Situated in the midst of the desert, Las Vegas is famous around the world for its high roller tables and extravagant shows. The lights shine bright and the temptation to spend large lies around every corner. Yet there are still many ways to enjoy Sin City without spending a dime.
For travelers, life in Las Vegas revolved around the famous Strip, where there is a seemingly endless collection of casinos, theaters, hotels, and clubs. Each competes for your attention, providing free experiences to partake in that allow you to enjoy what Vegas is all about on a budget.
See also: Where to Stay in Las Vegas
But it’s not just the Strip where you can find free things to do in Las Vegas. Within minutes of downtown, you can enjoy some memorable adventures that take you through Nevada’s beautifully barren landscapes.
In this post, we'll cover:
15. The Volcano at the Mirage
A quintessential Las Vegas experience, the Volcano at the Mirage, is a great introduction to your travels in Sin City. Here, you’ll discover a world of fireball explosions backed by boisterous soundtracks.
The Volcano at the Mirage occurs four times, each hour from 8pm, every night. It’s a typical Las Vegas show which is over the top and created for tourists, but that’s exactly why you should experience it at least once.
It’s designed by the same folks who created the Bellagio Fountain show and is enthralling from the moment the ground rumbles and the fireballs soar out of the volcano.
14. Downtown Container Park
Providing a welcome contrast to the Las Vegas Boulevard, the Downtown Container Park is an open-air village that boasts a collection of shipping containers spread around a vibrant courtyard. It’s vibrant and edgy in all the ways downtown Vegas is not.
Travelers can venture off-Strip to a place that’s a lot more relaxing where adults and kids are entertained in equal measure. The young ones can head off to the Play Zone while the adults can experience the Awakening of The Mantis, a drum circle that sees the local giant mantis come to life under the beautiful sunset.
Other highlights include shopping, great eats and live music throughout the week.
13. Aria Fine Art Collection
Lovers of art can’t pass up the opportunity to get along to the Aria Fine Art Collection. The experience begins with a memorable wow moment as you gaze upon the spellbinding sculpture that sees a collection of kayaks fly out of the water.
It’s a great glimpse into what’s to come as you wander by a series of large-scale installations from the likes of Sanford Biggers, Maya Lin and Frank Stella. It’s thoroughly intellectually engaging and visually stimulating, with each piece holding a commanding presence within the gallery space.
Highlights include the Silver River by Maya Lin that showcases the Colorado River and the LED creation by Jenny Holzer.
12. Flamingo Wildlife Habitat
Las Vegas is a chameleon, constantly changing its stripes to provide the ultimate vacation. The Flamingo Wildlife Habitat found inside the Flamingo Hotel and Casino is a great example of this. Kids and the young at heart will have a blast discovering a world of turtles, fish, parrots and yes, flamingos among a tropical landscape.
The habitat is open early from 7am to 8pm, so if you’ve got restless little ones you can get their legs moving and arrive in time for the 8am Keeper Talks (also at 2pm). These are not only free but an excellent chance to dive deeper into the exotic garden, home to waterfalls and streams while learning about the wildlife that calls it home.
11. Spend a day by the pool
Life in Las Vegas is a life spent in the fast lane. It’s a hectic experience, one that begins early and finishes late. But sometimes you just want to catch up on some rest and relaxation. Having thought ahead and booked a hotel with a pool, you can refresh in and by the water without spending a dime.
In the hot summer months, it’s even more important that you book a room at a place with some aqua to dive into. The searing sun is restless and your only escape is in the air-conditioned casinos where money flies out the window or in your hotel’s pool.
Swim around before grabbing a good book or getting some much needed shut-eye on the poolside lounges.
10. Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Sign
No trip to Las Vegas would be complete without taking the compulsory selfie in front of the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign. It’s been shown in movies for decades and you can find the famous attraction at the south end of Las Vegas Boulevard.
The Las Vegas sign stands 25-feet-tall and has been a constant in the city since 1959. After stepping off the plane or completing this step on your road trip, be sure to stop, whip out the camera and pose before making your way downtown.
The best time to go is during golden and blue hour where the sign is alight and the background is a wild mix of blues, reds and yellows.
9. Hoover Dam
After the Grand Canyon, the Hoover Dam is arguably the most popular day trip from Las Vegas. Even if you’ve seen photos of the Hoover Dam, its immense scale is even more impressive in person.
The dam wall is a stunning 60-story structure, the tallest of its kind on earth. At the base, its wall is over 750 feet thick, holding up enough concrete to create a path from San Francisco east to New York.
Park on the Arizonan side of the dam (it’s free), enjoy the view before making your way down to Lake Mead for a day of sunbathing and swimming.
