Las Vegas is all about gambling, right? No, there’s so much more! What to do in Las Vegas besides gambling? Read all about it now!
Las Vegas is only fun if you like to gamble
Nope, think again. You really don’t have to gamble in Las Vegas, there are more than enough other fun things to do in Las Vegas besides gambling. Yes, wherever you go, there will are always a few slot machines around. You might want to throw in a dollar every once in a while, who knows, just like that, three may come rolling out again. But you don’t have to. Las Vegas has so much more to offer.
About Las Vegas
Las Vegas, also known as “The Entertainment Capital of the World” or “Sin City”, is located in the U.S. state of Nevada and is one of the most extraordinary cities in the world. The city is known for its vibrant nightlife, magnificent casinos, top-notch restaurants, breathtaking shows, and many other entertainment options, making it one of the most visited destinations in the world.
Founded in 1905 and officially becoming a city in 1911, Las Vegas has a rich and colorful history. The city began as a small settlement but grew into a bustling metropolis after the legalization of gambling in 1931. Since then, Las Vegas has developed into a gambling and entertainment hub that attracts millions of visitors a year.
Located in the Mojave Desert, Las Vegas is surrounded by beautiful mountain scenery, which contrasts with the city’s neon-lit skyline. The Strip, the center of the city’s gambling and entertainment universe, is a light-filled boulevard home to Las Vegas’ most famous casinos, hotels, and attractions, including the Bellagio, Caesars Palace, The Venetian, and MGM Grand.
But Las Vegas is more than just gambling and shows. The city also boasts many cultural attractions, including museums, galleries, and theaters. In addition, it is located between several beautiful natural areas, where you can explore to your heart’s content and not notice anything from the busy city full of neon lights.
In short, Las Vegas has something for everyone, with a unique blend of glitz, glamour, exciting entertainment as well as beautiful nature.
What to do in Las Vegas besides gambling?
There is a lot to do in Las Vegas. And when I say a lot, I mean it’s impossible to get bored. The best things to do in Las Vegas change weekly, so it’s always hard to list all the fun Las Vegas sights. Therefore, I’ll stick with a top 25 for now. These are the most fun things to do in Las Vegas besides gambling.
Take a stroll down The Strip
The Strip (or Las Vegas Boulevard) is the most famous street in the city. This 6.8-kilometer-long boulevard is home to some of the most luxurious hotels, resorts, and casinos in the world. The Strip is a visual spectacle full of entertainment. There are street performers, souvenir shops, restaurants, and amazing land marks like a copy of the Eiffel tower. So much is happening!
The sidewalks here are enormously wide and there are several walkways to cross the always busy street. A walk on The Strip is a must for anyone visiting Las Vegas.
Wander through the extraordinary hotels
Las Vegas is home to the very largest hotels in the world. Each hotel is a city in itself, with several restaurants, stores, theaters, and a casino. Nearly every hotel also has its own theme, so at the Luxor Hotel, you imagine yourself in Egypt, at Hotel New York New York it’s like walking around New York, and at the Venetian, you can even take a gondola ride just like in Venice. So it’s super fun to walk through some of the hotels once in a while and marvel at the special details.
Take a gondola ride at The Venetian
The Venetian is one of the most extraordinary hotels on the Las Vegas Strip. This hotel is all about Italy and, like the real Venice, has canals with gondoliers. Are you going to Las Vegas with your partner? Then a gondola ride at The Venetian is one of the most unique and romantic experiences you can have in Las Vegas.
Each gondola can carry up to four passengers, and the gondolier functions not only as your captain but also as your singer and entertainer. The quiet and romantic atmosphere of the gondola ride is perfect for couples and makes it a popular activity for marriage proposals, anniversaries, or just a special date night. This is definitely one of the top things to do in Las Vegas for couples.
Admire the Shark Reef Aquarium in Mandalay Bay
At Hotel Mandalay Bay, you will find one of the most special Las Vegas attractions: the Shark Reef Aquarium. This aquarium is the third largest in the United States and houses an impressive variety of marine animals, with more than 2,000 animals in all, divided into 14 exhibits.
