Las Vegas is the entertainment mecca and one of the most popular destinations in the United States.
Millions of people come here to see the glitzy Las Vegas Strip, the center of action 24/7. Although many travelers think that everything in Sin City revolves around casinos, there are plenty of things to do in Las Vegas besides gamble.
The Las Vegas Valley is home to stunning scenery, historic landmarks, and world-class museums! Despite the common stereotype, Sin City also has plenty of art and culture, and if you are willing to step outside the tourist zone, you will be in for a nice surprise!
This travel guide will show you why you need to get off the beaten path and check out some of the most incredible things to do in Las Vegas besides gamble!
How to get around Las Vegas
If you want to get away from the Las Vegas Strip and enjoy some of the best things to do in Las Vegas besides gambling, you will need a car.
Public transportation in Las Vegas is limited to the Strip, downtown Las Vegas and the suburban areas. If you want to enjoy some of the best scenic places near Las Vegas and have the ultimate flexibility, you will need to rent a car.
DiscoverCars is one of the best car rental companies that offer great inventory and flexible rates.
Public transportation in Las Vegas
You can use several bus routes that serve the Las Vegas Strip and some of the surrounding areas such as downtown Las Vegas and many residential areas near the Las Vegas Strip. In addition, the Las Vegas Strip also has a Monorail train that runs between MGM Grand and SLS Las Vegas.
Monorail stops are located at: MGM Grand, Bally’s/Paris Las Vegas, Flamingo/Caesars Palace, Harrah’s/The LINQ, Las Vegas Convention Center, Westgate Las Vegas, and the SLS Las Vegas Station. You can buy tickets at kiosks at those stations.
Hop On Hop Off Tour of Las Vegas
The best way to see the highlights of Las Vegas without using public transportation is by taking a Hop On Hop Off tour of the city. As the name suggests you can get off at any major point of interest before getting back on and continuing your independent tour of the city.
This is one of the best options for travelers who want to explore Las Vegas on their own terms!
Best things to do in Las Vegas Besides Gambling: Outdoors
1. Valley of Fire State Park
Many tourists think that Las Vegas is a city in the middle of nowhere and all you can do here is just party and gamble all night (and day) long.
But this stereotype is so wrong!
Las Vegas sits within a quick drive from some of the most scenic places in the southwest, and Valley of Fire is just one of them.
The largest and oldest state park in Nevada, Valley of Fire is one of the best places to visit near Las Vegas by car. Located just over one hour north of Las Vegas, Valley of Fire boasts Mars-like landscapes, fascinating history, and plenty of easy hiking trails, so anybody can enjoy them.
If you don’t have a car rental, you can visit Valley of Fire with one of the guided tours that depart daily from Las Vegas.
To learn more about the best things to do in the Valley of Fire, check my complete guide.
2. Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Hiking is one of the best things to do in Las Vegas besides gambling. But it doesn’t mean that you need to drive for hours before you can hit the trail. Just take a quick drive to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area about 20 minutes away from the Las Vegas Strip.
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area or Red Rock, as locals call it, offers some of the best hikes near Las Vegas. With bright orange rock formations and desert vegetation against the blue sky, it’s a perfect outdoor gym where you can hike many trails along the 13-mile scenic loop.
GOOD TO KNOW: You can spend all day hiking, mountain climbing, enjoying nature, and taking photos here. Red Rock is one of the most popular places to visit near Las Vegas, so make sure to arrive early!
Best guided tours of Red Rock Canyon from Las Vegas
Guided tours of Red Rock Canyon are if you don’t have a car and still want to enjoy this outdoor gem. They depart daily from Las Vegas and include stops at all major points of Red Rock Canyon accompanied by a professional guide.
PRO TIP: If you need help planning your trip and finding the best hikes in Red Rock Canyon, see my complete guide to Red Rock Canyon!
3. Hoover Dam + Lake Mead National Recreational Area
Where to stay: Hoover Dam Lodge
Home to Hoover Dam, Lake Mead National Recreational Area offers access to tons of cool activities such as hiking, kayaking, biking, and jet skiing.
