A louche neon city of high-rise megaresorts, high kitsch and every form of entertainment under the sun, Las Vegas is about cutting loose and throwing caution to the wind.
The Entertainment Capital of the World is a proving ground for leisure concepts, crashing together ideas that would be mismatched anywhere else in the world.
A rock show bowling alley? A cocktail bar inside a chandelier? A high-tech driving range with DJs and table service? A mall with a retractable runway and fashion shows on the hour? A birdlife reserve in the middle of a casino? Yep, they’re all here.
And in their battle to lure punters, Sin City’s resorts lay on blockbuster concerts, turbo-charged nightlife, cutting-edge dining and free to enter attractions.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Las Vegas:
1. The Strip
This 4.2-mile stretch of the South Las Vegas Boulevard has starred in so many movies and TV shows that actually being here, watching Bellagio’s fountains and Mirage’s Volcano, might feel surreal.
Las Vegas never stands still, and a photo taken this year will soon look dated.
In spring 2019 no fewer than six major projects were in the pipeline, while in the last few years the strip’s profile has evolved with the High Roller Ferris Wheel at the LINQ promenade.
Any resort worth its chips is on the Las Vegas Strip, and the scale of these complexes is mind-boggling.
Six of the world’s ten largest hotels are right here, and most will try to draw you in with a forecourt attraction.
A whole system of elevated walkways link resorts, shops and performance venues, helping you avoid a busy road full of distracted drivers.
If you’re using the east side of the Strip, the Las Vegas Monorail connects a string of megaresorts and entertainment venues, like MGM Grand Caesars Palace and the future MSG Sphere.
2. Vegas Residencies
A Concert Residency is a concept that was born in Las Vegas, starting in the 1940s with Liberace.
By the mid-1950s Mr Showtime was earning $50,000 a week at the now defunct Riviera Hotel and Casino.
Even though artists from Sinatra to Elvis to Celine Dion have had extended runs at Las Vegas resorts for more than 70 years, you could say that we’re living through the golden age of the Las Vegas residency today.
These are no longer just a fallback for veteran artists and a loss leader for resorts, as breakout stars and artists at the peak of their careers now join a big roll-call of classic acts.
In 2019 Cardi B (KAOS at the Palms), Drake (XS Nightclub at Wynn Las Vegas), Lady Gaga (Park Theater) and Bruno Mars (Park Theater) were all in town for the long run, together with household names like Janet Jackson, Christina Aguilera, Celine Dion, Santana, Mariah Carey, Cher and Sting.
Related Show: Legends in Concert at the Tropicana Tickets
3. Caesars Palace
If one resort could capture the hedonistic spirit of Las Vegas it’s the marble halls of Caesars Palace, unveiled in 1966 and designed to echo the splendour of a Roman emperor’s residence through the lens of a Hollywood epic movie.
Since its earliest days, Caesars Palace has been geared towards high rollers, and in its restaurant portfolio includes restaurants preparing authentic Chinese cuisine to cater to rich East Asian gamblers.
Perhaps the premier restaurant in a strong field is Restaurant Guy Savoy, the only restaurant by this revered Michelin-starred chef outside of Paris.
Since Frank Sinatra’s residency in the 1960s, Caesar’s Palace has always had more than a sprinkle of stardust.
It was here that Celine Dion redefined the notion of a Vegas residency with her spell at the Colosseum in the 2000s.
She was headlining again in 2019, along with Jerry Seinfeld and Rod Stewart.
We’ve come this far and not even mentioned the ritzy Forum Shops at Caesars, which outstrips Rodeo Drive for sales, with more than 150 mid-range and high-end boutiques and restaurants.
4. Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Pack a lunch, strike out west of the Strip and within half an hour you’ll be in a gnarled and reddish sandstone landscape rising to more than 900 metres.
Trails ranging from short loops to day hikes might carry you to lookouts on the lip of canyons with temporary waterfalls in early-spring.
You’ll venture past strange Aztec or deep red sandstone outcrops caused by iron oxide in the rock, and to places where the Paiute culture left handprints in the rock, petroglyphs or centuries-old roasting pits.
While this is an environment for rock-climbing and horseback-riding, you can see the best of Red Rock Canyon’s tortured geology from your car on a 13-mile loop.
The conservation area is a habitat for the threatened desert tortoise, and while you probably won’t spot one out in the wild there’s an enclosure at the Visitor Center with two males and eight females.
Recommended tour: Red Rock Canyon Small Group Tour from Las Vegas
You don’t need us to tell you that Las Vegas is the world’s biggest party town and the home of thumping EDM.
But maybe you haven’t realised the lengths that the Megaresorts like Mirage, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, The Cosmopolitan and Bellagio will go to outdo each other.
For theatricality nothing tops Light at Mandalay Bay, which has Cirque du Soleil-level acrobats over the dancefloor.
Hakkasan at MGM Grand is literally the largest nightclub in the world, bringing Tiësto, Steve Aoki and Calvin Harris to the party, and with a sound system that needs to be heard to be believed.
Jewel at Aria Resort & Casino was created by the Hakkasan group and deals in sheer opulence, with flash LED ribbons, handcrafted leather banquettes around the dance floor and five themed mezzanine VIP suites with custom amenities.
Honourable mention must be made to Tao Nightlcub at the Venetian, Hakkasan’s Omnia at Caesars Palace and the gold-plated XS Nightclub at Wynn, the most expensive club ever built.
Available tour: Vegas’s #1 Club Crawl 4-Hour Party Experience
Las Vegas’ knack of generating moments of awe and wonder extends to its wellness and relaxation amenities.
The Spa at Encore for instance is down a lantern-lit corridor, like a portal to an opulent wonderland.
On the extensive menu are some outlandish treatments like a synchronised massage with two therapists, a “Good Luck Ritual” and a Citrus Soufflé Body and Facial Treatment, to name a small few.