8. Ethel M Chocolates & Cactus Garden
Love chocolate? Well, no trip to Las Vegas is complete without a visit to the beloved Ethel M Chocolates and Cactus Garden. This fabulous free attraction is bound to get your mouth salivating as you embark on a journey of chocolate creation with a self-guided tour of the factory.
The factory and garden are actually located in Henderson, just a short drive from the Strip. The trip is immediately worth it as you gaze upon the stream of chocolate, pecan brittle and a range of fillings.
After that delicious sight, wander into the Cactus Garden, which covers three marvelous acres packed with 300 unique species of succulents, shrubs, cacti and other desert flora.
7. Seven Magic Mountains
Just outside of Vegas is another free attraction that you should add to your list. The Seven Magic Mountains is home to a range of quirky art exhibits that provide the perfect contrast to life in the heart of Sin City.
To get here, make your way ten-miles south through the desert to a fascinating park laden with head scratching sculptures and public art all sourced from the unique mind of Ugo Rondinone. The eye-catching art features colorful boulders stacked on top of each other, like granite rainbows surrounded by barren desert.
It all began as a temporary exhibit, but Seven Magic Mountains has captured the attention of locals and travelers alike.
6. Free Tram Ride on the Strip
We discuss the joys of wandering the Strip on foot below, but did you know there are three trams on the Strip? These are free (unlike the official Las Vegas Monorail), allowing you to venture up and down the 3+ mile Strip without raising a sweat.
Starting from one end (either Mandalay Bay or Treasure Island), you can make your way by many of the city’s most famous attractions, hotels and casinos, harboring delicious eats and enthralling shows. These include the popular Shark Reef Aquarium and the Titanic Exhibits.
The three trams combine to allow guests a comfortable, air-conditioned ride down the Strip, avoiding the hot Nevada sun along the way.
5. Travel the world without leaving Vegas
Las Vegas is a one-of-a-kind destination, and there’s no better testament to this than its ability to take you around the world without ever leaving the city. It all begins at the Venetian, when your traveling crew can make their way down the Grand Canal on a gondola, a scene straight out of Italy.
Next up, jet off to the heart of Paris, where you can experience the iconic Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and the Arc de Triomphe at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel & Casino. After experiencing the City of Light, venture back to Italy and live like royalty at Caesars Palace.
Last up on your round-the-world extravaganza of the New York-New York Hotel, where skyscrapers abound and Broadway makes an appearance.
4. Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens
After capturing the Bellagio Fountain Show in all its majestic glory, wander inside the Bellagio Hotel, where you’ll soon be greeted by the Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Garden. Not only is it a free attraction spanning 14,000 square feet, it offers travelers a collection of five rotating displays. This means there’s always something new to see.
Whether you’re arriving for your first or fifth experience in the gardens, you can expect to be enamored by the imaginative landscapes. The floral designs leave an immediate impression and there is no lacking attention to detail thanks to a team of 120 members.
If you’re arriving around the Lunar New Year or the holiday season, you can expect the show to go to another level.
3. Fremont Street Experience
A great alternative to a night on the Strip is with a quick trip to Fremont Street. This spot is an alternative in more ways than one, providing a similar electric vibe with a difference.
The aptly named Fremont Street Experience covers the length of five blocks but is an eclectic alcove compared to the scale of the Strip. Although the street’s free experiences help stretch your budget while providing plenty of highlights to the itinerary.
Stop by for DJs and bands playing to vibrant crowds without having to buy a ticket, while you can experience the largest video screen on earth showcasing a captivating light show.
2. Bellagio Fountain
Las Vegas’ famed shows are often reserved for those with a ticket. There is one notable exception, and that is at the Bellagio Fountain. Found in the famous Strip, the fountain puts on a spectacular trio of music, light and water combined into a rhythmic dance every hour on the hour.
Travelers can make their way to the fountain and experience the show up close and personal, maybe even feel the spray as it wanders in front of the iconic hotel. You can also catch the show from above at rooftop restaurants and bars.
1. The Strip
The Strip is arguably the biggest attraction in Las Vegas and it won’t take a cent out of your stretched pockets. Sin City is a place of indulgence. Its bright lights draw you in with temptation after temptation. But you can experience the city’s famous atmosphere for free.
The Strip is home to many of the experiences listed above, from the Bellagio Fountain to the Free Tram Ride. It also boasts the bulk of the color and craziness, encapsulated by the street performers who bring Elvis back to life and circus acts vie for your attention.
As you wander up and down the Strip, that’s as boisterous at midday as it is at 1am, you’ll be joined by a flurry of visitors with vibrant colored cocktails in hand.