The best free things to do in Las Vegas, to make the most of your visit.
On our first visit to Vegas, my boyfriend and I spent the morning visiting all the casinos on one side of the Strip, and the evening returning on the other side. We didn’t spend very long in any one place, being eager to see as many places as possible. We were staying in the Venetian, which was a good starting point, as most Strip hotels lie south of the Venetian. The following day was much the same, only this time we headed north; stopping off at the Fashion Show Mall, the Wynn, Encore, Circus Circus and Slots of Fun. By the third day, our feet were tired and energy waning, so we stayed quite close to our hotel.
When we got home, people asked if we had seen particular attractions and shows. While we had passed by most attractions, we weren’t aware of start times and didn’t hang around to wait for them to begin. On returning home, we felt that we had missed out on some of the attractions and this gave us a reason to return.
To get the most out of your time in Vegas, I recommend you do some planning. Determine the attractions you want to see, the best time of day to see them, the most efficient route to take and the restaurant you want to incorporate on the way.
On this page, I provide information on the top free things to do in Las Vegas that should not be missed due to a lack of awareness.
While I provide it in a sequence that is logical to me, I realize this is down to personal preference and start out position. I’ve included details of notable restaurants to visit along the way, as well as other quick or cheap attractions that could be visited while at each location.
Using this as a guide, you should be able to cover off, and enjoy the key free Vegas attractions in as little as 2-3 days.
- #1 Venetian/Palazzo Hotel – Famous for its man-made canals and gondola rides.
- #2 LINQ Hotel – The new hotel on the block
- #3 Paris Hotel – For the romantics
- #4 Planet Hollywood – Great location in the middle of all the action
- #5 New York New York – One of my personal favourites
- #6 The Shops at Crystals – The definition of luxury
- #7 The Bellagio Hotel – One big awe-inspiring hotel in the heart of the Strip.
- #8 Circus Circus Hotel – Free Circus acts performed by highly skilled artists
- #9 Gold & Silver Pawn Shop – For the Pawn Star Fans
- #10 Fremont Street Experience – A different version of the Strip in Downtown Las Vegas
- #11 The Mirage – Volcano Action
- #12 Caesars Palace – Marble and statues at the heart of Las Vegas
- #13 Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Sign – Get your photo taken at this iconic and historic sign.
- Others worth mentioning
#1 Venetian/Palazzo Hotel – Famous for its man-made canals and gondola rides.
Located on the north end of the Vegas Strip, is the very impressive Venetian/Palazzo Hotel owned by the Las Vegas Sands Corporation.
The Venetian’s biggest appeal is the Grand Canal Shoppes with illuminated sky ceilings, walkways and Venetian-inspired Grand Canal. This indoor canal comes complete with bridges, gondolas and singing gondaliers. The Grand Canal Shoppes consists of 160 shops, restaurants & eateries selling everything from clothing and accessories to specialty toys, hobbies, magic and art shops. Shops include 7 for All Mankind, Banana Republic, Burberry, Christian Louboutin and an 85,000 square-foot Barneys of New York. Shops open late during the weekdays and until midnight at the weekends.
The “Streetmosphere Performers” are a group of professionally-trained actors and singers who add a vibrant atmosphere to the Grand Canal Shoppes and to St. Mark’s Square., where they perform daily from 10am.
Consider visiting the Venetian/Palazzo in the morning and relax with some people watching over breakfast in the 24hr Grand Lux Cafe. Other noteworthy restaurants in the Venetian/Palazzo include Emeril Lagasse’s Delmonico Steakhouse, Wolfgang Puck’s CUT and ‘Cake Boss’ Italian-American Buddy V’s Ristorante.
Residents with key cards should make sure to explore the fantastic outdoor pool deck with its maze of pool and cabana areas. This is without doubt one of more impressive pool decks in Vegas.
The Gondola Rides operate each day from 10 a.m. in the morning until late at night, ending at 11 p.m. weekdays and 12 a.m. at weekends. The rides cost money, so check the Venetian.com website for information on costs and ride times.