The award-winning Qua at Caesars Palace has three Roman baths and the world’s only Arctic Room, producing artificial snow.
And if you really want to get decadent The Spa and Salon at Aria offers a diamond and white jade facial for a mere $380 for 80 minutes.
Also packing plenty of “first-in-Vegas” amenities is the Spa at LINQ, which boasts a Himalayan salt therapy cave, infusing the air with high-quality salt to benefit the skin and respiratory system.
7. Celebrity Chef Restaurants
Where once it was associated with uninspired all-you-can-eat buffets, Las Vegas has blossomed as a world-class dining destination.
As with the world’s top musical talent, the stars of the culinary arts have found their niche on the Las Vegas Strip, where every megaresort brims with restaurants by celebrity chefs.
Nowhere else on earth has this sort of concentration.
Wolfgang Puck has five, and “Cut” at The Palazzo is a standout.
Gordon Ramsay’s name appears five times as well, including three at Caesars Palace alone.
Guy Fieri, who pretty much encapsulates Las Vegas, is represented by Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen & Bar at the LINQ hotel and El Burro Borracho at the Rio Hotel.
For leading-edge Spanish cuisine, look no further than É by José Andrés, while Thomas Keller’s Bouchon is all about urbane French bistro favourites.
Finally, Emeril Lagasse’s New Orleans Fish House has stood the test of time at the MGM Grand for more than 20 years, an eternity in Las Vegas.
Related activity: Secret Food Tours Las Vegas
If you’ve seen Ocean’s Eleven (2001) a lot of Bellagio will be familiar to you, but it needs to be witnessed in person.
The 3,015-room resort opened in 1998 and is named for the Lake Como town of the same name.
We’ll talk about the famous fountains next, and the exquisite conservatory, which are both attractions in their own right.
Even if you’re just passing by, you have to check out the lobby, which has a gorgeous glass flower sculpture on its ceiling by the great Dale Chihuly.
The Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art opens for seasonal exhibitions, which in the past have featured Alexander Calder, Andy Warhol, luminaries of Impressionism, Ansel Adams and the decorative art of England’s stately home Chatsworth House.
As for gaming, the Bellagio has welcomed several World Poker Tour tournaments, and the poker room is the haunt of some of the world’s top players for its high table limits.
For the ultimate in fine dining, there’s the two Michelin-starred Picasso, while among the Bellagio Shops are Prada, Guerlain, Tiffany & Co. and Gucci.
Last but not least, the water-themed O by Cirque du Soleil is set in and around a 5,700 cubic-litre pool and involves 85 acrobats and trained swimmers.
9. Fountains of Bellagio
A spectacle that will live long in the memory, the magnificent five-minute water and light show in front of the Bellagio takes place on the half-hour from 15:00 in the afternoon and then every 15 minutes after eight.
The world’s largest fountain until 2010 has more than 1,200 nozzles and a musical playlist that cycles through Whitney Houston’s rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner”, “Your Song” by Elton John, “Luck Be a Lady” by Frank Sinatra and “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion, among others.
The lights illuminating the Bellagio turn to purple during the show, or red, white and blue for the more patriotic songs.
There are also seasonal promotions, like the Game of Thrones Theme to mark Season 8 in spring 2019. An interesting piece of trivia is that the fountain’s eight-acre replica of Lake Como is fed by a freshwater well that was first sunk to irrigate a golf course.
10. Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
Open to the public, Bellagio’s Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is a glorious free attraction beside the hotel’s lobby.
Under an intricate Beaux-Arts-style glass canopy with a copper frame, this attraction employs the resort’s team of 120 horticulturalists and landscape designers, producing beautiful rotating displays with mesmerising floral arrangements, bridges, ponds and gazebos.
Poinsettia and a giant Christmas tree set the tone in the holiday season.
Then at Chinese New Year you’ll find displays for the year’s zodiac animal, together with orchids and bromeliads.
In 2019 there was a Japan-themed spring show, with a replica of Osaka Castle and abundant cherry blossoms.
In summer the gardens take on a patriotic colour scheme, dominated by red, white and blue, and then chrysanthemums, pumpkin crops and russet tones take over for autumn.
11. High Roller
Las Vegas breaks records for fun, and in 2014 a gargantuan world-beater took its place on the Strip opposite Caesars Palace.
As of 2019 the High Roller was still the tallest Ferris wheel in the world, at a dizzyinh 167.6 metres.
The wheel has 28 passenger cabins, each of which can hold 40 people.
The cabins have their own electric motors to ensure maximum stability as the wheel turns.
After sunset the wheel is illuminated by more than 2,000 LEDs, while each of the cabins has eight flat-screen monitors.
Each revolution takes 30 minutes, and if you want the full Vegas experience you and your group can upgrade to the Open Bar Cabin for a genuine “happy half hour”!
Book online: Skip the Line Ticket: The High Roller at The LINQ
12. MGM Grand
Massive, even by Las Vegas standards, the MGM Grand is the United States’ biggest single hotel, with 6,852 rooms.
You could devote an article this size to the MGM Grand’s cornucopia of dining options and entertainment facilities, but for this paragraph we have to be ultra focussed.
The pick of the dining choices has to be L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon founded by France’s “Chef of the Century” and each dish is prepared and plated right in front of you.
The gaming floor is among the largest on the Strip, with 2,500 machines and 139 table games.
The 17,157-capacity MGM Grand Garden Arena has hosted some historic boxing bouts, like the infamous “bite fight” between Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield, and Manny Pacquiao’s victory over Oscar de la Hoya in the “Dream Match” in 2008. Premiered in 2004, Kà by Cirque du Soleil has production values that would put most Hollywood movies to shame, and is still one of the must-see shows for anyone visiting Vegas for the first time.
