This family knows a bit about Las Vegas, you can say. I am a native of Las Vegas. I was born and raised in Sin City. I went to high school, received a degree, and brought two babies into the world in Las Vegas. From a local and native perspective, these are the must-not-miss places and best things to do in Las Vegas.
My dad built a significant part of the Strip’s hotels and casinos, including the Mirage, MGM, New York-New York, and many more. His company played an important role in the development of Las Vegas from the 1980s on. He built many of the roadways and homes (yes, people live in Las Vegas).
All of my family still lives in Vegas. My mom often hikes at Red Rock Canyon and rides her horses through the Las Vegas valley. My thriving ninety-three-year-old grandma heads to the casino daily to play slots. You will often see her at the local casino buffet. My grandpa Harry was one of the first Pit Bosses at the Binion Casino when it opened in 1951.
My brother, Steve, had a hit TV show, Vegas Rat Rods, on the Discovery Channel. Steve is still a recognizable member of the Las Vegas community.
We have deep roots in this town; we are a family that has lived in a city for decades that is mostly a transit town, and we have seen it grow to what it is today.
Walking or Driving the Las Vegas Strip
This is a given and a must. Las Vegas Boulevard or the Las Vegas Strip is about four miles long and is a fun walk to take it all in. It is even more fun to drive up and down. The Las Vegas Strip is where you see all lights, the casinos, high-rises, and hotels. In my glory days in Las Vegas, this is what the cool kids did; at the time, we did not think much of it. This, however, may be a life-long dream for others.
There is something magical driving up and down the Vegas Strip at night. The lights shine and twinkle, and the Strip is full of entertainment (and a few weirdos, too, so be careful). To get an Uber from one point to another is about $10-$20.
We recommend starting at the “Welcome to Las Vegas” Sign and heading north. Strolling the Strip will take some time. You will see some of the major attractions along the way, and you can enjoy a cocktail, too.
You will see attractions such as the New York-New York rollercoaster, the MGM Lion, the Bellagio fountains, the LINQ Promenade, the High Roller Observation Wheel, and so much more.
- To take your Vegas Strip tour to new heights, book a helicoper ride over the Las Vegas Strip at night. The ride will take you over the famous Las Vegas Strip. Experience neon lights, famous Vegas landmarks, the Mirage Volcano, the Bellagio Fountains, the Paris Eiffel Tower from above.
The “Welcome to Las Vegas” Sign
It’s been said that all roads lead back to Las Vegas. If you’re coming from just about anywhere in the country, the chances are that at some point on your journey, you’ll pass by the iconic sign welcoming visitors with its trademark neon lights shining brightly in the desert night sky.
The Welcome to Las Vegas Sign is the best opportunity to showcase your trip in Vegas and the most popular photo opportunity. The line looks long but goes relatively fast.
If you are coming in the summer, we suggest going early morning or in the evening. Vegas has very dry heat, concrete, asphalt and makes for intense heat. As you will see in our photo, it was 113 degrees, and the line was an hour-long, so we snuck to the side.
The Venetian Grand Canal Shoppes
The Venetian Hotel and Casino and the Venetian Grand Canal Las Vegas are one of the most breathtaking sights in all of Las Vegas. The Venetian Hotel is one of our top picks to stay in Las Vegas, and it’s magnificent.
The Venetian Grand Canal is a replica of the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy. With shops and restaurants lining both sides of the 1/2 mile canal for hours of eating, drinking, and shopping.
Must-do things to do in the Venetian Grand Canal Shoppes:
- If you are looking for romantic things to do in Las Vegas for couples- you can take a ride in an authentic Venetian-style gondola down the canal as your gondolier serenades sweet nothings to you and your love. After, have a memorable dinner at Cut by Wolfgang Puck.
- Shop at the many luxury stores such as Jimmy Choo, Louis Vuitton, Bauman Rare Books, and many more.
- Do karaoke at KAMU, the Strip’s first high-end ulta karaoke.
- Hang with the (wax) stars and take instrgram-worthy photos at Madame Tussauds Wax Museum.
