Las Vegas is the largest city in Nevada and famed around the world for its many casinos.
“Vegas”, as it’s colloquially known, sits in the middle of the vast Mojave Desert sandwiched between Death Valley National Park and Lake Mead.
The city is one of the newer urban areas in the US and its population grew significantly to house workers building the Hoover Dam.
When gambling was legalized in Nevada in 1931 many casinos sprang up to entertain the workers, and since then it has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.
In this article you’ll discover the 23 best things to do in Las Vegas.
But remember, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas…
It’s quite straightforward to reach Las Vegas by road as many major freeways pass through or close to the city.
From Las Vegas it’s a relatively short five hour drive along Route 15.
From Phoenix, Arizona it’s a four and a half hour drive along Route 93.
From Salt Lake City it’s a six hour drive also along Route 15.
The best way to make the journey is to go by motorhome or RV.
That way you have everything you need right with you and will never be caught short looking for a dreary motel to overnight in!
Harry Reid International is Las Vegas’ main airport and has flights to and from all major destinations in the USA.
There are international flights from Mexico, Canada, the UK, Germany, the Netherlands and more.
Check for the latest flight deals here.
There are three daily trains from Los Angeles taking just eight hours and forty five minutes.
Las Vegas is also served by Amtrak route 289 with trains from Salt Lake City (2d18h), Bakersfield (20h24m) and Manchester (2d17h).
Greyhound has daily services to Las Vegas from many cities including Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Diego and Salt Lake City.
Prices start as low as $31 for LA to Las Vegas.
The cheapest option to get from Harry Reid International to downtown (Fremont Street) is to take the CX (Centennial Express) bus.
There are hourly buses from terminals 1 and 3, and the cost is just $2.00 one way.
RTC route 109 has buses from the airport to hotels on the Strip with a transfer at Deuce. There are also shuttle buses that cost around $15.00 per person.
You can also take a cab with rates between $19.00 and $27.00 (Uber and Lyft will be cheaper).
Hiring a car is a great way to get around as it gives you more freedom.
It’s easy to get around the Strip by public transport, however if you plan on visiting the national parks or desert, then you will need your own transport.
One of the best ways to get around Las Vegas and the surrounding areas is to hire an RV/campervan.
This is a great way to get around national parks, Lake Mead and the Grand Canyon, and can save a lot of money on accommodation too!
Las Vegas has its very own 3.6-mile monorail covering the Strip. Trains arrive every four to eight minutes and there are seven stops including the MGM Grand and Convention Centre. Tickets start at $5.00 per ride.
Limo - Many people like to add a little panache to their Vegas stay, and what better way than arriving by limousine?
Walk - Given that the Strip is 4.2 miles long, walking isn’t ideal, however for those that wish to do so, it takes around 90 minutes to get from one end to the other.
Guided Tour - One of the best ways to see the city and learn all about Vegas’ history is to take a guided tour like this one which also includes a ride on the High Roller for perfect views of the city.
There are plenty of great accommodation options in Las Vegas and the surrounding areas.
Whether you are looking for a backpacker hostel, or something a little more stylish, you’ll be sure to find somewhere to suit your tastes and budget.
Here is a small selection of places to stay in Las Vegas:
We personally stayed at the Paris Las Vegas and thought it was great value.
For 4 nights with all the taxes and fees (including hat annoying resort fee) we paid $350 for both of us.
Now this was a midweek stay from Monday to Friday, but if you can go during the week, then you won't overpay for a hotel in Vegas!
Rooms were clean, recently renovated and the casino in the Paris hotel was actually our favourite in all of Vegas!
You can pay extra for rooms with a view of the Eiffel Tower, and their swimming pool is basically underneath it.
The Las Vegas Strip (the Strip for short) is a section of Las Vegas Boulevard that is packed with hotels, resorts, casinos and other attractions.
The Strip is recognizable around the world for its gargantuan hotels (some of the largest in the world) and resorts decked up like famous world landmarks.
