Things To Do In Vegas, Besides Gamble
You might think that Vegas is all about gambling, but there is other stuff to do. If the casinos have taken their share, check out some of these other activities. I have tried, when ever possible, to list things that are not on The Strip, and when possible, unique to Las Vegas. There is also a list of the best off-strip restaurants, which also happen to be unique to Las Vegas. There are a lot of articles about things to do in Las Vegas, but this one is written by someone who actually lives there.
- Springs Preserve - The Springs Preserve is a 180-acre non-gaming cultural and historical attraction designed to commemorate Las Vegas' dynamic history and to provide a vision for a sustainable future. Known as the birthplace of Las Vegas, the site of the Preserve was once home to bubbling springs that were a source of water for Native Americans living here thousands of years ago. It also sustained travelers of the Old Spanish Trail and Mormons who came to settle the West.
- Hoover Dam - The information that you need to plan your trip. Here is where you will find a description of the tour, admission fees, directions and more.
- Red Rock Canyon - The Red Rock Canyon Visitor Center is a focal point for visitor orientation. The multiple facilities offer information and interpretation about recreation opportunities, wildlife, wild horses and burros, vegetation, geology, cultural resources and much more.
- The Atomic Testing Museum - The Atomic Testing Museum permanent exhibits portray world history as community history through varied representations of the story of the NTS and its programs, first-person narratives, large iconic artifacts, environmental re-creations, interactive elements for personal exploration in multi-media presentations and stunning graphics, many not seen before.
- Bonnie Springs Old Nevada - Originally built in 1843 as a stopover for the wagon trains going to California down the Old Spanish Trail.
- Valley of Fire - Valley of Fire is Nevada's oldest and largest state park, dedicated 1935. The valley derives its name from the red sandstone formations and the stark beauty of the Mojave Desert. Ancient trees and early man are represented throughout the park by areas of petrified wood and 3,000 year-old Indian petroglyph.
- Lake Mead - Lake Mead offers year-round recreational opportunities. Its lakes cater to boaters, swimmers, and fishermen while its desert rewards hikers, wildlife photographers, and roadside sightseers. It is also home to thousands of desert plants and animals, adapted to survive in an extreme place where rain is scarce and temperatures soar.
- The Downtown Project - I have to mention this. In it's third year in the Downtown area, the Downtown Project is "a place of Inspiration, Entrepreneurial Energy, Creativity, Innovation, Upward Mobility, and Discovery, through the 3 C’s of Collisions, Co-learning, and Connectedness in a long-term, sustainable way." But to me, it's just cool and revitalizing. Tony Hsieh, of Zappos fame is one of the key drivers of the Downtown Project. Stores, arts, shops, food, and Container Park even has a really cool place for the kids to play. I wouldn't have said it a few years ago, but you should visit Downtown.
- Clark County Museum
Restaurants - Not on the Strip
Las Vegas has lots of restaurants in the mega-resorts. While these are some of the finest culinary experiences in the world, Vegas has many off-strip originals.
- Todd's Unique Dining - Excellent Food.Casual yet upscale dining. Try the Goat Cheese Wontons, Grumpy Salad and the Short Rib. 2010 and 2011 winner of the Best of Vegas for Gourmet Restaurant
- Honey Salt - The most recent that I've visited. The charred octopus was amazing. Also, the play on the capresse salad with shaved semi-sweet chocolate was a surprise and just a delight. I'll be back.
- Settebello Pizza - Napoli style. Really Excellent!
- Herbs and Rye - Classic Cocktails (Alcoholic Remedies), hand cut, corn-fed beef The cocktail menu is a history lesson in mixology, and the decor is cool speakeasy. I have found the menu to be really good, and the folks in the back know how to season and cook a steak.
- Oak and Ivy - From their website - "Oak & Ivy is an American craft whiskey cocktail bar dedicated to classic mixology, unique handcrafted drinks, high quality, fresh, seasonal ingredients, and homemade garnishes and mixers. Featuring a selection of barrel-aged cocktails, and rare beers and spirits, every drink we make is special, and aged to perfection for a story-worthy sip every time." If you like a good cocktail, this is the place. Located at Container Park
- Vintner Grill - Great food. They make their own cheese. Quirky decor. Always a great meal.
- EN Sushi - My favorite sushi place. Way down south in Anthem. There are a lot of high end sushi joints in Las Vegas, but EN really gets it done for me. Very high value to price ratio.
- David Clawson - Way out in Anthem, but absolutely worth the drive. Small portions allow diners to sample many dishes from the menu, and the wine and other beverage pairings can be purchased in quantities from 3oz to full bottles. The simply named dishes are reminiscent of Robuchon, some being straight ahead and some leaning on the Modernist Cuisine movement.
Restaurants - On the Strip
Fine dining on the Strip. I love to eat good food, and while there are many great restaurants for "locals" there is, of course world class food to be had on the strip.
- Anthony's - at the M Resort. It's a ways down the Strip, but worth the drive. The bone-in filet is really great. The bone makes such a difference in the flavor of the cut. The complement of appetizers is pretty standard for a steak house, but done very well. I really enjoy the Foie and the Beef Carpaccio. They cut the beef a little thicker and the dish feels more substantial than most dishes of the same like. Worth the drive.
- Jaleo - at the new Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. This Jose Andres staple originally found in Washington DC is re-invented for it's Las Vegas implementation. I had dined at the DC spot in 2010 and am really glad to see this incarnation in Las Vegas.
