Free Things To Do in Las Vegas
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Once you pass the famous "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign along Las Vegas Boulevard South, it won't be too long until you're cruising the Strip. Sin City's notorious artery acts as the epicenter of any Vegas getaway. Here you'll find Las Vegas' most iconic landmarks, including the Bellagio Fountains, the Eiffel Tower at Paris, Las Vegas, the pyramid and sphinx belonging to The Luxor and The Venetian's Grand Canal.
The "Strip" technically runs from Mandalay Bay on the south end (home to an aquarium and a man-made beach) to the Stratosphere casino on the north end, where you'll find the tallest free-standing observation tower in the country (this is where you'll go for the perfect Vegas photo).
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Why spend the money to cross the Atlantic when you can get a decent taste of Italy right in Vegas? Nestled along the Strip, The Venetian replicates the highlights of Venice, complete with gondola rides along the Grand Canal. Visitors can get a taste of what life is like in the Queen of the Adriatic thanks to The Venetian's Streetmosphere program: singers, stilt walkers and "living statues" recreate the typical scene you'd likely encounter in the real Venice for those who opt to spend the day perusing the wares in the Grand Canal Shoppes.
For $29 per person, you can take a gondola ride along the Grand Canal anytime between 10 a.m. and 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; on Friday and Saturday, gondola rides are offered until midnight. Some recent visitors said they found the rides to be overpriced, but said the atmosphere was romantic.
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This Strip staple offers plenty of ways to lay your money on the line, from table games and slot machines to a race and sports book. This is also the choice casino among many high-rollers due to its high-stakes tables. What's more, this casino hosts the World Poker Tour, among other tournaments.
But there's more to the Bellagio than the casino floor. Even those who don't gamble praise the Bellagio for its upscale atmosphere and variety of amenities and attractions.
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You may recognize this Polynesian-themed casino hotel as one of the three establishments robbed by Danny Ocean and his crew in the 2001 remake of the film "Ocean's Eleven." In addition to its Hollywood credits, The Mirage has earned a reputation among frequent Vegas visitors as one of the best places to gamble along the Strip for high rollers and thrifty betters alike.
If you aren't a gambler or you've got kids in tow, the main reason to visit The Mirage is its massive volcano. Every night at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. (and 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday), the ground rumbles and the man-made mountain spews fireballs sky-high to the sounds of The Grateful Dead. Recent travelers said it's an impressive show, and best of all, it's free to enjoy.
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It only makes sense that a city devoted to entertainment would feature a casino hotel devoted to the entertainment industry. The facility – which sits mid-Strip across from New York-New York at the corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Tropicana Avenue – hosts a variety of performances ranging from big-name concerts to sporting events to Cirque du Soleil's "KÀ." It is also the partner to the nearby T-Mobile Arena which hosts large-scale events, such as the Billboard Music Awards.
The MGM Grand is also home to several top-notch restaurants and nightlife venues, such as Hakkasan nightclub, where celebrity DJs regularly spin hits into the wee hours. During the day, you can experience Wet Republic Ultra Pool, where you can dance, swim or relax in party cabanas. Several shops can be found here as well, but you'll likely spend most of your time (and your money) on the casino floor, which houses poker tables, slot machines and a race and sports book. Travelers were impressed by the size of the MGM Grand Casino, but said the nightlife options are the real star of the property.
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Sure, this towering gold building at the southern end of the Strip boasts all the slots, poker and game tables you want in a Sin City venue, not to mention a variety of restaurants and nightlife venues. (Plus, it's home to the House of Blues Music Hall and plays host to "Michael Jackson ONE," Cirque du Soleil's tribute to the 80s pop icon.) But Mandalay Bay doesn't exude the same level of kitsch found at other casinos along Las Vegas Boulevard – a major selling point for more laid-back travelers. In fact, this is the place you go if you're looking for an escape.
One of the major highlights of Mandalay Bay is its man-made beach: 2,700 tons of sand and a 1.6 million gallon wave pool create an oceanside atmosphere in the middle of the Nevada desert. You can kick off your shoes and work on your tan in one of the rentable cabanas; those looking to avoid bikini tan lines can ditch the top at the Moorea Beach Club.
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You won't have any trouble finding New York-New York: Its faux-Manhattan skyline – complete with scale models of famous Big Apple attractions like the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building and the Brooklyn Bridge – occupies almost a full block of the Strip. Sitting across the street from the MGM Grand, New York-New York recreates the Gotham experience in true Vegas fashion, boasting a New York-style pizzeria, several bars and a variety of shops.
As for the casino, it's stocked with plenty of slot machines and table games, but some travelers note that the gaming floor isn't as spacious as those in other Strip venues.
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A staple of the Vegas Strip, Caesars Palace has been welcoming visitors to Sin City since the 1960s. Since then, it has made an appearance in such popular films as "Rain Man," "Showgirls," "Iron Man" and "The Hangover." Those who choose to gamble at Caesars will find themselves in ancient Rome, with massive columns and frescoes paying tribute to the casino's namesake. Those who prefer to use their money in other ways can make their way to The Forum Shops - home to about 160 specialty stores, the newly revamped Fall of Atlantis animatronic show and a 50,000-gallon aquarium.
You'll also find one of Sin City's most famous nightclubs. Formerly PURE, Omnia nightclub underwent extensive renovations before debuting in 2015. The club houses multiple dance floors and lounges with frequent celebrity hosts and popular DJs throughout the year. Plus, the venue's rooftop offers unparalleled views of the Strip. Recent travelers noted that it's one of the most upscale clubs on the Strip, so expect to pay steep cover and drink prices.
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Though it may not be quite as timeless as the actual City of Lights, Sin City's (rather kitschy) take on Paris is one of the Strip's most popular occupants. The property offers a whirlwind tour of the French capital's most iconic sights: You'll find a replica of the Arc de Triomphe, decor reminiscent of the Paris Opera and the Louvre, and the pièce de résistance – a 46 story, half-size replica of the Eiffel Tower. For $16 or $22 (depending on whether you visit during the day or at night), you can take in the 360-degree views from the tower's observation deck.
As far as the casino goes, you'll find slots, table games, horse racing and Keno – with which travelers were more than satisfied. However, some recent visitors mentioned that Paris, Las Vegas isn't the best hotel for families. Still, Paris, Las Vegas boasts several French-themed restaurants and bars, plus a variety of shows, not to mention a variety of shops and the swanky Chateau rooftop nightclub.
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Fremont Street used to be dominated by classic but less-frequented casinos that seemed past their prime. But now, this section of downtown Las Vegas is once again ready to compete with the Strip for visitors' attention.
Occupying several blocks of Fremont Street near the Mob Museum, the Fremont Street Experience includes the immense Viva Vision light show with 12.5 million LED lamps and a 550,000-watt sound system. The area also has several other distractions, such as food stands, souvenir shops and the SlotZilla zip line that sits 10 stories above the pedestrian walkway.
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