Las Vegas has a reputation as a place of extravagance and indulgence—with a price tag to match. People come here expecting to spend and—if they’re lucky—win big, but beyond all the top-billed residencies, awe-inspiring shows, and casinos, there are many ways to fill your time that won’t cut into your food budget, merch money, or gambling fund.
If you’re travelling on a budget, you’re in luck—Vegas is never one to disappoint, and there are a number of surprisingly fun, free things to do throughout the city and in the surrounding area. Here are some of the best shows and tours, sights to see, photo ops, and activities to check out:
Shows and tours
1. Go behind the scenes at KÀ by Cirque du Soleil
KA Theatre in MGM Grand offers KÀ 360, a “Complimentary Theatre Experience” with no reservation required. On Tuesdays and Saturdays between 12 PM and 12:30 PM, the theater opens its doors to the public for a behind-the-scenes look at how they create this $165 million production.
2. Take in a show at Circus Circus
The rides aren’t free, but for no charge you can take in a show (or several!) at the Carnival Midway center stage, including 30 minute performances featuring acrobatics, trapeze tricks, aerial silks, juggling, and unicycles starting at 11:30 AM daily.
Check out their weekly performance schedule.
3. Anderson Dairy
In the “mooo-d” for some educational family fun? Take a trip through 100+ years of dairy history and see the wholesome side of Las Vegas’ past with a trip to Anderson Dairy, complete with animatronic animals.
Schedule your free tour by calling or filling out the form on their website.
4. ARIA Campus Fine Art Collection
If perusing and pondering fine art is up your alley, take a free walking tour of the ARIA fine art collection. It includes a range of styles and mediums, including installations, sculptures and paintings, and can be found throughout the ARIA Campus—including the ARIA Resort & Casino, Vdara Hotel & Spa, The Shops at Crystals, and Veer Towers.
5. Factory tours and Botanical Cactus Garden at Ethel M Chocolate Factory
Located in nearby Henderson, Nevada—roughly a 20 minute drive from the Strip—renowned chocolatier Ethel M offers free admission for self-guided tours of their chocolate factory viewing aisle. Learn about the candy-making process, enjoy some free samples, and take in the sights of their free-to-enter Botanical Cactus Garden (the largest in Nevada!).
6. Acacia Demonstration Gardens
Gardeners in search of some desert landscape inspiration or drought-tolerant plant ideas will also want to swing by the Acacia Demonstration Gardens while they’re in Henderson. Check out 19 different gardens packed full of displays and workshops visitors—all free of charge. If you’re in the midst of a road trip or have access to a car, the Gardens are a short 20 minute drive from the Strip and are open from 6 AM till midnight.
Looking for a demonstration garden you don’t have to leave Las Vegas to see? Check out The Donald H. Baepler Xeric Garden located at the Marjorie Barrick Museum.
Sights to see, photo ops & window shopping
8. Welcome to Las Vegas sign
This iconic Las Vegas landmark is free to visit and free to photograph. Don’t be fooled by people charging for photos—you can take your own at no charge. If you missed it on your way in, you’ll find the sign on the South end of Las Vegas Blvd.
9. Check out the chocolate shops (M&M’s World and Hershey’s Chocolate World)
M&M’s World boasts four floors of chocolatey goodness to explore, including a free movie screening. Across the street, don’t forget to check out and snap a photo with the nearly-800 lb chocolate-replica Statue of Liberty at Hershey’s Chocolate World.
“Welcome to Las Vegas” sign.
Image by Paulo O via Flickr.
10. Streetmosphere & Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian
Window shop the Grand Canal Shoppes before you head to St. Mark’s Square and the surrounding avenues to take in Streetmosphere—a series of small performances that take place throughout the day, including singing, acting, music, and more.
11. Pawn Stars
If you love reality TV, add the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop to your must-see list. Located in Downtown Las Vegas, this is where the reality TV icon Pawn Stars is filmed. You may even get a chance to meet the stars of the show:
- Rick, Chumlee and Corey will go out on the shop floor from time to time to meet their fans, sign autographs and take pictures.
- Almost every Saturday at noon Antwaun and Mark Hall Patton “the Beard of Knowledge” hold a meet and greet, taking photos with fans and signing autographs.
The shop is open from 9 AM to 9 PM. It’s free to enter and browse, but Meet & Greet VIP tours run upwards of $100.
