpost in Las Vegas.
Things to Do in Las Vegas – Excursions/Day Trips
Las Vegas Spring Preserve
Those who are looking to do something different, or are visiting with kids, should head to the Springs Preserve. This 180-acre space has 2 museums, a botanical garden, wildlife displays, a butterfly habitat, train rides, bike rentals, a sustainability gallery, playgrounds, a cafe, and a gift shop.
There is so much to learn here and I cannot recommend the place enough.
Read More: Las Vegas Spring Preserve
Lake Las Vegas
Lake Las Vegas is an upscale community located east of Las Vegas. As the name suggests, everything revolves around the artificial lake here. Visitors can enjoy the restaurants, water parks, golf courses, luxury hotels, boat rides, and nearby trails.
Visit the Hoover Dam
Driving to the Hoover Dam, and taking your photo with one foot in Nevada and the other in Arizona, is the quintessential Vegas day trip.
The Dam is located 40 miles from Las Vegas. It is an easy drive and the site has many visitor facilities in place. You can visit to take a look, walk around or book a tour to discover the history of the dam and how it operates.
Seven Magic Mountains
What started as a temporal exhibition, seems to be here to stay. Artist Ugo Rondinone’s installation, comprised of 7 stacks of boulders (each painted in a different color), has proved popular with visitors.
The “mountains” are located about 25 miles south of The Strip. If you are driving from California, you will see signs on the I-15 (freeway) pointing to the installation. This is a free attraction.
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
This National Conservation Area is located about 16 miles from Las Vegas but it cannot be more worlds apart.
The area features red and yellow sandstone rocks, streams, petroglyphs, and multiple hiking options. You can start your day by stopping by the visitors’ center and learning all about the Mojave Desert. Then, you can drive the 13-mile scenic loop and stop at the different viewpoints. At each viewpoint, there are one or more trailheads. You can choose to complete (or walk part) as many hikes as you want.
This is a fabulous spot to visit with friends and family. Bringing water, food, and snacks are imperative. Adequate footwear is important too.
Tour the Grand Canyon
If you have never seen one of the seven wonders of the world, you need to book your trip to the Grand Canyon. Now, let me warn you, this is an exhausting all-day trip. You will spend more time inside a vehicle than at the actual Grand Canyon.
There are several options when it comes to sightseeing. You can visit the area known as the Grand Canyon West, home of the famous Skywalk. This part of the canyon is not within the boundaries of the National Park and owned by the Hualapai Nation. I have done an excursion to this place from Las Vegas. The meeting time was 5:00 a.m. and we returned to the city at 8:00 p.m. I am mentioning this so you have a good idea of the time commitment involved.
The other option is to visit the actual Grand Canyon National Park. In this case, the North Rim (268 miles from Vegas) or the South Rim (280 miles from Vegas) can be visited. A lot of tour companies choose to visit the North Rim.
As mentioned, many companies offer tours of the Grand Canyon and many are at reasonable rates. This will allow you to experience the Grand Canyon in a relaxed atmosphere with other tourists while not having to worry about getting lost getting to or from your destination.
As you may know, I am a big detractor of day trips involving more than two hours one way. I see the Grand Canyon West as a doable/great day trip from Las Vegas but I would dedicate at least two days/one night to the Grand Canyon National Park.
Things to Do in Las Vegas – Museums
As you may be aware, Madame Tussauds is a notorious wax museum with origins in London. Successful operations have given place to expand to cities like New York, Tokyo, and Berlin. The Las Vegas museum is located at The Venetian and has over 100 statues (celebrities, athletes, political figures, superheroes, musicians, etc.)
It is a fun way to spend a couple of hours if you are willing to afford the entrance ticket.
The Neon Museum
Guys, this is one of my absolute favorite places in Las Vegas. This museum is dedicated to preserving the neon signs of casinos, motels, and businesses. Some signs have been restored and installed Downtown.
The museum is basically a neon boneyard. The signs are piled one over the other on an open space. The only way to visit is on a guided tour. I recommend booking way ahead since spaces sell out all the time. The museum keeps adding to its public collection.
Read More: The Neon Museum
The Mob Museum
Even though some consider it controversial, the Mob Museum examines the history of organized crime and how it has impacted US society. And, of course, the museum is located in Vegas since the mob had a lot to do with the origins of the city. This is a super interesting place. Even my husband (a non-museum lover) enjoyed it.
Discovery Children’s Museum
This museum is dedicated to foster play, exploration, and inspiration in children. It provides hands-on experiences in the science, technology, engineering, and art fields. The museum has been named a winner in the “Best of Las Vegas” program many times. So, this is the real deal when it comes to excellence.
Things to Do in Las Vegas – More Fun
FlowRider at Planet Hollywood
As crazy as it sounds, the Planet Hollywood resort has added a FlowRider (a wave created inside a boxed area) to its aquatic amenities. Guests can spend 30 minutes (duration of one session) surfing or boogie boarding.
