Vegas may be known for its lavish casinos, spas, resorts, and nightclubs, but there’s so much more to do in Las Vegas besides spending money, gambling, and partying. Once you veer off the Las Vegas Strip, you’ll get a chance to really see what this city has to offer.
If you’re traveling with kids or are just looking to take a break from partying, gambling, and drinking, rest assured we’ve got you covered. I’ve probably been to Vegas 20+ times at this point in my life (and as I got older, many of these trips were non-party trips) and Papu’s spent six of his adult years living in Vegas, so we’re super well-versed in off-strip activities.
Check out some of our favorite things to do in Las Vegas other than gambling!
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45+ BEST THINGS TO DO IN LAS VEGAS OTHER THAN GAMBLING AND DRINKING
VISIT THE NEON BONEYARD
Explore the history of Las Vegas from a very different perspective as you take a trip back in time through Vegas’s iconic neon signage. Since 1996, the Neon Museum has collected, preserved, and exhibited Las Vegas signs from the 1930’s onward. The most popular attraction here is the Neon Boneyard of signs.
You can check out the visitor’s center, view the collection within the museum, and stroll through the boneyard on a self-guided tour. Alternatively, there is an hour-long guided tour. The Neon Museum is mostly outdoors and is extremely photogenic, so don’t forget your sunscreen and your camera.
I personally think this is one of the quirkiest and most fun things to do in Las Vegas!
VISIT THE LAS VEGAS ARTS DISTRICT
The Las Vegas Arts District, also known as “18b”, is an 18-block neighborhood that’s made up of various art galleries, antique shops, local boutiques, cafés, bars, and breweries.
There’s so much packed into just 18 blocks! Spend a few hours walking around the trendy streets, exploring the shops, art murals, and local breweries (such as Craft Haus and Nevada Brew Works). On weekends, they’ll usually have food trucks and live music.
If you love antique hunting as I do, you’ll be glad to know there are over 20 independent shops at Antique Alley that sell vintage furniture, clothing, antiques, and other super unique items.
ATTEND FIRST FRIDAY
First Friday is a long-standing monthly festival and Las Vegas’ premier arts and cultural event. On any given month, you can expect around 15,000 visitors to come together in the Arts District for a district-wide block party. There will be no shortage of food, drink, live music, visual performances, and artists showing off their works of art.
Can’t make Friday but want to catch the art? Preview Thursday (which happens the day before) allows art enthusiasts to view art and mingle with artists without the crowds.
STROLL DOWN FREMONT STREET
Sorry, you won’t be escaping the neon lights at Fremont Street. Fremont Street is located in the heart of downtown Las Vegas. This is a pedestrian-only street and is filled to the brim with live entertainment, dining, and shopping options, as well as zipline tours, free concerts, and even a free light show.
Viva Vision, the light show, is the largest video screen in the world, and recently got a $32 million upgrade (so you know it’ll be interactive and blinding in the best way possible). Featured shows run every night at 6:00pm, 7:00pm, 8:00pm, 9:00pm, 10:00pm, 11:00pm, 12:00am and 1:00am. The shows run for 6-7 minutes at the top of the hour.
It’s a bustling place that you need to see for yourself!
If you want a deeper cultural experience of Fremont Street, check out this Fremont Street Pop Culture Tour, where you’ll discover one of the most famous streets in Las Vegas and hear the stories of how Sin City got it’s start.
RIDE THE ZIPLINE AT FREMONT STREET
SlotZilla is an 11-story slot machine-inspired zip line attraction and is one of the best (yet touristy) things to do in Las Vegas. SlotZilla offers two ways to fly, the lower Zip-Zilla (Zipline) and upper Superhero Zoom (Zoomline). If you want maximum thrills, opt for the Zoomline.
AREA15 has got to be one of the coolest additions to Las Vegas, like ever. AREA15 is a truly immersive playground, all rolled up nicely into a vast and vibrant space. This 200,000 square foot immersive art collective is buzzing with all things creative and imaginative.
Throw an ax or two, play at a barcade (arcade bar), wander through a bamboo volcano, race on a zip line, take in larger-than-life art installations, or explore one of the many virtual reality experiences. From retro to futuristic, family-friendly to thrill-seeking, there’s an experience for everyone at AREA15. Learn more about the current exhibits here (many of them require separate tickets).
Among the immersive exhibits, you’ll also find a handful of retail stores, as well as an ice-cream shop and a food court.
PLAY UNLIMITED ARCADE GAMES IN CHINATOWN
Whenever we’re in town, we always make time to spend a few hours at Game Nest Arcade. Game Nest is a pay-by-the-hour arcade. What you pay is nothing compared to how much you’ll play once you get in!
Once you pay for your time and head inside, you’ll notice that all the arcade games are on free play. They also have an area where you can plan Xbox One, PS5, and Nintendo Switch (all of which are also included in the hourly price).
If you love relatively expensive arcade games (like Dance Dance Revolution, Time Crisis, Mario Kart, Air Hockey, or even that Jurassic Park shooting game), then head here to play until you can’t play no mo’. My favorite at Game Nest? Hogging the Dance Dance Revolution machines (free dancing working, how can I resist).
VISIT M&M WORLD LAS VEGAS
I’m not even sure if people still like M&Ms, but this huge, colorful M&M store sure is fun to visit. Expect lots of photo ops, perfect for the kids! You can literally find every color and every flavor of M&M at M&M World Las Vegas.
