Things to do in Las Vegas

When you visit Las Vegas you quickly realise that the city itself is the biggest attraction. Simply walk the Strip and bask in the fluorescent light, listen to the pinging slot machines, and absorb the incredible energy of this fascinating desert city.

A century ago there was nothing much here, but since then Las Vegas has bloomed into one of the world's fastest growing cities. The key sites are naturally the extravagant casinos lining the Strip, all competing to attract passers-by with lavish displays and performances. Check out the MGM-themed Mirage, the Egyptian fantasy of the Luxor, and the opulence of the Bellagio.

Most people come to Vegas to gamble and party or perhaps to get married in one of the famous chapels, but the city is also an entertainment hub, offering theme parks, incredible swimming pools, giant shopping malls, and much more, which will easily occupy the whole family.

Music would do well to catch some of the grand shows and popular performers, while automobile nuts won't want to miss the world-class Imperial Palace Automobile Collection. If exploring on foot, do so at night when the lights make their biggest impact and the temperature is cooler. During the day make the most of the city buses which run the length of the Strip.

Venetian Hotel and Casino photo

Venetian Hotel and Casino

No expense was spared building the Venetian Hotel, aimed to recreate the city of Venice in the Nevada Desert, and the result is fairly spectacular. Guests can travel around the hot…

Venetian Hotel and Casino

No expense was spared building the Venetian Hotel, aimed to recreate the city of Venice in the Nevada Desert, and the result is fairly spectacular. Guests can travel around the hotel in a gondola - real canals run through the grounds - and a replica of St Mark's Square and the Basilica turns from night to day every three hours. Visitors have to look carefully to notice that the sky is actually a vast fresco. The only things missing are the pigeons and the backpackers. The casino itself is massive, featuring something like 2,500 slot machines and 125 gaming tables. For guests taking a break from the tables, there are five swimming pools, a fitness centre, and 17 restaurants - mostly pizzerias. One of the main attractions is Madame Tussauds Las Vegas, a wax museum presenting some of the world's biggest icons including stars, politicians, record-breaking athletes, and legends.

Address 3355 Las Vegas Boulevard

Website www.venetian.com

Bellagio Hotel and Casino photo

Bellagio Hotel and Casino

The Bellagio is one of Las Vegas's most opulent hotels and most popular casinos. With an Italian theme, the great bulk of the Bellagio sits in its own vast garden. It has more than…

Bellagio Hotel and Casino

The Bellagio is one of Las Vegas's most opulent hotels and most popular casinos. With an Italian theme, the great bulk of the Bellagio sits in its own vast garden. It has more than 3,000 rooms and hundreds of slot machines and gaming tables. However, its best-known attraction is its amazing water show - a breath-taking union of water, music, and light. Between 3pm and midnight (from 12pm on weekends) the Bellagio's world-famous fountains 'dance' to opera, classical, or whimsical music with carefully choreographed movements. Beyond the Bellagio's gracious lobby lies the Conservatory & Botanical Gardens, a magnificent garden abounding in fragrance, texture, and colour. The hotel also has a new fine arts gallery that hosts contemporary art exhibits.

Address 3600 S. Las Vegas Boulevard

Website www.bellagio.com

Admission

Entry to the hotel and casino is free.

The Mirage photo

The Mirage

Another MGM mega-casino, the showpiece at the Mirage is a volcano that shoots flames 100 feet (30m) into the night sky every 15 minutes (6pm to midnight), spewing smoke and transfo…

The Mirage

Another MGM mega-casino, the showpiece at the Mirage is a volcano that shoots flames 100 feet (30m) into the night sky every 15 minutes (6pm to midnight), spewing smoke and transforming a tranquil waterfall into spectacular streams of molten lava. As you'd expect of Las Vegas, it's all quite kitsch, but great entertainment. Siegfried & Roy's White Tigers used to be one of the Mirage's signature attractions, but the show was cancelled in 2003 after Roy Horn was attacked by one of the tigers during a show. At any given time. However, there are a number of outrageous attractions at the casino. A popular feature is the aquarium located behind the Front Desk. This 20,000-gallon saltwater aquarium is home to angelfish, puffer fish, tangs, sharks and other exotic sea creatures.

Address 3400 S. Las Vegas Boulevard

Website www.mirage.com

Opens Daily 24 hours.

Admission

Free

Valley of Fire State Park photo

Valley of Fire State Park

The Valley of Fire State Park is Nevada's oldest park, and is so named because of its red sandstone formations which look like they're on fire when the sun reflects off them. The r…

Valley of Fire State Park

The Valley of Fire State Park is Nevada's oldest park, and is so named because of its red sandstone formations which look like they're on fire when the sun reflects off them. The rocks were shaped over 150-milllion years ago, when dinosaurs roamed the area. Apart from the rugged beauty of the surrounding Mojave Desert, the main attractions in the park are the well preserved petroglyphs that adorn many of the red sandstone structures, left there by the ancient Pueblo people, also known as the Anasazi. This rock art dates variously from 300 BC to 1150 AD. Visitors should head to Atlatl Rock for some of the finest examples of ancient Indian rock art or petroglyphs, including a depiction of the atlatl, which was a notched stick used to propel spears, a predecessor to the bow and arrow. Other activities here include hiking, camping, and picnicking.