- Escape the Sin City PanIQ Room. This escape room is the only in Vegas that combines thought-provoking puzzles and riddles with a full-service bar and lounge.
- Sit by the Grand Canal and enjoy traditional Mexican food while the gondolas float by.
Fremont Street and Downtown Las Vegas
Fremont Street is a must-see in Las Vegas. It’s the original strip of casinos, and it’s very different from its modern counterpart. In fact, Fremont street used to be called Glitter Gulch because of all the lights that lit up this area.
Today, there are many casinos along Fremont Street with great shows, shopping, and good food for any budget. If you’re visiting Las Vegas with kids, this might be an exciting experience for them too!
Fremont Street and downtown are what they call ‘old school’ Vegas, and it can’t be missed on your visit here!
Fun Things to do in Las Vegas-Fremont Street and Downtown:
- An absolute must-do while on Fremont Street is SlotZilla Zipline. SlotZilla is a 12-story slot machine in the middle of Fremont Street. Imagine soaring on a zipline through the neon lights, classic Vegas casinos, and the famous Fremont Street Experince Light Show. Flying 1700 feet at 35 miles per hour, while tourists cheer you on below. This is an experience not to be missed. Especially, if you are a thrill-seeker or looking for things to do in Las Vegas with kids.
- See the Viva Vision Light Show every night starting at 6pm which is the worlds largest light display. Hint: try to book your SlotZilla ride during the light show for an extra fun experience.
- As one of the best free things to do in Vegas is the Downtown Rocks Concert Series. Partner casinos and the Fremont Experience throw a free concert with artists such as Clay Walker, 3 Doors Down, and Walker Hayes to name a few.
- If you are looking to grab a bite to eat in this iconic, old-school Vegas area, we recommned Hugo’s Cellar, which is one of the oldest steakhouses in Las Vegas. Or, a classic burger at the modern gastropub, The Smashed Pig
The LINQ Promenade
The LINQ Hotel and Casino are also home to the LINQ Promenade and the newest most-recognizable structure Vegas Strip- the High Roller Observation Wheel, soaring 550 feet above Las Vegas.
The LINQ Promenade is an open-air mall offering locals and tourists shopping, dining, entertainment for all ages. I recently visited this great little spot in Las Vegas with my family, and we loved it.
Must-Dos at the LINQ Promenade:
- Ride the High Roller Observation Wheel. This attraction sells out fast, book before going on your trip, if possible. You can book the “Happy Hour Half Hour” which includes an open bar in your high roller cabin during your ride.
- Head to It’s Sugar sweet shop for some treats and an adult treat upstairs serving up candy martinis and fudge.
- Catch Jimmy Kimmel’s Comedy Show. Jimmy Kimmel hosts comedy acts alongside craft cocktails and inventive bites.
- Eat at Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen and Bar serving up over-the-top burgers and beers.
- Go for an epic night of bowling with wall-shaking music, tasty bites and craft drinks at Brooklyn Bowling.
- Shop at unique shops like Havaianas, Nectar Bath Treats, Socks and Bottoms.
Seven Magic Mountains
This was a new venture for my family. We all were a bit hesitant to drive outside of Vegas to “some stacked rocks.” I must say, we were proved wrong and were very impressed by this sculpture. Even my dad was impressed.
Seven Magic Mountains is a large-scale desert artwork by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone. This installation is located 15 miles south of Las Vegas on Interstate 15 like you are going to California. This exciting installation is situated at Jean Dry Lake (which makes for incredible pictures, too).
The installation consists of seven 30-35 foot tall dayglow totems comprised of painted, locally-sourced boulders (source, sevenmagicmountains.com). The location, according to the artists, is midway between the natural and artificial. This sculpture, to our surprise, was much more than “stacked rocks.” If you plan on not getting a rental car while visiting and would like to visit Seven Magic Mountains, you can find a great deal here.
The Hoover Dam
Hoover Dam National Historic Landmark is one of the most iconic engineering wonders of the world. Hoover Dam is one of the best things to do in Las Vegas besides gambling. That’s why it’s no surprise that Hoover Dam Las Vegas tours are so popular with tourists from all over the world.
