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 Las Vegas Strip is an All-American road show, home to the most famous hotels and casinos in Las Vegas. With famous spots like Paris, Treasure Island, the Venetian, Bellagio, Caesar’s Palace and the MGM Grand, it’s no wonder that the strip is the most popular destination in Las Vegas.
The Las Vegas Strip houses entertainment, bright lights, other-worldly architecture, and the city's trendiest clubs and nightlife. It's a Disneyland for adults, a place where fun and fantasy meet. Watch Elvis impersonators or avant-garde performances by Cirque du Soleil, or try your luck on a slot machine. There’s something for everyone in Las Vegas.
Once the thriving gambling district of Las Vegas, the downtown area used to be the city’s busiest locale until the late 1980s, when an entrepreneur gathered the crowds to the Strip – which remains the city’s main thoroughfare today.
Nevertheless, downtown Las Vegas hasn’t been forgotten. For starters, it is now home to the sought-after and historic casinos of Fremont Street, including the Moulin Rouge, the first racially integrated casino-hotel in the city, as well as the Fremont Street Experience, the world’s largest audio-video system which consists of a multisensory light and sound show connecting over two million lights. Downtown Las Vegas also has its own Arts District, encompassing several art galleries, studios and stores offering a vast selection of collectibles. Not to mention the many museums scattered around the neighborhood, like the Natural History Museum, the Mob Museum, the Neon Museum and the Art Deco-inspired Smith Center for the Performing Arts.
The Grand Canyon's West Rim, just outside Grand Canyon National Park, is home to the Havasupai and Hualapai tribes. The Hualapai Indian Reservation, created in 1883, covers nearly 1 million acres and includes 108 miles (173 km) of Colorado River and Grand Canyon frontage.
The West Rim area didn't really exist before 1988; that's when the 2,100 members of the Hualapai tribe decided to open their tribal lands to visitors. Since then the tribe has built some amazing features for visitors (notable the Grand Canyon Skywalk) and developed areas such as Guano Point and Eagle Point for their stunning canyon views.
The Grand Canyon West Rim is also home to Havasu Canyon. This mazelike canyon – filled with tall rock walls, cacti, cottonwood trees, and turquoise blue waterfalls – is a mecca for hikers. One of the highlights is the 8-mile (12 km) trek to the Supai Village, a must stop.
The Fremont Street Experience chronicles the legendary history of Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas. Believe it or not, the setting is fairly awe-inspiring. Spanning four entire city-blocks, the Fremont Street Experience is a massive outdoor mall built inside of a barrel vault canopy. Featuring concerts, lights shows, and multiple casinos, it is one of downtown’s biggest attractions.
Fremont Street housed the first casino in Las Vegas, and you could say that the Fremont Street Experience changed and illuminated Vegas in the same ways that the original did.
The Fremont Street Experience offers free concerts and live entertainment, with multiple show performances each day. Ten different casinos have games and tables inside of the Fremont Street Experience, so you can get an idea of what they are all about. The famous canopy is now lit up by an LED Screen, projecting thousands of different color combinations and images all day long.
The Stratosphere Tower is attached to the Stratosphere Hotel and offers 360 degree views of Las Vegas, thrilling amusement park rides, restaurants, and nightlife perched at the Top of the World.
The Stratosphere Tower is the tallest freestanding tower in America, at 1,149 ft (350 meters) above ground. Enjoy panoramic views from the observation deck or explore the amusement park, taking a ride on the Big Shot and Insanity roller coasters or the Sky Jump, a controlled free-fall ride.
Then there’s the romantic Top of the World restaurant and the Air Bar. Both have signature cocktails that you can enjoy while overlooking the city lights and the strip.
For a romantic evening showered in lights, music, and of course, water, check out the Bellagio Fountains in front of the Bellagio Hotel on the heart of the Las Vegas Strip. With choreographed musical numbers ranging from Andrea Bocelli to Madonna, you’ll never see the same show twice.
