Things to Do in Las Vegas
Overview: For many of us when we think “Las Vegas,” our minds drift toward old-school Elvis impersonators, the Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas, drive-up wedding venues, and even scenes from “The Hangover.” In reality, Sin City offers so much more than just a trip along the Strip these days. While Vegas’ nightclubs and glitzy casinos continue to draw weekend party seekers, the city’s more recent influx of gourmet restaurants, art venues, and Cirque du Soleil and headliner shows also attract music lovers, foodies, and culture hounds. Sitting alongside the likes of the MGM Grand, the Bellagio, Wynn, the Stratosphere, and the Venetian, some newer hotels on the Strip have taken the focus away from gambling and put it on stylish design. And downtown Las Vegas has come back to life with innovative development, hip spots such as the Downtown Container Park, a treasure trove of antique shops, and the resurgence of Fremont Street with attractions like the Fremont Experience. The city also pleases art enthusiasts with the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art, the Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art, and the Neon Museum. Plus adventurers looking to visit other Nevada attractions can take advantage of Vegas’ proximity to Hoover Dam, Red Rock Canyon, Lake Mead, and the Grand Canyon for day trips into nature.
Currency: USD $
Time Zone: UTC (-08:00)
Country Code: +1
Best Time to Visit: Spring, Fall
When to Visit: With temperatures reaching more than 100 degrees in the summertime, spring allows Las Vegas travelers to enjoy the warmer weather while dodging the unbearable heat. Fall’s weather averages highs of about 67 degrees, which is perfect for outdoor activities such as golf or going to a minor league baseball game in Downtown Vegas.
Getting Around: Las Vegas’ can be easily covered by the city’s RTC bus routes, but if you’re sticking to the main drag, the Las Vegas Monorail runs adjacent to the Strip, and the inexpensive Las Vegas Deuce runs from the Fremont Street Experience in Downtown Las Vegas all the way to Mandalay Bay. Taxis and Uber are both efficient if you don’t mind the Vegas traffic, although Vegas taxi drivers, like those in other big cities, tend to drive a longer route to raise fare. If you hop in a cab, say you’re from the area and not to long haul you.
Tipping: If you’re gambling, give the dealer a toke (aka tip) of $5 for every $30 you've won from them, or if you’re at the slots, make sure to tip your cocktail server $1 per drink. Other than that, it’s recommended to tip 15–20% at restaurants, bars, and nightclubs.
You Might Not Know...If you’re looking for something more family oriented or unexpected, hit up the Pinball Hall of Fame on East Tropicana Avenue, and then grab pizza and an old-fashioned milkshake at Metro Pizza.
The Las Vegas Strip is an All-American road show, home to the most famous hotels and casinos in Las Vegas. With famous spots like Paris, Treasure Island, the Venetian, Bellagio, Caesar’s Palace and the MGM Grand, it’s no wonder that the strip is the most popular destination in Las Vegas.
The Las Vegas Strip houses entertainment, bright lights, other-worldly architecture, and the city's trendiest clubs and nightlife. It's a Disneyland for adults, a place where fun and fantasy meet. Watch Elvis impersonators or avant-garde performances by Cirque du Soleil, or try your luck on a slot machine. There’s something for everyone in Las Vegas.
The Fremont Street Experience chronicles the legendary history of Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas. Believe it or not, the setting is fairly awe-inspiring. Spanning four entire city-blocks, the Fremont Street Experience is a massive outdoor mall built inside of a barrel vault canopy. Featuring concerts, lights shows, and multiple casinos, it is one of downtown’s biggest attractions.
Fremont Street housed the first casino in Las Vegas, and you could say that the Fremont Street Experience changed and illuminated Vegas in the same ways that the original did.
The Fremont Street Experience offers free concerts and live entertainment, with multiple show performances each day. Ten different casinos have games and tables inside of the Fremont Street Experience, so you can get an idea of what they are all about. The famous canopy is now lit up by an LED Screen, projecting thousands of different color combinations and images all day long.
One of the most anticipated Las Vegas attractions, the massive, 550-foot rotating observation tower known as the High Roller has arrived. Far from your normal carnival Ferris wheel, the High Roller is so big that it takes a full 30 minutes for the wheel to complete a 360-degree rotation and is known as the world’s largest observation wheel.