The first thing you’ll notice about a Hoover Dam Tour is how amazing your view will be as you stand on top of this engineering marvel and gaze down at the Colorado River below. You’ll also learn that more than 20 million people visit this site each year to enjoy its many attractions.
- If you do not feel comfortable renting a car in Las Vegas, it is easy to find tours offering safe transportation. Pink Jeep Tours offers Hoover Dam Tours that are convenient for everyone in your party. There is a walking tour along the top of the Hoover Dam with views of the structure and Lake Mead. Lake Mead is the largest man-made lake in America.
- Take a visionary air tour in prop-plane ride over Lake Mead, Hoover Dam and the West Rim of the Grand Canyon Tour. See these magnifiant landmarks from the best view, from above.
Caesars Palace Las Vegas
Caesars Palace is classic Las Vegas. Exploring this iconic hotel and heading to the Forum Shops is a must. The Forum Shops is a luxury shopping destination that spans over 150 stores like Nike, Hermes, Gucci, Cartier, Tiffany & Co., Christian Dior, Christian Louboutin.
Musts for Ceasers Palace and the Forum Shops:
- See the latest residency like Carrie Underwood, User, Pink, Britney, Sting at The Colosseum located right on the Las Vegas Strip.
- Caesars Palace has some of the best resturants in Vegas. Mr. Chow for authentic Beijing dishes, Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen, Bobby Flay’s Alalfi with bright and fresh coastal flavors, Pronto by Gianda. Moreover, eat at New York City’s legendary italian resturant Raos.
- Lounge by one of seven pools and play some swim-up Blackjack.
- Have light bites and glamourous cocktails at Vanderpump Cocktail Garden. This sexy garden oasis is a perfect location for a romantic evening for couples or celebrating a girls trip.
- Head to Urban Necessities for rare, hard to find, vintage and old-school sneakers like Air Jordan, Adidas, and Yeezy. In the same store, head upstairs, and there is a barbershop as well as a tattoo shop. You can get a head-to-toe experience in one stop.
The Valley of Fire
Valley of Fire is a popular national park in the Mojave Desert, and it’s one of Nevada’s many beautiful and scenic parks.
The Valley of Fire contains over 36,000 acres with red sandstone formations called “hoodoos.” These unique shapes are created from wind erosion seen throughout the desert landscape.
There are also petroglyphs dating back to about 10,000 years ago. Visitors can enjoy hiking trails, rock climbing adventures, or just leisurely walks through the park to take in all its beauty.
- Take the guided tour in a Tour Trekker specifically designed for sightseeing and exploring off-road. See the best of the Valley of Fire including Rainbow Vista, Atlatl Rock and Fire Canyon by an experienced guide.
- If you are a thrill-seeker or want to get deeper into the Valley of Fire, take a Sunbuggie ATV Tour for some off-roading fun, lunch and resort shuttle included.
The Bellagio Fountains and Botanical Conservatory
The Bellagio Water Show is a magnificent display of different fountain shows of music and lights that can be seen from all over the Las Vegas Strip. The fountains dance along to Frank Sinatra, Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, Andrea Bocelli, Tina Turner, and more!
The Bellagio Water Shows thrills thousands of visitors each year and is one of the best things to do in Vegas for free. It would be best to catch this show at least once while visiting here, so grab your friends or family for a fantastic experience.
Next, head inside the Bellagio Hotel and Casino (one of my all-time favorites in Las Vegas) and see the Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Garden. Each season-winter, spring, summer, and fall, into a horticultural showcase of sights, sounds, and magnificent colors. This is also a free attraction in Las Vegas and well worth it.
Other Musts in The Bellagio Hotel:
- See the most in-demand, best show in Las Vegas, O by Cirque du Soleil. The production features stunning acrobatics surrounded by fire and water as well as air acts on an impressive scale.
- See works of Picasso, Warhol, Lichtenstein at the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art.
- Dine at Wolfgang Puck’s flagship restaurant, Spago. This stunning restaurant is beautifully situated in front of the Bellagio Fountains for a exquisite experience in Las Vegas.
- Eat at the best buffet in Las Vegas, The Buffet at Bellagio.
