VEGAS sign in downtown Las Vegas

The Very Best Things To Do In Las Vegas By A Local 2020

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If you’re reading this, you’ve started to look up things to do for your upcoming trip to Las Vegas. It can get overwhelming pretty quick! I remember how hard it was to decide between the perfect-looking hotel photos and every attraction promised a unique “Las Vegas experience.”

Even though I’ve only been here for three years, I’ve already learned some things I didn’t know as a visiting tourist.

It’s well known you can gamble and drop by a cannabis dispensary in Las Vegas if you’re at least 21 years old. But what else is there to do around here? Here’s what I have so far on the best things to do in Las Vegas that’s actually worth it. 

 

Hike at Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon is still my most favorite thing to do in Las Vegas. It’s a quick 20-minute drive west from the Las Vegas Strip and it’s only $15 per vehicle to enter.

I love the fact that you can drive through its Scenic Route and enjoy the views from your car. Or do a laid-back hike and have a picnic on one of its infamous red rock formations. 

The best way to enjoy Red Rock Canyon is to rent a car for the day without a time limit from a tour guide. It’s best to go as early as possible when it’s not too hot out.

Make sure you bring enough water and food in case you’re there longer than you anticipate. You may have to bring a warm jacket if you’re coming here during the fall, winter, or spring months. Check the weather before you go, especially for extreme weather or flood warnings.

If you’re taking a tour, taxi, or ride-share, set a specific time and trailhead for pickup before you go. Once you’re inside the park, there’s a good chance you can’t make a call since cellphone signal can be unreliable (it happened to my sister-in-law).

Red Rock Canyon Las Vegas ∙ 1000 Scenic Loop Drive, Las Vegas, NV ∙ (702) 515 – 5350 

Go on a day trip

Mt. Charleston Cabin in Mt. Charleston Las Vegas
Want a cozy cabin experience? Why drive to Colorado when you can go to Mt. Charleston, only 30 minutes away from The Strip!

The best part about traveling (and living!) in Las Vegas is that the most breathtaking sceneries are within driving distance. You need to take a break from The Strip and set aside at least one day outside of the windowless casinos. 

There are plenty of tours that will pick you up from your hotel on The Strip. If you’re taking a tour, book months in advance since spots can fill quickly (especially for the Grand Canyon and Antelope Canyon tours). Note that you can only visit Antelope Canyon if you’re part of a tour. 

You can’t go wrong visiting these landmarks during the day and you’ll still have time to enjoy The Strip at night. 

NEVADA 

Red Rock Canyon
Seven Magic Mountains
Mt. Charleston
Valley of Fire

ARIZONA

Grand Canyon South Rim
Antelope Canyon
Horseshoe Bend

Explore the Las Vegas Strip

Mid Strip Las Vegas at night
The Cosmopolitan on the left and Planet Hollywood on the right of Las Vegas boulevard.

It’s 100-something-degrees outside, but where else can you walk with a yard-long piña colada slushie, take a photo with a Pikachu mascot, only to be handed a business card with a naked woman on it only a few feet away? 

My husband and I live here and we’re still hanging out on The Strip. It’s the best place for people-watching and there’s always that one moment where he and I look at each other and say, “Is this real life???” 

You are still in the desert, however. Make sure you’re prepared for the weather. Stay hydrated, wear a hat and sunglasses, and apply sunscreen. 

It can get as low as 30°F during winter (December, January, February) so don’t be too cool to pack a warm coat or a light jacket for spring or fall.  

Rock out at Fremont Street 

LED ceiling at Fremont Street Experience
The updated LED display at Fremont Street Experience.

The Fremont Street Experience is the infamous L.E.D.-covered part of Fremont Street that leads into the country’s historic casinos. Fremont Street (for short) has a different kind of vibe compared to The Strip.

For the most part, the casinos have kept their vintage look and lower table buy-ins. You’ll see street performers and there’s a big chance you’ll see a body part (or two) that are usually covered in the real world. You may have to skip this one if you’re traveling with kids. 

It’s best to stop by in the evening and weekends when they have a music show on the L.E.D. canopy, free concerts, and DJs to dance to (no reservations or waiting in line for hours required). Classic rock and music from the past decades were mostly playing whenever I’ve stopped by there. 

