The best free things to do in Las Vegas

Bellagio fountains - the best free things to do in las vegas
The fountain show at the Bellagio is a wonderfully choreographed display of spraying water set to opera music, Broadway tunes, or classical compositions - Westend61

Sin City is one of those rare destinations that’s wonderful if you have a lot of money to spend, and just as fun if you don’t. Sure, you’ll need cash if you want to play poker at the high-stakes table or sip cocktails by the hotel pool. But the spectacular attractions from the Bellagio’s famous fountain show to the erupting volcano at the Mirage and the neon-lit downtown promenade of the Fremont Street Experience? These unforgettable experiences don’t cost a thing.

For further Las Vegas inspiration,  see our guides to the city's best hotelsrestaurantsbarsnightclubs and things to do. Use our ultimate weekend guide to plan your stay. If travelling further afield, find our ultimate guide to the Grand Canon National Park here.

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The Strip

Gaze at a world-famous fountain show

You’ve seen Oceans 11, right? Then you know what to expect from the famed fountain show at the Bellagio: an exuberant and wonderfully choreographed display of spraying water set to opera music, Broadway tunes, or classical compositions. There are shows everyday starting at 3pm (the shows recur every half hour through to 8pm on weekdays, and every 15 minutes between 8pm and midnight) and starting earlier in the day on weekends. Nighttime is perhaps the best time to watch, and you’ll want to stake out a vantage point from high up, if possible: the Bellagio itself offers many venues from which to watch the fountain show, including the Mayfair Supper Club, not to mention a range of guest rooms and suites that offer privileged fountain views.


Fountain show at the Bellagio, Las Vegas
Nighttime is perhaps the best time to watch the fountain show at the Bellagio - Rebecca Ang/RebeccaAng

Snap a classic photo at the entrance to Vegas

You’ve seen countless photos of the retro 'Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada' sign. But you need to take your own photo of it – or better yet, be in a photo with it. To access the sign, you’ll need to drive or catch a ride down to the southern end of the Strip, south of Mandalay Bay. You’ll know you’ve arrived when you see a crowd of cars and the flash of cameras. Fun fact: the sign is 25 feet tall and was designed by a woman, Betty Willis. The flip side of the sign, which you’ll see lit up at night as you’re driving away from the Strip towards the airport, reads 'Drive Carefully/Come Back Soon'.

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'Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada' sign
You cannot leave the city without a picture in front of the 'Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas' sign - Westend61 / Gemma Ferrando/Westend61

Witness a (faux) volcanic eruption

If you’re ever in a real-life situation where you see a volcano begin to erupt, start running. If you’re in Vegas, take a step closer, if you can. The faux volcano outside The Mirage is a classic, complete with explosions and fireballs set to the music of the Grateful Dead’s Mickey Hart and Indian tabla musician Zakir Hussain. Unlike the fountain show at the Bellagio, which happens countless times each evening, the Mirage volcano only 'erupts' a few times each evening, so plan your outings on The Strip accordingly. The volcano is easily visible from across the street, too: it’s tall.


Admire exotic flowers in a giant conservatory

It's not like there’s a shortage of flowers in Vegas. Despite the forbidding climate, many of the best casino-resorts have atrium flower displays that are downright jaw-dropping. But at the Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Garden, the floral display is next-level. An innovative team of horticulturalists and designers dream up a different exhibition four times a year (spring, summer, fall, winter) in addition to a special annual display for Chinese New Year. Past themes have included 'Under the Sea', 'Japanese Spring', 'Harvest', 'Tour of Italy', and 'Holiday Glamour', to name a few. Step into the conservatory to breathe in the fragrance, and don’t forget your camera.


Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Garden, Las Vegas
At the Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Garden, an innovative team of horticulturalists and designers dream up a different exhibition four times a year - © Greenberg

Admire a Statue of Liberty made entirely of chocolate

Vegas has many replicas of famous landmarks, including a Statue of Liberty made entirely of chocolate. It's found at Hershey’s Chocolate World at the New York New York resort. The statue, which weighs 800 pounds, is a sight to see, especially when temperatures rise in the desert heat and air conditioning has to be carefully calibrated so that Lady Liberty doesn’t melt into a chocolate puddle on the floor. There’s plenty to buy here, especially in terms of edible souvenirs, but it’s free to walk in and check out the main attraction.


Hershey’s Chocolate World, Las Vegas
Check out an 800-pound replica of the Statue of Liberty made entirely of chocolate at Hershey’s Chocolate World

Pretend you're in Venice while strolling past gondolas

Even if you don't shell out for a ride on a gondola, you can enjoy the Italian charm of The Venetian. Outside the resort, the view of the canals, the elegant gondolas, and the jauntily dressed gondoliers is particularly charming at sunset, when the street lamps turn on and cast a glow across the scene. Inside, wander through Italian-inspired walkways and bridges, step into any of the Grand Canal Shoppes, or take a seat at one of the resort’s cafés, bars, or restaurants and pretend like you’re sitting outside in Venice as gondolas float past your table.


The Venetian, Las Vegas
Even if you don't shell out for a ride on a gondola, you can enjoy the Italian charm of the Venetian, strolling along its walkways and bridges - Best View Stock


Seek out sharks in a three-story-tall aquarium

You have to be a registered hotel guest (or a paying day pass guest) to plunge down the one-of-a-kind waterslide through the shark tank at the Golden Nugget. But you don’t have to be a guest to take a peek at this 200,000-gallon, three-story-tall aquarium populated with silvery swimming sharks. It’s a thrill just to watch the brave people who climb to the top of the slide for a twisting tunnel ride through the tank. There’s an impressive aquarium inside, too; depending on what time you stop in, you might see a marine biologist or staff member in SCUBA gear, floating past tropical fish.


Stroll through a neon-lit thoroughfare

Yes, that was an actual human being careening high over your head: welcome to the Fremont Street Experience, the revamped pedestrian-only thoroughfare in downtown Vegas. There’s a zipline overhead for the most daring travellers. Pretty much everyone else finds the promenade itself, with its neon signs, outdoor entertainment, Viva Vision light shows, and vendors selling everything from cotton candy to sugary cocktails, quite entertaining on its own. Even if you’re coming downtown to see the Neon Museum or to go out for dinner or drinks, you’ll want to spend half an hour walking through this massive installation.


Fremont Street Experience, Las Vegas
The Fremont Street Experience, a pedestrian-only thoroughfare, is full of neon signs, outdoor entertainment and light shows - B. Tanaka

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