Visit Las Vegas: What are the best things to do and see in Sin City?
Las Vegas is surrounded by myths and legends like no other city in the world. A boomtown born in the middle of the desert, a temple of bling-bling and spectacular shows, a city of sin where sex and lust are always within reach, the world capital of casinos and slot machines, a metropolis packed with huge hotels that are sometimes kitsch and old-fashioned, sometimes fabulous and unforgettable… Las Vegas is a multi-faceted city.
A city-stopover on the road to the great national parks of the American West, do not expect to grasp Las Vegas in one or two days. This city is both beautiful, shocking, sad, and brilliant. You either love it or hate it, but one thing is certain: you won’t forget your visit to Las Vegas!
To help you plan your stay, we have listed for you the best things to do in Las Vegas:
1. National Atomic Testing Museum
Photo credit: National Atomic Testing Museum
After you’ve checked in your hotel and visited the major casinos and gambling halls, it’s time to see what Vegas has to offer. To visit Las Vegas is an experience filled with surprises!
The National Atomic Testing Museum is both fascinating and scary. Through a well thought-out museography, the museum explores and documents the nuclear tests that have taken place in the Nevada desert, north of Las Vegas, from the 1950s to the present day. The place exhales a slight smell of cold war, plutonium, and bombs with infinite destruction capabilities.
2. The Mob Museum
If you enjoy museums, visit the Mob Museum. It offers an interesting view of the controversial relationship between organized crime and law enforcement in the historical context of Las Vegas and the United States in general.
3. Have a drink at the Coyote Ugly Saloon
Photo credit: Coyote Ugly Bar and Dance Saloon
Shown on screen in the film of the same name, the Coyote Ugly Bar and Dance Saloon (its official name), is more than a bar, it’s an experience on its own! Let’s not reveal too much at this point, but the bar is mostly known for its sexy waitresses dancing on the bar and and inviting customers to do the same, in a booze-flowing atmosphere.
4. Be a detective for a day in the interactive attraction CSI: The Experience
Photo credit: Facebook – CSI: THE EXPERIENCE
If you’re a fan of the TV series CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, you’ve come to the right place! One of the best things to do in Las Vegas, this exciting hands-on game-show puts you in the role of a crime scene investigator. Your challenge: solve a triple murder. Immersed in a multi-sensory environment with dazzling special effects, it’s time to put your observational skills to the test!
5. Take a dip in the Mandalay Bay wave pool
Hotels in Vegas generally have a swimming pool, which is good news, considering the fact that temperatures in this part of the world can quickly become stifling. To beat the heat, dive into the cool water! As usual, Las Vegas does things differently: Mandalay Bay is undoubtedly one of the city’s most entertaining pools, with its giant wave set off at regular intervals, its sandy beach, and magical river.
6. Take a trip to the Stratosphere Tower
Thrill seekers should look no further than the Stratosphere Tower. This tall freestanding tower at the north end of the Strip offers 360-degree panoramic views of Las Vegas, as well as a variety of heart-pumping attractions for the bold and the brave. Who said that visiting Las Vegas was only about casinos?
7. Attend a show or musical
Finally, it’s hard not to mention the profusion of concerts, musicals, magic shows, or Cirque du Soleil performances that take place daily in the city. With countless shows to choose from, there is entertainment for everyone in Vegas.
8. The Grand Canyon
Photo credit: Wikimedia – Ericm1022
Experiencing Vegas and everything the city has to offer can often be overwhelming. This is the time to go on a relaxing getaway in the nearby nature. While you can easily roam the city on foot when visiting Las Vegas, a trip outside the city requires finding a different means of transport. Depending on your desires and the size of your wallet, several excursions by car or by helicopter are available.
One of the best nature destinations and a definite must-see, the Grand Canyon can be flown over from Las Vegas, or overlooked from the famous SkyWalk, a horseshoe-shaped glass bridge which gives you the feeling of walking in the void. This very lucrative attraction allows visitors to apprehend the vastness of the famous canyon.
9. The Hoover Dam
Photo credit: Wikimedia – Ubergirl
Located 45 minutes from the centre of Vegas, the no less famous Hoover Dam (which appears in various films) hosts a million tourists a year. Built in the 1930s to regulate the course of the Colorado River and produce electricity, its construction constituted a real tour de force at the time. Formed by the Hoover Dam, Lake Mead is a vast nautical and tourist area to explore, despite the many environmental issues and controversies currently underway.
10. Death Valley
Photo credit: Wikimedia – Wolfgangbeyer
Two hours drive from Las Vegas, welcome to the Death Valley. Despite its unappealing name, this is actually one of the most beautiful national parks in California. Leave early in the morning to avoid the crowd and the heat, the round trip takes a full day. If you try the experience during the summer, take every precaution, as temperatures can reach 50 °C.