You’ll be able to see recreations of the Eiffel Tower, Egyptian pyramids, Venice’s Grand Canal, the Colosseum and the Statue of Liberty among others.
This is where all the action happens, and many visitors just stick to the Strip as there is everything you could possibly want/need and more.
As well as the obvious casinos, there is much more to do on the strip to keep you entertained from noon ‘til night.
There is the Shark Reef Aquarium, Cirque du Soleil, art exhibitions, shows, and even a huge man-made beach for swimming and sunbathing.
The strip is absolutely one of the best things to do in Las Vegas and will keep you occupied for as long as your senses can handle.
The impressive Fountains of Bellagio are located in an 8.5 acre man-made lake at the Hotel at the Bellagio Resort on the Strip.
There is a free light and water show with jets of water spurting up to 460 feet in the air. The shows are every thirty minutes from 3:00 pm to 8:00 pm and then every fifteen minutes from 8:00 pm to midnight.
Each show is uniquely different so now matter how many times you witness this spectacle, you’ll be sure to be wowed and amazed.
Given that there is no charge and you don’t need to be a guest of the resort, the Fountains of Bellagio are one of the best free things to do in Las Vegas.
If you want a cool view of the water show, then head up the Eiffel tower! This looks over the fountains.
I seen the fountains about 12 times on our trip, and I didn't even get a proper photo....for that I apologize!
For chocoholics and those with a sweet tooth, a trip to the Ethel M Chocolate Factory is certainly one of the best things to do in Las Vegas.
Learn all about one of the world’s most popular chocolate brands, owned by the Mars family.
With the opportunity for chocolate and wine tasting, a self guided tour of the factory, a three-acre cactus garden and gift shop, the Ethel M Factory should not be missed.
The factory is free to visit and you can witness master chocolatiers and machines making your favorite sweets and chocolates before your very eyes!
The cactus and botanical garden is one of the largest of its kind and is home to over 300 different species of cactus and other desert flora.
We did a chocolate and wine tasting and it was honestly such a super informative experience and we learnt a lot.
I think it's excellent value coming in at $20 without wine and $30 with!
Have a go at driving supercars at a specially built Vegas racetrack. This high-octane activity is perfect for petrolheads and car-lovers.
There are different experiences to choose, from laps on the track to go karting and even off-roading in the desert.
You can choose from a variety of the top sports and race cars in the world, from Ferrari and Lamborghini to Porsche and McLaren.
Bradley actually drove an Audi R8 which has been high on his bucketlist for some time, and he had a fantastic time.
You can pay for the amount of laps you want to do, and the more laps you do, the cheaper they become.
But what's great too, is that you get practice laps, that don't count towards that allowance, so you can use your paid laps for one thing.....SPEED!
We also had the chance to do a ride along in a "police car" that drifted around the course. This was an adrenaline pumping experience and a lot of fun!
For supercars, prices start from $199.00 for five laps in a Porsche. Go-karting starts at just $35.00 per race, and $299.00 for the off-road experience.
For the ride along, prices started at $99.
Visit the Speed Vegas website for more info and to book online.
Want a perfect way to see all the BEST sights of Las Vegas, without having to walk in 40 degree Celsius heat? Take a Big Bus Tour!
Las Vegas is hot hot hot in the super, but you can take a night tour with Big Bus and you'll see all the hot spots and glitzy lights, with a breeze.
You'll also get some time to spend wandering around the craziness that is Fermont Street (perfect if you're not planning on spending too much time there, but would like to see it!)
I really enjoyed the live guide too, he gave lots of fun facts about Vegas and it's a great way to see more of and learn more about the city.
The Hoover Dam (at one time known as the Boulder Dam) was constructed to control flooding, help with irrigation and also provide electricity.
The project took five years to construct between 1931 and 1936 and took thousands of people to complete, with many lives lost in the process.
The city of Las Vegas was born in part to house workers on the dam and the city will always have close ties to this monstrosity of engineering.
The Hoover Dam is on the Colorado River between Nevada and Arizona, and is an absolute must-visit for anyone coming to Vegas.