Best tours of Hoover Dam from Las Vegas
You can also take a day tour of Hoover Dam to learn its fascinating history. Due to its proximity to Sin City, Hoover Dam is one of the most popular places to visit near Las Vegas and it can get really busy, especially during summer which is the peak tourist season.
One of my favorite places within Lake Mead National Recreational Area is Black Canyon. It’s the ultimate place for boating and kayaking. Here you can rent a kayak and explore the scenic canyon and hot flowing streams and warm pools of water throughout the area.
4. Black Canyon
One of the best things to do in Las Vegas is spending time outdoors. And while Red Rock Canyon and Valley of Fire have become very popular in recent years, Las Vegas still has plenty of hidden secrets when it comes to cool outdoor destinations.
Part of the Lake Mead Recreation Area, the Black Canyon, is one of the most spectacular places to visit near Las Vegas thanks to a quiet atmosphere and gorgeous landscapes.
If you love all things outdoors, kayaking in Black Canyon is one of the best things to do in Las Vegas besides gambling.
Book a half-day kayaking tour of Black Canyon that includes a stop at the gorgeous Emerald Cove which forms the border between Nevada and Arizona. The tour begins at the scenic Willow Beach where you can grab your paddles, life jackets and jump in a kayak. From Willow Beach, you will paddle for the next 5 miles down the Black Canyon along with your guide.
The area boasts steep rugged cliffs, natural hot springs, and remnants of indigenous settlements. Many tourists who come to Las Vegas miss out on this gem, so make sure to visit it!
5. Grand Canyon National Park
While Grand Canyon National Park is one of the most popular day trips from Las Vegas, not everybody has time to go there.
Grand Canyon has become one elf the most popular West Coast National Parks in recent years, with a few million people visiting it from all over the world.
Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona is a 1,900-feet canyon that was carved by the Colorado River millions of years ago. But if driving and planning a trip seems like a hassle, a helicopter tour from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon is a perfect alternative.
Best helicopter tours of Grand Canyon
Not only do you get an introductory course to one of America’s most famous landmarks such as Hoover Dam, Lake Mead, and the Colorado River from the comfort of a helicopter, but you also avoid hours of driving.
Taking a helicopter to Grand Canyon from Las Vegas is a great way to experience Grand Canyon in less than a day. This sunset helicopter tour of Grand Canyon is very popular!
But if you decide to drive to Grand Canyon from Las Vegas, make sure to visit some of the most beautiful spots such as Havasu Falls, the Rim Trail, and the North Rim, which is less crowded than the South Rim.
Best tours of Grand Canyon from Las Vegas
There are multiple tours of the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas that include different stops, so make sure to check them ahead of your trip!
6. Sloan Canyon
If you are looking to disconnect and get some exercise, head to Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area.
The most famous feature of this area is the Sloan Canyon Petroglyph Site which has over 300 panels with rock art and 1,700 individual design elements that were created by Native American tribes thousands of years ago. Remember NOT to touch them, as oil in your hands can damage these fragile panels.
To test your hiking skills, head to Black Mountain Trail, a strenuous 7.6-mile hike that brings you to the peak with 360-degree panorama of the Las Vegas Strip and views of Arizona to the east and California to the southwest.
PRO TIP: Visiting Sloan Canyon is just one of the best outdoorsy things to do in Las Vegas besides gamble. To check other places to visit by a car near Las Vegas, read my guide.
While it’s a cool trail, it’s extremely exposed, so I recommend doing this hike from late September through April when temperatures in Las Vegas are mild. Always follow the Leave No Trace rule, bring plenty of water and snacks and wear comfortable shoes, as there are plenty of rugged volcanic rocks along the trail.
Best things to do in Las Vegas Besides Gambling: Culture
7. Neon Museum
Also called “The Neon Boneyard,” Neon Museum is a perfect spot to snap some colorful photos and get a glimpse into the history of Las Vegas.
Neon Museum is home to a collection of faded vintage signs from many original Las Vegas hotels and businesses. Here you will find old signs from several iconic properties such as Sahara, The Moulin Rouge, and The Stardust.
Make a reservation online and check availability, as Neon Museum is a popular place for events and birthday parties. You can also book a guided tour on a spot to learn the history behind some of the most famous vintage signs.
