Whether you’re a frequent visitor, a first-timer, or a Las Vegas local, there are endless ways to have an #OnlyVegas experience.
From headlining residencies to James Beard-winning chefs, breathtaking outdoor activities to a vibrant local arts scene, and a revived downtown exploding with energy, Las Vegas is so much more than just the Strip.
For a truly all-encompassing Vegas itinerary, check out this guide to the most unforgettable things to do in Las Vegas.
Things to Do in Vegas
Check out our specific things to do in Vegas guides or keep reading below.
Drive out to the side of the highway and take that selfie at Seven Magic Mountains
You’ve seen it all over Instagram, so you might as well see it in person: Seven Magic Mountains, the massive installation of seven stacks of fluorescent-colored boulders standing over 25 feet high by artist Ugo Rondinone that sits just off the I-15 between Las Vegas and the California border.
It is an influencer catnip, and it is a Vegas must-see.
Address: Approximately 10 miles south of the intersection of Las Vegas Boulevard and St. Rose Parkway on South Las Vegas Boulevard
Take in the history of Las Vegas through its neon signs at The Neon Museum
There are many very unique museums in Las Vegas, but the Neon Museum is truly a sight to behold.
The main collection in the “Neon Boneyard” includes more than 200 unrestored signs and 19 fully-functioning signs (including the fully restored guitar from the old Hard Rock Café), and there are additional pieces in the North Gallery which also has a digital light installation show at night.
The museum also hosts special exhibits from artists like Tim Burton. Plan your visit around dusk for the best lighting to see the signs.
Cost: Tickets start at $19
Address: 770 N. Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas, NV 89101
Discounts on Several Things to do in Vegas
Do the whole Fremont Street thing
For at least a couple of decades now, Vegas visitors in the know have understood Fremont Street as being the anti-Strip—old and a little roughshod, located in downtown Las Vegas (“old Vegas”) and full of casinos and hotels that peaked when the mob still ran the place.
But downtown Las Vegas, including Fremont Street, has been undergoing a massive transformation, and now the Fremont Street Experience is a bona fide tourism destination.
With three stages of free live music every single night, and a free summer concert series featuring big-name hitmakers of the ’80s, ’90s, and early ’00s, there is always plenty of entertainment (and that’s saying nothing of the singing, dancing, costumed buskers).
Viva Vision, the LED canopy that covers the Fremont Street Experience, is the world’s largest single video screen, and just underwent a $32 million upgrade with 3D graphics, brilliant light shows, and concert-quality sound. And you can watch it all as you soar down the SlotZilla zipline.
See an A-list performer in an intimate 5,000-seat theatre
The Vegas residency has become one of the hottest things happening in town, with A-list artists of today getting in on the action as much as acts with decades-long careers.
In 2020, you can catch Shania Twain, Christina Aguilera, Keith Urban, Mariah Carey, Kelly Clarkston, Sting, ZZ Top, the Who, Santana, Morrissey, and more, and Celine Dion is also rumored to be considering another round.
The production quality of each residency is always an over-the-top spectacle, especially for those with longer-term residencies, and these residencies offer a rare chance to see many of these mega-stars in such an intimate venue.
See a real Vegas show
There’s a reason that “Vegas show” is synonymous with “Vegas.” While there surely are plenty of cheesy Vegas shows both on and off the Strip, the big-ticket shows—i.e., anything from Cirque du Soleil—are well worth the money and the hype.
These are full-blown, multi-million-dollar spectacles, featuring some of the most talented performers in the world, and the kind of show you will only ever see in Vegas. Check them out:
Some More Great Show Ideas
Experience celebrity chef dining on the Strip
With extremely rare exceptions, almost every single chef worthy of the title “celebrity” in the country has a restaurant in Las Vegas.
There are so many celebrity chef restaurants to choose from, it’s almost impossible to know where to start.
Here are some ideas: head to the brand-new Park MGM, where the food and beverage offerings rival the toughest competition on the Strip, and check out L.A.-based chef Roy Choi’s hip hip-hop Korean-Mexican-American fusion joint, Best Friend. It’s the most fun celebrity chef restaurant on the Strip, hands-down.
If you enjoy some real kitchen theatre, check out Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen, located in front of Caesars Palace facing the Strip.
The open red and blue kitchens allow you to watch the kitchen staff at work, though most days they aren’t getting yelled at by Gordon Ramsay. Just be sure to make a reservation, this place has had a line since it opened its doors in 2018.
Renowned chef David Chang has been busy in Vegas recently, first with an outpost of his celebrated contemporary Asian-American concept Momofuku inside the Cosmopolitan a few years ago, along with cultish desert store Milk Bar, and now with the opening of the exquisite Majordomo Meat & Fish at the Venetian and its accompanying casual concept, Moon Palace.
Eat, drink, and shop in motel and alley on East Fremont
The East Fremont neighborhood in Downtown Las Vegas has been going through a major transformation in recent years, and it’s all paying off: Fergusons Downtown, the completely renovated historic motel, is now a retail and entertainment destination with a dozen unique vendors and eateries, live entertainment, events, and site-specific art installations just waiting to be ‘grammed.
