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The 10 best things to do in Las Vegas: Non-Gambling & almost free!

The 10 best things to do in Las Vegas: Non-Gambling & almost free!

Last Updated on October 2, 2023

We never meant to start our globetrotting adventure in Nevada. Instead a series of random circumstances led us to start in Sin City, but after three and a half cold & rainy years in England, the sweltering and sunny Nevada desert seemed the perfect kick-off for our around-the-world journey. Neither of us are any good at gambling, and with no desire to lose all our savings to slots and booze, we set out to explore how to enjoy the city of Vegas beyond the sin. And since we were on a tight budget, we tried to spend as little money as possible, so most of the activities on this list are free things to do in Las Vegas.

best things to do in Las Vegas

Here are our Top 10 Non-Gambling Best Things To Do in Las Vegas:

1. Stroll up and down the Strip

The 4.5 miles between the Mandalay Bay Hotel in the south and the Stratosphere hotel in the north offer nearly infinite people-watching pleasure. Either belly up at an outdoor bar/restaurant like the tequila and taco treasure – Planet Hollywood’s Cabo Wabo, the silly slots and parrots outside the Flamingo’s Margaritaville bar, or for an Ocean’s 11 replay, score a spot at the fountain in front of the beautiful Bellagio hotel. If it’s not too hot, definitely go for a walk – there are so many things going on along the Strip, you’ll miss them if you take taxis every time you want to go somewhere.

free things to do in Las VegasPeople-watching throughout Las Vegas, you are almost certain to see at least one, but probably more of the following: the heaviest (or even thinnest) person you’ve seen in your life, too many tattoos, people from countless countries, the most eccentric, or eclectic groups of rich or poor, lucky or un-lucky bunch of average Joes or crazy Susans and other interesting creatures than you’ve ever seen in your life. Lean back, sip your margarita and enjoy.

The best free things to do in Las Vegas, right on the Strip, are:

  • The Water Show at the fountains in front of the Bellagio Hotel (every 30 minutes from noon to 6.30pm and every 15 minutes from 7pm to midnight on weekdays, every 30 minutes from 12pm to 6.30pm and every 15 minutes from 7pm to midnight on weekends and Holidays.
  • The Light Show at the Eiffel Tower at the Paris Hotel (every 30 minutes on the full hour and half hour from sunset to midnight)
  • The Volcano Eruption at the Mirage Hotel (every full hour from 7pm to midnight)

2. See Vegas from above on the Eiffel Tower

best things to do in Las VegasThe Las Vegas Eiffel Tower Observation Deck (120m/460ft) doesn’t come anywhere near the height of the true blue Parisian version (324 m/ 1,063 ft) but it offers fantastic views over the Strip, Las Vegas and the desert beyond.

Tickets start at around $25 per person ($19.50 per child). Tip: pick up one of the free Vegas brochures that are available up and down the Strip for a 2-for-1 discount.

Don’t want to risk waiting in line? Buy a Skip-The-Line ticket – they start at around $20. I’d recommend this if you’re visiting on a busy Holiday weekend.

If you want to see the bright lights of Las Vegas at night, be aware that the night time tickets for the Eiffel Tower are a bit more expensive, and lines tend to be longer. A night time ticket (after 5pm tickets are $24 / $21 for children).

3. Fremont Street Experience –  ‘Old’ Vegas

A trip to the Fremont Street Experience inspires the nostalgic, classic Las Vegas of the early 20th century before Sin City became the epitome for bigger, better, more.

free things to do in Las VegasMany of the famous hotels and casinos such as the Golden Nugget are still operating and you can feel the special flair that Vegas must have had in the 1950s.

best things to do in Las VegasIn the 1990s, a roof was built over Fremont Street and area of Old Vegas was repackaged as the Fremont Street Experience in an attempt to draw visitors back after numbers sunk thanks to the explosion happening over on ‘The Strip’. We could give or take that darned roof overhead, but the casinos are more fun, there is more free entertainment, the staff is more friendly and apparently the odds are even better.

Tip: If you are visiting the Freemont Street Experience, make sure to stick around until the evening which is when the incredible Viva Vision light show begin to run every hour. The schedule varies depending on the season, but start times range between 6pm and 8pm – check the schedule before you head there.

4. Explore the magnificent hotels (and free shows they put on!)

Competition among the hotels on the Strip is fierce, and Las Vegas is one place where the concept of ‘Less is more’ has gone completely lost.