The easiest way to see the dam is to take a tour from Las Vegas such as this one.
This VIP experience will have you visiting the dam before most tourists arrive and includes entry to the dam itself.
You’ll also get to walk across the top of the dam, and the tour includes lunch. For sure one of the best Las Vegas things to do for any visitor!
The stunning Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is located out in the Mojave Desert 15 miles west of Vegas, and can even be seen from the Strip.
It is famed for its red sandstone peaks, Native American petroglyphs, and stunning views.
The flora and fauna of the canyon includes plants such as Joshua tree, yuccas and juniper. The conservation area is also home to the protected desert tortoise.
There are over 20 different hikes and trails in the park ranging in difficulty from modest to tough.
The area is popular with hikers and campers, and other available activities include biking, rock-climbing and horse riding.
There is a visitor center filled with interesting indoor and outdoor exhibits and is a great place to start your trip to the Canyon.
If you plan on hiking into the desert, stick to the trails and take a map and compass. Ensure you have plenty of water as the desert sun can be unforgiving, and tell someone (hotel, visitor center) when you expect to return.
There is a $10 charge for cars to enter the park which goes towards the costs associated with conservation.
The Venetian resort is home to the second largest hotel in the world which includes the 120,000 square-foot casino and a recreation of Venice’s Grand Canal.
From trying your luck in the casino to watching a show, or punting down the canal, the Venetian is one of the top entertainment spots in the city.
Float beneath Venetian bridges on a real gondola or grab a coffee at one of the many cafes along the canal. You’ll be forgiven for thinking you’re actually in this incredible Italian city.
There are both indoor and outdoor gondola rides, and tickets cost between $34.00 and $39.00 and operating hours are between 10:00 am and 12:00 pm.
We took a private gondola ride and it was one of the most romantic experiences ever.
Your captain sings songs to you in Italian and it's just fantastic. We highly recommend this experience to everyone.
There are cocktail bars, clubs and lounges on site, and daily performances by some of the biggest acts in the world from ZZ top and Demi Lovato to Sarah Brightman.
The casino has everything from roulette to slot machines, poker and other table games.
You’ll also find a large selection of cafes and restaurants serving food from breakfast until the early hours.
A trip to the Venetian is for sure one of the best things to do in Las Vegas Strip.
If you would like a recommendation on where to eat, then we have to recommend the excellent BRERA Osteria.
This is AUTHETNIC Italian food, and it's run by Italians.
The food is FANTASTIC, and it's excellent value, especially if you visit for lunch.
I highly recommend the pesto gnocchi.
Fremont is the second most famous street in Vegas after the Strip and is located in the downtown area.
It is affectionately known as “Glitter Gulch” thanks to the many neon signs.
When you see Vegas on TV or film Fremont Street is usually used as the backdrop thanks to its casinos, neon and dazzling lights
Fremont Street has been used as the backdrop to films including Viva Las Vegas, James Bond’s Diamonds are Forever, and recently for The Weeknd’s music video to Blinding Lights.
You’ll find many famous casinos here such as Binions, the Golden Nugget, the Golden Gate Hotel and the Fremont Hotel and Casino.
The street is packed with entertainment options from a zipline to live shows, a shark tank and the famous Mob Museum.
There are a tonne of restaurants, bars and cafes serving food and drinks all day and night.
The High Roller at the Linq is a 550-foot Ferris wheel located on the Strip at the famous Caesars Palace.
The High Roller was the tallest Ferris wheel when it was first built in 2014, but has since slipped into second place (beaten by Dubai, of course - they have to do everything one better).
Taking a ride on the High Roller is one of the best things to do in Las Vegas and offers fantastic views of the city and surrounding desert.
Tickets cost from $23.50 for daytime rides (2:00 pm to 7:00 pm) and $34.75 for a ride at night (7:00 pm to midnight).
They even offer a pretty fun "happy hour" where you get 30 minutes of unlimited drinks....perhaps that's a challenge, how many drinks can you drink in 30 minutes?
You Can book tickets online here.
