On our first trip to Sin City, we were slightly overwhelmed with the choice of what to see, what to do and where to eat and drink. If you want it, you’ve got it – Vegas is the city that keeps on giving, and nothing is off-limits, while visitors who flock to the bright lights of Nevada range from stag parties, to families. There’s plenty of room for everyone… We only had three full days to explore, and even though we packed a lot in – we also made time to relax by the pool. If, like us, you are short on time here are the Top Things to do in Las Vegas.
Watch the fountains at the Bellagio
If there’s one free show you have to make an effort for the fountains at the Bellagio should be on your radar. Okay – so it’s not quite the scene as is often depicted in Hollywood movies – you don’t see throngs of tourists jostling for position, but the 1,214 water jets shooting 460 feet in the air is an awesome sight, especially as they’re choreographed to music. We had Elvis, of course… My biggest tip – if you want to see the fountains away from the crowds, have dinner at the Bellagio and move onto their private terraces.
Try your luck on a slot machine
I had visions of holding a bucket full of quarters and sitting at a slot machine, but alas, old-fashioned charm has been replaced with high-tech wizardry. There are still some coin slot machines to be found on the main strip and Circus, Circus is one of them. Great fun, and great for people watching.
Visit The Grand Canyon
One of the seven natural wonders of the world, and only a few hours away from the strip, a visit to Las Vegas wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the Grand Canyon. You can choose to go by bus, or like us, take a helicopter tour (read about our experience here) over the Hoover Dam, Lake Mead and landing in the Western Rim. If you’re undecided or not sure if it’s worth the expense – do it. It’s worth every penny.
Go to up the Stratosphere Tower
Or if you’re feeling particularly brave – you can base jump off the side. If that’s a bit too exhilarating then there are also three white-knuckle rides at the top – X-Scream, Big Shot and Insanity. Unfortunately, I went to the viewing tower after a big steak dinner so there was no thrill-seeking for me. I was more than content with the fabulous view – and a drink at the bar Level 107 Lounge. Yep, you guessed it – 107 floors up.
Go and see Cirque du Soleil
There are so many entertainment shows in Las Vegas and it would be impossible to see them all – and Cirque du Soleil has a monopoly with several acts throughout the city. But if you only have time for one, then make sure you see Cirque du Soleil’s O, at the Bellagio. It has more than 70 swimmers, divers, aerialists, contortionists and clowns performing acrobatic feats around a stage containing 1.5 million gallons of water.
Place a bet in a world-famous casino
You’re either into gambling, or not. But it would be sacrilege to come to Vegas and not try your hand at one of the tables. Caesars Palace may be one of the oldest hotels on the strip, but it still an iconic casino and for good reason. It has a brilliant atmosphere and I loved here, even though I lost $50 in a matter of minutes on the roulette table.
Take in some floral delights
Las Vegas isn’t known for its green spaces so it’s a nice to get out of that scorching heat and wander through some spectacular floral displays. Notably the Bellagio’s Conservatory and Botanical Gardens – where 140 expert horticulturists theatrically arrange gazebos, bridges, ponds, and water features uniquely for each season. Meanwhile, over at the Wynn, Preston Bailey has designed a $110,000 flower arrangement display including a floral hot air balloon and carousel.
There is no end to the amount of retail therapy that’s on offer. It’s pretty impossible not to flex your plastic friend… and two malls that are worth your time are The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace and The Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian Palazzo. Both have legions of mid-to designer shops and restaurants; both model themselves on two distinct Italian cities (see below), so even if you don’t intend to splash the cash, there’s plenty to admire; and both are open up to midnight over the weekends.
Visit the world, and never leave the strip
Only in Vegas can you experience another country on a grand faux scale. Want to see the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe, well head to Paris Hotel; visit Central Park, the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty at New York, New York; head to the Venetian to take a gondola ride or have a coffee in Venice’s St Mark’s Square; have your picture taken by the Trevi Fountain in the Forum Shops; or check out the pyramid and sphinx at Luxor Hotel. It was a strange experience for us, as we’ve been fortunate enough to go to the real deals… so sitting in St Mark’s Square looking up at a fake sky was both unnerving and pleasing all at the same time…
Freemont Street and the surrounding areas exude old-school Vegas. It was the original hotspot before the new strip was built. Nostalgia, neon lights and more gaming for your buck, is definitely reason enough to head Downtown – let alone the free Viva Vision nightly shows with 12.5 million lights. Take a peek inside one of the oldest hotels in Las Vegas, The Golden Nugget and its famous shark tank swimming pool; play craps at Binions; or pop into the Neon Museum, which features over 150 signs. If you’re looking for something a little more exciting, then go on the SlotZilla zip line, 77 feet above the ground – we did and it was exhilarating and so much fun!
Get fishy at the Mandalay Bay
Mandalay’s shark reef aquarium houses sawfish, giant rays, endangered green sea turtles, piranha, jellyfish and the rare golden crocodile, to name a few. In all, there are over 2000 animals in 1.6 million gallons of water. If you’re feeling particularly brave you can even dive with the sharks for a measly $650… As aquariums go, this one was pretty impressive.