I don’t mind gambling. Well, I like gambling when it comes to horse racing. But slot machines are not my thing – kind of boring. I do like 21, Bridge and a few others but in no way did I feel that I had sufficient skills to play these games in the home of gambling! However, I had always wanted to go to Las Vegas as I thought it would be great fun. I did quite a bit of research around what to do in Las Vegas besides gambling and the list was really long! So here are my top 20 Things to do in Vegas besides gamble.
1.Things to do in Vegas Besides Gambling: Cirque Du Soleil
I did a lot of really fun things whilst in Vegas. However, the best thing I did was go to Cirque du Soleil. I am surprised that I am writing this as I would never have expected to enjoy the show as much as I did. I don’t really like musicals or live theatre. But this is AMAZING!
I saw the Beatles LOVE show and it blew me away. There was constantly so much to look at and so much happening and it was stunning and and and – wow it was just one of the best shows I have ever ever seen.
2.Things to do in Vegas Besides Gamble: David Copperfield
Again, I can’t believe I am putting this as number 2 but I loved David Copperfield! There is a good reason he is so very famous. He was a master showman. The show was brilliant. It was funny, smart, intriguing, fast-paced and engaging. No one told me magic could be this good! A car materialized! Yes in the middle of a theatre a car materialized. I hope this is enough to convince you.
We had our hotel (The Palazzo) book both of the above once we arrived. They are able to see everything that is on and ticket availability.
3.What to do in Vegas Besides Gamble: Helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon
It isn’t cheap but it is well worth it. I chose to go with Sundance Helicopters and felt very safe. I was picked up at my hotel in a limo – because how else would you travel in Vegas??? We went to a small air base. The helicopter ride is less than an hour and the views are stunning. I loved seeing the red desert. We then flew over Lake Mead which was stunning.
My ticket included doing the SkyWalk Express Tour. Personally, I didn’t find it scary but I am ok with heights. The best thing was taking photos nearby.
The helicopter back took a slightly different route. As if the Grand Canyon and Lake Mead weren’t enough we also flew down the strip on our return which was fantastic!
4.Things to do in Vegas other than Gamble: Dinner buffet at the Wynn
I was pleasantly surprised by how good the food is in Vegas. I was expecting the worst of American clichés but I was absolutely delighted. Vegas is, of course, famous for a buffet and the Wynn has an excellent reputation. This is with excellent reason.
If you looked up buffet in the dictionary I think there should be photos of the Wynn buffet. This was the most extensive and most impressive buffet that I have ever visited. It was an Instagram friendly buffet – in a very Instagram friendly room – which is not common.
The highlight for me was the seafood on offer.
5.Visit Major Tourist Destinations
Sure you’re in Las Vegas but why not visit the Pyramids, the Eiffel Tower and the Brooklyn Bridge whilst you are in town? All of the hotels that feature these tourism extravaganzas are along the Strip. I most enjoyed New York New York and the Brooklyn Bridge. There are loads of places for great fun cheesy photos.
6.Swim in as many of the 10 pools of the Venetian & Palazzo as you can
Why swim in only one pool when your hotel has so many pools that it actually provides a pool map? Yes, this is a map so you know where all 10 pools are located in this rather large hotel. There is also a code that lets you know if a pool leans towards Relax, Family or High Energy. Fantastic to be able to match your mood to your pool!
I have a confession to make. I only made it to one pool. It was so so so hot. It was too hot to be outside. I had to return to the air conditioning. But if you go and it isn’t the middle of July please do investigate more of the pools and let me know. Swimming in 10 different pools is one of the more unusual things to do in Vegas.
7.Visit the Neon Museum
I was really looking forward to the Neon Museum and it did not disappoint! This unique museum is located in downtown or old las vegas. You will need a car or a cab to get here. The museum is mostly outdoors. It is sort of like a car park that is filled with the old Neon signs of Las Vegas. Kind of like a neon retirement home!
I loved seeing all the old signs and it is extremely photogenic! Do make sure you check opening times. You do need to go on a tour to see the entire museum and these do not run in the height of summer. It is possible to see a limited selection if you can’t do a tour. This is what I had to do and I still really enjoyed it.
