This guide will introduce you to the best things to do in Las Vegas. Las Vegas, also known as “Sin City,” is a world-famous destination for entertainment, gambling, and nightlife. Beyond the bright lights and slot machines, however, there is a wealth of experiences to be had in this glittering desert oasis. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned Vegas veteran, there’s always something new and exciting to discover. From thrilling outdoor adventures to world-class dining and entertainment.
The Best Shows to See in Las Vegas
Las Vegas is known for its dazzling entertainment scene, featuring world-class shows and performances. While some specific shows might have changed since my knowledge cutoff in 2023, here are some popular genres and notable shows that have stood the test of time:
- Cirque du Soleil: These spectacular shows combine acrobatics, visual effects, and live music to create an immersive experience. Popular Cirque du Soleil shows in Las Vegas have included “O,” “Mystère,” “The Beatles LOVE,” “Michael Jackson ONE,” and “KA.”
- Magic shows: Las Vegas is home to many talented magicians who leave audiences spellbound with their illusions. Some notable performers have been Penn & Teller, David Copperfield, and Criss Angel.
- Concerts and headliner shows: Many big-name musicians and performers have residencies in Las Vegas, including Celine Dion, Lady Gaga, and Elton John in the past. Check for current listings to see who is performing during your visit.
- Comedy shows: Las Vegas has a thriving comedy scene, with numerous stand-up comedians and comedy clubs. Past popular acts have included Carrot Top, Terry Fator, and the Blue Man Group.
- Adult shows: Sensual and provocative performances can be found at various venues across the city. Some popular shows have been “Zumanity” by Cirque du Soleil, “Absinthe,” and “Fantasy.”
- Tribute shows: These shows pay homage to legendary performers and bands, such as “Legends in Concert,” “The Australian Bee Gees Show,” and “MJ Live.”
- Broadway shows: Occasionally, touring productions of popular Broadway shows visit Las Vegas. Check local listings to see if any are playing during your visit.
- Dinner shows: Combine a delicious meal with captivating entertainment at one of Las Vegas’ dinner shows. “Tournament of Kings” at Excalibur and “Marriage Can Be Murder” are examples of dinner shows that have been popular in the past.
Remember to always check for the most up-to-date information on shows and performances, as schedules and performers may change.
Exploring Las Vegas’ Iconic Casinos
Las Vegas is known for its iconic casinos, which offer not only gaming opportunities but also unique experiences, dining, shopping, and entertainment options. Here are some of the most famous casinos to explore on the Las Vegas Strip:
- Bellagio: Known for its elegance and luxury, the Bellagio features an impressive array of table games, slot machines, and poker rooms. Don’t miss the stunning Fountains of Bellagio, which offer choreographed water shows set to music and lights.
- Caesars Palace: This Roman-themed casino resort is a Las Vegas staple. It offers a vast gaming floor, a luxurious shopping mall called The Forum Shops, and the famous Colosseum theater, which hosts big-name performers.
- MGM Grand: One of the largest casinos on the Strip, MGM Grand boasts a vast gaming area, numerous dining options, and entertainment venues such as the MGM Grand Garden Arena and David Copperfield Theatre.
- The Venetian and The Palazzo: These interconnected resorts recreate the ambiance of Venice, complete with canals, gondolas, and Italian architecture. In addition to gaming, visitors can explore the Grand Canal Shoppes and enjoy a variety of live shows and performances.
- Wynn and Encore: These sister properties are known for their upscale, luxurious atmosphere. They offer a wide array of gaming options, fine dining, high-end shopping, and entertainment, such as the popular “Le Rêve – The Dream” show at the Wynn.
- The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas: This chic, modern casino resort features a diverse selection of table games and slot machines, as well as dining options from renowned chefs and a popular nightclub, Marquee.
- ARIA Resort & Casino: Known for its sleek design and cutting-edge technology, ARIA offers a vast gaming floor, numerous dining options, and the Cirque du Soleil show “Zarkana.”
- Mandalay Bay: This tropical-themed resort features a large casino, a massive pool complex with a wave pool and lazy river, and the Shark Reef Aquarium. It’s also home to the House of Blues and the Mandalay Bay Events Center.
- New York-New York: This casino recreates the iconic New York City skyline and offers a variety of gaming options, the roller coaster called “The Big Apple Coaster,” and the entertaining “Zumanity” show by Cirque du Soleil.