Not digging what’s on the shelves? Make your own M&Ms then! In just 2 minutes, guests can create their very own one-of-a-kind M&M’S with the personalized M&M printer, combining customized messages and a variety of images.
Pro Tip: Be mindful that the cost of the candy you fill into bags can quickly add up, so don’t go too crazy.
DOWNTOWN CONTAINER PARK
Experience Downtown Container Park, an open-air shopping center filled with boutique retail shops, various restaurants, and live entertainment– located in the heart of Las Vegas! Architecturally, this spot’s pretty unique as shipping containers have been turned into shops and restaurants.
Kids will love the interactive playground featuring The Treehouse, while adults can eat and relax while enjoying free concerts, movies, and more on the main stage. Oh yeah, there is also a giant praying mantis that shoots out flames at the entrance (night time only)!
Pro Tip: If you’re a Las Vegas local, check out some special discounts and offers just for you.
PLAY GAMES AT CIRCUS CIRCUS
I don’t care what anyone says, Circus Circus is still great. I loved coming here as a kid, and needless to say, I still love Circus Circus to this day!
Circus Circus Las Vegas is a hotel and casino located on the northern Las Vegas Strip. It’s great fun for people of all ages, especially if you’re looking for a circus/carnival that never ends. There are free circus acts that take place all day, right in the middle of the Carnival Midway. On top of the classic carnival games, you can also play arcade games and state-of-the-art video games at the Carnival Midway.
Looking for more thrills? Don’t miss The Adventuredome. More on that later when we start talking about roller coasters.
Pro Tip: If you’re looking for a great steakhouse, quite possibly ranked #1 on some lists, head to The Steak House, located within Circus Circus.
VISIT THE STRATOSPHERE OBSERVATION DECK
At 1,149 feet tall, the Stratosphere Observation Deck is the tallest freestanding observation tower in the United States. With 360 degree views of Las Vegas and the surrounding desert, you simply can’t miss it if you love panoramic views.
If you thought views were all the Stratosphere offered, you’d be very wrong. In addition to the observation platform with a rotating restaurant, the tower also contains the tallest bungee jumping opportunity in the world (SkyJump), a variety of crazy rides perfect for thrill-seekers (SkyPod), and the highest bar in all of Las Vegas.
The SkyJump features an outdoor jump from 855 feet above The Strip, holding the Guinness World Record as the highest commercial controlled descent. You’ll be zooming toward a landing pad at speeds up to 40 mph (oh my goodness). You will have access to both indoor and outdoor observation decks with your jump.
The Stratosphere also hosts three thrill rides for adventure seekers at the SkyPod: Big Shot, Insanity, and X-Scream. I live for coasters, and even my palms are getting sweaty thinking about them. Learn more about the rides here.
If you’re super excited about all of them and can’t pick just one, there is a SkyPod Unlimited Ride Pass available. Ride as many rides as you like in one day!
EAT AT WORLD-CLASS RESTAURANTS
If you didn’t already know, Las Vegas is a foodie mecca. World-renowned chefs from all over the globe have opened up restaurants on the Las Vegas Strip, meaning there are virtually endless dining options to choose from.
Looking for a fancy meal but don’t know where to start? Check out a few of these popular dining experiences: Nobu (at Caesar’s), Bouchon (at The Venetian), STK (at The Cosmo), Momofuku and Milkbar (both also The Cosmo), SW (steakhouse at The Wynn), etc.
GO ON A FOOD TOUR
Can’t decide on just one or two restaurants? Consider a food tour! There are lots of food tours that will take you to hole-in-the-walls, restaurants on the strip, off the strip, and so much more. Check out these highly recommended ones:
- Downtown Vegas Sightseeing and Foodie Tour – Combine Las Vegas food and sightseeing on a 3-hour downtown walking tour that explores the city’s distinctive flavors. Head from the shipping container boutiques at Container Park, through local hangouts, to a stroll down Fremont Street as you taste the best of Downtown Vegas.
- Secret Food Tours Las Vegas – A 3-hour walking tour that introduces you to some of the most sought-after restaurants run by chefs like Gordon Ramsay and Thomas Keller. Stroll along The Strip as you taste delicious cuisines in the culinary wonder of Las Vegas.
RIDE THE ROLLER COASTER AT NEW YORK NEW YORK
This is definitely an overpriced tourist trap, but if you’re itching to get your adrenaline running, then just do it. At the New York New York hotel, you can ride a roller coaster right on the strip. It’s called The Big Apple Coaster and prices range from $19 to $23 depending on weekend/weekday pricing.
After you ride the roller coaster, either head inside to stroll around the hotel or soak in the awesome views from the outside.
RIDE ROLLER COASTERS AT THE ADVENTURE DOME
Aside from the coaster at New York New York, there are a few roller coasters inside Circus Circus’ Adventure Dome. Here, you can ride some very exhilarating indoor roller coasters, play laser tag, and enjoy theme park classics including a swinging ship and bumper cars.
Adventure Dome is still super fun to walk around, even if you don’t want to play or ride anything. There are lots of family-friendly attractions to check out as well. Adventure Dome is open seven days a week.
