When it comes to Las Vegas, most people are familiar with the infamous slogan: “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”
Located in the state of Nevada, US, the well-known city boasts a reputation of a night filled with partying, glitz, and glamour of casinos and experiences that could break your bank account. However, there is much more to the so-called Sin City than just roulettes and hangovers.
Vegas offers several fun-filled activities to choose from. Whether you are visiting with friends or family or someone special, it caters to all kinds of travellers. All you need to do is cross the iconic ‘Welcome to Las Vegas’ sign and cruise along the Las Vegas Strip, which is home to the Bellagio Fountains, Las Vegas’ Eiffel Tower, The Luxor’s pyramid and Sphinx and The Venetian’s Grand Canal, among other spectacular landmarks.
However, not everything is as expensive as it sounds. In fact, there are plenty of things to do in Las Vegas for free. Yes, you read that right! However, for those of you who can still dish out a few dollars here and there, the experiences offered by some places such as Wynn Las Vegas, The Mob Museum, High Roller Observation Wheel, The Neon Museum, Cirque du Soleil and Pinball Hall of Fame will keep you engaged throughout your stay in the city.
Here are some of the free things to do in Las Vegas
The ‘Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas’ sign
A trip to Las Vegas isn’t complete without visiting the iconic landmark that dates back to 1959 when Betty Willis first designed the sign. She sold it to Clark County and it is now managed by YESCO for the county.
The bulb-rimmed, solar-powered sign serves as a famous selfie spot for visitors. The silver circles, which feature the letters of “welcome,” are a nod to Nevada as the ‘silver state’ and signify the rare ‘silver dollar’ coins. Measuring approximately 7.62 metres, the imposing structure serves as one of the best spots to click pictures for visitors.
The Silverton Las Vegas aquarium
Touted as the ‘best free attraction in Las Vegas’, the reef aquarium at the Silverton Casino holds a little over 531 litres of water. It is a favourite spot among visitors of varied age groups and serves as a tropical oasis amid a desert.
Here, spot various species of stingrays, sharks and tropical fishes, and be sure to not miss the mermaid shows,which usually takes places on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. While you’re there, visit the the mammoth jellyfish aquariums at the Mermaid Lounge too.
Arts District in Downtown Las Vegas
Visit multiple art galleries and shops, meet artists and witness art that goes beyond just paintings and sculptures at Arts District. The place serves as a contemporary art museum, including an array of properties that showcase art through various mediums.
For instance, while The Arts Factory has studios and performing arts spaces, Art Square, a restoration project consisting of three vintage buildings, showcases modern architecture, an outdoor art garden, interior office/gallery spaces and much more.
Visitors to 1st & Main can lounge at Taverna Costera, which is a restaurant and bar, or tour Stinko’s, a space for florists and cultural events, as well as The Burlesque Hall of Fame which features the history of burlesque dancers as well.
Fountains of Bellagio
One of the free attractions for visitors to Las Vegas is the epic water show called Fountains of Bellagio. Located right in front of the magnanimous hotel, watch over a thousand fountains dance, forming a rhythmic romantic ambience for their audience. Touted for its unprecedented mechanism, the water shoots as high as 140.2 metres (approximately) while the lights create a fantastical scene to enthral on-lookers.
If you are visiting this place on weekdays, you will get to witness the spectacular light and water show from 3 pm onwards, until midnight. However, on weekends and holidays, the show begins at noon and goes on until midnight.
The Mirage Volcano
All the thrill seekers visiting Vegas can catch an amazing sound and light show at The Mirage. Grab a seat at the man-made lagoon for free and watch the sky light up with explosions that soar up to 3.6 meters from the volcano’s rim. The show is accompanied by soundtracks from The Grateful Dead’s drummer Mickey Hart and Indian tabla maestro Zakir Hussain.
You can easily spot the venue as The Mirage Hotel and Casino forms the backdrop of The Volcano and lies next to Las Vegas Boulevard. The 10-minute-long show takes place several times in the evening starting at dusk and is one of the free things to do on the Las Vegas Strip.
