20 Must-Do Experiences in Las Vegas

There are hundreds of things to see, attractions to enjoy, and places to eat in Las Vegas, but there are some must-do experiences that every traveler must have when they visit. This Las Vegas bucket list includes entertainment, restaurants, spas, and shops that can only be experienced in a uniquely Las Vegas way. For those who are visiting Las Vegas for the first time, and for those who are returning again, add these must-do experiences to your list.

3570 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89109, USA
Visiting the Strip? Save time for its spas. One of my favorites: Qua, at Caesars Palace. The Roman baths make you feel like you’ve left Las Vegas behind, and the snow room is worth a (quick -- it’s cold!) stop. Then the treatments are out of this world. On my most recent visit, I got the Nagomi treatment, on the mini-menu for the new Nobu boutique hotel inside Caesars. It included a therapeutic massage and excellent facial with a new fizz-like layer that worked on my skin. I couldn’t think of a better way to start my day.
953 E Sahara Ave Ste A5, Las Vegas, NV 89104
For 20 years now, the Spring Mountain corridor north of the Las Vegas Strip has been a hotbed of hot pots—and every other Asian dish under the desert sun. When celebs such as Anthony Bourdain and Penn Jillette raved about the real-deal northern Thai cuisine at Lotus of Siam, chowhounds followed. Tell your friends you’re finally making the trip out to the strip mall and they’ll tell you to avoid the items you can order from the takeout joint at home: no pad thai, no chicken satay. They’re right. Dive into the last page of the menu, the one about dishes from Northern Thailand, then entrust your tastebuds to the award-winning hands of Chef Saipin Chutima and try her larb or the jackfruit curry, anything with ground pork sausage, the khao soi (egg noodles and meat in a coconut curry sauce), the nam prik ong (a chunky mix of pork, tomato, and red chili, served with lettuce and raw vegetables), or the whole fish with chilis. The food is spicy, yes, and the afterburn is serious, but the depth of flavor is sublime enough to make you weep with regret the next time you have to call your local takeout place for delivery.
3327 South Las Vegas Boulevard
Bauman Rare Books is well known among antiquarian booksellers, and marks a striking contrast to most of the shops and boutiques you’ll find in Las Vegas. Having worked in the rare book business in the past, I can’t resist a beautifully tooled leather binding and the crinkle of pages brought to life by engravings.
9480 S Eastern Ave, Las Vegas, NV 89123, USA
The fresh and local food movement has hit Vegas in recent years, and the fresh52 farmers and artisan market is a great way to discover the best that Vegas has to offer. Also, the Sunday markets often feature live entertainment, chef’s demonstrations, and activities for the kiddos as well.
29450 Valley of Fire Hwy, Overton, NV 89040, USA
Valley of Fire is the oldest state park in Nevada, and a great place to see 3,000-year-old Indian petroglyphs and explore the red sandstone formations created during the age of the dinosaurs. Bring your camera to photograph the landscape while hiking this rocky landscape formed over 150 million years ago. The red sandstone gives off an incredible light, which makes the grey rocks nearby appear turquoise. Great place to camp while watching incredible sunrises and sunsets! Photographers will go crazy for this place, especially in spring, when a variety of wild flowers bloom. Skip the Las Vegas strip and head straight to this magical place!
7800 N Tenaya Way, Las Vegas, NV 89131, USA
Las Vegas may be seated in the heart of the Desert Southwest, but there are still a few places to pluck apples from trees and choose the biggest pumpkins from right off the vine. Gilcrease Orchard is one of those places. The orchard is only open seasonally, but when it is open, people descend upon it in herds to get their hands on several varieties of apples, leafy greens, peaches, pears, plums and many row crops. Grab a gallon of the orchard’s famous apple cider if you decide to visit!