They also sponsor Market in the Alley right across the street, a showcase of local creatives and craftspeople held once a month.
Dates: The third weekend of each month, ongoing, for Market in the Alley; daily for Fergusons Downtown
Address: 1028 Fremont Street, Las Vegas, NV, 89101
Take a bite out of Chinatown
The star-studded celebrity chef presence on the Strip is certainly exciting, but some of the best dining in Las Vegas won’t be found inside a casino.
Las Vegas’s Chinatown and surrounding areas, located primarily along Spring Mountain Rd. just a few minutes from the Strip, is one of the most exciting and dynamic neighborhoods in Sin City, with hundreds (it seems like) of restaurants spanning a whole world of global cuisines—Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Filipino, Mexican, Italian, French, American, and all manner of fusion in-between. Highlights include:
- Sparrow + Wolf—an “American cookery” with wide-ranging global influences and a stellar craft cocktail program
- Partage—absolutely stunning modern French dining with multiple tasting menu options
- Mordeo Boutique Wine Bar—Spanish and Latin-inspired small plates with Japanese flair and an eclectic offering of boutique wines, sakes, and sangria
- Mas Por Favor—a funky, hip tacos-and-tequila joint with an outstanding bar hidden in the back
- District One Kitchen & Bar—modern pho and inventive Vietnamese fusion in an industrial chic setting
- Raku and Sweets Raku—a contemporary Japanese robata grill concept and its sister multi-course dessert restaurant concept
- Trattoria Nakamura-Ya—Japanese-style Italian cuisine heavy on the uni
- Kabuto Edomae Sushi—an exceptional chef-driven sushi restaurant with several different omakase menu options
- Golden Tiki—a hugely popular tiki bar that serves up classics as well as their own tiki twists, and is known for their kitschy décor including the “shrunken heads” of local Las Vegas “celebrities”
Wander the massive indoor/outdoor art gallery that is the Las Vegas Strip
The Las Vegas Strip is full of neon lights and flashing billboards, yes, but it’s also full of some truly incredible artwork. Sculptures and installations from world-renowned artists can be found almost everywhere you look, from hotel hallways to retail stores, and most of it is free to see.
Altogether, the public art pieces that can be found on the Strip are worth millions of dollars, and when taken together as a full collection, it rivals that of any major museum in the world. Spend a day checking out these pieces and galleries (note: this is by no means a complete inventory of public art pieces or fine art galleries on the Strip):
Immerse yourself in the local theatre scene
Vegas might be best known for its big, bombastic shows on the Strip, but there is also a strong independent theatre scene off the Strip that deserves your attention.
One of the best ways to immerse yourself in local independent theatre is to actually immerse yourself—check out one of the intimate, immersive productions from the Majestic Repertory Theatre, located in the Downtown Las Vegas Arts District, which stages several immersive productions throughout the year, including seasonal holiday shows.
Just across the street from the Majestic you’ll find the excellent craft cocktail bar, Velveteen Rabbit, a beautiful space where the local burlesque troupe Tease & Tails hosts immersive burlesque events.
Cheer on your favorite sports team or root for a newfound local favorite
Vegas has a tendency to go from zero to one hundred with pretty much everything, and that’s exactly what happened when Las Vegas decided to become a sports town.
Get in on the fan action by heading to the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center for a Vegas Golden Knights or VEGAS Raiders (it’s official!) viewing party, or cheer on one of our local teams and see for yourself just how crazy Las Vegas fans are by checking out the Las Vegas Lights (Ultimate Soccer League).
And there’s really no better way to spend a sunny Saturday afternoon than at a Las Vegas Aviators game (Minor League Baseball) in the spankin’ new, state-of-the-art Las Vegas Ballpark. And if you’re really lucky, you might even be able to snag a seat for a home game at T-Mobile Arena (home of the Knights) or Allegiant Stadium (the soon-to-be-open new home base of Raider Nation), where you will experience for yourself how Vegas does sports unlike anywhere else in the country in a way that only Vegas can.
Celebrate the new Roaring Twenties with a new era of supper clubs
The “supper club” concept—lavish dinner with live entertainment, in some form or another—is usually a popular one with see-and-be-seen crowds, but it’s been awhile since the concept saw a real upswing in Las Vegas. But right now, baby, the supper club is HOT!
It started when Rose.Rabbit.Lie. opened inside the Cosmopolitan in 2014—an accompanying live entertainment concept failed to take off, but the supper club itself remained opened and continues to be buzzworthy with its over-the-top luxe dishes and cocktails. (The attached theatre is now home to the popular show OPIUM.)
At the Bellagio, the Mayfair Supper Club opened just in time to ring in the new Roaring Twenties with its own brand of contemporized big band jazz—glitzy singers and sexy dancers performing music hitting on every decade from the 1920s through today, with nonstop entertainment throughout the whole dining room and lounge.
