Top 10 Things to do in Las Vegas!
Updated: Mar 5, 2021
Vegas is one of those places that you just indulge in. When in Vegas, eating, drinking, gambling and partying are just what you do. I'd like to say that you can find some sort of spiritual experience in this city (and maybe you can), but to me, Vegas is about letting loose and having fun. If you're visiting, here are my favorite things to do in Sin City!
First and foremost: Getting there
Las Vegas is located in Nevada and is accessible from many locations. You can of course fly into McCarren airport, just 5 miles from downtown Las Vegas. I live in Los Angeles and so Vegas is either a short hour flight away or a somewhat longer, but drivable 4-7 hours (depending on traffic). Additionally, the Grand Canyon in Arizona is only about 4.5 hours by car, so there are many ways to get there and possibly combine other sites/trips to access this great city.
If you're driving into the city, you can of course drive from location to location with ease but I would actually recommend just taking cabs or shared rides from place to place so you can drink as much as you want and not worry about getting around. In fact, you'll actually see cabs lined up at each hotel and location waiting to take you where you need to go, so getting around couldn't be easier or safer for that matter.
Now let's get to my favorite things to do, in no particular order :)
1) Explore all of the main hotels on 'The Strip':
The Las Vegas Strip is where you'll want to be to see all the main sites. 'The Strip', as it's called, is basically one long street full of hotels and casinos. The special thing here is that the hotels are 'themed' and are really fun and interesting when it comes to their decor and layout. If this is your first time in Vegas, I would recommend just going from hotel to hotel, stopping by, maybe having a drink and do a little gambling. There are tons of hotels but my favorites include:
The Venetian, which is gorgeous inside, has lots of shops, Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum and a man-made river with an actual gondola you can hire to ride in!
The Mirage, a classic stop which houses Cirque du Soleil's Beatle's themed show 'Love', a great pool, the famous Volcano, an animal/dolphin reserve (which does cost extra) and a beautiful botanical garden inside.
Caesars Palace , I mean you can't go to Vegas without checking out one of The Strips largest hotels and casinos, Caesar's Palace! I love it here because it's got a Roman theme with Pillars, high stakes gambling and my all-time favorite buffet, The Bacchanal Buffet.
The Bellagio, this is one of my favorites because it's just so beautiful inside. There are great art collections, upscale restaurants and shopping, a beautiful conservatory and of course you can't miss the famous fountains, which display a beautiful, almost choreographed dance of water every hour of every day (weather permitting). Pro Tip: The Bellagio Fountains are always wonderful but they're even more stunning at night, with the addition of the lights and music. Make sure to arrive early enough to get a great spot and watch the show.
Paris, this one is pretty obvious, it's a hotel/casino that is designed to look like you've been transported to the street of Paris, complete with an (almost) life sized replica of the Eiffel Tower outside. There's lots of great French restaurants inside and you can even get tickets to travel to the top of the Eiffel Tower for the best views of Las Vegas!
Circus Circus, this last one isn't as glamorous as all the rest but it is one of the oldest on the Strip. With that said, it's pretty smokey and is at the north end so can be far away from the main action. It's cool though because during the day there are actual circus acts being performed and there's also a small amusement park inside! Also, if you're a fan of the book or film 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas' and want to re-create a wild and wacky night you can start out there ;)
Luxor, I love the Luxor because its theme is Egyptian. That's pretty obvious when you look at it from the front, which is a massive sphinx that sits in front of a towering black pyramid. Once inside, you'll feel like you've gone back in time to ancient Egypt. Upstairs there are some great exhibits like the Titanic artifact exhibit and the entrance to the Blue Man Group show.
New York New York, I love this hotel for many reasons! First, it's like you're in New York, walking through the streets of Brooklyn with pizza, bagel and 24-hour diners to stop at and eat. Cirque du Soleil's Zumanity is also in residence there and oddly enough the air filtration is one the best here in my opinion. This last one may sound odd, but in Vegas, you can smoke inside the casinos. I have terrible allergies so it can be hard for someone like me when I'm inside casinos for too long. You'll really notice the filtration being better or worse depending on how modern or new the hotel is.
The Cosmopolitan, again one of the newer and best air filtration systems, but I love this hotel because it's very chic and modern with great restaurants like Momofuku and Milk Bar and really beautiful bars like The Crystal Bar! There's also a great rooftop pool that has really cool music and pool parties when in season. Pro Tip: This casino has my all time favorite slot machine, The Simpsons. You can find these machines all over the Strip but this one is my favorite and has been luckiest to me in the past!!!
There are so many others (like the Wynn, MGM Grand, Excalibur and Mandalay Bay) but these are just my favorites. Be sure to have good walking shoes though as you'll be walking a lot.