RIDE A GONDOLA AT THE VENETIAN
Riding a gondola is such a unique (albeit a bit touristy) thing to do in Las Vegas! At the Venetian Resort, you can hop onto a gondola that will take you through or around the property. On the indoor gondola ride, you will float beneath bridges, beside cafes, and under balconies, all while coasting down the Grand Canal.
There is also an outdoor gondola for those who want a different experience. The Outdoor Ride operates on a seasonal and weather permitting basis. Prices start at $29 per person.
After your gondola ride, walk over to Bouchon Bakery for some delicious pastries (some of the best on the strip)!
Want to visit Madame Tussauds wax museum too? This ticket gives you both a soothing gondola ride and admission to Madame Tussauds: Las Vegas Super Saver – Madame Tussauds with Gondola Boat Ride
ENJOY DINNER AND A SHOW AT THE TOURNAMENT OF KINGS
This one is perfect for families and those traveling with kids. Enjoy dinner and a show at the Excalibur Casino Resort! If you’re a medieval fan like me, you’ll love the Tournament of Kings. You can expect knights on horses, pyrotechnics, special effects, and a three-course meal eaten with your hands!
WATCH THE BELLAGIO FOUNTAIN SHOW
The Bellagio’s famous free water fountain show is not to be missed. If you haven’t seen it yet, take some time to see it for yourself at least once. This free water show features lights and music (genres include classical, opera, Broadway, and even pop songs) to give visitors a quintessentially Vegas experience.
The fountain show runs every half hour during the day and every 15 minutes in the evening. We recommend catching it in the evening.
CATCH A SHOW IN VEGAS
Las Vegas is renowned for its extensive collection of shows and concerts that take place within many casino resorts and entertainment venues. From comedic performances to concerts, magic shows to tribute shows, there really is no shortage of entertainment here. Take a look at what’s scheduled while you’re here, there’s something for guests of all ages.
The most popular shows in town are the Cirque Du Soleil shows. There are 5 different shows that play at different hotels, and all are equally extravagant and captivating.
Check out a complete list of Las Vegas shows here.
EAT A BUFFET
Save your stomach for one (or two) epic meals while you’re in Vegas. Some of our favorite buffets include Bacchanal at Caesar’s Palace and M Buffet at M Hotel. Unlimited crab legs and all-you-can-drink mimosas? We’re so there.
You better try to eat 3 full plates of food, at a minimum!
Pro Tip: Red Rock Resort also has a great breakfast buffet at Feast Buffet Restaurant, and it’s even cheaper if you sign up for the Player’s Card (they’ll send you periodic coupons to eat at the buffet).
ENJOY ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT SUSHI
Near UNLV, you’ll find a ton of amazing Asian food, including all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ, sushi joints, and more. Our current favorite? All-you-can-eat sushi. Now before you roll your eyes at this, there’s something you need to know.
While most out-of-towners think AYCE sushi equates to a buffet table with questionable, discolored fish, Vegas AYCE sushi is far from that. In Las Vegas, AYCE sushi is served fresh, made-to-order. Diners can expect to pay a set price and order whatever they like from a menu that might include everything from nigiri and sashimi to udon and chicken karaage.
Sakana Sushi and Sushi Mon are our favorites, both offering unlimited made-to-order sushi and many other Japanese dishes. The fish is so fresh (the fish to rice ratio is unlike many other AYCE places) and for the price? You really can’t beat it.
VISIT THE PINBALL HALL OF FAME
If you’re a vintage arcade lover or pinball geek, this one is for you. The Pinball Hall of Fame contains 10,000 square feet of classic pinball machine games. It’s seriously a great place to go both with kids or just as a group of grown adults.
There is no admission price to get in–yes, it’s free to wander around! When you’re in, play as little or as much as you would like. Many games range from $.25 to $1.
The Pinball Hall of Fame is an inexpensive way for the whole family to have a good time for a few hours! Their new location is next to the iconic Las Vegas sign, down from Mandalay Bay.
VISIT THE LAS VEGAS MOB MUSEUM
The Mob Museum offers a comprehensive glimpse into the life of organized crime! Experience how various mobs and gangs have been portrayed in the media, learn about their roles during the Prohibition Era, and more. Where else can you get such an experience?
ETHEL M’S CHOCOLATE FACTORY
Chocolate lovers, this one is for you. Ethel M.’s Chocolate Factory is the best chocolate experience in Las Vegas, Nevada. They offer premium chocolate and wine tastings, a self-guided factory viewing aisle, a three-acre cactus garden, and a gourmet gift shop. Visiting Ethel M’s is completely free, so after enjoying the cactus garden, plan to pick up some gourmet chocolates and tasty treats to bring home!
GRAB A DRINK AT AN ICE BAR
Mandalay Bay’s ice lounge, Minus5 Ice Bar, is the perfect way to cool down after spending a long day in the scorching Las Vegas sun. This immersive ice bar contains over 90 tons of ice. What you’ll find is that everything inside the lounge is made of ice, including the walls, the bar, the cups, and even the seats!
Choose your package, get dressed up in fur jackets (they’ll supply the gear), and get your drink on! If you like being cold, definitely add this to your list. It’s pricey, but a lot of fun.
ENJOY A DAY AT THE SPA
As with everything else on the strip, spas are over the top here. What that means is that you’ll be able to access some really unique and premium spa experiences that are hard to find elsewhere!
