Las Vegas calls itself the “Entertainment Capital of the World”. While that claim may seem dubious to some, I think Vegas makes a very compelling case for it to be true. Most everyone knows the typical stuff to do in Vegas (if you are unfamiliar and getting ready for your first time in Vegas, read our post on the top 10 things to do in Las Vegas), but aside from the gambling, crazy unique shows, and endless shopping, there are still a ton of other things to see and do.
The city doesn’t just have a nightlife style of entertainment. It developed something for everyone: the outdoorsy, the artsy, the thrill seeker, or even the intellectual.
Sound absurd? Keep reading...
Unique Things to do in Las Vegas
Vegas casinos are constantly expanding and being rebuilt to try and become the new hip property. This intense competition leads to the creation and ultimately excess of a ton of neon signs. Where do the extras or old ones go? To the Neon Museum of course.
It’s wild to take a walk through the history of Vegas to see casino signs of the past. Tours are available, or you can hang out with the photographers climbing around trying to get the best shot.
Exotics Racing / Race car driving experience
Want to own a Ferrari? Lamborghini? Aston Martin? Porsche? How about at least race around in one of them for a day? At Exotics Racing you can literally you can go to racing school where you learn to drive these amazing machines to their limits.
Packages are shockingly affordable; if you are into fancy cars you have to check it out.
The Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay
Lots of places have cool aquariums, but the Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay in the middle of the Las Vegas Strip makes for a great change of pace on an otherwise crazy trip. It’s about $25 to get in, but once in you get to see sharks, exotic fish, and my favorite, a tunnel that makes it feel like you are at the bottom of the ocean. The touch pool or shark feed are also fun options.
Valley of Fire Day Trip
Yes, another absurdly beautiful and unique natural formation is only 45 minutes outside of Vegas. Most people don’t get beyond the neon lights, but more and more people are discovering this state park. It gets its name because the rocks look on fire when sun hits them right. The valley was used by the Anasazi and some of their petroglyphs remain.
Sprinkles: The cupcake ATM
CUPCAKE ATM – do I really have to say anything else? Located by the Linq (the big ferris wheel) the Sprinkles bakery features some of the best ice cream, cookies, and cupcakes ever. The best part is obviously the ATM where you can withdraw a cupcake on demand.
Zero-G – The No Gravity Experience
Ever wanted to go to space and feel what it is like to be weightless? Did you know you could experience that in Las Vegas?
LITERALLY A ZERO GRAVITY EXPERIENCE just like you are in outer space can happen in Vegas. At the Zero-G flight experience you take off in a plane that flies in parabolic patterns (up and down and up and down) that literally take the effects of gravity away from you for 20-30 seconds at a time. You get to experience weightlessness 15 different times.
This attraction costs a pretty penny so be sure to save up, but at least it’s easier than going to space!
Read more about it here.
Check out our most popular Vegas post ever!
The Container Park is a recent project by Tony Shsieh (the Zappos guy). It was conceived as a sustainable downtown revitalization project with large parts of it being built from old shipping containers (like you would see at a port of entry). The result is pretty cool.
The unique atmosphere attracts all kinds of boutique shops, coffee houses, and restaurants serving food I’ve never heard of; my husband calls this area the “hipster’s paradise.”
Ever wanted to drive a bulldozer but not actually work a construction job? How about an excavator? Not even sure what that one is, but think driving big time construction equipment around could be fun? How about using huge equipment to crush a car? Of course this is on the menu in Vegas and open to everyone from the manliest of men to the girliest of girls (and even those as young as 12). Take a video driving one and tell everyone you had to get a part time job after losing all of your money gambling!
You can check out more here.
Hiking and Rock Climbing at Red Rock Canyon – Calico Basin Red Springs
When I first moved to Vegas I didn’t realize it was surrounded by mountains – yeah I know, the whole Rocky Mountain Range covers most of the western United States. By not knowing Vegas had amazing mountains, I missed some of its most amazing attractions. Just west of Vegas is the Red Rock Canyon featuring Calico Basin.
This area features gorgeous red rock sandstone formations which create some of the best hikes and incredible rock climbing (so gorgeous I had a set of our engagement photos taken there). The rocks attract climbers from all around the world, and consistently get rated as a top 5 climbing spot in the US.
Las Vegas Ski Resort
Yes, in the mountains just 45 minutes away from The Strip developers built a ski-resort. It is not huge, and does not feature the world’s best snow, but the novelty of being able to ski within 45 minutes of the scorching desert heat is unreal.
Gondola ride at the Venetian
Want to go to Venice and be sung to in the canals? Is Italy too far away? Once again, the experience is available in Vegas.
The opportunity to be serenaded by a real gondolier while being escorted through man-made canals in a miniature version of Venice is awesome. Also, don’t worry about the scorching heat as lots of the canals are indoors (yes the sky in the picture above is simulated). I have a friend that worked as a gondolier and you bet she was a talented singer!
The Hoover Dam and Lake Mead are surprisingly pretty cool to see. I’m not one who would typically advocate for a dam tour, but finding out that the dam’s generators are what is powering Vegas’ neon lights was actually fascinating.
The dam is on the border between Nevada and Arizona, and only about 30 minutes from The Strip. It is MUCH bigger than it looks in pictures. Also, the reservoir creates an awesome place to rent a boat and go waterskiing or wakeboarding.
Have you ever ridden in a helicopter? Maybe you have ridden in one, but was it just because you broke your leg and were on your way to the hospital? What’s available in Vegas is completely different. Affordable helicopter tours of the Las Vegas Strip are available, or you can even fly out and over the Grand Canyon (a 4 hour drive from Vegas).
Seven Magic Mountains
Ever seen modern art in the middle of the desert just south of The Strip? It is exactly what it looks like, a bunch of huge colorful rocks stacked on top of each other. My husband first discovered them on accident while dirt biking in the area. A Swiss artist named Ugo Rondinone created the display. My husband thinks the display is wildly overrated, but if you are interested in seeing, make sure you head out there quick as it is only temporary.
This list could go on and on. If you want more be sure to look into…
- Boulder City Ziplines – over 1.5 miles of ziplines 30 minutes from the strip.
- Cliff jumping sound fun? Nelson’s Landing’s cliffs offer an extreme thrill.
- History buff? The National Atomic Testing Museum should intrigue you.
- Natural Hot Springs? Hike the Gold Strike Hot Springs trail.
- Fly boarding? Paddle boarding? Free movies on the lawn? All available at Lake Las Vegas.