As you may have seen from my monthly recap, I spent a week in Las Vegas with Richelle and my mother early in February.
It was a far cry from my first visit to Las Vegas and my more debauched visit during the Great US Road Trip, as my mother isn’t much of a drinker or gambler.
So, what are the things to do in Vegas when you don’t feel like drinking or gambling?
‘Sin City’ has become far more than just a place to gamble and drink to excess, with a variety of hotels and tour operators providing family-friendly fun.
With that in mind, I’ve partnered with Expedia.com.au to highlight the ten things to do in Vegas that don’t require a fat wad of cash or a liver of steel.
#10 – Visit a Vegas Museum
You might not associate Las Vegas with something as dry and dusty as a museum, but Las Vegas puts its own fascinating twist on museums.
First of all, there’s the Neon Museum, a surprisingly fascinating look at the lights that put Las Vegas on the map as surely as the big name musicians and the high-stakes gambling. With almost two acres and more than 200 neon signs, it’s a visually stunning look at an often overlooked bit of Vegas history.
From the shiny to the seedy, the Mob Museum explores the less savoury elements beneath Vegas’ early success. With fascinating exhibits demonstrating the crucial role of organized crime in establishing Las Vegas as one of the world’s premier entertainment destinations, the Mob Museum is a must see for history buffs.
Lastly, the Pinball Hall of Fame is a loving look at pinball machines dating back to the 1950s. The best part? You can play on every one of these vintage machines! It’s a great break from the noise and chaos of the workaday world, and you’re sure to feel like a kid all over again as you frantically try to beat your own high score.
#9 – Try out the Rides at Stratosphere
Located halfway between The Strip and Fremont Street, Stratosphere is a Las Vegas casino with a difference.
Sure, it has the same resort style accommodation and the same gaming floor, but a quick glance at the top of this towering pinnacle shows why it’s popular even with those who don’t gamble.
Those tiny specks you see overhead? They’re people riding the three thrill rides that put Stratosphere on the map.
There’s the high G thrill of the Big Shot, the whirling death-defying of Insanity, and the ‘heart in the throat’ thrill of X-Scream all perched more than 900 feet above the city.
Are you brave enough?
#8 – Antique Shopping in the Arts District
The phrase “Arts District” is perhaps a little strong to describe this area of Vegas. It’s definitely not the tourist-friendly artist enclave the name implies, but it’s intriguing nonetheless, if not a little seedy.
If you’re interested in antiques, vintage clothes and thrift stores, this is your place. You may have to avoid a mugging to get there, but the antique malls here are definitive troves of treasure. They’re all clustered together over a couple of blocks, so just stroll (or maybe walk briskly) between them all and you’ll collect the sorts of trinkets you won’t find anywhere in The Strip.
I loved The Attic, a vintage store on South Main St that not only boasts glorious, groaning racks of vintage frocks, but is also home to a veritable menagerie of pets that includes a toucan and an adorable cat called “Miss Kitty” that prowls the store.
It’s worth the slightly scary trek by all the bail bond offices to get to the treasure. Maybe take a taxi…
#7 – Eat!
Las Vegas is foodie heaven.
With so many tourists from all walks of life gathering in one place, it’s no surprise that there are a mountain of choices when it comes to dining out.
From greasy spoon diners like Marilyn’s Cafe to the fun atmosphere of a Tom’s Urban to high-end options, you’re spoiled for choice no matter where you look.
For our visit, Richelle had her heart set on trying one of those decadent Bloody Mary’s, and she got to do this at Tom’s Urban on our little date night.
It’s true that dining out on the Las Vegas Strip can get a bit expensive, but it’s totally possible to enjoy Vegas on a budget without having to resort to fast food.
Most casinos boast massive buffets for as little as $20 USD per head, giving you plenty of value for money. There’s even a buffet of buffets pass you can get, giving you access to five different buffets for a 24-hour period. Now that is bang for your buck!
Eat a light breakfast and make your lunch/dinner a combined feast before heading out on the town!
#6 – Explore ‘Old Vegas’ on Fremont Street
Fremont Street is the original Las Vegas: a sea of neon lights, shouting hawkers, and a kind of seedy charm that is at odds with the shiny ‘new’ Vegas that is The Strip.
