Who says you need to gamble to enjoy Las Vegas? While casinos are big moneymakers in Sin City, there are also a wide variety of free or affordable attractions for all age groups. From circuses to erotic museums, you won't know which of these 19 attractions to check out first.
Ah, Las Vegas. The casinos. The shows. The Elvis Presley wedding chapels. There are so many ways to gamble in life and in love in this city that it's easy to see why it's known as Sin City. Even so, casinos, dancers and buffet dinners aren't the only things you'll find in the city. Check out these unique activities and things to do in Las Vegas.
Fountains of Bellagio
You don't need to spend your life savings to enjoy the Bellagio. In fact, its most prominent feature is completely free. The Fountains of Bellagio are a true Las Vegas landmark. More than 1,200 jets launch streams of water nearly 500 feet into the air on this 8.5-acre lake. The water streams are choreographed to music and put on a truly unique show that the entire family will enjoy.
If you miss being a kid and playing in the sandbox, you'll love Dig This. The unique attraction is about five minutes from the Strip and allows people ages 14 and older to operate bulldozers or hydraulic excavators in a five-acre "sandbox." The experience includes a safety lesson before getting behind the wheel, and riders have the chance to dig, lift items and even stack those items into pyramids. An experienced instructor provides step-by-step instructions via the radio as needed, and you'll receive a certificate at the end of your ride.
The Harry Mohney Erotic
The Harry Mohney Erotic Heritage Museum opened in 2008 and pays tribute to the history of erotica while taking a look at how it impacts today's society. In addition to paintings and sculptures, the museum offers interactive exhibits. Look for the purple and pink neon sign behind the Las Vegas Strip to find unique items like the world's largest erotic bicycle or the erotic objects owned by Catherine the Great.
Fremont Street is a pedestrian-only thoroughfare in the heart of Las Vegas. Also known as the "Glitter Gulch," Fremont Street offers a variety of activities for all types of people. Check out free concerts, visit casinos, or eat and drink at a variety of restaurants. Try something unique by ziplining away from Slotzilla, a 12-story slot machine, and across the thoroughfare, seeing if you can survive the Fear the Walking Dead attraction, enjoying a light show, visiting the neon museum, taking a picture with a million bucks and much more.
National Atomic Testing Museum
In 1951, the Nevada Test Site came to be. Today, the spot, which is 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas, is known as the Nevada National Security Site. Closer to the city is the National Atomic Testing Museum. It showcases the history of the test site and tells the story of nuclear weapons in the United States and their impact on Las Vegas and its surrounding communities. More than 12,000 artifacts are housed in the museum, which is affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution.
KISS by Monster Mini Golf
Are you a fan of KISS? Maybe you just like unique mini golf obstacles. Walk the length of the Rio's gambling floor and you'll find rock 'n' roll-themed mini-golf. The black lights, oversized guitars, neon obstacles and, of course, Gene Simmons' giant tongue are just some of the fun of these unique experience. Diehard fans can visit the mini museum or get married in the wedding chapel after playing through the course.
Like the Bellagio Fountains, the Mirage Volcano is another free sight to behold. Gather outside the main entrance to Las Vegas Boulevard Sunday through Thursday to watch explosions and fireballs at this unique attraction.
Eiffel Tower Viewing Deck
Las Vegas offers a little bit of Paris with the Eiffel Tower Viewing Deck. For a small fee, visitors can ride to the top of the tower and enjoy 360-degree views of the city's casinos and attractions as they light up at night. This is also the perfect spot to check out the Fountains of Bellagio.
If you've ever wanted to know what it's like to jump out of a plane but don't have the stomach to do it, try the Skyjump. This controlled free fall is a vertical zipline that sends you 855 feet off the 108th floor of the Stratosphere Tower. Reach speeds of up to 40 miles per hour before safely reaching the ground. For an extra-cool experience, do it after dark and watch the lights whiz by.
The Mob Museum
If you want to check out the only museum dedicated to organized crime in the United States, you'll need to head to the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement in downtown Las Vegas. Located in the building that used to house the courthouse and the post office, the three-story mob museum provides more than 100 years of history, including a sound booth with real-life stories of La Cosa Nostra, bullet fragments and part of the wall from the St. Valentine's Day Massacre.
If you'll be in Las Vegas on the first Friday of any month, head downtown to check out the First Friday event. You'll find a wide variety of Las Vegas locals sharing and selling their work. Enjoy live music and other performing arts, purchase artisan goods or grab a bite to eat.
Immerse yourself in an art installation by James Turrell. Commissioned by Louis Vuitton in 2013, the installation is hidden on the fourth floor of its store in City Center. The installation involves entering circular openings and enjoying a 24-minute light show that slowly changes and rotates. The vibrant hues bleed in and out of each other so precisely that it is sometimes hard to determine where the door is. While Akhob is a free experience, it is often booked at least a month in advance, so be sure to make a reservation.
About 10 minutes from the Strip, you'll find Main Street. Main Street includes a long row of gorgeous vintage shops that sell everything from furniture to souvenirs from the casinos of yesteryear. Check out Retro Vegas to find midcentury furniture and vintage clothing or head to Glam Factory a few blocks away for a stockpile of vintage outfits in bold colors and patterns. You'll feel like you stepped right into the '60s.
If you love trapeze artists and acrobats, you can't miss Circus Circus. This free, permanent fixture on the Strip has daily performances with a schedule that changes often to keep things fresh. Previous acts have included jugglers, circus clowns, aerial dances, strongmen and much more. This is a family-friendly attraction located inside a hotel and casino.
Located inside the Mandalay Bay Hotel, the Shark Reef houses more than 100 sharks that span 15 different species, not to mention more than 2,000 other animals in the aquarium. The walk-through water tunnel allows visitors to get a unique look at life under the sea, and the sunken ship is not to be missed.
Gold and Silver Pawn Shop
Most people have caught at least a few minutes of an episode of "Pawn Stars" on the History Channel. If you want to see where it's filmed while checking out unique items, like a Samurai sword that is more than 500 years old or a congressman's chair, head to the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop. It's open 24 hours per day and is located at the corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Bonneville Avenue. Expect lines during the day.
The Lion Habitat Ranch
Located just south of the strip, you'll find the Lion Habitat Ranch. This interactive experience allows you to visit lions and their cubs, ostriches, and a range of other animals. For an extra fee, you can eat with the animals or simply feed them. The ranch is also home to the only giraffe in the state, Ozzie, who just happens to be a painter.
Red Rock Canyon
If you need a break from the hustle of the Strip, you'll find Red Rock Canyon less than 20 miles from it. This quiet landscape's bright red cliffs are gorgeous against blue skies. Take pictures, go for a stroll, tour it in an SUV or even go off-roading in a Hummer. It's close enough for you to spend the day in serenity and still have time to enjoy Sin City at night.
The Pinball Hall of Fame
If you've ever spent an afternoon pushing quarter after quarter into a machine at the local arcade, you need to check out the Pinball Hall of Fame. Located just off the Strip, the warehouse is more than an exhibit. More than 200 games fill the space and range from 1940s versions to modern ones. Most games cost 25 cents to play, although some are 10 cents and others are 50 cents. The money made on the games goes to charity.
There's literally something for everyone to do in Las Vegas. Whether you're traveling by yourself, with friends or taking a family vacation to the city, you'll be able to enjoy unique attractions at every corner. The variety of price points just makes the vacation that much better.