If you look at a map of America, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Las Vegas, stuck out in the middle of the desert, couldn’t possibly have its own tropical beach.
But this is Vegas we’re talking about and anything is possible! Enter Mandalay Beach, Casino and Aquarium.
Here you’ll find 2,700 tons of real sand set across 11 acres with a wave pool, whirlpool and even a rafting area. There are also plenty of shoreside cabanas, bars and grills to keep you fed and hydrated.
So before hitting the bright lights of the strip and Fremont Street, you can pull up a sun lounger or catch a few waves under the blue Nevada sky.
The aquatic center and Mandalay Bay Beach are open from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm Monday to Friday and 9:00 am to 7:00 pm Saturday and Sunday.
Access to the beach is free for resort guests, and non-guests can access the pool by renting a cabana from Monday to Thursday.
The onsite Shark Reef Aquarium is home to over 2,000 different species from sharks, rays and turtles to piranhas and even a Komodo Dragon.
There are options to feed the stingrays and sharks, perfect small kids and big kids alike! The aquarium is open from Monday to Sunday 10:00 am to 8:00 pm.
Tickets are $29.00 for adults and $24.00 for children, and include an undersea and explorer VR experience. Stingray feeding is an additional $35.00 and shark fessing $99.00.
Welcome to Paris, Las Vegas, which is home to a half-size scale version of the Eiffel Tower with a viewing deck 46 stories (540 feet) high.
The panoramic views from the top are incredible and you can see across the Las Vegas skyline out to the desert.
This is considered one of the most romantic spots in Vegas (well, it is Paris afterall), and the best time to go is just before sunset so you can watch the lights of the city spring up around you.
Tickets to the viewing platform cost $24.50 for adults and $19.50 for children.
Opening times are Monday to Thursday 5:00 pm to midnight.
Even the walkway to the entrance is beautiful, it's designed like a Parisian bridge!
Book your entrance ticket online here.
If you’re looking for even higher highs, then head to the STRAT Hotel which has a 1,149 foot observation tower. It is the tallest freestanding observation tower in the United States and has tons to do.
Take a ride up in a “Skypod” for amazing views of the Las Vegas Valley from both indoor and outdoor observation decks.
There are funfair rides 1,000 feet above the ground, gourmet restaurants with some of the best views in the city, and daredevils can even have a go at a bungee jump from the tower.
The Stratosphere Tower is open daily from 10:00 am to 1:00 am. Tickets cost from $20.00 for the Skypod and observation decks. Rides are extra.
You can book tickets online here.
This unlimited ride ticket is a great option for thrillseekers.
The Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign is an iconic Vegas landmark and one of the top Las Vegas attractions.
This famous neon sign dates back to 1959 when it was designed and funded by the Western Neon company.
The sign is just south of the Strip on Las Vegas Boulevard South, across from the Klondike Casino and Hotel.
No trip to Vegas is complete without a selfie at this iconic sign. Definitely one for “the Gram”!
The associated Neon Museum (located on Las Vegas Boulevard North) is another must-visit where you can explore the neon boneyard of over 250 kitsch Las Vegas signs destined for the scrapheap.
The sign is free to visit and can be visited at any time.
Just be aware it gets busy, so you may have to queue for your photo.
The museum is open daily from 4:00 pm to 12:00 am. Entrance is $20.00 with guided tours and photo ops for an extra charge.
The Seven Magic Mountains is an art installation by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone and comprises seven brightly coloured boulder totems up to 35 feet high out in the desert.
Like a slightly kitsch version of the UK’s Stonehenge, the Seven Magic Mountains draws visitors from around the world.
The installation is free to visit, the only ask is that you leave no trace behind.
Due to excessive visitor numbers the “Mountains'' were cordoned off, but after the site was cleaned it is now open again.
Seven Magic Mountains are located 10 miles south of the city on I-5 S. See the official website for directions.
One of the best ways to visit the Seven Magic Mountains is to take a tour from Vegas which includes hotel pickup.
One of the most fun things to do in Las Vegas is to take a helicopter ride from the city to the Grand Canyon.
