by Angelina Suwoto
I love Las Vegas.
It’s the ultimate mashup of all things good and bad—bright lights, parties, cigarette smoke, expensive meals, gambling, all-you-can-eat sushi, celebrity restaurants, unnecessarily grabby men, and fantastic performances. (You can decide which ones are good and which ones are bad.)
Of course, Vegas has the reputation of being a drinking, gambling, wild party city – which it most certainly is. But if you’re under age, like me, or you don’t enjoy any of the above, you still shouldn’t pass on visiting Sin City.
I’ve been to Vegas three times already, and I never get tired of this place. I wouldn’t exactly call it kid-friendly, but it doesn’t have to be the den of iniquity so many movies make it out to be!
Looking for a wholesome Vegas experience? Here are my top 10 favorite non gambling things to do in Las Vegas.
10 Thrilling Things to do in Vegas without dices or booze
1. Visit the Las Vegas Sign
The iconic Welcome to Las Vegas sign is probably one of the most well-recognized location signs in the United States, if not the entire world. Getting here can be a bit tricky unless you have a car, since it’s actually located a little off the Strip, but it’s still possible to walk to! I recommend getting here early in the day, as lines do form at the sign before 10AM. Luckily, it doesn’t take long to snap your dream photo here!
2. Enjoy the Bellagio Fountain Show
The Bellagio is one of the most elegant hotels in Las Vegas, and their fountain show is famous! This will top any list of things to do in Vegas besides gamble. Located in front of the broad hotel is a huge pool of water with hundreds of water jets that dance to music every half hour. The fountains start at 3P.M. and run until nighttime, which is the most popular time to watch! The tracks that play there are always a surprise, so you never know what to expect – one show you’ll be listening to modern pop, and the next you’ll hear the U.S. National Anthem!
3. Visit the Bellagio Botanical Gardens
The Bellagio’s conservatory is probably my absolute favorite non gamble thing to do while I’m in Vegas. The staff there are extremely meticulous about taking care of the thousands and thousands of live flowers that make up the botanical garden’s beautiful sculptures and formations. Even better, they rotate the exhibitions seasonally, so you can always expect something new when you go back! For example, the photo above is from June’s Asian-inspired exhibit, and when I was there in October, they were featuring a beautiful Moroccan-themed gallery. The gardens are incredibly fantastical and whimsical, and totally free to enjoy.
4. Walk around the Venetian
The Venetian is, hands down, my favorite hotel in Las Vegas. As the name might suggest, its inspiration hails from Venice, Italy, complete with white-gold stone columns, a painted blue sky, red-and-white maypoles, and a network of indoor canals and bridges that span the length of the hotel and even wrap around outside. Because of the fantastic architecture and design, I personally think simply walking around exploring the halls of the Venetian is a total treat. Even spending the night there is affordable if you know the right tricks to score Vegas hotels. If you’re looking for more of an activity, though, that leads me to the next item on the list….
5. Catch a gondola ride at the Venetian
The canals in the Venetian aren’t just for show! The gondola rides at the hotel aren’t cheap, but if you don’t have the time or money to fly all the way to Italy, it’s probably the next best thing. You can either choose an indoor or outdoor ride, and your gondolier will serenade you on your relatively short but idyllic ride through crystal blue waters. How does it compare to a real gondola ride from Venice? I’ve been on both and I can say that at least in Vegas, the water smells much better!
6. See the flamingos at Flamingo
The Flamingo Hotel has an outdoor section where they have turtles, swans, and yes, flamingos! All their flamingos are rescues that would not have survived in the wild. You can’t get too close to them, but it’s very relaxing to watch them stand around and sleep in their cozy green ponds. They also have many other species of birds, as well as feeding demonstrations with talks hosted by the animal keepers. With the running water and soft cooing of birds, it’s also a wonderful place to sit back, unwind, and perhaps take a quick nap.
7. Enjoy the LINQ Promenade and amusement activities
The LINQ promenade is the closest you’ll get to an amusement park – alongside with the classic shopping and dining experiences you’ll find in Vegas, they also feature an enormous Ferris wheel and a zipline. The High Roller, the Ferris wheel, is currently the tallest Ferris wheel in the world at a staggering 550 feet. If you’re looking for an option with a little more adrenaline, try your hand at the zipline!
8. Splurge at a fancy celebrity chef restaurant
Almost every celebrity chef worth their salt has a restaurant in Las Vegas. Gordon Ramsay, Guy Fieri, Thomas Keller, and who knows how many more have establishments up and down Vegas – you can’t throw a stone without hitting yet another Michelin-starred chef’s restaurant. It goes without saying that you’ll be paying a pretty penny for the food, but there’s no glitzier place to enjoy a few hundred dollars’ worth of a meal.
9. Venture out to the Seven Magic Mountains
This one’s a bit of a cheat because it’s not actually located in Las Vegas, though you’ve seen it on our Vegas Instagram spots before! It’s been on my bucket list for years, but was always just too far out for me to go visit due to the fact that it’s all but impossible to see without a car. The Seven Magic Mountains are a desert art installation located just outside of Las Vegas and have garnered considerable Instagram fame. The colorful towers of boulders were created by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone and only take a minute to visit, but these aren’t something you’ll see every day.
10. Eat AYCE sushi
For some reason, every sushi restaurant in Vegas is an all-you-can-eat, but I’d like to thank whoever popularized that option. Many of the AYCE options are quite affordable and roll in at somewhere between $25-35, which really isn’t bad at all for Vegas—or for fresh fish. I know Nevada isn’t the first place that comes to mind when you think of raw seafood, but Sin City has their ways!
Las Vegas is so much more than the smell of smoke and the alcohol and the gambling machines with the flashing lights. Enjoy the city, and let me know if these tips on things in Vegas without gambling helped you!
Practical Questions about Vegas
What should I pack?
Vegas is dry and often very hot. Even when I was there in October, I was starting to sweat! More than anything, the sun there can be unforgiving if you have sensitive skin or are prone to sunburn. I suggest packing light, short-sleeve clothing and a hat. I also think dressing stylishly is the best in Vegas as it makes you feel a little bit glitzier as well.
Do I need a car?
Getting around Vegas can be tough without a car. If you’re there without one, you can still see almost all the things I mentioned up above just by walking up and down the Strip, but I should mention that it takes a good amount of time to get between some hotels (and you should be careful with how much you’re walking if it’s in the middle of summer). If you want to get to the Seven Magic Mountains, you’ll definitely need a car.
How long should I stay in Vegas?
As someone who is not often in the party scene, I usually only stay in Vegas for a day or two max. A full 48 hours is definitely enough to see all the options I mentioned! Personally, I feel that Vegas is best experienced in short bursts, so 24 hours is my favorite length of time to stay—I love jam-packed, exciting days. However, I would recommend two days if you want to complete all the aforementioned activities, and perhaps a bit longer than that if you want to party or drink.
About the Author
My name is Angi, a traveling fairy and adventurous writer fresh out of college. As an early 20s Asian-American world traveler connected with a wanderlust-filled millennial crowd, I aspire to show others the magical beauty of this world wherever I go, whether it’s important travel advice or vignettes from on my adventures. Check out my website, DM me on Instagram, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org! I would love to hear from you.