Las Vegas. First thing most of us think about is gambling. Then the shows. Then the food. Yes, it’s all that but a little bit more, too, when it comes to things to do in Las Vegas.

I’m going to tell you about a few surprising and not-so-surprising activities (none of them involve gambling!) the next time you’re in Vegas that will appeal to all ages. 

The Families Travel Free team has compiled some of the top activities in town.

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32 Incredible Things to Do in Las Vegas

Southwest release June July August 2019 flights

First of all, Las Vegas is a popular destination for our favorite airline, Southwest, which offers the AMAZING Southwest Companion Pass, which lets one person fly free with you for up to two years!

So flying Southwest is definitely an option, though obviously many other airlines fly there as well.

Free Things to Do in Las Vegas

1. Watch the Mirage Volcano Erupt

Volcano at The Mirage, Las Vegas
Credit The Mirage

I bet you didn’t know that there’s an erupting volcano in Las Vegas, did you? As a matter of fact, you can set your watch by its nightly explosions at 8, 9, 10 or 11 p.m. right outside the Mirage on the Strip. Please verify the schedule, as it CAN be canceled due to high winds.

It’s totally free to stroll on over and watch the excitement before heading off on your next adventure. 

2. Be Amazed by the Bellagio Fountains

Bellagio Fountains

Another free outdoor feature you can take in while walking down the Strip is the Fountains of Bellagio. These shows of water choreographed to music begin every half-hour Monday through Friday from 3 to 7 p.m. After 7 p.m., you’ll only have to wait 15 minutes for the next show, which you can catch until midnight. Weekend schedules are a little different, which you can check here.

Pretend like you’re the cast of “Ocean’s Eleven” minus all the stolen money 😊

3. See the Trevi Fountain and Fall of Atlantis Show at Caesars Palace

Trevi Fountain Las Vegas

Can’t make it to Rome this year (don’t miss our 50 magical things to do in Rome if you can!)? Why not head to the Vegas version of Rome’s famous Trevi Fountain at Caesars Palace instead? It’ll be a lot cheaper and way less crowded than the one in Italy!

You’ll find it outside the Forum Shops on the Las Vegas Boulevard side. While there, also be sure to watch the free Fall of Atlantis show, which is performed every hour on the hour, and features animatronics, laser, fire and water effects. It’s located inside the Forum Shops.

4. Snap a Selfie at the Las Vegas Sign

Welcome to Las Vegas Sign

There’s nothing quite as iconic as the famous Las Vegas sign, which is in the futuristic, space-age “Googie” style of architecture and dates to 1959. You’ll find it south of Mandalay Bay on Las Vegas Boulevard.

If you want to snap a selfie, as pretty much everyone does, try to get there early in the day for a shot without hordes of tourists included. There’s also a parking lot and crosswalk to help you access the sign more safely.

FUN FACT: Did you know there’s something written on the back of the sign, as well? It says “Drive carefully, Come back soon.”

5. Tour the Canals at the Venetian

While we’re sure they’re not nearly as incredible as the real canals in Venice, they are still a pretty amazing feat to create inside a resort.

Las Vegas Venetian Canals

It’s quite fun to wander among the canals at the Venetian Resort & Casino, located right on the Strip, and even take a gondola ride, complete with singing gondolier.

6. Ride the Free Resort Trams and Monorail

Las Vegas Monorail

Many Las Vegas resorts have free connecting trams to help you get from one location to another without killing your feet or dying of heat stroke during the summer. And it’s an entertaining way to see many different resorts (which is a good bit of the fun of Vegas!) in a shorter amount of time.

For example, you can catch a tram between Mandalay Bay, Luxor and Excalibur (which lets you off right next to New York-New York), between Park MGM, Aria and Bellagio and one between Treasure Island and The Mirage. These are free and fun!

There’s also the Las Vegas Monorail, which you can purchase per ride or spring for a day pass, and will save you a TON of walking!! It runs BEHIND some resorts on the Strip and past the Convention Center. 

7. See Seven Magic Mountains Outdoor Sculpture Park

Seven Magic Mountains Outdoor Sculpture Park

For a quirky activity, check out this funky and colorful outdoor art installation 10 miles south of Las Vegas on Interstate 15. The sculptures are seven towers standing more than 30 feet tall each comprised of massive boulders.

Commissioned by the Nevada Museum of Art, “Seven Magic Mountains” by Ugo Rondinone was only supposed to be on display for two years, but due to its popularity, remains on display indefinitely.