Other attractions in the Venetian Hotel include paid attraction Madame Tussauds Wax Works, the LAVO Lounge and the TAO nightclub, famous for hosting many a Kim Kardashian birthday bash.
#2 LINQ Hotel – The new hotel on the block
Car enthusiasts should search online for free admission coupons to the massive Auto Collection at the newly renovated LINQ hotel. While there, check out the high roller observation wheel that stands more than 500 ft. tall. Its 28 glass cabins providing spectacular views of the Las Vegas strip.
Check out Guy Fieri’s restaurant, or alternatively, the many walls of fame over lunch at Hash House a Go Go. Featured in an episode of ‘Man versus food’, this gem of a restaurant is easily missed, tucked upstairs from the casino floor.
#3 Paris Hotel – For the romantics
Attraction number three is the Paris Hotel. One of its biggest features is the Eiffel Tower replica itself, which extends from the outside of the Paris Hotel, to the inside, and sits at a height just over half the size of the real Eiffel Tower. Also outside, is a replica of the Arc de Triomphe.
Inside the Paris Hotel, take a stroll along the Shopping Boulevard with its romantic Parisian-inspired cobblestoned streets. This quaint walkway is lined with a variety of boutique shops that include jewelry, designer shoes and men’s collections. Use points that you’ve accumulated on your Total Rewards players card to avail of discounts on goods.
For a fee, consider taking the glass elevators to the Eiffel tower observation deck to see some incredible views of Vegas.
If you fancy French cuisine at the famous Eiffel tower restaurant, then book in advance. Located on the 11th floor, this restaurant offers spectacular views of the Strip and the Bellagio fountains and is considered one of the more romantic restaurants on the Strip. Unless it’s midday, at the start of the week, book in advance to secure a table.
#4 Planet Hollywood – Great location in the middle of all the action
If your feet are up to it, take some time to browse the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood. As the name suggests, this shopping center covers an area of over 1 mile long. It’s a good place to pick up reasonably priced snacks, gifts and chocolates. Shops include ABC stores, Alex & Ani Jewelry, Bath & Body works, The Art of Shaving, Foot locker, Fossil, Lucky Brand clothing, Oakley, True Religion Jeans, Swarovski, Urban Outfitters and many more.
I recommend stopping into the Kush and Oh My Godard art galleries. If a painting catches your eye, talk to the assistants. They will normally do a deal on canvas only paintings, and can ship economically and safely to your home.
Catch a break at the indoor dancing fountains and check out the Miracle Mile Rainstorm show. This show is free and runs daily at intervals from 10am to 11pm. Featuring thunder, lightning, fog and rain, it’s well worth stopping off to see.
Enjoy a wide choice of restaurants in the Miracle Mile shopping center including Gordon Ramsay Burger, Cabo Wabo Cantina Mexican and for something lighter, check out the Earl of Sandwich.
#5 New York New York – One of my personal favourites
I love this hotel. Great location, great walks, choice of restaurants, fantastic cocktail service and personable staff that make you feel this is your home away from home. It has the right balance of everything; value, fun and friendly people. The casino is quite compact which has many advantages: Waitresses don’t have far to walk, so are prompt in returning with drinks; slot machine areas are kept to a high standard of cleanliness with ashtrays and empty drink glasses cleared away quickly; and easy on the feet to traverse between the hotel amenities.
The best time to visit New York, New York is in the evening time, when the pubs and restaurants come to life. Enjoy a walk in their newly developed Park, with outdoor music, water features and light effects. Visit the newly erected T-Mobile arena to see if any events are taking place. You might catch a glimpse of one of your favorite music or film icons making their red-carpet arrival to the event.
Take a stroll through the indoor New York Greenwich Village Streets and take a break at any one of their many eateries including Sirrico’s Pizza, Broadway Burger or Gonzalez Y Gonzalez Mexican. For something more upmarket, try Gallagher’s Steakhouse, Il Fornaio Italian restaurant or Chin Chin’s Chinese. If you want to experience the outdoor atmosphere, check out Nine Fine Irishman, Shake Shack, Tom’s Urban and Beerhaus.