Watch the Bellagio Fountains 

The Bellagio Fountains is a mandatory stop if you’re walking on The Strip. There’s a fountain show synchronized to music every 15 to 30 minutes starting in the afternoon, so you can roleplay as Brad Pitt and George Clooney in Ocean’s Eleven as often as you’d like. 

After the fountain show, cool down inside The Bellagio to see the season’s creative flower display at the conservatory.

The Bellagio Fountains ∙ 3600 Las Vegas Boulevard South, Las Vegas, NV

Eat at Chinatown

A side dish of green botchy and beef noodles on a white placemat.
My favorite spicy noodles in Chinatown at MIAN.

We’ve been to Vegas a handful of times before we moved here, and I’m mad that no one ever mentioned how amazing and close to The Strip Chinatown is. We actually live far from here, but we don’t mind the drive to eat at Curry Zen, MIAN, and Pho Kim Long.

You can get a filling meal for two as low as $20 and there’s a dizzying variety of places to choose from along west of Spring Mountain Road. You can nibble on pretty plated desserts while sipping on white wine at Raku Sweets, stuff yourself with crawfish & shrimp at Hot N Juicy, eat a hot bowl of pho or ramen in winter, or treat the whole family to feast on Korean BBQ. 

Eat somewhere nice

Strawberry-inspired pastry on a white background
My too-pretty-to-eat dessert from Raku Sweets Las Vegas

Another fun thing to do on vacation is to treat yourself at a nice restaurant. There’s plenty of fancy restaurants in different types of cuisine along Las Vegas Boulevard. 

It can be overwhelming picking one. Even I hesitate writing a Best Restaurants in Las Vegas post since I feel like I haven’t tried enough to know what really is the best. So far, my husband and I love Rose. Rabbit. Lie. for its whimsical dining-with-entertainment experience we haven’t seen anywhere else. Another popular option is Mon Ami Gabi where you can dine al fresco with a view of the Bellagio Fountains. 

Dress up

The great thing about Vegas is you can finally wear that sparkly body-con dress or three-piece suit in the back of your closet that can be too much for everyday wear. 

Walk along The Strip on a weekend night and you’ll see that people have brought their 4-inch heels and their best outfits. 

If you just want to wear T-shirts, shorts, and flip flops, that’s okay, too. However, you won’t get into the fancier lounges and nightclubs, and you’ll have to make a long walk to the Lyft line. It’s better to overdress if you’re unsure where the night will take you. 

Hang out by the pool

You’re already paying for the daily resort fee, so you might as well take advantage of the hotel pool. 

Note that not all pools are open year-round. Pools and day clubs open in the spring (March, April, May) and close when the weather begins to cool down in the fall (September, October, November).  

If you want to spend most of your time swimming or sunbathing, I recommend calling the hotel if their pools are open before you make a reservation. 

For the best sunbathing spot, go as early as possible. If you want a private cabana for your group, you may have to reserve months in advance or order bottle service if they have an event going on. 

See a show

Ask someone who just came back from Vegas, and most likely they saw a show. There’s probably a show here for whatever you’re into. 

The most popular include Cirque du Soleil shows or artist residencies like Lady Gaga or The Backstreet Boys. There are also magic, burlesque, comedy, and tribute shows on The Strip. The Smith Center downtown has traveling Broadway shows, ballet, orchestra, and cabaret.   

My favorite show so far is Ka, but you can’t go wrong with any of the Cirque du Soleil shows. 

Attend a festival

Life Is Beautiful graffiti on the street in downtown Las Vegas
Going to a festival in Las Vegas is definitely on my bucket list.

It’s undeniable that plenty of people fly here solely for festivals. It’s a unique way to experience the desert beyond the Las Vegas Strip. 

 Popular ones include Electronic Daisy Carnival (EDC), Burning Man, and Life is Beautiful

Experience downtown

Las Vegas East Fremont Street Sign
The vintage look of Downtown Las Vegas
Mural on a parking garage
A colorful mural on a parking garage

Step outside of the Fremont Street Experience and you’ll find colorful art murals, cocktail clubs, and the vintage vibe of downtown Las Vegas. I admit that I haven’t fully explored downtown, but it’s a refreshing break from the perfectly manufactured look of The Strip. 