There is also a fantastic gift shop with some great classic Vegas souvenirs. When it comes to what to do in Vegas besides gamble this is a brilliant option.
8.Explore the Arts District
Downtown Las Vegas has enjoyed a bit of a resurgence through art and funky coffee and cafes. There is also quite a bit of cool street art. The city has helpfully provided a map of this area and it is full of galleries and shops. I really enjoyed the Arts Factory and the Art Square.
9.Dinner at Nobu
One of the best things to do in Vegas other than gamble is eating well! It is tough to have a bad meal at Nobu. The Las Vegas branch is no exception. The restaurant is located in Caesar’s Palace hotel so it also gives you a chance to check out another over the top Vegas hotel!
The service was fantastic. We were celebrating a birthday and essentially had the waiter order for us and he did an amazing job. It wasn’t cheap but the food was amazing and it is worth it for a special occasion. Don’t miss the Yellowtail Sashimi.
10.Drink coffee and have brunch at Makers and Finders
I was not impressed with the coffee available on the Strip – even at the good brunch restaurants. Too milky, too cappuccino like. I needed hipster servers with over the top grinding methods and bean obsessions. I found them at the fantastic Makers and Finders which is a great spot to visit for brunch or lunch before exploring the arts district.
The café has a funky stripped back feel to it. There is a great menu. We started with some breakfast empanadas and they were an absolute sensation – fantastic light and flaky pastry. The coffee was absolutely brilliant – a perfect flat white!
11.Visit the Hoover Dam
In recent years I appear to have become a big of an Engineering nerd – this was one of 2 man-made natural wonders I visited in 2017! (the second being the Panama Canal). And I so enjoyed both of them!
The Hoover Dam is a half day trip from the Strip. It takes about one hour to get there and the total trip is 4 ½ hours. There are loads of great photo opportunities. The tour will most likely take you to these spots and advise accordingly!
The Dam structure is very art deco and cool – even the toilets! The highlight is heading down 600 feet and seeing the turbines and learning about how they used water to cool the concrete so it would set faster and a whole bunch of ingenious and amazing things that were done to make this dam work.
12.See some Big Horned Sheep
Wildlife was certainly not something I expected to see in Vegas. OK insert standard jokes about badly behaved drunk people but seeing interesting animals just hanging out was quite unexpected! The end of the Hoover Dam tour involved stopping at the lovely Hemenway Park which was full of Big Horned Sheep. The park also has a great view of Lake Mead. This is one of the few non-touristy things to do in Vegas.
13. 7 Magic Mountains
7 Magic Mountains was another item high on my Vegas agenda! I had seen photos of these neon sculptures in the middle of the desert and was dead keen to get my own! You will need a car to visit the sculptures – we used Uber. The drive takes about 30 minutes each way from the strip. You only need about 15 minutes when you get there so the best thing to do is see if your driver will wait.
This is a good time to get your photo taken with the Welcome to Las Vegas sign – although there is often a serious queue! The sign is on the median strip and there is a parking area. Checking out the art scene is one of the best things to do in Las Vegas besides gambling.
I had heard of the French Laundry before this trip but I had not realized that the Bouchon brand has become a big deal in the US. We headed to Bouchon Bistro our first morning for brunch and we were absolutely delighted! This was the type of full-on over the top delicious American breakfast in Vegas that I was seeking! I had some amazing waffles with fruit and chantilly cream and everything else! The restaurant has a French bistro feel and the service was great.
Bouchon is in the Venetian Hotel.
The Las Vegas North Outlet mall is amazing! It is one of those very modern discount malls that doesn’t look at all like a discount mall. Diane Von Furstenberg, Kate Spade, Rag and Bone, BCBG and many more. We ubered there and back – it isn’t far from the Strip.
There is a lot of shopping in the hotels – but do watch for the salespeople in the malls along the strip. You could be at a market in Asia. They are very full on with their free samples and compliments and questions. My advice is to avoid eye contact!
Freemont Street is the old Las Vegas Strip. It is now a rather tacky tourism extravaganza but kind of fun. It is a pedestrianized street that of course has a zip wire running over the top of it. There are loads of bars and many old casinos. This is own as a serious party/drinking area so if that is your thing this is your place. It is worth a visit out of curiosity.