The entrance fee for a daily tour is $19 for general admission and $15 for Nevada residents with proof of ID.
PRO TIP: While taking personal photos for blogs and social media is allowed at the Neon Museum, all professional photoshoots require a permit and can’t be done during the general admission hours. The use of a tripod, multiple cameras, and flashes are also not allowed at the Neon Museum.
Address: 770 N. Las Vegas Boulevard in Las Vegas
8. The Mob Museum
Officially called the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, the Mob Museum is one of the highlights of the Las Vegas Arts District. Located just a few steps away from the Fremont Street Experience, this museum documents the history of organized crime in Las Vegas and the entire United States.
The museum has several floors of exhibits and audio guides in multiple languages. You can also take a guided tour of the Mob Museum, as it will help you to save some time. The museum is pretty big, and if you read everything, you can easily spend at least a couple of hours there.
General admission to the Mob Museum is $30 and you can purchase your tickets online ahead of your visit.
Address: 300 Stewart Avenue in Las Vegas
9. Downtown Las Vegas
Did you know that the famous Las Vegas Strip was not the original place where the city was founded?
To learn more about the early days of Las Vegas, head to downtown Las Vegas north of the Las Vegas Strip where you can find many original hotels, casinos, and new areas like the Las Vegas Arts District. The area has been gentrified, but it still preserves many original buildings that give it a special charm.
PRO TIP: To learn more about the history of Las Vegas, take a tour of downtown Las Vegas with one of the local guides.
10. Las Vegas Arts District
Exploring the local art culture is by far one of the best things to do in Las Vegas besides gambling.
I recommend spending time in Las Vegas Art District where you can see Sin City’s burgeoning art scene and visit restaurants, thrift stores, and museums.
One of my favorite things about Las Vegas Arts Districts is its collection of incredible murals. The city’s wall art is attributed to the arrival of Life Is Beautiful, a music festival that has also quickly grown into a big culinary and art event.
Where is Las Vegas Art District located?
The area has grown quite a bit over years, but it still has loose boundaries that stretch from the Stratosphere to the Fremont East Entertainment District.
Some of the most popular museums in the district are Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort State Historic Park, the Neon Museum, and the Pinball Hall of Fame. And if you are craving entertainment, visit the Vegas Theatre Company’s Cockroach Stage, where you can see Las Vegas artists and performers put a local spin on a highly commercialized entertainment scene in this city.
11. Graffiti walls
Las Vegas has become famous for its thriving art scene and you can see it in the vibrant Art District, home to many cool graffitis. The area has turned into an art mecca recently as a result of the Life is Beautiful festival that started a few years ago.
Most murals can be found East of Fremont Street along North 7th Street and Stewart Avenue. If you are looking for good photo spots in Las Vegas, you will find a ton of them here! Another area is Charleston Boulevard and Third Street south of downtown Las Vegas.
12. Fremont Street
Exploring Fremont Street is one of the best things to do in Las Vegas besides gambling if you are looking for some fun!
Located in the heart of downtown Las Vegas, this pedestrian-only venue has the largest LED canopy in the world where you can see cool graphics. If you want to feel some adrenaline, get on a zip-line right under the canopy! It’s an exciting thrill ride that will take you above one of the most iconic hotels in Las Vegas like Golden Nugget and California.
Besides being a fun colorful place, Fremont Street is a great place to have a drink, people watch, and enjoy all things Las Vegas! Make sure to include it in your Sin City itinerary.
Best tours of Fremont Street
13. Nelson Ghost Town
Las Vegas is known as the capital of entertainment, but it has not always been this way. In the early days, Nevada and the Las Vegas area were built on mining, as thousands of prospectors came here to try their luck from all over the country.
Nevada’s colorful mining history can be seen in many small ghost towns scattered around the state. While many of them are located in remote, rural areas, there are a few that are close to Las Vegas.
Nelson Ghost Town is one of the most famous ghost towns in Nevada located in the Eldorado Canyon. Tourist traffic has been growing steadily in this area, as more visitors come here to tour the iconic mine and learn about the early history of prospecting.
If you want to learn more about the history of the state, taking a tour of the historic Nelson Ghost Town is one of the best things to do in Las Vegas besides gambling.