- The Barrymore - Adding a contemporary twist to retro Vegas, Barrymore servers up American Classic cuisine that's both approachable and unpretentious. Handcrafted cocktails and a selection of one-of-a-kind vinos from across the globe. Again excellent food and vibe. Cool decor (in the blue room in the back...) If you are in for trying a bunch of dishes, ask for a 4-top...
- Craftsteak - at the MGM Grand . Chef Tom Colicchio's iteration of the craft line of restaurants. Really great food and service. Fennel salad fantastic, and whipped potatoes with enough butter to stop your heart, not to mention the steak. Ask about the prix fixe menu. We have been able to get a great cross section of many of the favorites for a reasonable (at least in the 'fine dining' category) price.
- Bouchon - at the Venetian. Bouchon is the vision of world-renowned chef Thomas Keller, who was named "America's Best Chef" by Time magazine. He is also the sole recipient of consecutive "Best Chef" awards from the prestigious James Beard Foundation. Located in the Venezia tower, Bouchon brings to Las Vegas the top cuisine and service that have made it a Napa Valley institution. Try a gin and tonic with the house made tonic. French, elegant, but relaxed.
- Margaritaville - ok. A little lower end than the previous mentions, but it's fun, good burgers and margaritas. Bring friends, try the conch fritters (if they are on the menu), a "Loaded Landshark", and don't forget the Heinz 57 on the burger. Not to mention the magazine ready burger that arrived at my table. Located at the Flamingo Hotel.
Unique Fun Activities
- Pawn Stars - Gold & Silver Pawn Shop is the store that 'The Old Man' and Rick own. It's busy these days, I assume due to the show, but never the less, a fun place to visit. Bring something of interest.
- Maverick Helicopter Tours - a flight above the Las Vegas Strip, or a trip throughout the stunning Southwest, as well at trips to the Grand Canyon from the Las Vegas Strip. Experience a breathtaking tour of the most beautiful scenery in the Western United States.
- Ethel M Chocolate Factory - Ethel's Chocolate represents a proud heritage of chocolate making that started when their founder, Forrest Mars Sr., watched his mother create gourmet chocolates in their home during the early nineteen-hundreds. Self Guided Tours and special events during the holidays.
- Fast Lap - Indoor Go Carts - Gasoline powered karts that can reach speeds of up to 50 MPH.
- Flyaway Indoor Skydiving - Flyaway Indoor Skydiving is a vertical wind tunnel that allows you to experience the freedom of human flight. What a blast! You'll laugh the whole time.
- SkyMania Trampolines and Dodge-ball... Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park has created and built the world’s first all-trampoline, walled playing courts. It's a playing court that is original and unique.
- Las Vegas Motor Speedway - From NASCAR events to race driving school. Events are held throughout the year.
- Exotics Racing - So you want to drive one of those fast cars... $99 to as-much-as-you-want-to-spend. Heres a video of a friend of mine getting his drive on... in a Porsche 997
- Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art
- The Clark County Exhibition Program
- Lied Discovery Children's Museum
- Community College of Southern Nevada - Community College displays student and guest works.
- Donna Beam Gallery
- Las Vegas Art Museum - Probably not typical for Las Vegas, but that's cool.
- Henderson Art Association - Non-profit organization to promote visual arts in Henderson.
Free Stuff to do on the Strip
If your staying down on the strip and are interested in some free activities try these
- Container Park - Part of the Downtown Project Container Park is a little something cool for everyone. Cocktails at Oak and Ivy or a meal at Perch or Big Ern's BBQ, to shopping, playing on The Treehouse or catching a performance.
- The Volcano at the Mirage - Revamped and reopened in 2009. The new volcano features more fire and original music by Micky Hart from the Grateful Dead. Even if you have seen it before, it's worth seeing again.
- The Fountains of Bellagio - Absolutely amazing. The fountains are great from the street.
- The Botanical Gardens at the Bellagio - The gardens are changed several time through out the year, so there's always something new to see.
- Caesars Palace Fall of Atlantis Show - Located in the Forums Shops at Caesars Palace.If you happen to get there around fish feeding time, its neat to see the divers in the huge fish tank on the back of the attraction.
- Fremont Street Experience - Technically not on the strip . It's quite a walk, so you might want to take a cab. Amazing light show and free street concerts almost every night on several stages.
- The Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Sign - Located south of Mandalay Bay in the middle of Las Vegas Boulevard. The sign used to be surrounded by dirt, but the area has recently been improved to include a parking lot and landscaping, making it an attractive and popular place for a photo opportunity.
- City Center - An extraordinary urban resort destination brought to life by eight world-renowned architects, CityCenter offers a new era of resort experiences with an ambition to refine and redefine Las Vegas.
- The Cosmopolitan - The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas is a unique luxury resort offering a decidedly different perspective, situated in the heart of The Strip. The resort's uniquely vertical multi-tower design offers spectacular views of the vibrant city. The new 2,995-room resort features oversized, residential-style living spaces with expansive, one-of-a-kind private terraces. The Cosmopolitan's luxurious resort amenities include a 100,000-square-foot casino; Sahra Spa & Hammam; three unique pool experiences at The Pool District; Marquee Nightclub & Dayclub at The Cosmopolitan, a multi-level integrated nightclub; a diverse and dynamic restaurant collection; nine eclectic retail boutiques and 150,000 square feet of state-of-the-art convention and meeting space.
Some of these activities cost money, but if your looking for free activities, Vegas is loaded with them. Most of the mega-casinos have a "Front Feature" which is designed to generate traffic. These links are sort of a stream of consciousness list. I figure I might as well make them available to everyone.