Sin City has more to offer than slot machines and blackjack tables. TripAdvisor users rate Las Vegas as the second-best destination in the United States after New York City, but if you’re not a gambler, you may have written off Nevada’s largest city as a possible vacation option. We suggest giving this desert metropolis another look, tough.
Las Vegas has plenty to offer even if you never plan to set foot in a casino, from one-of-a-kind outdoor activities to top-notch cultural attractions. The famous shows alone are worth a trip, and the city’s food scene is thriving. And there are plenty of quirky spots designed to lure in tourists, from the Straosphere Tower (the tallest freestanding observation tower in the U.S.) to the Minus5 Ice Bar, where everything is made entirely of ice. Even if you’re not a gambling person, you’ll find plenty to do during your Las Vegas vacation, including these seven can’t-miss activities.
1. Red Rock Canyon
Forget neon lights, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area offers colorful sights of a different variety. Located 17 miles past the Sunset Strip, this preserve is the perfect destination for outdoor lovers who want to hike, bike, rock climb, or camp. A hike on one of the park’s 19 marked trails may take you past desert springs, waterfalls, petroglyphs, and dramatic rock formations. You can visit any time of year, but in the summer temps can soar into the triple digits, so plan your outdoor excursions for the early morning or evening hours and take necessary safety precautions.
2. Neon Museum
Las Vegas has a habit of blowing up its best-known landmarks, like the Stardust Casino and The Sands. Fortunately for nostalgia lovers, you can glimpse fragments of the city’s past at the Neon Museum’s “neon boneyard,” the final resting place for more than 200 historic signs. You’ll need to book a $19, hour-long guided tour to view the collection. To see the famous Las Vegas lights in all their glory, you can take a self-guided walking tour that takes you past restored signs still in use today.
3. Take in a show
Whether you’re a fan of magic, acrobatics, or music, there’s a show in Las Vegas that will appeal to you. Stars like Britney Spears and Celine Dion are resident artists, as are Criss Angel, David Copperfield, and Penn & Teller. You can also catch a performance by Cirque du Soleil or Blue Man Group, or take in musicals like Rock of Ages or Evil Dead The Musical.
4. Hoover Dam
The Hoover Dam is one of the engineering marvels of the 20th century. The dam, which spans the Colorado River between Nevada and Arizona, is as wide as two football fields at its widest point is taller than the Washington Monument. Driving or walking across will give you a sense of its scale. If you have the time, take the one-hour, guided dam tour, which lets you see the inner workings of the dam itself. The Hoover Dam is about 40 minutes outside of Las Vegas.
5. Grab a bite
If fine dining and celebrity chefs make you salivate, Las Vegas is your kind of town. Hot spots include Nobu at Caesar’s Palace and Mario Batali’s Carnevino at the Palazzo. But you’ll find plenty of tasty eats off the Strip too, from excellent Mexican at Tacos el Gordo or farm-to-table cuisine at Owl. Eater rounds up the Vegas dining scene and the must-visit restaurants here.
6. High Roller Ferris Wheel
Forget the dinky Ferris wheels you’ve seen at the county fair. The High Roller, which is more than 520 feet in diameter, is the tallest Ferris wheel in the world — bigger even than the famous London Eye. A full revolution in one of the wheel’s 28 enclosed cabins takes 30 minutes to complete. For a truly unique experience, book the “elevated journey” yoga trip, where a professional instructor leads a one-hour class as you take in sweeping views of the Vegas skyline and the desert beyond.
7. Pinball Hall of Fame
Just because you don’t gamble doesn’t mean you can’t play games in Las Vegas. Provided you have a few quarters in your pocket, you can get your kicks at the Pinball Hall of Fame. The 10,000-square-foot museum is home to hundreds of pinball machines from the 1950s through the 1990s, and you can play all of them. Visiting is free — the only charge is to play the game, and any excess money the museum takes in goes to charities like the Salvation Army.