11. Hotels & casinos
Photo credit: Wikimedia – Evelyn Proimos
Much as it may seem surprising to visit hotels, in Las Vegas they are part of the must-see visits. Every hotel lining the Strip – the city’s famous avenue home to the major tourist venues – is unique in style, architecture, and entertainment facilities. In fact, they are more than just hotels. They are lively places, attracting visitors who can sometimes spend entire days (and nights) playing card games, having fun at the bar, gambling at slot machines, or enjoy relaxing treatments at the spa and pool. The following selection is far from exhaustive, considering the number of hotels-casinos, yet some are definitely more striking than others.
Starting from the south side of the Strip, the Luxor is an obvious choice. Built in 1993 in an Ancient Egypt theme, this pyramid-shaped building houses 4400 rooms spread across its 30 floors and the additional towers erected in 2001. It is the fourth largest hotel in the world.
Right next door, the Excalibur Hotel was the largest in the world at the time of its opening in 1990. Designed in the medieval theme of King Arthur, the hotel’s colorful castle architecture forms an inspiring backdrop to the many families that come here.
Photo credit: Wikimedia – Hermann Luyken
A little further up, the New York New York is one of those theme hotels offering a combination of amusement parks and high-end hospitality. The hotel is designed to condense the Big Apple, complete with all its iconic landmarks, and featuring an incredible roller coaster reaching 108 km/h.
Photo credit: Wikimedia – cisko66
Across the street from the New York New York Hotel is the MGM Grand. Named after the famous Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer production studio, the hotel boasts massive dimensions. With its 6,800 rooms, the hotel was ranked largest in the world at its inauguration in 1993. A monorail connects the MGM Grand to other hotels owned by the same company.
Photo credit: Wikimedia – Nadavspi
Even more stylish, The Cosmopolitan opened its doors in 2010. Here we move away from the typical flashiness and kitsch of hotels of the 90s. The hotel is more classic and elegant, but equally impressive in terms of gaming rooms and entertainment.
Photo credit: Wikimedia – Allen McGregor
A little further, we find a classic of the Strip: the Bellagio Resort, famous for its incredible water show, among many other attractions to do. When you visit Las Vegas, take a moment to attend this striking free show!
We end our climb up the Strip with two of the city’s best known symbols. The first being the Caesar Palace, designed in the theme of ancient Rome. This is where Celine Dion gave all her concerts in Las Vegas. With roots going back to the 1960s, Caesar Palace attracts a family clientele, and is still very popular despite its financial problems. Its huge shopping mall is one of the most famous and most beautiful in the world.
Photo credit: Wikimedia – Pedro Szekely
Finally, it’s impossible not to mention the Venetian Hotel which opened in 1999. Designed in the theme of Venice, the complex features stunning re-creations of the Italian city’s main attractions. Don’t miss a tour of the hotel’s canals on a larger-than-life gondola!
Photo credit: Flickr – Wolfgang Staudt
Clearly, the most difficult thing is not finding a hotel in Las Vegas, but knowing which one to choose!
12. More Ideas for Las Vegas Tours
- From Las Vegas, visit the mysterious Zone 51
- Tyrolean Descent to Bootleg Canyon
- Horseback riding and dinner in the Valley of Fire
- Balloon ride over Las Vegas at sunrise
- Raft on the Colorado River and visit of the Hoover Dam
- Rent a limousine in Las Vegas and take a 1-hour ride
- Night out in Las Vegas with the VIP Pass
To conclude, our description would not be complete without mentioning Las Vegas’ underside, which also attracts countless visitors per year. Festive stag parties and bachelorette parties, escort girls, prostitution, stripteases, drug and alcohol-infused parties, adult shows, quick weddings that couldn’t care less about good taste, free-flowing champagne, fortunes won and lost in a few minutes over a game of blackjack or poker… Although Las Vegas has worked hard on improving its public image to attract families, the city’s sulfurous and decadent reputation is something you will choose to ignore or explore depending on your tastes.
And of course, remember… what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas!
How to go to Las Vegas?
Many american airlines offer flights to Las Vegas. There are some direct flights to Las Vegas from Europe and there are many flights with a stopover. To find a cheap flight to Las Vegas, you can search on our partner’s website Skyscanner.
Where to stay in Las Vegas?
It’s no secret that Las Vegas is packed with hotels! The abundance of accommodation options means that you will always find a room, but prices could swell significantly during special events taking place every week in Las Vegas. The best way to find a cheap hotel in Las Vegas is to search this hotel aggregator.