Ethel M Chocolates & Cactus Garden
Sample this: premium chocolate and wine tastings, a self-guided factory viewing aisle, an approximately 9.3-hectare cactus garden and a gourmet gift shop. Yes, you read that right, these unique curated exclusive experiences make Ethel M Chocolates and the Botanical Cactus Garden must-visit spots in Las Vegas.
Situated in Henderson, the establishment houses over 300 species of desert plants and cacti combined, the display is chosen, keeping in mind the climate of Southern Nevada.
Visitors can tour the garden while tasting some of the best chocolates for free.
Seven Magic Mountains
About 16km from the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and St. Rose Parkway lies this uniquely designed installation site. Created by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone, seven dayglow totems stand at a height of about 9.1-10.6 metres.
The simulacra of the natural, signifying the landscape the Seven Magic Mountains is located on, and artificial, representing places like Las Vegas and Los Angeles (the two destinations between which the site has been thoughtfully chosen) is made with locally sourced boulders. Among all the free stuff visitors can do in Las Vegas, this one is a truly unique experience.
Fremont Street Experience
Visit Downtown Las Vegas for a night to revel at music concerts by bands and DJs and other events that are completely free. Witness the ginormous Viva Vision canopied over your head and the epic light show on the largest digital screen in the world with 16.4-million pixels and a 600,000-watt sound system.
The calendar of Fremont Street Experience is packed with various events throughout the year. So, no matter when you visit, you will definitely have the time of your life. Although entry to the area is free, some venues under the Viva Vision can cost you.
Hand of Faith
Amid all the glitz, glamour, long queues of slot machines and jubilant ambience of the casinos of Sin City, an interesting item on display at the Golden Nugget Las Vegas draws tourists from far and wide.
Made of approximately 27.6 kilograms of gold, the golden nugget housed here is the biggest ever found by a metal detector. Known as the Hand of Faith, it is six inches tall and the second-largest gold nugget that exists in the world. It can be easily spotted in the hallway near the hotel lobby.
Although you might think that the Hand of Faith was discovered in the city, that’s not the case. It was found by Kevin Hillier in the Australian town of Wedderburn in 1980 when he ventured with his metal detector to unearth tiny metal pieces. He sold it to the Golden Nugget casino for over a million dollars. Thus, Vegas got its largest gold nugget, of which replicas have been created and housed in some parts of the country, including Laughlin and Atlantic City.
Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens
Measuring approximately 1,300 square feet, the Botanical Garden undergoes an elaborate transformation every season. Groups of horticulture and engineering experts take up this humongous task of exhibiting a different display with changes made to the design, sounds, colours and much more at The Conservatory – Bellagio’s Opus. The various displays during the year are an ode to Mother Earth and the team’s efforts toward sustainability.
Tour this place for free and witness the beautiful Conservatory housed under a 15m-high glass ceiling made with oxidised copper in the hue of green. Starting with the Lunar New Year, the display and designs change from cherry blossoms during spring, fragrant flora in summer, the shades of orange, brown, yellow and gold in the Fall and Christmas decorations during Thanksgiving.
This year’s summer display is based on the theme of ‘Jungle of Dreams’ and exhibits a variety of 28 animal sculptures and nearly 10,000 flora.
The Venetian Casino and Grand Canal
Get a feel of being in the Italian city of Venice while in Vegas. Tucked along the Las Vegas Strip is The Venetian Casino and Grand Canal, which replicates the scene of the Queen of the Adriatic. From gondola rides along the Grand Canal for a romantic time with your partner to ‘living statues’ and stilt walkers entertaining and surprising passers-by, there is so much you can see here.
Although you will need to dish out a few dollars to experience some activities like the gondola rides and have gourmet meals at Italian eateries, you can still stroll through the area to take in a Venetian vibe.
Shop till you drop at The Grand Canal Shoppes, which is home to premier and luxury world-renowned brands and is lined with cobblestone walkways shaded by ceilings adorned with beautiful paintings.
Other free things to do in Las Vegas
While in the Sin City, some of the other places to visit are the Flamingo Wildlife Habitat where you can roam the serene 1.6-hectare (approximate) garden that houses gentle streams, waterfalls, exotic birds, turtles and fishes, as well as the Shelby Heritage Center which has over 30 vehicles in an area covering almost 1,400 square metres.
(Hero and featured image credit: RebeccaAng/Getty Images)