13. Stratosphere Tower Observation Deck
At 350.2 metres, this needle shooting up from the Stratosphere hotel and casino complex is the second-tallest observation tower in the Western Hemisphere.
On the way to Downtown Las Vegas, this landmark is slightly removed from the Las Vegas Strip, which gives it a great perspective of the megaresorts to the south, as well as the Spring Mountains to the northwest.
There are two observation decks for 360° views, and a revolving restaurant, Top of the World.
You can take a free ride to the 107 Skylounge bar if you’re just going up for drinks.
In true Vegas style, the outdoor observation deck is more than a spot to stand still and admire the view.
There are four rides at the top of the tower, like Big Shot, a tower ride launching you 50 metres above the observation deck, and SkyJump Las Vegas, a high-speed 261-metre descent similar to a bungee jump.
Included in: Las Vegas Explorer Pass: Over 45 Attractions & Tours
14. The Venetian
Both the second-largest casino in the world and the second-largest hotel complex in the world, The Venetian has teleported Venice to Las Vegas.
Loving reproductions of St Mark’s Campanile, St Mark’s Square, the Grand Canal, the Rialto Bridge and the Doge’s Palace took shape in the late-90s.
One of the very best free things to do in Las Vegas is to marvel at the detail of this replica city at the Grand Canal Shoppes, with more than 200 upmarket stores, attractions like Madame Tussauds and eateries like Wolfgang Puck’s Cut.
A gondola ride down the Grand Canal is utterly surreal, in true Vegas fashion.
There’s profuse Renaissance-style painting, most remarkable in the ceiling of the mall’s entrance hall and in the grand barrel-vaulted gallery from the main reception to the casino.
It can be difficult to comprehend the size of the Venetian complex.
There are four theatres, six clubs and 4,049 rooms, while the adjoining Palazzo is the tallest completed hotel in the city at 53 storeys and 196 metres.
15. Death Valley National Park
The largest national park in the contiguous United States, Death Valley is also the hottest, driest and lowest.
Your first destination has to be Badwater Basin, a salt flat 86 metres below sea level and the second-lowest point in the Western Hemisphere.
In winter, spring and autumn you can make the short hike to view the basin’s famed polygonal salt formations.
Artists Drive is a nine-mile road through desert hills ranging from white to red, while Devil’s Golf Course is a massive spread of rock salt eroded into jagged spikes.
For all-encompassing vistas of Death Valley, Dante’s View is on a terrace at 1,669 metres, posted above Badwater Basin, Devil’s Golf Course to the Panamint Range to the west, the Owlshead Mountains to the south and the Funeral Mountains to the North.
Top rated tour: Death Valley NP Full-Day Small Groups Tour from Las Vegas
16. Hoover Dam
One of the great monuments to American engineering in the 20th century is within striking distance of Las Vegas and demands a visit.
Damming the fast-flowing Colorado River, this Great Depression-era project formed Lake Mead, the largest water reservoir in the United States when full.
Boulder City, an entire model town was built for the Hoover Dam’s tens of thousands of workers, more than 100 of whom perished during construction.
In this time the population of Las Vegas also swelled, tripling from its modest 5,000. The dam effectively blocks the volcanic Boulder Canyon to a height of more than 224 metres, and was the largest dam in the world when it was finished in 1936 after just five years of construction.
Initially this immense construction was an unremarkable wall of concrete, but with an eye to establishing the dam as a visitor attraction, the Los Angeles architect George B.
Kaufmann was called in to spruce up the aesthetics, furnishing it with its alluring Art Deco contours.
If you don’t have a car, you could take the Express Shuttle, Deluxe or Three-Hoover Dam Tour through GetYourGuide.com, with pick up and drop off from most Las Vegas Strip hotels.
17. Wynn Las Vegas
Unlike most Las Vegas resorts, the upscale Wynn has a reserved presence on the Strip without sidewalk attractions.
When it was completed in 2005 it was the tallest hotel building in Las Vegas, and is still in the top eight largest hotels in the world.
Many of the amenities at Wynn Las Vegas are the best in town, like the buffet, which has 15 live-action cooking stations, or the blissful Spa at Wynn.
When we wrote this article in 2019 Drake was just beginning a residency at the XS Nightclub, one of a raft of A-list performers to take the stage at this venue.
Intrigue Nightclub has a sublime patio space with a waterfall and pyrotechnics, while the Encore Beach Club boasts three tiered pools.
For more live entertainment Le Rêve remains a stunning accomplishment, with 90 performers in an aquatic theatre-in-the-round.
In keeping with Wynn’s sleek identity, the new Wynn Plaza mall features luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Loewe, Kenzo and Diptyque.
18. New York-New York
In the 1990s a chunk of the New York skyline landed on the Las Vegas Strip.
This MGM hotel and casino is a love letter to the Big Apple, evoking New York’s Art Deco classics like the Empire State Building and Chrysler, and incorporating replicas of the Statue of Liberty, Grand Central Station and the main building on Ellis Island.
The Big Apple Roller Coaster, as it’s known, has trains that resemble New York taxis and has a maximum drop of 44 metres and two inversions.
The dining options are as cosmopolitan as you’d hope from a resort themed on New York, and Gallagher’s Steakhouse, an NY original is the cream.
Of course, it wouldn’t be New York without a pizza place, an Irish pub, hot dogs and an Italian joint (Il Fornaio). Strictly for grown-ups, Zumanity is a daring burlesque/cabaret hybrid, with Cirque du Soleil’s typical exuberance.
Outside, The Park is a swish dining and entertainment area sprinkled with sculpture and set around the new T-Mobile Arena, which we’ll cover below.
19. Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Sign
The description of this sight is in the title, but for a first-timer this Space Age sign from 1959 is as essential as anything in Las Vegas.