Best things to do in Las Vegas Besides Gambling: Entertainment
14. Take a thrill ride on the Stratosphere
Did you know that the Stratosphere, one of the most iconic hotels in Las Vegas offers thrill rides?
You can get a healthy doze of adrenaline at the STRAT Tower with the Unlimited Ride Pass, which will give you access to the tower’s three signature rides: X-Scream, Insanity, and the Big Shot.
You can also book individual rides at the STRAT like the SkyJump for the ultimate thrill. Since this is the tallest tower west of the Mississippi River, you will enjoy the superb views of the Strip and the surrounding desert below.
15. High Roller
Who said that you need to party and gamble to get a thrill out of your trip to Las Vegas?
The High Roller, the tallest Ferris Wheel in the world from where you get a spectacular view of the entire Las Vegas Valley will do just that! It takes about 30 minutes to complete the full rotation that is accompanied by the narration about Las Vegas and the story behind the High Roller.
I recommend jumping on a High Roller whether it’s your first trip to Las Vegas or not. And the good news is that you can get tickets to High Roller online to skip the line. Part of the LINQ hotel, the High Roller also offers discounts for locals and an option for renting the entire cabin with a bartender.
You can also jump on this popular zipline at the LINQ – one of the best things to do in Las Vegas besides gambling!
After taking a ride on the High Roller, walk along the Link Promenade, which is home to restaurants, stores, and entertainment venues such as the Brooklyn Bowl. It’s a fun experience and you can find some really good restaurants here like the Yard House.
16. Attend a show
Las Vegas is home to some of the best shows in the world, and you should attend at least one of them. Many artists and performers have residencies and concerts in Las Vegas. You can buy tickets ahead of time or on the spot.
17. A helicopter tour of the Las Vegas Strip
The tour will begin in Las Vegas and take about 30 minutes. This is a really cool experience as you get to fly over the entire Las Vegas Strip and get to see some of the most famous landmarks before flying past the stratosphere and arriving where you started.
This Las Vegas highlights helicopter tour is one of the most popular options 😃
18. Bellagio Fountains
One of the most famous places on the Las Vegas Strip is the Bellagio Fountains right in front of the Bellagio Hotel and Casino. Aside from its iconic fountain show, the Bellagio Fountains are also a popular place for taking photos from various angles.
If you want to get to know Las Vegas a bit better, consider booking a bus tour of Sin City!
When to watch the Bellagio Fountains Show: The fountains light up during the show from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. every 30 minutes from Monday through Friday. And the show plays every 15 minutes from 8 p.m. until 12 a.m.
Traveling to Las Vegas on a weekend? The Bellagio Fountain show plays every 30 minutes from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. and every 15 minutes from 8 p.m. to midnight on Saturdays. And on Sundays, you can enjoy the Bellagio Fountains show every half hour starting at 11 a.m.
19. Venice canals
Let’s pretend for a moment that you are in Italy and take a ride in one of those colorful gondola boats along the Venetian canals. Although it is a bit cheesy, it’s one of those classic Las Vegas things to do besides gambling, if you find yourself on the Las Vegas Strip, and need a quick break.
Besides being a replica of the famous Italian city, the Venetian has many photogenic corners, so make sure to spend some time walking around it with a camera.
20. Seven Magic Mountains
Seven Magic Mountains is a colorful piece of art along Interstate-15. Created by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone in the middle of the desert, Seven Magic Mountains are pyramids made out of neon-colored boulders stacked on top of one another.
While this spot is about 10 miles outside of Las Vegas, it has become one of the most popular roadside stops as many travelers who travel from Los Angeles to Las Vegas stop here to snap a colorful photos for their social media.
Best things to do in Las Vegas Besides Gambling: Food
21. Container Park
When you visit downtown Las Vegas and walk on Fremont Street, grab a bite in the nearby Container Park, an open-air shopping center with a big food court and a good variety of bars and restaurants.
The venue offers live music and entertainment, so you will not get bored while eating your food. This grungy-looking park was built out of shipping containers and is considered one of the best sustainable shopping and dining attractions in Las Vegas.
