The 8 Best Things to Do in Las Vegas That Aren't Gambling
Arguably, nowhere else in the world is as synonymous with gambling as Las Vegas. The city has sprung up from the desert as an oasis where travelers from around the world can come to try their hand at luck in world-class casinos that epitomize glitz and glamor. But while it may be fun to get into games, there's much more to the hedonistic paradise than rolling dice and stacking chips. Read on to see what experts say are the best things to do in Las Vegas that aren't gambling.
Vegas is nothing if not over the top with everything it offers, whether it's dining, entertainment, or accommodations. Why should the city's art scene be any different?
"Area 15, located off the strip, is an immersive art and entertainment complex that houses popular attractions like Meow Wolf's mind-blowing Omega Mart, Dueling Axes, Todd English's magnificent restaurant The Beast, and so much more," says Casandra Karpiak, travel blogger and co-founder of Savoteur. "The main attraction is Omega Mart, an interactive grocery store with secret portals to an extraordinary immersive playground. You could spend an entire day exploring the space—and it's a perfect place to beat the Las Vegas heat."
Legendary performers have turned Vegas into their home turf for decades with residencies and once-in-a-lifetime concerts. But it's not just concerts that are worth lining up for when you come for a visit.
"As the entertainment juggernaut on the Las Vegas Strip, Cirque du Soleil offers six amazing shows. And although you may have seen a touring Cirque show in your home city, those can't compare to their Vegas counterparts, which play in theaters especially designed for each one," David Yeskel, a travel journalist and Las Vegas expert known as The Vegas Guru, tells Best Life.
"My fave is KA at the MGM Grand—a larger-than-life tale of separated twins and their journey to reunite, played out on a dangerously-angled stage that must be seen to be believed," he says.
Some critics might argue that cities can only be considered great when their art offerings reach a certain level. And according to experts, Vegas comes in under the radar with its superb collections on display for all to enjoy.
"Visitors to the Aria Fine Art Collection get to enjoy a gorgeous outdoor gallery featuring pieces by leading contemporary artists while everyone else is gambling, partying, or shopping," says Jenny Ly, travel blogger and founder of Go Wanderly. "Best of all, it's a free, self-guided walk, so you may take as much time as you like on the trip. Those who wish to experience Las Vegas's cultural aspect, which many tourists overlook, should pay a visit. That cultural side also comes with a complete tour of CityCenter, which includes Aria, Veer Towers, Crystals at CityCenter, and Vdara."
Las Vegas is a playground that allows some of the most famous chefs in the world to bring their concepts to the city's esteemed properties. However, it's also a city that appreciates not wanting to miss out on too much of the action for the sake of eating, making it ground zero for buffets—and it has more than basically any other destination. But even if the idea of serving yourself may not seem appealing, experts point out that some notable operations elevate the concept to an entirely new level.
"Nowhere but in Las Vegas does the combination of quality and quantity apply to buffets, and the city naturally offers some over-the-top options," says Yeskel. "I try every buffet in Las Vegas, but my three favorites are truly gourmet experiences: The Buffet at Wynn, Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace, and The Buffet at Bellagio."
"They're not cheap: dinner will set you back from $65 to $80," he warns. "But if you like quality meats, seafood, sushi, and a variety of sinful desserts, these spreads are the ticket."
Vegas' fast pace and constant reinvention can make it feel like it lives somewhere in the future. But locals know that the city has a unique history worth exploring at some of its major museums.
Of course, there's some focus on the bright lights that helped turn Vegas into the iconic destination it is today. "Open 7-days a week, the Neon Boneyard is part of the Neon Museum, founded in 1996," Chanin Victor, professional travel writer and born-and-raised Las Vegas native, tells Best Life. "There, you'll find over 250 unrestored signs from the Las Vegas era I grew up in. Some of the signs are still working and are on, while others are illuminated with lights. All the signs are available for personal and commercial shoots, but it's really fun—and nostalgic—to walk through this little slice of Vegas history."
And while Vegas may have cleaned up its act today, the city's seedy history of organized crime can't be overlooked when exploring local lore. "The Mob Museum is an incredible experience and one that is distinctly unique to Las Vegas," Michelle Snell, travel writer and owner of That Texas Couple, tells Best Life. "In addition to the awesome stories you'll experience throughout the museum, just being in the building is an amazing experience. It was once the U.S. Post Office and Courthouse that was the site of the famous Kefauver hearings." She adds that the museum provides a hands-on way to experience history—including a Prohibition-era speakeasy for visitors in the basement.
The pace and energy of Las Vegas make it a place where the hands on a clock become irrelevant. But, of course, this is part of the appeal for those who come for a seriously good time. Experts say that unlike in other cities, some of the best parties hit full swing when the sun is still high in the sky.
"When Las Vegas nightclub operators realized that the party doesn't have to end at daybreak, Vegas dayclubs were born," Yeskel tells Best Life. "Featuring celebrity DJs, live music acts, bottle service, luxury cabanas, and hundreds—if not thousands—of bodies in and around the pool, Sin City's outdoor parties run roughly from April through October. Entry fees and minimum spends vary, but they're rarely cost-prohibitive. My current go-to's are Drai's at the Cromwell, TAO Beach at the Venetian, and Marquee Dayclub at the Cosmopolitan."
A trip to Vegas doesn't only have to involve dining out and celebrating to excess. It can also be an opportunity to explore some of the area's stunning natural beauty, especially at places like Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.
"Visitors can drive along a 13-mile route and see sweeping views of the desert landscape," Kristin Lee, travel expert author of the travel blog Global Travel Escapades, tells Best Life. "There are also tons of hiking trails suitable for all levels. And, of course, for any rock climbers, Red Rock Canyon is absolute heaven as Red Rock is world renown for its abundance of climbing routes that accommodate all climbing styles."
It's also a great place to get a completely different kind of Vegas light show. "If people want to see thousands of more stars lighting up the night sky, they can camp overnight at the designated campground," she suggests.
If there's one thing Las Vegas has more of than casinos, it's lights. But that's no reason to skip over some of the most dazzling displays in town.
"The Fremont Street Experience, a huge canopy with more than 12 million lights, is located on the historic Las Vegas Strip on Fremont Street," Anthony Presti, travel writer and owner of ValueQuack, tells Best Life. "For the best time, visit between twilight and midnight, when light shows occur every hour."
"There, you'll find pubs, restaurants, live music, and street performers beneath the canopy. When it has cooled off at night, head there for free concerts and a great time for the whole family," he suggests.