Top 10 Fun (and Cheap!) Things to do in Vegas

There is no place on Earth like Las Vegas, Nevada. And while that crazy electric desert oasis has a "Sin City" reputation for intense night life, gambling and general debauchery; there's much more to Vegas than the lore of gangsters, glitz and booze. So much more. 

Here are a few of our favorite fun, friendly and free (or inexpensive) things to do in Las Vegas:

1. Marvel at the Fountains of the Bellagio
Located across the street from the Paris Hotel, the fountains are a beautiful (and free) site to behold. Every 30 minutes (every 15 minutes after 9 p.m.) the fountains put on a spectacular dance set to music and color. Pro tip: Stand in the area behind the fountains, facing the Paris hotel, for an incredible photo op of fountain + the Eiffel Tower.

Bellagio1

2. Take a tour of the hotels along the famous Vegas Strip.
Where else in the world can you visit New York City, Paris and Venice — all on the same street? Plus see a circus, an active volcano and a great pyramid. It doesn't cost anything, unless you want to take an inexpensive trolley. It's four miles of amazement, and it's an easy way to duck in and out of the heat to see some incredible feats of architectural entertainment — and plenty of free sites. The Bellagio features a free conservatory, you'll find the world's largest gold nugget (the "Hand of Faith") at the Golden Nugget (go figure), flamingos at The Flamingo (go figure, again) ... and those are just a few! Remember: No photography in the casinos. And if you are traveling with children, stay on the non-casino paths inside the hotels.

3. Ride the High Roller.
For some of the best views of the city, desert and mountains combined, you'll want to take a trip on the High Roller. Located just blocks from Paris and Bally's hotels, this is the world's tallest observation wheel, taking riders on a 30-minute rotation with spectacular Vegas vistas. Tickets range from US$22–$32 for adults (depending on time of day). A $35 option is available for a happy-hour ride, which includes a bar cart for guests over age 21.  NOTE: A complementary High Roller ticket is included in each Platinum Pass package!

View from High Roller

4. Have a little chocolate. Have a lot.
Las Vegas does not have a shortage of sweets — from good to gourmet. On the Strip (next to MGM), visit M&M's World's four floors of chocolate, see a free 3-D movie and find out what's new in one of America's favorite candies. Across the street, go to Hershey's Chocolate World at New York-New York Hotel, where you'll find an 800-pound chocolate-sculpted Statue of Liberty and 800 kinds of Hershey's chocolate. Or, not too far away, in Henderson, Nevada, Ethel M Chocolates offers tours of its factory — free of charge — plus free access to its Botanical Cactus Garden. Take a self-guided aisle tour, or make arrangements for a tasting-room experience. (There is a cost for the tasting room).

5. See the circus at Circus-Circus
An icon of the Vegas Strip, Circus-Circus boasts the world's largest permanent circus. While there are costs for rides and other attractions at the famed hotel-casino, visitors can watch free acrobat shows every 30 minutes, beginning at 11:30 a.m. 

6. Watch statues come to life at Caesar's "Fall of Atlantis" show.
Fire, water and talking statues? It's all part of the famous (and re-vamped!) "Fall of Atlantis" show at Caesar's Palace in the Forum Shops. And it's free! Every hour on the hour, the statues come to life and the shows begin. While you're there, stroll the fancy shops and be sure to check out the 50,000-gallon saltwater aquarium, home to 300 fish!

7. Check out the Grand Bazaar Shops and the LINQ Promenade.
Adjacent to the Paris and Bally's hotels, the Grand Bazaar Shops mimics the open-air marketplaces of the world. Find food — as exotic or not-exotic as you like—as well as souvenirs and great people-watching. A block away, there's more great people-watching and shopping opportunities at the LINQ Promenade. Remember: Window-shopping and people-watching are free, and you can do plenty of both at these nearby locales.

8. Get funky on Fremont.
Known as the Fremont Street Experience, this five-block area of historic downtown Las Vegas features lights, lights, more lights and "Viva Vision," the world's largest video screen (1,500 feet long, 90 feet wide, suspended 90 feet above the pedestrian mall area). Viva Vision's screen is made of 12.4 million LED lights and a 550,000-watt sound system, and it features free light shows every night. You'll also find stages and live entertainment on Fremont Street, so be sure to check the schedule to see who's playing when you're in town!

Fremont Credit Brian Jones Las Vegas News Bureau
Credit Brian Jones Las Vegas News Bureau

9. Watch a volcano erupt at The Mirage.
Stop by The Mirage at 7 or 8 p.m. (there's an additional 9 p.m. show on Fridays and Saturdays) and watch its famed volcano rumble, smoke and spew. Before or after the show, duck into the iconic hotel and casino to check out its 20,000-gallon saltwater aquarium. Fire and water — and all free.

10. Count the Elvises.
There is no shortage of "Elvis sightings" in Vegas. Whether you're a tried and true fan of The King or simply love the kitsch of it all, you're sure to find Elvis in abundance — officiating weddings, performing in shows and even strolling along The Strip. Make a game with your travel buddies. See who can find the most Elvises. Make it a photo scavenger hunt, or use the honor system. (The winner gets a peanut butter and banana sandwich.) Who knows, you might even find Elvis on stage at the Kiwanis International convention!