The fountains are set inside of a man-made lake modeled after the Lake Como Resort in Bellagio, Italy. With the old-world elegance of the Bellagio Hotel as its backdrop, the fountains are an impressive display of beauty and technology.
One of the nicest additions to the Las Vegas strip in quite some time, The LINQ is an upscale outdoor mall district, hotel and casino next to the Flamingo that boasts excellent shopping, dining and even free Wi-Fi for those strolling this expansive promenade. The spot's main hotel, once known as the Imperial Palace before going by the Quad, has undergone one more fitting name change and is now known as The LINQ Hotel and Casino. The namesake hotel provides access to the new glittering jewel of Las Vegas: the High Roller, which is known as the world’s largest rotating observation wheel (a technical term for Ferris wheel) and stands a full 550 feet high.
While enjoying your stay in Vegas, take in the hotel's shows, which include offbeat options that can't be found anywhere else: Jeff Civillico: Comedy in Action and Divas starring Frank Marino.
More Things to Do in Las Vegas
Red Rock Canyon is a network of impressive canyons and surreal rock formations inside the Red Rock National Conservation Area. If you're looking for opportunities to hike, bike or rock climb within easy striking distance of Las Vegas, Red Rock Canyon is just what you're looking for.
One of the more popular destinations for climbers here is Keystone Thrust, made up of towering red sandstone peaks and walls that reach as high as 3,000 ft (910 meters). Then there’s La Madre Mountain (8,154 ft / 2,485 m), a moderate climb and an optimal spot for mountain biking.
Other highlights include Icebox Canyon (to get here, you start hiking an easy trail through the canyon and then boulder-hop and climb to reach the top) and the Pine Creek Canyon oasis (a running creek surrounded by pine trees).
One of the most anticipated Las Vegas attractions, the massive, 550-foot rotating observation tower known as the High Roller has arrived. Far from your normal carnival Ferris wheel, the High Roller is so big that it takes a full 30 minutes for the wheel 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 attraction serves as a sparkling focal point at the LINQ, one of Vegas’ newest shopping districts.
The mighty Colorado River runs from northwestern Mexico through California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah and Colorado. The river is a spectacular sight to see, meandering for 1,447 miles (2,330 km) 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.
One of the ways that travelers most often come to see the Colorado River is by visiting the Black Canyon, so-called because of the black volcanic rocks found in the area. The canyons are majestic, red land formations that lead from Colorado towards the Hoover Dam in Nevada. Boating and canoeing down the Colorado River are popular activities in the Black Canyon.
Of the two major rims of the Grand Canyon, many visitors choose the South Rim, which boasts easy access, the bulk of services, and the panoramic vistas for which the park is famous. Every summer, visitors throng the park's most popular rim, mainly to ogle its easily accessible dramatic, sweeping canyon views.
But the Grand Canyon South Rim is more then those spectacular canyon views. The first stop for many is Grand Canyon Village, which is filled with many historic buildings. Other historic highlights in the South Rim is Desert View Watchtower, which has one of the few views of the bottom of the Canyon and the Colorado River; Grand Canyon Railway Depot, built in 1909; and Bright Angel Lodge, a rustic lodge built of logs and stones.
For hikers, the Grand Canyon South Rim is where you'll find Bright Angel Trail, Rim Trail, and South Kaibab Trail - all of which offer the most dazzling views of the Grand Canyon.
With its sharp craggy mountains, deep canyons and desert basins, you won't believe that Sin City is only a few hours away from the deserted, dramatic and often surreal scenery of Lake Mead National Recreation Area.
There are many activities to do around and on Lake Mead; it's a peaceful and beautiful place to bike, kayak, water ski, camp, fish and hike. You can also scuba dive or go for a swim in one of the surrounding lakes.
