Things to do in Las Vegas when not Gambling

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Las Vegas has long been known for its fabulous casinos and plentiful gambling opportunities - there seems to a be slot machine everywhere you turn. Lately, it has become known for posh resort hotels and fabulous restaurants. Sometimes, though, you may find yourself looking for something to do besides gambling and over-eating. Here's a few our favorites things to do in Las Vegas:
  • 1. The Top Attractions in Las Vegas Las Vegas has long been known for its fabulous casinos and plentiful gambling opportunities - there seems to a be slot machine everywhere you turn. Lately, it has become known for posh resort hotels and fabulous restaurants. Sometimes, though, you may find yourself looking for something to do besides gambling and over-eating. Here's a few our favorites things to do in Las Vegas:
  • 2. 1. The Mob Museum The Mob Museum uses interactive exhibits to tell the story of organized crime in America and its influence on the history of Las Vegas. Learn about the good guys with law enforcement stations that identify important victories and explain wire-tapping and other surveillance techniques. Learn about the bad guys in exhibits that take an in-depth look at the mobsters, their crimes, and how they shaped society and the criminals of today. The squeamish must be warned – there are some gory photos along the way. The museum opened in 2012 and is located inside the former federal courthouse where the 1950- 51 Kefauver Committee hearings were held. Plan to spend 2-3 hours - read more here (Photo by Kakurady)
  • 3. 2. The Neon Museum The Neon Museum is dedicated to celebrating the rich history of the city of Las Vegas by preserving one of its most iconic art forms -the neon sign. Over 150 signs dating from the 1930’s to present day are on display in the Museum’s Neon Boneyard, including famous and historical pieces from the Stardust, the Desert Inn, and Caesars Palace. The visitors’ center is located inside the historic, shell-shaped La Concha Motel lobby. Volunteer guides lead the tours and bring the rat pack era of Vegas back to life. Tours start every 30 minutes and must be booked in advance online through their web site. Night-time tours feature some lit, restored signs - read more here (Photo by David)
  • 4. 3. Bellagio Fountains The Bellagio Fountains debuting in 1998 and have since become a very popular and famous Las Vegas attraction. The choreographed shows take place in an 8.5 acre lake and combine dancing water displays with light and music ranging from Pavarotti to Elvis Presley to Sinatra. Over 1,200 nozzles in four different types blast the water as high as 460 feet into the air. The light show is comprised of over 4,500 lights. The shows last about 10 minutes and takes place every 30 minutes in the afternoons. At night the show happens every 15 minutes, and most people consider the night time shows to be better - read more here (Photo by Tanya Hart)
  • 5. 4. World Class Driving World Class Driving offers visitors to Vegas the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to drive an exclusive selection of the world’s best automobiles on a thrilling ride through the Nevada desert. Guests choose between either a 30 or 50 mile drive, and switch cars during the drive so that everyone drive a selection of exotic and muscle cars. Drivers begin by driving the cars for a half hour on the freeway – either alone or with a partner, where they learn to use teamwork and drive in formation be communicating through 2-way radio. Once the destination is reached, drivers then drive their car along a winding public road course for an exhilarating 10-15 minutes, then switch cars and drive for 10-15 minute increments. Each driver gets behind the wheel of 3 or 4 exotic or muscle cars before driving back to the shop - read more here (Photo by World Class Driving)
  • 6. 5. Springs Preserve Springs Preserve is a very impressive historical museum and outdoor center built around the natural springs that were the original water source for Las Vegas. The attraction is located about 3 miles west of The Strip, and is designed to give visitors a chance to celebrate Las Vegas' natural and cultural history while learning how to plan for a sustainable future. The outdoor area of Springs Preserve consists of the 180 acres full interpretive trails through wetland and desert habitats along with botanical gardens that showcase desert plants. Walking through the Preserve is calm, quiet, and relaxing. The indoor part of Springs Preserve presents the history of the Las Vegas area though interactive exhibits and galleries in the Origin Experience and the Desert Living Center. There’s an outdoor playground for kids, and The Divine Cafe offers indoor and outdoor dining while enjoying breathtaking views of Las Vegas in the distance - read more here (Photo by Ken Lund)
  • 7. 6. Cirque du Soleil - O O – Cirque du Soleil is performed at The Bellagio and is described as an “aquatic masterpiece of surrealism and theatrical romance.€€ To tell the story, the visually stunning show combines synchronized swimming, acrobatics, trapeze, high diving, clowns, Hawaiian fire dancing, and men on fire. In an amazing technological feat, the stage changes from a solid stage to a fountain to a puddle to a giant pool of water and then back again. In all, a talented cast of 85 acrobats, synchronized swimmers, and divers are used to tell the story, and the beautiful set is anchored by a 1.5 million-gallon pool that is up to 17 feet deep. In truth, any Cirque du Soleil show in Las Vegas is worth seeing, but O is special - read more here (Photo by Kennejima)