12. Seven Magic Mountains
Just 10 miles south of Las Vegas on I-15, you’ll find the Seven Magic Mountains art installation by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone. This free-to-see public artwork is 35 feet tall at its highest point, and is an impressive sight to behold. In 2018 its permit was extended, ensuring you will be able to see it until the end of 2021. However, it will be closed between May 28 and June 14, 2019 for restoration work.
Learn more about the artwork and the artist on the Seven Magic Mountains site.
13. Eiffel Tower light show at Paris Hotel
There is a fee to climb the replica Eiffel Tower, but it is free to enjoy the choreographed light show that runs nightly, every 30 minutes from sunset to midnight.
14. Fall of Atlantis at Caesars
From 11 AM till 10 PM, you can catch the Fall of Atlantis animatronic show every hour on the hour at the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace. The show runs about 10 minutes long and depicts a struggle for power and the throne of the kingdom of Atlantis.
15. Aquarium at the Silverton
Inside the Silverton Hotel, you’ll find a 117,000 gallon aquarium full of thousands of tropical fish, three species of stingrays, and—even more impressive—mermaids! Catch the interactive feeding shows daily at 1:30 PM and 4:30 PM, and if you stop by between Thursday and Sunday, make sure you stick around for a Mermaid Swim:
2:00 PM-3:15 PM
5:00 PM-8:15 PM
|Sunday||10:30 AM-1:10 PM
2:00 PM-3:15 PM
5:00 PM–6:45 PM
16. Flamingo’s Wildlife Habitat
Every day from dawn until dusk you can see real flamingos, pelicans, sacred ibis, as well as other animals, traverse 15 acres of wildlife habitat at the Flamingo. Make sure you arrive in time for the pelican feedings at 8:30 AM and 2 PM.
17. Mystic Falls Park® at Sam’s Town
Inside the Sam’s Town hotel, you’ll find the wooded, waterfall area of Mystic Falls Park. Starting at 2 PM, you can catch the Sunset Stampede Laser Light and Water Show, which “chronicles the Western pioneer experience with music, dancing water and a state-of-the-art laser light show”.
The show runs every two hours between 2:00 PM and 10:00 PM.
Flamingo Wildlife Habitat.
Image by mulf via Creative Commons.
18. Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens
No matter how many times you’ve been, the Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens will continue to impress. With seasonal displays, there is always something new to see. When you are facing the front check-in desk, the Conservatory is located directly to your right.
Find out what’s on display when you are visiting here.
19. Fountains of Bellagio
A true must-see icon in Las Vegas, the Bellagio Fountains water shows are free to view from the street, and something you should find the time at least once during your vacation.
These choreographed shows run:
|Saturdays & Holidays||Every 30 minutes from noon to 8:00 PM
Every 15 minutes from 8:00 PM to midnight
|Sundays||Every 30 minutes from 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM
Every 15 minutes from 7:00 PM to midnight
|Monday-Friday||Every 30 minutes from 3:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Every 15 minutes from 8:00 PM to midnight
Learn more about the Fountains of Bellagio and see what music is on their schedule on the website.
20. Watch a volcanic eruption at the Mirage
Head over to the Mirage to see a volcanic eruption—without the risks and hazards typically associated with such an event. The Volcano erupts daily at 8 PM, 9 PM, and 10 PM and is set to a soundtrack crafted by The Grateful Dead’s Mickey Hart and composer, producer, and tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain.
21. Fountain show at the Miracle Mile Shops in Planet Hollywood
Within Planet Hollywood between the hours of noon and 11 PM, you can catch a beautiful water show at the Miracle Mile Shops that incorporates water effects, music, and color changing lights.
Activities & experiences
22. Silent yoga
In need of some respite from the unrelenting activity of Las Vegas? Enjoy a session of Silent Savasana poolside yoga. Check out their Facebook events page to find a free session.
23. Akhob by James Turrell at Louis Vuitton inside Crystals
It’s difficult to find, but worth the trouble—Akhob by James Turrell is an art experience like no other. Once you make your way to the two-room exhibit, you will find yourself in what Atlas Obscura calls a “total color immersion art installation”. The exhibit runs from Thursday-Monday, 11:30 AM to 7:30 PM and admits only 4-6 people at one time for 25 minutes. There is no photography allowed and you have to take off your shoes and sign a release form to enter.
Admission to Akhob is free, but it is extremely popular, so call them at (+1) 702-730-3150 to reserve your spot 6-8 weeks in advance.