Each 44,000-pound, glass-enclosed pod can hold up to 40 people, includes music and video displays and has been decked out with thousands of LED lights. This big-time attraction serves as a sparkling focal point at the LINQ, one of Vegas’ newest shopping districts.
The Stratosphere Tower is attached to the Stratosphere Hotel and offers 360 degree views of Las Vegas, thrilling amusement park rides, restaurants, and nightlife perched at the Top of the World.
The Stratosphere Tower is the tallest freestanding tower in America, at 1,149 ft (350 meters) above ground. Enjoy panoramic views from the observation deck or explore the amusement park, taking a ride on the Big Shot and Insanity roller coasters or the Sky Jump, a controlled free-fall ride.
Then there’s the romantic Top of the World restaurant and the Air Bar. Both have signature cocktails that you can enjoy while overlooking the city lights and the strip.
Once the thriving gambling district of Las Vegas, the downtown area used to be the city’s busiest locale until the late 1980s, when an entrepreneur gathered the crowds to the Strip – which remains the city’s main thoroughfare today.
Nevertheless, downtown Las Vegas hasn’t been forgotten. For starters, it is now home to the sought-after and historic casinos of Fremont Street, including the Moulin Rouge, the first racially integrated casino-hotel in the city, as well as the Fremont Street Experience, the world’s largest audio-video system which consists of a multisensory light and sound show connecting over two million lights. Downtown Las Vegas also has its own Arts District, encompassing several art galleries, studios and stores offering a vast selection of collectibles. Not to mention the many museums scattered around the neighborhood, like the Natural History Museum, the Mob Museum, the Neon Museum and the Art Deco-inspired Smith Center for the Performing Arts.
Experience a first-class ride on a majestic gondola, painted white and gold with elaborate details and decorations. Then, travel through the canals and ride above a man-made lagoon, which mirrors the incredible, sky-painted ceilings. The ride will take you beneath bridges and alongside charming boutiques and cafes, so that you’ll feel only steps away from Italy.
For a romantic evening showered in lights, music, and of course, water, check out the Bellagio Fountains in front of the Bellagio Hotel on the heart of the Las Vegas Strip. With choreographed musical numbers ranging from Andrea Bocelli to Madonna, you’ll never see the same show twice.
The fountains are set inside of a man-made lake modeled after the Lake Como Resort in Bellagio, Italy. With the old-world elegance of the Bellagio Hotel as its backdrop, the fountains are an impressive display of beauty and technology.
One of the nicest additions to the Las Vegas strip in quite some time, The LINQ is an upscale outdoor mall district, hotel and casino next to the Flamingo that boasts excellent shopping, dining and even free Wi-Fi for those strolling this expansive promenade. The spot's main hotel, once known as the Imperial Palace before going by the Quad, has undergone one more fitting name change and is now known as The LINQ Hotel and Casino. The namesake hotel provides access to the new glittering jewel of Las Vegas: the High Roller, which is known as the world’s largest rotating observation wheel (a technical term for Ferris wheel) and stands a full 550 feet high.
While enjoying your stay in Vegas, take in the hotel's shows, which include offbeat options that can't be found anywhere else: Jeff Civillico: Comedy in Action and Divas starring Frank Marino.
More Things to Do in Las Vegas
The Eiffel Tower, a monumental tourist draw connected to the Paris Hotel and Casino, offers views of the valley and a chance to dine on the finest French cuisine Las Vegas has to offer. C'est vrai!
Enjoy a ride to the top of the Eiffel Tower in a glass elevator. At fifty stories above ground and at a height of 460 ft (140 m), the view is impressive. Once you’ve reached the observation deck, you’ll have a vista of the entire valley and the sights of Sin City.
Located below the observation deck is the Eiffel Tower Restaurant, which is a definite feast of the senses. Featuring views of the Bellagio water fountain show, the restaurant showcases both the design of the tower and of its art déco motif. For food, Chef Joho has a classic and updated French menu that you can enjoy with a cocktail or glass of wine.