- Paris Las Vegas: Experience the charm of Paris in this themed casino, complete with a replica Eiffel Tower and Parisian streets. Enjoy gaming, dining, and entertainment options, including the popular “Jersey Boys” show.
Remember that while visiting these iconic casinos, it’s important to gamble responsibly and set limits on your spending.
Outdoor Adventures and Day Trips from Sin City
While Las Vegas is known for its glitz and glamour, the surrounding area offers a wealth of outdoor adventures and day trips. Here are some popular options for exploring beyond the city limits:
- Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area: Located about 17 miles west of Las Vegas, this stunning area features scenic drives, hiking trails, rock climbing, and wildlife viewing. Red Rock Canyon is famous for its unique red sandstone formations and Mojave Desert landscape.
- Valley of Fire State Park: Situated about 50 miles northeast of Las Vegas, this park showcases striking red sandstone formations, petroglyphs, and a diverse range of desert plants and animals. Hiking, picnicking, and photography are popular activities.
- Hoover Dam and Lake Mead: The Hoover Dam, about 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas, is an engineering marvel and a must-visit destination. Nearby Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the United States, offers boating, fishing, and swimming opportunities.
- Grand Canyon West Rim: The West Rim of the Grand Canyon is approximately 125 miles east of Las Vegas and offers spectacular views of this natural wonder. You can also visit the Skywalk, a glass bridge that extends over the canyon, for a unique perspective.
- Mount Charleston: Located about 35 miles northwest of Las Vegas, Mount Charleston offers a cooler and greener escape from the city. With hiking trails, picnic areas, and even skiing and snowboarding during the winter, it’s a great destination for outdoor enthusiasts.
- Death Valley National Park: About a 2-hour drive from Las Vegas, Death Valley is known for its extreme temperatures, vast salt flats, and unique desert landscapes. Popular sites include Badwater Basin, Zabriskie Point, and the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes.
- Zion National Park: Located in southwestern Utah, about a 3-hour drive from Las Vegas, Zion National Park is famous for its steep red cliffs, narrow canyons, and beautiful hiking trails, such as the Narrows and Angels Landing.
- Bryce Canyon National Park: Also in Utah, Bryce Canyon is about a 4-hour drive from Las Vegas. Known for its unique hoodoo rock formations and stunning vistas, this park offers hiking, horseback riding, and stargazing opportunities.
- Area 51: Although you can’t enter the secretive military facility, the Extraterrestrial Highway and the small town of Rachel, Nevada, offer a quirky day trip for those interested in UFO lore and the mysteries surrounding Area 51.
- Pahrump: Located about an hour’s drive from Las Vegas, Pahrump is home to wineries, golf courses, and the Spring Mountain Motor Resort and Country Club, which offers high-performance driving experiences.
When planning day trips from Las Vegas, always check the weather, road conditions, and park alerts to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.
Nightlife Hotspots and Party Scenes in Las Vegas
Las Vegas is famous for its vibrant nightlife and party scene. There’s something for everyone, from lavish nightclubs to laid-back lounges. Here are some popular nightlife hotspots in Las Vegas:
- OMNIA Nightclub (Caesars Palace): This multi-level club features a massive dance floor, an outdoor terrace with stunning views of the Strip, and world-class DJs. The lavish design and state-of-the-art technology make it a premier party destination.
- Hakkasan Nightclub (MGM Grand): Spread across five levels, Hakkasan offers a variety of experiences, from the main dance floor featuring top DJs to the more intimate Ling Ling Lounge and Club.
- XS Nightclub (Wynn/Encore): Known for its luxury and elegance, XS offers both an indoor club experience and an outdoor poolside party scene. With top-tier DJs and a stunning setting, it’s a popular destination for club-goers.
- Marquee Nightclub & Dayclub (The Cosmopolitan): This massive venue features a main club, a poolside day club, and a rooftop patio with panoramic views. It’s known for its impressive lineup of DJs and performers.
- TAO Nightclub (The Venetian): With an Asian-inspired theme, TAO offers multiple levels of entertainment, including a dance floor, a rooftop terrace, and a separate lounge. The venue is also connected to the popular TAO Asian Bistro.
- Drai’s Nightclub (The Cromwell): Located on the rooftop of The Cromwell, Drai’s offers both a nightclub and a beach club, providing panoramic views of the Strip. The venue hosts live music and DJ performances, with a focus on hip-hop and R&B.
