Where-oh-where does a “top things to do in Las Vegas” list end?

In a town that was built on glitz, entertainment and defying the spectrum of human activities, there is no shortage of things to do in Sin City. For gamblers, show lovers, club thumpers, history enthusiasts, outdoor trekkers and seemingly everything in between, there is something for everyone. Even unusual activities, like playing with construction equipment in a giant sandbox or perhaps upsetting some ghosts by getting hands-on with haunted artifacts, has a place here.

Of course, there's only so much you can do on your visit. Here's how to make the most of your Vegas experience.

People walking down a street filled with bright, pastel neon lights
With street performers, a zip line and a light shows, Vegas' Fremont Street is unmissable © Fotos593 / Shutterstock

1. Gawk at the street performers on Fremont Street

Consider Fremont St Old Vegas’ colorful artery, lined with neon signage and, above, a zip line as well as the large, canopied Fremont Street Experience with video-meets-popular jams shows every hour. This is where Las Vegas’ first casino came to fruition – the Golden Gate, it’s still there – and where the World Series of Poker was born (at Binion’s). East of Las Vegas Boulevard on Fremont Street (aptly known as East Fremont), you’ll find some of the hippest hangouts and bars frequented by locals, like Atomic Liquors and Container Park. Beyond the buildings, it’s the street performers – spanning sexy cowboys, showgirls, magicians and drum groups – that round out the quirky flair of it all.

Planning tip: You’ll find these characters in designated painted circles throughout, just make sure to tip them if you want to take a photo.

2. Get funky in the Arts District

In a town bursting with creatives – spanning Cirque du Soleil acrobats to main stage singing ensembles – the Las Vegas Arts District is a hip hub where talent shines. Fuel your day at the neighborhood coffee shop Vesta Coffee Roasters, then explore the Arts Factory, a massive building with multiple galleries, a theater and quaint bars.

Planning tip: If you happen to be in town on the first Friday of the month, First Friday is a street festival experience, with dozens of artists with tent set-ups, local musicians and Vegas-born food trucks. 

Ready to plan your trip to Sin City? Here's our guide to the best time to visit Las Vegas

A stretch of neon signs and sculptures at an outside lot of a museum
The Neon Museum is home to former light-up signs that previously decorated Vegas © fukez84 / Shutterstock

3. Explore quirky history at an “only in Las Vegas” museum

All cities with an art, science and history museum feel boring compared to Las Vegas. Take your pick here: there’s an Atomic Testing Museum, a Mob Museum detailing shady Nevadans’ pasts, the Pinball Hall of Fame and, for those feeling sultry, the Erotic Heritage Museum. For history-meets-Instagram opps, the Neon Museum has 200-plus, now-retired, light-up signs from buildings throughout Vegas’ history in a “Neon Boneyard” to pose with.

4. Rake in the dough at a local casino

Beyond the Strip and Downtown Las Vegas, there are local casinos aplenty that serve as the dining and entertainment epicenters of their surrounding neighborhoods. At many of them, you’ll find cheaper table games, local charm and quirky attractions. 

Standouts include the Silverton Casino Lodge, which has a 117,000-gallon aquarium with mermaid shows, Red Rock Resort with the nearby Downtown Summerlin shopping utopia, South Point for equestrian show enthusiasts and, in Southwest Las Vegas, the 2023-opened Durango.

5. Catch a Broadway-caliber show at the Smith Center

New York City has Radio City Music Hall. Washington, DC has the Kennedy Center. And, Las Vegas now has the Smith Center. Catching a show – from Hamilton to Moulin Rouge – in its 2000-plus seat, luxe Reynolds Hall has become a Las Vegas must since its 2012 opening. Pair your night at the theater with a pre-show visit to Discovery Children’s Museum next door or a bite at jazz lounge Vic’s.

Having a hard time deciding which show is right for you? Let us help you choose

A busy city with many buildings around a central street with large fountains
Spending time on and around the Strip is a top Vegas experience © f11photo / Getty Images

6. Stroll the Strip

Where else in the world can you peruse an Egyptian pyramid, the Eiffel Tower, the largest observation wheel in the US, giant fountains and oodles of massive resorts? It's all on the Strip in Las Vegas. Start your wander at the Mandalay Bay and head north to the STRAT. It’s a 4-mile walk and perhaps you'll decide to stop sooner due to consuming yard-long frozen daiquiris enroute. Or perhaps you’ll be distracted by the 1 million-plus hockey puck-sized lights on the Sphere. Or maybe, you’ll end up at a blackjack table at Wynn for 12 hours. Regardless, you can try. Trust us you do not want to miss getting your 10K steps on the Las Vegas Strip.

7. Eat in Chinatown

Las Vegas has a thriving Asian community and, often under the radar, a Chinatown. Within a five-minute drive west of the Strip, you’ll find its epicenter on Spring Mountain Rd east-to-west between Valley View and Decatur Blvds. The landscape is primarily strip malls, with family-owned eateries, supermarkets and foot/massage spas side-by-side.

Planning tip: When hunger calls, pop in CrunCheese Korean Hot Dog for a morsel doused in fried potato cubes or Kame Omakase for an upscale chef’s tasting menu of sushi delights.

8. Cheer on your favorite sports team

The roar you hear on the Strip just north of Tropicana Ave? It’s not the lion statue at MGM Grand. It’s likely ice hockey fans, cheering on the city’s most beloved home team, Vegas Golden Knights. Catch a game at T-Mobile Arena during the NHL season, which runs October to April.

Beyond hockey and in recent times, Las Vegas is now home to the Raiders football team – which plays at Allegiant Stadium September through January – and the Aces WNBA team, which plays at the Michelob ULTRA Arena at Mandalay Bay from May through September.

A hiker follows a trail in a landscape dominated by red rocks
There are many stunning landscapes to explore within an hour of Vegas © iStockphoto / Getty Images

9. Hike Red Rock Canyon and/or Valley of Fire State Park

In the nicest way possible, one of the greatest parts about visiting Las Vegas is leaving Las Vegas. The landscapes outside of town span Hoover Dam, to antique shops galore in Boulder City to fiery rock landscapes within 45 minutes at Red Rock Canyon and Valley of Fire State Park. At Red Rock Canyon, opt for the generally-friendly, 2.2-mile Calico Tanks Trail, with sandstone and red rock formations seamlessly meshing.

Looking to explore more beyond Las Vegas? Here are our top day trips

10. Take in the desert landscape – and learn about it, too – at Springs Preserve

No, it wasn’t the casinos that drew Native Americans and pioneers to Las Vegas. It was its source of water, the Las Vegas Springs. The site of the springs is Springs Preserve, which is now a multifaceted educational experience. The grounds feel like a true desert garden oasis, where one can saunter through a botanical garden, take in some state history at the Nevada State Museum or feel the rush of a flash flood at an immersive exhibit.

11. Go skiing or enjoy a cool reprieve at Mount Charleston

When summer sizzles – it commonly gets up into the 110°Fs and 120°Fs in Las Vegas – head northwest for a 20°F drop at Mt Charleston. Come wintertime and perhaps unexpectedly for right outside of Sin City, you can ski, tube, sled and snowboard the mountains, too.

This article was first published May 20, 2021 and updated Apr 10, 2024.

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