  • 8. 7. Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is located about 15 miles west of Las Vegas and offers visitors a good chance to get away from the Strip and see the beautiful Nevada desert. The towering 3,000-foot-high red rock formations and Mojave Desert landscape are home to over 200 species of animals, including wild burros, desert bighorn sheep, mountain lions, and desert tortoises. Centuries-old petroglyphs drawn by Native Americans are prominent in the area. The Visitor’s Center has information on the 19 hiking trails in the area. Be sure Bring good shoes, lots of water, a camera, and the all-important sense of adventure. For those not wishing to hike, there is a 13 mile scenic drive that is popular for biking and driving. The loop drive exposes visitors to the geological history and beauty of the canyon and peaks, with stops along the way at Calico Hills’ colorful sandstone, limestone Indian roasting pits, Indian “handprints” and pictographs at Willow Springs - read more here (Photo by Bureau of Land Management)
  • 9. 8. Absinthe Absinthe is an inventive and daring show at Caesars Palace that features raunchy humor with random death-defying acrobatics, great improvisational jokes, and lots of sex appeal. The foul-mouthed Gazillionaire serves as the host and emcee of this racy show, and Penny Pibbets plays his adorable sidekick. Together, they play hosts to a series of raunchy and funny cabaret acts and acrobatic performances. The set is an outdoor circus tent and the seating is in-the-round on folding wooden chairs. Guests sitting in the first few rows facing the small, circular stage may be made fun of as part of the act. Please note: Absinthe is meant to offend on some level and is definitely not for kids - read more here (Photo by Paul Hudson)
  • 10. 9. Le Reve The Dream Le Rêve - The Dream is performed at Wynn Las Vegas in an aquatic theater- in-the round. In a breath-taking set, and with elaborate special effects, an amazingly-talented group of performers tell a story about dreams, romance, and fantasy by combining dancing, acrobatics, synchronized swimming, and diving. In all, the production uses 93 cast members and live musicians to bring the story to life. “Le Rêve” is French for “The Dream” and is also the name of a 1932 oil painting by Picasso. The painting is a distorted vision of Picasso’s 22-year- old mistress and was one of the most expensive paintings in the world. Steve Wynn owned the painting, and had agreed to sell it, but when he was showing it to friends and accidentally put his elbow through the canvas - read more here (Photo by Gunther Hagleitner)
  • 11. 10. Atomic Testing Museum The National Atomic Testing Museum covers the history of atomic testing in the United States, including the history of the Nevada Test Site in the desert north of Las Vegas and the massive nuclear build-up of the Cold War Era. The Museum opened in 2005 and is affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution. The Nevada Test Site was located just 65 miles outside of Las Vegas, and over 100 above ground tests and over 800 underground tests were conducted there between 1951 and 1992. Exhibits at The National Atomic Testing Museum are full of pictures and videos of the United States' atomic tests, as well as real equipment from the former testing site. The Ground Zero Theater lets visitors experience a simulated atmospheric bomb blast during a 10- minute movie. UFO believers will love the Area 51 section, but skeptics may consider it lame - read more here (Photo by Smart Destinations)
  • 12. 11. Grand-Adventures Grand-Adventures offers a variety tours to the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam. The tours leave from Las Vegas and travel in 15-passenger vans with professional guides, and most tours include a stop at Hoover Dam before heading to the Grand Canyon. At the Grand Canyon, visitors either hike of 2- 4 miles along the Upper Rim Trail or visit the SkyWalk and an Indian Village. Some tours also stop at the Joshua Tree Forest. Meals and snacks are not extravagant, but they are provided. Tours take up to 15 hours in length, so plan for a full day away - read more here (Photo by Smart Destinations)
  • 13. 12. Fremont Street Experience The Fremont Street Experience is a a 4-block pedestrian mall located in the old “Glitter Gulch” area of Vegas that housed such classic casinos as the Horseshoe, the Four Queens, and the Golden Nugget. A barrel vault canopy covers the revitalized area where visitors can buy a large beer and walk down the street while visiting souvenir stores and cheap casinos. The canopy houses world’s largest LED screen, and elaborate music and light shows take place at regular intervals. Two stages play host to free live music shows, and the new 7-story Slotzilla Zip Line just opened. It’s also fun to explore the old casinos. A walk through Fremont Street is free, but don't go if you don't enjoy a bit of touristy sleaze - read more here (Photo by Steven Gitter)
  • 14. 13. XS Nightclub XS Nightclub is located at Wynn Las Vegas and is the priciest nightclub ever built and also one of the hottest nightclubs in the world. For people who want to see and be seen, and who have the money to make it happen, XS is the place. It cost over $100 million to build and furnish, and it seems that no expense was spared. A quick look around will reveal gold-plated chandeliers, gold-plated molds of naked women, and booths covered in gold-embossed crocodile skin. The club is comprised of a 3,000-square foot indoor area with four bars and the main dance floor, and a 27,000-square foot pool area with cabanas. XS hires the best international DJ’s and EDM artists money will buy, and the lights and sound are captivating. The exclusive club is very popular and hard to get into. Expect a line. Beautiful women often get in for free - read more here (Photo by sonium)