It is a stunning space with even more stunning food and drink presentations, and all set against the backdrop of the Bellagio fountains. It is a splurge, to be sure, but it is unlike anything else you’ve ever experienced. And next up on deck: the opening of Delilah at the Wynn, an Art Deco-themed supper club out of Hollywood.
Seek solace in the great outdoors
You might not think of Las Vegas as a great place to find soul-cleansing solitude, but once you get off the Strip, the Las Vegas Valley is surrounded by mountain ranges full of scenic canyons and unusual rock formations on all sides.
To the north, check out Valley of Fire, known for its bright red Aztec sandstone outcrops with lots of easy, scenic hiking trails. To the northwest, the Mount Charleston in the Spring Mountains National Wilderness Area offers higher-elevation wilderness full of a variety of towering pine trees (including ancient bristlecone pines) and aspens, loads of springtime wildflowers and fall colors, cooler temps in the summer to escape the triple-digit heat, and plenty of fresh powder in the winter for skiing and snowboarding.
To the west, the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is full of dramatically red sandstone-ringed peaks and is a favorite place for local leisure hikers, hardcore peak-baggers, and rock climbers from around the world. To the east, the Lake Mead National Recreation Area offers all the boating activities you would expect, as well as some stellar hiking trails and dramatic canyons to explore.
Go thrill-seeking on the Strip
Just because the Strip is full of hotels and casinos doesn’t mean thrill-seekers can’t also get their kicks.
Daredevils and adrenaline junkies can zoom around a replica of downtown Manhattan on a roller coaster on the Big Apple Coaster at New York New York.
They can soar Superman-style down the LINQ Promenade on FLY LINQ all the way to the High Roller where they can then get a birds-eye-view of the Strip from the world’s largest observation wheel, or head to the 112th story of the STRAT and be spun, flung, thrust, plummeted, and otherwise dangled off the side of the tower while looking out over the Strip upwards of 1,000 feet below.
See the changing face of DTLV through its art
As downtown Las Vegas has undergone a massive transformation in recent years, it has also been remade as an open-air art gallery thanks almost entirely to the Life is Beautiful music and art festival that launched in 2013.
The event now covers 18 city blocks of downtown Las Vegas, and in addition to being a music festival, it is also a massive, immersive, multi-disciplinary arts experience. Each year, dozens of artists paint new murals and create new sculptures and site-specific installations; the murals stay long after the festival ends and now cover almost every blank wall downtown, and many of the sculptures and installations find new homes throughout the city.
Check out the murals by world-renowned names like Banksy, Shepard Fairey, Okuda San Miguel, and D*FACE, and you can also see massive sculptures like the Big Rig Jig in the courtyard of Fergusons Downtown and the 40-foot fire-breathing praying mantis in front of Container Park, both of which were originally created for Burning Man.
Experience how Vegas throws a pool party
Sin City is the originator of the “dayclub” concept, where the nightclub party atmosphere and A-list DJs are brought out into the daylight and held poolside.
It was a genius move to encourage round-the-clock partying—that is what Vegas is all about for many people, after all—and nowhere else in the world has anything that can compare to the size and scale of Vegas’s party pools.
For the 2020 season, this “ultra pool”—the first on the Strip and the longest-running pool party in Vegas —just completed a multi-million-dollar architectural and audio-visual design revitalization that includes additional plunge pools, a redesigned and expanded artist performance area, elevated cabanas and bungalows, furniture upgrades, and state-of-the-art immersive technology new to the Las Vegas dayclub scene.
Major headlining DJs Tiësto, Zedd, Martin Garrix, and Steve Aoki are all slated to perform this summer, so if you want the absolute fullest Vegas party pool experience, this is the place to be.
The Vegas bucket list items
Cheesy and touristy though they may be, when you’re in Vegas there are certain things that you just sort of HAVE to do, because if you don’t can you really even say you did Vegas at all?? (Short answer: no.) For starters, you have to watch the Bellagio fountains.
It’s a free show that runs every 15 to 30 minutes, and it is one of the most iconic tourist attractions in the entire world. You also have to pay a visit to the Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, which has a rotating lineup of four different seasonally themed botanical displays—another iconic attraction known throughout the world.
Recently the Eiffel Tower added a light show that makes the tower twinkle with 800 strobe lights and change colors with 300 colored lights every 30 minutes nightly.
It’s also fun to take the elevator to the top of the Eiffel Tower for the full view of the Strip from 46 stories up, and if you really want to make it an outing, reserve a window seat for dinner at the Eiffel Tower Restaurant, which boasts one of the best views of any restaurant in the city.
At the Venetian, it’s always entertaining to listen to the gondoliers in the Grand Canal Shoppes singing to their fares, but it’s even more fun to be the one in the gondola being sung to.
Just across Las Vegas Boulevard, the Mirage volcano still erupts every hour nightly, and is one of the last remaining free public attractions on the Strip. Finally, on the south end of the Strip, there is the iconic “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign, and while you’ll probably have to wait in line to get your picture taken in front of it, you might get lucky and find an Elvis on-hand to take one with you.