24. Hiking around the Hoover Dam
A series of decommissioned railroad tunnels created during the building of the Hoover Dam now act as part of a free-to-travel hiking trail—the Historic Railroad Trail. This trail boasts incredible views of Lake Mead and the surrounding area, but make sure you bring sunscreen as the trail has very little shade aside from the tunnels, and check the National Park Service website to see if there are any closures—Historic Railroad Trail Tunnel 3 is currently closed.
Outside of summer months, you can also check out and soak in the nearby Arizona Hot Spring, located in a beautiful slot canyon and accessible from the Lake Mead Recreational Area. Make sure you check the dates—this area is closed between May and September due to danger from excessive heat from the hot springs.
Not up for a hike? Not merely content with a view of one of the world’s man made wonders? Add a tour of the Hoover Dam to your itinerary.
25. Get critical at the CBS Television City Research Center
Every day from 10 AM to 8:30 PM inside the MGM Grand Hotel Casino, you can view screenings and rate pilots at the CBS Television City Research Center.
26. First Friday in the Arts District Downtown
If your Vegas vacation happens to overlap with the first Friday of the month, take a trip Downtown to the Arts District and enjoy First Friday—a block party that runs from 5-11 PM and includes live music, art, entertainers, and performances.
27. Last Friday in Henderson
If your Vegas vacation happens to overlap with the last Friday of the month, take a trip just outside of Sin City to Henderson between 6-10 PM to take in the sights and sounds of Last Friday.
28. Rock ‘N Roll Wine’s Wine Lounge Thursdays
Register (well) in advance to sample some complimentary wine and enjoy the music at Wine Lounge Thursdays. The venue changes every week, so make sure you check out the calendar.
29. International Sights and Sounds at Grand Bazaar Shops
Peruse the goods of Grand Bazaar Shops and take in the Nightly Light Show that is broadcast on “the unique hexagonal LED rooftop canopy”. The show runs Sunday through Thursday, every 15 minutes from 8:05 PM to 10:05 PM, and Friday and Saturday every 15 minutes from 8:05 PM to 11:05 PM.
30. Fremont Street Experience
On top of the incredible Viva Vision Light Show delivered via the light canopy (view their calendar to find out what’s on the agenda), you can catch a live music act on any of the three stages dotted throughout the area. In the summer, you may even get to see some big name acts—their upcoming lineup includes Nelly, Sugar Ray, Cheap Trick and Smashmouth, just to name a few.
31. Downtown Container Park
The Downtown Container Park is probably most famous for the 40-foot-tall fire-throwing praying mantis that sits at its entrance, but the shipping containers for which it got its name also house several restaurants and stores for you to browse through, not to mention a giant tree house that is free to play on.
32. McCarran Airport’s Howard W. Cannon Aviation Museum
If you’re flying in or out of McCarran Airport and have some time to kill before or after your flight, you can stroll through the exhibits of the Howard W. Cannon Aviation Museum, free of charge. The exhibits are spread out throughout the airport, but you’ll find the main exhibit area on Level 2 above baggage claim at Terminal 1.
33. Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art
Explore the exhibitions of the Marjorie Barrick Museum located on the University of Las Vegas campus. Wondering what to expect? Their About page states that “[t]he Museum houses a number of collections available to the public and the UNLV community, including artworks from the former Las Vegas Art Museum; Nevada’s portion of the Dorothy and Herbert Vogel 50×50; ceramics from the diverse cultures of Mesoamerica; and works by indigenous and other artists with connections to the Las Vegas area. Exhibitions at the Museum have included objects from these collections as well as installations of work by local and international artists.”
See what exhibitions and events are currently on display and what’s coming up on their site, and don’t forget to check out the Donald H. Baepler Xeric Garden located at the entrance. It is “a refuge for indigenous birds, reptiles, and mammals . . . with over 9,000 square feet of paved pathways, benches, arbors, and bridges”.
34. The Shelby Museum & Showroom
Is there a classic car enthusiast in your entourage? Stop off at the Shelby Museum and Showroom for a free guided tour Monday to Friday at 10:30 AM and 1:30 PM or Saturday at 10:30 AM.
Step into any casino, stroll down the Strip, or explore downtown and you are sure to stumble upon a free activity or experience. Las Vegas—the surrounding area—is loaded with endless entertaining options, both free and fee’d.
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