Almost every hotel on the Las Vegas strip has a spa of its own, where you will not only get treatment (massage or facial), but you will also get a day pass to access their spa amenities. The amenities are what make a day at the spa so enjoyable! You can expect saunas, salt caves, steam rooms, meditation rooms, and even snow rooms.
RIDE THE HIGH ROLLER OBSERVATION WHEEL
The LINQ’s High Roller Observation Wheel is the world’s tallest observation wheel. A ride on this wheel will bring you 550 feet above the ground on your 30-minute revolution. Choose between a standard cabin or a Happy Half Hour cabin (unlimited drinks at the open bar for 30 minutes). While you’re up there, enjoy the 360-degree views of Downtown Las Vegas and beyond.
High Roller Observation Wheel tickets start at $23.50 for adults.
SHOP AT ALL THE NICE MALLS ON THE STRIP
There are so many luxury malls along the Las Vegas Strip to explore. Sure, the shops may be out of your budget, but window shopping is always fun too! Who knows, peek in and you might even catch some celebrities shopping! (I’ve seen John Legend and Chrissy Teigen shopping for shoes once!)
The main malls on the strip are the Fashion Show Mall, Shops at the Crystals, Miracle Mile, and the Grand Canal Shops.
SHOP AT THE LAS VEGAS NORTH PREMIUM OUTLETS
Don’t want to spend an arm and a leg on retail prices? Head to the Las Vegas North Premium Outlets instead. Luxury brands at discounted prices? Yes, please. Expect brands like Diane Von Furstenberg, Kate Spade, Rag and Bone, BCBG, and much more.
The Las Vegas North Premium Outlets is located near Downtown Las Vegas and the Arts District.
VISIT THE SPRINGS PRESERVE BOTANICAL GARDEN
Featuring 180-acres of green space, the Springs Preserve sits in the middle of the city, providing travelers a much-needed break from the city lights. With several gardens featuring the largest collection of Mojave Desert cacti and succulent plants in the region, a hiking trail, archeological sites, and a butterfly habitat, it’s no wonder why people love this spot.
VISIT THE ATOMIC TESTING MUSEUM
Learn all about the history of America’s nuclear testing program at the Atomic Testing Museum! Here, you’ll get to explore the full 70-year story of the nuclear testing weapons program that took place in Nevada. You’ll even see a nuclear reactor that was used in the development of the nuclear rocket and the first air-to-air missile, the Genie.
TRY AN ESCAPE ROOM
Escape rooms are popping up everywhere, so why not in Las Vegas too? If you’re into problem-solving with your friends under time pressure, this activity is for you!
PLAY VIRTUAL GOLF AT TOPGOLF
Topgolf is a premier virtual golfing venue. There are 107 climate-controlled hitting bays on four levels, a sleek pool with private cabanas and VIP suites, five bars and more. All my guy friends love it here!
Golf not your thing? Topgolf Las Vegas welcomes guests of all ages and skill levels, not just the pros. There’s shuffleboard, cornhole, and swimming! All in all, Topgolf is a great place to spend a few hours with the family.
VISIT ELDORADO CANYON MINE
Tour the Techatticup Mine based in Eldorado Canyon to see the oldest, richest, and most famous gold mine in Southern Nevada (it ran from 1861 until 1942). Located only 45 minutes from the Las Vegas Strip, visitors can take a formal tour of the mines and caverns, as well as rent canoes and kayaks to navigate the Colorado River.
There are even fun movie backdrops where you can do photoshoots, movie shoots, or make music videos. You can even get married here!
Want to pair a tour of the Eldorado Canyon Mine with an exhilarating ATV ride? Check out this combo tour here, where you’ll have the opportunity to explore Eldorado Canyon and the Techatticup gold mine while off-roading on ATV or UTV.
RED ROCK CANYON
Located only 17 miles from the Strip, Red Rock Canyon is the perfect outdoor excursion for those who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of Las Vegas. Red Rock Canyon features a one-way 13-mile scenic drive (must-do), various hiking and trails, plants, wildlife, geology, camping, and much more.
In terms of hiking, there are both easy and challenging trails to choose from, making this a great option if you want to burn off all those buffet calories. Some of the most popular hikes here include:
- Calico Tanks Trail (2.2 miles roundtrip)
- Turtlehead Peak Trail (4.6 miles roundtrip)
- Ice Box Canyon Trail (2.3 miles roundtrip)
If you’d rather not deal with the logistics of how to get there (or want to visit the park without hiking), consider these fun, guided tours:
VALLEY OF FIRE STATE PARK
Located only 50 miles away from the Strip, Valley of the Fire SP sits patiently waiting for you in the Mojave Desert. Valley Of Fire State Park is by far my favorite hiking destination in the Las Vegas area. The natural formations in this park are drop-dead gorgeous!
Named for its distinctive red sandstone formations, Valley of Fire is a must-see for every hiker or adventurer that happens to be in Las Vegas. While you’re here, check out Native American petroglyphs (from the Anasazi people), the famous Atlatl Rock, and other stunning viewpoints.
If you only have time to do one hike, make it the Fire Wave, White Domes, and Seven Wonders Loop. Seriously, make time to visit Valley Of Fire SP–you won’t regret it.
