What’s the first thing you think of when you hear Vegas? For many people, it’s casinos and gambling. And I must admit, I love walking through a casino. All those blinking lights and clinking noises get me excited because it means I’m back in one of my favorite cities in the world.
But Jason and I don’t gamble. We aren’t opposed to it, we just have so many other things to do when we visit Las Vegas. So I thought I’d share some things to do in Vegas besides gambling. The list is long and always growing.
Play In The Pool
Why should kids have all the fun? Adults want to play in the pool too. Few places in the world have better pools than the resorts in Las Vegas. Depending on the hotel, there may be multiple pools, a D.J., lazy river, poolside dining, outdoor games, cabanas, and plenty of frosty drinks. What’s important to know is that you probably won’t go to a pool in Vegas for peace and quiet. This is where the party is during the day.
We’ve enjoyed many of the pool complexes on The Strip, but a few of our favorites include The Cosmopolitan, Park MGM, Aria, and The Wynn. The Park MGM has plenty of seating, fun games like giant Connect Four, and shallow pools perfect for drinking a pina colada in the water. The Cosmopolitan makes it easy to sit in the water with curvy lounge chairs placed in the shallow portion of the pool. We’ve never rented a day bed or private cabana at Vegas since they are very pricey, but that’s definitely an option if you’re interested.
Eat Lots Of Great Food
Food has become the primary purpose of our visits to Vegas. Every year new restaurants open, many helmed by famous chefs. Before each visit I scour the internet for reviews of the newest openings, make my selection, and then make reservations.
I could go on all day about Vegas restaurants, but here are a few of our favorites;
- Mon Ami Gabi At Paris--This Bistro style French restaurant is our go to place for every single visit. The food and service is always good, and if you can snag an outdoor table you’ll have great views of the Bellagio Fountains across the street. In between the fountain shows you’ll also enjoy some entertaining people watching.
- China Poblano and Jaleo--both of these restaurants are from the celebrity chef, Jose Andres, and are located in The Cosmopolitan. The first is Chinese and Mexican food and the second Spanish cuisine. You can’t go wrong with either.
- Secret Pizza--I don’t actually know if this is the name of the place, but it’s a great way to describe a pizza joint with no signage, hidden down a long hallway on the third floor of the Cosmopolitan. And don’t bother looking for it on the Cosmo’s website, it’s not there. But they serve really good New York style pizza, either by the slice or the whole pie. This is typically our lunch stop immediately after arrival. We grab a slice each and a beer and eat it in the common area.
- Eataly--Located in the Park MGM, this Italian market is worth the trip in any city where you find it. In Vegas there’s a nice selection of food stalls for grab and go meals or snacks. Last time we enjoyed the pizza for a snack before a late dinner.
- Night + Market--The famous Los Angeles Thai restaurant recently opened a location in Vegas at the new Virgin Hotel. This is some seriously good Thai food. My only regret is not being hungrier.
- Lemon Grass--This is another excellent Thai restaurant located in the Aria. The decor is also stunning here.
Gawk At All The Cool Resorts
There is just something so unique about resorts in Vegas. Maybe it's the enormous size, stylish interiors, free entertainment, and amazing artwork. Whatever the draw, we love just exploring these resorts.
First and foremost, take a stroll through the Venetian. Here you’ll find a canal complete with gondolas available for rides. When you get hungry there are several good Italian restaurants. Or if you’re in the mood for a snack, grab a gelato.
The Wynn is the definition of luxury with it’s richly colored interiors. But the added feature is the show performed several times each night at the Lake of Dreams. Technically the show is free, but viewing areas are limited. The best way to experience the show is at the Parasol Bar or one of their restaurants.
But the resort I’m sure to visit every single time is the Bellagio. First, the outdoor fountains are amazing. The fountain show takes place dozens of times each day, with the schedule changing depending on the season. But inside are the Conservatory & Botanical Gardens. These gardens are redesigned several times a year according to the seasons or holidays, so you’ll never have the same experience twice. And before you leave the resort, walk through the lobby to appreciate the Chihuly artwork on the ceiling.
Get Up High
The views of Vegas at night are filled with thousands of colorful neon lights. One of the best ways to enjoy this light-filled scene is from the observation deck of The Strat located 1,149 feet above street level. You’ll have the option to enjoy the view from inside or outside. You can choose your preference based on the weather and your comfort with heights. While you’re there, consider one of the thrill rides like X-Scream or Insanity. I have no intention of ever trying these, but some people love the adrenaline rush.
Go Skydiving (Indoors)
I have no interest in jumping from an airplane, but when I learned about indoor skydiving, I figured it would be a similarly exhilarating experience without the risk of death. So a few years ago Jason made our reservations at Vegas Indoor Skydiving and gave it a try.
We both had a blast. The experience begins with a long safety briefing followed by suiting up in the proper gear and then entering the wind tunnel. An instructor helps every step of the way. Each person is given two opportunities to fly. Many people struggle the first time, but by the second round enjoy a few minutes of human flight. This would be a great activity for older kids!
We purchased our tickets through Groupon which gave us a nice discount. But I’d recommend this activity even without a discount.
See A Show
Every trip to Vegas includes a show for us. The quality of Vegas entertainment is just so good. However, it’s also expensive. So we like to choose our shows carefully so we don’t feel like we’ve wasted our money.
My first recommendation is Cirque du Soleil shows. Over the years we’ve seen O, Ka, Love, and Mystere. All are excellent, but my favorite was O, a truly impressive experience that combines acrobatics and aquatics.
Recently we returned to see Absinthe at Caesars Palace for the second time. Performed inside a large, white tent, Absinthe is a combination of raunchy comedy and death defying acts. This is not a show for children or anyone that doesn’t like dirty jokes. But if you want to laugh really hard and be constantly entertained for ninety minutes, this is the show for you.
Finally, the Blue Man Group is always a wild ride--I’ve seen it twice. Four blue skinned men perform music, magic, and zany antics, all of which are entertaining. This is a nice option if you’re traveling with kids.
Take A Day Trip
There are dozens of fun day trips from Las Vegas if you want to get away from the neon lights for a few hours. We often do this. Among our favorite day trips are Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area and Valley of Fire State Park. Both of these are a short drive from The Strip.
If you have a longer stay in Vegas, and want to explore some national parks in the region, consider visiting Joshua Tree or Death Valley National Parks. The first is a three hour drive and the second two hours. We’ve enjoyed hiking in both places.
So Many Things To Do In Vegas Besides Gambling
I’ve only listed seven things to do in Las Vegas besides gambling, but the reality is there are hundreds of options. If you’re not into gambling, don’t think that Vegas isn’t for you. Over the years this entertainment mecca has made sure that you'll stay busy no matter what your interests are. After almost twenty years of visiting this city regularly we still find new things to do and are definitely never bored.