Every hotel is an adventure in itself! Circus Circus has a big top, New York New York has its Statue of Liberty & Brooklyn Bridge replicas and even a roller coaster. Paris has its own Eiffel Tower, and at the Venetian you can take a gondola ride on a canal without the long flight to Italy.

best things to do in Las Vegas

The Bellagio has its famous fountain show and Italy-inspired design (one of the best free things to do in Las Vegas!), while the Mirage is home to Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat, where you can see Bottlenose Dolphins, White Tigers, White Lions and Leopards – something that especially kids will love. (Tip: Check if it has reopened).

And not to mention daily volcano eruptions, which is one of the best free things to do in Las Vegas. The eruptions, which come with explosions, fireballs and lava, will not only wow kids. (They take place every day at 7pm, 8pm, 9pm, 10pm and 11pm). free things to do in Las VegasIn Vegas you can walk by the Egyptian pyramids at Luxor, there is a replica of the Colosseum at Caesar’s Palace, a pirate battleship at  Treasure Island and and and… who knows what they will come up with next.

5. Take a ride in Las Vegas

Several hotels in Vegas have added an adventure ride to their premises, but the most spectacular rides can be found on top of the Stratosphere tower, aka the Strat.

Three extreme rides on top of the 350m (1,149 feet) tower – Insanity, which dangles you over the edge of the tower, Big Shot and X-Scream. If that’s not enough of an adrenaline rush, you can now also jump off the tower with the Stratosphere’s latest thrill: the Vegas Skyjump ($129.99 per jump).

If you’re heading to the Stratosphere Hotel and plan to go on one of the rides – it’s worth buying one of their packages:

  • one Thrill Ride + SkyPod admission are $29.00*
  • two thrill rides + SkyPod admission are $34.00*
  • three thrill rides + SkyPod admission are $39.00*

Admission to just the Skypod obversation deck for the views over Vegas is $20* – so adding a thrill ride isn’t actually that much more expensive.

*2020 prices

For less of a thrill ride, but the most spectacular views, you can’t miss the High Roller Observation Wheel at the LINQ Hotel. This giant 550-foot tall Ferris wheel (the tallest Ferris wheel in the entire world!) opened in 2014 and has been a huge hit with Vegas visitors ever since. The 360-degree panoramic views of the Las Vegas Valley and the Strip are breathtaking.

Tip: Don’t want to waste time waiting in line? Buy skip-the-line tickets from only $26.25 here.

things to do in Las VegasOther rides in Las Vegas include:

  • The roller coaster at New York New York ($14 for one ride, $30 for an all-day pass)
  • The LINQ Zipline: 10 side-by-side zip lines from the top of the 114-foot-tall launch tower at The LINQ Hotel, traveling 1,121 feet above the entire length of The LINQ Promenade to the base near the High Roller Ferris wheel ($25 for a seated flight, $35 for a superman flight). Booking online will save you at least $5, and you can often find Groupons and other promotions online
  • The Las Vegas Cyber Speedway racetrack at Sahara
  • Various rides in the Circus Circus Adventuredome (an all-day ride pass is $39.95, a junior pass – $19.95 (under 48 inches tall)
  • The SlotZilla Zipline at Fremont Experience ($29 for the shorter version:7 stories high, 2 blocks long; $49 for the ultimate experience: 11 stories high, 5 blocks long, flying superman style)

6. See a show in Las Vegas

Vegas has always drawn the biggest stars of entertainment to have their own permanent show – there is something for everyone: comedy, cabaret, circus, burlesque, hypnosis, musicals… The biggest thing at the moment seems to be Cirque du Soleil, with currently 7 (!) different productions in Vegas.

best things to do in Las Vegas

Here are some of 2021’s top shows:

  • “Le Rêve: The Dream” (aquatic show with incredible underwater performances)
  • “O” (most of the performance takes place in a water stage)
  • Cirque du Soleil’s Michael Jackson’s musical spectacle “One”
  • Absinthe (a mix of circus and burlesque)
  • Blue Man Group (music & visually stunning act – family-friendly)
  • “Mystére” by Cirque Du Soleil (acrobatics meet circus – most family-friendly Cirque du Soleil show)
  • Mat Franco’s magic show
  • Penn & Teller – another longtime Vegas classic

7. Shop ‘til you drop

Las Vegas offers some great shopping opportunities for shopaholics: Not only do most hotels have ‘shopping streets’ under their roof (Via Bellagio,the Wynn Esplanade, Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian, Forum Shops at Caesar’s Palace, Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood, Mandalay Place), there are also a couple of malls on the Strip:

I. The Fashion Show Mall

Located opposite the Wynn hotel, the Fashion Show Mall has more than 250 shops and restaurants – clothes, shoes, accessories, technology, books, etc – incl. stores like Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Sketchers, Abercrombie & Fitch, Mango, Apple, Levi’s, Nordstrom, Bath & Body Works.

best things to do in Las Vegas

II. Crystals at Las Vegas CityCenter

The more up-scale shoppers will find satisfaction in the long awaited newly-opened CityCenter which includes shops like Prada, Christian Dior, Bulgari, Carolina Herrera, Hermes, Roberto Cavalli, Cartier, Versace, Tom Ford, Miu Miu, Paul Smith and Porsche Design.

