For a terrific, fun, quirky, anything-is-possible vacation, there are few better places — or at least few more outlandish, over the top places — than the self proclaimed Entertainment Capital of the World. More than 42 million people visited Las Vegas in 2019. If they wanted, they could gamble at 136 casinos and eat at hundreds of restaurants in the city. And they could get a tan, all year around.
Las Vegas appeals to people from every walk of life. Everyone knows about the casinos, but there are plenty of unique things to do in the city. You don’t have to drain your bank accounts, either. Keep your house! Seriously, don’t bet your house.
Go for a walk down The Strip, and go downtown, see the famous Las Vegas Sign and the Fremont Street Experience. Visit casinos and see incredible works of art and beautiful gardens and aquariums. Walk into one of Las Vegas’s incredible museums, or step outside the city to take in natural wonders.
Here are 22 fun things to do in Las Vegas – and a lot of them are free!
Go for a Walk
You don’t need to spend a dime to have a great time in Vegas. Strap on your walking shoes and walk down The Strip. Soak in the sights and sounds of Sin City! And, let’s be honest, smells too. This really is one of the more vibrant streets in the world.
The Las Vegas Sign
When many people arrive in Las Vegas, they head to the world-famous “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign. Take a picture! I mean, you’re there. In post social distancing days you’ll have to deal with crowds, which remain thick into the night. Now though, you will not have as much of a wait to get a photo of yourself with the sign.
The Fremont Street Experience
The Fremont Street Experience features neon light shows and street performers. You can watch free concerts on three stages and weave in and out of eight different casinos. Go on New Year’s Eve to see a (normally, non-COVID affected) spectacular celebration.
A few hotels in the area offer free pool hours. The Influence at The Linq hotel is a 21+ party pool. You can swim for free while listening to live music and drinking cocktails. And, we assume, the idea is, meet hot people. Or, you know, just swim. Swimming is nice. (Speedos are not…)
Gamble the Right Way
Many people go to Vegas to gamble. You can gamble on a budget, but you need to be smart.
Set a limit before you head into the casino. Take out only as much money as you can afford to lose. Do not buy food or drinks inside the casino as they tend to be expensive. When you’re on a streak, that’s when you should walk away from the table. A winning streak can encourage you to keep gambling, and you might lose your winnings. (OK, stay until you lose a hand or turn, and then walk away – your streak is over. Know it now, or when it’s too late…)
Check out the Bellagio
The big Strip casinos offer a lot more than gambling. The Bellagio features an incredible water fountain show outside its front doors, every 30 minutes during the day and night. And step inside the lobby to see blown glass art from famous artist Dale Chihuly. The lobby also features a premium flower garden.
The Circus Circus casino lives up to its name. Every 30 minutes, acrobats and clowns perform their act in the hotel lobby. Who doesn’t love a circus? Terrorists, that’s who.
The Silverton casino features a massive aquarium, with more than 100,000 gallons of water and 160 species of fish from all over the world. And it features mermaid shows every day! Real mermaids! (Er, no. But this is Vegas, and all reality is warped.) The mermaids stay in the water for 15 minutes at a time, performing moves and posing for photos.
Flamingo Hotel Wildlife Habitat
The Flamingo Hotel operates a 15-acre wildlife habitat. It is free to enter and open every day, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. You can watch twice-daily pelican feedings and take photos with parrots, Ring Teal ducks and Sacred Ibis, and of course, the main attraction, glorious Chilean flamingos! There’s also a koi pond and turtles. And TripAdvisor gave it the Congressional Medal of Honor! (Sorry, correction: the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence.)
Bingo isn’t just for old people. For $4, you can play bingo in the Gold Coast Hotel. It contains the largest bingo hall in Nevada. By the way, if you are an old person, as you know, bingo rocks!
The Pinball Hall of Fame
The Pinball Hall of Fame is 10,000 square feet with hundreds of pinball games. Their collection stretches all the way back to the 1950s. You do have to pay to play the machines, but most cost only a quarter. All money goes to the Salvation Army. This is really one of the coolest spots in Vegas. And a rare example of altruism.
M&M World is 28,000 square feet and four levels. It costs no charge to enter. You can buy as much candy as you want, but you can also walk around and see one of the world’s largest collections of M&M’s Racing gear. This will never make The WONDERLUST 100 but if you like M&Ms then go for it!
Ethel M Chocolate Factory
But hold on, if you’ve got that chocolate loving sweet tooth, M&M World is not the only game in town! You can go to the Ethel M Chocolate Factory, see premium chocolates being made and buy all you want. And they have a Premium Chocolate and Wine Tasting Experience. Before you go obviously check what’s open; you can buy the goods curbside regardless. You can have “virtual experiences” anytime, but, frankly, that feels like making love by email.
When you’re finished the real, in person tour, you can walk through a three-acre cactus garden. Because it’s there, and if you ate a lot of chocolate you’ll need the walk.
The Mob Museum
The Mob Museum is America’s leading museum on organized crime and law enforcement. For less than $30, you can explore four floors filled with exhibits on the history of the mob. You can even participate in a firearm training simulator. The Mafia built Las Vegas, and ran it for decades before finally being run off. This is their colorful history there…
Marjorie Barrick Museum
The Marjorie Barrick Museum is located at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. It is free to enter and you can find a great collection of modern and contemporary art. There’s culture in Vegas, baby!
The Neon Museum
If you like bright lights, you can go to the Neon Museum. Because, otherwise, how would you ever see any neon in Las Vegas? The museum contains hundreds of neon lights, including restored lights placed around the city of Las Vegas.
The Downtown Container Park
Some of Vegas’s top attractions lay off the Vegas Strip. The Downtown Container Park is one. It’s a shopping center made from shipping containers.
The Park has art galleries, boutiques and restaurants. If you like to people-watch, sit in the courtyard with your favorite beverage and watch people… Vegas is good people watching terrain.
Gold and Silver Pawn Shop
The Gold and Silver Pawn Shop is also off the Vegas Strip. It’s the pawn shop at the center of the hit History Channel show, Pawn Stars. Stop by and you might be able to see its hosts and get on television. If that’s your crown in Heaven? Or, now we think about it, you could pawn something! Or buy something! You can buy back that house you gambled.
Lake Las Vegas
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Lake Las Vegas features all sorts of aquatic activities. You can boat, kayak and paddle board on pristine waters. More surprisingly, perhaps, is that Vegas has a lake. Vegas is a hot and dry place. It doesn’t rain a lot here. Other than swimming pools, there isn’t a lot of water. The lake is a welcome oasis.
Lake Las Vegas also has its own inflatable water park. You can jump and slide and play on a number of attractions to your heart’s content.
Ice Box Canyon Trail
Natural wonders surround Las Vegas. The Ice Box Canyon Trail is a 2.3-mile round-trip hike that ends with a spectacular waterfall. Go after it rains to see the water really tumble down!
White Rock Hills Loop Trail
For a longer hike, the White Rock Hills Loop Trail is 6.1 miles round-trip. The trail features incredible wildflowers and juniper trees.
The Hoover Dam
The Hoover Dam is a mere 30 miles from Las Vegas. You can drive there yourself, or you can take a bus. Soak in the natural environment and see one of America’s greatest industrial feats.