Las Vegas is well-known for some of its more expensive attractions – namely, its gambling culture, but also its pricey hotels, restaurants, and live shows. However, if you’re traveling to Vegas on a budget, don’t despair. There are some fun free activities that you can add to your itinerary, and as an added bonus, they’ll get you off the beaten path so you can explore some of Vegas’s hidden gems. Here are 7 exciting free things to do in Las Vegas (Photo: Pixabay).
Walk the Fremont Street Experience
When you think of Vegas, you probably think of the Strip, but in the early days of the city, all of the action was located in Downtown Las Vegas, located in the north part of the city. One of the central parts of downtown Vegas is the Fremont Street Experience, a vibrant pedestrian mall known for its extravagant light shows. Even if you don’t go into any of the casinos or shops, there’s still plenty of glitz and glamor to enjoy just by walking around. They host free concerts throughout the year on three different stages, plus you’ll enjoy the Viva Vision light show on the hour at the world’s largest video screen. If you do have a little bit of cash on hand, you can ride the SlotZilla zipline for a pretty spectacular view of the light show.
Watch the Bellagio Fountain Show
Even if you’ve never been to Vegas before, you’ve probably seen pictures of the Bellagio’s iconic fountains. One of the best free attractions in the city is watching the fountain show, which happens every 15 to 30 minutes throughout the day and night. Watching the water is incredibly calming, and the entire show is choreographed to music. This is an excellent family friendly attraction – just make sure to stake out a spot well before the show starts so you can see everything. If you have more time to kill, head inside and check out the Bellagio’s conservatory and botanical gardens as well. It’s simultaneously elegant and kitschy, and it’s a great place for a photo op.
Drive out to Seven Magic Mountains
A short drive south of Las Vegas in the desert is a collection of brightly colored rocks just off I-15. This is an art installation called Seven Magic Mountains, and you may have seen it on Instagram. When you want a breather from the hustle and bustle of Vegas, take a ride out here and experience the dramatic colors and landscape. Be sure to bring your camera to capture the drama of the installation and the surrounding desert. The installation was created by Ugo Rondinone and is a co-production of the Nevada Museum of Art and Art Production Fund.
Watch a show at Circus Circus
Although many of Las Vegas’s most notable shows are very expensive, you can get a taste of the magic for free at Circus Circus. Performances happen every half hour, starting at 11:30 AM, and you’ll find trapeze artists, acrobats, clowns, and much more. The high flying show is fun and is a great way to take a break between casinos or bars. Circus Circus is also one of the most family-friendly resorts on the strip, and if your kids are getting antsy, you can take them to the Adventuredome to let off some steam. Although the rides cost money, you may be able to get a good deal if you book ahead of time.
Stroll the Grand Canal Shoppes
The Venetian is one of the most iconic resorts in Vegas, and you can’t miss a stroll through the Grand Canal Shoppes, which are designed to recreate the architecture and atmosphere of Venice. Even if you don’t purchase anything, the spectacle will be more than enough to keep you entertained. You’ll find real canals and can even take a gondola ride around the mall, and there are Venetian themed street performers in a recreation of St. Mark’s Square. It’s as close as you can get to Italy without actually going there. After you’ve sufficiently explored the mall, be sure to head in the direction of the Palazzo, where you’ll find the giant atrium waterfall between the two resorts. It’s the perfect place for a photo op and maybe even a kiss if you’re with your significant other.
Tour The Ethel M Chocolate Factory
If you have a car, take a drive out to Henderson to tour this unique chocolate factory. Tours are free and you’ll get to see all of the chocolate making in action. Outside, you can stroll through the on-site botanical garden, which features a huge variety of cactus species and is a whopping four acres. If you are willing to spend some money, you can attend a chocolate tasting or purchase some to take home as a souvenir.
Watch TV at CBS Television City
CBS Television City is located inside the MGM Grand, and you can actually watch unaired pilots that CBS is considering putting on the air – which means you may get to see the next big hit before everyone else does. They also offer testing for new commercials and even sometimes for fun new products, like gaming systems and smartphones. You’ll take a short touch-screen survey afterwards, and you’ll get a swag bag of merch from popular shows as a reward. If you’re a pop culture junkie, this is a very unique experience that you shouldn’t miss out on.
If you are traveling to Las Vegas from outside the United States, you will need to fill out an ESTA form online before you go. ESTA is a program that allows individuals from certain countries to travel to the US for short periods of time without a visa. Visa Waiver Program countries are listed online. All you will need to fill out your ESTA form are your passport, the $14 application fee, your contact information, and in some cases, your employment information. Be sure to submit your ESTA form at least three days before your flight for timely approval.