Visit their Big Apple games arcade area, or for a fee, try out the Big Apple Roller Coaster.
[I find the most direct route from Planet Hollywood to New York, New York, is to stay on the Planet Hollywood side of the street, up to the Pedestrian crossing at the Hard Rock Café.]
#6 The Shops at Crystals – The definition of luxury
Located in front of the Aria hotel, this is the perfect place to splurge those Megabucks winnings. If you haven’t won the jackpot, it’s still a great place to come, if only as a walkway to the Cosmopolitan and on to the Bellagio. It will give you a chance to cool down out of the Vegas sun, while getting in some luxury window shopping. The shops are all high-end luxury boutiques, that include Hermes, Jimmy Choo, Gucci, Prada, Tiffany, Dolce & Gabbana and Louis Vuitton.
Open until 11pm nightly, it’s a quiet place, so if you want to take a few moments break, consider some people watching in Starbucks followed by a stroll around the sculptures and artwork.
#7 The Bellagio Hotel – One big awe-inspiring hotel in the heart of the Strip.
The Bellagio Hotel sits opposite the Paris Hotel. Its biggest attraction is outside and is free. That is the Fountain Show that runs daily at intervals starting at 3pm, or at 12pm on weekends and holidays. The fountain show, used as a backdrop in one of the Ocean’s 11 movie scenes, is made up of a complex choreography of light, music and exploding water jets. This attraction draws crowds. Try to find your vantage point a few minutes before the show begins. Best seen at night.
Don’t miss to look up when in the lobby of the hotel. It has one of the most amazing chandeliers, made up of an 18-foot ceiling of glass sculptures.
The Bellagio offers free admission to its Conservatory of Botanical gardens, open 365 days a year with varying themes for each of the seasons.
The entire Bellagio Hotel is one big attraction. The ambience, piano music, shops and luxury is well worth stopping by to see. Consider ending your night off, playing a couple of hands at one of their blackjack tables. The croupiers are particularly helpful and engaging, often giving friendly guidance on how to play.
#8 Circus Circus Hotel – Free Circus acts performed by highly skilled artists
The Circus Circus is quite a walking distance from the main Strip, so I recommend buying a 24hr Deuce ticket, and using it to stop off at this hotel on the way to Fremont Street.
Their dare devil circus acts are free of charge and start at 11am daily. Performances include the usual circus favourites; trapeze, aerial silk artistry, acrobatics and foot juggling.
If travelling with children, check out the Circus Circus website for information on their Midway Arcade and on the entrance fees to their Adventure dome with slide tower.
#9 Gold & Silver Pawn Shop – For the Pawn Star Fans
On the way to Fremont Street, stop off a couple of stops early, at the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop, made famous by the “Pawn Stars”.
The shop opens from 9am to 9pm, so arrive there early or later to avoid the queues. Its free entry into the shop, however to manage the crowds, there is a people traffic system. This turns the shop into a one-way system, which meanders around the tee-shirts, mugs and show memorabilia. Practically every other person asks to see Rick, Chum, Corey or Old Man, however while they may show up occasionally, don’t expect to see them during your visit. If you are a big fan of the show, check out Rick’s Rollin Smoke BBQ & Tavern next door.
#10 Fremont Street Experience – A different version of the Strip in Downtown Las Vegas
Make sure to spend a few hours on Fremont Street, starting in the afternoon, and staying until just after dark in the evening. This way you will get to see how the street changes as the day progresses.
– Things to do in Freemont
• Drop in and out of the well-known casinos, that include Binions, Golden Nugget, Four Queens and El Cortez casinos.
• Let your feet take a rest while you experience some great Italian food at the Grotto Ristorante in the Golden Nugget.
• Once refreshed, come back outside to see free concert performances at three stages that are located at various ends of the street. Secure a seat with a drink at an outdoor table to enjoy some people watching combined with impromptu dance-offs.
• Wait until dark when the most fun begins. Fremont is famous for its neon lights and for its massive overhead canopy that into a free light and sound show each night.
