I know, I know. You’re probably saying to yourself, “What could there possibly be to do in Las Vegas that doesn’t involve gambling and/or alcohol?” Well, the truth is, a lot!
Most people go to Sin City for the casinos, the party atmosphere, and the potential for lots of debauchery. But Las Vegas doesn’t have to be all about shotgun weddings and pool parties if you don’t want it to be. It can actually be a really fun (and really affordable!) destination for people of all ages.
Yes, you CAN go to Las Vegas when you’re under 21!
I found this out myself when I spent 2 days in Vegas with my sister, who wasn’t quite 21 at the time. We couldn’t get into any clubs or bars (they’re serious about carding at most places), and we couldn’t hang around by any slot machines. So we were forced to learn about everything else Vegas has to offer.
And you know what? We had a great time!
So if you’re not into partying or gambling, are under 21, or just want a cheap Vegas getaway, here are some “other” things you can consider doing in Sin City that aren’t quite so sinful:
Enjoy The Strip at Night
Seeing the Las Vegas Strip at night was on my bucket list. It’s one thing I feel like a lot of people want to see before they die. And for good reason — it’s loud, bright, and never boring. It IS long, though, so bring your walking shoes. And also don’t forget your sense of humor. The Strip is not for the faint-hearted, as it’s usually filled with a mixture of drunken revelers (most likely with open bottles, which are legal here), street performers, and men passing out trading cards with half-naked women on them. But instead of being overwhelmed or getting offended by it all, just enjoy the absurdity.
Even if you’re not staying at a hotel in the thick of things, you can hop on a bus that does a giant loop up and down The Strip. You can get a 24-hour bus pass for less than $10, though it should be noted that it takes forever to get through Vegas traffic.
Visit Hotel-Casinos During the Day
While the bright lights are dimmed when the sun comes up, there’s still plenty to do and see on The Strip during daylight hours. I recommend just taking in the sights at night, and saving exploration of the hotel-casinos for the daytime. Even if you’re not 21, you can still go into all of the hotel-casinos, as long as you don’t loiter around the gambling areas.
Here are some of the coolest things the Strip hotels have on offer:
- Ride the roller coaster at New York, New York ($14)
- Go behind the scenes of CSI at the MGM Grand ($31.50)
- If you visit before Jan. 31, 2012, check out the lion habitat at MGM Grand and get your photo with a lion cub (habitat: FREE; photo: $25)
- Check out the amazing Chihuly glass ceiling at the Bellagio (FREE)
- Roam through the Bellagio conservatory, which is usually decked out according to a specific theme (FREE)
- Watch the Bellagio fountains put on a show (FREE; frequently throughout the day and night)
- Ride in a gondola at the Venetian ($16, or $64 for a private 2-person ride)
- Visit the shark reef at Mandalay Bay ($18)
- Get your adrenaline pumping at the top of the Stratosphere, where thrill rides abound (or you could just take in the awesome view from nearly 1,000 feet up) ($16 for observation deck admission; rides extra)
- Watch the volcano erupt at Mirage (FREE; every hour from dusk to 11 p.m.)
- Explore Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden, or the Dolphin Habitat at Mirage ($20 for entry to both)
- Go to the top of the Eiffel Tower at Paris ($10)
- Eat at a buffet (there are tons of delicious ones!)
There’s plenty to do along The Strip outside of the hotels, too. Go shopping at one of the many stores that line the road, or check out some of the themed shopping areas, such as the ones at Luxor and the Venetian. Stop in to MnM’s World for some sweet souvenirs, or maybe even splurge to drive your “dream car” for the afternoon.
See a Show
Along with gambling, Las Vegas is also known for its over-the-top entertainment. Here you can find everything from Cirque du Solei performances to the Blue Man Group to sexy burlesque shows to intense magic shows to comedy/improv to concerts by some big-name stars. Sometimes you can get a good deal on shows through your hotel, but, if not, check out the half-price Tix4Tonight ticket stands around town. Similar to how you can buy cheap Broadway tickets at TKTS in New York City, unsold tickets for that night’s Vegas shows can be purchased here for up to 50% off.
Check Out a Museum
Museums probably aren’t the first things that come to mind when the average person thinks about Las Vegas. But there actually are some cool ones here! The most popular is definitely Madame Tussauds wax museum, located in the Venetian ($25). Here you can spend hours posing with lifelike wax models of all your favorite celebrities. There’s also a Pinball Hall of Fame (10 minutes southeast of The Strip) and the Neon Museum ($15), the place where many of Vegas’ neon signs have gone to die.
Visit Fremont Street
Fremont Street is know as the “old” Las Vegas, and is perhaps actually more outlandish than The Strip. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even zipline above the action here.
Get “The” Vegas Photo
No, I’m not talking about a photo with a showgirl or half-naked Chippendale dancer. I’m talking about the photo in front of the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign. The sign is located just south of Mandalay Bay on The Strip, and actually has a whole parking lot dedicated to it so you can stop on your way in or out of the city.
Take a Day Trip
Vegas is situated in the southernmost part of Nevada, making it close to a lot of nearby attractions that make great day trips. Such places include:
This, of course, is not an exhaustive list. There’s so much more to do in Las Vegas than listed here. You could easily spend a week in Vegas and never once pull the arm of a slot machine.
What other things do you suggest doing in Las Vegas?
**NOTE: All prices current as of January, 2012.