Designed by graphic designer Betty Willis, one of the people credited with shaping the city’s visual identity, the sign was never trademarked and so has spawned replicas around the city.
You’ll find the original at 5100 Las Vegas Boulevard South, standing 7.66 metres tall and crested with its signature red star trimmed with yellow neon.
At any time of day there will be one or two people, normally dressed as Elvis or a showgirl, offering to take a photo of groups and couples for tips.
20. Eiffel Tower
In 1999 a cluster of Parisian monuments sprouted on the Las Vegas Strip, from the Eiffel Tower to the Arc de Triomphe and Place de la Concorde’s La Fontaine des Mers.
This of course is the Paris Las Vegas hotel and casino, now permanently engrained in everyone’s mental picture of the Strip.
That half-scale Eiffel Tower also happens to be one of the best viewpoints in the whole city.
This is 47 storeys above the Las Vegas Strip with a fabulous perspective of the Bellagio Fountain Show, so it’s something worth doing after sunset.
But if you do go up during the day you can spy Mount Charleston and the rest of the Spring Mountains, capped with snow in winter.
Taking its cues from the original Eiffel Tower’s light shows, the Las Vegas equivalent has its own free spectacle, every 30 minutes on the hour and half-hour between sunset and midnight.
Book online: Eiffel Tower Viewing Deck Skip-the-Line Ticket
21. The Mirage
The Polynesian-themed Mirage has a rainforest in its atrium, a huge aquarium behind its registration desk and is heralded by its volcano, which erupts at 20:00, 21:00 and 22:00 accompanied by music from the Zakir Hussein and the Grateful Dead’s Mickey Hart.
For 13 years the resort was associated with Siegfried & Roy, and the pair have left their mark with the family attraction, Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat.
At a specially built theatre, Cirque du Soleil’s Love blends circus performs with songs by the Beatles, reworked by their producer George Martin and his son Giles Martin.
At the time of writing, Boyz II Men were in residence, accompanied by the Aces of Comedy series, booking comedians like Iliza Schlesinger, Jim Jefferies, Jay Leno and David Spade + Ray Romano.
The perennial headliner at the Mirage is Terry Fator and his famous ventriloquist show.
When it comes to dining, take your pick from Italian seafood at Osteria Costa, sushi at Otoro, American classics at LVB Burgers and Bar and steak with a modern twist at Tom Colicchio’s Heritage Steak.
22. Mob Museum
Just north of Fremont Street in Downtown Las Vegas is the Las Vegas Post Office and Courthouse (1933), scene of one of the 14 Kefauver Committee hearings across the country in the early-1950s to expose organised crime.
Since 2012 this fabled setting has become a museum lifting the lid on the city’s shadiest secrets, and recounting the history of organized crime in the United States.
This is no place for children, not least because exhibitions like Mob’s Greatest Hits depict grisly crime scenes.
You investigate the mob’s involvement in nefarious activities like drugs, prostitution, money laundering, illegal gambling and bootlegging, and the efforts of law enforcement to get the upper hand, both here and across America.
There’s a lot of interactivity to keep you engaged, like a crime lab that lets you compare your prints with the most notorious gangsters and video testimonials screened through slot machines.
The Use of Force Training Experience puts you in the shoes of a police officer, as you make split-second, life-or-death decisions.
If you need to wet your whistle, downstairs is the Underground bar, designed like a prohibition-era speakeasy.
Get tickets: Mob Museum General Admission
23. Fremont Street Experience
Reinvention is etched into Las Vegas’ identity, but Fremont Street is a familiar scene that you’ll know right away from 20th-century movies, TV shows and music videos.
Glitter Gulch at the west end of the street got its name from its profusion of neon signs, and became a handy establishing shot, turning sights like the Fremont Hotel & Casino and the cowboy Vegas Vic into international icons.
Fremont Street has not stood still either.
Today those signs sit under a barrel-vaulted canopy almost 500 metres long and 27 metres high, and fitted with some 12 million LED lights for eye-popping overhead displays.
Crammed with shops, street performers larger-than-life eateries, clubs and casinos, this is the city’s big public gathering place, and there are three stages along the mall for nightly free entertainment.
SlotZilla is a 12-storey zip-line flying through a stretch of the canopy, while Neonopolis on Fremont is a huge shopping and entertainment complex with three miles of neon lights on its facade.
Recommended tour: Fremont Street Walking Tour
24. Planet Hollywood Las Vegas
With a history beginning in the early-1960s, Planet Hollywood Las Vegas was “Aladdin” for more than 40 years until it was sold off in the 2000s, pulled down and reborn as Planet Hollywood.
We can’t go any further without talking about Zappos Theater, the largest venue of its kind in the United States, holding 7,000 and with a vast proscenium arch opening.
Gwen Stefani, Christina Aguilera, Pitbull and Def Leppard were all rotating here in spring 2019. Zappos Theater is housed within the Miracle Mile Shops, a 170-tenant mall opened in 2000 and home to the likes of Guess, Sephora, H&M and Footlocker.
Planet Hollywood has one of the city’s top buffets and a three-acre casino floor decorated with ostentatious neon and reflective surfaces.
To give you a hint of the tone of this place, the Pleasure Pit has platforms with go-go dancers next to its game tables.
25. Mandalay Bay
The tropical-themed Mandalay Bay is owned by MGM Resorts International and is not hard to pick out on the strip for its windows coated in gold leaf.
In keeping with the tropical styling, the pool, known as Mandalay Beach, is paradisiacal.
It covers 11 acres and has three heated pools, a wave pool and a lazy river with waterfall.
Moorea Beach Club is a separate, “European style” pool with a private bar.
Non residents can pay to use Mandalay Beach from Monday to Thursday.
The resident show at Mandalay Bay is Cirque du Soleil’s Michael Jackson; while the mammoth Mandalay Bay Events Center is one of the largest privately owned convention centres in the world and has held major award ceremonies as well as boxing and UFC bouts in its time.
