You don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a great time in Las Vegas. In fact, some of the city’s best attractions are free. From a gaming hall of fame to an iconic sign, here are our top 10.
1. The Las Vegas Sign
Kick off your trip with a photo in front of the iconic “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada” sign. Depending on when you go, there might be a long line, but it tends to move quickly as visitors snap their photo and leave. You’ll find the 25-foot-tall, solar-powered sign in the median of Las Vegas Boulevard, just south of Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino.
2. Shelby Heritage Center
You don’t have to be a gearhead to enjoy the Shelby Heritage Center. The small museum showcases roughly two dozen cars from the first Shelby Cobra to several incarnations of the Mustang. Free guided tours of the museum and production floor are given twice daily during the weekdays and once on Saturdays. Self-guided tours are available daily.
3. Pinball Hall of Fame
Roughly 150 pinball machines and more than 50 classic arcade games are on display at the Pinball Hall of Fame, and as long as you can avoid playing them, it’s free to visit and very much worth a walk down the aisles.
4. Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens
Located near the front desk, the Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Garden displays tens of thousands of flowers arranged in seasonal themes. Plan to spend at least a half hour admiring the efforts of the 120-person horticulture staff. Then, check out Dale Chihuly’s overhead glass sculpture — his interpretation of flowers — in the lobby. Bonus: Time your visit so you can watch the Bellagio Fountains dance in a choreographed water, light, and music show in the evening.
5. KA 360 Experience
Tickets to a Cirque du Soleil show are pricey, but you can get a free behind-the-scenes tour of KA at MGM Grand. On the short tour, you’ll learn how the casts brings the production to life. Tours are offered twice every Tuesday and Saturday at noon and 12:30 p.m. Prefer the circus to Cirque du Soliel? Circus Circus hosts free circus acts daily in its Midway.
6. Flamingo Wildlife Habitat
If you love animals, you won’t want to miss the 15-acre Flamingo Wildlife Habitat inside the Flamingo Hotel and Casino. The free attraction is home to a flock of Chilean flamingos as well as exotic birds, fish, and turtles. If you've rented a car, The Silverton Casino Hotel’s 117,000-gallon, free aquarium boasts thousands of fish, interactive feeding shows, and swimming mermaids Thursday through Sunday.
7. Downtown Container Park
Made entirely of shipping containers, the Downtown Container Park is an open-air retail center where you can see free concerts, art shows, and movies. Come after dark to watch the 55-foot-tall praying mantis at the entrance shoot fire out of its antennae to a pulsating soundtrack. Nearby, check out the refurbished neon signs in the Fremont East Entertainment District, which links the Downtown Container Park to the Fremont Street Experience (more on that below).
8. Fremont Street Experience
During the day, the Fremont Street Experience, a downtown pedestrian mall, is one of the best places in Vegas to people watch, but come at night for the wildly popular (and free!) light shows displayed on the 1,500-foot-long screen overhead. The shows last approximately six minutes and run every hour in the evening.
9. Ethel M Chocolates
Indulge your chocolate cravings at Ethel M Chocolates. The factory allows you to watch its chocolatiers and machines making tasty confections from a viewing aisle on the floor. (Although the self-guided tour is free, it takes a lot of willpower to leave without purchasing a few treats.) An added bonus: Walk off your chocolate calories by wandering through the on-site botanical cactus garden.
10. Aria Fine Art Collection
You’ll find impressive works of art on public display in many Las Vegas hotels, but the Aria Fine Art Collection is one of the most impressive with 21 art installations by artists such as James Turrell, Maya Lin, and Richard Long. Brochures available at the hotel or online can guide you to through the collection.