What better way of seeing this wonder of the natural world than above in your own deluxe helicopter?
This incredible helicopter tour will also take you over the Hoover Dam and Lake Mead before following the Grand Canyon.
What’s more, the heli will even land in the canyon itself where you’ll enjoy a Champagne toast on a private bluff deep inside the canyon.
You’ll spend over 90-minutes in the air crossing some of America’s most famous landmarks and wilderness areas in a state-of-the-art Eco-Star helicopter.
This is one tour that is worth every cent and something you’ll remember for the rest of your life!
Death Valley is the driest, hottest and lowest part of the continental United States and famed for its inhospitable landscape.
It is located in the northern Mojave Desert in Eastern California 130 miles northwest of Vegas, and during the summer is one of the hottest places on earth.
This land of extremes is a must-visit for anyone coming to Vegas and includes Badwater Basin which is the lowest point in North America.
The beautiful Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes will have you thinking you are in the Sahara as a landscape of sweeping sand dunes stretches as far as the eye can see.
For those wishing to hike in Death Valley, proper advanced planning is required due to the inhospitable nature of the landscape.
These helpful guides will be a good start.
Death Valley National Park is easily reachable from Las Vegas and one of the best ways to get there is to take a tour like this one.
You’ll be picked up from your hotel and transported to the park in a comfortable and air conditioned bus or SUV. The tour includes snacks, water and a light lunch.
What happens in the senate, stays in the senate, or so thought Brutus! Caesars Palace is a hotel resort complex with casino, restaurants and entertainment facilities set in ancient Rome.
It first opened its doors in 1966 and is one of the most well known Las Vegas attractions.
The onsite casino has 185 table games, 1,324 slot machines and 18 screens showing the latest sporting events.
You’ll find “entertainment fit for a Caesar '' at the Colosseum, one of the resort’s most iconic landmarks. Here you can see top acts such as Adele, Rod Stewart and Van Morrison perform on stage.
You can eat like an emperor at one of Caesar's many restaurants.
There are over 18 eateries across the resort with cuisines ranging from Steakhouse and Italian to Cantonese where you can try signature dishes by Michellin starred chefs such as Gordon Ramsey or Guy Savoy.
Or you can keep it simple and head to an American classic...The Cheesecake Factory!
There is plenty to keep you occupied day and night from pools and pampering to cocktail bars, gin palaces and nightclubs.
Caesars Palace is definitely one of the most fun things to do in Vegas.
Topgolf Las Vegas is more than just a golf course.
This massive sports entertainment complex is one of the best things to do in Las Vegas with high-tech golf, music, food and drink.
Once you have been escorted to your temperature controlled hitting bay, you and your party can choose over 12 different games to play.
You can have food and drinks delivered to your bay to eat while you play, or dine at the onsite restaurant. There is also a terrace and bar.
Topgolf is open daily from 10:00 am to 1:00 am
Prices start from $490.00 for six people with a minimum food order of $270 within that price.
You’ll know the MGM Grand by the famous 45-foot bronze lion outside.
This casino resort is one of Vegas’ most well-known attractions and a must-visit for anyone on the Strip.
Here you’ll find some of the best entertainment in the world, from the likes of illusionist David Copperfield, to a comedy club and the Cirque du Soleil.
There is a huge pool complex covering 6.5 acres where you can relax and sunbathe, swim or enjoy food and drinks from the onsite restaurants and bars.
There are over 20 restaurants covering a range of cuisines including Southern, Greek, French Bistro and much more.
You can even enjoy a celebrity chef dining experience with the likes of Masaharu Morimoto or Wolfgang Puck.
Experiencing the Grand Canyon is a must for anyone visiting the region. From Las Vegas it’s a two and a half hour drive to the West Rim, and about five hours to the more famous south rim.
The south rim is the most popular part of the Grand Canyon thanks to its many viewing platforms and incredible views across the canyon and down to the Colorado River.
The south rim is the one often depicted in TV, film and print and many people consider it the “true Grand Canyon''.
There are many visitor attractions on offer here and it is easily accessible year round.