17.Fountain show at Bellagio
This stunning mix of water, lights and music is on every 15 minutes after 8pm. The best way to see the show is to have dinner at one of the six restaurants at the Bellagio. Do make sure you book ahead though as many people seem to know that this is the best way to see the show and the tables book out fast.
While you are at the Belaggio check out any exhibitions that are on. When I went there was one celebrating the Isle of Capri and it was absolutely stunning.
This was my favourite breakfast on the Strip. Morels is also very conveniently located in the Palazzo hotel. It is not dissimilar to Bouchon in terms of décor but I thought the brunch menu was quite a bit better and more extensive. This is the place if you like your eggs plus plus plus! There is quite a bit of seafood on the menu for breakfast – particularly some great innovations like crab eggs benedict!
The food was huge and massive! And they have some nice outdoor seating that has you virtually on the strip and makes for some fantastic people watching!
19.Stay at the Palazzo
It is very difficult to choose a hotel in Vegas! There are stunning hotels at extremely reasonable prices with absolutely huge rooms. The Palazzo and the Venetian are next door to each other and owned by the same people. We stayed at the Palazzo. It was ridiculously cheap for an absolutely stunning huge room with two giant double beds and a sunken living room!
The thread count on the sheets was excellent as were the towels! The finish is luxe and you definitely feel you are having a 5-star experience! The location is fantastic with easy access to everything you may need. The service was also excellent – particularly the concierge service.
Breakfast is generally not included but there are so many restaurants to explore I would not have wanted it included in the price. Do note that if you even move something in the mini bar you get charged. I assume the reason for this is that people go and buy much cheaper alcohol at the Walgreens underneath the hotel and bring it back up. We did do this with some champagne but it was fine to grab a bucket and some ice and DIY chilling!
20.Get a spray tan at the Palazzo
Why not look the part while you’re in Vegas? I had a fantastic spray tan at the Venetian and if I lived nearby I would be doing this on a regular basis! The Canyon Ranch spa has a branch in The Venetian where you will get substantial discounts and extra access to facilities as a guest of either The Venetian or The Palazzo. I should have devoted more time to Canyon Ranch!
So many things to do in Vegas that aren’t gambling! Invest your money in shows and food and day trips rather than slot machine traumas!
Getting Around Las Vegas
Vegas plays tricks on you. Initially, everything seems quite walkable. However, you quickly realise that the hotels are the size of small cities and walking to the one next door can take 20 minutes. The strip is LONG! Strangely there are outside escalators all along the strip so that you can walk along a raised corridor to keep you away from the traffic. My gosh do people speed down the strip!
A map is actually very helpful – it can be far more confusing than you would expect. Uber is the best way to get around – they are plentiful and cheap. We used them to get up and down the strip. There are buses but that seemed quite painful. We also used Uber to get to the mall and to the downtown area.
Where to Stay in Vegas
Vegas is not really about boutique hotels. I am sure there some but honestly to have the full Vegas experience I am breaking with my boutique positioning and saying go for the full-on decadent 5-star experience – I consider it almost a tourist attraction to do this!
As I mentioned I stayed at the Palazzo which was fantastic. As it is owned by the same people I assume the Venetian is also excellent. The Wynn looked brilliant when we went for their Buffet. It does appear that the best place to stay is probably the Bellagio. There is so much going on at the hotel and the rooms look fantastic.
For a more old world vegas experience check out Caesars Palace and New York New York.
Stuff to Read
I flew with British Airways Premium Economy – Read my Review
Here are some great books that are set in Las Vegas to get you in the mood for a visit:
Getting to Las Vegas
Click here for Cheap Flights to San Francisco.
There are some fantastic drives around Las Vegas – explore canyons, drive to the Grand Canyon or use it for 7 Magic Mountains and the Outlet Mall. Click here for Great Deals on Car Hire.
Tours in Vegas
There are lots of variations of the tours I mention above and others – Tours while in Las Vegas
If you click through on the links that appear on my blog posts around flights, accommodation, tours, travel insurance etc. I get a small commission if you end up buying on these sites. Just wanted to let you know
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