20 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions & Things to Do in Las Vegas
The largest city in Nevada, Las Vegas lies in the desert, surrounded by baron hills. The huge resort hotels lining the famous "Strip," with their sparkling lights, fountains, and and recreated glamorous sites from cities around the world, offer a fun and exciting retreat from the desert landscape. Las Vegas is a great place to visit year-round; its cooler winter temperatures are pleasant for sightseeing, and in summer, when the temperature can rise above 104 degrees Fahrenheit, the hotel pools become an important part of the daytime activities.
See also: Where to Stay in Las Vegas
1 The Strip
The 2.5-mile-long central section of Las Vegas Boulevard, which runs through the city from northeast to southwest, known as The Strip, is lined with huge entertainment palaces, many built with a defining theme and home to performance venues, luxury hotel rooms, and fine dining. The Strip is particularly impressive at night, when the city is illuminated by an endless succession of glittering neon signs.
Most visitors enjoy walking along the Strip and taking in the sights. Generally speaking, the Las Vegas Strip runs from the Mandalay Bay Hotel to the Treasure Island Hotel. Many of the hotel complexes have free street side entertainment, from dancing fountains to erupting volcanoes.
2 Fremont Street Experience
Off The Strip, in the old downtown Las Vegas, is Fremont Street, a pedestrian only area with all kinds of unique sites. A four block section of Fremont Street has been covered over with a canopy of LED lights which light up the sky in a ray of different colors as you walk below. Known as the Fremont Street Experience, each night a fantastic music and visual show takes place overhead. Street performers and special entertainment acts often perform outdoors in this area. The Fremont Street Experience is in downtown Las Vegas, a few kilometers from the new hotel groupings such as Treasure Island and Caesar's Palace. It is best to take a taxi to reach this area.
3 Venetian Hotel and Gondola Rides
The Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas is located on "The Strip" across from Treasure Island. It is one of the city's finest resorts and has many interesting tourist attractions. Visitors can walk through the themed shopping arcade built to resemble the city of Venice, complete with blue skies, canals, and gondoliers. The hotel also features recreations of the main attractions found in Venice such as the Rialto Bridge and the Bridge of Sighs, along with many others.
The Venetian Gondola Rides are a fun way to see the complex. Situated out in front of the Venetian Hotel, near the sidewalk, boats await passengers who are then taken on a ride by their personable gondolier through the shopping arcade inside the hotel.
Address: 3655 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas
4 Paris Hotel and the Eiffel Tower
The Paris Hotel on the Strip is one of the most easily recognized resorts in Las Vegas. Out front is a scale model of the Eiffel Tower, and down the way is a recreation of the Paris Opera House. Also on the property is a mock hot air balloon festooned with neon and flashing lights. Located in the "Eiffel Tower" is an upper end restaurant with fine views out over The Strip and across to the dancing fountains of Bellagio.
Address: 3655 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas
5 Mirage Hotel: Erupting Volcano and Secret Garden
The Mirage Hotel is easy to identify while walking along the Strip. In front of the resort is a volcano, which erupts at regular intervals. At night, the glowing red fire shooting out is one of the most unique sites visible from the sidewalk. Inside the Mirage is the Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat. Here, visitors can see a wide variety of exotic animals in their natural environment including white lions. The Dolphin Habitat contains a large number of trained dolphins in its 2.5-million-gallon pools.
Address: 3400 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas
6 Bellagio Resort and Fountain Show
The Bellagio Resort in Las Vegas is considered the city's finest resort and one of the few AAA 5-star-rated hotels. This massive hotel complex has a wide variety of attractions including an Art Gallery, Botanical Gardens, Spa and Salon, coupled with some of the finest restaurants in Las Vegas. Beyond the lobby is a showroom area with changing themes that range from spring botanical displays to fascinating shows of art. The most impressive and famous feature is the fountain show. In front of the Bellagio, along the strip, the dancing fountains perform a beautiful display of water set to music. From the sidewalk, visitors have a ringside view. This is often described as the best free attraction in Las Vegas.
Address: 3600 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas
7 New York-New York Hotel
The New York-New York Hotel in Las Vegas is across the street from both the MGM Grand Hotel and the Excalibur Resort Hotel. Visually stunning, the hotel is designed to appear like New York's skyline, complete with the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty. A huge roller coaster circles in and around the hotel.