Address 29450 Valley of Fire Highway

Website parks.nv.gov/parks/valley-of-fire-state-park/

Opens Daily 6.30am-7pm

Admission

$10

The Luxor photo

The Luxor

The Luxor Hotel, themed on ancient Egypt, is one of the most prominent sights on the Las Vegas Strip. It is a massive black-glass pyramid containing 36 floors of hotel rooms. Shini…

The Luxor

The Luxor Hotel, themed on ancient Egypt, is one of the most prominent sights on the Las Vegas Strip. It is a massive black-glass pyramid containing 36 floors of hotel rooms. Shining through it into the night sky is one of the world's most powerful light beams, which they claim can be seen by planes circling Los Angeles. The ground floor of the hotel is given over to a massive casino, which stands beneath a recreation of King Tut's Tomb. Other than gambling, entertainment at the hotel includes an IMAX theatre, gyms, swimming pools, and exhilarating shows by comedians, dancers and singers. The Luxor is a Vegas landmark and one of the most popular casinos and hotels in the city.

Address 3900 South Las Vegas Boulevard

Website www.luxor.com

Opens Daily 24 hours.

Admission

Free

MGM Grand photo

MGM Grand

One of the most famous casinos in Las Vegas, the MGM Grand was the largest hotel in the world when it opened in 1993 with more than 5,000 rooms. The complex also houses about 19 re…

MGM Grand

One of the most famous casinos in Las Vegas, the MGM Grand was the largest hotel in the world when it opened in 1993 with more than 5,000 rooms. The complex also houses about 19 restaurants, many shops and nightclubs, a convention centre, and a spa. The MGM Grand's most famous attraction was, for many years, the glass-sided lion habitat; however, the casino closed this in early 2012 as part of an extensive renovation. Today, the MGM Grand is home to the Cirque du Soleil and many other exciting entertainment options. An iconic Vegas landmark, the MGM has been thrilling and entertaining visitors for many years.

Address 3799 Las Vegas Boulevard South

Website www.mgmgrand.com

Mandalay Bay photo

Mandalay Bay

The 44-storey Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino is among the largest on the Las Vegas Strip with more than 3,000 hotel rooms and a 135,000 square foot (12,500 sq m) casino. The tropic…

Mandalay Bay

The 44-storey Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino is among the largest on the Las Vegas Strip with more than 3,000 hotel rooms and a 135,000 square foot (12,500 sq m) casino. The tropical-themed resort has a number of popular family attractions, including the Shark Reef saltwater aquarium and large-scale stage shows ranging from Broadway musicals to Cirque du Soleil productions. The most popular attraction at Mandalay Bay however, is Mandalay Beach, an 11-acre pool area featuring three heated pools, a wave pool, lazy river, and children's pool. Voted Best Pool of Las Vegas many times by Las Vegas Review Journal readers, Mandalay Beach has its own bar and restaurants.

Address 3950 Las Vegas Boulevard South

Website www.mandalaybay.com

Imperial Palace Auto Collection photo

Imperial Palace Auto Collection

With more than 250 classic antique cars on display, the Imperial Palace Auto Collection is an absolute must for car enthusiasts. It is actually part of a larger collection and cars…

Imperial Palace Auto Collection

With more than 250 classic antique cars on display, the Imperial Palace Auto Collection is an absolute must for car enthusiasts. It is actually part of a larger collection and cars are rotated in and out of the showroom on a regular basis. All cars are available for purchase, and once a car is sold it is replaced by another. Exhibited are rare models, race cars, muscle cars, touring roadsters, and dozens of vehicles once owned by the rich and famous. Claiming to be the one of the largest as well as the best collection of classic cars in the world, this vast showroom is heaven for petrol-heads and a very popular tourist attraction in Vegas.

Address Imperial Palace Casino, 3535 South Las Vegas Boulevard

Opens Monday to Saturday 10am - 5pm. Closed Sundays.

Fremont Street Experience photo

Fremont Street Experience

The downtown area of Las Vegas is where it all began and the Fremont Street Experience aims to celebrate this heritage. The street is also known as 'Glitter Gulch' for the bright n…

Fremont Street Experience

The downtown area of Las Vegas is where it all began and the Fremont Street Experience aims to celebrate this heritage. The street is also known as 'Glitter Gulch' for the bright neon signs and thousands of flashing lights that line the streets - this is where you'll find Vegas Vic and Sassy Sal, two of the nation's best-known neon icons. Some of the city's most famous vintage casinos are found here, including the Golden Nugget and the Gold Spike, as are most of its strip clubs and stage shows. Most entertainment is on or close by the Freemont Street Experience Mall. The Fremont Street Experience encompasses the iconic Vegas experience, giving people exactly what they expect when they think of the glitzy casino city.