Mandalay Bay Beach
The Mandalay Bay Beach is an 11-acre aquatic playground open to the public (with paid admission, you do not have to be a hotel guest). Amenities include a wave pool, lazy river, lagoon, cabanas, restaurant, and bar. Family-friendly and adult-only areas are available.
Those looking for live music, DJs, cabanas, daybeds, and even climate-controlled environments should head to one of the following clubs:
- Encore Beach Club
- Marquee Dayclub (The Cosmopolitan)
- MGM Grand Dayclub
This store has plenty of cute displays (statues, posters, signs) and photo ops. You can take a look for free. If you want to take something home, there is a wide array of options.
Las Vegas Motor Speedway
At the Speedway, you can tour the facilities (this is the more affordable option), attend a professional race, or book one of their driving experiences. The last include exotic and Nascar racing options.
Shop Until You Drop
Las Vegas is a shopping paradise. Each major hotel on The Strip has its own shopping complex. On top of that, developers keep bringing to life new shopping centers. If shopping is your things, here are some suggestions:
- Fashion Show
- Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian
- The Forum Shops and Caesars
- Grand Bazaar Shops
- Miracle Mile Shops
- Las Vegas Premium Outlets (North and South)
- Town Square
- The Shops at Crystals
Less than a block from The Strip, you will find the Vegas Indoor Skydiving facility. Visitors get the proper equipment, training, and flight time. This is yet another family-friendly attraction.
The High Roller Observation Wheel
The High Roller, an attraction developed in conjunction with The LINQ Hotel, is the world’s tallest Ferris wheel. One revolution (equal to one ride) takes 30 minutes to complete. While, aboard, you will have 360-degree views of Las Vegas Valley and beyond.
I recommend taking a look at websites such as Groupon or Travelzoo if are interested in this attraction since they offer discounts often.
Shark Reef Aquarium
This legitimate aquarium (accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums) displays more than 2,000 animals including sharks, rays, turtles, and even a Komodo dragon. One of their most popular features is the “underwater” tunnel.
You may not realize it but many of Vegas’s hotels have top-class spas in them. So, if you are looking for somewhere to go and relax after a long day on The Strip, look no further than one of the many spas available.
- Luxury Thai Spa (excellent off The Strip option)
- The Spa at Aria
- Cosmopolitan Spa
- JW Marriott Spa
- Grand Spa at MGM Grand
Las Vegas Shows
If you are a fan of live entertainment, then Las Vegas is going to be your town. A majority of the casinos have live entertainment in some form or fashion. Shows range from magic to music and comedy to dinner theater. Live shows are one of the top things to do in Vegas other than gambling.
Some of the performers that headline regularly in Vegas include Elton John, Chris Angel, Penn & Teller, Garth Brooks, Celine Dion, and Donnie and Marie Osmond. Comic acts that frequent the strip include George Wallace and Carrot Top.
Of course, you cannot forget Cirque Du Soleil and Phantom, both staples of live entertainment on the strip.
Fremont Street Experience
If you have never been to Vegas, one thing to put on your to-do list is the Fremont Street Experience. There is a canopy over a portion of the street that every night hosts a spectacular show of light and music. The show goes off every half hour and there is a different show every half hour.
In addition, there is live entertainment, street vendors, and the occasional car show. Also, you can check out the casinos of downtown Vegas and even have your picture taken with $1 Million cash at Binion’s.
Downtown Las Vegas is full of colorful, vibrant murals. If you appreciate this type of art, you cannot miss the area around Fremont Street. Most of the murals are within walking distance. If you want more specific instruction check these intersections: Ogden Avenue and 7th St, Ogden Avenue and 6th St, Stewart Avenue and 7th St, Stewart Avenue and 6th St, Freemont St and 7th St, Freemont St and 6th St, Las Vegas Blvd and Carson Ave, Carson Ave and 6th Street.
If you want to take pictures, I recommend visiting early during the day to take those pictures with the minimum amount of cars and people.
This is a free attraction.
This shopping complex is entirely made with shipping containers. There are many works of art in the vicinity, including murals, sculptures, and other visual artifacts. This is a nice place to combine with other Downtown Attractions.
When it comes to things to do in Las Vegas, this article barely scratches the surface. After all, Vegas is one of the entertainment capitals of the world. The city will keep you coming back.
If you want to find out more about the city and discover the places favored by visitors and locals, I advise taking a look at Best of Las Vegas. This website/publications breaks the different businesses in the city into 500 categories and chooses a gold, silver, and bronze winner per category. Using the site, you can find out things like who serves the best sushi, who has the best poker room, or who offers the best magic show.
What are your favorite things to do in Las Vegas? Let me know in the comments section below.