Las Vegas is the top U.S. travel destination this year, with more people searching for travel packages and tips about Las Vegas than any other destination. Travelers like Lindsey Stone can easily see this is because there are a lot of free activities in the city and the nearby countryside that make this a great destination even if you don’t gamble.
The Big Casino Hotels
The biggest casino hotels offer free events that attract viewers all day long.
The Venetian offers the Carnevale di Venezia, which is a 15-minute performance of opera by elaborately costumed artists. You can also see living statues, gondoliers and jugglers on stilts.
The Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is an airy atrium with hundreds of exotic plants and flowers in elaborate arrangements. It’s open 24 hours a day, has live music from 5pm – 6pm, and there is Mr. and Mrs. Green Thumb to answer all your botanical questions.
Caesars Palace has a Fall of Atlantis water show that is out of this world. It starts at 11am and repeats every hour. There is also a 50,000-gallon saltwater aquarium with more than 300 fish. There’s an even bigger one at Silverton’s with more than 4,000 tropical fish, mermaids and feeding times.
Every night you can see a 54-foot volcano erupt at the Mirage with all the requisite smoke, fire and lava.
Children, and adults, can watch a free circus show at Circus Circus that has trapeze acts, acrobats, jugglers and other acts above the casino floor as well as acts in the child-friendly midway.
The MGM Grand Lion Habitat is 12 miles out of the city, but the lions are brought into a special glass habitat at the hotel where you can view the lions from all angles.
In the City
Ethel’s Chocolates Factory Tour is free and fun. You get to watch how candy is made and get a free sample at the end. It’s an activity that is not associated with gambling and is a great alternative for a little quiet time. There is also the largest Botanical Cactus Garden in Nevada nearby with four acres of more than 300 species succulents and cacti.
In downtown Las Vegas, the Fremont Street Experience pedestrian promenade is worth the trip to Vegas itself. There are free nightly shows that have more than 12.5 million lights and 550,000watts of sound. It includes free concerts and special events. It has the world’s largest video screen and is a great place to people-watch. You should get there early to grab a table in an outdoor café and enjoy.
The Neon Museum is also on the street that includes a veritable history of neon in Las Vegas as well as many other historical signs. There are guides that give tours to explain the background of each sign.
There are two zip lines down Freemont Street. They’re not free, but definitely worth the price.
If you like some outdoor activity included in your vacation, the Valley of Fire State Park is just one hour from the city. It has bizarre rock formations and Native American petroglyphs. The Grand Canyon in Arizona is about a five hour drive away, but definitely worth the trip. You can camp there and return the next day.
Las Vegas may have a wild reputation, but it is an extremely family and budget friendly place for a really memorable vacation.