Lake Mead and Lake Mojave are the two main destinations in the Lake Mead Recreation Area. Lake Mead is 110 miles (177 km) long and Lake Mojave is 67 miles (107 km) long. Because of their size, both are major destinations for boaters. The surrounding beaches, marinas, and campgrounds make the surrounding area popular for boater and non-boaters.
Lovers of fast cars may think the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the place to be, but those in the know say it’s Count’s Kustoms in Las Vegas that’s really worth the visit. Travelers can wander the incredible showroom filled with custom hotrods, cars, choppers and more. In addition to these stunning works of automotive art, visitors have a chance to pop by the on-site tattoo parlor after touring the floor and may even have a chance encounter with Rollie, the man who heads up the entire operation and stars in one of the TV shows that’s filmed at this dynamic location.
Planet Hollywood is home to about ten restaurants, a 100,000-square-foot casino and a handful of theatres including V Theatre. In addition to a few low-on-the-radar shows, Planet Hollywood usually has at least one legendary artist performing on a short residency (Meat Loaf, The Jacksons and CeeLo Green have been past artists) and is now home to pop star Britney Spears and her show “Britney: Piece of Me.”
Wrapped around Planet Hollywood is the Miracle Mile, a shopping mall with 170 stores and 15 additional restaurants. Stores feature known brand names such as H&M, Urban Outfitters, Puma, Diesel and American Apparel. Despite the fact that Bellagio is just across the street, the Miracle Mile has its own fountain show, which features lighting effects, color-changing fog and water that shoots 50 feet in the air.
Bryce Canyon is the culmination of a series of steplike uplifted rock layers known as the Grand Staircase, stretching north from the Grand Canyon. The park's Pink Cliffs formations are crammed full of wonderful pinnacles, steeples and spires, and weird geological creations called 'hoodoos' sculpted by wind, water and ice.
It may be called a canyon, but Bryce is actually more a series of natural amphitheaters formed by erosion over the millennia. The wind and rain have peeled back the sedimentary layers to reveal stripes of red, orange and white, at heights of around 9,000 feet (2,700 m).
Being more remote than the Grand Canyon or Zion National Park, a visit to this far-flung natural gem rewards you with a true sense of wilderness in its pristine glory.
This collection of boutique shops with unique goods was formed from leftover shipping containers. The open air shopping spot is centered around a courtyard, which has a playground for children (with a treehouse!) and a stage with frequent live entertainment and events. Dining options range from high-end restaurants to gourmet hot dog stands and a craft whiskey bar. There are even art galleries to peruse and often concerts and films.
Specialty shops vary from boutique clothing stores to home decor and smaller local goods. The emphasis is on supporting one-of-a-kind products from local Las Vegas businesses and items that cannot be found elsewhere. There are also interesting artistic designs and exhibits throughout, making this a fascinating place to explore with something for everyone.
Lined with cobblestone walkways and iron street lamps, the Paris Hotel and Casino offers a small taste of Paris in Las Vegas. With its Parisian-style shopping and restaurants, plus a 50-story tall Eiffel Tower out the front, a stay here might just be as good as the real thing.
For shopping, Paris offers a walk down the Bally's-Paris Promenade or Le Boulevard, housing French designs, small boutiques, and the latest fashions. Then there are the shows, featuring the talents of everyone from singer Barry Manilow to the hypnotist Anthony Cools.
The Valley of Fire is Nevada’s oldest state park. Covering over 34,880 acres with red-rock sandstone formations is the ultimate hiking destination.
Highlights of the Valley of Fire include Atlatl Rock and Fir Canyon. At Atlatl Rock, examine ancient petroglyphs, dating back thousands of years and created by the Moapa tribe. Then, take a 3-mile (4.8 km) hike through Fir Canyon, starting at Rainbow Vista, where you’ll see the lighting against the sandstone and understand why the park got its name, Valley of Fire.
Picnicking, hiking, and camping are all popular activities in the Valley of Fire. Not only is the landscape impressive and attract visitors world-wide, but the Valley of Fire houses some of the rarest vegetation and wildlife in the country.
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