We’ll talk about Mandalay Bay’s visitor attraction, Shark Reef below, while The Shoppes at Mandalay Place is a mall on the sky bridge between this resort and the Luxor.
26. Neon Museum
A repository for the vintage neon signs of Las Vegas, the Neon Museum has a magnificent collection from the 1930s to the present day.
Most of these are in the Neon Boneyard, where there are over 200 signs stacked up to create alleyways.
Eleven of these signs have been restored while the others are in varying stages of decay, which only makes the display more picturesque.
You can view these on a guided or self-guided tour, and head inside the Visitors Center, a museum piece in its own right.
Dating to 1961, this building is the Space Age former lobby for the La Concha Motel, with restored interior and signage.
There are more unrestored signs in the North Gallery, hosting the “Brilliant!” light and sound display and often rented out for photo shoots and weddings.
Now, the Mojave Desert doesn’t have natural swards of grass, but in this city of artifice that doesn’t mean there won’t be top class golf courses.
In fact there are more than 50, and golf is a year-round game, even at the punishing height of summer.
If you’re prepared to tee off early in the day, summer can be a good time to sneak a round in, as most courses offer discounts of up to 70% during this low season.
You’ll find Scottsdale-style desert courses, along with parkland, mountain and links environments.
One of the best, and the only course on the Strip is Wynn Golf Club, framed by pines and reopened in 2019 after a two-year closure and rumours of its demise.
Also first-rate, Coyote Springs Golf Club, Wolf Creek Golf Club, and Cascata Golf Course require a journey into the desert but are worth every second.
In between, TPC LAS Vegas is 15 minutes from the Strip, with views taking in the Las Vegas skyline and the Red Rock Canyon on the back nine.
28. The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
High-tech and cultivated, the luxury Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas is a hotel and casino that eschews crowd-pleasing sideshows for sophisticated bars and ultra-cool restaurants.
Chandelier, literally within a spectacular three-storey chandelier, is a cocktail bar par excellence, while floor-to-ceiling glass walls afford startling views of the Las Vegas Strip and Bellagio Fountains.
The casino has old-school table games like roulette, blackjack and baccarat, but also some of the most cutting-edge slots in Las Vegas at the High Limit Slot Lounge.
The “FASTPAY” technology here allows you to process payments right at the machine, without needing to call on attendant.
The Marquee Nightclub & Dayclub is capacious and books international DJs, while the Chelsea is a concert venue for more leftfield acts than you’d associate with Vegas.
And then there’s the food choice, which darts around the world, from avant-garde Spanish, to Nashville hot chicken, sushi, over-the-top sandwiches and the Mexican-Chinese fusion of China Poblano.
29. Smith Center for the Performing Arts
Las Vegas never had a dedicated performing arts venue before this stunning monument was unveiled at the new Symphony Park development in 2012. The Smith Center for the Performing Arts has a Neo Art Deco design, which has a sense of belonging as it echoes the clean lines of the Hoover Dam, inside and out.
The main Reynolds Hall venue holds 2,050 and has five steep tiers to keep the audience close to the action.
This is the seat of the Las Vegas Philharmonic Orchestra and the Nevada Ballet Theatre, for the sort of evening you might not associate with Vegas.
As well as ballet and orchestral performances, this hall receives touring musicals (Book of Mormon and Wicked in 2019), family shows, world-famous comedians and top recording artists.
For more personal jazz performances there’s Myron’s Cabaret Jazz, seating 250.
30. National Atomic Testing Museum
Between 1951 and 1962 the U.S. government conducted 100 atmospheric (above ground) nuclear tests at the Nevada Test Site just 65 miles north-west of the city.
The mushroom clouds could be seen from Las Vegas, and even became a selling point for tourists.
After 1963 the tests moved underground and continued up to 1992 (928 took place in total). At America’s only official atomic museum you can investigate this half-forgotten past, checking out official documents, propaganda, atomic age memorabilia, artefacts like genuine B53 nuclear bomb, Geiger counters and other radiation testing device.
You’ll also learn the story of Castle Bravo, a controversial 15-megaton test in 1954 at Bikini Atoll that created a mushroom cloud 14,000 metres high, contaminated some of the inhabited Marshall Islands and sparked an international debate about testing.
No static exhibit quite prepares you for the visceral test simulation at the “Ground Zero Theater”, designed like a concrete bunker, using crisp archive footage, compressed air and sound design to bring home the force of a nuclear blast.
Included in: Las Vegas Explorer Pass: Over 45 Attractions & Tours
31. Fashion Show Mall
There’s nothing misleading about the name of this expansive mall, which has been a permanent part of the Las Vegas Strip for nigh on 40 Years.
The Fashion Show Mall has a retractable 25-metre runway, the only one in the world, for models to strut their stuff on Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons on the hour.
Where this mall departs from Paris Fashion Week is that you won’t be looking at bizarre future concepts, but whatever is in season and for sale at the shops around you.
Famous personalities have been known to fly in to take part, and if you’re lucky you may catch a special event.
As for the shops, there almost 250, covering a spectrum from Banana Republic, Urban Outfitters, Gap, Footlocker and Topshop to Tiffany & Co., Louis Vuitton and Hugo Boss.
32. Springs Preserve
Las Vegas goes back to its roots at this open space three miles west of downtown.
The Springs Preserve is at the site of the city’s original water source, which dried up in 1980. Shielded from U.S. Route 95 by a sound wall, the Springs Preserve was developed in the 2000s and has four themed trails to explore, adding up to roughly 3.5 miles.
At the Origen Museum you can find out about the springs’ earliest inhabitants, as well as the wildlife and geological history of the Mojave Desert.
There are also animal enclosures for desert species like gila monsters, snakes, tortoises, spiders and desert cottontail rabbits.