7065 Speedway Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89115, USA
There are a number of attractions in Las Vegas that allow visitors to get behind the seat of a fancy car, but only at the Las Vegas Speedway can people actually push the limits on how fast they can go. At Exotics Racing, choose the car of your choice -- popular options include a Ferrari, Lamborghini, Aston Martin, Porsche or Audi -- then learn how to safely push the limits on the track while still reaching maximum speeds on the straightaways. During the driving experience, an instructor will sit in the passenger seat and provide guidance on when and how to accelerate, decelerate, turn through corners and pass other cars. Driving one of these cars is very much an only-in-Las-Vegas experience, and it is an incredibly popular attraction. However, if you’d like the adrenaline rush but are nervous about driving, there is a drive-along experience that is also lots of fun.
300 Stewart Avenue, Las Vegas, NV 89101
Though the city isn’t normally considered a go-to hot spot for history buffs, Las Vegas’ past is steeped in organized crime; without it, the city would be a very different place than it is today. Throughout the years, money has been exchanged through the hands of a number of interesting characters with colorful personalities, and the Mob Museum, located in downtown Las Vegas, examines all components of this chapter in the history books. The museum is well organized, helping people walk through the convoluted relationships and stories of organized crime that have shaped (and continue to shape) Las Vegas specifically and various parts of the world in general. Hundreds of artifacts, interactive exhibits, and regular events held at the Mob Museum make for an interesting afternoon. Give yourself at least a few hours to fully appreciate this museum.
770 Las Vegas Blvd N, Las Vegas, NV 89101, USA
Reservations required—and no wonder. The tours at the Neon Museum sell out months in advance. A walk through the museum’s famous “Boneyard” (where neon goes to die) is fascinating, from motel row to the first integrated casino (one that shut almost as soon as it opened), and the Stardust, with its nuclear testing-inspired font. All of this comes alive thanks to the museum’s famous docents, all art history buffs with loads of family history or other personal anecdotes.
3555 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89109, USA
One of the last great free attractions in Las Vegas, the enclosed 15-acre Wildlife Habitat is home to a flamboyance of Chilean flamingos as well as a variety of other critters including exotic birds, turtles, and fish. Ring-tailed ducks and sacred ibises move through the knee-high grass, and hummingbirds dart from branches to feeders and back again. Two rescued brown pelicans are fed daily at 8:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.; the sight of their massive beaks opening fully to swallow the fish reliably delights visitors, especially kids. After you’ve watched some wildlife, you’ll find shopping mere moments away: The Habitat is steps from the stores of the LINQ Promenade.
333 S Valley View Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89107, USA
Springs Preserve presents visitors with a sort of crash course in the story of the Las Vegas Valley. The facility is many attractions in one: the Origen Museum, which chronicles early geology and anthropology of the region; the Nevada State Museum, which covers the history, prehistory, and natural history of Nevada; DesertSol, a solar-powered home designed to showcase sustainable living; the NV Energy Foundation Sustainability Gallery, which teaches visitors about a more ecofriendly lifestyle; and Boomtown 1905, a re-created streetscape. There is also an enclosed butterfly habitat, a botanical garden, and 3.6 miles of trails that crisscross the preserve’s 110 acres, winding past rare plants, archaeology, artifacts, and more. This remarkable resource has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Boulder City, NV 89005
This 34-mile paved bike trail wraps around the River Mountains and loops from downtown Boulder City through a part of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, past Lake Las Vegas, through the outside corner of Henderson, and back. All told, the route presents bicyclists with a challenging and diverse path on which to spend a day. There are even some spur trails from the main thoroughfare that link to Hoover Dam (through a series of old railroad tunnels), downtown Henderson, and beyond. The most challenging portion of the main trail is between Henderson and Boulder City, where a series of three hills—dubbed the Three Sisters—prompt even the fittest atheletes to huff and puff for a while. Services are available at various spots along the trail, and bike rentals are offered in Boulder City and at Lake Las Vegas.
S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89054, USA
The “mountains” in this desert art installation are actually seven neon-colored totem poles made from stacked boulders. Renowned Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone describes his work here as a symbolic and physical midway point between the natural (the desert) and the artificial (Las Vegas, and, farther down the road, Los Angeles). The seven towers, standing from 30 to 35 feet tall, have captured the imagination of art lovers who make the 20-minute drive from the Las Vegas Strip by the hundreds every day. Be warned: Though the piece is clearly marked with signage off the I-15, there are no formal trails or pathways to get up to the towers once you park. Look out for snakes.
