Ah, Vegas. That bright light city sure does set my soul on fire! I’m sorry. I had to. And it is true.
Vegas for me is about having fun, whether I’m sat at a Willy Wonka slot machine with my $5 and 50c bets or being stunned into silence with a sunset view that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
When people poo-hoo Vegas as being somewhere that people only go when they want to get drunk and gamble and get all judgey about repeat visitors, I get weirdly protective over this city we’ve become attached to. We love Vegas and don’t have a drink or gambling problem.
I know that people will always judge, but I decided that I wanted to do a post on my top ten non-gambling things to do to prove that there is more to Vegas than meets the eye.
So, in no particular order, here are my Vegas hotspots.
1. The Mob Museum
A recent discovery on our fourth trip to Vegas. I made Scott do some research this time so it wasn’t just my list we were working from because visiting doughnut bars was never going to be his idea of a good time. And he discovered this beaut.
Situated seconds away from Fremont Street, The Mob Museum is a brilliant place to learn about the history of various mobsters and their crimes, Vegas and how the mob became involved. They even have the Valentines Day Massacre wall!
We spent well over an hour there, probably closer to two, and decided that because we wanted to do the High Roller too, that we would buy a combination ticket rather than individual attraction tickets saving us around $15. The combination ticket cost $46 each and these tickets can only be bought from The Mob Museum. We tried to get them from the desk at the High Roller and were told the combination ticket couldn’t be bought from them – just something to note. Once you have your combination ticket, you also have to use it within 24 hours so it’s worth doing the museum in the morning and heading to the High Roller the same day.
From the Mob Museum you can also head to Fremont Street and take in the sights there. I didn’t include it in my top ten because in all honesty, I’m not a massive fan but can stand it for about an hour or so. It’s definitely something to see but I personally feel safer on the strip.
2. The High Roller
Without a doubt, this is one of my favourite – if not the favourite – thing we have ever done in Vegas. You know when you think something will be fun and you want to see some great views of Vegas so you try and aim for sunset and the reality takes your breath away? That was one of those moments for me.
The High Roller is a 550ft observation wheel standing in the heart of Vegas. Centre Strip, this giant wheel consists of ‘general’ pods and ‘happy hour’ pods where alcohol is included in the price of the ticket. Expect to pay an extra $13-15 (dependant on what time of day you go) each for the happy hour experience over and above the regular price. One full revolution of the wheel is just half an hour so decide whether you can drink potentially $15 worth of alcohol each (probably two drinks) to justify the price difference. We stopped at the bar on the floor below the actual wheel entrance where I got a rum slush drink and Scott got a beer which came to $18…..so for us it just wasn’t worth the party pod price. Plus, I’m like a old woman anyway so honestly wanted a quieter pod where we could just enjoy the views of Vegas rather than having to stand in a crowded pod.
If you only do one thing from this list, make it this. We timed it perfectly for sunset (try get in 15 minutes before the estimated sunset time and you’ll be right at the top as the sun goes down) and it was a truly spectacular sight. It’s something we’ve said we’d do again next time we head to Vegas without hesitation.
3. Bellagio Fountains
Probably the most cliché recommendation for things to do in Vegas but honestly, if you’ve never been before then you can’t not see the fountains! Plus, they’re free anyway and the sight of the perfectly timed fountains to music such as Nessun Dorma is something that has to be witnessed to appreciate this iconic Vegas attraction.
Likewise the volcano at The Mirage is pretty mesmerising. Hard to believe that it’s taken us until our fourth trip to actually see them.
4. Kiss Mini Golf
Ah, Kiss Mini Golf. An absolute highlight of our 2017 trip and something I don’t think gets enough coverage. I only heard about it through Lindsey Kelk and I’ve no idea why more people don’t recommend it.
It is situated off Strip at the Rio hotel but isn’t that far by taxi/Uber (I wouldn’t recommend walking it). I heard that onceover there was a free shuttle from Harrah’s to Rio but when we asked about it we were told that it didn’t exist anymore. We did see a small shuttle stand outside the Rio though as we were getting into our taxi back to the Strip so if you are heading there, it might be worth enquiring about because who doesn’t love free transport in Vegas?!
At only $12 for 18 holes, this Kiss themed area in the far corner of the hotel is brilliant for both children and adults. It definitely brought out the big kid in me, and my competitive nature! Filled with Kiss trivia and memorabilia, the whole experience seemed to fly by but once the game is over there are a few arcade games to have a play on if you’re not quite ready to leave….like me! I loved every second of the couple of hours we spent at Rio and would go back again and again.
5. Vegas Shows
Some of the worlds best entertainment and talent can be found in Vegas. From magic shows to the remarkable Cirque du Soleil, Vegas has it all. I mean, just look at some of the impressive names that have had residencies in Vegas; Elton John, Celine Dion, Lady Gaga is set to begin her residency this year – Vegas is like the mothership for entertainment.