Address 425 Fremont Street, Downtown Las Vegas

Website www.vegasexperience.com

Opens Open 24 hours 7 days a week.

The Grand Canyon photo

The Grand Canyon

A mile deep, 277 miles (446km) long and up to 18 miles (29km) wide, the breath-taking grandeur of the Grand Canyon is so impressive that words simply cannot do it justice. One of t…

The Grand Canyon

A mile deep, 277 miles (446km) long and up to 18 miles (29km) wide, the breath-taking grandeur of the Grand Canyon is so impressive that words simply cannot do it justice. One of the great natural wonders of the world, it was formed by the cutting action of the Colorado River over millions of years, the harder rock formations remaining as great cliffs, pinnacles and buttes, and the different layers of rock possessing colours that range from purple, fiery red and pastel pink, to yellow, brown, grey and soft tones of blue.

Whether by foot or on horseback, from a plane or helicopter, aboard a raft down the mighty Colorado River or by merely gazing in awe from the rim, the canyon's seemingly infinite depths can be experienced in a variety of ways. The park receives hordes of visitors from around the world, who cannot fail to be transfixed by the sculpted rock shapes, the shifting colours that change with the light and a tiny glimpse of the Colorado River far below.

The Grand Canyon National Park comprises two separate areas, the South Rim and the more remote North Rim. Separated by the 10-mile (16km) width of the canyon, it is a 215-mile (346km) drive from one visitor centre to the other and the South Rim, being the most accessible with more facilities, sees about 90 percent of the park visitors. The North Rim is higher in elevation and wetter, with thicker surrounding forests; it is farther to get to and is usually closed due to snow between mid-October and mid-May, but many people prefer the comparative peacefulness of its less crowded lookouts.

At both rims there are several drives and walkways along the edge with numerous lookout points for views from different angles, as well as a few hikes down into the canyon where one can overnight at Phantom Ranch on the canyon floor. The impact of millions of visitors a year to the South Rim, especially during the busy summer months, has a negative influence on the park, with overcrowding and traffic congestion common. Despite the hoards it is a memorable experience to have visited one of the most spectacular examples of erosion in the world.

Website www.nps.gov/grca

Transport

It is possible to explore the Grand Canyon in one day from Las Vegas, but ideally travellers should stay overnight unless flying there.

Opens South Rim is open 24 hours daily, all year round. The Information Plaza is generally open 8am-5pm. The North Rim is open from mid-May to mid-October 8am-6pm.

Admission

$35 per vehicle, $20 for pedestrians and cyclists, valid at both rims for 7 days.

Hoover Dam photo

Hoover Dam

Stretching 1,247 feet (380m) across the Colorado River, the Hoover Dam holds back the waters of Lake Mead and is a fine example of the engineering of its time. One of the world's m…

Hoover Dam

Stretching 1,247 feet (380m) across the Colorado River, the Hoover Dam holds back the waters of Lake Mead and is a fine example of the engineering of its time. One of the world's most famous dams, the Hoover Dam was built during the Great Depression in the 1930s - one of many vast public works projects commissioned by the US government to get people back to work. The dam employed thousands of men from all over the country, and its hydroelectric power generator continues to supply Nevada and its neighbouring states with electricity. Engineering feats aside, the Lake Mead National Recreation Area is popular with water sports enthusiasts as well as those just after a bit of sun and relaxation.

Website www.usbr.gov/lc/hooverdam

Transport

The Hoover Dam is an hour's drive from Las Vegas. Coach tours can be arranged through most hotels and tour operators.

Opens Open daily 9am-5pm

Red Rock Canyon photo

Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon is a dramatic valley 10 miles (16km) west of Las Vegas, and is a good excursion to escape the neon lights of the slot machines. Its defining feature is the steep Re…

Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon is a dramatic valley 10 miles (16km) west of Las Vegas, and is a good excursion to escape the neon lights of the slot machines. Its defining feature is the steep Red Rock escarpment, which rises 3,000 feet (914m) on its western edge. Today, the dramatic landscape is peppered with cacti and Joshua trees and is a good spot for walking, rock climbing, cycling, or simply a scenic drive. The Mojave Desert is not as barren as you might think; it teems with rare life and beauty - waterfalls cascade into the canyons and high above red tailed hawks search for their next meal. For a taste of Nevada's natural beauty there is no better place to explore.