If you’d rather visit Valley Of Fire without having to worry about the logistics or the itinerary, consider going on a 6-hour guided tour from Las Vegas.
SEVEN MAGIC MOUNTAINS
A quick 15-20 minute drive out of The Strip area will bring you to one of the coolest art installations in all of Vegas. Seven Magic Mountains is a public installation of seven towers made up of painted, stacked boulders that stand more than 30 feet high. The art installation was created by Ugo Rondinone and commissioned by the Nevada Museum of Art.
These colorful rock totems look so darn cool against the dusty barren desert landscape! This is a fun and free photo op–worth the quick drive out of Las Vegas.
Address: S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89054
DRIVE YOUR DREAM CAR AT EXOTICS RACING
If you’ve ever been curious about what it would be like to drive a super-fast, luxurious car (think Lamborghinis, Ferraris, or Aston Martins), check out the driving experience package offered by Exotics Racing.
Choose from 13 different supercars and race around the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. All necessary equipment will be provided, as well as race coaching, a safety briefing and some practice runs. Reach speeds up to 130 mph on their race track, including a 1,800 foot straightaway and seven turns.
DAY TRIP TO THE HOOVER DAM
Hoover Dam is located in Black Canyon, just minutes away from Las Vegas. Named one of the Top 10 Construction Achievements of the 20th Century, Hoover Dam continues to draw crowds 80 years after its creation.
For those of you who don’t yet understand the significance of Hoover Dam, it is the highest concrete dam in the Western Hemisphere, standing at more than 725 feet above the Colorado River. Additionally, it’s a National Historic Landmark.
The best way to enjoy it? Hop out of your car and walk around! While there are more than enough things to see and enjoy at Hoover Dam, visitors can even walk across the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge. The 1,905-foot-long man-made bridge connects both Nevada and Arizona roadways, so the fact that it’s named after two heroes from each state is quite fitting.
Don’t have a car or would rather not be bothered with the logistics? Visit the Hoover Dam on this 6.5-hour tour from Las Vegas (with lunch included).
TAKE A HOT AIR BALLOON RIDE
Fly over the Pahrump valley in a colorful hot air balloon on an exciting and ultra-scenic tour in the sky. You’ll get an incredible opportunity to see Las Vegas, the Red Rock Mountains, and the Southwest Valley at sunrise–the most beautiful time of the day!
Each flight takes nearly an hour long and includes a champagne toast as you gently float into the sky. You’ll climb as high as 10,000 feet over Las Vegas.
TAKE A HELICOPTER TOUR OF THE STRIP
Interested in soaring over the bright lights of the Las Vegas Strip in a helicopter? On a nighttime helicopter tour of The Strip, you’ll get the chance to fly past all the most iconic viewpoints, including the MGM Grand, the Bellagio, Caesar’s Palace, and more. Your flight covers approximately 20 miles (32 kilometers) and includes a celebratory glass of sparkling wine!
I know, it’s not cheap. But if you choose to fly over the Las Vegas Strip, I would definitely opt to see it at night! Make sure to bring your cameras and get ready for a ride of a lifetime.
SHOOT SOME TARGETS AT BATTLEFIELD LAS VEGAS
Battlefield Las Vegas is the place to go if you want to try your hand at shooting a gun. It’s an indoor/outdoor shooting range where you can choose from a number of gun range experiences. There are over 1000 different weapons systems to choose from. And if you’re feeling particularly ambitious, you can even crush a car with a tank! Where else can you really do that?
With this Battlefield Las Vegas tour, visitors can organize hotel pick-up/drop-off in a Humvee to take them to their Battlefield Las Vegas shooting experience.
DAY TRIP TO THE GRAND CANYON
Ever heard of the Grand Canyon? I’m sure you have! The Grand Canyon West region is only a short 3-hour drive from Las Vegas and is best seen on a guided tour (especially if you don’t want to spend your precious time driving).
Explore the magnificent landmarks of Arizona with a day trip to the Grand Canyon National Park South Rim on this luxury bus tour. Your professional bus driver will be trained to provide you with interesting facts about the history, flora, and fauna of this natural wonder.
Along the drive to the canyon, you will get to stop along historic Route 66 to see the Grand Canyon Caverns. These hundred-year-old natural caverns are incredible to see in themselves. Once you arrive at the South Rim, enjoy stops along the rim such as Mather Point and Bright Angel Lodge. Explore popular attractions in the Grand Canyon National Park such as El Tovar, Hopi House, Kolb Photo Studio, and the Bright Angel Trail!
Another Grand Canyon tour to consider:
- Grand Canyon West Rim Bus Tour & Hoover Dam Photo Stop – This full-day tour allows you to enjoy a hot, sit-down breakfast at a restaurant en route to the West Rim. This tour also includes a bonus stop at the Hoover Dam Memorial Bridge where you can capture incredible photos of the Dam! Once at the Grand Canyon, a BBQ lunch on the canyon rim is included.
DAY TRIP TO DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK
Death Valley National Park is a really unique place that’ll have you thinking you’re on another planet. It’s home to the lowest point of elevation in North America, and it’s also the site of the hottest temperature recorded on the continent.
Death Valley National Park is only a 2-hour drive from Las Vegas, making it the perfect day trip! Explore the park’s beautiful salt pans, sand dunes, Badwater Basin, and more during your day trip to Death Valley.