One of the highlights of the Shark Reef Aquarium is the impressive underwater tunnel. This 360-degree glass tunnel allows you to literally be surrounded by sharks, rays, and fish as you walk through it. The tunnel is part of the large shipwreck area, which is home to more than 30 different species of sharks. A great place to check out if you are staying in Las Vegas.
Take a photo at the Las Vegas Sign
At the beginning of the Las Vegas Strip (near Mandalay Bay), you’ll find the famous Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign. A great spot to take pictures, and something you just have to do when you’re visiting Las Vegas for the first time! Since you’re not the only one who has that idea, make sure to be there early in the morning, when the lines are short.
The High Roller
The High Roller is a giant 168.5-meter-high Ferris wheel. It stands behind The Linq Hotel and is a prominent attraction on the Las Vegas Strip. In fact, when it opened in March 2014, it was the tallest Ferris wheel in the world.
The Ferris wheel consists of 28 glass cabins, also called “pods,” each capable of carrying up to 40 people. These booths move very slowly and a full rotation takes about 30 minutes, giving you ample time to enjoy the breathtaking views of the city of Las Vegas and the surrounding desert.
During the ride, passengers can walk around the cabin and enjoy 360-degree panoramic views. Some cabins even offer a “happy half hour” with an open bar.
Take a helicopter ride over the Strip
One of the coolest things I have ever done myself is to take a helicopter ride over the Las Vegas Strip. You do this after dark and it is really incredible to see all those lights from above. It only takes about 10 minutes, but it is truly an unforgettable experience.
The Mob Museum
In the mood for something completely different? The Mob Museum, officially known as the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, is a history museum in Downtown Las Vegas. The museum is dedicated to the history of organized crime in the United States, as well as law enforcement’s efforts to combat it.
The Mob Museum is housed in a former courthouse and post office built in 1933 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The building was one of 14 courthouses in the United States where Kefauver Committee hearings on organized crime were held in the 1950s.
The museum offers extensive exhibits, but there are also many interactive elements. This makes it fun for young and old alike!
Visit a show
Almost every night you can choose from tig different shows. Every hotel has one or more theaters, where the biggest stars perform daily. For example, Katy Perry, Adele, and Rod Stewart, among others, have a permanent positions in Las Vegas in 2023 and perform night after night.
There are also many illusionists and mentalists, tribute bands, stand-up comedians, you name it. And if you like acrobatics, the various shows of Cirque du Soleil are recommended. You rarely have to pay full price for these shows, keep a close eye on Tix4Tonight’s website (or booths on the Strip) for the best deals.
Marvel at the Bellagio Fountains
Don’t feel like paying for a show? No problem! Almost every hotel has free shows, often combined with beautiful lighting and lots of water. The most famous free show is the fountain show at the Bellagio Hotel. Every hour the fountains dance to music and the water rises more than 100 meters into the air. Truly a spectacle to behold.
Did you know that the Bellagio has another great free attraction? Close to the hotel’s lobby, you’ll find the Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens. Amazing to explore!
The Stratosphere Tower
The Stratosphere Tower, also known as The STRAT Hotel, Casino & SkyPod, is one of the most striking structures in Las Vegas. With an impressive height of 350 meters, it towers high above the city.
The tower’s most striking feature is the SkyPod, an observation deck that offers 360-degree views of the city of Las Vegas and the surrounding desert and mountains. In addition, it is also a fun place to visit for adrenaline junkies.
At the top of the tower, you will find the Big Shot, an attraction that shoots you about 50 meters into the air from the top of the tower. There is also the attraction Insanity, a mechanical arm that swings passengers over the edge of the tower. And a few more thrill rides like that. Is it really that scary?
Watching lights on Fremont Street
You have the Las Vegas Strip full of gigantic themed hotels and you have Fremont Street. Two completely different areas, but in both locations, you can be sure you are in Las Vegas. Fremont Street is the old Las Vegas, where it once began. You’ll also find some older hotels and in between, the colorful Fremont Street Experience. This is a kind of huge video screen all over the street, with lots of colored lights. There are several stages on the street for emerging artists. Very nice to spend an evening walking around!
Downtown Container Park
The Downtown Container Park is a place not every Las Vegas goer knows about. It is a unique open-air shopping and entertainment complex and is located in the heart of Downtown Las Vegas. As the name suggests, this innovative complex is constructed largely from reused shipping containers, adding to its quirky and creative charm.