- LIGHT Nightclub (Mandalay Bay): This cutting-edge club features a massive LED screen, innovative light shows, and performances by acrobats and dancers. LIGHT’s partnership with Cirque du Soleil brings a unique, immersive experience to the Las Vegas club scene.
- Chateau Nightclub & Rooftop (Paris Las Vegas): With a beautiful rooftop garden and views of the Strip, Chateau offers a more laid-back atmosphere. The club features a mix of hip-hop, top 40 hits, and electronic dance music.
- Foundation Room (Mandalay Bay): This upscale lounge on the 63rd floor of Mandalay Bay offers an intimate setting with incredible views of the Strip. It’s a great spot for a more relaxed night out, with live music and DJs.
- Fremont Street Experience (Downtown Las Vegas): For a different side of Las Vegas nightlife, head downtown to the Fremont Street Experience, where you’ll find live music, street performers, and a variety of bars and clubs.
When exploring Las Vegas’ nightlife, remember to drink responsibly, arrange safe transportation, and follow the dress code of each venue.
Dining and Foodie Experiences to Savor in Las Vegas
Las Vegas is a food lover’s paradise with world-class restaurants and celebrity chef dining experiences. From Michelin-starred restaurants to trendy eateries serving up innovative cuisines, there’s no shortage of culinary delights in the city.
For a taste of luxury, check out restaurants like Joel Robuchon, Twist by Pierre Gagnaire, and Guy Savoy which all boast three Michelin stars. For something more casual, head to Raku for delicious Japanese small plates, or Carson Kitchen for American comfort food with a twist.
If you’re on a budget, Las Vegas has plenty of options for cheap eats and late-night snacks. Try the famous Fatburger, a Chicago-style hot dog from Pink’s, or some delicious pizza from Secret Pizza.
Beyond the casinos, Las Vegas also has a vibrant foodie culture with diverse culinary offerings. Check out the Chinatown district for amazing Asian cuisine, or the Arts District for trendy eats and craft beers.
Family-Friendly Activities for All Ages in Las Vegas
Las Vegas may be famous for its casinos and nightlife, but there are plenty of family-friendly activities to enjoy as well. The city has a variety of kid-friendly attractions and theme parks, including the Adventuredome at Circus Circus and the Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay.
There are also many family-friendly shows and performances in Las Vegas, such as the Blue Man Group and Cirque du Soleil’s Mystere. And for a unique experience, consider visiting the Neon Museum where you can see iconic neon signs from the city’s past.
When planning a family vacation to Las Vegas, be sure to take advantage of family-friendly hotel amenities like swimming pools and game rooms. You can also explore nearby attractions like the Hoover Dam and Grand Canyon.
Discovering the Arts and Culture Scene in Las Vegas
Las Vegas may be known for its flashy casinos and nightlife, but the city also has a rich arts and culture scene. A walking tour of Las Vegas’ street art and public art installations is a great way to discover the city’s vibrant arts scene.
There are also many museums and art galleries in Las Vegas, such as the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art and the Mob Museum. And for theater buffs, there are numerous live performance venues throughout the city, including The Smith Center for the Performing Arts.
What is the best time of year to visit Las Vegas?
Las Vegas is a year-round destination, but the best time to visit depends on your preferences. The summer months can be extremely hot, with temperatures often exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit, so many visitors prefer to avoid this time of year. Spring and fall offer milder temperatures and pleasant weather, while winter can be chilly but still enjoyable for outdoor activities.
Do I need to gamble to enjoy Las Vegas?
Not at all! While gambling is a major part of the Las Vegas experience, there are plenty of other activities to enjoy. Visitors can take in a show or live performance, explore the city’s world-class dining scene, or simply soak up the atmosphere of the city’s iconic casinos.
Is Las Vegas family-friendly?
Yes! While the city has a reputation as an adult playground, there are plenty of activities that are fun for the whole family. From amusement parks and arcades to kid-friendly shows and attractions, Las Vegas offers something for visitors of all ages.
How can I save money during my Las Vegas trip?
Las Vegas can be an expensive destination, but there are ways to save money without sacrificing the fun. Visitors can often find deals on hotel rooms and show tickets by booking in advance or choosing to visit during the off-season. Additionally, many of the city’s attractions and activities can be enjoyed for free or at a low cost, such as the famous Bellagio Fountains or the Neon Museum.