Talk about a wedding to remember! The Special Memory Wedding Chapel offers memorable wedding ceremonies in true Las Vegas style: in packages and with Elvis Presley, but minus the grub associated with chapels typically found on the Strip! The chapel is most popular for its famous drive-through weddings, which continue to gather hordes of visitors even today. Visitors wishing to tie the knot should expect all the Las Vegas wedding elements: Elvis impersonator, limousine transportation, rose presentations, photo tour packages in the city and more.
An attraction in its own right, the off-Strip and classy chapel is featured in a dozen guided tours around Las Vegas, and should please even the non-Vegas wedding types.
Red Rock Canyon is a network of impressive canyons and surreal rock formations inside the Red Rock National Conservation Area. If you're looking for opportunities to hike, bike or rock climb within easy striking distance of Las Vegas, Red Rock Canyon is just what you're looking for.
One of the more popular destinations for climbers here is Keystone Thrust, made up of towering red sandstone peaks and walls that reach as high as 3,000 ft (910 meters). Then there’s La Madre Mountain (8,154 ft / 2,485 m), a moderate climb and an optimal spot for mountain biking.
Other highlights include Icebox Canyon (to get here, you start hiking an easy trail through the canyon and then boulder-hop and climb to reach the top) and the Pine Creek Canyon oasis (a running creek surrounded by pine trees).
The Venetian Hotel and Casino is the premier location to catch great shows and indulge in unique experiences. With a booming nightlife and entertainment scene, coupled by the beautiful architecture and world famous gondola rides, this hotel will transport you to the streets of Venice.
Experience a first-class ride on a majestic gondola, painted white and gold with elaborate details and decorations. Then, travel through the canals and ride above a man-made lagoon, which mirrors the sky-painted ceilings. The ride will take you beneath bridges and alongside charming boutiques and cafes, so that you’ll feel only steps away from Italy. For world class entertainment the Venetian offers the most variety and best in Vegas. The Blue Man Group, The Phantom of the Opera, Jersey Boys, and the comedian Joan Rivers play there regularly. Then there’s the nightlife, and the Venetian is home to the world-famous bar Tao Nightclub, where celebrity sightings are an every day occurrence.
Adventuredome is America’s largest indoor theme park, and is situated within the Circus Circus resort in Las Vegas. The park is connected to the hotel via a large glass dome, and features various rides and attractions, from huge roller coaster rides to family friendly games and activities. One of Adventuredome’s most popular rides is the Canyon Blaster, the world's only indoor double-loop, double-corkscrew roller coaster, which reaches speeds of up to 55mph. Other attractions include a pirate ship, slingshot, bumper cars, video arcades, rock climbing, FX movies, and clown shows. Because the park is all located inside, it is not affected by the weather and is open all year round. In October, the Adventuredome transforms into ‘Fright Dome’ – an alternative Halloween-themed park.
When it comes to Las Vegas, City of Sin, and a cluster of neon lights, hiking isn’t the very first thing that comes to most people’s minds. The reality, however, is that Vegas is surrounded by dozens of great hiking trails and rung by mystical mountains, with the trail to the top of Fortification Hill offering one of the area’s best views. From the top of this rocky pinnacle inside of Lake Mead National Recreation area, climbers are rewarded with panoramic views of Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam. This six-mile trail is for serious hikers who are comfortable with a little bit of bouldering, as sections in the middle can require scrambling for about 10 vertical feet. Most of the trail is straightforward, however, albeit a little steep, as the trail gains approximately 1,400 feet in a little under three miles. While you’re sure to work up a sweat when climbing—especially since there isn’t any shade—the view from the top makes every step completely worth the effort.
Where do pirates, the Caribbean, and a relaxing oasis meet? At Treasure Island. Treasure Island is a Hotel and Casino with a sense of adventure, fun, and style that features live entertainment, a wild nightlife, thousands of slot machines and game tables, and accommodations where you can unwind.
Upon entering Treasure Island, you’ll be treated to a free performance of the pirate show, The Sirens of TI, complete with dancing, explosions, and a sinking pirate ship. From there you can make your way through the 95,000 square foot casino and take your pick of slot machines, poker, and a variety of other card games.
Treasure Island is also home to "Mystere" by Cirque du Soleil and performances by the most well-known musicians and comedians. And when it comes to nightlife, Treasure Island packs a punch with the Christian Audigier nightclub, Gilley’s Saloon, and the Isla Tequila Bar.