And if you would rather not drive or worry about planning out what sites to see, there are many tours that can take you out there:
- Death Valley Day Trip from Las Vegas
- Small Group Guide Tour: Death Valley Day Tour with Evening Milky Way Viewing
ROAD TRIP TO ZION NATIONAL PARK
Vegas is the perfect jumping-off point for an epic road trip to Zion National Park (and/or Bryce National Park). I’ve taken two previous road trips from Vegas to Zion National Park and am dying to hop back in the car for my third!
Don’t have time for a 5-day road trip to Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks? There are group tours that make visiting both parks in one day possible.
Specifically, this Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks small-group tour makes it possible. Transportation (hotel pick up and drop-off), lunch, snacks, and beverages are included on this 14-hour tour.
ROAD TRIP TO ANTELOPE CANYON
If you want to see the famous Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend both in one day, I’m happy to tell you that it is possible! From Las Vegas, there are day tours that will take you to Lower Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend in just one, hassle-free day.
This small-group Antelope Canyon/Horseshoe Bend tour by Coexist West Coast makes it possible—without the crowded big-bus experience. Experience for yourself hiking through the drop-dead gorgeous slot canyon and take in the truly epic views! Lunch, snacks, and hotel pickup and drop-off included.
LOCAL / ANNUAL EVENTS IN LAS VEGAS
Las Vegas is home to a ton of conventions and conferences all year round. Aside from the dozens of conferences (not the most exciting events), here are a few other notable annual events that take place in Vegas:
- March Madness (March) – the most exciting time of the year in collegiate sports, where tons of people head to Vegas to enjoy March Madness games, parties, etc.
- NASCAR Weekend Las Vegas Motor Speedway (March) – One of the biggest auto-racing weekends of the year, the Vegas leg of NASCAR’s appearance sees 70,000 people at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
- Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender (April) – A Rockabilly/hot rod/burlesque-filled weekend that’s the largest and most respected Rockabilly festival in the world.
- Great Vegas Festival of Beer (April and October) – Festival featuring lots of beer, live music and gastropub food. There are two of these events each year, one in the spring and one in the fall.
- Vegas Uncork’d (May) – This food and celebrity chef-filled long weekend lets foodies get a little closer to world-renowned chefs. Tickets are expensive but worth it if you value fine culinary experiences.
- Electric Daisy Carnival (May) – One of the biggest annual Electronic Dance Music (EDM) events in the world, filled with tons of carnival rides and music all night long.
- World Series of Poker (June) – the event features high-stakes gamblers and showbiz personalities competing for six-figure money pools. It’s free to crowd around the tables and watch the action, but you can also catch a lot of it on TV.
- Life is Beautiful Music Festival (September) – Music festival that takes place in Downtown Las Vegas featuring music from bands, DJ’s, and artists such as Billie Eilish, Green Day, Modest Mouse, A$AP Rocky, Ludacris, and many more.
- Halloween (October) – festive weekends throughout the month jam-packed with haunted houses, costume contests and themed parties, club events, parades, and fun runs.
- Rock ’n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon (November) – Participants can run a 5k, 10k, half, or full marathon, down the iconic Las Vegas Strip at night.
- National Finals Rodeo (December) – Also known as “Cowboy Christmas”, this is the Super Bowl of rodeos, attended by about 200,000 people each year.
- New Year’s Eve (December) – Between 300,000 and 400,000 people descend on Las Vegas to ring in the New Year, making the last weekend of December one of the largest gatherings for the holiday outside of New York’s Times Square. The Strip is closed to vehicles for the night and room rates can be through-the-roof expensive.
WHERE TO STAY IN LAS VEGAS
There are basically two main areas you can consider staying if you’re planning a trip to Las Vegas–on The Strip or in Downtown Las Vegas.
LAS VEGAS STRIP
The Las Vegas Strip is constantly buzzing with people! This is where all the luxury is at (resorts, dining, spas, pools, nightclubs, etc.). If you plan on trying a few meals at a few world-class restaurants, partying at the nightclubs, and exploring luxurious/themed hotels, this is where you’ll want to be.
The drawbacks of staying on The Strip are the higher prices and the traffic. The cost of hotels, restaurants, and even shopping will cost you more than if you were to stay off the strip. If you plan on driving, The Strip can also get very congested in the afternoon to evening and can be a pain to get around. There are only a few hotels on The Strip now that offer free parking (hotels started charging for parking a few years back).
Having said all that, if you haven’t experienced The Strip yet, I’d highly recommend staying in a hotel/resort in this area. You’ll be within walking distance from a lot of the action!
My all-time favorite hotels to stay at? The Venitian or The Palazzo (they are sister hotels). The rooms are super spacious and some must-try restaurants are within walking distance like Bouchon, Giada, Nobu, and Mercato Della Pescheria.
NOTE: The rooms there are expensive, but have a lot of space (more space than most hotels on the strip). Usually, when we go to Vegas, we go with a relatively large group and end up splitting the cost of 1-2 rooms with each other. It’s a bit like camping, or rather, glamping, with some of our best friends!
Other five-star hotels to consider are:
I’ve stayed at all of these in the past and can confidently say they are all super luxurious and amazing!
More budget-friendly options I’d recommend:
And if you want really budget-friendly options, you can consider more affordable options on The Strip South (Excalibur, Luxor, etc) or The Strip North (Golden Nugget, Stratosphere, etc). These hotels are older and have less glitz and glamour.
