Things to Do in Las Vegas
Overview: For many of us when we think “Las Vegas,” our minds drift toward old-school Elvis impersonators, the Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas, drive-up wedding venues, and even scenes from “The Hangover.” In reality, Sin City offers so much more than just a trip along the Strip these days. While Vegas’ nightclubs and glitzy casinos continue to draw weekend party seekers, the city’s more recent influx of gourmet restaurants, art venues, and Cirque du Soleil and headliner shows also attract music lovers, foodies, and culture hounds. Sitting alongside the likes of the MGM Grand, the Bellagio, Wynn, the Stratosphere, and the Venetian, some newer hotels on the Strip have taken the focus away from gambling and put it on stylish design. And downtown Las Vegas has come back to life with innovative development, hip spots such as the Downtown Container Park, a treasure trove of antique shops, and the resurgence of Fremont Street with attractions like the Fremont Experience. The city also pleases art enthusiasts with the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art, the Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art, and the Neon Museum. Plus adventurers looking to visit other Nevada attractions can take advantage of Vegas’ proximity to Hoover Dam, Red Rock Canyon, Lake Mead, and the Grand Canyon for day trips into nature.
Currency: USD $
Time Zone: UTC (-08:00)
Country Code: +1
Best Time to Visit: Spring, Fall
When to Visit: With temperatures reaching more than 100 degrees in the summertime, spring allows Las Vegas travelers to enjoy the warmer weather while dodging the unbearable heat. Fall’s weather averages highs of about 67 degrees, which is perfect for outdoor activities such as golf or going to a minor league baseball game in Downtown Vegas.
Getting Around: Las Vegas’ can be easily covered by the city’s RTC bus routes, but if you’re sticking to the main drag, the Las Vegas Monorail runs adjacent to the Strip, and the inexpensive Las Vegas Deuce runs from the Fremont Street Experience in Downtown Las Vegas all the way to Mandalay Bay. Taxis and Uber are both efficient if you don’t mind the Vegas traffic, although Vegas taxi drivers, like those in other big cities, tend to drive a longer route to raise fare. If you hop in a cab, say you’re from the area and not to long haul you.
Tipping: If you’re gambling, give the dealer a toke (aka tip) of $5 for every $30 you've won from them, or if you’re at the slots, make sure to tip your cocktail server $1 per drink. Other than that, it’s recommended to tip 15–20% at restaurants, bars, and nightclubs.
You Might Not Know...If you’re looking for something more family oriented or unexpected, hit up the Pinball Hall of Fame on East Tropicana Avenue, and then grab pizza and an old-fashioned milkshake at Metro Pizza.
The Hoover Dam (originally known as Boulder Dam) is an inspiring symbol of American engineering, built during America’s Great Depression as the then-largest dam construction project in the world. Travelers have flocked here for decades to see picturesque views of Lake Mead and the Colorado River, and today, the dam receives more than 1 million annual visitors.
The glittering Las Vegas Strip is the city’s heart and soul. Lined with Sin City’s top hotels and largest casinos, this 4.2-mile (6.8-kilometer) thoroughfare is the United States’ biggest adult playground. A number of its iconic complexes—Treasure Island, the Venetian, the Mirage, MGM Grand, Bellagio, Caesars Palace, the Flamingo—are recognized around the world. All along the Vegas Strip, travelers can spot over-the-top architecture, revel in trendy nightclubs, take in dazzling shows and avant-garde performances, and sink forks into five-star dinners.
The Grand Canyon’s West Rim, located just outside Grand Canyon National Park, is home to the vast Hualapai Indian Reservation and includes 108 miles (173 kilometers) of picturesque canyon views. The closest section of the canyon to Las Vegas, the West Rim is famous for the lofty Grand Canyon Skywalk, Guano Point, and Eagle Point.
Spanning four city blocks, the Fremont Street Experience is a massive outdoor mall and the site of Las Vegas’ very first freestanding casino building. Today, it hosts 10 different casinos with games and tables, plenty of restaurants, and free concerts and other live entertainment, with multiple performances staged each day. It’s also notable for its famous Viva Vision canopy, which projects thousands of different color combinations and images overhead.
Standing 1,149 feet (350 meters) above the Las Vegas Strip, Stratosphere Tower is the tallest observation tower in the United States. From the top, visitors enjoy 360-degree views of Las Vegas from an observation deck, aboard thrill rides, or over a drink or meal at one of several bars and restaurants.
There’s no doubt that 4,000 feet (1,220 meters) is a long way down, especially when standing on a bridge made of glass—and you’re looking down toward the Grand Canyon floor. That’s the experience visitors find at the Grand Canyon Skywalk, a horseshoe-shaped, glass-bottomed bridge that juts out 70 feet (20 meters) above one of America’s most scenic sites. Travelers who step out onto the bridge are rewarded with panoramic West Rim and Colorado River views that extend 720 degrees, wrapping around, below, and behind.
The Fountains of Bellagio in front of the Bellagio Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip are like many Sin City attractions: an over-the-top spectacle, but in a good way. The waterworks are synchronized with a changing playlist and light show, so visitors will never see the same show twice.
Downtown Las Vegas thrived as the city’s gambling district until the 1980s when new resorts and casinos pulled the crowds away from the area toward the Strip, the city’s main thoroughfare today. After a period of neglect, Downtown has seen revitalization over the past few years, transforming it into a Las Vegas cultural and entertainment hub in its own right.