Open since 1989, the Mirage is perhaps best known for Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat, which features rare breeds of large, white-colored cats as well as several bottlenose dolphins. The resort’s volcano is also well known with more than 150 specially designed fire shooters that blast fireballs choreographed to music nightly every hour on the hour from 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.
Inside the Mirage, guests enjoy more than 100,000 square feet of gaming space including hundreds of slot machines and video poker and a dozen table games. The resort’s 20-table poker room hosts games 24 hours a day, and daily no limit Texas hold ‘em tournaments up the ante for serious players. Those who are new to poker may want to take advantage of the Mirage’s complimentary poker lessons, which are available anytime. Ask inside the poker room about where these lessons are taking place and learn about all aspects of the game.
From hit men to mobsters, notorious criminals to the undercover police charged with protecting citizens, the Mob Museum of Las Vegas has got it all. Travelers can tour the interactive exhibits, sit back and relax in the new high-tech theater or wander through federal building halls filled with rare memorabilia captured from the world of organized crime.
Exhibit rooms take visitors on a guided history of the clue collection and evidence gathering of some of the nation’s most notorious crimes. Travelers can gain background on some of the Mob’s most notable criminals while they learn about unsolved murders, the history of Mob organizing and the incredible detectives who uncovered answers to some of crime’s biggest mysteries.
Lined with cobblestone walkways and iron street lamps, the Paris Hotel and Casino offers a small taste of Paris in Las Vegas. With its Parisian-style shopping and restaurants, plus a 50-story tall Eiffel Tower out the front, a stay here might just be as good as the real thing.
For shopping, Paris offers a walk down the Bally's-Paris Promenade or Le Boulevard, housing French designs, small boutiques, and the latest fashions. Then there are the shows, featuring the talents of everyone from singer Barry Manilow to the hypnotist Anthony Cools.
With more than 5,000 guest rooms, MGM Grand is one of the largest casino hotels in Las Vegas, and part of its draw is the gaming floor. The resort has more than 170,000 square feet of gaming space, which includes more than 2,500 slot machines and video poker. Denominations on these games range from 1¢ to $1,000. Majestic Lions and Lion’s Share are both custom machines found only at MGM Grand; a $1 million payout is the top reward.
Table games include blackjack, craps, baccarat, mini-baccarat, roulette, European roulette, Pai Gow poker, Pai Gow, big six wheel, let it ride, war, crazy for poker and three-card poker. MGM Grand’s race and sports book has seating for 104 guests with several television screens from which to watch the big game. This is also the first race and sports book to offer “skyboxes”—four rooms that host eight to ten guests in 300-325 square feet of space. Each is equipped with 42-inch plasma television, surround sound and CD systems.
Bringing the sleek city and bright-lights aspect of New York to Vegas, the New York - New York Hotel and Casino does an admirable job transporting you to the Big Apple. With recreations of landmarks like the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, and Brooklyn Bridge, New Yorkers will feel strangely at home.
With a Coney Island-themed amusement Park, Time Square like bar, and Central Park Casino, you’ll get a bite of New York’s biggest attractions in Vegas. Keeping in line with the diversity of NYC, New York New York features multi-ethnic restaurants, there’s something to fit everyone’s taste. From Mexican, to Italian, to Contemporary American, you won’t know if you’re in Little Italy or Little New York. New York New York is also a great place for entertainment. With live performances by Cirque du Soleil and popular nightclubs like Coyote Ugly, you’ll have plenty to keep you awake at night.
Though once outfitted with a tropical theme, Mandalay Bay is currently undergoing a makeover that will include an update to shows, dining options and nightlife opportunities. There have also been room renovations and a rebranding of the property’s boutique hotel, soon to be Delano Las Vegas.
Mandalay Bay’s casino, which has 135,000 square feet of gaming space, will be getting new carpet, chairs and music, but the gaming opportunities will remain similar to what has been offered in the past. The property has more than 1,700 slot machines ranging from 1¢ to $100 per play. Table game favorites such as baccarat, blackjack, craps and roulette can be found throughout the casino. A variety of poker games are available as well, and free lessons are available for beginners Monday through Thursday at 2:00 p.m.
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