By contrast the north rim is a lot more wild and sees far fewer visitors. The landscape is also very different, with the north rim being 1,000 feet higher and with less intense heat, it is a lot greener than the baked and dry southern rim.
There are only three major viewing points on the north rim, but as it attracts 1/10 of the visitors the south does, you’ll likely get more from the experience without the crowds.
This tour from Central Las Vegas to the south rim includes stops at two of the best scenic spots, a trip to the Grand Canyon Visitors Center and lunch, plus optional extras like a helicopter ride over the Canyon.
The Antelope Canyon has to be seen to be believed. This unique series of “slot canyons” on ancient Navajo land was formed by water erosion of the surrounding sandstone.
The resulting canyons of smooth, rippling rock looks like something more akin to Mars than the deserts of Nevada.
Nearby Horseshoe Bend is an impressive section of the Colorado River and canyon (but not part of the nearby Grand Canyon) that makes a massive U-turn beneath towering cliff walls.
There are many ways to experience Horseshoe Bend including by kayak, hiking or horseback riding.
This excellent tour takes in both the Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend with Las Vegas hotel pickup, making it the easiest way to get to these phenomenal landmarks from downtown.
The Valley of Fire state Park covers an area of over 46,000 acres out in the desert and is famed for its red sandstone monoliths.
The park is so named for the red and orange colors of the sandstone which erupt into a fiery display as the sun’s rays hit the pillars and cliffs.
This impressive valley has been inhabited by humans since at least 300BC and evidence of this can be seen at several petroglyph (rock art) sites across the park.
This Valley of Fire experience is a great way to see these unique rock formations in the Mojave Desert, with pickup from your hotel in downtown Las Vegas.
Las Vegas is a city that never sleeps, and is open for business year-round. Given the city’s location in the middle of the Mojave Desert, those that don’t like the heat should certainly avoid the summer months.
The shoulder seasons and winter are perfect for visiting Las Vegas and Nevada when the temperatures are a little less stifling.
Las Vegas makes a great weekend break destination, but as there is so much to see and do in the surrounding desert and national parks, a week is better.
If you want to take in Lake Mead, the Hoover Dam, and spend time at the Grand Canyon, then two weeks is optimal.
The recommended budget for Las Vegas is around $250 per day, but this can be reduced by opting for budget accommodation and opting for many of the free activities on offer.
If you plan on hitting the casinos (and let’s face it, who doesn’t when coming to Vegas), then set out a budget in advance and don’t go over it, however tempting it may seem.
Yes, but remember, it's not technically free if you are giving your money to them via gambling ;)
If you are playing any table games in any of the casinos, you will be offered complimentary drinks, and you can order whatever you want.
It's customary to tip at least $1 per drink, but if you tip a little more, then the ladies are going to make sure your drink is topped up. This happens allll dayyy lonnng. We had complimentary drinks from morning to evening, and that doesn't mean all alcohol, you can have coffee, teas, hot chocolates, juices, whatever you want!
In some casinos ladies will ask if you want a drink when you are playing the slots. This is definitely true for the Paris Las Vegas. I had 3 drinks whilst loosing my money on the slot machines there too.
So yes, you do get "free drinks" when you are gambling at casinos in Las Vegas!
But if you'd like a list of the casinos where I played and got complimentary drinks, here it is:
Las Vegas is a very safe city, and even more so if staying in the casino resorts. Although the city has a reputation as being a haven for gangsters, those days are now mostly in the past, and organized crime is not interested in individual tourists.
The climate of Las Vegas and the surrounding desert should be taken seriously. Keep hydrated, especially if you plan on enjoying a few cocktails in the evening.
When going out in the desert it is best to book onto one of the many great tours mentioned above, as setting off on your own is ill advised.
Los Angeles makes a great next destination after Vegas as it’s just over one hour’s flight or a six hour drive. Salt Lake City in Utah and Phoenix in Arizona are also easily reachable from the city.
Vegas truly is an epic destination. So what are you waiting for? Get those bags packed today!