Container Park an excellent alternative to pricey restaurants on the Las Vegas Strip that can sometimes feel inauthentic and smug.
22. Las Vegas vegan restaurants
Visiting Las Vegas restaurants is a perfect alternative to gambling, as Sin City is home to some of the best restaurants in the world.
As a plant-based eater, I can say that the vegan restaurant scene in Las Vegas has blossomed over the last years. Local restaurateurs have taken note of the trend, and now you can find many vegan options in famous restaurants on Las Vegas Strip and unpretentious eateries in downtown Las Vegas.
If you are new to the vegan scene in Las Vegas, check out Go Vegan Cafe, a restaurant that offers incredible raw vegan food such as delicious smoothies, hearty omelets, and pancakes. VegeNation is a great place with an ambient atmosphere and yummy dishes.
One of my favorite vegan restaurants in Las Vegas is Veganos Kitchen which serves yummy Mexican food such as tacos, quesadillas, and others. Tacotarian is another Mexican vegan restaurant that offers a dozen tacos, enchiladas and a variety of pastries and ice creams.
On the Las Vegas Strip, several restaurants have vegan options. Check out Sinatra at Encore, SushiSamba at GrandCanal Shoppes, or Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen and Bar.
23. Las Vegas Food tour
Las Vegas is well known for its fancy food scene and celebrity chefs who can cook up the most elaborate dishes. But it doesn’t mean that you need to spend hundreds of dollars to enjoy some of the best food in Las Vegas.
This Las Vegas Foodie Tour is the way to enjoy the best food in Las Vegas and get insight into the city’s best flavors.
Come with an empty stomach because there will be plenty of yummy options whether you decide to book a downtown foodie tour or one of other food tasting experiences. Vegas Chocolate tour is one of the most popular tours in Las Vegas that makes stops at some of the best chocolate shops around Las Vegas.
And, if you have a sweet tooth, make sure to book a tour that includes desserts. Some tours include wine tastings and cocktails.
24. Go wine tasting
Did you know that just over one hour away from Las Vegas, you can find an award-winning winery that produces some of the best wine in the Mojave Desert? You can take a tour of the lush vineyards and enjoy the locally produced wine accompanied by a guided tour.
Best things to do in Las Vegas Besides Gambling: Adventure
25. Hot Air Balloon Ride
What can be more exciting than soaring above the Las Vegas Valley in a hot air balloon? Taking a hot air balloon ride is one of the best things to do in Las Vegas besides gambling if you like a good dose of adrenaline.
Hot air balloon tours in Las Vegas take off from the desert just outside the city, and not near the Las Vegas Strip, despite of what some travelers might think. Hot Air balloon tours is en excellent way to see a different side of Las Vegas and enjoy the view of the mountains on the city’s west side.
Book your hot air balloon ride here.
26. Exotic car racing
One of the most fun things to do in Las Vegas besides gambling is racing exotic cars!
And you can book your car racing session at Las Vegas Motor Speedway where you can enjoy the high-speed ride in an exotic car. The tour includes a training instruction from a racing expert as well as a training session in a simulator before you get to suit up in a professional racing gear.
27. Extraterrestrial Highway
Even if you are an alien enthusiast, or simply like weird, corky things, take a day trip to Area 51.
The Extraterrestrial Highway is the most famous road in Nevada that gained worldwide fame because of the numerous UFO sightings that have been reported in the area.
After being featured in many shows documentaries and articles, the road has become famous among road trippers, paranormal enthusiasts, and UFO believers who flock here in droves.
When you get on the road, keep your eyes peeled: the road runs right next to Nevada Test and Training Range which is home to the famous Area 51 – a secret base that the government has long kept secret and where UFO sightings has been reported.
While you can’t visit the base, and trespassing is strictly prohibited, you can enjoy many alien-themed businesses that cater to UFO enthusiasts such as the Black Mailbox and Little A’Le’Inn where you can spend the night.
28. Antelope Canyon
One of the best day trips from Las Vegas, Antelope Canyon is a gorgeous natural slot canyon in Page, Arizona.
Page is one of the most popular destinations in the Southwest and one of the most popular places to visit near Las Vegas by car. Visitors typically spend about 2 days in Page exploring Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and Lake Powell.