8. Wildlife in Las Vegas

Even animal lovers get their money’s worth in Vegas – with several hotels having some fantastic animal habitats:

  • Shark Reef (not only aquarium, Shark Reef also displays reptiles, such as golden crocodiles, and turtles at the Mandalay Bay ($29)
  • Wildlife Habitat at the Flamingo Hotel (with Chilean Flamingos, African Penguins, exotic birds, fish and turtles, ducks and swans – in a beautiful lush environment with waterfalls – FREE OF CHARGE!)
  • Secret Garden (including white tigers, white lions, snow leopards, and black panthers) and Dolphin Habitat at the Mirage ($25)

free things to do in Las Vegas

9. Get outta town

Red Rock Canyon, Hoover Dam or the Grand Canyon – check out our Best Day Trips from Las Vegas article for more things to do outside of Sin City.

free things to do in Las Vegas

10. Eat at one of the incredible Buffets

Many of the casino hotels in Las Vegas have amazing buffets, and if you’re a foodie, but don’t want to spend a ton of money on food, checking out one of the buffets is a great way to sample some delicious food without breaking the bank.

Some of the best Vegas buffets include:

  • The Buffet at the Bellagio
  • Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace
  • The Buffet at Excalibur
  • Wicked Spoon at Cosmopolitan
  • The Buffet at Wynn


Pro Tip: The Las Vegas Explorer Pass

Depending on how many attractions you’re planning to visit during your time in Las Vegas, it might be worth checking out the Las Vegas Explorer Pass. This pass covers dozens of Las Vegas attractions and will save you lots of money if you want to check out a bunch of things that I mentioned in this article. The Explorer Pass includes things like the High Roller Ferris Wheel, the Hop-on Hop-Off bus tour, the Stratosphere Observation Deck plus the Stratosphere thrill rides, the Eiffel Tower Observation Deck, Shark Reef Aquarium, Madame Tussaud’s,

Additional perks are a meal at Planet Hollywood and a one-hour open bar at Senor Frogs, a 2-day pass for the Monorail, admission to a comedy show and a variety show, an Escape Room, several museums and exhibitions, a Hoover Dam Tour and more.

You can find out more information about the Las Vegas Explorer Pass here.



Top 10 Things To Do In Las Vegas 2012 | winter - las vegas weather

Saturday 28th of November 2015

[…] Top 10 things to do in Las Vegas: Non-Gambling & … – We never meant to start our globetrotting adventure in Las Vegas. Instead a series of random circumstances led us to start in Sin City, but after three and a half … […]

JD Pham

Friday 24th of April 2015

Even though this post is 5 years old, everything listed still applies (except the prices have gone up on some attractions). We went to the Secret Garden last year in the afternoon and all the animals were either asleep or the cages were empty :( We'll give it another go next month when we're there!


Thursday 30th of April 2015

I actually just updated the price for the buffet of the buffets - can't believe that it went up $20 (from $34.99 to $54.99) in the span of only five years!!

Jaryd Krause

Tuesday 5th of March 2013

Some great ways of seeing Vegas, I have been here a few times and am not much of a gambler. There is also a free show out the front of the hotel 'Treasure Islands' during the day and of the evening. Definitely some strange but funny characters in Vegas haha, great place! What was your favorite hotel?


Sunday 1st of January 2012

Speaking as a casual gambler and former croupier, by looking to spend your time and money elsewhere you've shown that you are "quite good at gambling" :) Gambling by definition is luck, the skill is in the self control.

You're ahead of the majority of the punters already. It depends how you view the Vegas experience though. For many the vegas experience is gambling, losing more often than not comes with it..

Reflections: Our 1st 100 Days On The Road | Globetrottergirls

Wednesday 24th of November 2010

[...] wanted to the point of gluttony (obviously including booze, but for us, it was the endless array of buffets that had us feeling the depths of indulgence). Nowhere has it more glaringly clear that we were [...]