  • 15. 14. Cirque du Soleil - The Beatles LOVE Cirque du Soleil – The Beatles LOVE marks the first time that Apple Corps Ltd. has partnered with anyone in a production using Beatles music. The story is a loose interpretation of the history of the Beatles using their music as a back-drop. Characters in the production include Sgt. Pepper, Eleanor Rigby, Father McKenzie, and Mr. Kite. As with other Cirque du Soleil shows, the dancing and acrobatics and outstanding. The elaborate production uses 24 digital projectors and 6,341 speakers, including 3 speakers in each seat. The show opened in 2006, and the music directors are famed Beatles producer Sir George Martin and his son, Giles Martin - read more here (Photo by Ronnie Macdonald)
  • 16. 15. Cirque du Soleil - Michael Jackson One Cirque du Soleil – Michael Jackson One debuted in 2013 and is the second Cirque du Soleil production based on Michael Jackson on his music. The plot revolves around four characters – called Misfits – who set out on a journey into his world. They are each given a gift and perform a routine based on that gift. The show features the requisite circus stunts and special effects, which are amazing in their own right, but One is more about the music and choreographed dancing. It is well-paced, with the slower ballads followed by more upbeat numbers, and at the end of the show there is a hologram of Michael Jackson that brings his legacy to life - read more here (Photo by kennejima)
  • 17. 16. Hoover Dam Hoover Dam is located 45 minutes east of Las Vegas on the border between Nevada and Arizona. At 726 feet high and 1,244 feet long, the construction of Hoover Dam was true engineering feat. Over 100 people lost their lives for the while working on the structure, and it was one of the largest man-made structures in the world at the time at the time is was built. Visiting Hoover Dam is a breathtaking and awe-inspiring experience. Dam Tour tickets must be purchased in person and are on a first-come first-served basis. For those not wanting to take a tour, visitors can just read the plaques and take pictures. There are tour companies that depart from Las Vegas to tour the Dam - read more here (Photo by Ralph Arvesen)
  • 18. 17. High Roller High Roller is a 550-foot-tall Ferris wheel that opened in 2014 and is the world’s tallest observation wheel. There are 28 spherical observation cabins, and each one holds up to 40 people. A trip from beginning to end lasts about a half hour, and the views of the Las Vegas skyline are unrivaled. The observation cabins have benches on the sides and floor space in the middle, and they rotate so that the floor is always horizontal. Boarding is done while the wheel is still moving, which means it doesn’t stop turning during the trip. Tickets can be booked in advance for a set time, and they are cheaper during the day than at night (coupons can be found online). The High Roller Happy Half Hour features a bartender and unlimited drinks during the ride - read more here (Photo by Robert Pernett)
  • 19. 18. The Forum Shops at Caesars The Forum Shops at Caesars must feel like what it have been like to shop in ancient Rome, except for the fact that the stores are all high-end and sell modern stuff and take credit cards. The Forum Shops were built as an extension of Caesers Palace in 1992, and the Roman columns, arches, piazzas, and fountains add a classy Old-World feel to the shopping experience. The Forum Shops at Caesars have approximately 270 stores, and many of them are high-end luxury boutiques. Notable retailers include Versace, Cartier, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Harry Winston. The ceiling is painted to create the illusion that shoppers are outside, and the spiral escalator is one of only two in the United States. The Atlantis fountain show features talking statues and displays of fire and water, and the exotic fish aquarium holds 100 species of fish in a 50,000-gallon aquarium - read more here (Photo by Gregory Moine)
  • 20. 19. Cirque du Soleil - Zumanity Zumanity – Cirque du Soleil is a sexy, provocative and bawdy show full of innuendos and audience interactions – perfect for Vegas. It’s basically an adults-themed Cirque du Soleil production that explores human sexuality with sultry and savage dance, dazzling acrobatics, and vaudeville humor. There is no story-line – Zumanity is more of a cabaret-style production than a musical. Edie, the Mistress of Sensuality, is a flamboyant drag queen who acts as the emcee of the show. The show explore all aspects and forms of sex, but the over-riding theme is that sex should be fun and fulfilling. Go with an open mind – the easily-offended will likely be offended. There is some nudity. Don’t sit in the front rows unless you want to be a part of the show - read more here (Photo by christina rutz)
  • 21. 20. Pinball Hall of Fame The Pinball Hall of Fame has the world’s largest collection of pinball machines, and anyone can play them. The pinball machines range from 1950’s models to brand new machines based on recent movies. Older machines include Heavy Hitter from 1947, Football from 1949, and Miami Beach from 1955. In all, there's more than 250 working pinball machines and vintage arcade games are available to play, and the games still only cost a quarter. There’s also a working vintage popcorn machine. Admission is free – the only cost is the quarters for the machines - and all proceeds go to charity. The whole family will enjoy going to the Hall of Fame and playing the games, and it’s cheaper than a casino - read more here (Photo by Chris Ainsworth)
  • 22. Featured photo by Moyan Brenn. All photos CC-BY-2.0. See our list of the 49 best things to do in Las Vegas here.
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