DOWNTOWN LAS VEGAS
Downtown Las Vegas is steeped in history and has a very retro vibe to it. You can expect lots of flashing lights, more affordable bars and restaurants, and of course the famous Fremont Street!
I personally haven’t stayed in Downtown Las Vegas since I was a child, so I can’t make any hotel recommendations here. However, we love exploring and going out in the Downtown area because of its much more casual vibe. Search for Downtown Las Vegas hotels here.
Want a night out without having to get so dressed up? Downtown Las Vegas is the place for that. It’s much easier to walk around to all the bars and restaurants, plus the prices of almost everything will be a lot cheaper!
HOW TO GET AROUND LAS VEGAS
DRIVING / RIDESHARE
We usually visit Las Vegas either with our own car or with a rental car. Why? Because we love getting off the strip (eating in the Chinatown area, visiting parks and hiking trails, seeing friends, etc.). Doing so is just so much easier with a car.
If you plan on doing a lot of activities off-strip (or plan on doing day trips to other parts of Nevada/Arizona), definitely bring your car or get a rental car. Parking is usually free for hotel guests at the casino resorts.
If you spend most of your time on the Las Vegas Strip, it’s totally doable to explore Vegas without a car. You can easily rely on Uber/Lyft to get around.
If you do plan on driving, it is important to note that The Strip can also get very congested in the afternoon to evening and can be a pain to get around. If you plan on taking your car from hotel to hotel to explore, do note that you will likely have to pay for parking if you’re not an overnight guest there. There are only a few hotels on The Strip now that offer free guest parking (hotels started charging for parking a few years back).
Regardless of if you have a car or not, there is one transportation system that everyone can take advantage of while you’re on The Strip. The Monorail! This is a 3.9-mile elevated system along the Las Vegas Strip with trains that arrive every 4-8 minutes at each of the seven stations, including:
- MGM Grand
- Bally’s/Paris Las Vegas
- Flamingo/Caesars Palace
- Harrah’s/The LINQ
- Las Vegas Convention Center
- Westgate Las Vegas
- SAHARA Las Vegas
The Monorail runs until 2 a.m. weeknights and 3 a.m. on weekends. A single ride is $5 and a one-day pass is $12.
Taxis are a very reliable form of transportation in Vegas. What you’ll find is that they are so prevalent all over Vegas, you’ll never have to worry about there not being enough drivers at any hour of the day.
Taxis cannot be hailed in the middle of the street, and are instead required to pick up passengers at a physical address, such as a hotel taxi line. Hotels have specific areas for taxi pick-up, usually near the valet or main entrance.
ESSENTIAL TRAVEL TIPS: LAS VEGAS, NEVADA
- Distances are further than they appear. Sure everything looks super close since the hotels are right next to each other, but there’s some real distance to cover. Walking from the Venetian to Caesar’s Palace (especially in high heels)? Nearly impossible.
- Midweek stays on The Strip are almost always more affordable than weekend stays. The same room that goes for $300+ a night on a Saturday might be $79 on Sunday or Monday night.
- If you’re flying to Las Vegas from the West Coast, there are cheaper options than the traditional Friday to Sunday flight. Take a flight in on Thursday night (after work) or the first flight in on Saturday morning and fly out Monday morning. Thursday and Sunday night hotel rooms are cheaper, and your flight will likely be less expensive too!
- The cheapest time to travel to Las Vegas is the week or two before Christmas. I’ve stayed at Planet Hollywood a few times for $36/night. You could easily find 4-star hotels charging less than $200 for a Friday/Saturday night stay. Such a steal.
- Regardless of when you go to Las Vegas, you’ll need a jacket. In the winter, when temps can dip into the low 40s (between 5 and 10 degrees Celsius), you’re going to need a jacket just to walk around. In the scorching summers, hotels and other indoor locations will have AC blasting. So if you’re susceptible to the cold, definitely carry a light jacket around with you.
- A lot of the hotels are connected to each other, making it easy to get from point A to point B without exposing yourself to the elements too much.
- If you plan to splurge on a buffet, you’ll often get the best bang for your buck at the lunch buffet. You can stuff yourself so much at lunch that you won’t really want to eat dinner (or will want to eat a light, inexpensive meal).
- Want to get into nightclubs for free? Promoters are constantly scouring social media platforms. Before your trip, post on IG using hashtags like #Vegas or the name of a resort, club or restaurant to get noticed. Don’t be surprised if you find concierges/promoters dropping comments on your post.
- If you’re planning to spend significant time in the casino, sign up for a players club card (available at every casino). The card is absolutely free and can earn you discounts at the buffet, as well as cash vouchers on your next visit to the casino or free future night stays.
- If you’re going to be gambling, don’t purchase cocktails at the casino bar—they’re actually free! Simply wait until a cocktail waitress approaches you to take your order. All you need to do is tip!
- Friday is one of the best nights to find tickets and entertainment discounts in Las Vegas. If you’re looking to see a show or two and want to save a few bucks, aim to watch them on a Friday.
ESSENTIAL PACKING LIST: LAS VEGAS
- Wheeled suitcase | I use my Amazon hard shell carry-on whenever I want something sturdier and can’t be bothered with having weight on my body. It’s roomy and super sleek looking. Spinner wheel hard shell cases are here to stay!
