It’s nicknamed Sin City for a reason, but is there another side to Las Vegas for those wanting to skip the smokey casinos and feel like seizing the day rather than taking on the nightlife? Here are just a few ideas for alternative things to see and do in Vegas.
They say the third time is lucky and it was indeed true with my third trip to Las Vegas. The first time I was too young, the second I was with the wrong people and though I was there for work my third trip to Las Vegas was an absolute ball as I finally got to experience the side of the city that is a little more ‘me’ than smokey casinos and a lot of bars.
Being situated within Nevada and near the borders of California, Utah and Arizona, Las Vegas’ location gives you so many options for day trips or excursions that are just a short drive away, including some of the worlds most stunning National Parks. For those preferring to stay in a city Vegas’ growing culinary scene must be experienced and there are events, shows and new attractions opening every other week!
Here are just some of my “Get Out of the Casino” recommendations. Let me know your best Vegas tips in the comments below;
Experience Favourites in a New Way
The Bellagio Fountains are a must experience for any persons first or even fifth time to Las Vegas. Within the 8-acre manmade lake is more than 1,200 nozzles and 4,500 lights that can change to gold, purple, red, white or even blue! Every half an hour in afternoons and early evenings and every 15 minutes between 8pm and midnight, the lake will light up as a choreographed water performance is played.
If you’ve “been there, done that” consider seeing the fountains from a new view. The Hyde Bellagio, a lounge and bar, overlooks the lake before turning into a nightclub in the evenings. If you’re feeling peckish make a reservation for the lavish Picasso and dine surrounded by – you guessed it – some of Pablo Picasso’s artwork. If you are seated on the balcony you will be overlooking the fountain and the illuminated casinos along the Strip.
Eat Your Way Around Vegas
Lets be honest, when you think “foodie destination” Las Vegas isn’t the first place that springs to mind but the food scene is rapidly developing here.
While buffets are still a great lower cost option – I’m thinking of the huge array of choice at the Bellagio buffet or the Cosmopolitan’s Wicked Spoon – the ultra-high-end dining scene is certainly making changes for the better.
Along with Julian Serrano’s Picasso, the Bellagio’s restaurant with artwork by the famed artist, there is Joël Robuchon‘s three-Michelin-star French restaurant at the MGM Grand, miX by Alain Ducasse at Mandalay Bay and Twist at the Mandarin Oriental by Pierre Gagnaire.
Lets not forget other notable chefs who have set up residency in Vegas such as Nobu Matsuhisa (Nobu), Gordon Ramsay (Gordon Ramsay Steak), Michel Richard (Central) and Guy Savoy‘s self titled restaurant at Caesars.
One restaurant that has been receiving rave reviews from my friends is celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis’ restaurant ‘Giada‘ at the newly renovated hotel the Cromwell. I haven’t dined there but with a corner view on the Strip, the views from the restaurant over the road shows the Strip in a completely different way.
See Las Vegas from New Heights onboard The High Roller
“Oh, that’s new,” I thought as our Hawaiian Airlines flight began to descend into Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport. Towering above casinos lining the strip is an observation wheel that was definitely not there when I visited Vegas two-years ago.
Set on The LINQ, a new pedestrian-only area filled with cool bars, great restaurants and plenty of shopping options, The High Roller is now the world’s highest observation wheel at 550-feet and offers great views over the Strip and out over the surrounding desert.
By day or by night The High Roller keeps spinning and taking up to 40 people on a half an hour ride in one of 28 glass enclosed cabins. It’s definitely a new way to see the city!
See That Show You’ve Wanted to See, Or Experience Something New
I never realised that Las Vegas offered so many options for entertainment. With more than 70% of visitors opting to visit the city for this reason – and I’m not talking about the topless variety – there are plenty of choices no matter what you feel like seeing!
I won’t say much more but if you’re interested in seeing some of the shows read this post to find out what I rated as my favourite Las Vegas shows!
