We often get bored playing slot machines and neither of us are interested in trying out our hand at card games. Although we don’t enjoy gambling, we’ve actually been to Las Vegas, Nevada three times already. During those three trips to Vegas, we’ve found a number of things to do in Vegas that don’t involve gambling.
Andrew does most of the driving, though we both enjoy going on road trips, short or long. From Vegas, we drove about five hours (including breaks) to the south rim of the Grand Canyon, specifically, to the Grand Canyon National Park Visitor Center. From there, we drove on Desert View Drive all the way to the Desert View Watchtower, which took us about 30 minutes. If driving is not an option, visitors can walk, bike, or ride the free shuttles available from the visitor center to go to different areas of the Grand Canyon’s south rim. The Grand Canyon is also accessible through a shorter drive from the Las Vegas strip via the west rim, which is not part of the National Park System, but is privately owned by the Hualapai Tribe. Visitors of the Grand Canyon’s west rim can experience whitewater rafting on the Colorado River or walking on the glass bridge called Skywalk overlooking the Grand Canyon.
We also drove to Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam in Boulder City, Nevada, bordering Arizona, which was only about an hour drive from the Las Vegas strip. There were different tours available to visitors of the Hoover Dam, but we opted to just walk around on our own. Another place to visit is Red Rock Canyon, about 30 minutes west of the strip.
For those who want more heart-pumping activities in Vegas, the Stratosphere hotel and casino offers a number of rides, such as the Sky Jump and Big Shot. The Voodo ZipLine at the Rio Hotel and Casino is also an exciting time. You can also zip line down Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas via the SlotZilla. Other rides include New York New York’s The Big Apple Coaster and The Adventuredome at the Circus Circus Hotel.
For a calmer, but somewhat still exciting ride, try the High Roller observation wheel at the LINQ hotel and casino; its 520-foot diameter that brings you high above, overlooking the city and the Las Vegas strip, may be just the right amount of adventure you’re looking for.
Most, if not all, of the hotels on the Las Vegas strip and downtown Las Vegas have pools available to their guests who have paid the resort fee (guests who stay at the hotels usually have to pay the resort fee). The Golden Nugget in downtown Las Vegas has a Shark Chute where guests can slide down through a shark tank and into a shark-less swimming pool. Spa services are also available in most hotels for an additional fee. For bookworms and bibliophiles, there are also a couple of bookstores in the area that we know of—Bauman Rare Books at the Palazzo and The Writer’s Block in downtown Las Vegas. For those who enjoy shopping, the Las Vegas strip offers a multitude of retail establishments, from a bit more budget-friendly department stores, such as the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood, to high-end designer shops at the Aria hotel and casino.
Simply taking in the Las Vegas sights and sounds is also a great way to experience Vegas. We recommend walking around the strip during both the day and night as night-time strip is totally different from day-time strip. The Stratosphere Tower Observation Deck also gives you a great view of Las Vegas and the strip. Make sure to catch a glimpse of The Fountains of Bellagio especially at night as they dance to the tune of a variety of songs, illuminated by beautifully executed lighting, every 15 to 30 minutes. The Bellagio also has an indoor botanical garden with changing themes and it is free of charge. For a more classic Vegas vibe, drive north or take the bus (look for the double-decker bus with “Deuce” flashing on the electronic sign in the front of the bus) from the strip to Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas.
Food and Drink
Las Vegas is also a place to satisfy your appetite for delicious food. From budget-friendly fast food, 24-hour all-access buffet deals for every meal, to fine dining restaurants, Las Vegas is sure to satisfy every hungry traveler. Restaurants run by famous chefs, such as Gordon Ramsay’s Burgr in Planet Hollywood, are all over Las Vegas, too. Head over to Hash House A Go Go for delicious casual American fare; just note that portion sizes are huge. Make sure to also grab a bite from one of the French-themed restaurants and cafés inside the Paris Hotel and Casino. For the brave, downtown Las Vegas is home to the medically themed, overindulgent Heart Attack Grill and its infamous Bypass Burgers.
As for beverages, water is key especially in the summertime. With regards to alcoholic beverages, they seem to be available in every corner, including stores such as CVS and Walgreens, although purchasing drinks from bars could be expensive. Sweet drinks with a kick that come in those tall, tower-like containers we see a lot are available at stalls such as Fat Tuesday.
Last year, we and a few of our friends flew to Las Vegas in July specifically to partake in the annual Electric Daisy Carnival held at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Electronic dance music, bright lights, and fireworks filled the air for three nights in a row. It was a fun, mesmerizing, hot, and exhausting experience. Las Vegas is also packed with night clubs; just make sure to dress your best and be prepared to spend a good chunk of money. Hotels and casinos are also venues for live musical performances, including those by resident performers such as Britney Spears, Mariah Carey, and Jennifer Lopez.
Unfortunately, despite the numerous, varied shows in Vegas, we have never been to any. *cue sad music* But, a friend recommends watching at least one of Cirque du Soleil’s shows, especially One, which is a tribute to Michael Jackson, although ticket prices can be expensive. We have, however, seen stalls all over the strip that offer show tickets at lesser prices and hotels sometimes have great deals for their guests who wish to go to a show.
Tour buses, helicopter rides, exotic car racing, and so many other activities are available in Las Vegas. Ask your hotel concierge or do some online research in advance. For deals, make sure to check sites such as Groupon and Living Social.
- Be prepared to be under the sun! Some of the hotels have indoor walkways that connect with other hotels, but most of the time, we have had to walk outdoors. So we always bring the basics: sunglasses, hat, cool clothing, sunblock, and lots of water to drink. Winter brings cooler temperatures at night, but the days can still be hot.
- Alcohol consumption – It is normal to see people walking around with drinks in hand, but it is illegal to drink alcohol inside vehicles.
- Transportation – We found that we don’t need a rental car if we just plan on hanging out on the strip, and taking the bus to downtown Las Vegas/Fremont Street from the strip is easy. Shuttles to and from the McCarran International Airport are usually available for a minimal fee, but check with your hotel in case they offer free shuttles.
- We cannot stress enough the importance of comfortable walking shoes.
We’re sure we missed many other things, so please share other suggestions you have on the Comments section below for those who want to head to Vegas, but are not interested in gambling. What shows do you recommend? Which hotel has the best pool? Share!