1401 N. Rainbow Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89108
You don’t have to be old enough to drive to have fun at LVMGP; four tracks, three amusement rides, one super-slide, and tons of arcade games make the destination a fun spot for the entire family. Go-carts headline the action, with three speed tracks (and a course for kids that often devolves into a bumper-cars situation). On one of the speed tracks—dubbed the Adult Gran Prix—cars get up to 60 miles per hour and feature technology that keeps tabs of how fast you’re going; during your “race,” your time is displayed on a leader board so you can compare and compete with your friends. Elsewhere at the facility, there’s a small roller coaster and a giant 90-foot slide. Inside, the arcade takes center stage, with air hockey, video games, and four games of pop-a-shot, as well as a restaurant.
200 Convention Center Drive
Enjoy all the thrills of skydiving with none of the drama—no parachute or airplane at all. After a brief orientation, participants pull special flight suits over their clothes and then enter a wind tunnel, where all the excitement takes place. A giant fan that creates wind speeds of up to 120 miles per hour lifts the skydiver and holds him or her aloft for an exhilarating three minutes. Having doubts? Skilled coaches are on hand and the experience is far safer than jumping out of a plane. It’s also a great first step for those who’ve hesitated to try skydiving.

3900 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89119, USA
More than 250 artifacts of the RMS Titanic are on display at this 25,000-square-foot space at the Luxor. Among the truly incredible mementos excavated from the wreck of the sunken ship: an unopened bottle of champagne, a floor tile, a window frame, and a giant piece of the ship’s hull. Perhaps more impressive than the artifacts themselves are the full-scale re-creations of what guest quarters looked like on the ship—attending the exhibit gives you a sense of the difference in the experiences of a first-class passenger and a third-class passenger. Since it opened in the late 1990s, the exhibit has been seen by more than 25 million people, which makes it one of the most popular attractions in Las Vegas history.
350 East Galleria dr., Henderson, NV 89011, USA
This 140-acre preserve is home to thousands of migratory waterfowl and numerous resident desert birds. Its nine ponds are connected by a paved three-quarters-of-a-mile-long trail. A modest gift shop here sells information about some of the birds you might see. Birds are present all year round, but winter and spring are the best seasons to catch a glimpse of something spectacular and rare. Among the critters you might witness are northern shovelers, greenwings, cinnamon and blue-winged teals, pintails, and wood ducks. The Preserve also provides habitat for a variety of raptors including peregrine falcons, northern harriers, and Cooper’s and sharp-shinned hawks. It’s one of the best bird-viewing spots in the valley.
2880 S Las Vegas Blvd
The Adventuredome is a family-friendly spot at Circus Circus, and is the closest thing in town to an actual big top. Offering rides and attractions, carnival games, a giant arcade, and more, Adventuredome even has a stage on which clowns and circus performers show off with feats of derring-do. The roller coasters are the biggest attraction: El Loco reaches a 1.5 vertical g-force, while the Canyon Blaster has the world’s only indoor double-loop, double-corkscrew. Spend an afternoon on the Midway, competing with friends (and strangers) for prizes like giant plush stuffed animals.
11011 W Charleston Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89135, USA
The 72-lane Red Rock Lanes, at the Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa, is the largest luxury bowling center in Las Vegas. In addition to private meeting rooms and a lounge with bar-top games, there is a full-service restaurant, a VIP section with bottle service, a game room, a concourse area, and a pro shop. On weekend nights, Cosmic Bowling—with flashing neon lights and thumping music—transforms the place into a sort of disco. The scoring is computerized, so you don’t have to worry about math while you bowl.
More from AFAR
Sign up for our newsletter
Join more than a million of the world’s best travelers. Subscribe to the Daily Wander newsletter.
AFAR Journeys
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: United States
Journeys: Sports + Adventure