Lower Antelope tours from Las Vegas
Tours of Lower Antelope Canyon from Las Vegas depart early morning and last about 15 hours before bringing your back late in the evening. Tours include stops at Lower Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend, as well as a quick lunch stop. Admission to Lower Antelope Canyon is included in the price of the tour.
PRO TIP: Antelope Canyon in Arizona is one of the most popular places to visit in Page. Now you can wait up to a few hours in line if you visit this spot during the high season.
To avoid mistakes and enjoy your trip, read my guide to Antelope Canyon in Arizona!
The tour takes all day and includes transportation, entrance tickets to the canyon, and lunch.
29. ATV tour
Exploring the desert by ATV is the ultimate adventure and one of the best getaways from the Las Vegas Strip. There are many types of ATV tours in Las Vegas, but most take a few hours and offer a good opportunity to explore the areas around Las Vegas.
30. Go Skydiving
If you want to get a good dose of adrenaline, then indoor skydiving is one of the best things to do in Las Vegas besides gambling for you!
This is a perfect way to explore what sky-diving is like if you too scared to jump out of a plane! In Las Vegas, you can enjoy indoor skydiving that has the exact same conditions of falling from an airplane, except you do it in a closed room. During this fun activity, you get to spend three minutes hovering above the wind tunnel that imitates the skydiving.
31. Check out Utah National Parks
Utah National Parks also known as “The Mighty Five,” is an incredible experience, and many visitors start their Utah road trip from Las Vegas.
While some Utah National Parks like Zion and Arches have become very busy recently (Zion even introduced a permit for one of its most popular hikes, Angels Landing), other national parks in Utah like Capitol Reef and Canyonlands remain refreshingly uncrowded.
Check my complete guide to Utah National Parks to plan your trip!
If you are short on time, taking a guided tour of Utah National Parks from Las Vegas is the best option. There’s a guided tour of Zion from Las Vegas, while and there are also tours that combine stops of Zion and Bryce Canyon, another gorgeous national park about 1 hour and 20 minutes away from Zion.
If you want to tour multiple Utah National Parks on your own, you will need at least 2-3 days, as they are located hours apart and require time and effort to explore. Read more about how to plan your Utah National Parks itinerary.
32. Mount Charleston
Charleston Peak or Mount Charleston, as it’s called by locals, is the highest mountain near Las Vegas that stands almost 12,000 feet tall. One of the easiest places to visit near Las Vegas by car, Mount Charleston provides a nice retreat from the scorching desert heat in summer, as temperatures here are at least 10 degrees lower than in the Las Vegas Valley.
In winter, Mount Charleston is the main destination for skiing and snowboarding near Las Vegas.
Whether you want to hike, camp, or just relax, Mount Charleston is a perfect day getaway from the busy Las Vegas Strip.
Best Hotels In Las Vegas
If you want to be close to most things to do in Las Vegas, consider staying in one of Las Vegas Strip hotels.
Here’s a little secret: Hotel prices in Las Vegas tend to be lower during the off-season which runs from late October through mid-March.
Budget Hotels In Las Vegas
When in Vegas, you don’t need to stay in glitzy 5-star resorts to have a great time. There are tons of budget hotels in Las Vegas such as Excalibur; Motel 6 on Tropicana right across from MGM, or Sin City Hostel which is only a short bus ride away from the action of the Strip!
Mid-Range Hotels In Las Vegas
If you have a bit more money to spend, there are many hotels where you can enjoy great amenities and proximity to all the fun things Las Vegas without going over budget. For example, SAHARA Las Vegas is a gorgeous newly renovated property that offers a pool, on-site shops and free parking.
The D Las Vegas is a good mid-range hotel in downtown Las Vegas and Circus Circus offers a theme park with a big rollercoaster and tons of entertainment! The STRAT is great for those who need to be on North Las Vegas Strip.
Luxury Hotels In Las Vegas
Bellagio is the most popular luxury hotel Las Vegas with the famous fountains and central location along the strip. And Waldorf Astoria offers a more relaxed atmosphere with no casinos, nice spa, swimming pool and great dining.
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