Address: 3790 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas
8 Caesar's Palace and The Colosseum
Perhaps one of the best known of all the Las Vegas hotel resorts, Caesar's Palace continues to evolve. Currently Caesar's Palace is a massive complex in the middle of the Strip, complete with every imaginable entertainment option. The hotel is closely associated with shows held in its huge concert venue known as "The Colosseum." Top performers (which have included Celine Dione and Elton John) perform here for extended periods and shows are often booked out well in advance. Visitors planning a trip and hoping to see a performance here will want to check out dates and ticket availability as early as possible.
Address: 3570 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas
9 Luxor Hotel
Another distinctive theme hotel, at the far southwest end of the Strip, is the Luxor Hotel. Designed in an ancient Egyptian theme, the hotel is shaped like a pyramid, with a sphinx proudly gazing out over the street. The Luxor, like all the major resorts, offers a wide variety of restaurants and shopping opportunities. One of the standout features of this hotel is the beam of light that projects from the highest point of the pyramid and shoots up into the night sky. It can be seen from throughout Las Vegas.
Address: 3900 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas
10 Mandalay Bay and the Shark Reef Aquarium
Mandalay Bay Resort is at the southwest end of the Strip, near the Luxor hotel. One of the key highlights at this complex is the Shark Reef Aquarium. The massive 1,300,000-gallon tank holds a wide variety of sharks, fish, rays, reptiles, and marine invertebrates. About 100 sharks from 15 different species and more than 2,000 animals in all are on display. The Shark Tunnel is the most impressive feature. Accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Shark Reef works with wildlife biologists to preserve endangered lake and marine populations as well as rehabilitate injured animals.
Address: 3950 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas
11 High Roller Ferris Wheel on the Linq
The High Roller Ferris wheel is at the far end of the Linq Promenade, just off the strip. This huge Ferris wheel stands 550 feet high and takes thirty minutes for one full rotation, providing outstanding views over the strip and surrounding area from the capsules. Each cabin, as they are called, can hold up to 40 people. Views are particularly outstanding at night with the city lights in full glow.
12 Stratosphere Tower
The Stratosphere Tower is an unmistakable sight on the Las Vegas skyline. The tower rises up 1,149 feet, and on the rooftop of the tower are a variety of heart pounding thrill rides, including the SkyJump, Big Shot, X Scream, and Insanity. For those looking for a little less drama, there is an indoor and outdoor observation deck with great views over the city. The Stratosphere Tower claims the "tallest freestanding observation tower in the USA."
Address: 2000 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas
13 Helicopter Rides over Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon
For a great aerial view over Las Vegas, or even the Grand Canyon, visitors may want to take a helicopter ride. Las Vegas has a number of companies providing helicopter tours that take visitors over Las Vegas and the Strip, or as far away as the Grand Canyon. This is a great opportunity for anyone with limited time to see not only Vegas, but the surrounding landscape and one of America's most impressive and famous natural attractions.
14 MGM Grand Hotel and CSI: The Experience
The MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas is across the street from the New York-New York Hotel and kitty corner to the Excalibur Resort Hotel. The MGM Grand Hotel has all the amenities visitors would expect to find at a luxury hotel including above average accommodations, an exceptional pool area, a multitude of restaurants, and plenty of entertainment options. One of the hotels popular activities is CSI: The Experience, based on the popular CSI TV series, where participants can test out their detective skills.
Address: 3799 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas
15 Vegas Indoor Skydiving
Vegas Indoor Skydiving offers a truly unique experience. Here, visitors will get to experience what actual skydiving is like, without an airplane or parachute. Qualified instructors escort participants to a vertical wind tunnel where they are suited up in special gear. Once the fan is turned on, anyone can float effortlessly in the air. No experience is necessary.
Address: 200 Convention Center Dr, Las Vegas
16 Madame Tussaud's
Madame Tussaud's in Las Vegas is near the escalators leading up to the Venetian Hotel on the Strip. Here, visitors can see their favorite stars preserved forever in wax. In many cases the figures are so lifelike it is almost eerie. Figures range from Elvis to Bradley Cooper and Sofia Vergara. The overall focus or theme of Madam Tussaud's is on people who are associated with Las Vegas.