Have an epic club experience

Club advertisements on MGM Grand
You’ll see club ads all over the Las Vegas Strip. Hakkasan ads in front of MGM Grand.

Going to a club in Vegas share the same pitfalls as any other tourist attraction. If you’re not in the free guest list, entry can cost as much as a concert ticket, your feet start to blister while waiting in line, and the DJ or singer you really wanted to see won’t show up until way past midnight. 

However, feeling the energy of the crowd who flew from different parts of the world to have a good time is something to experience at least once. 

Retro diner 

Blue cocktail at a retro diner
Blue Hawaiian cocktail at The Peppermill Restaurant & Lounge.

The Peppermill Restaurant & Lounge is one of the most unique places I’ve ever been to. Inside you’ll feel like you’re back in the 1970s with its velvet booths under blue and pink neon lights. Another plus is that their servings are big enough to share for two and they’re open 24/7! 

The Peppermill Restaurant & Lounge ∙ 2935 Las Vegas Boulevard, Las Vegas, NV ∙ (702) 735 – 4177

Welcome To The Fabulous Las Vegas sign

Take a photo in front of the historic Welcome To The Fabulous Las Vegas sign and cross it off your bucket list (I won’t judge). It’s a very popular tourist attraction, so it’s best to go as early as possible if you don’t want to be stuck in line in 100-degree weather. 

Welcome To The Fabulous Las Vegas Sign ∙ 5200 Las Vegas Boulevard South, Las Vegas, NV

Eat at a buffet

One of our favorite places to take family and friends is Bacchanal Buffet at Caesar’s Palace. It’s clean, modern, and we’ve always left in a food coma (in a good way). 

It can get busy during peak season and holidays, so go as early as possible. There was a long line just for the heated crab legs during NYE.

Bacchanal Buffet ∙ 3570 Las Vegas Boulevard South, Las Vegas, NV ∙ 1 (866) 227 – 5938

Get nice drinks

Peach-colored cocktail on a bird-shaped glass
Cute, but strong. A Little Birdie Cocktail from Juniper Bar

There are times when you just want any drink and there are times when you want a well-made cocktail. The Chandelier at The Cosmopolitan is one of my favorite places to savor a fancy drink and the pink, sparkly chandeliers bring the glam you go to Vegas for.

Go to The Golden Tiki if you want to drink somewhere dark, cozy, and with all the mood and feels. The first time I went they played 80’s music, a singer sang Vegas-y songs, and my dole whip was decorated with a plastic swinging monkey and an umbrella. I’m officially in love with this place! 

The Chandelier ∙ 3708 Las Vegas Boulevard South, Las Vegas, NV ∙ 1 (877) 893 – 2003
The Golden Tiki ∙ 3939 Spring Mountain Rd, Las Vegas, NV ∙ (702) 222 – 3196

Treat yourself 

Crystals Shopping on Las Vegas Strip
You’ll only find luxury brands at CRYSTALS on the Las Vegas Strip

If you’ve been saving up all year so you can treat yourself (or someone else), luxury shopping on The Strip is the best reward. My favorite place to shop on The Strip is The Forum Shops at Caesar’s Palace for a mix of luxury and affordable brands. 

If you want luxury with a more affordable price tag, take a Lyft to Las Vegas Premium Outlets North

The Forum Shops∙ 3500 Las Vegas Boulevard South, Las Vegas, NV ∙ (702) 893 – 4800
Las Vegas Premium Outlets North∙ 875 S. Grand Central Pkwy., Las. Vegas, NV ∙ (702) 474 – 7500

Try something new 

Pancakes with pink syrup and whipped cream on top
Ever tried guava pancakes? I tried one at Cinnamons Las Vegas

One of the best things to do on vacation is trying new things that you can’t get where you live. While you’re here, eat guava pancakes for breakfast, poke for lunch, and an ube cupcake for dessert! 

What’s next

My husband and I love trying to new things, so I’ll update this post from time to time with new photos and other things to do. Bookmark or pin this page so you’re prepared for your next trip! You can also follow us on social media and I’ll let you know when I add something new to this page. 

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