Las Vegas is the perfect place to tap into your hedonistic tendencies, kick off your inhibitions and throw caution to the wind. In fact, millions of visitors to the flashing oasis insist that the gambling, drinking and partying is what makes Sin City worth a visit, but savvy travelers know that some of the best experiences don’t rest on bottomless drinks and roulette wheels. If you want to stretch your dollar and make some great memories to last a lifetime, consider a visit to these Vegas sites.
Pinball Hall of Fame
A pinball wizard’s dream, but just as fun for casual gamers, the Pinball Hall of Fame is an exhibition of 400 pinball machines from all eras. But the best part is, this is an active arcade – visitors can spend hours playing their way through their favourite machines (including some incredibly rare specimens). It’s a great alternative to slots, especially since it’s totally family friendly, and you can take comfort in the fact that it’s run as a non-profit organization with any extra funds going to the Salvation Army.
Downtown Vegas and Fremont Street
The revamped downtown section of the city bills itself as The Downtown Fremont Street Experience, and includes the Slotzilla, a 120-foot high zip-line that uses a propulsion system to launch riders off a platform and over 1700 feet through the air. Each time a rider leaves the platform, the giant slot machine arm pulls down, the wheels spin and a series of lights and buzzers celebrate your feat in true Vegas style. And the attractions don’t stop there: free light shows on a huge screen, the quirky neon museum, vintage slots at The D, and the Golden Nugget’s incredible shark tank are some of the downtown wonders.
Ride Record Breaking Roller Coasters
If you’re a thrill seeker in Vegas, the Adventure Dome at Circus Circus is where you want to be. Start with The Canyon Blaster – the world’s only indoor double-loop, double-corkscrew roller coaster – then hop on El Loco, with one of the steepest drops in the country. The Stratosphere hotel and casino has their own tower with a handful of shriek-inducing rides: Insanity, X-Scream, Big Shot, and SkyJump (a controlled free-fall from 108 floors above the ground!)
Take a Spa Day
If you like to pamper yourself, don’t miss your chance to get the Vegas treatment – seasoned visitors gush about the level of hospitality and luxury that Las Vegas spas provide. In fact, the style, opulence and menus range considerably: get an enhanced aromatherapy massage at the sleek and minimalist Bathhouse, or bask in the rich silk and shimmering surroundings of the five-star Spa at Encore. If you’re traveling with friends, check out the Sahra Spa and Hammam in the Cosmopolitan hotel – you can rent a suite with a steam room, soaking tub, relaxation space and treatment room to accommodate your group.
Visit the Springs Preserve
Forget you’re in the middle of a parched desert for the afternoon. Head just outside the city center to The Springs Preserve, where you’ll be treated to interactive nature and science exhibits, animal shows, hiking trails, and lush scenery. You can learn about the history of Spring Valley, and there are festivals and special events held all year round to pique the interest of kids and grown-ups alike. Botanical gardens, a butterfly habitat, and the Nevada State Museum will round out your trip, plus you can visit the farmer’s market on Thursdays to enjoy some of the freshest, tastiest food in the region.
Take a Mixology Class
Perfect your palate and improve your bar skills with a sommelier-led wine tasting course, or pick up some impressive techniques and industry tips from an expert mixologist. Head to the Bellagio, which boasts a team of 17 Sommeliers and 3 Master Sommeliers to teach you the ins and outs of wine tasting and pairing. If you prefer cocktails, check out the two-hour Mixology Training & Tasting class at the Monte Carlo, where you’ll learn the nuances that bring bartending to the next level.
Play with some Heavy Machinery
Dig This is a “heavy equipment playground” – a sandbox for grown-ups. If you’ve always wanted to operate a bulldozer or try your hand at excavating with the help of several tonnes of steel, this is your chance to take the controls. You get all the instruction, orientation, and practice exercises you need to start digging, and there’s even a course set up for games. If you liked playing with trucks as a kid, you’ll probably get a big kick out of the full-sized experience.
Train with Dolphins at the Mirage
Dolphin shows aren’t new by any means, but the Mirage hotel takes it to the next level with their “Trainer for a Day” program. Eager dolphin lovers can actually don the wetsuit and, with the guidance of a dolphin care specialist, get in the water to train, play with, and care for the resident group of bottlenose dolphins. If you don’t want to get quite so close, you can take a yoga class with them instead: on the weekends, yogis can head down to the underwater viewing area and enjoy their practice as the dolphins swim alongside.
Stroll through the Conservatory and Gardens at Bellagio
Bellagio’s botanical gardens are magnificent arrangements of seasonal, exotic, and eye-opening flora, together with inspired statues and displays that change with the season and holiday. It’s the perfect place to get away from the flash and hum of the strip, but an inviting and interactive experience for the kids, as well. The displays are always breathtaking, it’s very easy to get to (just past the hotel’s lobby), and best of all, it’s free.
Catch all the Hotel Shows
The Venetian offers a free show that’s not to be missed, and catching the Bellagio’s Dancing Fountain is almost a rite of passage for first-time visitors. There’s also the erupting volcano at the Mirage, animated statues at the Fall of Atlantis show put on by Caesar’s Palace, and a myriad other sights and spectacles hanging around the fabulous lodging on the Strip. In fact, simply walking from hotel to hotel to catch their exhibitions is a delightful (and generally free!) way to spend an evening.
The center of Las Vegas packs a lot of activity into a small space, but there are lots of things to see and do around the edges, too. An excursion to the Hoover Dam, the hot springs, or Red Rock Canyon is well worth your time, and a nice escape from the frenetic energy of the Las Vegas Strip. You’ll likely be rewarded if you venture off the beaten path!