Container Park features dozens of stores, boutiques, galleries, bars, and restaurants, from unique clothing boutiques and jewelry stores to art galleries and home decor stores. In terms of food, there are also many special choices, from gourmet hot dogs and tacos to Italian ice cream.
In the center of the complex is a park and play area, complete with an interactive playground for children and a stage for live music and entertainment. One of Container Park’s most distinctive features is a giant statue of a fire-breathing praying mantis statue that stands near the entrance. Originally built for the Burning Man festival, this sculpture spews flames from its feelers during special events. A special place to visit!
Watch the video below for an impression.
Learn about the history of Las Vegas at the Neon Museum
Want to learn a little more about the history of Las Vegas? If so, the Neon Museum is highly recommended! Here are many old neon signs in a kind of graveyard. Because it is all so fragile, you can visit the Neon Museum only with a guided tour, bookable through the official website. I personally found this one of the most enjoyable places to visit in Las Vegas; you start to see the city very differently after that.
Las Vegas Natural History Museum
We will stay in Downtown Las Vegas for a while, as this is also where you will find the Las Vegas Natural History Museum. This is a private nonprofit museum dedicated to teaching children and adults about the natural world, both locally and globally.
There are several special exhibits, such as the “Treasures of Egypt” exhibition. Here you can see a replica of the famous pharaoh Tutankhamun’s tomb with hundreds of replicas of his treasures. There is also the “Dinosaur Mummy CSI” exhibit, which features one of the best-preserved dinosaur mummies in the world, a 23-million-year-old duck-billed dinosaur named Leonardo.
The “Marine Life Gallery” has interactive touch tanks and a 3000-gallon seawater aquarium, you can view different species of sharks and rays here. The “Ecosystems” exhibit highlights different environments such as the Mojave Desert, the African Savannah, and a rainforest.
As you can see, you can have a great afternoon here. It is also a very fun activity to do with children.
Enjoy the delicious food
Did you know that Las Vegas is bursting with Michelin-starred restaurants? Well of course those are quite pricey, but the other restaurants also serve very good and tasty food. Almost every hotel has its own buffet (especially those at the Aria and the Belaggio I can recommend) full of delicious things.
Other restaurants on The Strip are amazing as well. For example, the Sugar Factory, where they serve very colorful food and amazing cocktails, makes it a perfect place for a great Vegas girls trip!
Shop till you drop in the Premium Outlets
Las Vegas Premium Outlets are two large outdoor malls located on the north and south sides of the city. They are known as Las Vegas North Premium Outlets and Las Vegas South Premium Outlets) and they’re the best places to go shopping as you get significant discounts on designer and branded products.
I myself can be found here at least once during every visit to Las Vegas and have made many good purchases here. Tip: sign up for the VIP club and you’ll get some sort of coupon booklet that will give you even more discounts!
Check out the Hoover Dam
Feel like leaving the craziness and casinos for a while? Then it’s fun to visit Hoover Dam which is located on the Colorado River. From the Strip, it is about a 45-minute drive to this massive structure. Parking is best done on the Arizona side of the dam; it’s free there (unlike the Nevada side). You can walk around the dam or view it from the Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge. The lake behind the Hoover Dam is called Lake Mead, which is a great place to do all sorts of watersports.
Go hiking in the Valley of Fire
Las Vegas is in the middle of beautiful national parks, such as Death Valley, Zion, Joshua Tree, and Grand Canyon National Park. Well, these parks are about a three to five-hour drive, but a little closer you will find Valley of Fire State Park. The rocks here are fire-red and you can take beautiful hikes here, such as to the beautiful Fire Wave.
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Red Rock Canyon is another beautiful natural area located near Las Vegas. This protected area covers nearly 200,000 hectares and is famous for its high red and cream-colored sandstone cliffs.
Follow the 13-mile scenic drive through the park to admire the beauty of the area. Along the road are numerous viewpoints and trailheads. There are several hiking trails in the park that vary in difficulty. I myself walked the trail to Turtlehead Peak, a hiking trail to a mountain peak. From here I could see the incredible skyline of Las Vegas. Wow!
