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For those who haven’t traveled to Las Vegas before, or haven’t explored much, it’s natural on various forums for people to ask what recommendations people have when visiting Las Vegas.
I’ve been a half dozen times now, and each visit I challenge myself to find a new activity, or place to visit, so I always have a fresh experience to enjoy. While Las Vegas is certainly a gambling town, it’s not all it has to offer. It’s helpful to know your options, especially if you’ll be going with non-gamblers.
There won’t be deep dives into these topics, but Google searches will easily pull up quite a bit of information. And if you’re going to partake, do your homework – coupons and discounts are all over, so if you’re paying full price, you’re doing it wrong. Check the various websites, including places like vegas.com and Groupon, for discounts. You may also find discounts in books like the American Casino Guide.
And also be sure to check and see if a certain activity is available; this is being written and posted during the COVID-19 pandemic, so some activities may be limited or paused right now, but will likely return in the future.
The Baseline: On the Strip
If you have never been to Las Vegas, there’s the key starting points:
- Gamble: Just within the confines of the strip there’s a diversity of opportunities. Be sure to pop your head in to Casino Royale, Circus Circus, the Sahara, and other less traveled spots at some point to get a full view of what’s out there.
- Eat: Vegas is known for having quite a lot of impressive food choices. Even if you’re not a foodie, you can probably find something that will draw you in.
- Catch a Show: There’s a lot of fun entertainment on the strip, and the shows are diverse and entertaining. There’s something for everyone
- Explore the Themes: While some strip casinos have been de-themed over the years, there’s still some cool moments, from the Bellagio fountains to the Mirage Volcano; the Venetian gondolas and St. Mark’s Square replica to the Paris shops, all of which have fun moments to review.
- Walk the Strip: A multi-mile pedestrian-friendly walk is possible, filled with various things to see along the way.
Explore Casinos Beyond the Strip
The strip is what a lot of people think of when it comes to Vegas, but it’s not nearly the only place to gamble (nor does it have the best odds):
- Off-Strip Locations: A number of off-strip options exist, from the Caesars-owned Rio; the Oyo, which has Hooters and Steak n’ Shake food options; the famous Stage Door; and other popular casino options such as Ellis Island and the upcoming Virgin Las Vegas (which is replacing the Hard Rock). All feature odds that are an improvement over what you’ll find on the strip itself.
- Downtown Las Vegas: The Fremont Street Experience connects a number of downtown casinos with its overhead Viva Vision screen, and features a number of classic Vegas casinos such as the Plaza, Binion’s and Golden Nugget.
- Locals Casinos: Heading off the beaten path to casinos catering more to locals (such as Emerald Island in Henderson) is a fun diversion and tends to be easier on the wallet too.
See the View From Above
There’s a number of attractions that give you an up-high viewpoint of the world:
- Paris Las Vegas Eiffel Tower Viewing Deck: Paris is in a pretty good location on the strip, and you can go up the Eiffel Tower to see great views of the strip. It’s particularly impressive at night.
- High Roller Observation Wheel: The 500+ foot tall wheel offers striking views from a viewpoint unmatched, given its location on the strip.
- The Strat Observation Decks: The highest point you can visit in a physical building, the views of both downtown Las Vegas and the strip are stellar.
- Helicopter Flight: A number of companies offer helicopter flights with views of the Las Vegas strip – it’s a quick trip but very effective.
Go for a Ride
A number of options for thrill-seekers exist:
- The Big Apple Coaster at New York-New York: The tallest roller coaster in Las Vegas, the coaster wraps around the property and features a pair of inversions.
- Adventuredome: Located at Circus Circus, there’s a pair of roller coasters – Canyon Blaster and El Loco – as well as a number of other flat rides.
- Fly LINQ: Located in the Linq Promenade, this zip line is one of the newer additions.
- SlotZilla: Located in the Fremont Street Experience, you can soar above people and below the giant Viva Vision canopy.
- The Strat Thrill Rides: You may have rode a drop tower, but how about almost 1,000 feet in the air? These rides leverage the height of The Strat to up the thrills ante.
Check Out a Museum
There’s a number of awesome museum options in the area that you may want to check out:
- The Neon Museum: The boneyard features awesome artifacts from a variety of eras of Las Vegas history, and the nighttime show brings these beautiful signs to life in a modern, exciting way.
- The Mob Museum: Vegas’s history is inextricably connected to the mob, and this museum helps to maintain that history.
- Pinball Hall of Fame: Not only can you check out this amazing collection of pinball machines, you can even play them for an affordable cost.
- Erotic Heritage Museum: They don’t call it sin city for nothin’. See a variety of erotic historical items and elements that show that sex has always had its place in society.
- Madame Tussaud’s: The famous wax museum chain has a popular location at the Venetian in Las Vegas.
Get Outside of Vegas
If you’re looking to travel a bit farther and see some other sites, there’s plenty of options:
- Seven Magic Mountains: Located in Jean, NV, this colorful attraction is just off the highway and not too far from Las Vegas.
- Red Rock Loop: The 13-mile car-friendly option (with overlook points to boot) is close enough to Las Vegas and short enough to be a fun afternoon diversion.
- Lake Mead: If you want to check out some nature nearby, Lake Mead National Recreation Area is a great option to enjoy some beauty, including the lake, but also Joshua trees, slot canyons and more.
- Hoover Dam: This magnificent man-made attraction is a great combination of form and function, and is worth the visit if you’re in the area.
- Laughlin, NV: Laughlin’s casinos are built against a river and right by the Arizona border, which can make for a fun side diversion.
- Grand Canyon: It’s a hike from Las Vegas, but possible to get there in less than a day’s drive. So for a larger excursion, it’s within the realm of possibility.
This is far from an exhaustive list of options, but hopefully gets the ideas flowing for those who don’t have a lot of experience with Las Vegas. I’ve taken part in many, but not all, of these options, so even as someone who’s got a significant amount of time on the ground in Las Vegas over the past few years, I’ve still got more to enjoy myself!
Did I miss your favorite Vegas spot? Share in the comments below!