- Do some retail therapy at the Bellagio Shops including Alexander McQueen, Bottega Veneta, Chanel and Dior.
Red Rock Canyon
One of the most fantastic attractions found outside of downtown Las Vegas includes Red Rock Canyon (about 30 minutes from The Strip). If you want to get out into nature, this should be your first stop.
There are incredible views, red-hued Aztec sandstone cliffs that are about 180 million years old. Red Rock Canyon offers visitors a chance to experience the city’s urban environment and nature’s beauty.
There are plenty of trails for hiking, biking, geology, camping as well as rock climbing if you’re up for it. It’s also a great place to see wildlife like coyotes, wild donkeys, and other desert creatures!
Tip: You must make a timed reservation to enter the park, and we highly suggest doing it in advance. This park is trendy, even with the locals.
Spring Mountain Ranch State Park
Just a little past Red Rock Canyon is a spot you would never think existed in the Las Vegas Valley. I have some of the best memories as a child coming to Spring Mountain Ranch State Park. My mom and her friend Kathy would pack a huge picnic and head up to this beautiful location for the day.
We would climb trees, run the grass fields, hike, and look for wild animals and burro. It’s a gorgeous location if you are looking for things to do with kids in Las Vegas and you will not believe it’s only a few minutes outside the city limits.
Spring Mountain Ranch State Park is a 528 acre, once working ranch with famous owners-German actress Vera Krupp and millionaire Howard Hughes. Today, the ranch serves as a place for visitors to explore some of the oldest standing buildings in Nevada, a blacksmith shop, and a Sandstone Cabin.
Other Things to do at Spring Mountain Ranch State Park:
- Summer theatre productions are held May through September and great opportunity to catch a cultural event.
- Visit the original red ranch house on top of the green hill. Tours are self-guided and there is a museum shop.
- Spring Mountain Ranch offers a living history program to give visitors the experience to view the ranch as it might have been. These costumed events include demonstrations, and re-enactments of historic events.
- Picnicking and hiking throughout the park.
You don’t have to be a Raiders fan (though this family is) to enjoy this magnificent addition to Las Vegas. Allegiant Stadium is adjacent to the Las Vegas Strip, and there is so much more to this stadium than football.
Sporting events, college football games, concerts, and tours of this massive stadium will make your trip to Vegas much more memorable.
Things to do at Allegiant Stadium:
- See a Raiders football game. As a fan of the Raiders since they were in LA, we are some of the most fun fans there are. Come to a game, experience the new stadium, or come while your team is playing. The stadium is an experience in itself.
- Take a guided tour. We suggest taking the guided tour with the drink and view after. Allegiant Stadium has one of the best views of the Las Vegas Strip. Hint: Book your tour when the sun is setting for a picture of the amazing sunset of Las Vegas with all the pinks, blues and yellows. Then shortly after, you will be able to get a picture of the Strip in its night glory.
- See a UNLV college football game.
- See a concert in this one-of-a-kind venue like Metallica, Billy Joel, Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Note: This venue requires Covid vaccination. See conditions and rules before booking and attending.
The Neon Musuem
Las Vegas has always been known for its bright lights and the extravagant things you can see in Sin City. However, many people don’t know that there are other places to visit within the city limits where you can find more than just casinos and showgirls.
One of these hidden gems is The Neon Museum Las Vegas – a museum dedicated to preserving the neon signs from all over America’s gambling mecca.
With their motto “Save The Signs,” they have worked hard at collecting, documenting, restoring, and exhibiting Las Vegas’ iconic signage since opening their doors in 1996.
This includes everything from vintage marquees dating back to the 1940s through modern-day digital displays like those found on Fremont Street Experience or along the Las Vegas Strip.
Las Vegas is the perfect city for you if you’re looking for fun, excitement, and glamour. It isn’t just about gambling anymore! The bright lights of the Strip are there to entertain everyone with everything from Cirque du Soleil shows to world-renowned restaurants. You can also experience some of our natural wonders by taking day trips! If you have any questions, feel free to reach out! I hope you have the BEST time in Las Vegas!!