Top Las Vegas Attractions

8. Discover the Fremont Street Experience

Fremont Street Experience Las Vegas
Credit Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Bureau

Want a taste of old Las Vegas? Head to the Fremont Street Experience, where you can stroll through the neon signs from some of Vegas’ oldest hotels. This attraction is a five-block entertainment district, which offers nightly light shows, as well as concerts and other performances in downtown Las Vegas. Check the schedule for the latest events.

9. Get a Bird’s Eye View on the High Roller Observation Wheel at the LINQ  Promenade

High Roller The LINQ
Credit Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Bureau

This slow-moving, 30-minute ride provides 360-degree views of the Las Vegas Valley and the Strip. At 550 feet, the High Roller is the world’s tallest observation wheel.

A few of the “cabins” even have an open bar ticketing option! You can buy your tickets on site or save money by buying in advance online.

TIP: Purchase a day admission ticket and get in line near the end of the day for a beautiful view of The Strip at sunset.

10. Ride the Big Apple Coaster at New York-New York Hotel & Casino

Big Apple Coaster New York-New York
Credit New York-New York Hotel & Casino

Lyn’s family enjoyed a ride on the Big Apple Coaster at New York-New York, which is not only a regular roller coaster but a virtual reality experience, where it appears as though you’re chasing aliens above the Strip. Afterward, you can take a stroll and hang out in the Big Apple Arcade inside the resort.

11. Explore Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay

Shark Reef Aquarium, Mandalay Bay
Credit Mandalay Bay

A great activity for families is the Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay, where you can see all sorts of undersea creatures and even feed stingrays, sea turtles and sharks! Walk through underwater tunnels as sharks, octopus and giant fish swim overhead. There are even land animals like Komodo dragons and crocodiles.

Mandalay Bay Aquarium

What makes this different than your typical aquarium experience, which if you’re anything like us, you’ve been to a few, is the theming, as it appears as though you’re walking through the ruins of a lost city like Atlantis.

12. Hang Out at the Fun Dungeon Arcade at Excalibur

Excalibur Fundungeon

Simply checking out all the resorts is enough of an activity to fill your entire Las Vegas vacation 😃. Excalibur is really cool on the outside, as it looks like Merlin’s Castle, though it’s less exciting on the inside. Excalibur is between Luxor and New York-New York on the Strip with the free tram running between these resorts.

One of the best things to do, however, at this resort is hang out in the Excalibur Fun Dungeon, which is a game center and arcade. When I was there with my girls, they won her husband a Viking helmet with horns that he wore at each daughter’s wedding rehearsal as he walked them down the aisle! 

13. Climb the Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas

Eiffel Tower Las Vegas

Can’t climb the real Eiffel Tower in Paris? Well, how about climbing a replica in Vegas for fantastic Vegas Strip views? As part of the Eiffel Tower Experience, you can visit the viewing deck 46 stories high on this half-scale replica of the actual tower.

Lyn loves wandering around Paris Las Vegas, because it reminds her of one of her favorite cities in the world! 

14. Splash Around at Mandalay Bay Beach

Mandalay Bay Beach
Credit Mandalay Bay

Mandalay Bay has a truly AMAZING water park called Mandalay Bay Beach complete with wave pool, real sand beach, lazy river and plenty of bars.

Mandalay Bay Beach

Lyn says she only had a couple hours to spend here, but that her family could have easily hung out for the entire day! The park is free for guests of the resort, but costs about $25 per ticket during the week and $40 on the weekends for non-hotel guests, available only Monday through Thursday  if you’re not a resort guest.

15. Pal Around the Adventuredome at Circus Circus

Adventuredome at Circus Circus

At Circus Circus, a circus-themed resort on the Strip, you’ll find a full-fledged 5-acre theme park inside at the Adventuredome. It features full-sized roller coasters, an arcade, bumper cars, carnival rides, laser tag and a 4D theater, among other rides.

Purchase a single-day wristband for $30 for kids 48 inches and under and $60 for bigger kids, including yourself! 😃

16. Get a Thrill on the X-Scream Coaster at the STRAT 

X-Scream Coaster at the Strat, Las Vegas

Formerly the Stratosphere, and now known as The STRAT Hotel, Casino & Tower, this is an iconic property on the Las Vegas skyline and features the tallest freestanding observation tower in the U.S.

The STRAT has numerous thrill rides, including the X-Scream coaster, more than 800 feet above the ground, which plummets riders off the side of the structure to hang over the Strip, as you can see in the image above. We’ll leave this one to the thrill seekers! 😉

17. Attend an Immersive Experience at the Sphere

The Sphere Las Vegas

The newest addition to Las Vegas, the Sphere at the Venetian, currently features interactive Android robots, Avatar capture, holograms and Darren Aronofky’s multi-sensory (think vibrating seats) film Postcard from Earth seen on 160,000 square feet of LED Display Canvas inside the venue.

