When you visit Las Vegas, the staccato click of high heels mingles with the sound of people having fun and the lights of the famous Strip sparkle against a dark desert sky. Fashionistas mix it up with those wearing t-shirts and jeans and there’s no cut-off age limit for enjoying a night out. Las Vegas has an edgy excitement all its own and some of the best shopping, drinking, and dining in the States. It’s also one of the world’s most famous places to gamble. However, you don’t need to go in search of Lady Luck to have fun here. Here are 10 things to do in Las Vegas in Nevada which don’t involve gambling.
1. Have an Elvis wedding (or renew your vows)
Las Vegas offers plenty of ways to tie the knot – there’s even a wacky drive-through wedding chapel – but most couples ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love’ with an Elvis-themed wedding. Girls must promise not to leave their man at ‘heartbreak hotel’ and guys must agree to always be her ‘hunka hunka burnin’ love’. It may be hard to keep a straight face yet this exchange of vows is surprisingly romantic.
2. Go on a gondola ride
The gondola ride at The Venetian that takes you along a 250 metre replica of the Grand Canal. Sure, there’s no denying it’s not the same as the real thing. However, it’s equally memorable, although perhaps not for the same reasons as the ride in Venice. Just like their genuine Venetian namesakes, these gondoliers know how to belt out a nice version of ‘O Sole Mio’.
3. Go ziplining
Zipline more than 200 metres while travelling over 40 kilometres an hour at the Freemont Street Experience. This attraction starts on a platform east of the Fremont Street Experience canopy and ends in front of the Four Queens. There’s also a zipline on the Las Vegas strip – Fly LINQ Zipline at The LINQ Promenade – with views over the Las Vegas Boulevard.
4. Marvel at the Hoover Dam
Hoover Dam, located 50 kilometres from the Strip, has always been a firm favourite with tourists. The project was so big that six of America’s largest construction companies had to work together to put together a viable bid. The rather grandly named Bureau of Reclamation has been showing visitors around the dam and power plant since the 1930s when Boulder Dam (as it was known then) was originally built. See it on two wheels on a Cycle Nevada: Death Valley & Valley of Fire tour.
5. See the Fountains of Bellagio
Watch more than 1,000 fountains spray water up to 150 metres into the air in a syncopated extravaganza set to dreamy music. The Fountains of Bellagio are more than 300 metres long and are free to watch with the display happening every 15 minutes. There are lots of different songs and sequences so it’s worth seeing more than once. If you feel like a splurge, many of the rooms at the Bellagio hotel overlook the famous dancing fountains and offer a bird’s eye view.
6. Raft through Black Canyon
Take a leisurely rafting trip through Black Canyon and learn about the history, desert wildlife and beauty of this otherwise inaccessible and rugged landscape below Hoover Dam. On this laid back tour, you’ll get to look up the mighty concrete walls and gain a different perspective of Hoover Dam from the water. Along with taking in the beauty of the surrounding area there is also time for a swim in the calm waters of Black Canyon and a trip across the Mike O’Callaghan–Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge.
7. Go hiking in Red Rock Canyon
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is an easy 30 minute drive from Las Vegas with plenty of activities for lovers of the great outdoors. The Ice Box Canyon Trail leads to a narrow canyon that rarely sees sunlight so it is much cooler here than being out in the open desert. Join a Hiking in Joshua Tree and Death Valley tour and you’ll get to appreciate this beautiful spot on a guided walk with an expert leader.
8. See a show
Back in the early days Hollywood’s glitterati – people like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr and Marlene Dietrich – used to flock to Las Vegas to put on elaborate shows. Las Vegas has changed a lot since then but the popularity of its entertainment options has only grown. Many shows are permanent which means elaborate sets and incredible special effects. Cirque du Soleil’s water-themed “O” deserves special mention for drawing sell-out crowds for more than 20 years. The show takes place in, on, above and around a 5 million litre pool with acrobats, high divers, actors, synchronised swimmers and clowns.
9. Party the night away
It’s an easy walk from one club to the next in Las Vegas which makes it ideal for a night on the town. Most nightclubs have a cover charge but dress to impress and you’ll likely be let in free of charge. Don’t miss Chateau Nightclub & Gardens, a high-energy nightclub with breathtaking terraces, lavish décor, and a rooftop dance floor, four bars, high-energy lighting, DJ booth, VIP seating and an eight-foot-tall glass wall encircling the rooftop, displaying panoramic views from high above the Vegas skyline.
10. Scare yourself silly at Stratosphere
Stratosphere has not one but three exciting thrill rides on top of its towers with fantastic views. XScream teeters riders over the edge of the tower 300 metres above the ground while the Big Shot shoots fun-lovers 50 metres into the air at a force of 4Gs before letting them free-fall back to the launching Pad. Insanity, a dizzying spinning ride, dangles passengers over the edge of the tower before whirling them around at speeds approaching 60 kilometres per hour.