Head to Any One of Vegas’ Many Conventions
Las Vegas likes to let its hair down but when it comes to business it really does means business. With over 22,000 conventions each year there is something sure to interest every person.
From Pole Expo – a pole dancing exhibition event – to the Global Gaming Expo; Ink Fest – for tattoo lovers – to The Reel Awards and Celebrity Impersonators Convention. There is even an annual hacker convention called DEF CON.
I too was a person in town to visit a conference as I spent the best part of two-days at the 100th annual convention of the Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI) conference held in Aria’s convention centre. The conference bought more than 1,300 destination marketing professionals and digital influencers together to discuss new trends in travel.
I visited the conference alongside Remi, a Japanese blogger, and He, a Chinese influencer as part of the digital influencers track which included talks on how bloggers and DMO’s could better work together and meeting with just a handful of the destinations that were present throughout the three-day convention.
You kind of get a little caught up in your conventions bubble so I was surprised – and delighted – when I heard that there was a pet convention being held at Mandalay Bay. I just wish I could have snuck off for a few hours to see if there were any cute animals to play with!
Experience the Grand Canyon
Okay, okay, I know the Grand Canyon isn’t in Vegas but it is surprisingly close. Just a four-hour drive from the Strip, the impressive geological sight is a must see at least once in your life.
The drive to the Canyons rims is highway so consider renting a car but if you prefer to travel with ease consider choosing a Grand Canyon day-tour through Pink Jeep Tours or Viator.
If you’re short on time, or want to see Las Vegas from a different point-of-view, consider a helicopter tour over the Canyon. Just a 30 minute drive from the Strip, and with free transfers, Papillion Grand Canyon Helicopters take you on a 30 minute tour high above the Canyon and the snaking Colorado River. For those feeling a bit more adventurous consider taking a helicopter tour that lands in the Canyon and gives you time to walk around and admire this geological wonder.
Get Out of the City and Experience Some of the Best National Parks in the US
While we’re on day trips I can’t forget to mention the National Parks which are just a stone throw away from the city. While in Vegas I took two half day tours, one to Red Rock Canyon and the other to the Valley of Fire.
Heading into the Mojave Desert it was just under an hour before we made it to the Valley of Fire, Nevada’s first and largest state park. If you are a fan of geology then this is the tour for you as there as dozens of unique rock formations and ancient petroglyphs.
If you’re looking for more of an adventure tour then Red Rock Canyon might be a better option as climb through the Rocky Gap is definitely more for the adventurous souls amongst us.
I won’t give too much away as I’ll be writing about the tours over the coming two weeks but these are just two half day tours you could consider on your Vegas trip. Also within driving range is Death Valley National Park, the Grand Canyon and the Hoover Dam.
Explore a Whole New City
So this is a common suggestion but I LOVE that I can be in Paris one minute, New York the next and Egypt a few minutes later. Each casino is like its own mega city and, if you really wanted, you wouldn’t need to leave, but where’s the fun in that!
I personally like stocking up on Hershey’s kisses at the Hershey store in New York New York, the Café Gelato store at the Bellagio is perfect for cooling you down on a warm day and wander the Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian (and don’t forget to pick up something special for yourself!).
- Learn for SCUBA dive and see behind the scenes of Le Rêve at the Wynn
- Test drive an Exotic Car
- See and play rare machines at the Pinball Hall of Fame
- Ride the Slotzilla zip line above Fremont Street
- See historic signs at the Neon Museum
- Shop til you drop at the Outlet Malls
When planning your trip to Vegas do be sure to check out some of the casinos – each one has their own distinct personality – and maybe spend a dollar or two on the casino floor but get out of the casino and see another side to Las Vegas or perhaps even Nevada!
Now it’s over to you
What are your (non-gambling) recommendations for Las Vegas?
Planning your own trip to Las Vegas?
My trip to the USA was arranged by Discover America to attend the DMAI conference.
All thoughts and opinions are, as always, my own.
DMAI conference photo is by Chuck Fazio Photography.