• If you’re brave and up for paying the small fee, a great way to see Fremont is by the Slotzilla zipline. These overhead ziplines traverse the street at two different heights; for the brave and even braver.
To some degree, not visiting Freemont is equivalent to visiting Vegas and not visiting the Strip. This is a big part of Las Vegas. It contains many casinos and has its own feel and vibe that is different from the Strip. Make sure not to miss it, as this is true Vegas, is actually situated in Vegas, and is where it all began.
#11 The Mirage – Volcano Action
Returning from Freemont, if you still have the energy, look to hop off the Deuce at the Mirage. At 8, 9 and 10pm nightly, the Mirage hosts a free Volcano pyrotechnics show of flames and music choreography which lasts just 3-4 minutes.
Stop in to see the Rainforest Atrium just inside the hotel, with its mix of plants, lagoons and waterfalls.
If you’re visiting the Mirage during the day time, then for a fee, you can check out their Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat; home to dolphins, lions and leopards. For a greater fee, you can paint with the dolphins or become a dolphin trainer for one day. This attraction closes at 7pm, allowing you to get in some snacks before the erupting Volcanos start at 8pm.
#12 Caesars Palace – Marble and statues at the heart of Las Vegas
On entering Caesars Palace, take the curved escalators up to the Forum Shops and stroll along the Appian Way. The shops include the usual high ends including Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior, Gucci, as well as some of the more affordable fare like Banana Republic, Gap and H&M.
At the center of the Forum shops, take a break at the “Fall of Atlantis” animatronic show. This free show starts each day at 11am and runs until at 10pm weekdays and 11pm Fridays and Saturdays. While it gets mixed reviews, particularly for its sound quality, it is one of those shows that is quick and free. This is one of those shows that I missed on my first visit. I felt I had missed out for not seeing it. While there, check out the exotic fish aquarium, which can be good for capturing some interesting photos.
Enjoy a rest stop with some people watching over a frozen fruit cocktail at the Spanish steps outside the forum.
#13 Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Sign – Get your photo taken at this iconic and historic sign.
This sign is situated in the median of the Las Vegas Boulevard. Just 15-20 minutes on the Deuce from the Strip, 5 minutes by taxi or if you have your own transport, there is a parking lot within the median.
Take your place in line to get a photo op at this iconic sign. If the queue is not too long, your taxi driver may be willing to wait while you get your picture taken. There are no official photographers, so bring your own camera. The queue can get quite long, so if you’re only interested in the sign itself, and not concerned with getting yourself into the photo, then you can stand to one side of the queue and take a picture from a side angle. If you prefer to wait in line, then be patient and open to queue jumpers. Much like airport security, have your hair and clothes fixed properly while you’re still in the queue, so that you’re not wasting valuable time fixing yourself when you’re at the sign. Be conscious of the people waiting behind you.
Others worth mentioning
I’ve mentioned those attractions that I feel should be visited when staying in Vegas for just a short time. However there is much more that could be called out. Some others worth mentioning include:
• Visit all the Theme hotels. I haven’t mentioned these, but it goes without saying that these are all worth visiting.
• There are some good shopping options in Vegas, which include The Fashion Show Mall and the Premium Outlets.
• Consider visiting some Off-Strip casinos. Most offer free shuttle services from the Strip, have higher slot payback percentages and offer other amenities & events that are not found in Strip hotels.
• Vegas is famous for its shows, and you will undoubtedly be asked if you attended one. Some player clubs offer free or discounted show tickets to new member sign ups. Existing members may receive complimentary tickets, depending on play points accumulated. For cheaper last-minute deals, visit the Tix4Tonite booths that are dotted throughout the Las Vegas Strip.
As the city that never sleeps, there shouldn’t be any time pressures to get in all the sights. The biggest obstacle is going to be your own stamina and overcoming tiredness. Pace yourself and balance high speed activities with slow speed activities.
Whatever you do, make the most of your time in Vegas and savour every moment.
Thanks for taking the time to read. I welcome all feedback and suggestions. If there are other attractions you feel should be mentioned, please share them in the comments below.