Free Things to Do in Las Vegas

by JoAnna on May 11, 2010

by JoAnna | May 11th, 2010  

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.

bellagio-fountainFountains 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).

mirage-volcanoVolcano 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.)

gondolierObserve 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.

People Watch
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.

Window Shop
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.

conservatoryBellagio 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.

the M & M's World Las VegasM&M World
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.

Photo credits: timparkinson (Fountains of Bellagio), nan palmero (Mirage volcano), zt_kw (gondolier), cybertoad (Bellagio botanical gardens), enot_female (M&M World)


Nellie May 11, 2010 at 1:24 pm

I find the Bellagio fountains captivating, I can stand and watch for hours without blinking! It’s too bad I missed the volcanos at the Mirage, looks amazing. Looks like I gotta head back to Las Vegas soon!

JoAnna May 11, 2010 at 2:21 pm

@Nellie ~ The Fountains of Bellagio is one of those things that even the locals like to do just about every time they go to the Strip. I agree ~ there’s something about it that is absolutely mesmerizing.

Terrisa May 13, 2010 at 2:11 pm

Love the fountains & I agree that here in Vegas, the people watching is entertaining all by itself! For free stuff, I’d also add the Fremont Street Experience, downtown. The light show on the overhead canopy is free, and you can also see the Old Vegas signs (the Neon Museum) up and down Fremont. Downtown is a grittier than the Strip; the people watching there is pretty interesting.

JoAnna May 13, 2010 at 3:07 pm

@Terrisa ~ Great suggestions about Fremont Street and downtown. I actually have a few other free things I’d like to suggest to readers, which I’m planning on compiling in an “off Strip” post, and I’ll make sure I add these two to that list.

Holiday In Kumaon May 17, 2010 at 10:35 pm

Finally something for free in LA :) Love the fountains.. @terrisa.. the light show is just as amazing! thanks for the tip on old vegas signs… will make it a point to visit next time.

Himalayan Mountain Resort May 17, 2010 at 10:39 pm

WOW. love the M&M world. have to visit it. can we eat cadies out of this world ? :D

Tom Scott June 1, 2010 at 7:14 pm

Don’t forget Ocean Spray “West” tour the factory and get a taste. Also Ethel M Chocolate Factory and Botanical Cactus Gardens get a free sample.

Melanie October 12, 2010 at 10:18 am

We are in Vegas 3-4 times a year and I still haven’t seen the Mirage Volcano! I will have to do that in November when we are there!

Don’t forget Freemont Street either…that is a fun free thing to do in the evening!

JoAnna October 12, 2010 at 4:55 pm

The volcano isn’t necessarily anything to write home about, but it is fun if you happen to catch it. We like the view from the other side of the road better than standing right in front of it.

And I didn’t forget Fremont Street. You can find it listed in this piece about free things to do off of the Las Vegas Strip:

Emily @Travelated November 17, 2010 at 11:12 pm

I sat outside at Serendipity 3 and just people watched on Halloween. Best fun I have EVER had in Vegas!

JoAnna November 19, 2010 at 1:17 pm

Halloween is an awesome time to people watch in Las Vegas! The city is a bit of a circus show sometimes anyway, but on Halloween, no one holds back!


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