The Desert Living Center is a complex with 43 exhibits centred on sustainability, showing the city’s water supply network and indicating just how much rubbish one family can produce in a month.
In eight acres, the desert botanical gardens are a joy, especially in spring and grow some 1,200 plant varieties including herbs, cactuses, palms, vegetables and roses.
There’s also a wonderful children’s playground themed on a desert canyon, a shop and a 1,800-seater amphitheatre.
33. Three-Hour Night Tour by Open-Top Bus
It’s not profound to say that Las Vegas is at its best after dark when those neon signs are ablaze and the many iconic landmarks are in lights.
On GetYourGuide.com, there’s a three-hour adventure through Sin City on a double-decker with live narration to point out the things you might have missed.
You’ll roll along the world-famous Las Vegas Strip to see Las Vegas sign, the Mirage volcano and Bellagio fountains.
At the top you can stretch your legs on a walking tour to discover the LED and neon wonderland of the Fremont Street Experience, and its kaleidoscope of street performers, before heading back to the bus and returning to the Strip.
You can board the bus at 19:00 at Circus Circus, 19:15 at the LINQ Promenade or 19:30 at the Excalibur Hotel.
34. LINQ Promenade
Although the attention-grabber at the LINQ Promenade is the High Roller, there’s more to keep you rapt at the open-air retail, entertainment and dining district around it.
Opened in 2018, Fly LINQ is the first and only zip line on the Las Vegas Strip, while there’s always a new pop-up attraction like 2019’s Tattoo’d America, celebrating tattoos and body art.
Vegas-native Jimmy Kimmel has a comedy club to his name on the promenade, while there are more than 40 shops, bars and eateries at the dynamic marketplace.
Brooklyn Bowl is a top live music venue accommodating crowds of 2,000, but opening onto the hall are 32 lanes for the most-amped up game of bowling you’ve ever had.
The LINQ Promenade is swept up by regular seasonal celebrations, from Cinco de Mayo to a “Winter PARQ” and a ten-metre tree at Christmas.
Book online: Fast-Track Ticket: FLY LINQ Zipline
35. Pinball Hall of Fame
When we wrote this list in 2019, the much-loved museum for pinball machines was found at 1610 E Tropicana Ave in Paradise, but is due to move to the strip in the next few years.
The Pinball Hall of Fame is run entirely by volunteers, and donates any extra revenue to the Salvation Army and other denominational charities . What awaits you are rows upon rows of historic pinball machines, from the 1950s to the 1990s, the majority of which are from the golden age of pinball in the 70s and 80s.
Every machine on show is available to play on, and all models from before the 1990s are set at ¢25 a game, while new machine are ¢50. All in all, it’s a more innocent and economical way to pass a couple of hours than at a slot machine, and may bring back a lot of memories.
36. Luxor Las Vegas
Luxor’s vast pyramid and the Sky Beam shooting from its tip has been a calling card for Las Vegas for more than a quarter of a century.
This was the tallest structure on the strip when it opened in 1993, and at 830,000 cubic metres the atrium is officially the largest in the world.
For its first decade or so, Luxor had an overt Ancient Egyptian theme, which was replaced with more urbane and mature stylings by 2010. Luxor has 2,000 slot machines, 87 table games and four nightclubs.
In 2019 the Atrium Showroom theatre hosted the comedian Carrot Top and the long-running revue “Fantasy”. The Blue Man Group has been associated with Luxor on and off since 2000, and performs at a dedicated theatre.
For attractions you’ve got Bodies: The Exhibition, showcasing more than 200 preserved humans for a one-of-a-kind anatomy lesson.
Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition, displays more than 250 pieces recovered from the famous wreck, along with detailed recreations of the ship’s interiors.
37. SlotZilla Zip Line
Where Fremont Street intersects the Las Vegas Boulevard there’s something sure to provoke a double-take: A monster-sized slot machine, with two tiers of cables threading into Fremont Street Experience.
At seven storeys is the SlotZilla Zipline, for a seated two-block ride.
But what really arouses is the Zoomline, a bit further up, eleven storeys.
For $45 you’ll fly like a superhero, face down across five blocks.
Try to come at night to marvel at the mall’s LED canopy, and Fremont Street’s dazzling neon signs.
38. Discovery Children’s Museum
One of a slew of new attractions to make Las Vegas more appealing to families, the Discovery Children’s Museum reopened at a new home next to the Smith Center in 2013. Like the Smith Center, the brick-built museum looks at odds with the flash of the Las Vegas Strip, but there’s a neon shooting-star marquee to remind you where you are! In nine halls on three floors, the Discovery Children’s Museum is all about hands-on, stealthily educational fun.
For example, at Eco City kids can find out what it’s like to live in an environmentally friendly community, buying groceries and withdrawing money from a bank, while Water World teaches the physics of water through waterwheels, turbines and whirlpools.
At Patent Pending little ones can make inventions from straws, tape, tissues and paper cups and then put them to use in practical situations, while The Summit is a 20-metre soft climbing tower with hands-on stations teaching about electricity, light, magnets and much more on 13 different levels.
39. Topgolf Las Vegas
Best described as a high-tech, luxury bowling alley transposed to a 215-yard driving range, Topgolf is on four levels at MGM Grand Hotel and Casino.
The 100+ hitting bays are climate controlled, and both the balls and the range’s six illuminated targets are installed with microchips to calculate your score automatically.
When you’re not swinging a club there’s poolside cabanas, two pools, five fully-stocked bars (one rooftop and one swim-up), great food, HD screens everywhere you look and a stage for concerts.
The Callaway Fitting Studio will get you custom fitted for clubs, while, like any golf amenity, there’s a pro shop for apparel and accessories.
Every other Sunday you can take part in yoga on the rooftop, while there’s a DJ at the Hideaway Pool every weekend.
