There’s a common misconception amongst Vegas critics that all there is to do is gamble.
On the contrary, however.
If all you’re doing is gambling, then you’re missing out on real thrills, delights, and adventures found all over the city and just beyond. If you’re planning an itinerary and want to schedule things to do in Vegas besides gambling, you’ll want to absorb the list below.
Casinos indeed line the Strip and pepper major roadways on the outskirts of the city, but as you’ll find when you read ahead, you can spend a good week in Vegas without even touching a slot machine or sitting at a table game.
Hike at Red Rock Canyon
About 20 minutes west of the Strip, on the farthest reaches of town, tucked behind a stretch of rocky mountains, lies the paradise of Red Rock Canyon. The moniker is quite befitting of this serene escape as the towering cliffs and smooth surfaces all have an alluring deep red and orange hue to them.
If you don’t mind putting in a little effort, you can spend a full or partial day hiking this national conservation area at multiple points along the 13-mile Scenic Drive or at the easier-to-access Calico Basin Trail. There’s really no wrong choice, as all hiking trails provide stunning panoramic views of the canyon and a decent workout.
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Keep in mind that the Scenic Drive requires a reservation, so plan ahead.
Catch a Race at the Las Vegas Speedway
There is almost always something happening at the Las Vegas Speedway. Located about 20 minutes northeast of the Strip, the speedway is a relic of Sin City built in the 1970s to add high-speed excitement to the city’s many offerings.
There’s typically a full schedule of races happening each month, but even if you’re traveling when there’s little activity, the speedway offers its own experiences. You can jump behind the wheel or in the passenger seat of a regulation NASCAR vehicle, take a tour of the 1.5-mile track, or test your skills in a 3D racing simulator.
Car and race enthusiasts could easily get lost at the speedway, especially if they happen to catch the annual Pennzoil 400 race.
Take a Spa Day
While many Sin City visitors are watching with glazed eyes as those coveted triple 7s spin on by, you could be relaxing to the max at one of the many spas available on and off the Strip. If you’re staying at any of the major resorts in town, there’s likely a spa offering rejuvenation services to keep you fresh for the night ahead.
Spa packages are a wonderful intermission from the frequent walking and exploration, and services like aromatherapy massages, purifying facials, and arctic berry body exfoliation will prep you for an extravagant night on the town.
Whether you’re traveling as part of a bachelor party or just enjoying a couples retreat, a spa is a great alternative to throwing money into a machine.
Catch a Stage Show
Finding things to do in Vegas other than gambling doesn’t mean you need to travel off the Strip at all. If you’re not worried about the temptation of dinging machines and the rare jubilant gambler, you can stick close to the city and catch a stage show. Which one you watch is up to your tastes, but there is no shortage of options and there quite literally is something for everyone.
You can catch a variety show at the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood or enjoy something a little more risque at the New York, New York. Comedy acts, magic shows, audience hypnosis, dinner theaters, big-name residencies—Vegas is a gold mine of live entertainment.
Ride a Helicopter Over the Strip
Do you have a bit of a wild side and want to catch the best view of the Strip?
Companies like Maverick Helicopters have charted routes that soar close to the glimmer and glam of Sin City. A Vegas helicopter tour takes you on an aerial journey around the valley, where you can see the stark contrast between Las Vegas Boulevard and the surrounding residential townships.
Watch as the majestic Fountains of Bellagio dance below or simply admire the hustle and bustle of the city from the comfort of a luxury Airbus. If you’re flying during the day, take in the visual spectacle of the mountainous horizon that encircles all of Las Vegas.
Enjoy Fine Cuisine or Hole-in-the-Wall Dining
Much like gambling, food is a staple of a Las Vegas vacation. Pre-COVID, buffets invited guests to an all-you-can-eat experience at every resort, but more recently, the focus has shifted to fine dining. Deciding where to eat is one of the most difficult choices you’ll have to make, particularly because there are so many restaurants on the Strip alone.
You could enjoy sushi at Caesars Palace, cut into a succulent steak in Paris, indulge on fresh seafood at the Wynn, or start the day off with a flavorful brunch at the Venetian.
Don’t discredit hole-in-the-wall dining, either.
You’ll need to travel off the Strip a bit to find authentic cuisine from Venezuela, China, Hawaii, Malaysia, and other regions known for their food. With all the walking you’ll likely be doing, eating a hearty meal is crucial to being able to keep up.
Related: Cheap dinners on the strip
Learn About Vegas’ Mob History
Before Vegas erupted into the tourist capital that it is today, it was run by questionable organizations with ties to New York and Chicago. In fact, the Flamingo Hotel exists thanks to known mobster Bugsy Siegel. It’s all part of the city’s fascinating history that you can learn all about at the Mob Museum in Downtown Vegas.
The establishment features stories and artifacts linking to the mafioso that used to run things on the Strip. You’ll get a deep look into Vegas’ true history, which is riddled with fascinating stories of crime, greed, and betrayal.
For a different take on the mob’s rule of Vegas, you can also embark on a late-night ghost tour. It’s impossible to talk about the iconic specters of Sin City without diving into the nefarious characters that once ran the show.
Lounge by the Pool or Go Ice Skating
Yes, it’s a dry heat in Vegas.
No, that doesn’t make it any easier to walk around once the temperatures hit the mid-90s. Thankfully, there’s a pool in every direction you look on and off the Strip.
The resort pools of Vegas’ top-rated hotels offer cabana rentals and, in most cases, multiple pools to lounge in. If you’re staying at a resort, you’ll have all-day access to the on-site pool area. However, you can rent a cabana or a table at any hotel, regardless of if you’re staying there or not.
If it’s not the season for pool weather, then chances are the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas has opened The Ice Rink. As the city gets deeper into autumn, the Cosmo transforms the Boulevard Pool with its Strip views into a 4,200-square-foot ice rink. Bundle up and enjoy the fun of ice skating or kick back by the fire to roast some s’mores at this seasonal venue.
Related: Holiday activities in Las Vegas
With both of these options in mind, no matter the season, you’ll always have something to do in Vegas besides gambling.
Fire a Machine Gun
One of the novelties of Las Vegas is being able to fire a machine gun. The moment you step foot on the Strip, you’ll see the signs for this unique experience available at a premier shooting range.
Eventually, your curiosity will get the better of you and you’ll make the 10-minute trip off the Strip to fire off rounds at a themed target of your choice.
While you can use the range to test out a simple handgun, you’ll have access to an extensive selection of firearms, including AK-47s and M60s. Mind the safety officer’s instructions, approach your chosen weapon with the utmost caution, and you’ll definitely create a core memory popping off round after round of high-powered machine guns.
Take an ATV Tour to the Valley of Fire
The exquisite beauty of the Valley of Fire may sit a little over an hour outside of Vegas, but several tour companies provide transportation to and from your hotel. Riding an ATV through the desert is exhilarating and often comes with gems like unimpeded views of the Vegas skyline.
A drive through the Valley of Fire, though, is something truly unique and a popular daytime activity in Vegas.
Get behind the wheel of a one, two, or four-person off-road vehicle and speed through sandy dunes on the tail of a professional guide. Each tour stops for a spell to let you admire the valley and enjoy some mild exploration. Step far enough away from the tour group, and you’ll realize just how dead silent the valley is.
It’s a peaceful intermission for the heart-pounding excitement of sliding across smooth sand and riding through tight, rocky corridors.
Spending most of your Vegas vacation in front of a slot machine or struggling at a table game is a good way to waste your time in Sin City. Pick one or two of these things to do in Vegas other than gambling, and you’ll undoubtedly turn it into a trip to remember.