Address State Highway 159

Website www.redrockcanyonlv.org

Transport

The park has a 13-mile (21km) scenic drive. Coach tours can be organised through most hotels.

Adventuredome photo

Adventuredome

The glass-encased theme park of Adventuredome is the perfect attraction for thrill-seeking kids on holiday in Las Vegas. Its loop roller-coaster and other gut-wrenching rides are n…

Adventuredome

The glass-encased theme park of Adventuredome is the perfect attraction for thrill-seeking kids on holiday in Las Vegas. Its loop roller-coaster and other gut-wrenching rides are not to be missed. If this adrenalin rush is a bit too extreme, there are also shows by magicians and jugglers on offer, as well as plenty of treats like ice-cream, popcorn, and candy. There are also rides and activities designed for younger kids who may not be old enough to ride the main attractions. The fact that the theme park is indoors is an extra bonus, protecting visitors from the sometimes inhospitable Nevada climate.

Address Circus Circus Hotel, 2880 South Las Vegas Boulevard

Website www.adventuredome.com

Opens Generally 10am - 6pm. Opening times vary according to season and day of the week and it is best to check the calendar on the website to avoid disappointment.

Admission

Day pass $39.95 (adult), $19.95 (child). It is possible to pay for rides individually instead of getting a pass.

Buffalo Bill's photo

Buffalo Bill's

The Buffalo Bill's amusement park is an excellent holiday attraction for children, offering everything from earth-plunging rides that defy gravity or end with a huge splash, to log…

Buffalo Bill's

The Buffalo Bill's amusement park is an excellent holiday attraction for children, offering everything from earth-plunging rides that defy gravity or end with a huge splash, to log rides on a fantasy lake. Kids will also love the Frog Hopper, bouncing around the park on the back of Buffalo Bill's life-like amphibian. Buffalo Bill's Resort & Casino is a great choice of travel base in Las Vegas for families travelling with children as the resort caters equally to adults and kids, and is known for its high-energy live shows as well as its amusement park and gambling facilities. Youngsters will be kept happy and busy as adults explore the more grown-up attractions of the resort.

Address 31900 Las Vegas Boulevard South

Website www.primmvalleyresorts.com

Opens Opening times vary. Check out the availability of different attractions on the official website.

Admission

Rides and attractions at Buffalo Bill's vary in price.

Grand Canyon Helicopter and Ranch Adventure photo

Grand Canyon Helicopter and Ranch Adventure

Kids will revel in the exciting experience of flying through the Grand Canyon in a helicopter and landing at the Grand Canyon Western Ranch. Once at the ranch, children are thoroug…

Grand Canyon Helicopter and Ranch Adventure

Kids will revel in the exciting experience of flying through the Grand Canyon in a helicopter and landing at the Grand Canyon Western Ranch. Once at the ranch, children are thoroughly enthralled by horse-drawn wagon rides and the cowboys putting on a show. The western-style meal served at the ranch also goes down a treat. This family-friendly excursion across the border to Arizona is a great break from the casinos and resorts of Las Vegas itself, giving visitors the chance to experience some of the natural splendour of the region and partake in the pioneer and cowboy culture so well-loved in the US.

Address 3750 E. Diamond Bar Ranch Rd, Meadview, Arizona

Website grandcanyonwesternranch.com

Treasure Island photo

Treasure Island

No longer the family-friendly pirate hangout it once was, Treasure Island has revamped itself as an adult-oriented contemporary resort. The free Sirens of TI show is a special effe…

Treasure Island

No longer the family-friendly pirate hangout it once was, Treasure Island has revamped itself as an adult-oriented contemporary resort. The free Sirens of TI show is a special effects-laden production that is a must-see on the Las Vegas Strip, with music, explosions and beautiful women. Treasure Island is also home to a Cirque du Soleil show, and offers a number of restaurants and nightclubs. Famous comedians and musicians regularly perform at the resort. Although not a family resort, Treasure Island is an exciting adult destination in Vegas and one of the city's enduring favourites.

Address 3300 Las Vegas Boulevard South

Website www.treasureisland.com

Dig This photo

Dig This

Dig This is a wildly popular attraction in Las Vegas that allows you to operate enormous vehicles like bulldozers and excavators under the supervision of trained instructors. While…

Dig This

Dig This is a wildly popular attraction in Las Vegas that allows you to operate enormous vehicles like bulldozers and excavators under the supervision of trained instructors. While the price tag is high, the experience is unforgettable as you team up with other participants to complete tasks. You must be at least 14 to operate the machines. Dig This has been voted the number one Las Vegas attraction on tourist review sites like Tripadvisor. People of all ages get super excited by the chance to experience the power of massive machinery.

Address 3012 South Rancho Drive

Website digthisvegas.com

Opens Daily 8am-5pm

Admission

Numerous packages and deals are available, but digging sessions start from $169.

Send a link to this travel guide