2) "Welcome to Las Vegas" Sign:
No trip to Vegas is complete without an iconic picture next to the famous "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign. It's located just south of Mandalay Bay on the Strip and luckily they've built a small parking lot so you don't have to try to stop in traffic or take a picture while driving.
Come on, you can't go to Vegas without being prepared to spend a little cash, am I right?!? I've yet to master games like blackjack or poker but if that's your game there are plenty of tables in each casino. Additionally, if you don't know how to play and want to learn you can hang around the tables and most dealers will be happy to give you a lesson. Beyond that, I'm mostly a slot machines kind of girl. I usually go fairly safe and limit myself to a twenty dollar bill and go from there. A fun way to experience Vegas is to gamble a bit here and there at all the different hotels to see which machines or tables are luckiest for you!
4) The Neon Museum:
This is a really cool way to see the original Vegas, through neon eyes. The Neon Museum is dedicated to collecting and preserving iconic Las Vegas signs. It's also where many old signs and displays from casinos and hotels come to rest. It's about 2 acres of walking space where you can see special exhibits, gallery spaces and the famous neon boneyard. Truly a fun way to appreciate the art and visuals that epitomized Vegas from the beginning.
I'll write another post about my favorite buffets in Vegas but will keep it relatively short here. When in Vegas you have to indulge in a buffet. Almost every major hotel will have their own and some range from casual to a little more expensive ($30- $55 is average). Vegas buffets will have pretty much every kind of food you could ever want from carving stations, pasta, seafood and dessert. Check out each one individually to see which menus suit your taste, but for me, I have to have crab legs and prime rib when I go to a buffet. Each one can vary so see what's on the menu or what each one specializes in.
Pro Tips: Carbs are for beginners. I mean I live for pasta, but at buffets I just get too full too quickly, so I try to get the most bang for my buck and stick to proteins. Also, price-wise these are expensive but they will always have a brunch/lunch price and a dinner price that is more expensive with more upscale items. So I recommend waiting and going just about an hour before dinner starts (usually at 3pm). You'll usually have to wait in some sort of line so that by the time you are seated you just have to wait about a half hour before they start bringing out the dinner option. In this case you've only paid the lunch price! As always, check exact lunch/dinner times to be sure :)
This is one of the more expensive things to do in Vegas but oh so fun. Every single hotel and casino has multiple shows in residency. These can include many Cirque du Soleil's, comedy shows, variety shows, showgirl/guy type shows, concerts etc. the list goes on and on. It'll take some research and budget checking to see which show you want to go to because they can range from $40- $200 dollars per ticket! It's incredibly expensive but if you've never been my favorites are the Cirque's. They're especially great because the venue has been specifically built to house the show, so it's a really great way to experience them. It's also nice to have something specific to do at night after you've been walking around, eating and gambling all day ;)
7) Pool Parties:
This will not be your typical, relaxing, pool lounging day. Every hotel in Vegas has a pool, and during the right season, each will have pool parties that are typically hosted by some sort of DJ. This will not be everyone's cup of tea because it does tend to turn into a singles meet up type of gathering if you get my drift. Think lots of drinking, loud music and dancing, but if you want to explore and have a wild afternoon, then a pool party might be for you. Note. You will usually have to get tickets to the specific one you choose to go to; however, if you're staying at the hotel you should get free entrance so check what events are going on where you're staying.
8) The Hoover Dam:
Vegas is great but let's be honest, days full of drinking and gambling may get old, so in this case it may be nice to take a breather and get off the strip for a few hours. If so, I would recommend taking a short 45 minute drive to Hoover Dam. Hoover is a massive and awesome feat of construction in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River. It sits on the border between Nevada and Arizona and is really cool to see. It's free to get in but you can also take guided tours if you'd like.
Looking for some fun night life beyond Cirque du Soleil type shows? Then consider getting tickets to a concert. Again, almost every hotel will have DJ's or musicians in residence so you can choose what style of music you like. These range from high energy electronic music, to pop queens like Brittany Spears or Mariah Carey to slower paced shows like Donny and Marie. Tickets range in price but are generally somewhat cheaper than the performance-based shows.
10) Museums Dedicated to Vegas' History:
If you love museums like me then you might be surprised that there are some quirky museums here in Vegas too. They are dedicated to the history that made Vegas what it is today. There are a ton but my favorites are the Mob Museum (Downtown), The National Atomic Testing Museum (Off the Strip), The Burlesque Hall of Fame (a little scandalous) and the Pinball Machine Museum.
So there you have it, my favorite things to do when I'm in Vegas. This is just a start though, I highly recommend looking at each of the main hotels on the strip to see what attractions they offer, some are even free! As always, I'd love to hear any recommendations you have for visiting this fun city!