The Best Things to Do in Las Vegas

You may not expect nature trails and public art installations in a town known for debauchery and high rollers, but Sin City really has it all. There’s plenty of glitter and glamour—the thrilling stage shows, the Mob Museum, an Eiffel Tower, the dancing fountains, the Siberian tigers, the alluring casinos—but Las Vegas may surprise you with its richer-than-expected culture and natural sights.

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.
Fremont St, Las Vegas, NV, USA
Yeah Baby! The Strip might get all the attention, but if you want the real Vegas the only place to go is Fremont St. With its enclosed light show of a ceiling, freak show of people watching, and rock ‘n’ roll show of live entertainers you could be there for hours. Of course, it has casino or two should you want to make a wager, but my bet is that you’ll be fully occupied just taking it all in.
One of our newest national parks sits just outside of Las Vegas, and is home to one of the richest Ice Age–era fossil beds in North America. Back in the 1960s, paleontologists, hypothesizing that the area contained evidence of human interaction with Ice Age megafauna, dug trenches to search for such evidence. Remains of homminids never appeared as hoped, but the search did turn up the bones of herds of columbian mammoths (six-foot tusks!), as well as fossils of giant sloths, Camelops, and American lions, among other enormous and extinct creatures. Elsewhere in the park, fossils are so prevalent visitors can see them right on the surface of the soil. Because the park is so new, it lacks facilities, trails, and even basic signage inside. Plans are in the works to build a handicapped-accessible path.

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.
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.
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.
3780 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89158, USA
In a city that’s all about entertainment, T-Mobile Arena is quite literally the biggest stage yet. The 20,000-seat venue serves as home ice for the National Hockey League’s Las Vegas Golden Knights, and also hosts a variety of concerts, rodeos, fights, and conventions. Unlike at other arenas, concourses at T-Mobile are open to the main floor, meaning you can see the action while you wait in the queue for beer. For a different perspective, catch a game or show from Hyde Lounge, a Bellagio nightclub outpost on the top floor; one section is cantilevered over the action, which makes for a most dramatic viewing experience. Because T-Mobile bought the naming rights, T-Mobile phone customers get extra perks inside, such as line-cutting privileges and free charging stations.
Most people know the Lou Ruvo Brain Health Center by its appearance—the nonlinear building was designed by Frank Gehry and bears the architect’s signature curves and twists. Inside, however, medical professionals perform incredible feats daily. The facility treats patients with degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s. Because the center is an active medical facility, access to the public is limited, but architecture fans are welcome to swing by, marvel at the undulating walls, and wonder how Gehry does what he does with metal.
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.
850 N Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89101, USA
Cashman Field serves up minor-league baseball at its absolute best. The home team, the Las Vegas 51s, is a Class-AAA affiliate of the New York Mets, and the 9,334-seat facility hosts at least a few spring-training games for professional teams every year as well. Some fans prefer to watch from the berms in right and left field—grassy slopes perfect for families—but the most expensive seat in the stands runs less than $20. The concession offerings include a hamburger served up with maple-bacon-brown-sugar sausage, shoestring potatoes, barbecue sauce, and American cheese.
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.
713 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89101, USA
This is no ordinary pawnshop: It’s the home of the History Channel’s reality-television show Pawn Stars. That means that any ordinary visit can turn into an opportunity to be on camera—or at least an opportunity to see Chumley, Rick Harrison, and some of the other regular characters who have become pseudo-celebrities over the years. The place has become so popular that lines to gain entrance usually wind around the block. Once you do get inside, you’ll notice the full complement of antiques and mementos for sale, as well as a large gift shop with Pawn Stars–branded merchandise. While the store itself welcomes customers from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., the Pawn Window is open 24 hours a day. For the full experience, check out Harrison’s shopping center next door, grab a drink at his eponymous bar, and spend a few hours in his nightclub.
20 Costa Di Lago #130, Henderson, NV 89011, USA
The 320-acre Lake Las Vegas is a great place to spend a day. This outfitter, located right in MonteLago Village at the western end of the lake, rents a variety of water-sports equipment for visitors to use and offers a handful of guided water-sport experiences as well. On the rental side, sit-on-top kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and pedal boats all are available by for one-, two-, or three-hour rentals. The outfitter also sells rides on a fly board, an apparatus that shoots water to propel riders in the air, with the option available to ride with a jet pack (which also shoots water). Most recently, Lake Las Vegas Water Sports added wakeboard cable rides, which represent a mash-up of motorized zip-lining and wakeboarding.
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