Outside, you’ll find nearly 600,000 square feet of fully programmable LED displaying AMAZING graphics, a wonder of combined engineering, technology and artistry. Enjoy views either from a room at the Venetian or Encore hotels or from the parking lot at the Holiday Inn Club Vacation at Desert Club Resort, seen above, like we did!

Shopping

18. Go High End at The Shops at Crystals

The Shops at Crystals Las Vegas
Credit Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Bureau

If you need a little retail therapy while visiting Vegas, there are lots of options along The Strip/Las Vegas Boulevard. For an upscale treat (and air conditioning in the summer months!), head to The Shops at Crystals, which has been described as the “Rodeo Drive” of Vegas.

You’ll find more than 50 luxury stores, including Gucci, Prada and Tiffany & Co. Even if you can’t afford to buy, it’s still fun to look (and get out of the sun)!

Tip: Hidden behind Louis Vuitton is the James Turrell’s Akhob exhibit, which immerses you in different colored lights for 20 minutes, which is supposed to refresh you and help you feel more rested so you can be ready for more walking on the Strip! 

19. Step Back to Ancient Rome in the Forum Shops at Caesars

Forum Shops at Caesars Palace
Credit Caesars Palace

In addition to its hotel, gaming and dining, Caesars Palace also has a massive shopping area called the Forum Shops at Caesars.

Called the “shopping wonder of the world,” you’ll find more than 160 stores and restaurants — all designed to look like you’re shopping along a street in ancient Rome with the ceiling painted blue and filled with fluffy clouds. It’s cool even if you’re not a big shopper!

Brands include Apple, Bath & Body Works, Chanel, Gap, H&M, lululemon and Nike to name a few.

20. Make Like You’re in Venice at the Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian

Grand Canal Shoppes, The Venetian
Lyn’s boys at The Grand Canal Shoppes, St. Mark’s Square

If you’d rather feel like you’re shopping along the canals of Venice in Italy, head to the Venetian, which offers its own shopping mall, the Grand Canal Shoppes.

Here you’ll also find more than 160 stores and restaurants, including Banana Republic, Burberry, Fendi, Jimmy Choo, Sephora and Tommy Bahama.

TIP: When you’re ready for a break, enjoy a performance in St. Mark’s Square from Streetmosphere, a group of actors, musicians and singers, who perform more than 30 times a day. We also highly recommend stopping for a gelato in St. Mark’s Square!

21. Snag Some Sweet Treats at M&M’s World

M&M's World Las Vegas

M&M’s World is a four-story dream for lovers of the candy right on Las Vegas Boulevard in the heart of the action. You can mix your own bag of M&Ms from the Rainbow Wall or personalize the candies with your own message.

On the fourth floor is a 10-minute, all ages, 3-D film starring Red and Yellow. Kiddos will love it and it’s also a great place to cool down if you happen to be there in summer.

22. Sip a Soda at the Coca-Cola Store

Coca-Cola Store Las Vegas

If you’re a Coke fan, stop in the Coca-Cola Store next door and have your photo taken with the Coca‑Cola Polar Bear. You’ll find it in the Showcase Mall.

The store is packed full of clothing, merchandise and collectibles for fans of the soda. Head to the second floor for yummy Coca-Coca floats!

TIP: Sample some of the 16 different international Coca-Cola products with the “Tastes of the World” tray. Several of the flavors available are amazing, while others are terrible 😉.

Las Vegas Museums

23. Get Some Culture at the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art

Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art
Credit Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art

After you check out the famous dancing fountains, head inside the high-end Bellagio for a look at some fine art.

The Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art features rotating exhibits with works from many of the masters, such as Van Gogh, Degas and others.

24. Learn About Gangsters at The Mob Museum

Mob Museum Las Vegas
Credit Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Bureau

For something a bit more off the beaten path of buffets, casinos and shows, head to Vegas’ Mob Museum. Sopranos fan? Godfather fan? You’ll be in heaven.

Just off of Fremont Street, the Mob Museum, designed by the folks who created the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C., features artifacts, interactive exhibits, stories of real-life mobsters and more. See items from Al Capone, John Gotti, Whitey Bulger and many more.

Other Things to Do in Las Vegas

25. Sample a Craft Brew at Beerhaus, The Park Vegas

Beerhaus at The Park Las Vegas
Lyn and boys playing games at Beerhaus

If you’re staying at Mandalay Bay, Luxor, Excalibur or New York-New York, be sure to stop in for lunch or dinner at Beerhaus at The Park, which is easily accessible by tram from other resorts.

