You aren’t going to lack for things to do in Las Vegas. More than likely, you’ve come here for the gambling, which should keep you pretty busy. But you can’t sit at a slot machine forever. After all, you’re going to have to get up to go to the bathroom at some point! When you do, maybe you should look around at some of the other things here that can keep you entertained.
Just walking on the Strip and gazing at the gaudy, garish, absurd wonder of it all can occupy quite a lot of time. This is the number-one activity we recommend in Vegas; at night, it is a mind-boggling sight. Beyond that there are options galore, from popular bits of Vegas silliness like volcanoes and crooning gondoliers, to museums, thrill rides, spas, recreation, and beyond. And, of course, you can engage in those most iconic Vegas traditions, getting married and gambling.
Don’t forget there are shows and plenty of other nighttime entertainment. There are also out-of-town sightseeing options, such as Hoover Dam (a major tourist destination), Red Rock Canyon, and excursions to the Grand Canyon.
The Resurgence of Downtown Las Vegas
For decades, the bulk of the attention, and development dollars, in Las Vegas has gone to the Strip, while the original part of Sin City, the Downtown area, languished and seemed on the verge of extinction.
Credit, at least in part, online retailer Zappos.com for changing all that. Its plan to move its headquarters and a couple of thousand employees into the former city hall building spurred a resurgence in Downtown Las Vegas, with major revamps to old hotels, new restaurants, fun and funky bars, attractions, street festivals, and more, all lending a new sense of life to the area.
The bulk of the action happens on the Fremont Street Experience, the pedestrian-only mall on Fremont Street between Main Street and Las Vegas Boulevard. That’s where you’ll find most of the casinos, shopping, and restaurants.
The Fremont East Entertainment District takes up several blocks of Fremont Street just east of Las Vegas Boulevard and has several bars, lounges, and clubs all within a few feet of each other, so no matter how much you may be stumbling, you can probably still make it to the next one in your all-night pub crawl.
This is the area where you’ll find the Downtown Container Park, a shopping and dining complex made out of recycled shipping containers and prefabricated metal cubes. In addition to the retail and food options, there are a giant treehouse-style jungle gym inside for the kids and a fire-breathing praying mantis sculpture out front for kids of all ages.
The 18b Arts District is a few blocks south of Fremont Street, bounded, more or less, by Las Vegas Boulevard to the east, Commerce Street to the west, Hoover Avenue on the north, and Colorado Avenue on the south. Art galleries, antique and collectible stores, and more than a few pawn shops and bail bonds offices (to give it color, we suppose) are scattered about the neighborhood, giving it a refreshingly bohemian feeling as it sits in the shadow of the overprocessed Strip.
The monthly First Friday Las Vegas street festival happens in the heart of the 18b Arts District on the blocks surrounding the intersection of Casino Center Drive and Colorado Avenue. Local artists hawk their wares while live bands and DJs keep the crowds moving, play areas (complete with a video game truck) keep the kids entertained, and a sea of food vendors and food trucks keep everyone fat and happy. It’s one of the few places where there is a true sense of community in Vegas. It happens, appropriately enough, on the first Friday of every month from 5 until 11pm. For more information, visit www.firstfridaylasvegas.com.
The area has even qualified for its own big-time music, arts, and food event with the Life is Beautiful Festival, held each October. The inaugural event in 2013 drew more than 65,000 people and featured stages with Beck, the Killers, Kings of Leon, Imagine Dragons, and more while food tents had eats from Cat Cora, Hubert Keller, Todd English, and Paul Bartolotta, among others. For more information, visit www.lifeisbeautifulfestival.com.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.