- Packing Cubes | Start packing the smart way. The key to smart packing is going to be compartmentalization, aka your packing cubes. This set comes in a bunch of different sizes, so you can create a separate compartment for undies and socks, one for clothing, one for toiletries, and one for anything else you may want to organize. By using packing cubes, it’s so much easier to pull out only what you need, rather than dig through all of your luggage to find that one thing you’re looking for.
- Laundry Bag | Hot desert destinations = potentially lots of sweaty, smelly worn clothes. Don’t spoil your entire bag by mixing worn clothes with your unworn clothes! Definitely bring a laundry bag to separate your clean clothes from your dirty clothes to maintain the utmost freshness.
- Smartphone UV Sanitizer and Charger | Our phones gather all the grime and bacteria we touch throughout the day, and then they are stored in warm, dark places like purses and pockets, which make for great breeding grounds for bacteria to grow. They are the third hand we never wash, but should! Using a UV sanitizer such as PhoneSoap on a regular basis will help keep germs and illness at bay.
- Packable Puffy Jacket | If you’re traveling in the fall or wintertime, you’re going to need layers. You have a lot of options here, but I personally have the North Face Thermoball, and it’s kept me warm throughout my many years of exploring! During the summer, a light jacket that’s packable is key.
- Travel Daypack | I’m a huge fan of the Fjallraven Kanken Mini Backpack. It stylish and has ample room for all the snacks and water you’ll need, as well as for your camera and the safety essentials for the hike.
- Walking Shoes | One pair of closed-toed shoes (walking shoes or running shoes) is always crucial for any trip. Vegas especially, since you’ll likely be walking The Strip a lot. These ones that I’ve been traveling around with are super light and breathable. I can even walk 15+ miles in them before getting sore feet.
- For women: Adidas Cloudfoam runners are classic-looking and ultra-comfortable.
- For men: ON Running Shoes have risen in popularity, and for good reason! They are comfortable as heck, my boyfriend loves his pair.
- Clothing | A few pairs of casual pants, shorts, skirts, a few casual t-shirts, 1 long sleeve shirt for layering on cool evenings, 1-2 dressier shirts, dresses, pants or skirts for evenings out.
- Bathing Suits / Swim Trunks | Especially necessary during pool season in the summer time.
- Socks and Underwear | Enough for your entire trip.
- Hat, sun visor, or Buff bandana | Sun protection is key for any southern USA destination. Keep the sun off your skin with a fancy sunhat, baseball cap, Buff bandana, or sun visor. All three can be used to shield your neck and forehead from the sun. As a bonus, Buffs can be used as headbands to keep hair and sweat off of your face. Soak your Buff with some cold water, then put it on your head, face, or neck for a quick cool down!
- Hand Sanitizer | Hand sanitizer gel or wipes are a must any time you’re going to be in contact with surfaces many other people have touched. Never leave your hotel room without it! And if you do happen to forget it, remember to wash your hands often, especially before eating or touching your face.
- Body Wipes / Feminine Wipes | Feeling a bit gross after a hike (or even after a walk outside on a hot day) but don’t have the time to shower right that instant? Just whip out one of these body wipes for a quick refresher. The feminine wipes I like are infused with cucumber and aloe. Trust me, you will feel and smell so much better. Always good to have a few handy in your travel bag.
- Portable Power Bank | You’re probably going to be out all day, snapping away taking pictures… the last thing you want is to be exploring with no phone battery! A portable power bank is a must-have, and Anker’s ultra-light, ultra-portable power bank is tried and true by so many travelers! I never embark on a day of urban exploration without it.
- Travel Adapter | If you’re traveling from abroad, a universal travel adapter is a necessity. This 5-in-1 travel adapter is perfect for travel use with cell phones, laptops & other devices anywhere in the world.
- Travel belt / money belt | Thief proof! I used a Flip Belt when I went out exploring, which doubled as my running belt. I swear, this thing doesn’t budge or jiggle at all when you run, plus it’s super comfortable!
- Soft Hydration Flask | You definitely need to carry water around with you in Vegas. Stay hydrated throughout the day with a water bottle that can go anywhere with you—and fold up when not in use. I love the packability of these bottles!
- Sunscreen | A must for any warm, sunny destination.
- Cooling Facial Mist | When you’re faced with mid-day humidity, it can be very hard to deal with. Keeping a small bottle of facial mist in your purse or backpack on a hot day will save your life. This mist takes all the cooling, soothing ingredients you can think of—aloe, cucumber, and green tea—and combines them into one refreshing spritzer for your face.
- Dry Shampoo | Bring some dry shampoo to use in between washes to instantly revitalize and freshen your semi-dirty hair.
- Travel squeeze bottles | GoToob travel bottles are my favorite thing ever. Made of high-quality silicone, they are extremely durable, have never leaked on me, and are super easy to squeeze. They have different TSA-approved sizes.
- Hand cream, body lotion, face masks | Highly recommended. You’ll likely be in dresses, shorts and tanks, so lather up and show off that glowing skin! Plus, Vegas weather is super drying.
And that’s a wrap! As you can see, there’s so much more to Las Vegas than just casinos, partying, and overpriced hotels. Have any questions or looking for more Vegas advice? Drop your questions in the chat!