40. Mount Charleston
Las Vegas has a rep for its fierce desert climate, and with highs topping 40°C or more in mid-summer it’s reassuring that you can step out into more temperate climes in less than an hour.
One of the most prominent peaks in the contiguous United States, Mount Charleston (3,632m) is in the Spring Mountains and is a year-round destination for Las Vegas locals and visitors.
The peak is capped with snow from about November to March and can be spotted from part of the Las Vegas Strip.
You can come for skiing at this time of year, and to walk on fragrant hiking trails through forests of Aspen, juniper, mountain mahogany and Ponderosa pine inhabited by deer and wild burros.
One light, child-friendly walk is the Mary Jane Falls trail with a seasonal waterfall and a cave, while Fletcher Canyon has walls of up to 30 metres.
More serious walkers can plot their ascent of Griffith Peak for vistas back across Red Rock Canyon and the Las Vegas cityscape.
Available tour: Half-Day Polaris Slingshot Tour of Mt. Charleston
41. Clark County Museum
A stop that needs to be made if you’re driving to the Hoover Dam, the Clark County Museum is in Henderson to the south-east of Las Vegas.
More than affordable at just $2, the museum delves into topics like southern Nevada’s early Native American cultures, the arrival of the railroads, mining and the dawn of the gaming industry in the county.
Outside you can peruse a recreated ghost town, a Heritage Street made up of relocated historic buildings, a mining exhibit displaying regional minerals, as well as the 1932 Boulder City Depot which has a genuine Union Pacific locomotive from 1918. In the main building, the Anna Robert Parks Exhibit Hall is filled with artefacts and leads you on a journey through the history of the region, via the last Ice Age, the Pueblo and Paiute cultures, the first Anglo pioneers, land auction camps to the birth of modern Las Vegas.
42. Valley of Fire State Park
Quit Vegas, just for a few hours, to venture into another expanse of wilderness covering more than 45,000 acres.
The name, Valley of Fire, comes from the almost Martian red Aztec sandstone formations.
When you enter the park you’ll understand how the Mars outdoor scenes in Total Recall (1990) were almost completely filmed in this environment.
You can make hikes or drives to outlandish formations, like Elephant Rock, Mouse’s Tank, the Beehives and White Domes.
In places the sandstone is stratified with spellbinding red and white bands, visible at the Fire Wave and Pink Canyon.
From around 300 BCE to 1150 CE the Ancestral Puebloans would use the Valley of Fire for hunting and religious rites, and they have left mysterious petroglyphs at several spots around the park.
The best of these can be found at the majestic Atlatl Rock.
Recommended tour: Valley of Fire Tour from Las Vegas
43. Wedding Chapels
Las Vegas has picked up another epithet down the years, as the “Marriage Capital of the World” because of how streamlined the process is for both U.S. citizens and people from abroad.
With identification and a $77 fee you can get a license in a matter of minutes.
Around 120,000 wedding ceremonies take place in Las Vegas every year, and as you’d imagine there’s a massive choice of venues, many of which are at locations we’ve already covered.
You can get married at the top of the Eiffel Tower, at the Mob Museum, in a helicopter, on Mount Charleston or at a chapel attached to the KISS mini-golf course.
There are chapels at all the resorts, from Bellagio’s Terrazza Di Sogno in front of the fountains, to a penthouse at The Cosmopolitan.
Since you’re in Vegas you might want to go for kitsch, and in which case Viva Las Vegas chapel brings you down the aisle Elvis-style in a pink Cadillac, or like a Cirque du Soleil acrobat or dressed like a superhero.
One of the first venues on the strip, Chapel of the Flowers is remarkably tasteful and was where Dennis Rodman and Carmen Electra tied the knot in 1998.
Book online: World-Famous Drive-Up Wedding in Las Vegas
44. Flamingo Wildlife Habitat
An unexpected natural oasis in the middle of the Las Vegas Strip, the Flamingo Wildlife Habitat is in the lush grounds of Caesars’ Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel.
In these 15 acres, among tropical foliage, streams and waterfalls, you’ll come across a flock of Chilean flamingos, as well as pelicans, parrots, ringed teals and sacred ibises.
In the ponds you’ll see turtles, Japanese koi and albino channel catfish, some as old as 20 years.
The Flamingo Wildlife Habitat is a blissful free-entrance respite from the Strip and schedules pelican feeding times each day at 08:30 and 14:00.
45. Shark Reef
At the Mandalay Bay Resort there’s one of the largest aquariums in the United States.
Shark Reef has more than 2,000 aquatic animals across 14 exhibits.
Most striking is the 5,000,000-litre shipwreck tank where you can view blacktips, sand tiger shark and sawfish swimming overhead from an acrylic tunnel.
There are more than 100 different species at Shark Reef, from sea turtles to pythons, komodo dragons, and 15 different kinds of shark.
At the Touch Pool you’ll have the rare chance to feel a variety of marine animals, like horseshoe crabs, rays and harmless infant zebra sharks.
46. Helicopter Flight at Night over the Las Vegas Strip
Short but sweet at 15 minutes long, this helicopter flight over the Las Vegas Strip will be the icing on the cake.
You’ll get a bird’s eye view on this narrated journey over the Luxor Sky Beam, Bellagio’s fountains, the mini-cityscape of New York-New York, the Stratosphere Tower, MGM Grand and more to gauge the sheer size of the Strip’s megaresorts.
Before you board you can even enjoy a complimentary glass of champagne to toast your flight.
This experience pickup from most Las Vegas hotels and is available with GetYourGuide.com.
47. KISS By Monster Mini Golf
A combination of things that you would never expect to go together can be found at Rio Las Vegas.
More than 1200 square metres, there’s an 18-hole mini-golf course themed on the band KISS.