In 2017 we went to see Absinthe and by the time we left the tent, my face hurt from laughter. If you’re easily offended, it’s probably best not to head there but the comedy and unique talent that make this show what it is, and the constant shake up to the line up (so I hear) only add to the enjoyment. There were literally no bad seats but I know for definite that I wouldn’t even attempt to try getting a seat right near the front unless you want to risk being the target of the comedy act.
6. Shopping at The Forum Shops
Caesars Palace; one of my favourite hotels on the Strip followed closely by the Bellagio, but what Caesars has that the Bellagio doesn’t is The Forum Shops. An indoor themed mall that seems to stretch for miles with clouds on the ceiling and cobbles beneath your feet its almost enough to make you forget you’re in a Vegas hotel. Where else in the world would you be able to watch the Fall of Atlantis (another free show involving fire!) while dining at The Cheesecake Factory followed by a trip to H&M where the resident DJ is up in his wall booth followed by a trip up a circular escalator – it’s better than it sounds, trust me.
Vegas know how to do shops, and this mall is a prime example of the complete escapism Vegas can provide away from slot machines. Granted, there’s still a chance you’ll come away with a lighter purse but you’ll have something wonderful to show for it.
7. Zip-lining down Fremont Street
Another experience I’ll never forget is my 2017 zip line down Fremont Street. I’m not much of an adrenaline junkie but this was amazing.
There are two options when ziplining down Fremont, then two further options after that. You can either zipline superman style, 11 stories high or sitting style, 7 stories high. You can also choose to zipline through the day or in the evening when Fremont Street is lit up. I think there was a small saving by ziplining through the day but either way, day or night, it was. SO. MUCH. FUN.
We had been down the night before to check everything out (read: suss out whether I trusted this place with my life!) and honestly? Fremont Street is an experience but I can’t really tolerate the noise and chaos for more than an hour down there. I’m a bit of a nana and just prefer to be up on the strip so we decided we’d come back the next day and zipline through the day. Also, just in case my being a nana didn’t give it away, I did not zipline superman style and as a result, neither did Scott haha.
If you’re down visiting Fremont Street and fancy a bit of an adrenaline rush then I can highly recommend Slotzilla for all your ziplining needs. Yes, my legs were shaking as I took the first step off of the platform and yes, it wasn’t ideal that I punched myself in the face as we came to a halt at the end but I would absolutely do this again and might even consider flying superman style next time.
8. The Grand Canyon
There are so many ways to see the Grand Canyon; helicopter, day trip, road trip – whatever floats your boat.
We chose to drive and stay overnight, our thinking was it’s a hell of a drive and we’ll see the amazing sunrise and sunset if we do this. However, we made a huge error. We chose the wrong side to head to looking back purely because of the time it took us and the not so pleasant night time arrival. I’ll talk about this more in another post but if you’re looking to drive there, I’d recommend either staying over night or heading to the West Rim. There are numerous signs around Vegas saying you can be at the canyon in only a few hours and it was only this year (our canyon trip being 2017) that we saw these and realised they were true after an Uber driver confirmed this for us.
The most popular option is probably the helicopter. Personally, I’d rather stay on four wheels but I know quite a few people who have had amazing experiences flying over the canyon.
There really is no sight quite like the Grand Canyon and it truly took my breathe away when we drove to the viewing points. I don’t think a photograph can ever do it justice but it’s something that, if you have time, you should consider doing.
9. Food. All of the food.
I don’t think people realise the quantity of places there are to eat in Vegas if they haven’t been. I think you could go twice a year every year and still not cover them because there are so many and Vegas is constantly developing and new places are opening.
From the many, many buffet options to luxury patisseries and every high end restaurant in between, there is something for every budget and every taste. Fancy a burger? There’s an In ‘n’ Out for that. Looking for a meal that will take your breath away? Try Wynn and Encore. Want a casual dining experience? Visit the food court at Fashion Show Mall. And let’s not forget the cupcake ATM courtesy of Sprinkles.
In short, Vegas is a foodies heaven and you’d be crazy not to want to experience everything the Strip has to offer. Just be sure to bring some loose fitting clothing!
10. The hotels themselves
Where else in the world can you be stood outside the Eiffel with a view of New York? Or walking through the cobbled streets of Italy with a bright blue sky above you when it’s pitch black outside?
For me, Vegas is about the many individual experiences each hotel has to offer. I often try to think about which hotel is my favourite but it’s so hard. I love shopping at Caesar’s Palace. Encore has my soul for life because their rooms are so beautiful. The Bellagio Conservatory is probably one of my favourite things to see whenever we go to Vegas, and let’s not forget The Venetian whose façade is breath-taking.
I could go on. Seriously, there are so many options when hitting Vegas but I promised ten and here they are. My favourite hotspots. But I also enjoy the occasional small time bet on a fun machine and this year, sampled my first Fat Tuesdays. In short, Vegas can be whatever you want it to be and I for one won’t make any apologies for enjoying this city of contrasts.
Have you been to Vegas? What was your favourite part?
You can also get in touch over on Instagram at @girl_meets_passport