The 195,819-acre (79,245-hectare) Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area in Nevada comprises a network of narrow canyons, seasonal waterfalls, rock art sites, and surreal rock formations with ample opportunity for hiking, biking, rock climbing, and desert wildlife watching, all a short drive from Las Vegas.
Constructed in 1959, the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign is an icon from the era of classic Vegas. Listed on the US National Register of Historic Places, the neon landmark welcomes visitors driving into the city from the south on Las Vegas Boulevard, aka the Strip.
More Things to Do in Las Vegas
Centrally located on the Las Vegas Strip, the LINQ Hotel and Casino provides all the requisite offerings—shows, bars, restaurants, and shops—but what sets it apart is the High Roller. This 550-foot-tall (168-meter) observation wheel opened as the world’s tallest in 2014 and offers on-board happy hour, yoga, and more.
The 550-foot rotating observation tower known as the High Roller is far from your normal carnival Ferris wheel. This Las Vegas attraction is so big that it takes a full 30 minutes to complete a 360-degree rotation and is known as the world’s largest observation wheel. Each 44,000-pound, glass-enclosed pod can hold up to 40 people, includes music and video displays, and has been decked out with thousands of LED lights. This big-time wheel serves as a sparkling focal point at the LINQ, one of Vegas’ top shopping districts.
The South Rim is the most popular area of Grand Canyon National Park, boasting easy access to the canyon, the bulk of available amenities and services, and the panoramic vistas for which the natural wonder is famous. One of the most famous attractions in the American Southwest, the area offers breathtaking views over the Colorado River and the chance to immerse yourself in Native American culture.
The Colorado River is a spectacular sight to see, meandering for 1,447 miles (2,330 kilometers) with red rocks and canyons framing it on both sides, leading up to the Hoover Dam. The Colorado River is one of the major water sources for California and Nevada, and, not surprisingly, it's a major recreational destination—activities on the river include hiking, biking, rafting, and boating.
The Las Vegas location of the popular Madame Tussauds franchise is more than just a museum, it’s an attraction that allows you to interact with its wax figures in different settings, as well as take part in a 4D theater experience with Marvel super heroes. There’s also a bar inspired by the movieThe Hangover where you can grab a drink.
It’s hard to believe that Sin City is only a few hours away from Lake Mead National Recreation Area, with dramatic and often surreal scenery of sharp craggy mountains, deep canyons, and desert basins. Coboldmprising the areas around Lake Mead and Lake Mohave, this recreation area attracts water sports enthusiasts, boaters, and nonboaters alike.
For many travelers, Planet Hollywood Las Vegas offers the best of several worlds. Its mid-Strip location makes it an ideal hub for those who want to explore a little bit of everything on Las Vegas Boulevard, and the vibe of the mid-range hotel and casino—which celebrates the glitz of Hollywood—attracts a high-energy crowd without offending multigenerational families looking for a less-raucous stay.
Carved over time by the Virgin River, Zion National Park is a remarkable 148,000-acre (59,893-hectare) stretch of white, pink, and red rock formations in southern Utah's canyon country. The state's first national park draws hikers, birders, and nature lovers with its cliffs and mesas, waterfalls and wildflowers, and varied wildlife from jackrabbits to condors.
Lined with cobblestone walkways and wrought iron street lamps, the Paris Las Vegas Hotel & Casino offers a taste of the French capital on the Las Vegas Strip. Enjoy Parisian-style shopping and cafés, a Montgolfier-style hot-air balloon, a mini version of the Arc de Triomphe—and of course, a 50-story replica of the Eiffel Tower.
Bryce Canyon National Park showcases the red rock canyons and rugged horizon-stretching vistas that make Utah famous. With a variety of otherworldly geological formations, Bryce Canyon is an active traveler's playground, crammed full of pinnacles, steeples, spires, and hoodoos, which are thin eroded rock formations that reveal sedimentary layers of red, orange, and white.
The Venetian Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip recreates the romantic experience of a gondola ride on the Grand Canal of Venice in Italy. Travelers can glide down the replica canals under graceful bridges, passing striking architectural structures and the hotel's Grand Canal Shoppes in the duplicated Venetian streetscape.
The Valley of Fire, Nevada’s oldest state park, covers 34,880 acres (14,115 hectares) of red rock formations, sandstone cliffs, dramatic canyons, and peaceful valleys. Some of the park’s most famous features include the ancient Moapa petroglyphs at Atlatl Rock and the three-mile (4.8 km) Fire Canyon hike, which shows off the colorful sandstone that gives the park its name. In addition to being one of the most popular hiking destinations near Las Vegas, the Valley of Fire also attracts picnickers, campers, and photographers.
The grand dame of the Strip, the Bellagio still seems new compared to the vintage hotels of downtown Las Vegas. The hotel and casino has been one of the city's top resorts since 1998, when it was the most expensive hotel ever built. Named after the Italian town on Lake Como, Bellagio is known for luxury in a city where over-the-top is the norm.
When it opened in 1989, the Mirage Hotel and Casino ushered in a new era in Las Vegas marked by sprawling resorts with decadent themes—in this case, a Polynesian paradise. Home to the Siegfried & Roy show until it closed in 2003, the Mirage is still popular today for its animal attractions and erupting volcano.
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