This fun restaurant offers some creative craft brews (including one that tastes just like coffee!), along with games to entertain you while you wait for your food. Enjoy piled-high sandwiches, delicious fries and top-notch brats. YUM!

26. Stroll Through the Conservatory & Botanical Gardens at the Bellagio

Conservatory & Botanical Gardens at the Bellagio

Changed out for every season, a stroll through the Conservatory & Botanical Gardens at the Bellagio, is sure to delight flower lovers, like me!, far and wide.

They spare no expense, since it’s considered their “Opus,” in creating a truly one-of-a-kind display made up of mostly live flowers in their 14,000 square foot showcase.

27. Take a Hot Air Balloon Ride Over the City

hot air balloon ride Las Vegas
Credit Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Bureau

See the Las Vegas area from on high while enjoying an incredible hot air balloon ride. It’s truly amazing to see how the “pilots” control these balloons, especially the landing!

Vegas Balloon Rides offers 45 to 60-minute rides over the Pahrump Valley.

28. Go Swimming! 

Venetian Resort Las Vegas Pool
The pool at the Venetian Resort Las Vegas, Credit Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Bureau

We don’t think there’s anywhere on earth that has the incredible pools you’ll find in Las Vegas, and it’s the perfect activity when temperatures climb in summer. The hardest part will be choosing where to stay!

These resort pools are works of art! You’ll find some with underwater checkers, plunge pools, swanky cabanas, the hottest DJs, floaties, swim-up pool bars … you name it!

Las Vegas Day Trips

29. Learn About the Building of Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam

Situated on the border of Nevada and Arizona, Hoover Dam is a feat of engineering marvel and totally worth the drive!

Built during the Great Depression, thousands of men and their families moved to the area to tame the Colorado River, which became one of the world’s largest hydroelectric installations of its time.

Tours are available daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and include the power plant and/or the dam tour. You’ll get to see the huge rotors and look out one of the vent shafts, midway down the face of the dam, while on the $30 tour.

Don’t forget to stop at the overlook bridge, an easy walk to the top, to get the above all-compassing view afterward!

30. Visit Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Lake Mead National Recreation Area

On your way to Hoover Dam, stop at the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, the largest man-made freshwater lake in the US, surrounded by desert with landscapes including canyons, mountains, plateaus and more.

There’s a fantastic little visitor’s center overlooking the area with lots of information about things to do at Lake Mead like kayaking, jet-skiing, sport fishing and even scuba diving! If you like to hike, try the Historic Railroad Tunnel Trail, a leftover from the dam-building days.

fish at Lake Mead marina

Before you leave the area, head to the concession stand at the marina to buy some popcorn to throw to the fish off the dock. Then watch the feeding frenzy begin! Striped bass and carp jump over each other to grab the tasty morsels and delight kid of all ages, including me!

31. Explore Valley of Fire State Park

Mouse Tank Road, Valley of Fire

After watching the Mirage “volcano” blow its top, you can drive about 50 miles and discover real amazing rock formations at Valley of Fire, which is made up of brilliant Aztec sandstone that is at once red, orange and pink.

Stop by the Visitor Center for more information and tips on this beautiful wilderness area within one hour of the city and then take the scenic drive on Mouse Tank Road, seen above, through the park to explore notable areas like Elephant Rock and Arch Rock.

Fire Wave, Valley of Fire

If you have time, lace up your hiking boots and try the Seven Wonders Loop for a view of the famous Fire Wave and if you still have some energy, hike the White Domes trail where you’ll encounter a fantastic slot canyon and leftovers from the 1966 movie “The Professionals.”

32. Discover Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas

Located about 20 miles from the Strip, Red Rock Canyon is a great place to visit when you want to get away from the bright lights of the city and get closer to nature using your America the Beautiful National Park pass.

Named after the red Aztec sandstone you’ll find here, Red Rock Canyon has a top-notch Visitor Center, to help you get oriented and better understand the local flora and fauna as well as learn about the sand dunes that formed into rock, the desert tortoise habitat and the Mojave yucca found everywhere here. Or just pick up a T-shirt from the gift store. 🙂

There are plenty of hiking trails, ranging from an easy 2-mile hike near the Visitor Center, also the start of the 13-mile, one-way scenic drive, to more difficult 14-mile hikes. But be safe. You’re in a desert, which is prone to flash flooding, high heat and little water, so make sure you plan ahead.

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Author

  • Cami Sauder

    Cami Sauder, a member of the Families Travel Free team, is a longtime traveler who aims to be away from home at least 1/3 of the year. She's mastered the art of using miles and points to save on flights and hotels and saved more than $16,000 on travel using points in the last year. She and her husband have a goal to see as many National Parks as possible.

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