Address: 3377 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas
17 Las Vegas Monorail
Whether you need to actually get somewhere or you just want a ride on this fabulous machine, the Las Vegas Monorail offers tired travelers smooth and efficient transport around the Las Vegas Strip area. The system consists of seven stations: Sahara, Hilton, Harrah's/Imperial Palace, Flamingo/Caesar's Palace, Bally's & Paris Las Vegas, and MGM Grand. The Mirage and Treasure Island offer a connecting tram.
18 Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Fans of fast cars will want to head over to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Located in Clark County 15 miles northeast of The Strip, the Las Vegas Motor Speedway is a 1,200-acre complex of multiple automobile racing tracks just right for the speed-freak in you. The Las Vegas Motor Speedway is home to NASCAR races as well as a number of other racing events. Several speed records have been set at the track. The Speedway features multiple restaurants, and for those wishing to stay overnight, camping is available. Check the website for the latest upcoming events and pricing.
Address: 700 North Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas
19 Excalibur Hotel
The Excalibur Hotel in Las Vegas is another theme hotel on "The Strip." Decked out in medieval character, the hotel features some wild architecture, complete with turrets. The hotel has all the amenities a visitor could possibly imagine with varied entertainment, a huge pool area, and a good assortment of restaurants.
Address: 3850 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas
20 Las Vegas Natural History Museum
For a break from the glitz and rush of the city, a visit to the Las Vegas Natural History Museum may be a good option. The museum showcases the natural history of planet earth with a focus on Nevada. Exhibits range from dinosaurs to marine life and more. The museum also hosts traveling national and international exhibits.
Address: 900 Las Vegas Blvd N, Las Vegas
Where to Stay in Las Vegas for Sightseeing
Since most of the action in Las Vegas is focused around a portion of South Las Vegas Boulevard knowns as The Strip, staying on or close to this area is the best option. This is also where most of the huge, themed resort hotels are found. The price of hotels can vary greatly from one week to the next, with rates skyrocketing around big conventions and great discounts available at slower times. Below is a selection of highly-rated hotels in good locations.
- Luxury Hotels: The Italian-themed Bellagio, easily recognizable by the lake and dancing fountain show in front of the resort, and the Venetian, a recreated Venice-themed complex complete with a canal and gondolas, are both luxury resort hotels in prime locations along The Strip. Caesars Palace, also with a great location along The Strip, is a long time classic in Vegas, and home to the famous Colosseum entertainment venue. All of these resorts have wonderful pools, shopping, and entertainment on site.
- Mid-Range Hotels: At the north end of The Strip is Treasure Island, with a nice pool area and a good location within walking distance of the major sites. This is an upper mid-range option that often has reasonable prices. Also in this category is the Monte Carlo Resort. This is a quality hotel in a great location that also frequently offers reasonable rates. The Hilton Grand Vacations Suites on the Las Vegas Strip is another quality hotel but it lies a little too far north to walk to the main section of The Strip.
- Budget Hotels: The Excalibur is a formerly grand but now somewhat dated resort hotel that often offers good deals. It has a nice pool area and a great location at the south end of The Strip, near the New York, New York. Across the street from the Excalibur, but just off the Strip on Tropicana Avenue, is the Motel 6. This is a basic motel with a pool and an excellent location. The Travelodge Las Vegas Center Strip is another decent budget option, with a good central location slightly off The Strip.
Tips and Tours: How to Make the Most of Your Visit to Las Vegas
Just beyond the lights and electric vibe of Las Vegas is a spectacular landscape of gorges, red rocks, mountains, and desert scenery. If you have limited time and are looking for an easy way to get out and see some of the highlights, a guided tour is definitely the best way to go.
- Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam. The two biggest attractions in the Las Vegas surrounding area are these two fantastic sites: one natural, and the other, man-made. The Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam Day Trip from Las Vegas takes visitors, by coach, to the West Rim of the Grand Canyon for three hours of free time. This allows plenty of time to walk along the rim and gaze out from the viewing areas. A short stop at Hoover Dam along the way is also included. Add on a helicopter and boat ride or a stroll on the Grand Canyon Skywalk as optional extras.
- Red Rock Canyon.Take a four- or six-hour guided Red Rock Canyon Tour to see some of the spectacular red rock scenery and views out over the desert and mountains. This tour offers hotel pickup and drop-off, a tour of the canyon along the 13-mile scenic loop road with stops at the lookout points for the best views, and a boxed lunch.