Just behind Red Rock Canyon is Mount Charleston, a picturesque village near Charleston Peak (3632 meters high). You enter a completely different world here. Mountains, forests, and (much) cooler temperatures. There are several hiking trails on the mountain, ranging from easy to difficult, and they offer breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. In winter, you can even ski and snowboard here!
Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area
Just a 20-minute drive south of town is another beautiful natural area: Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area. This area of nearly 50,000 acres includes the Sloan Canyon Petroglyph Site, where you can discover more than 300 panels of prehistoric petroglyphs, one of the most important cultural and archaeological sites in Southern Nevada.
The landscape of the Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area is dramatic and varied, ranging from low desert plains to rocky cliffs. This makes it a great place for a (long) walk.
Seven Magic Mountains
Seven Magic Mountains is about a 20-minute drive from the Las Vegas Strip. It is a colorful sculpture in the desert. The installation consists of seven towering stacks of brightly colored, carved stones that contrast strikingly with the austere, neutral tones of the surrounding desert landscape. Each of these “mountains” can rise to a height of more than ten meters. The artwork is created by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone and is free to visit.
Nelson, also known as Eldorado, is a fascinating ghost town just a 45-minute drive from Las Vegas. Nelson has a rich and eventful past, dating back to the mid-nineteenth century when the area was known for its gold and silver mines.
Upon arrival in Nelson, you are greeted by weathered, abandoned buildings, old vehicles, and a slew of vintage artifacts that give the impression of a time travel to the old West. There are numerous fun photo opportunities, including the iconic old Texaco gas station, scrap cars, and rustic wooden buildings. A nice day trip if you want something completely different from the hustle and bustle of the city.
My favorite hotels in Las Vegas
As you can see, you can have a great time for a week in Las Vegas. There are more than enough places to stay in Las Vegas; you’ll find some of the biggest hotels in the world. During my visits to Las Vegas, I have slept in many different hotels on the Las Vegas Strip. These are (so far) my favorite hotels in Las Vegas.
- Wynn is one of the most luxurious hotels on the Strip. The rooms are large, very luxurious (you can even use the Alexa speaker to control the curtains and lights) and have a fantastic bathroom with a giant bathtub. A perfect place to start your visit to Las Vegas in style.
- Hotel New York New York is one of the best-themed hotels in Las Vegas. At the front of the hotel, you’ll see the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge, and when you walk inside you imagine yourself in New York. The rooms are spacious and soundproofed. Therefore, you won’t hear anything from the cool roller coaster that goes around the hotel.
- Bellagio is an icon thanks to its large fountains. Not only does the hotel have a great location (right in the middle of the Strip), but it also is a great place to sleep in as well with its spacious and modern rooms. Large beds and a lovely bathroom with a large bathtub. I myself slept here when I had just finished my hike on the Arizona Trail. I couldn’t have wished for a better hotel.
Check Booking.com for more options, prices, and availability. Good to know: hotel rooms in Las Vegas are much cheaper on weekdays than on weekends.
Want to know more about the famous hotels in Las Vegas? Also read the article: Awesome themed hotels in Las Vegas
Book a trip to Las Vegas!
As you can see, it is impossible not to enjoy yourself in Las Vegas. Fancy visiting this extraordinary city? Book your trip now!
✈️ Plane tickets – Las Vegas has a large international airport called McCarran International Airport. Check WayAway to find the best deals and cashback on plane tickets.
🚘 Rental car – If you’d like to visit all the amazing spots just outside of the city, it’s very convenient to have a rental car. Check Rental Cars to find the best deals.
🎡 Tours and Activities – There are tons of fun tours and activities in Las Vegas! Check Get Your Guide for all options.
Read more about Las Vegas and Southwest USA
Looking for more Las Vegas travel tips? Get one of these travel guides.
I myself visited Las Vegas four times during my trips to the United States. That is why you can read a lot about traveling in the USA on this website. You might like to read these articles as well:
- Los Angeles Bucket List: 34 amazing places to visit
- 33 Fun Activities for your San Francisco Bucket List
- West Coast USA road trip: a spectacular itinerary
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This article was published in May 2018. Last update: June 2023 with a lot more tips!
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