With glow-in-the-dark decor, the course is enriched with state-of-the-art video and genuine KISS props like guitars, signed albums and drummer Eric Carr’s Porsche.
There’s also a live DJ on hand playing KISS hits like Crazy Crazy Nights, as well as arcade machines, a gift shop full of KISS memorabilia and a rock n’ roll themed wedding chapel.
48. Zak Bagans’ The Haunted Museum
A fresh slice of Vegas camp for grown-ups, this stately 1938 mansion on South Las Vegas Boulevard has been turned into a house of horrors by the star of the Travel Channel’s hit series Ghost Adventures.
Zak Bagan has put together a veritable “Mecca of macabre” in a home with a creepy, chequered past, where dark rituals were thought to have been held in the basement.
You’ll tiptoe down winding hallways and through dark passages to more than thirty rooms, all decorated like something from a horror film and holding objects that conjure fascination and no little fear.
The Dybbuk Box has been dubbed the “world’s most haunted object”, while you can view the vintage wine cabinet that inspired the movie, “The Possession”. Among the other morbid artefacts are Dr Jack Kevorkian’s VW “Death Van”, Michael Jackson’s “Propofol Chair” and the staircase from the destroyed house in Indiana’s 2011 Ammons haunting case.
49. T-Mobile Arena
Las Vegas gained its first major professional sports team in 2017 with the creation of the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights.
Remarkably the Golden Knights won the Western Conference in their first season, only losing to the Washington Capitals for the Stanley Cup.
They play at the ultramodern T-Mobile Arena, which opened in 2016 and is also occupied by the UFC and stages major boxing events: Floyd Mayweather vs Conor McGregor took place here in 2017. And if there’s a major band or artist calling at Las Vegas on tour, chances are they’ll play the T-Mobile Arena.
Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, Jennifer Lopez, Elton John, Phil Collins and Ariana Grande were all on the programme in 2019. Just west of Mandalay Bay is the site for the new Las Vegas Stadium (2020), the home of the former Oakland Raiders after their relocation to Las Vegas for the 2020 NFL Season.
50. Park Theater
Beside the T-Mobile Arena on the Las Vegas Strip is another venue unveiled on the grounds of the Park MGM in 2016. Park Theater is the second largest theatre in the city after Zappos Theater (formerly The AXIS) and can hold 5,200 for concert residencies.
This is an astounding place to witness a live show, employing one of the widest stages in the world, and cleverly designed so that the furthest seat is only 44 metres from the stage.
The HD projection wall is out of this world too, measuring more than 70 metres across.
When we wrote this article in 2019 Lady Gaga, Janet Jackson, Bruno Mars, Cher and Aerosmith were all rotating at this mesmerising venue.
51. Las Vegas Natural History Museum
Something to keep in mind, especially if you’re in Las Vegas with kids, the Las Vegas Natural History Museum is a Smithsonian Affiliate.
The museum is at its best in the Prehistoric Gallery where there are compelling models of a Tyrannosaurus Rex and a Triceratops, that growl and move at the push of a button.
The Marine Life Gallery has massive whale models hanging from its ceiling, and a live exhibit with eels, rays and baby sharks.
You can watch the sharks being fed at 14:30 on Tuesday and Thursday and 14:00 on Saturday.
The Treasures of Egypt exhibit used to be on display at the Luxor Hotel and Casino and features more than 500 faithful replicas of Ancient Egyptian masterpieces, like King Tutankhamun’s golden throne.
52. Lion Habitat Ranch
When the MGM Grand was renovated in 2012 they did away with a popular but ethically questionable sideshow.
For 13 years there was a glass-walled habitat with real lions opening onto the casino.
The lions didn’t actually live at the resort but were transported by their owner Keith Evans from this ranch 12 miles out of town.
With the lions’ commuting days now behind them, they can roam this well-maintained 8.5 acre ranch, which is shared with a herd of giraffes and parrots.
Pay extra and you can feed the animals ($10 for giraffes and $100 per pound of food for lions), or go behind the scenes on a 90-minute guided tour with a trainer.
53. Madame Tussauds Las Vegas
A campy bit of fun at The Venetian for more than two decades, Madame Tussauds means close encounters with stars at their most statuesque! Some recent arrivals are the Hangover Bar, with Bradley Cooper and Zach Galifianakis from the Vegas-based movie series.
An homage to the city’s love affair with electronic music, Club Tussauds is an A-list party DJ’d by Steve Aoki and attended by Britney Spears, Channing Tatum, George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Khloé Kardashian.
And to mark twenty years in Las Vegas “Oh Snap! The ’90s Are Back” is a hit of nostalgia, reviving models like the Spice Girls, Bill Clinton, Justin Timberlake and Erotica-era Madonna.
If Las Vegas is all about living in the fast lane, you may as well take that expression at face value and burn rubber on a real racing track.
Speedvegas is a driving experience company, based a few minutes from the Welcome to Las Vegas Sign, at a 1.5-mile track with a monster 800-metre straight.
Speedvegas has a mean-looking fleet of supercars and sports cars to pick from, be it a Ferrari 488 GTB, a Lamborghini Huracán, a Porsche 911 GT3, Nissan GT-R or Mercedes AMG GT-S.
You can pay by the lap, starting at $49 or opt for a “Combination Experience” driving up to 16 different vehicles.
Book online: Speedvegas Driving Experience
55. Axe Monkeys
People come to Las Vegas hope for real off-the-wall moments, but you may not have pictured yourself competing against your friends at axe-throwing.
The wildly popular Axe Monkeys is an indoor attraction on the other side of the airport in Paradise.
Here you can pay $25 and spend an hour flinging hatchets at targets on a range.
And if you can’t get the hang of axes there are also spears and knives.
The Rage Room is also out of the ordinary.
Here you can be let loose on a room full of breakable objects for 20 minutes of smash therapy.