Las Vegas, Nevada: the sparkling lights, the glitz, the glamour… and of course the never-ending list of casinos. Although I don’t mind a good game of Blackjack every now and then, my vacation highlights are always focused on exploring a new city rather than the inside of a casino. Contrary to popular belief, there are SO many things to do in Sin City that don’t surround slot machines and Russian roulette. Here are 10 exciting things to do around Las Vegas that aren’t gambling!
1. Visit the Stratosphere
Little known fact: Las Vegas has America’s tallest observation tower. At 1,149 feet high, The Stratosphere is taller than the Space Needle in Seattle (605 ft.), the Washington Monument in D.C. (555 ft.), and even the Eiffel Tower in France (540 ft.).
Start your day off on a high, and soak in city views from above the clouds! If you’re a real dare devil, buy an additional ticket to jump off – or ride the roller coaster dangling from the side of the building. Will you accept the challenge?
Pro Tip: Visit The Strat on a budget through Groupon
2. Walk the Hotels on The Strip
In any movie featuring Sin City – new and old, you’re bound to see footage on the classic Vegas Strip. It’s truly one of the most unique experiences Nevada has to offer, with every hotel bringing you to a new country through its architectural style. There are so many to see, but here are a few of my favorites:
At the Bellagio Hotel, you’ll marvel at their high ceilings and the lush detail of the indoor botanical garden at the center of the lobby. Outside, stare in awe at their 8-acre lake as the errupting Bellagio Fountains dance to music every 30 minutes from 3pm to 8pm.
The Venetian Hotel is famous for their indoor water canals and gondolas, snaking in and around the property between shops and restaurants. If you can’t get to the real thing in Venice, this is the next best thing! By far, this takes the cake for the most fabulously decorated hotel on The Strip.
The Mirage may not be spectacular on this inside, but it still secured a spot on my favorites list for the free nightly exploding volcano show. Bright orange choreographed fire blazes across the lagoon as a drama-filled soundtrack fills the air. The show plays Sun – Thurs at 8 and 9pm, with an additional 10pm showing on Fridays and Saturdays. Be sure to come early to find a good vantage point!
3. The Fremont Street Experience
The perfect end to the first day in Vegas is to take in all the oddities on Fremont Street. Men dressed as Marilyn Monroe (complete with fake honkers and a beard), feathered showgirls, KISS impersonators in speedos, male strippers, and Stephen King’s IT are just a few of the weird spectacles out there.
Wander along sparkling lights, underneath the overhead LED screen projecting vivid patterns and designs. Ride the Slotzilla zip line, or watch as other people zoom over your head 77 feet in the air. Riding the zip line was truly exhilarating – get ready for uncontrollable giggling and tears from the wind in your face. Or, maybe that was just me? Either way, it was unforgettable.
4. SunBuggy Desert ATVs
My favorite activity on the Vegas trip was bounding over sand dunes, cruising through the fresh air, and navigating the desert with SunBuggy Fun Rentals. My friends and I did the medium sized semi auto ATV Tour through Groupon, which comes with a shuttle to-and from your hotel, a tee shirt, bandana, and 75 minutes of ride time. SunBuggy also offers dune buggies, nighttime rides, go karts, and rides through the Valley of Fire.
5. The High Roller Ferris Wheel at the LINQ
I know I said the ATVs were my favorite, but the High Roller comes in a close second place for its breathtaking views and bottomless cocktails! At 550 feet high, the High Roller currently holds the title of the World’s Tallest Ferris Wheel since it opened in 2014. Offering 360 degree views of the entirety of Las Vegas, this attraction isn’t for the faint of heart! When my friends and I went, we purchased tickets for the 30 minute happy hour with unlimited cocktails. They actually bring a bar cart and a bartender into the ferris wheel carriage!
Pro Tips: The best time to visit the High Roller is most definitely right before sunset begins, because the fiery orange skies during the sunset will take your breath away! For my budget travelers, Groupon sells tickets to the High Roller at a slight discount (every penny counts, right?).
6. Visit the Grand Canyon
Among the seven wonders of the world is the Grand Canyon, spanning 277 miles long and 18 miles wide. That’s 15 hours to hike from one side to the other! Although the Grand Canyon isn’t actually “in” Vegas, many visitors to Sin City will set aside time to embark on the journey to this exhilarating natural landmark. If you didn’t rent a car on your trip, there are tours that will pick you up from your hotel and transport you to the canyon.
7. See a Free Circus Act at Circus Circus
Circus Circus is one of the coolest hotels in Las Vegas! Inside, you’ll find flying trapeze artists, crazy contortionists, soaring aerial artists, and even more circus acts – FOR FREE! Take a look at their weekly performance schedule to find out when the different acts go on! Want to unleash your inner child even more? The circus stage is surrounded by The Midway arcade, with over 200 games designed for both kids and adults alike.
Pro Tip: It’s considered to be “on the strip,” but truly it’s about two miles from all of the central attractions. So, whether you walk or take a car, you’ll want to set aside extra time to think about getting there.
8. Visit the Iconic Las Vegas Sign
A Las Vegas trip isn’t a Las Vegas trip without doing the obligatory tourist photo op in front of the “Fabulous Las Vegas” sign. Built in 1959, the landmark is over six decades old! If you’re on a time crunch, you’d want to get there extra early because there will be a line to snap your photo if you’d like to be front and center. But, after spending substantial time getting photos, we came to realize a little known secret…
The best photos are actually on the side of the sign – not in the front. And the kicker? There’s no line to stand on the side of the sign! Check out the difference in angles.
Definitely take advantage of all unique vantage points for the best flick!
9. Get the Eiffel Tower Experience
Ready to experience Paris from the sparkly strip of Las Vegas? Soar high above the twinkling lights atop the 46 story, half-scale replica of the Eiffel Tower, located in the Paris hotel. Or, watch the Eiffel Tower Light Show that simulates the real illuminations in France. Playing every 30 minutes with over 300 colored lights and 800 white strobe lights, the tower’s exterior shines brightly as a staple of the famous Vegas skyline.
10. Shop the Forum at Caesars Palace
Known as the “Shopping Wonder of the World,” the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace is a unique mall full of luxury stores, eateries, souvenir shops, and entertainment. It’s not just a shopping mall though, it’s an experience – with a 20,000 gallon aquarium, stunning architectural style, the The Fall of Atlantis animatronic show. Drawing names like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada, and Versace, the Forum is a great place to do some window shopping and enjoy a new experience.
Where will you visit? Let me know in the comments!