Las Vegas is known for wiping wallets clean. After all, isn’t the point of visiting Sin City to go gambling? While everyone hopes to hit it big (and some people do), the truth is that many people people will go home with just a few dollars less than what they arrived with … if they only spend their time in the casinos.
But if gambling isn’t your thing, or if you finally run out of money, the good news is that the Las Vegas Strip offers a surprising number free things to occupy your time.
Fountains of Bellagio
Whether this is your first time to Las Vegas or you’re a return visitor, no trip to Las Vegas is complete without watching the Fountains of Bellagio. Located in front of Bellagio in the middle of the Strip, it’s hard to miss this water show, which dances to a variety of music ranging from opera and classical to popular Broadway show tunes. The Fountains of Bellagio perform on the half hour Monday-Friday from 3:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday from noon-8:00 p.m. There are shows every 15 minutes every night of the week from 8:00 p.m.-midnight.
Sirens of TI
The nightly Sirens of TI show is little more than a outdoors burlesque show on a pirate ship outside of Treasure Island, and it’s not nearly as family friendly as it used to be, but it is free to watch. The show is primarily a showcase for the sirens to shake their hips and dance, but the highlight of the show is the battle scene toward the end. Show times are nightly at 5:30 p.m. (winter only), 7:00 p.m., 8:30 p.m., 10:00 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. (summer only).
Volcano at the Mirage
A visual and musical show of light and fire, the volcano located outside of the Mirage has dazzled audiences since 1989, but the show and special effects have gotten better over the years. The volcano’s show occurs on the hour from 8:00 p.m.-midnight each night. It can be seen from in front of the hotel or from across the street from the walkway in front of The Venetian.
Lions at MGM Grand
Take a walk on the wild side when you visit the lion habitat at MGM Grand. The habitat is open 11:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m. daily, and anyone is welcome to watch the resident lions as they sleep and play in their large, glass enclosure. (Just in case you’re curious, the lions actually live on an 8.5-acre ranch located outside of the city limits.)
Observe the Gondoliers
Though you’ll have to pay to ride in one of the gondolas at The Venetian, you are more than welcome to find a place along the winding canals and watch the gondoliers paddle by. Many of them sing when they have passengers, and the songs echo off the high ceilings.
Flamingos at Flamingo
It’s only fitting that flamingos should be found in the wildlife habitat at the Flamingo. In addition to the Chilean flamingos, visitors will also see swans, ducks, turtles and koi.
It doesn’t cost a dime to watch the curious characters who make their way to Sin City. Grab a drink and sit at the outer edge of a cafe or find a bench in one of the shopping areas and watch the passersby. Regardless of the time of year or day you visit, you’re bound to see someone who makes you do a double take.
Come prepared with a bulging wallet if you’re planning on spending an extensive amount of time shopping in Las Vegas, but if you just want to look, window shopping is free. From fancy jewelry stores and art galleries to stores stacked with magic tricks, there are plenty of shops to check out.
Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens
As the seasons change, so does the artistic work in the Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens. You’ll find butterflies in spring, oversized beach balls in summer, falling leaves in autumn and gigantic candy canes come winter … most handcrafted with flowers. Bellagio employs 140 horticulturists to ensure the flowers and theatrical arrangement of the gardens are flawless. The conservatory and botanical gardens are located inside the hotel and are open all day, every day.
Street Performers at The Venetian
Wander through the Grand Canal Shoppes in The Venetian and chances are you’ll come upon a street performer. Mimes, magicians, puppeteers, stilt walkers and living statues are scattered throughout the shopping area during the days, so it’s hard to say if you’ll happen upon one by accident, but keep your eyes open for the occasional free-standing sign which provides information on when and where organized performances take place each day.
Fall of Atlantis Show at Caesars Palace
Follow the story of the fall of Atlantis with this automaton performance near the Cheesecake Factory in Caesars Palace. Though it’s a bit cheesy, it’s a good stop for families and a pleasant way to pass the time if you’re waiting for a table for dinner. Show times are every hour on the hour from 10:00 a.m.-11:00 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 10:00 a.m.-midnight Friday and Saturday.
Located next to the MGM Grand, M&M World is 28,000 square feet, four stories high and completely dedicated to M&M candies. Though M&M World is first and foremost a store selling everything from M&M pillowcases and shot glasses to t-shirts and key chains, it also celebrates the history of M&Ms. Looking and browsing are free. Unfortunately, shopping isn’t.
Circus Show at Circus Circus
The performers at Circus Circus put on a daily circus act, which is billed as the world’s largest permanent circus. There is a free performance every day at 11:00 a.m. on the center stage of the Carnival Midway. Acts include juggling, acrobatics, flying trapeze, aerial gymnastics and contortionists.