While the focus here is definitely on gambling, Fremont Street nonetheless offers a variety of dining and entertainment options.
From the Fremont Street Experience light show to zip-lining from Slotzilla to comedians and live music, Fremont Street brings Vegas to the masses.
Don’t want to spend a buck? Simply wandering Fremont Street shows the fascinating diaspora of people who call Vegas home.
Want a photo with a Chippendale or an obese man in a bunny outfit? You got it!
Women in their seventies drunk beyond mortal comprehension and singing along to Bon Jovi? Done!
Kids mesmerized by a street magician? It’s here!
Simply put, Fremont Street is Vegas in all of its seedy, unusual glory.
7 Things to do on Fremont Street
Of course, there are more things to do on Fremont Street than people watching. Here’s some inspiration for your walk through Old Vegas.
#5 – Visit the Downtown Container Park
Located just a short walk from Fremont Street, the Downtown Container Park is a fun outdoor mall with bars, cafes, and cute little boutique shops.
With music on the speakers and a unique, urban feel – it’s something distinct from the neon jungle of nearby Fremont Street.
But what makes the Downtown Container Park more than just a shopping area is the fun, laid-back vibe of the place.
There’s live music, hipster coffee shops, a pretty fantastic Vegan cafe (Simply Pure), and the massive Dome, where visitors can experience classic rock concerts from the likes of U2 and Led Zepplin in immersive 4K.
If you’re already downtown and you have a little time to kill, you can do a lot worse than a little window shopping and dining at the Downtown Container Park.
#4 – Head out to the Desert
While you’re blinded by the sparkling lights and the loud noises, it is easy to forget that Las Vegas sits between Death Valley and the Mojave Desert. Some of the United States’ most beautiful and deadly stretches of desert are right on your doorstep.
Day trips from Las Vegas run the gamut from ghost town tours to family-friendly Bonnie Springs Ranch to gorgeous natural environments such as Red Rock Canyon, the Valley of Fire State Park, and even the majesty of The Grand Canyon.
If you’ve become a little jaded with the glitz and glamour of The Strip, why not take a day trip away from it all and soak in the immense natural beauty of Nevada?
#3 – Ride the High Roller
For a bird’s eye view of the Las Vegas Strip and the surrounding city, the High Roller is a 550-foot tall observation wheel that offers an unbeatable view of Sin City.
You can simply ride the High Roller and take in the view, or you can indulge in a happy half-hour with a few drinks and a private bartender.
It might not be the most thrilling way to while away half an hour, but it’s hard to beat the view from atop the iconic Linq attraction.
#2 – Wander the Strip
The Las Vegas Strip is very much an attraction in its own right. Properties vie for your attention with more and more elaborate gimmicks, and you could spend a day or two simply wandering in and out of casinos being amazed by the themes, the restaurants, and the fun attractions they possess.
Rather than bore you with a long description of every casino, I thought I’d instead highlight my ten favourite Las Vegas strip attractions.
10 Best Things to do on the Las Vegas Strip
- Take a gondola ride at The Venetian
- Explore the streets of Paris in Paris Las Vegas
- Ride the New York-New York rollercoaster at sunset
- See the famous Bellagio fountain display
- Visit the circus at Circus-Circus
- Enjoy a cocktail inside a giant chandelier in The Cosmopolitan
- Wander the entertainment corridor at The Linq
- See the Mirage volcano erupt
- Enjoy the dueling pianos at New York-New York’s ‘Bar at Times Square’
- Check out the exhibits in The Luxor’s pyramid.
#1 – Catch a Show
More than gambling and more than drinking, Las Vegas is becoming a fantastic destination for seeing fantastic live entertainment.
From touring Broadway shows to world-famous live music to hilarious comedians, Las Vegas boasts a startling variety of entertainment options.
On my first visit to Las Vegas I was blown away by The Lion King, and my recent trip saw me taking in Vegas! The Show and Cirque de Soleil’s sinfully hilarious Zumanity.
You could spend weeks in Vegas experiencing all of the shows that take place both on and off The Strip, but Vegas.com has the skinny on all of the best shows and the best deals.
What are your favourite things to do in Las Vegas?
Do you have a favourite hotel or attraction?
Let me know in the comments below! I’m regularly checking my comments and replying to them, so I would love your feedback!
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